EpiPen: A Technological Breakthrough

Module #10

Technological breakthrough is a term that describes more than just digital technology. It transcends many different fields and can serve various functions. Some examples of technological breakthroughs that do not involve digitization include, the analogue clock in the 17th century, steel support beams for buildings during the Industrial Revolution, and a very important technological breakthrough in the medical field; the EpiPen.

What is the Epipen for?

EpiPens’ main purpose is to induce a dose of the epinephrine hormone, an adrenaline that can help lessen/slow down the symptoms of an anaphylactic allergic reaction. Before I go on to discuss the technology and its development it is important to explain more about anaphylaxis.

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An anaphylactic reaction occurs when the body experiences a severe allergic reaction to a substance, which can have lethal results if not treated immediately (airways close off and blood pressure plummets). Anaphylactic shock is a dangerous situation to be in as the body starts to shut down. This kind of reaction can occur from encounters with substances such as penicillin, latex, or peanuts, depending on the allergy. The adrenaline dosage ejected by the EpiPen, scientifically known as epinephrine, works to raise blood pressure and open airways during this reaction, giving paramedics enough time to arrive and stabilize the victim.

Brief History of the EpiPen

Originally called the ComboPen, the “auto-injector filled with nerve gas antidote,” was invented by Sheldon Kaplan in the 1970s, for the U.S military. It’s quick and effective results inspired a civilian version for the growing issue of anaphylactic reactions. There was a spike in these reactions in the 1960s due to negative reactions to new medicines, which presented a need for an accessible technology like Kaplan’s. Since the 1970s the design has been modified several times, but they basic spring-loaded syringe technology proved to be a success.

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This image shows the original ComboPen and training devices for soldiers in the US military during the 1970s.

Although created more than 40 years ago, the function of the EpiPen is still relevant today, as are the accessibility benefits of this technology, which include;

  • Administration through Clothes – the EpiPen has a quick and easy delivery process, allowing anaphylactic victims to shoot the pen through their clothes. (The Epipen is typically administered to the upper thigh)
  • Requires no medical knowledge to administer – the EpiPen’s easy-to-follow instructions provided on the outer casing, show step-by-step instructions for comprehensible use (an accessible technology with visual and written cues)
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This image shows a modern day Epipen kit that includes accessible instructions.

EpiPen in 2017

The EpiPen company is the main supplier of auto-injecting adrenaline, as many other brands have been discontinued, while others exist but do not have as strong reputation as EpiPen. However, a recent 500% price increase has made this life-saving technology inaccessible for some Americans who cannot afford to pay hundreds of dollars for medicine that expires after 12 months. The Canadian price has not increased substantially, as OHIP covers some of the cost. However, EpiPen’s controlling company, Mylan, claims that the increased prices for Americans, are directly contributing to educational and marketing efforts for anaphylaxis and epinephrine awareness.

One of their most successful and educational campaigns was the “One & Only EpiPen” commercial that reiterates the slogan, “Blue to the sky, orange to the thigh.” This catchy rhyme has become synonymous with the EpiPen technology, as it describes the colour-coded steps to administer an EpiPen. This commercial, created by EpiPen Canada was aired nationally to raise awareness of the product and emphasize its ease of use.

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“Blue to the sky, orange to the thigh.”

This commercial helps Canadians of all ages understand the importance of this technology. This rhyme and knowledge is especially important for children and teens, who might need to help a friend who is experiencing an allergic reaction.

Wrap Up

The EpiPen is one of the most relevant and important technological breakthroughs of the 21st century. Its life-saving potential is becoming known to more people, raising awareness about the seriousness of anaphylaxis. According to Business Insider,

“An estimated 7.5 per cent of Canadian adults and children have food allergies that put them at risk for anaphylaxis, she said. Overall, about two per cent of the population are in danger of the life-threatening condition due to reactions to all kinds of allergens”

Also, “In 2013-2014, that represented about 170,000 allergy-related visits across the country, CIHI calculated.” These statistics demonstrate that severe allergic reactions are more common than we might have thought and adrenaline doses during these reactions could save a life.

As a adult with a severe peanut allergy, I carry my EpiPen with me at all times. It feels like I have physical insurance in my bag, knowing that it could save my life. It is also comforting knowing that if necessary, my EpiPen could be used to save someone else’s life if they are experiencing an anaphylactic reaction. I am very grateful that I have never needed to use my EpiPen, but knowing I have it with me whenever I go out to eat or visit someone’s house is very reassuring. Without this technological breakthrough, the chances of someone surviving an anaphylactic reaction decrease greatly. This medical technology is critical and should be discussed more, and with Sheldon Kaplan’s invention of the “Pen” and Jokichi Takamine’s discovery of epinephrine in the 1900s, people with severe allergies in 2017 can live safer lives.

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One Hour of Code

Module #9

Coding for the First Time

I am not a very tech-savvy person. I understand the basics of most technologies, but there are some technologies that I purposefully avoid because they seem to difficult to learn and understand. Coding technologies and scripts are one of these technologies. Beside some coding done in class, I have never attempted to code anything. Anytime I’d seen something being coded it looked like a lot of letters, numbers and symbols in a linear form, that miraculously turned into a website or moving image. But I decided to give coding a try, to see if it was as hard as it looked.

Keep in mind that I was going to attempt one of the most basic coding courses I could find, so I wouldn’t feel intimidated before I started. With the help of Code.org, I tried one of the “One Hour of Code” games to test my skills. This free, Hour of Code program is created for all ages, allowing users to choose their level of coding experience (Beginner or Comfortable). Users can also choose which coding script they would like to try (Blocks, CoffeeScript, JavaScript etc). This program is designed to get first-time coders interested in the process, encouraging them to learn more through other courses offered by Code.org.

Games/Lessons

Although there were plenty of super fun game options such as, Moana; Wayfinding with Code, Code with Ana and Elsa and Code Monkey (which were very tempting to choose), I noticed that all of these games were for grade 2+. I figured if it was at a grade 2 level, I should aim for a little more of a challenge. Screen Shot 2017-04-07 at 2.21.16 PM.png

I also wanted to try Javascript because that is one of the most heard-about coding types, while these other games were Blocks and CoffeeScript. So I chose a game designed for grades 6+ (slightly closer to my level I suppose) called Drawing Flags with JavaScript. The details of the game provided me with all of the information about the game, including the topics covered in the game; Math and Geography.

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Honestly, I was very excited to get started.

Levels

Each level includes an instructional video that tells the users which dimensions and colours to use, as well as how to compare your design with the original.

The first level began with basic shape drawing, adjusting height and width of rectangles to match them to the flag given. The first flag was the Libyan flag (minus the moon and the star). Theoretically, I understood exactly how to accomplish this task. I understood which buttons to click etc by watching the instructional video. However, some of the assisting information that was supposed to be included on the sidebar was not there. This resulted in guessing some of the dimensions until they lined up properly. However, I was successful!! I made a green rectangle!! (This is not sarcasm, I was genuinely proud that I did this)

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The subsequent 9 levels presented new challenges

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This chart shows the level, country, flag, lessons, and script adjustments made.

Wrap Up

Although these flags look relatively simple to make, it was trickier than I thought. With all that problem solving and intensity I felt like a modern mix of Alan Turing and Ethan Hunt. 

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“I’m gonna save the world one day” – What I thought while coding

But in all seriousness, I had a great time doing this lesson. There was a huge sense of accomplishment when I got 10/10 on a level, and genuine disappointment when I got 5/10 (only happened twice, don’t worry). This program was a great way to get your feet wet, so to speak, and experience the basics of coding. The website was relatively easy to use and the game was not that complicated. Aside from the minor instructional glitch, the only other thing I would recommend changing would be a more climatic ending to the game. After completing all 10 levels of the game, I received a small “good job” notification with a link that took me to the main site where I can buy lessons. I would have liked some kind of grand finale celebration for my accomplishment, but it’s just a suggestion. I loved that this lesson was free and game-like and I would definitely recommend trying it out, if you’ve always had an interest in coding but have been too intimidated to try it out.

P.S to all the children in grade 2 doing these games, good for you! You might actually save the world. 😉

PSA: Privacy and Security in the Digital Age

Module #8

PSA: Privacy and Security in the Digital Age

This PSA outlines many of the details of privacy and security in the digital age, to help viewers understand the content in a visual manner. Most images include corresponding text to align with the voiceover, as well as a closed captioning option to create more accessibility.

Brief Background

The Digital Age has created a greater need for privacy and security, as technology makes us more susceptible to external threats.

Many programs and applications automatically collect our data, to make our lives easier, such as cloud services that manage and store data through remote servers. If there is a hack in the system, your personal information could get leaked.

We need to protect ourselves from various data corruption methods including; viruses that can infect your computer, phishing and spam sent through phoney emails or messages, and ransomware, that you are forced to pay money to retrieve your own files that have been encrypted by a negative external source.

Ways to Increase Privacy

Passphrases, because passwords can be cracked by using brute force attack methods, whereby hackers try various combinations to gain access to your account. Passphrases are more complicated and would take much longer to hack.

AdBlockers that stops unwanted advertisements and pop-ups from appearing in your browser, as these ads could have attached viruses that infect your computer

Logout from various accounts, especially if you’re using a public network, as the possibility of hacks increases, and your accounts could be compromised

Acts such as PIPEDA (The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act) aims to protect Canadians from corporate data collection, and control the extent to which corporations use data. But acts such as these cannot control external hijacking and hacking.

We must learn to protect our data and control our privacy.

 

Duolingo: The Future of Language Education

Module #6

Duolingo

Learning new languages was formerly limited to academic courses or expensive programs. These techniques can be inconvenient to users, as they involve long, gruelling processes and inconvenient resources such as textbooks. Not to mention their fast-paced learning timeline. However, Duolingo is revolutionizing the way we learn foreign languages, providing a free and accessible way to gain a new skill. This interactive app lets users gain language skills at their own pace and have a fun time learning through game-like activities.

How Does it Work?

After downloading the app in the app store, users choose which language they would like to start learning. From this point, a goal must be chosen: Casual (5 mins/day), Regular (10 mins/day), Serious (15 mins/day), or Insane (20 mins/day). These goals can always be changed to suit user preferences later. After choosing a goal, the user must chose whether they are a beginner, with no knowledge of the language, or they can take a placement test to determine their skill level.

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Choosing your skill level is one of the first steps after downloading the app.

After choosing your level, the user’s first activity begins, and off they go to learn a new language!

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The app wastes no time, as users begin learning the basics right away.

Learning Techniques

Duolingo has a variety of reward methods to congratulate users on their progress and motivate them to continue their journey to learn a new language. Some of these methods include reward gems that let you buy bonus features, and daily streak icons that tell users if they have reached their goal for the day. There are several tasks for users to accomplish throughout their Duolingo journey, starting from basic skills to more complex sentences and phrases later on.

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Some of the many accomplishments users see after completing tasks on Duolingo.

This positive motivation encourages users to continue using the app to master the language of their choice. These rewards also add to the game-like feel of the app, unlocking new levels and rewards after completing a challenge.

Pros

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Learning writing, reading, listening and speaking skills through Duolingo.

  • User-friendly: This app uses minimal text instructions, using images and voice overs to create a more comprehensible experience. The activities are also very simple (ex. match foreign words to their English equivalents, click the picture that matches the foreign word, or repeat a phrase in that language).
  • Convenient: This app is available on any smart phone or connected device, allowing you to bring your studies with you, wherever you go. The short daily goals (ex. 10 mins/day) are realistic and make users more likely to take the time out of their day to accomplish this easy goal.
  • Fun: This app is very engaging and game-like. Although users are learning valuable lessons about their foreign language of choice, they are also having a good time playing simple, yet brain-testing activities. The reward systems are also reminiscent of other app store games.
  • Effective: Duolingo’s website advertises that 34 hours on this app will give users the equivalent knowledge to that of one university semester language course. The in-app push notifications also encourage users to keep up with their daily goals to achieve language success!
  • Free: Duolingo is free! There are no hidden costs, no advertisements, and no subscription fees. Users get high quality lessons without having to spend any money. (There are options to buy gems in the game to get bonus features, however this is completely voluntary and will not enhance your experience by a large margin).

Cons

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Although many, widely spoken languages are offered, many are left out.

  • Limited Language Choice: Although Duolingo offers 23 languages to learn, many languages are missing from their selection table, such as Mandarin, Hindi, Arabic, Japanese and many others. Perhaps, with greater success, Duolingo could add more languages to their library.
  • App Glitches: There can be app delays (ex. word matching game, there can be a lag that results in users hitting the wrong button as they rush to demonstrate their knowledge) and dictation recognition issues (ex. when asked to repeat a sentence, the system says your pronunciation was incorrect, even after several tries with accurate pronunciation) This can become discouraging for many users.
  • Lack of Commitment: This app involves self-regulation and dedication. Although it is only a few minutes of your day, it is not often top-priority. The app sends notifications, but these are easy to ignore. Unlike, a paid course, or in-person lessons, this app gives users a lot of freedom, which could result in a lack of commitment.

Wrap-Up

I have tried Duolingo many times. Every time I go on the app I remember how fun the app makes the process of learning Spanish. However, as mentioned in the Con section, life gets busy and I forget to reach my daily goals. Like many things in our modern society that have been digitized, Duolingo is demonstrating the future of language education, and maybe education in general. Duolingo already has a school program in place, whereby teachers can monitor their students activities and success on the app. This allows the app’s impact to be quantified, and aid teachers in teaching their students various languages. In terms of other uses, or areas that this style of app can be used there are many possibilities. This app could team up with programs such as One Laptop Per Child, to bring language education to children in developing countries. They would experience a fun, yet educational technology that would help them gain new language skills, while also learning about technology.

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A perfect combination of education and enjoyment.

Another way that this app technology could be implemented is with stroke or mental therapy patients. Due to the fact that approximately  1 in 3 stroke victims experience memory loss, having a visual, comprehensive, and fun program to help them remember or learn, would be an effective addition to the rehabilitation process. Overall, this app is very successful at creating an affordable and engaging resource for those who want to learn a new language. It’s not perfect yet, with room for improvement in the voice recognition and language selection aspects. But it is an impressive use of technology trying to make language more successful for people everywhere.

Food Innovation Hub

Module #6

The Food Innovation Hub

Ryerson University, in Toronto, Ontario, offers a one-of-a-kind innovation hub focused on helping young food leaders create successful food-start ups. The Food Innovation Hub‘s goal is to prepare young, aspiring entrepreneurs with the tools and resources to be successful. This inspiring location, helps students and business owners generate new ideas and supports them in their quest for knowledge, skill development and experience.

The Food Innovation Hub was started by Ryerson business grads Trevor McConnell, Dara Jarallah, Osama Sbeitan, Tanner MacDonald and Alex Mines in September, 2016. After realizing the potential of the growing food industry and the capabilities and creativity of inspired Torontonians, they knew the FIH would be an asset to the university and the city.  This FIH is run out of the Science Discovery Zone, a building dedicated to supporting students and start-ups innovate creative, scientific solutions.

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This quotation describes the main function and purpose of the Food Innovation Hub.

Programs Offered

Food Innovation Program – A four month program taking place at Ryerson University and On-site. The top-performing students get a co-op position in order to gain experience before creating their food innovation start-up. Learn problem solving skills, and design thinking from high quality companies.

Exec Program – This program is designed for professionals who already have a job in the food industry and want to further develop their design thinking skills. This boot camp-like program involves tailored modules, that will influence organizational and personal growth for the professional.

Global Business Opportunities – This program offered by the Food Innovation Hub connects young Canadian food innovators with international innovators to develop entrepreneurial skills and network with people from different cultures.

Food Innovations Projects – By offering educational courses and providing connections to international experts, this program attempts to develop strong work and personal skills for food leaders. This program implements projects, mentoring, resources, and coaching.

Resources Offered

  • Training (workshops led by food industry professionals)
  • Mentorship (one-on-one mentorship from experienced professors and professionals)
  • Networking (contact with global network of food innovators)
  • Access to funding (funding for launching, building, and scaling new food businesses)
  • Technical access (use industry level equipment and gain know how)
  • Media recognition (being featured at FIH will amplify your message and get your name out there)
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Aspiring entrepreneurs are presented with these resources to help guide them to success in the food-innovation industry.

A Few Previous Events

The Global Service Jam – Provides in-experienced students with the opportunity to network, meet new people, join groups, and share ideas. After meeting strangers participants were encouraged to develop prototype solutions for various problems.

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Jotting down ideas during the Global Service Jam.

The Solar Bucket Hackathon – Lets students explore state of the art, eco-friendly farming technologies and “learn about design thinking inspired by nature, technology, food and farming.”

The Food Innovation Showcase – A culinary experience that collaborates with various programs such as the George Brown School of Hospitality and Tourism Management to create an inspired dinner, highlighting new food innovations.

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The Food Innovation Showcase was a fun, delicious, and educational event.

“Our goal is to build you a pathway for commercialization. We bring together forward ­thinking food innovation professionals, who offer the expertise and in ­depth knowledge needed to support your startup and accelerate growth.”

Considering this hub started approximately six months ago, it has already made an impact and impression. A facility like the Food Innovation Hub can be replicated in any city, that wants to make its mark on the food industry. The resources that Ryerson’s organization offers are of very high quality. Other cities may not have these resources or the support, but they do have brilliant minds that want to make an impact. This presents the opportunity for exchange and trade with various cities in North America or over-seas that want to implement a similar program. Ryerson’s FIH will be one of the founding hubs for food innovation that spreads its resources and experience, giving advice to other innovation hub start-ups. This idea could also transcend to innovations outside of the food industry such as technology or fashion. Ryerson is an innovative school, and once the FIH becomes more established this could make way for a new hubs that will inspire international reactions. The food innovation start-ups that the FIH supports are sure to be a huge success, it’s just a matter of time.

The Digital Divide

Module #5

The Digital Divide

The Digital Divide is a gap between the availability and accessibility of technologies in various countries and communities and those that have easy access to digital innovations. The Digital Divide results in limited access to educational and communication services that technology can provide.  It is our responsibility as a developed nation to assist in bridging the Digital Divide in any way we can.

YouTube Playlist: The Digital Divide

This blog presents a playlist of five YouTube videos, discussing the topic of the Digital Divide. The reason that these videos were chosen is that they each discuss a different aspect of the divide. I wanted to provide videos that not only explain the Divide in detail, but how it is affecting local communities, developing countries, education, and the ways we are trying to bridge the gap. The main causes for the Digital Divide are Global (developed vs developing), Geographic (urban vs rural), Economic (rich vs poor), Generational (old vs young) and Physical (able-bodied vs disabled). In the description for each video I will highlights the area that the video covers.

What is the Digital Divide by Digital Undivide

This video provides a basic explanation of the Digital Divide and the impact the Divide has on Global communities. The Digital Divide limits the access, knowledge and use of technology in various communities. Some of the factors presented in this video include: Age, Education, Race, Income, Gender, and Global status. It also discusses the recent reduction in telephone and broadband internet service costs, making these technologies and digital communication more accessible for some developing nations.

digital divide flash animation by jamesduck4652

This video presents the stats and numbers about the Divide and how it affects various developing countries on a Global scale. Technology has lead to business deals and making lots of money for developed companies and nations, but leaves nations out of the mix. Approximately 80% of people in the UK have access to digital technologies, compared to African nations where only 11% of people have access. Internet costs are high in developing countries, as compared to developed, taking up 258% of income…The video explains that China has improved its information and communication technologies and increased exports by 1600% in recent years, suggesting that with technology, every country has the capability to grow. Although this video discusses the Divide it does not develop a strategy for combatting the gap.

The next few videos have suggested solutions for the Digital Divide, both on a small scale and Global scale.

OWD: How Can You Overcome Digital Divide? by SmashcastVideo’s channel

This video interviews high school students and they explain measures to bridge the Digital Divide within their local community. There is an emphasis on Economic and Generational barriers in this video. For lower income communities, these students suggest creating more public facilities, such as libraries, with strong internet access and connectivity. There could also be assisted funding or lower monthly internet costs for those families who cannot afford internet technology. Create a laptop recycling program, donating functioning computers that have been replaced to those who need a computer. To bridge the Generational Divide, students suggest implementing an after-school program whereby willing parents can go to learn more about the internet and how to use a computer. The students emphasize that to make a significant difference the change has to start on a local scale and grow to reach other communities affected by the Digital Divide.

Bridge the Digital Divide for Aboriginal Youth with OLPC Canada by OLPCCanada

This video discusses the benefits of introducing Aboriginal Canadian communities with technology to better their education. This video focuses on the Economic, Generational and Geographic barriers of the Digital Divide on over 60 Aboriginal communities in Canada. One Laptop per Child invests in community based educational incentives, by providing tablets to children in low income schools. They are giving the younger generation an opportunity to gain skills and knowledge of technology at a young age, which will benefit them as they grow up. OLPC offers access to technology, while providing tools to learn literacy, numeracy, critical thinking, creativity, and cultural knowledge. In terms of Geographic barriers, this organization attempts to bring the technological resources that are available in urban settings to more rural, isolated communities in Canada.

Bridging the Digital Divide by RDECinfo

This video shows a practical example of the impact technology can have on developing communities, on a Global and Geographic scale. This video discusses the technological journey of a Taiwanese peach farm. Peaches are the rural aboriginal communities’ main source of income, but they were struggling to make sales. The community was then introduced to the internet and began conducting sales through a commercial website. This new system of e-commerce allowed the community to sell their peaches all over the country. Technology and the internet had a huge impact on this community, introducing urban technology, bridging the Digital Divide in a newly industrialized country.

Wrap Up

The growth and influence of technology has impacted communities throughout the world. Whether the community has developed into a digital hub or the community is still in the technological dark ages, they have been affected in one way or another. Through the introduction of digital technology many opportunities have been created, including: e-commerce, accessible educational resources, and various forms of communication. Over the next few years with programs such as OLPC and other ICT4D developments, every community and country will get greater access to digital technology, presenting equal opportunities to everyone.

Visualizing Online Interactions with Lightbeam

Module #4

Do you ever wonder how it is that one day you’ll be looking at shoes online, and the next day there is an ad for those same shoes on your Facebook feed?

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After looking at shoes online, this promotional ad for JustFab shoes popped up, while I was scrolling through my Facebook feed.

Or how you search for affordable deals for weekend trips, and a promotional tweet for a low interest banking account appears?

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An actual promotional tweet that appeared on my Twitter feed, after searching for trips to Ottawa recently.

It’s almost as if we are being tracked, and advertisements are being promoted to connect with our interests. Hmmmmm. It’s not a coincidence. In fact, everything is connected in the world -wide web.

We browse the internet everyday, looking through helpful and/or distracting websites. Whether we are logging into Facebook to check our newsfeed, tweeting about that amazing sandwich we ate at a local café, or watching The Best Cat Fails of 2016 on YouTube, we are occupying a lot of our time online. However, what most people are unaware of is that while we look through these harmless sites we are often being watched by third party websites, which collect our data patterns. Some people see these third-party interactions as an invasion of security and privacy.

Lightbeam

Lightbeam is an add-on program for the Firefox browser. Lightbeam “will create a record of events for every site you visit and every third party site that is stored locally on your browser.” It creates a visual map, so users can easily explore and better understand these interactions. The program will continue to grow the interactions map until the user disables it or uninstalls the add-on. The average Safari or Internet Explorer user does not get to see who is tracking their actions online, so Lightbeam highlights one’s connections to make the internet more transparent.

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This is a simplified example of the connection visualizations offered by Lightbeam. This shows the primary site, and connected third-party connections.

While some people understand that there is a benefit to some online tracking (ex. making internet experience more personal with specific browser modifications to suit one’s interests), others see tracking as an invasion of privacy. Lightbeam’s goal is “empowering users — both with tools and information.” to ensure a safe internet environment.

The Experiment

As a habitual internet user, I tried Lightbeam, to see how many interactions showed up. I downloaded Firefox, then the add-on. I then spent approximately 20 minutes browsing the internet; checking feeds and watching videos. My third-party connection results are presented in the following graph.

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A visualization of my third-party cookie interactions in 20 minutes of internet usage, using Lightbeam.

There were 37 third-party sites following my actions through five primary sites. Most of the interactions were made through connections (white lines show this trend), while eight of the 37 were cookie interactions (purple lines). A cookie is an interaction that allows sites to keep track of their users, especially if there is some sort of user login required to access the site. Cookies store this information, in order to identify the user to the server.

What Were the Sites?

The five sites I visited were: Twitter, Facebook, Google, Buzzfeed, and YouTube. Through these five websites, I was connected to 37 external sites including:

  • Tellapart, which was connected through Twitter. This is a predictive marketing platform that helps companies tailor content and messages to user interests. “Turn our science into your sales.”
  • Atdmt, a tracking cookie related to Facebook. The ad-serving platform, run by Atlas, tracks user habits and offers services to “advertisers and agencies to help them deliver and understand the effectiveness of their ad campaigns.”
  • Gstatic, is an extension of the Google platform. Static content, such as JavaScript code, images, and CSS are transferred to this domain to reduce bandwidth (“volume of information per unit of time that a transmission medium”)
  • Moat, is a marketing platform, connected to Buzzfeed. This site, like many other third-party sites, analyzes the user’s online interactions to allow companies to adjust their content.
  • Ytimg, is an extension of YouTube. Similar to Gstatic, Ytimg is an external site that YouTube uses to control images, logos, other large static files.

Thoughts

After doing this experiment, and exploring the third-party interactions through Lightbeam, I was shocked. After only 20 minutes, several external sites had viewed my interactions, I can only imagine how many sites would accumulate after a whole day! Fortunately, most of the external sites that tracked me were harmless marketing firms, trying to collect my info, which is annoying, but not malicious. Others seem to be somewhat helpful, trying to prevent slow site loading and control bandwidth.

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Many third-party sites track user interactions to collect data to sell to marketing companies.

What is slightly alarming is that there are more dangerous, virus carrying, platforms that can connect with your primary sites and infect your computer with malware. I realize that there are many installations that prevent dangerous viruses from entering your online space, but it is hard to know if you have the right protection if you are not a tech-savvy user.

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There are some user friendly anti-virus options, such as AVAST. This program allows users to cleanup their computers and prevent unwanted, dangerous, third-party interactions.

Wrap Up

Lightbeam attempts to inform users, and make them more conscious about the interactions that take place in middleware. It also gives users the option to block connections to certain sites that they don’t want to be associated with, or tracked by. It can also help reduce the invasion of privacy and security, that is often associated with these external platforms. While we can attempt to minimize cookie and third-party interactions, it is almost impossible to completely eliminate them. Third-party tracking is another side effect of 21st century technology usage, that we either accept or prevent, based on our personal morals and opinions.

The Cloud

Module #3

What is “The Cloud”?

The cloud is one of the many great innovations of the 21st century. Its name is an example of a trendy term that people refer to, but often can’t define. Confused people, might ask, “why is it called the cloud?”, “what does the cloud do?” Essentially, the cloud acts as a data storage and collection system, run by various servers. In some cases, the cloud might also deliver services or run applications. It varies by company and functional requirements. While the data aspect of the cloud is easy for most to understand, its name/analogy continue to elude people. Although there are many interpretations of this analogy, Hua Hsu, author of How the Metaphor of “the Cloud” Changed Our Attitude Toward the Internet, presented an analysis that I believe sums it up pretty well.

"Our data is somewhere in the ether, floating, drifting and wireless, available wherever and whenever we need it."

Basically, the way data moves within this system, is reminiscent of the way a cloud floats and moves through the air, unimpeded by the physical barriers of a computer or hard-drive. Available in several locations for ease of use and access. However, there is one particular aspect of the cloud analogy that doesn’t align with the system’s function. Clouds are typically translucent and easy to see-through as they float in the sky. Yet, the data cloud is quite the opposite. It is locked by personal passwords and preventative measures to ensure that one’s data is not see-through, that a person with malicious intent will not be able to see or access the data stored in someone’s cloud. So in this context the name doesn’t quite match with the purpose of the service.

Popular Examples

There are many versions, servers, and options for the cloud in 2017. Some of the most well-known clouds include: iCloud Drive,

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Apple’s version of the cloud includes several apps that allow you to store files to your Apple ID account. It also allows you to enable Family Sharing, to keep all of your loved one’s files in one place.

Google Drive,

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Google’s version of the cloud allows users to store documents, photos, and other files on their Google Drive account, which they can access from any computer.

and Creative Cloud,

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Adobe’s version of cloud, whereby users can access their various Adobe projects and work from any location on their personal account.

Benefits of the Cloud

1. Various Device Access. Most cloud systems can be accessed by phone, tablet, and computer, as most cloud accounts involve logging into your account online (However, some systems have limits, as Adobe Creative Cloud limits users to only 2 devices).

2. Less Expensive. The Cloud eliminates the need to purchase expensive software, as most cloud services can be bought for an affordable monthly fee. (Typically ranging from approx. $2.00 – $100.00 depending on the storage capacity and the program).

3. Data Centralization. Users feel secure knowing that all of their data is stored in one place and backed up so they don’t need to worry about hard-drive crashes.

4. Data Recovery. If a user’s device crashes or they accidentally close the application, most cloud services have real time saving, automatic back-up, or auto-save to prevent data loss.

5. Sharing Capabilities. Most cloud files can be easily shared and transferred between service users, or sent through interoperable programs such as email platforms.

6. Security. Cloud account passwords and encryption prevent external access to your secure files.

Downsides

1. Network Connection Required. Most cloud computing services require an internet connection to access or create new files, such as Google Drive.

2. Lack of Support. Cloud servers will often tell users to turn to forums or FAQs if they are having trouble. Unlike software programs, cloud servers can be seen as less personal and less supportive of user tech issues.

3. Necessary Updates. Occasionally older versions of cloud will not interact with newer versions. This can cause problems if you are not in the position to update the system but you need to convert a file (ex. no internet connection might prevent updates).

4. Hacks Have Happened. Although it is rare, there have been Cloud hacks during which private files have been leaked or lost. If the cloud crashes or gets hacked all of a user’s files are susceptible, as they are centralized.  Ex. In 2014, iCloud was hacked and over 500 images of female celebrities were leaked to the public, most containing nude photos and other private content.

Wrap Up

The cloud can be a great tool for quick, easy, and centralized data storage. There are many benefits of this system. In most people’s opinion the pros outweigh the cons and the cloud is considered a better option than software installation. Cloud companies are constantly innovating new and exciting ideas to make their service optimal for all users and interoperable with other products/services. Similar to how subscription-based companies such as Netflix are overtaking individual movie rental services, the cloud is the future of data storage with infinite possibilities for growth in an age of creative tech solutions.

 

 

 

 

 

My Daily Digital Touchpoints: An Experiment

Module #2

Digital Touchpoints

Intro

We are surrounded by technology on a daily basis. Often times, we can take technology for granted and use it without thinking. Digital Touchpoints are the pieces of technology that make up our everyday lives. Whether it be a cross-walk button, a microwave, or simply your phone, they can all be considered Digital Touchpoints. These technologies are said to simplify our lives, making typical tasks more convenient and efficient.

Analysis of Digital Touchpoints can also help corporations determine consumer habits, as data collection with Digital Touchpoints is much more accessible than it used to be. In fact, there have been articles written about various Digital Touchpoints used by consumers, including Google searches and reviews on phone apps, and how companies can adapt their brand and products to changing technology habits. The year 2017 will undoubtedly include technologies of old, as well as up and coming tech that will change the way we look at everyday tasks.

To demonstrate the impact that Digital Touchpoints can have, I have recorded my daily encounters with Touchpoint technology. Before I began this experiment, I thought I would use Digital Touchpoints approximately 40-50 times in one day. This may seem excessive, however, waiting for classes to begin and long waits in the SLC often result in a lot of time wasting. My phone is the technology I predicted I would use the most. To maintain consistency throughout my experiment, I only accounted for the times I activated the Touchpoints/devices. I did not record the applications or websites I accessed while using the technology. If I included those applications my interaction amount would definitely exceed 50.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Morning:

8:00 am – Wake up, get ready for school

8:40 am – Check phone for messages/emails/notifications received during the night (1)

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There usually aren’t very many.

8:45 am – Make lunch which involves heating up food in the microwave (2)

8:50 am – Check phone again, for interesting Buzzfeed articles, videos or quizzes (3)

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It really was harder than I thought. But this is clearly Taylor Swift as a bagel. Duh.

9:00 am – Leave house, set the alarm (4)

9:08 am – Push button on crosswalk (5)

9:10 am – Use Presto card to pay for TTC fare (6)

9:45 am – Arrive at school, check phone for messages received while in subway (7)

10:00 am – Watch movie in class (the teacher showed it, don’t worry) (8)

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Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years. If it hadn’t been 10:00 am I would have been singing along.

11:00 am – Push button for crosswalk at main intersection (9)

11:05 am – Take elevator up to the 8th floor of the Student Learning Centre (10)

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It took a while but I finally made it.

Afternoon:

11:10 am – Open laptop to begin work, check phone again (11, 12)

11:10 am – Play music on phone (13)

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I only listen to the classics.

11:10 am – 4:45 pm – Check phone at least 10 more times before leaving SLC (23)

And yes, I did have a 6 hour break in between classes :/

4:50 pm – Use elevator (24)

5:00 pm – Arrive to class, check my phone (25)

Evening:

6:30 pm – Check phone again (smh) and walk to lab (26)

6:35 pm – Enter building, use elevator because I am lazy (27)

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At least it was faster than the SLC.

6:40 pm – Check phone, log onto school computer for lab session (28, 29)

8:00 pm – Check phone, wait for pick-up (30)

8:05 pm – In the car, change radio station on touch screen control (31)

8:40 pm – Get home, check phone (32)

9:00 pm – Change TV channel using remote control (33)

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Some light television viewing before hitting the hay, featuring the Alaskan Bush People.

10:00 pm – Check phone for quite a while (34)

11:00 pm – Go to bed

Wrap Up

As you can tell, I live a pretty thrilling life… just kidding. During my busy day I used Digital Touchpoints approximately 35 times, for varying durations. This was slightly less than my original prediction. I consider this a good thing. However, my prediction about my phone interactions was correct, as most of my encounters with Digital Touchpoints involved checking my phone.

Using these Touchpoints has now become instinct. One doesn’t typically take the time to count how often these technologies are used in their daily lives. I especially didn’t consider how often I use elevators, which is a prime example of a Digital Touchpoint interaction that I had never considered as one before. I don’t think I use my devices as much as other people, for example, I don’t listen to music as I walk, which significantly lowers my daily number of interactions. However, I do use Digital Touchpoints quite a bit. It is most likely that in the next few years the number of one’s daily interactions will increase and we will rely so heavily on these technologies we won’t understand how we survived without them.

Netiquette and Corporate Social Media Practices

Module #1

Behaving on Social Media

When scrolling through one’s Facebook feed, or reading celebrity Instagram comments, one will surely see at least one “troll.” This person will insult, start arguments,  or type controversial comments, just because they have nothing better to do or say. Acting responsibly on social media is something that should be expected from all users, keeping the Golden Rule in mind as we comment on our friend’s newest Instagram post or read a Facebook post that we don’t agree with. This is where the title of this blog post comes into play. “Netiquette” refers to proper etiquette on the net, so basically how to act appropriately on the internet and social media.

This etiquette also applies to corporations and businesses, as most of them have a strong, influential social media presence. Creating likeable, shareable content is one thing. But making sure that said content won’t offend, insult, or have any crude implications, is just as important. Corporations need to maintain a good reputation in order to keep customers, partners, shareholders, and everyone else happy. These stakeholders’ perception can affect revenue, and the overall success of the company. The more followers a corporation has, the wider their reach is, and the more people are exposed to their product or service.

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This graph shows the 7 main reasons that corporations maintain a social media presence.

The same can be said for CEOs and upper level employees who might have a large following on social media. While they are presenting an image of themselves, they are also representing their company.

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Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, exemplifies an appropriate use of Twitter to represent his individual beliefs, as well as those of his company. He demonstrates his appreciation for humanitarian work, with an emphasis on technology.

Self branding is equally important as corporate branding. For this reason both individuals and corporations must abide by certain expectations of social media etiquette.

Basic Netiquette Expectations:

1. Don’t be Crude–  Swearing, racism, homophobia and other offences are very off putting for customers (not surprisingly), and they will most likely unfollow and avoid the company’s products and services. Remarks such as these can also ruin one’s reputation.

                  Don’t                                                   Do

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Matt Harrigan, CEO of cybersecurity firm PacketSled was suspended for posting inappropriate comments on his personal Facebook page, which have since been deleted. While American Airlines demonstrated acceptable social media behaviour, posting their excitement about the approval of gay marriage in the USA.

2. Be Consistent– Posting the same type of content is pivotal in maintaining and promoting the company’s brand and image. Usually, this content relates to the product or service being offered by the company. Ex. Adidas posting a funny cat video on their Instagram account doesn’t have a lot to do with running shoes.

3. Respond to Questions– This can be hard for big companies as there can be a lot of inquisitive customers. However, by answering some questions, the company is demonstrating that they are trying to engage with customers and want to create a more personal connection. This is assuming that the questions are genuine and warrant a response.

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In this series of tweets, Nike demonstrates impressive customer service practices, ensuring that the inquisitive customer gets the answer they need.

4. Be Relatable– Social media users are more likely to follow and like posts that are down to earth and engaging. Remind people that they aren’t reading posts created by a machine, rather an awesome employee who works for an even more awesome company.

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This light-hearted tweet from Denny’s Twitter account demonstrates a company being relatable. Denny’s makes a reference to the Titanic‘s famous quotation, “Draw me like one of your French girls.” using popular culture to engage followers.

5. Respond Appropriately to Disgruntled Customers/Followers– As previously mentioned, these trolls will insult the company and find any reason to complain on social media. Companies must remain professional and try to suggest possible solutions to said customers when necessary. Side Note: Responding with sarcastic or sassy comments is tricky, if done well it will make users laugh, if done badly you could lose followers.

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Target’s Facebook page did an effective job of responding to an unhappy customer in a polite, yet slightly sarcastic way that would not offend other followers.

Wrap Up

Building a following of dedicated customers takes time, so patience is also very important. Social media marketers must ensure that their companies are being properly represented through their various accounts, otherwise their competitors can take over the market place. Social media platforms are growing and becoming the main mode of communication between companies and customers. Companies must accommodate these platforms and embrace the habits of popular culture in 2017.