January 21, 2017
History of American Technology & Culture--Spring 2013
Prof. McClurken's HIST 325
Include your comments and questions below on Pursell, 324-348 and the Global Graveyard site.
Prior to reading Pursell, I had an extremely negative view of hackers. While there are most definately bad hackers, I can help but be compelled to join the cause. It was the argurement that the internet is creating an information elite which is against the freedom of information act which rang a bell to me. Harkening this idea to modern day, wikileaks- while there is controversy in hacking, there is als controversy in secrets. Another way of looking at the hacker notion is that when we talk about invention, we talk about how the new product is an improvement on the old. By opening up informaton to more people, the information technologies can improve.
I found the Pursell reading a bit hard to follow, but what I was able to grasp I found rather interesting. The same “nerds” who were creating computers decades ago are now creating viruses and becoming hackers. They have changed with the technology. This article also showed the sort of domino effect the advancement of technology can have. For example, as viruses became more of an issue, anti-virus software had to be invented.
The Global Graveyard slideshow was quite eye opening. I think most people only think of the positive aspects of computers and probably do not see a negative, but this would be it.
The photographs of the Computer Graveyard really had some powerful meaning to me. It showed that technology can be resourceful but like everything in life, it dies. New life will spawn from death just like new technology. Technology is constantly growing and improving just like human life. The size of the graveyard was striking to me too. I really had no idea that companies would dump their computer products just like they did. The people of Ghana take the copper from the cords and sell them. Atleast people in poverty can still benefit from dead technology.
I thought the reading for this week was really interesting, especially the New York Times article about the computer graveyard. That got my attention more than the Pursell reading on computer hacking because these people are searching for bits and pieces of our old computers so they can survive. This really makes me realize that we are a wasteful nation because we always need the best and throw away all of our junk to the rest of the world to use.
The Pursell reading was very difficult to read but I did enjoy learning about the first hacking incident 1988. It really did change the way technology was handled and made safety a big issue. Today there are so many ways that someone can protect their various technologies.
The Global Graveyard was something that I had never heard of before. It is sad to think that in Agbogbloshie these young children have to live this life everyday and the expense of wastefulness. However, these people see this as a positive aspect in which they can make money even though it is ten times below the market. They feel blessed just to have trash in their land. It really is an eye opener for Americans.
I found the Pursell reading particularly interesting about computer viruses and hackings because we here a lot about it in the news today with organizations like Anonymous and The Joker. It is interesting what a person can do with a computer and a software program. We should also point out that there are those who use computers this way for good and bad, but I have to say I don’t condone either. With people like Anonymous getting involved in foreign relations we have to be cautious as to whom they upset.
For the Global Graveyard article I found the last slide and its caption disturbing. Referring to the global toxic waste as a gift. It is sicking to think that there are people out there who would just dump their waste on the less fortunate. I just want to meet that individual and ask why. They are out there somewhere but we will never see them, however we do see those effected by their actions.
I really enjoyed the Pursell reading this week! Even though some sections were hard to follow, it was still an interesting topic, especially in the way that they used computer viruses and compared them to real viruses such as their example of HIV. It is scary to think that one person (Morris) can cause so much destruction and controversy by just playing around on their computer. I am a little confused though as to why exactly Morris created this virus? Was it out of pure curiosity, or did he know the negative consequences that would quickly occur from his invention? Page 328 of the reading, gives a generic answer to virus creators intentions, but never really states what drove Morris into inventing the virus.
I enjoyed the Pursell reading because it included technical talk which for me, I know absolutely nothing about the technology of computers. It is interesting to see how the hacker community came about and the ebbs and flows it went through with different decades.
The Global Graveyard slideshow was a total shock to me. It came was a surprise that to me that the U.S. and other countries toss aside old and outdated computers to other places which so negatively effect other communities in our world. Sadly though, this is the reality of the world we live in. While I’m sure we all post on our own personal laptops in the comfort of our world, it is easy to forget that our waste is so negatively effecting other parts of the world
The global graveyard gave me nightmares. I just can’t understand why this all goes on. I know it’s all about the greed, but really? There seem to be no limits to it. One more thing I know that I wish I didn’t because I can’t stop it.
It reminds me of the Eagles song called the, “The Last Resort”. They make the grand design of what is yours and what is mine…there are no more new frontiers… we have got to make it here.
I found the reading in Pursell incredibly interesting, especially the section regarding computer viruses and cyber culture. After the 1988 virus attack, federal protection against computer hackers and software to protect against viruses became more prominent. I did find it interesting that viruses were compared to the HIV/AIDS epidemic since, in my mind, they are completely different; although, in the beginning of the technology age, I guess its not too surprising that any threat was seen as a cause for mass panic and fear. Just the same, the culture surrounding hackers is an extremely interesting, if controversial, topic. For some, the work of hackers may be seen as a way to release information to the public; for others, it is merely a threat. This was even more interesting to read with the knowledge of the current mass hacker group “Anonymous” which constantly uses its hacking skill as a way to protest against major issues like the Westboro Baptist Church and other international human rights issues.
The Purcell reading for this week was rather long and complicated. I did take away from it the initial reaction to computer viruses. I think the references to AIDS, seem a little over per portioned, its very clear as to the thinking of the time. It is hard to image our world without the risk of computer viruses. I remember when computers were first coming out people were just happy to have them. those times when people lived in blissful ignorance of the threatening cyber world that became. Computer viruses have come a long way since 1998, and they are more adaptable and creative now than ever. they remain a reminder to those who venture in to the cyber world of the realities of cyber life.
Global graveyard- It should be no surprise to the view of the slide show for this weeks reading. We often live in a bliss in this country of much and plenty. This is the worlds sin, and its bear by those we do not name know or care to remember. While we live in a state of technological supremacy, we still remain unaware of our impact on this world. Everything has a price in this world. We cannot live like kings, without killing peasants. This slide show should remind us of our part in the story, and how it impacts and affects other peoples around the world.
Compared to our parent’s generation, Generation Y depends on a functioning sense of technology as an everyday way of life. I found the Pursell article very aptly timed because Andrew Ross’ tern “technoliteracy” may become a historically correct term in the future. Pursell mentions that hippies of the sixties and seventies are similar to the hackers of today. This comparison can be made because of reactions of the society. Computer hackers and viruses halt the everyday use and advancement of technology that many people depend on to have their day function normally. Take that away and there is a great possibility that nothing could get done.
I found this weeks Pursell reading very interesting. The parts in which they related hackers and viruses in the technical world to actual epidemics and biological scares in history such as cholera and AIDS made me think of the connection that we as Americans have to our technology. It was surprising to see how computer viruses which cause no harm to your physical being cause just as much panic as potentially lethal biological viruses. To me it provided an enlightening anecdote on how involved us today have become with our technology that even though personal property or information may be at risk with a computer virus, many Americans treat it as if life is on the line.
I agree that the Pursell reading was a little technical to just jump into and understand, but overall, the thing that struck me was how the reading characterized hackers as socially maladjusted outcasts, and how more modern views of them have sort of divided. In some cases, hackers are still seen as the maladjusted rebels they were in the 80s, and are out to maliciously attack victims. But in others, hackers are sort of turning into anti-heroes, using their still-frowned-upon skills to get justice, like when Anonymous hacked the Westboro Baptist Church and other hate groups. I thought it was interesting how that dynamic has played out, and I would have liked to have seen the article go further into the modern era to explore aspects like that more deeply.
In the Global Graveyard photoset, the thing that surprised me the most was how Americans and others who are looking to donate old computers to facilitate global connectedness have no idea their donations are being sold for scrap in graveyards like that one. It makes sense when I think about it that the people could get more use out of the money they get from harvesting scrap than they would from an outmoded PC, but it seemed strange and very sad to see kids risking their health trying to get at a few ounces of precious metal in a broken computer. I wonder what kind of impact photos like that would have if they were publicized better to the people making those donations.
I also had some difficulty with the Pursell reading this week, but I think I managed to follow most of it. I wish it had continued into today’s hackers since they have changed throughout the decades. I liked how the author mentioned how we personify computers like with their viruses and how the viruses can become an epidemic. I think that by using that kind of language with these machines, it keeps use very close to them in a way that we are not necessarily close to other kinds of machines. However, as we clearly see in the Global Graveyard pictures and slides, there are people who do not have the same relationship with computers. It’s a different kind of world, where the computers are merely objects that contain metals for resale since that it was is going to help them in their everyday lives. The quote on slide five that says, “The equipment in this digital
cemetery come mainly from Europe and the United States, sometimes as secondhand donations
meant to reduce the “digital divide” — the disparity in computer access between poor
nations and rich,” was interesting because anyone can tell from the pictures that the “digital divide” is not being reduced from these donations.
The Pursell reading for this week was very technical so I had a little trouble understanding some parts of it. However, I found it very interesting to read about the rise of computer hackers in the 1980s and how they were seen as equally morally maladjusted as the rebels without a cause in the 50s, the dropouts of the 60s, and the negationist punks of the 70s. This reading alluded to the fact that as time went on the hacker community expanded from white, middle-class males to included female, but it never goes into detail. I would have been very interested to read about what role females played in the hacker culture and community because even today when we think about computer hackers we think predominantly of males whether they are the nerdy amateur doing it to test their abilities or the sleazy “professional” who uses hacking extort money from those who have been hacked.
The Global Graveyard slideshow surprised me. I had no idea that the U.S. and other countries simply dumped our old and unwanted computers into “graveyards” like that one. The quote “The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary
Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal was meant to stop the dumping of toxic waste in poor
countries. But rules get complicated when the waste arrives as a gift,” was very sad to me. There should be other ways of providing these people with the needed materials from unwanted computers without endangering their health or the health of the soil where these computers are dumped.
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