Computer Code in our Everyday Lives

 

How the world came to be run by computer code (http://www.bbc.co.uk/timelines/zxsrcdm)

I found the article “How the world came to be run by computer code” to be the most interesting for it’s look at technological progression through the years.  The timeline provides an interesting look how the origin of modern day conveniences can be traced back to well before technology was made available to us. The timeline shows that developments in computers were being made in the 19th century, well before any sort of computer technology was available. The first point on the timeline, 1679, denotes the first idea of “code” we have seen. Gottfried Leibniz developed this binary code using only the digits 0-9. The last point on the timeline, 2008, marks the launch of Apple’s first app store, which utilizes that code developed over 300 prior.

 

In between the aforementioned events, we see important developments such as:

  1. military technology- Enigma machine (PSA- I just went to see The Imitation Game and I highly recommend it.)
  2. the first electronic computer- Manchester’s “Baby”
  3. the Human Genome Project

All of these technological gains were essential to the development military technology, medical research, educational purposes, and entertainment. Studying the timeline, one can see how the development of binary code in 1679 was the essential base for technological growth, all the way to the development of apps in 2008.

code

Research Question

One of my research topics was the Boston Tea Party.  My question is: “What impact did the actions of the Boston Tea Party have on the road to the American Revolution?”

 

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Maiden Blog Post

This following selection was, to me, the most interesting part of our reading of “Promises and Perils”:

“A more serious threat in digital media, which runs counter to its great virtues of accessibility and diversity, is the real potential for inaccessibility and monopoly. The best-known danger—the digital divide in computer ownership and Internet use between rich and poor, white and non-white—has diminished somewhat, but it persists despite politically motivated claims to the contrary. And on a global basis, the divide is wide indeed; two-thirds of the people in the world have no access to telephones, let alone the Net. Moreover, even as more and more people acquire computers and Internet connections, they do not simultaneously acquire the skills for finding and making effective use of this new, free global resource.26Another concern stems more from the production than the consumption side. Will amateur and academic historians be able to compete with well-funded commercial operators—like the History Channel—for attention on the Net?”

As someone who falls on the pro-book side of this debate, I found the above segment from our first reading interesting on several levels.

First, it makes a case in support of the cause to refrain from “burning” the books. Accessibility is a real problem that is not going to be fixed anytime soon, so let’s not get rid of a highly accessible means of communicating historical information.

The following selections from the above segment stood out to me in regards to concerns about digitization:

“A more serious threat in digital media, which runs counter to its great virtues of accessibility and diversity, is the real potential for inaccessibility and monopoly… Another concern stems more from the production than the consumption side. Will amateur and academic historians be able to compete with well-funded commercial operators—like the History Channel—for attention on the Net?”

As I sit here wearing a t-shirt of my favorite Austrian economist, Murray Rothbard, I could go on and on about this “threat” of monopoly, but I’ll keep it brief, in saying that in regards to competition with corporations such as the History Channel, that will be the main struggle and goal of these smaller digital media providers.  They will have to present their product, and the market will decide who survives and who doesn’t.

Yet another reason to keep the books, while making an attempt at successful digitization of historical content and education.

Topics of Interest:

This semester I would be interested in studying several different historical events.  In my study of the Cold War, I have focused a good deal of attention to the Bay of Pigs and Cuban Missile Crisis.  I would enjoy the opportunity to continue my study in those events, especially as U.S. foreign relations with Cuba have recently changed.

Another Cold War topic I would enjoy studying is the defining moment that brought an end to the Cold War: the fall of the Berlin Wall.

As for an event that happened on U.S. soil, I would be interested in studying the events surrounding the Boston Tea Party, as a pivotal moment on the road to the American Revolution.

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