erica cheng

Monday, October 31, 2005

The World is Flat & Ecologizing Mobile Media

In The World is Flat, Friedman eagerly anticipates and holds positive attitude toward the changes that technology brings to the world. Yet, in Rheingold’s Ecologizing Mobile Media, the changes that mobile media bring to human life are both positive and negative.

In my opinion, Friedman actually is defending for outsourcing, urging Americans to be more ambitious and open-minded, so as to keep competitiveness in the flattened world. He emphasizes much on the changes new technologies has brought to individuals/companies, the free-market, and capitalism. Also, he points out that technology has leveled the playing field and empowered individuals and companies to connect and collaborate globally. He examines the new players (India, China, Russia, etc.) and explains why technology makes them capable of becoming the players. His idea of people connecting and collaborating horizontally, instead of vertically, is quite new to me. The triple convergence--complementary convergence of the ten flatteners, which creates the new playing field, new ways/processes/habits of doing things, and connecting and collaborating horizontally—is key to success for the new players (India, China, etc.) as well as the traditional leading players (America, Western Europe, Japan, etc.). Globalization is increasingly driven by the individuals who understand the flat world and can adapt themselves to its process and technologies.

Furthermore, I appreciate his opinion that dot-com boom and bust actually drove globalization into hypermode (forcing companies to outsource and offshore more and more functions in order to save capital), rather than symbolized the end of globalization. People should know how to make the most use of the technologies, so as to collaborate, connect, communicate, and finally be able to catch up with the whole world. There is still long way to go in this newly flat world.

In Ecologizing Mobile Media, Rheingold mentions that every new technology benefits some and harms others. People who know how to make use of new technology gain advantages; yet, those who don't know how to use new technology tend to be eliminated. This idea is similar to Friedman’s emphasis that individuals should adapt themselves to new technology available to them, and then make advantage of these new tools to maintain presence and competitveness.

However, Rheingold also points out the disadvanges technology has brought to human life. He takes the use of mobile telephone as an example, refering that people can always be in touch, always reachable via mobile telephone. The disadvantage lies on that people have to always stand by their jobs; the boss can always catch them via mobile telephone.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Reading summary: Technologies of the Third Mediamorphosis

What are the effects of applying computing power to communication?

In Technologies of the Third Mediamorphosis, Roger Fidler describes the computing process as “using a set of rules (programs) for breaking down a problem into many small pieces that could be easily and quickly solved, and then reassembling the individual pieces to yield the solution.” Though the process is so circuitous that makes the procedure seem more complicated, the computing process actually simplify the problem and increase the efficiency on solving a problem.

As far as I’m concerned, efficiency is the most important effect of applying computing power to communication. Computing power provides faster methods for producing and transporting information, which increase speed and volume of information exchange (information moves at electric speed). Furthermore, computing power can help select the “useful” information (e.g., search function) and organize the information, increasing the speed for users to get the right or preferred information as well as making the information easier to be absorbed.

In addition, computing power applied on Mosaic browser technology and WWW, has attributed to instantaneous communication, feedback across distance, and synchronicity. The Mosaic technology simplifies the way of accessing into internet and browsing online, and the Web simplifies the managing and displaying of mixed media content and opens the door to online publishing via the Net. As McLuhan perceived, when information moves at electric speed, the world of trends and rumors becomes the "real" world, which is located in the virtual environment through internet. The computing power provides the capability for two-way exchange of information, as well as creates the growing sense of closeness and interdependence among people around the world, empowering users to maintain relationships and to control activities at a distance. Globalization of communication is realized in this way.

At last, computing power may accelerate the cross impacts of emerging technologies and the development of new media, helping create or discover new methods that can be applied to communication.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Reading summary: Media Technology and Society


The figure that shows progress of transformation in media technology (science-->ideation-->technology) (prototype--> invention-->diffusion) is really helpful in explaining as well as understanding the development of media technologies.

Moreover, supervening social necessity and suppression of radical potential are two key elements that affect the technology being accepted or rejected. Applying to the development of 3G high-speed data service, it is crucial whether the existing mobile phone users feel necessary or "convenient" to shift to the new networks, or there may be other rival technologies vying for the mobile data service marketplace. Yet, under the commercial type of supervening social necessities (e.g.price-cut or promotion), 3G data service may still be able to diffused in the existing mobile phone market, and possibly be granted some market share.

The other two types of social necessities--consequences of social change and effects of other technological advances, can be applied into the timing to fully launch 3G data service and the maturity of the corresponding networks and devices, respectively.

To apply the suppression of radical potential viewpoint to my research, I plan to take a look of the transition from 2G to 3G networks, to see if there is the "suppression" from the government or other institutions in order to smooth the transition. For example, China is reported to limit the number of 3G licenses, so as to prevent overheated competition. In addition, rival technologies and patent war are also main "suppressions" to delay the development of 3G service.

Chapter 1: The Telegraph:

In the history or telegraph development, the railway safety created the supervening social necessity for telegraph. However, it is pointed out that the railway safety was not strong enough to sustain to ensure the diffusion of telegraph. New applications such as newspaper and stock market helped the diffusion of the technology. It reminds me to look for possible new applications on the 3G data service, so as to see if there are sufficient supervening social necessities to sustain this business.

Reading summary: Social Aspects of New Media Technologies

The reading provides various ways to examine how a society accepts new media technologies. It helps me set up my research framework in several aspects:

1. Is 3G mobile data service a critical mass being achieved, or failed?

To answer this question, first I need to do the uses-and-gratifications line of research. Besides, I plan to focus on the "specific" audiences the mobile data service targets. Also, it is helpful to divide residential customers to examine their behaviors and attitude toward this new medium technology, to see in what ways the diffusion of innovation can work.

Furthermore, I plan to stress on how different societies/nations accept the new technology. For example, 3G service is very popular in Japan. I think one of the reason is that most Japanese workers commute through subway, hence they can browse the internet or read the downloaded content via 3G cellular networks while taking subway. However, in geographically much bigger country like United States, commuters are likely to commute through driving. Thus, they may prefer listening to radio or mp3 player rather than reading, in order not to distract themselves from driving. Above is only my personl opinion and speculation, I need to do more research/survey to strengthen this point at issue.

Also, I want to say that the classic diffusion curve shown in FIG. 16.1 explains the necessity of 3G networks prompting. Since the mobile voice market in the developed countries have become saturated, coming to the final stage of the level of adoption in the curve. The mobile operators must expand their market and revenues by pushing 3G data services.

2. What are the diffusion thresholds in 3G data service?

Since 3G data service is the new business coming out of existing cellular phone industry, it needs to persuade existing users to shift to the new service. Nonetheless, it is still in doubt if there is the need and moreover, other new media technologies such as VOIP may challenge 3G business and even take away its market share. The mobile operators should prove that the service is really "enhanced" and necessary, as well as offer the consumer-acceptable price to compete with rival technologies.

The reading also suggests that it is crucial for a new medium to get advertisers' supports. Given the process of the adoption of FM radio as an example, it says that a new medium technology needs substantial finance to attract audiences, so as to attract advertiser to pour money in the new medium service. The example makes I wonder that if someday the 3G service really gain foothold in the market, will the advertisment accompanied with the data delivery become another important revenue for the cellular phone industry?

Reading summary: How the Internet Killed the Phone Business

My research topic is about cellular data service, which is much related to 3G networks that mobile operators have been pushing in recent years.

From the reading "How the Internet Killed the Phone Business", I'm inspired that I can compare cellular data service with VOIP add-on services, so as to discuss the possible future developments of 3G service. Furthermore, I am highly interested at whether the cellular phone industry will collabarate with VOIP or challenge it. I think I am going to discuss the possible results under these two conditions.

In addition, I plan to emphasize more on the price change within the cellular industry once the mobile VOIP becomes available. In regardless of the calling minutes, I've noticed that compared with Taiwan's lowest cellular phone monthly subscription fee, the monthly subscription fee of United States' is much higher. In Taiwan, cell phone users can start with the lowest rate around 6.25 dollars, and control the calling time if they don't want to spend too much money on the mobile phone bill. Nonetheless, the lowest rate in United States, as far as I know, is around 39.99 dollars. The rate plan offers unlimited calling minutes during night and weekends, encouraging users to pay more as well as call more. I am curious to see how the mobile operators in United States will respond to the price pressure from mobile VOIP.

Also, I want to say that it's amazing that eBay bought Skype. I think it will broaden ecommerce platform and attract more online trade users. To take myself for example, I will be more willing to shop on eBay if I can "talk" with the seller rather than connect through email.

Friday, October 07, 2005

a new life begins~

hey...I am a student again~!!!
Hope I can learn much and have lots of fun in UW~~