dtc 476

Digital Literacies

The world seems to be in a state of flux, digital immersion is happening at an accelerated rate. A digital empire of economics and networks creating a new world strictly on the grid. This evolution of society has been making impacts spanning across nations and through civil corruptions. The digital world is still a wild environment that will always be dynamically adapting to any newly introduced variables. This collection of works covers various topics from blue light repercussions to a digital kitten economy.

The lines between reality and a virtual world are beginning to blur. The innovations in the past several years have led to this soon approaching climax where both worlds may be synonymous. Virtual reality may become the for front of human interactions, and daily lifestyles.

Blue light has become a topic on the rise in the digital technology world with screens being everywhere and emitting blue light. The adverse effects of blue light and sleeping have been the main topic for debate among this idea. A less spoken idea on this topic is that blue light is actually a source of a feeling of well-being

CryptoKitties, an online market for digital cats that are worth Ethereum. Ethereum is an open-source, public, blockchain-based distributed computing platform and operating system featuring smart contract functionality.

The topics that were analyzed for the multimodal assignments bring about an urgency that the times are changing. Digital literacies are becoming more important than ever before as everything is becoming digital. Researching topics like virtual reality and digital economies broadened my scope on relevant matters that are on the rise. The evolution of technology and its trajectory is what really interested me the most as everything is so dynamic.

Beginning the semester four questions were asked:

  • What is an example of a digital technology that not many people think of as digital?
  • What is an example you’re familiar with of a technology that is digital now but wasn’t digital in the past?
  • What is something your parents know how to do with technology (not necessarily digital) that you don’t? Describe what they seem to know but you don’t.
  • What is something you know how to do with technology (in this case, focus on a digital technology) that your parents don’t? Describe what you know that they don’t seem to understand and attempt to explain why they don’t understand it.

Upon referencing these questions from the start of the semester. The answers I would provide would be quite similar, the latter version would be more dynamic and appealing to a digital community. My literacy in the sense of a digital environment has expanded to cater to those that are already situated in the field and immersed in the digital realm. While my answers before would be tolerable for someone that has little to no experience interacting within digital literacies. Before this course my thoughts were well informed, they are now well developed and dynamic.  

Digital Economy: CryptoKitties

CryptoKitties, an online market for digital cats that are worth Ethereum. Ethereum is an open-source, public, blockchain-based distributed computing platform and operating system featuring smart contract functionality. It supports a modified version of Nakamoto consensus via transaction-based state transitions. In a sense CyrptoKitties is similar to trading baseball cards, yet it is much more dynamic and produces more currency.

Similar to Bitcoin, this currency is based off of the blockchain, therefore the value is based off of the blockchain. The value is produced by the uses because CryptoKitties can be bred to create new kitties which are worth various amounts. Crytptokitties can be sold and traded which then adds Ethereum to the user’s wallet which can be translated into USD for consumption.

The mechanics of a dynamic self-sustaining ecosystem that CryptoKitties has created revolves around smart contracts. These contracts function quite like a normal transaction however, there is no middle man. Two parties are involved in these from transactions, in the case of CryptoKitties the users and developer. A smart contract generally requires a trigger event like an expiration date or strike price to be met and the contract will execute itself according to the coded terms (blockgeeks.com). A transaction on CryptoKitties uses this form of smart contract to exchange Ethereum for Kitties. Which then creates an environment run on smart contracts where users can interact, buy or sell, Kitties with each other based on the algorithms implemented into the smart contracts.

The beginning of this economic system started with an initial launch of 50,000 Kitties that were stored in a smart contract. The terms of the contract were quite simple, every 15 minutes a single Kittie would be put for auction. The highest bidding for said Kittie would then be the winner and the smart contract would collect the Ethereum from the user in exchange for the Kittie. From this point Kitties could be bred for a small Ethereum fee to produce another Kittie, or the Kittie could be held on to in hopes for the traits it carries to become valuable.

A very interesting statement from the developers of CryptoKitties mentioned the normalization of blockchain interactions. “CryptoKitties’ key mechanics are tied to actions associated with cryptocurrencies and smart contracts. In doing so, previously esoteric concepts are normalized, and users are empowered with a basic fluency in the technology” (CryptoKitties.co). Not only are they hoping consumers use their work as an economic system, but they hope to grow interactions with the blockchain economy as a whole.

“To this end, the economy and revenue model that we are exploring cannot be artificially influenced, for good or ill. With that in mind, it was crucial that we thoroughly test and explore our product’s mechanics” (White Pa-Purr).

The developing economies revolving around blockchain integration and Ethereum are spreading quite rapidly. CryptoKitties is one of few economies that are empowering everyday people to interact with the blockchain while producing currency through the various smart contracts implemented within the economy. Ethereum and its implementation as an everyday currency is still not fully understood but may become a reality within the coming decaded.

Works Cited:

CryptoKitties. “Collect and Breed Digital Cats!” CryptoKitties, www.cryptokitties.co/technical-details.

“CryptoKitties_WhitePapurr_V2_en.Pdf.” Google Drive, Google, drive.google.com/file/d/1soo-eAaJHzhw_XhFGMJp3VNcQoM43byS/view.

Mihaylov, Miroslav, et al. “What Are Smart Contracts? A Beginner’s Guide to Smart Contracts.” Blockgeeks, 1 Apr. 1969, blockgeeks.com/guides/smart-contracts/.

Coming to Know: Blue Light

Blue light has become a topic on the rise in the digital technology world with screens being everywhere and emitting blue light. The adverse effects of blue light and sleeping have been the main topic for debate among this idea. A less spoken idea on this topic is that blue light is actually a source of a feeling of well-being (Swaine).

The human eye is sensitive is a narrow band of different frequencies which are known as the visible light spectrum. These visible forms of light that can be perceived by the human eye are of all different wavelengths, each color has a different wavelength. It is not only a color, but it is also known as the main color that provides basic illumination in our world, blue light is also linked to increasing a feeling of well-being. Which correlates to better moods on sunny days as the sun produces massive amounts of blue light that illuminate our world. However, too much blue light exposure can be harmful to eyes; moderation is very important as with anything.

The sun may be the main source of blue light but the devices we use for hours on end also emit large amounts of blue light, anything with an illuminated screen: laptops, phones, tablets, or even smart-refrigerators. Fluorescent lights as well as LED lights also produce more blue light than other traditional means of lighting. All of these sources of blue light around us has greatly increased our overall exposure to blue light, which is where problems can begin to appear. The human eye has many layers and one of these layers is a lens inside the eye which along with the pigmentation of the eye offer some slight protection against this wavelength of light. Though it is not a foolproof method for protecting against blue light as the human eye can only handle a certain amount of exposure of light which is mostly used during day to day activities during daylight hours.

Our eyes also have certain receptors that have a photopigment called melanopsin that is extremely sensitive to blue light. These receptors give information that helps regulate our sense of time specifically day and night. During the day blue light boosts attention and overall well-being, however during night blue light exposure causes some adverse effects. The blue light tells our bodies to reduce the secretion of melatonin, which causes us to be more aware and alert instead of preparing to rest at night. This inflection of blue light at night can disrupt our circadian rhythm, the basic cycle our brains follow for being awake or asleep(Lloyd Atler_.

Blue light has been seen in cases to be harmful to the eyes in large amounts of exposure. However, there is still some speculation among many as this topic is still new and progressing. The rise in devices using screens brought about the worry for blue light and its adverse effects. It will only be a matter of time before a final decision is made on the case of blue light and its real effects on human eyes.

Lloyd Atler. MNN – Mother Nature Network. These sunglasses are designed to admit more blue light and make you happy. June 27, 2017. https://bit.ly/2VSjEzx.

Swaine. Blue light ‘makes you happy’. Jan 6, 2009. https://bit.ly/2EXKDDW.

Virtual Reality: A New Era

The lines between reality and a virtual world are beginning to blur. The innovations in the past several years have led to this soon approaching climax where both worlds may be synonymous. Virtual reality may become the for front of human interactions, and daily lifestyles.

Is the digital interpretation of the world anywhere similar to reality? Advancing technologies are making virtual reality better every day but once it reaches the peak of its ability, will it add to or take away the real world or limit the ability to understand time. Virtual reality is becoming more powerful and is threatening to become a dominant force in the daily lives of many. The effects of living a virtual lifestyle may change all the dynamics of human interaction as it is known today.

Interactions may be changing all together as this virtual shift takes place. “In time, the virtual world will become the center of social, economic, and creative activity, and the real world, with its short-comings and evils will slowly diminish in importance” Power, Madness, and Immortality: The Future of Virtual Reality. pg 191. Mychilo Stephenson Cline. Cline makes a very worrisome statement in his book, the thought that virtual reality will become dominant to the actual reality we live in on Earth. The harshness of this real world put behind the potential ease of living fully virtually.

“Begin here, in a linear flow of text that suggests a flow of time, by imagining what literacy might be if we conceived it primarily as a spatial relation to information” What Algorithms Want, Ed Finn.

This quotation from the text raised several questions about the differences of reality and the reality as seen through technology. Especially in the sense of flow of time and its conception. The relationship of using technology to interpret the world and the actual reality of living in the world, and the involvement of time used. For myself I use digital maps to find things because it is convenient but still know how to use a compass and paper map for directions if needed. It is interesting to note that using a digital service to find my way around does make it harder to find things again because so much of my reliance is on the service and following what it says. Whereas, driving to directions from a local or using a road map makes navigating the same area again much easier. The space that is travelled in could be fully digitized at one point in time making finding your way around a city an entirely new experience. This could come with the rise of virtual reality as a primary way of interacting with information through the use of technology. Where time could get involved with this concept of finding direction could be zoning out and just following the directions the phone gives you instead of taking in the surroundings. Losing a sense of time passing and thinking; losing consciousness per say and bending to the whims of the guidance system.

“Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” The Rock, T.S. Eliot.

The transformation into a virtual world may inherently be making us less knowledgeable, as we are relying on technology to assist and know things for us. The quotation above from Eliot’s poem challenges the idea of actually growing wiser with technology or losing sight of actually learning. “…a hierarchy of wisdom, knowledge and information” Metadata pg 20. Photography is a great example of this evolution; from film to digital. There used to be a skill to the photography process, now anyone can do it with little knowledge of what they are actually doing. The difference of having the ability to see pictures as soon as you take them completely revolutionized the photography industry. Photography has evolved to the point of allowing 3D objects to be rendered on a computer and put into game engines. This form of imaging is called photogrammetry, a process of stitching images together to create objects in a space. The other form of taking objects in this world and putting them into a virtual space requires a form of laser imaging system, similar to photogrammetry but much more accurate.

A virtual world may be closer than we think, an advancement that may remove our humanity. The future may not be as grim as it can be made out to be, these new innovations will change everything. 

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