How does our use of location-aware software change our view of the world?

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-is it just a passing fad?
application to alert friends near by-ny times

Location aware software may not directly impact our views of the world, but rather enhance them to make us more aware of our environment and add additional information that we may not have been previously aware of. An example of this is using urban spoon to seek a coffee shop that’s close by, we already know the area we just want to find that “hidden gem” around the corner.

The major impact in the future could be on dating and meeting new people using applications such as the Chinese Momo or Wechat. Location aware software allows you to directly connect with people in the same area that may have similar interests and be in your proximity. In this scenario it would directly impact your lifestyle in the ways in which you communicate with others and the ways in which you decide to make that very important first impression. This may make traditional dating methods more redundant; you may no longer go to nightclubs or bars for this purpose.

Although it may seem like a passing fad these applications have plenty to evolve into and will change as more and more people tapped into their networks. The current applications may not exist in the future, but as the technology changes they may become an integrated part of our social communications, as other social media is already.

How are mobile phones being used differently in the developing world? Are they the technology that will bridge the digital divide?

Recent news that approx. 75% of the world has cell phones and that mobile phone usage in the developing world has surpassed that of the developing world could do much to close the digital divide. Access to cellular services gives you access to a host of applications, news and communications that may have previously been too expensive.  The media’s view on the issue as so far been mixed.

For the middle class population it may do a great deal to spur the economic development of small businesses; farmers will be able to contact businesses, stores to their suppliers. It will connect them to the outside world and allow them to research information about there business in order to grow and succeed; e.g. advice on how to grow a crop. It can connect people to job services and people in rural areas to university programs to enhance their education. As seen in last week’s blog post it can also aid in political activism in at risk areas. In this population mobile phones provide an infinite number of options. The below image from PC World gives optimistic statistics on mobile phone usage in developing countries:

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(source: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2407335,00.asp)

It’s a little optimistic to suggest that it will close the digital divide as it doesn’t do a lot for the world’s poorest unless there is an organization that is willing to donate and support these devices for educational purposes; e.g. One laptop for very child. You still are required to subscribe to a mobile service, have access to electricity and reception to be able to use the service and you still need to be able to pay for the handset. For those families who are struggling to even provide food for their families or send their children to school it is unlikely to have an impact. It would be more beneficial to finance traditional aid; such as agriculture, education and food rather than technological services. Using such devices also may be dependent on your basic literacy skills; if you cannot read the internet becomes difficult to use.

TED Talks: Iqbal Quadir: How mobile phones can fight poverty

Are Social Media Becoming Political Media?

-What is the role of social media in politics?
-Can Twitter and Facebook really become a sustained weapon in political struggle?

Social Media is used in Australian Politics on a regular basis; everybody has seen Kevin Rudd’s infamous Twitter and Instagram. How many posts about the election by people wishing to express their opinions? The share button on the bottom of newspaper articles is regularly exploited by many people. Social Media has a role in politics in a few particular ways; Social Media enables candidates to promote themselves and their opinions, it enables its users to promote their opinions and it creates a 24 hour news cycle. There is always someone watching, listening and observing. Even if they are passive observers of social media, they can make their opinions know via social media.

Twitter and Facebook maybe able to become a sustained weapon in a political struggle, although no revolution began on Facebook. They both enable news to be spread and reach across a large audience, groups to be formed and events to be created. The  first problem with Twitter and Facebook is that they can both be blocked by the government, much like internet is censored in China. The second problem with Twitter and Facebook in a political struggle is the passive observer; people are more than happy to ‘Like’ or ‘Retweet’ something but they are less likely to take active arms against a political struggle. The failure of Kony 2012 is a direct consequence of this. If the fight is on your own street, such as seen in the Arab Springs; affecting your internet supply or food supply you are much more likely to take part.

In this article a young writer from Jakata chronicals the ways in which he uses social media and the ways it impacts him in the up and coming elections in Jakata: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2013/10/12/youths-politics-and-role-social-media.html