Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Last Concise Writing Exercise!

There was a big basketball game in the gym at the high school last night. My niece played, and she did wonderfully.  Seven baskets were made by her, and with the last one, the game was won. There were college recruiters there, so I was especially happy for her. After the game had been won, there were shouts and tears, and the girls were all so excited.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Andi's Hunting Blog


To just see the pictures of the deer click on "My Journey" then scroll all the way to the bottom

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Iconic photos

Chapter 4 Jones & Hafner

Traditional reading styles are interesting when applied to online spaces. The concept of given information and new information really make me want to reconsider my blog's layout. I have a huge section of text in the middle, with no information sorted between the left and the right. It's a space that is rooted in a paper reading style, rather than an online space. This text really changed the way I thought about writing online.

I also thought the way that advertisements on websites that seek to sell things work was brilliant. I do want to know if this trend in design was because of research into psychology or if one site created it popular and others copied until humans were just so used to the formatting that we just expected to read things in this formatting. The example of Chanel's website was helpful to visualizing everything. It really exemplified the difference between ideal and real.

The idea of framing a video to attract interest is really interesting to me, especially given that in my literacy and technology class we are extensively discussing camera shots and how the audience will interpret things differently based off of these shots. Our argument is truly multimodal because we now have to consider tone, image, language, narration, text, speed, lighting, and camera shots. All of qualities need to be ideal to portray our message accurately.

Chapter 4: Multimodality

In Chapter 4, Jones and Hafner explain multimodality and its forms on the web. I found some interesting things when considering what websites use multimodality to their advantage.

Wikipedia: A very textbook-style website where text is rampant and images are only there to provide examples or scenery of the topic. There is also audio from time to time. Simple, yet effective.

Youtube: Purely audial and visual. Text is there for description and commenting, both of which are limited.

Reddit: Another text-dominant site where in comments and stories, users can get lost in walls of words and is very conversation-based. A lot of reflection on other semiotic modes is done in the comment section. However, style of text can be manipulated to reflect tone of voice.

Facebook/Twitter: A very social gateway to multimodality. Driven by status updates and photo-sharing, these social outlets are about as passive as multimodality can get.

Blogger: A solid combination of text and audial/visual accompany. Blogger is what I consider an ideal form of multimodality.

What I found about the uses of multimodality is that it isn't exactly the whole package of text, audio, visual, and input every time. Certain sites flourish in making their sites very strict and to the point, while others just present the content right in your face.

Martonis Chapter Four

The majority of the information in the chapter on multimodality was already known to me.  I did find the section of how Western cultures read interesting and useful.  I did not consciously recognize that given information was on the left and new information provided on the right.  This makes sense because of the way traditional texts are read, but I will be able to use this information when organizing my blog.  I also must wonder how a reader is affected if the roles are reversed.  Does this grab attention or confuse and put off the audience? 
I also thought it was intriguing to think about the real versus ideal in the presentation of ideas.  I never questioned why the log in was at the top right corner, nor did I ever think it was a subliminal tactic used to get more people to sign up for the website.  When designing my blog I will be able to use this information to try and gain more followers and responses.
The section about appealing to emotions and visual arguments will be extremely useful when I go to create my video.  I have been thinking a lot about what tactic I would like to use, and if I can manage to pull in both an emotional appeal and a video sequence I think I will be able to create a strong video.

Chapter 4

In this chapter, Jones and Hafner address the growth of multimodality. Now, with our digital screens being able to display so much more than just plain text, what we see is only limited to our imaginations. I have never given much thought to multimodality (like most terms we have learned in this class, it is something I see everyday but have never discussed it) but it is everywhere. As an extremely visual person, I am strongly attracted to visually appealing things. As a product of my generation, I most likely won't even notice (and certainly won't pay attention to) plain text without any special effects to draw me in.

What I think is so interesting is how these rules of digital literacy are now influencing traditional methods, like print. The shift to digital has also created a shift to visual, emphasizing the importance of a clear, quickly understandable message. We have become bored of plain text, and with so many flashing neon colors all around us, marketing teams all around the globe have to find ways to get our attention and display their message clearly, and in a way which we can quickly understand and process it.

With a combination of pictures and text, a message can be understood immediately. A visual aid can even become more important that the text when delivering the message. For example, I have recently noticed a change in the packaging of  Wal-mart's "Great Value" food products. The old packaging resembled a traditional style of text and color blocking which varied amongst the different foods. Now, all "Great Value" food packages have a similar appearance: white boxes with very clear text, with a large picture of the food inside the box. This new packaging makes it very clear for the customer to actually see what they are buying, as apposed to relying on the text description.

In this digital age, making your message visually appealing is the name of the game. Whether it be online or in-store, the clarity and speed of which your message can be understood can either gain or lose your audience in just seconds. Multimodality isn't just seen online, it's everywhere and it's more important than ever.

Chapter 4

I think what was most helpful about this chapter was the useful discussion of the effect of an image on the reader of a text, as well as the use of camera angles and other tricks to capture the interest of the reader. For example, a camera angled straight at the person being filmed is more easily identified with, and seeing the image rather than just reading it is more emotionally powerful anyway. Using the Vietnam war as an example of this emotional power of image was definitely an effective and true statement on the part of Jones and Hafner. It was, after all, the first war with extensive news coverage, and this had a profound effect on the way people reacted to it. These facts are valuable information, and I plan on making use of this new-found knowledge for my video argument, which I now know will need to be properly paced matched with an appropriate soundtrack. Just reading this has made me feel like I have a few more tricks up my sleeve for the upcoming video, and I'm more excited than ever to begin filming. I want to also take care to avoid the mistakes we observed in some of the videos in class, to give it a really professional feel, and I think the tips this chapter has to offer will be truly valuable throughout this process.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Ch 4 Jones and Hafner: Importance of Matching Images with Words and Argument

Reading this chapter has helped lower my anxiety over making the Video Argument. I’m not that technically savvy, and this chapter broke a lot of things I was worried about down.  The biggest aspect is making sure everything connects.  We touched on this in class already about the video that showed a lot of breathing but was really about climate change.  Because the images didn’t match what the video was really about, it was almost unanimous that none of us in the class thought it was a good argument or even enjoyed watching the video at all. Had it actually matched it could have supported the argument more and even created an emotional response in us that would make the impact more powerful.

How to use camera angles was also helpful to learn about.  If I want to be more direct and powerful, the camera angle has to be directly facing the object or person, not off to the side or too zoomed out. Making sure our words enforce what we are depicting in pictures or videos is also important.  On page 82, the camera angle is directly on the calf, which creates a more powerful emotional than if it had been far away in a field or off to the side.  The words are witty and the reader has to actually think literally about what they’re saying which also hits home. Seeing the example images and reading about how to create videos effectively using multimodal means is starting to give me ideas about what I think I can handle in making a video argument towards. Before this chapter I was struggling in trying to brainstorm so I’ll definitely use this chapter to my benefit.

Chapter 4: Jones and Hafner

The biggest thing I took away from this chapter was the case study because it catches my attention in all of the chapters we have read. I am also very interested in photography and digital pictures. They make many strong points about how digital images are cheap, immediate, can be cropped, and shared. These are the reasons why blogging and "vlogging" and phones and text messaging are the means of conversation and how we live now. Most people have a camera or a phone or a computer. We can take a picture on any of these 3 devices and now cameras even have wi-fi! That's nuts. We are in an ever-changing world and we will never be able to go back.

Sometimes we use print like books and newspapers, but only if needed. I know that I rarely ever pick up a newspaper because I can find it all in the palm of my hand. I can also take a picture of something important I want to remember to write about later.

As a future teacher I love that taking pictures and printing them out has become almost an instantaneous occurrence because when I want my children that aren't so talented in drawing to have pictures or a way of expressing themselves they can take pictures of themselves, others, and things they are writing about to put in their books. As they say in the book, it has lead to a development of new literacy practices. We all are drawn to pictures and illustrations before we are the words because they are bigger, brighter and bolder. The digital world is competition for the print world because they have to keep up in wowing their audiences, too.

This used to be a media that was only available to the people that knew how to use it and had a camera where as now it is available to anyone who can get their hands on a camera for a minute and a computer. Now, there are both in most schools and there are also cameras that are almost as good or better than an actual camera so it makes no difference. It is changing the world we are living in, for sure.

Print Designers Protest!

In the past, reading the newspaper was one of the prime modes of gaining knowledge about the world around us. This particular medium combines both text and imagery to create an overall product, a process which is similar to the rendering of digital media. The text stated, “When you are writing for the screen, it is now much easier to make use of visual resources like images, layout, font and formatting.” As Layout Editor for the campus newspaper, The Leader, I can easily attest to the design simplification that the digital age presents for users. Templates are a wonderful thing.  

However, for those who are proficient in the Adobe Creative Suites program, the digital age only makes it difficult for print designers to find employment. Web-designers have taken the place of traditional designers, not only web-designers, but the average internet user as well. A print designer is forced adapt to the means to a new technologically versed world. Consumers are no longer looking for a well formatted book or pamphlet, they are looking for a blog design that will “wow” their fellow bloggers. Sure, a print-designer can understand the aesthetic process of creating a blog that is well-composed, but do they know anything at all about HTML? My guess, probably not. The traditional designer must adapt otherwise they will be quickly left in the dust by web-designers coding until their heart’s desire. 

As stated in the text, “As we move from the page to the screen, we are witnessing a change in the amount and quality of information that is communicated through messages.” When formatting a newspaper, a traditional designer had to rely on word-count and other tricks of the trade in order to make the text fit perfectly onto the page. A web-designer has so much more flexibility. Writers for the digital age are allowed to write however much they please, for all the web-designer has to do is add another web-page if it doesn’t quite fit onto one. However, since our minds are a little scattered-brained when viewing the web, writers try to simplify their words, making the life of a web-designer a little more simple.

 Though, this isn’t to say that web-designers have it easy all the time; it’s just that their work-load is different from the traditional process of creation. Coding is an art form in itself. It is a form of design that most print-designers are just learning now, in order to keep up with their ever-advancing profession. Although the digital world has changed our means of consuming media, the way in which that media is created has also been impacted in a way that is progressing every day. 

Chapter 4; Multimodality's exploitation of the human race.

  The fact that multimodality is necessary really says something about the world we live in today. Multimodality as discussed in chapter four is about "making meaning" of writing that can not be conveyed with just plain text. As is true with many other aspects of a digital world, this is a double edged sword.

Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words. It is much easier for me to show you a picture of my view from the hills of Northern California than it is to explain to you the beauty and splendor that it conveys.But you will never actually experience what you see in the picture or video shown. Pictures and videos are second hand experiences that we compile to try to keep the first hand experience alive in our hearts and minds.

Multimodality allows us to create page layouts and advertisements to sway people into feeling certain things and help them to lean towards certain decisions, but what isn't taken into account is that this is just another way of societal manipulation.It helps companies LIE and exploit the masses to benefit their agendas.What digital communication and writing does is eliminate the humanity of guilt, body language, and expression. While it is easy to convey certain things, multimodality and digital writing makes it easier to hide and ignore the opposing viewpoints.

One of the most prominent examples I could think of about "making meaning" out of plain text was the use of emoticons and pictures while texting. It is easy to send your boyfriend a picture of your homework so he thinks you're home studying while you're really at Sunny's getting yo' freak on. But the scarier thing is how emoticons can hide one's true feelings. Say you're texting someone you have an interest in. They actually hate you, but to spare your feelings or to string you along they send you a "heyy :) " back. Little do you know they actually on a date right now. Now imagine the same scenario in person. There is definitely no smile on the face of a player who just got caught, nor are you smiling. The thing that plain text lacks and will always lack is the necessary truth serum of body language.

Multimodality is just another way of manipulating and censoring the information and "truth" that is conveyed to the general public, or even loved ones. You can be hurting inside but text that everything is alright with some rainbows, puppies and butterflies. Seems legit. But if you had that conversation in person the pain in one's eyes would be evident, your posture would lie to the world despite the words that come out on screen or page. There is no equal alternative to face to face in person contact. While one can lie in person, it is much easier to do so through writing, and multimedia methods has only made the cycle of immorality and deceit spin around faster.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Chapter 4

    Being an author myself (unpublished at this point) I see the linear direction that I wish to take a reader of my books or short stories. They must follow me in a straight path to were I want them to go. They know nothing of my world until I am good and ready to tell them.
     Words are the only weapons of the textual world. Is the night clear and cold? Warm and stormy? Is the character wet from the rain or his own sweat? The words are the only thing I currently use to make the reader understand what I want them to see.
     Multimodal takes a different approach. A picture of the moon in the background over fresh fallen snow would tell the reader clear and cold. A picture of a man running through the rain would explain why he is wet.
    Text added to the pictures would farther move the story. The clear and cold night could be a story of Christmas Eve. The man could be wet because he forgot his umbrella.
    Perhaps adding a  Christmas carol to the picture would stir the desired emotion of Christmas past. Dark, somber music may add a sense of foreboding the man running through the rain. 
    With today's inpatients with reading, the modes of communication quickly get information to the reader. More information can be sent to the reader before they loose interest. On-line reading is not like sitting by the fire with a blanket, fuzzy slippers and a good book. It is more like fast food. Get in, get out.
   The on-line eye tracking research of Nelson (57) suggests that the reader scans the page in an "F" pattern. The eyes move across the top from left to right, through the middle then down the left. The book does not get into it that well, but it would suggest that the most important information should be on the top. Second most important in the middle, then links listed on the left that you consider important. 
    Unlike books, it is next to impossible to control how your reader gets their information on-line. They may read what you have written and look at your pictures or they may not. They might click on a link and never come back. Assuming the links are related, they may still find out what you want them to know.     

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Emily's Blog URL



  • Bullying/Cyberbullying
  • Crime/Violence in Schools
  • Drug Use by Students
  • Education Reform 
  • Technology in English Class
  • Informational Piece (Modules)

Local teachers, local students studying education, education professors

Some basic elements of web design

  • It's often best to stick to 2-3 main colors and 2-3 primary fonts.
  • It's often best to stick generally to 5-8 navigation items. Think through the organization: will navigation be intuitive?
  • White space is okay; try to avoid clutter.
  • Page length should generally be about 2 screenfuls for a page, 6-7 for an article.
  • Allow users a way to get home on every page.
  • Include contact information.
  • Keep paragraphs short; consider lists and bullets.
  • Headlines: engaging, attention-grabbing, emotional response

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Remixes, Mashups, and Creative Commons

This site offers humorous examples of remixes and mashups.

Here, you can read about Creative Commons, and here you can search for Creative Commons licensed material.

And this site will tell you more about how to use Creative Commons and attribute to the creators of content that you use.


Chapter 3: Tagging

Possibly the most intriguing part of chapter 3 of Understanding Digital Literacies is how information is filed. Tagging is a topic that strikes me as very misconstruing at times. On Youtube videos, website links, and other kinds of sourcing, tagging can easily be abused to reach out to more people for the sake of being noticed.

Several times throughout my Youtube browsing experience, I have experienced this abuse of tagging. Users will most likely include tags that have nothing to do with the video so the video can be found through a number of different searches. What most videos with this abuse of tagging have done is flood the tag section with every possible related popular search. For example, a video of a highlight play of Lebron James could have every basketball affiliated name in the tag section, creating a very confusing search result when one would search for a video of a highlight of another player or team. This abuse is responsible for the widespread popularity of certain videos. Some videos have substantially less substance to them and just spam tags to become popular. A clear sign of this happening is negativity in response.

The nature of tagging is an abusive system, and is often overlooked as one normally has to search deeper into the video statistics for tags. Unfortunately, not much can be done about this as tags don't need permission and can be abused very easily.

Useful sites for blog creation

Here are a few sites that may be useful as you create your blog:
  • Learn how to disable some views in blogger's dynamic views. (I don't do a whole lot with code-writing, but these steps really are pretty simple. The site offers suggestions for other simple changes to dynamic views too.)
  • Watch the video we watched in class about dynamic views.  
  • Here is one blogger's experience using and adjusting dynamic codes. I will be honest; because I don't write code, I don't know how to do everything that she has done! But perhaps you will be able to, and we can learn from each other.
  • See which WordPress templates allow you to add a custom header.

CH. 3 reflection

As more and more of our lives become dependent on digital technologies, it is interesting to notice the shift in our learning behaviors. Traditionally, Americans would either read the news in a newspaper or watch the evening news. As televisions became staples in our lives, a shift was already occurring. While TV views and ratings went up, the amount of news programming developed from just one news show- Walter Cronkite on the evening news, to entire channels dedicated to news casting 24-7. During this time, there were plenty of skeptics to say TV was bad, and terrible distraction that children were sucked into which offered little-to-no-good to society. But oh, if these skeptics could just see us now...

Now, digital technologies have replaced the traditional TV set, and then some.

As for television news, it is now generally distrusted by most Americans (along with most other mass media, as well), who now find their news stories online. With the use of the Internet, anything is possible. You can search specific information or browse news stories at your convenience, so who would wants to make time to sit in front of the TV during dinner time? And by reading the news online, you are in direct control of the source, so you can make sure what you're reading is credible.

Reading news online also allows us to become more informed. Hyper-linking is used in most articles, as a way for the author to give the readers control of the direction of the information. In-text links are optional pathways leading from the original article, to other relevant sites that we, as readers, can choose to explore. Following these links is an easy way to become well-rounded on the topic you are interested in. Some argue that these hyper-links are changing the way we learn, and I would agree. Online learning itself has increased the pace in which we read and process information, and hyper-links can be distractions away from the real message. I know personally, I am much less likely to completely read a paragraph if there is a hyper-link in it. Usually I scan the words until I reach the link, then hover over it to learn where the link leads. If I find it interesting I will click it, but not always. Sometimes, just simply hovering over the link gives me enough information to decided if it's interesting to me or not.

Hyper-linking may lead to less-focused reading, but if you aren't interested in the article, you probably weren't too focused in the first place. I think the benefits of links outweigh the negatives, because it allows those truly interested a way to learn more, and become more well-rounded on the subject. For articles that are less-than-gripping, I as an online reader appreciate the links because I use them for skimming and gaining a basic knowledge. I know that reading online may feed my short attention span, but I think the important thing is to realize the downsides and understand how to adapt with the developing technologies.

Chapter 3- Hypertext response

The book has taken on a new form that comes in the shape of a never-ending browser. There are no longer pages that you can flip, smell, or even look to see how much you have left. Instead, you are scrolling, typing, and clicking. You are exploring the internet. A vast world full of information that keeps on loading. Unlike a book, there is no ending to this digital story. It’s your job as a user to continue the story, and you can do this through the use of something as handy as a hyperlink.

After reading or even while reading an article online, hypertexts give the reader a chance to delve even further into the topic of interest. There is no limit in regards to how far your research can expand. As stated in the text, “Unlike the pages of a book, which unfold in a linear sequence, hypertext can be organized in a variety of different ways.” If you find yourself reading an article about staying healthy, soon enough, you may find yourself reading a totally separate article about the effects of alcohol on the body. Stories are now given the infinite possibility to connect. When conducting research by using a book, more often than not, a reader will have to flip through several books in order to obtain all the information they need. Whereas with the internet, hypertext allows for an instantaneous and bountiful collection of information. 

When a book is all said and done, it’s likely that a reader may share their thoughts about it with a friend or family member. Never in their wildest dreams would they imagine that they could directly interact with the author. The internet provides both writers and readers with the opportunity to engage with each other on a completely different level. The reader is given an active role for participation while they are reading. Instead of only taking information in to store in the back of your mind, a reader is allowed to share these thoughts with the author. This kind of interaction allows for writer improvement by gaining feedback from their audience. It’s all about a certain kind of connection that had never been accessible during the digital age.

Intelligence-wise, hypertext may very well be making us stupider. However, it also may be expanding our minds in a completely different way. As a result of new learning and research opportunities, the reader is no longer limited to the traditional practices of a book that ends at page 205. Although much quality information can be obtained in this matter, the internet, and hypertext in particular, is a way of expanding upon that basic research model. Hypertext is molding our minds in a way that has never been done before. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Chapter 3 Matecki

Reading this chapter helped me be more conscious of what and how I link I to any online written pieces.  Now that we’re on to “Web 2.0, from the read-only web to the read-write web” everything is more interactive (42). Instead of the computer only working one way, it’s now an interactive process between the reader and writer.  I guess I never took the time to think about this since it’s always been a part of my life in this aspect.  Since it is so interactive, however, whatever we put on our websites, blogs, articles, etc. will reflect on us a person.  Referring back to the case study on pages 41-42, depending on what we link to we can persuade an audience to feel a certain way or we can give a depiction of our own opinion.

This can be good and bad.  Positively it allows us to link to related resources if our audience wants to read more about something.  This could be other sites or even to our own previous blog posts.  These links could also be a bad thing; if we link to a website whose author doesn’t have any credentials and we’re doing a scholarly-type article, or hyperlink to a blog or site that’s not the respectable, it puts us in a bad light.  Being careful, looking for credentials if we need them or making sure everything on a site is appropriate before we link to it would be a great way to solve any problems before they start.

Going back to being able to interact with each other online, the online community between bloggers –or a blogroll— was something I never noticed.  I’m not an avid blogger and don’t necessary know how to maneuver around on someone’s blog once I find one that interests me.  I’m actually really interested in figuring out how to create an elaborate blog or website and join online community.  Again, it would be important to make sure the blogs in my blogroll are respectable and appropriate, but overall I think it’s a great way to promote other people’s work and your.

Chapter 3. Online thievery

    I am old enough to see the way the internet has changed. Not only is it more user friendly, (curse you Yahoo! chat IM bomb!) it has a great deal more give and take. 
    In the example of writers, in meetings on-line they have a new ability to collaborate. They can now share and refine ideas with one another. That sounds great for a literary analysis because no one really expects to make a living off of it. 
    All this collaboration is great if you are not expecting to get paid. Find an open English chat form and talk to others for advice on that ten page thesis paper about the "History of Toilet Paper". Perhaps they can advise you in a direction you never thought of. You may even experience that warm fuzzy feeling that comes from helping someone from not making that forehead dent in their desk any bigger.
    But...if you want to get paid, don't do it. Uncopyrighted material is ripe for the picking. It is plagiarism in it's worse form. You won't get credit and you won't get paid.
    Some experts believe that the on-line collaboration encourages plagiarism, especially in collages. That may be the case but not for long. Teachers are on the look out for it. If they see it, you're gone.
    Quoting is not plagiarism. You are merely barrowing a part of a work for discussion. Whether or not the author got paid or has a copyright is not your problem. Giving them credit for it is. Learn to live in fear of plagiarism, less you fall victim of it. 
    If you want to be a writer, get ready to be quoted. It won't always be flattering. There are those who will disagree with you or think you're an idiot. If you never want to be quoted, now is your time to shut up and hide in your corner.
    Understand that all ideas are universal. They seem to float around in the cosmos waiting for someone to grab them. Did you know that three people invented the telephone? If you have an awesome idea, share it. Or someone else will. 
     Did you know that those three people invented the telephone at the same time the same time? The difference was the patent. Copyright works the same way. It protects you and your work. Once you have it, no one can take your work from you. 

Jones and Hafner Chapter 3

I found it very interesting how the term, “hypertext” came to be. Theodor H. Nelson coined this term in the 1960s which I found neat because it always was just a word that meant linking to another source. When I use hyperlinks within my text, I want the information to be relateable to my reader and have them get some information from what they are clicking on, that I couldn't relay to them, or that wasn't my information to begin with.
I also really liked the description of the three structures there are for internal linking, and what internal linking is. I always wondered why on Wikipedia they linked from the top of the page to the bottom, and if it was actually considered linking. Now I know that this is a creative structure that helps the reader get down to the information he/she actually really wants! When I am reading Wikipedia and I want to know what movies a certain actor was in, I can click history or whatever, and it brings me there without scrolling for a few minutes and wasting my time.
Essentially, hyperlinks were created for just that reason – not to waste our time… to get us in and out as fast as possible! I have also seen the links to the next page within a website. These all give me ideas for how to create a website or blog with specific links to help my readers easily navigate and surf my pages.
I did a ton of linking in my recent informational piece about health. This reading showed me that it is okay to do this, within reason. I think that I did a good job linking to correct sources that will help my reader, but I don’t know if I linked to too many websites for my reader to stay focused on my words. They talk about in the text that more often than not, readers forget to explain what the reasoning behind the link is and I think that is what I mainly got from this chapter (besides all of the other major points) , so that is what I decided to focus on.

Overall, I think this was a neat chapter, sometimes repetitive but informative. I learned, as I said above to make sure I have an explanation of why I am linking to a certain webpage or image. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Scott Downey
ENG 399-03
Heather McEntarfer
September 3, 2012
                       Forced Obsolescence and the Power of Positive Procrastination
Many of us may have heard some old timer complain that things do not last as long as they used to. Because they don't. Manufacturers engineer products we buy to last only as long as the warranty. The government has little incentive to change the system because it keeps the economy rolling and brings in more tax dollars. If it never broke, you would not have to buy a replacement. They would make less money.
Why is this a problem in Chautauqua County? Chautauqua is ranked 15th out of 62 of the poorest counties in New York.       
Capitalists consider it a good thing even if they will never admit to it. Our economy runs on consumerism. The more people consume, the more companies have to produce. This keeps people working and makes more money.
Planned Obsolescence dates back to The Great Depression. Bernard London thought that by "Instilling the buyer with the desire for something newer, a little better, a little sooner than is necessary" would help rebound the economy.
Even simple light bulbs fail sooner than technology could allow for. Light bulbs lasted 2,500 hours in the 1920's. The Phoebus light bulb cartel forced manufacturers to reduce that time to 1,000 hours to simulate production. It was a big conspiracy theory known as "The Light Bulb Conspiracy".
Planned obsolescence wastes time and resources. Customers waste time by running around upgrading, fixing and replacing items that should last a lifetime. When I was growing up, my mother and my grandparents had the same model RCA television. I was too young to remember when they got the televisions, but both lasted until my twenties.  My last television lasted only ten years.
Environmentalists should also be upset. Consumers waste millions by buying new stuff and the repair trucks moving around. We use un-renewable energy to make new products that should not need replacing. Vast amounts of non-renewable fuel resources are burned while polluting the atmosphere. Our carbon footprint is increased.
The constant need to replace or upgrade makes millions of tons of e-waste.  Many of the parts are not reusable or just not reused and end up in landfills.  The EPA states that 4.6 million tons of e-waste ended up in landfills in 2000. Logic would state that number is higher now. From there, the toxic chemicals in electronics leak out into the environment.
Many resources that are used to make the products we use are not infinite, we will run out. This practice decreases the time we have until we do run out.
I interviewed Gary Dolce from the local Sears store in Fredonia, N.Y. He stated that he was in sales for thirty years. When asked if his customers complained that products do not last as long as they used to and if he thought it affected customer satisfaction, he had this to say: "We get that all the time. (Planned Obsolesce) has a negative impact on customer satisfaction."
I asked him if he thought consumer brand loyalty was affected. He said, "Kenmore is a name related to Sears, is trusted and lasts longer than most brands. We have little problem of customer loyalty."        
There is one way to sometimes beat this system. I call it the "Power of Positive Procrastination". With a little planning and luck, sometimes, just sometimes you and I can win out.
I will use my lawnmower for example. It is a green LT1000 Craftsman and the engine began to knock. (This is a warning of engine failure). The first thing I did was look at new lawn mowers. The Home Depot had a lawn mower that looked almost exactly like mine for $1,299.                     
          I did not want to spend that much so I looked online for a replacement engine. Common sense would dictate that a part would be significantly less than the whole, right?
Wrong. Sears sells an engine for $1043.12. It is another factor in our throw away pay more taxes economy. Why buy an engine when for $250 more you can get a new mower?
Now is where Positive Procrastination comes to play. No way did I want to spend that much money to keep the grass short. So I made sure the engine oil level was good and drove it knocking and smoking. The good news was the smoke kept the mosquitoes at bay.
I searched for a used engine. Places like Freecycle and Craigslist are a good place to look. I eventually came across one on the side of the road for free. It was the same model as my mower and had a numbers matching engine.
In an hour I had the engines changed and my mower lives on. The added bonus is the $1000 or more that I did not pay out. In some cases, searching for a used item or part can make more self economic sense. That, my friends is the Power of Positive Procrastination.              
Would giving away 1.6 billion dollars while getting nothing in return sound stupid to you? What if I said to waste it over a period of three months? That is what Consumer Reports says extended warranties do for the consumers that purchase them. On the money paid for a warranty, the store gets more than half in kickbacks. Extended warranties make them more money for doing nothing, not because they benefit the customer in the long run.
The best defense against forced obsolesces and extended warranties is to do your homework. Find out what products are the highest quality and longest life before you buy. Research what companies still stand behind their products and have warranties. If you purchase a product and are not happy with it, the world will blame you for not looking into it better instead of blaming themselves for making inferior products.