Uber, Online Dating, and Beyond

Matthew Fuller’s Software Studies: A Lexicon, along with our recent discussion of copyright, makes me think about how people always say that technology is moving a lot faster than ethics and law. In other words, we cannot keep up the pace with the advancement of technology. Think about things like Airbnb and Uber, and how they challenge traditional services and pre-existing notions. We discuss and debate over how we can regulate these new ideas, but it’s just too late to apply the brakes.

 

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FYI: While Uber has generated their fair share of controversies, you can now ride their cars for 15% less than yellow cabs.

 

Huge changes are happening much faster than before, and in ways that we often don’t think about. It seems like we don’t even know where the line should be drawn when it comes to ethics and technology (e.g. privacy laws). It’s too gray. Technology is becoming part of every domain, but regulatory gaps exist because we haven’t been able to keep up.

I don’t think it’s because we’re unaware of what’s going on. Our in-class discussion of Facebook and their ability to track our habits (including our sleeping habits, courtesy of r/dataisbeautiful) isn’t so surprising or mind-blowing (although it can feel weird to be reminded of it). We already know that these things are happening. However, isn’t it odd that we are so quick to call out the government for spying on us (particularly when the whole Edward Snowden thing went down), yet we kind of just live with the fact that these things are also happening on our social media platforms? For some reason, we don’t really truly think and discuss how these advancements/changes have completely and rapidly redefined human affairs and our lives (not necessarily saying it’s a good or bad thing).

After all, we don’t even think about the representational elements when we press a button, perhaps because it’s just so simple. Søren Pold notes in Software Studies: A Lexicon that when we click a button, whether it’s when we’re online shopping or downloading a song, “The cultural, conventional, and representational elements are disguised or “black- boxed” as pure technical functionality; you do not even realize the consequences of the copy protection technology, the money transfer via your credit card company, or the way the music is produced, commercialized, and regulated by the recording company, the outlet, and the artist. The functional spell is only broken when the software crashes.” Do we even realize the “consequences” of clicking “I Accept” to a contract shown on your screen? If not, why would we think about how the digital age is arguably driving our world towards one that is without anonymity, for instance?

 

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My entertainment law class (and several other classes as well) are also discussing a lot about copyright right now!

 

After all, we don’t even think about the representational elements when we press a button, perhaps because it’s just so simple. Søren Pold notes in Software Studies: A Lexicon that when we click a button, whether it’s when we’re online shopping or downloading a song, “The cultural, conventional, and representational elements are disguised or “black- boxed” as pure technical functionality; you do not even realize the consequences of the copy protection technology, the money transfer via your credit card company, or the way the music is produced, commercialized, and regulated by the recording company, the outlet, and the artist. The functional spell is only broken when the software crashes.” Do we even realize the “consequences” of clicking “I Accept” to a contract shown on your screen? If not, why would we think about how the digital age is arguably driving our world towards one that is without anonymity, for instance?

We are now in some ways controlled by algorithms, and our world is completely shaped/ruled by them. As Andrew Goffey notes, the algorithm is “not simply the theoretical entity studied by computer scientists.” He suggests that they have a “real existence” and play much more of a social, cultural, and political role we perhaps are consciously aware of.

You were almost introduced to the love of your life on OKCupid, but unfortunately the dating website’s algorithm just “felt” like you guys are just not a good match. Dating is so hard nowadays. Sorry!

 

 

(I love Drew Barrymore and her carefree spirit, she’s my favorite! I know “drugs are bad” or whatever the general consensus is nowadays but her younger self would have been so much fun to hang out with. But I love her even more now as well!)

The fact that we are sort of unaware of the materials of the software seem to be an overarching theme in Fuller’s text. On a somewhat surface level, sure, we do kind of acknowledge the influence that digital objects have on us, which is evident by the fact that we joke about it so much in pop culture, almost just as much as we joke about millennials! (But those two things seem to come hand in hand.)

 

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He’s Just Not That Into You (2009)

 

So when Friedrich Kittler delves into the “legitimate concept of code” and what the word itself connotes (or how our definition of it has evolved), or when Fuller himself notes that, to us, software has become the familiar, and we see software as merely a “tool, something that you do something with,” we are being forced to understand software different, perhaps take a more “transversal” perspective.

I hope I made a little bit of sense, maybe.

Edit:

An interesting, “slightly terrifying” photo of Mark Zuckerberg now on the front page of Reddit:

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~ by Teerin on February 22, 2016.

3 Responses to “Uber, Online Dating, and Beyond”

  1. I really like the style of this post- the graphics you chose are really strong in conveying the message of technology’s affect on everything from our social (and dating!) lives to how we spend time alone (with a terrifying box on our faces!)

  2. Content – I really like what you’ve written in this post. These are issues that a lot of us have thought about but it was interesting to see your take on it. it is really too late to apply the brakes and the digital objects and millenial jokes in pop culture part touched a nerve. Love the way you wrote it!

  3. Content: Honestly, I could’ve said style but the amount of information I’ve gained while reading your post pushed me towards content. I think humour, makes things light and easy-to-read but sometimes its nice to also have a more toned down post that conveys quality information like yours does. I love how you effortlessly tied in the concepts from our reading and linked them to very modern concepts like, uber, okcupid, airbnb and other things that people from our generation can relate to. Also, the link about how fb tracks our sleeping habits was wonderful.

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