Friday, December 17, 2010


I'm sad to announce that this will most likely be my last blog post, at least in the foreseeable future. I would consider continuing my blogging after this class but I'm leaving to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Saints come January (and no, I didn't get called to the Provo Utah Referral Center Mission). This post isn't announcing my mission farewell, but rather it's a farewell to my Digital Civilization class as we come to the close of the semester.

Final Project Recap
I meant to make a separate post on this but just decided it would fit nicely into my reflection. Our presentation went very well. The whole thing was recorded on Justin TV but if you don't have time to watch the whole event, we highlight just our presentation and posted it on our group website. We didn't end up using the Prezi I made but I was totally fine with that; I liked the way it turned out more anyway, at least for the five minutes we had to fit into.

Highlight Reel
Here are a few posts I made throughout the semester that I think exemplify the course objectives fairly well. You can click on a picture to view it closer up and if you find one that looks interesting that you didn't get the chance to read all of, feel free to search it and read the whole thing.

Historical Content
Naturally, as the semester came to an end, a lot of our historical content wasn't from history anymore. But since this post is a reflection of the whole year, I can highlight a few of my earlier posts that I think covered this course objective pretty well.

Digital Culture
(Continued after midnight early Saturday morning)
I personally don't consider myself to be the most tech-savvy guy. I started this semester knowing virtually nothing about computer programming, yet for some reason I find Computer Engineering to be at the top of my list as far as choosing a major goes. I took this class simultaneously with an Intro to Computing Systems class and an engineering New Student Seminar, and that combination taught me so much about digital culture, including the history, present, and possible future aspects of it.

Self-Directed Learning
This has come to be one of my favorite aspects of the class: consume, create, and connect. It took me until the very end of the semester, when we did our final projects, to realize that this was a lot bigger than doing a certain number of blog posts every week and finding something interesting just so you can bookmark it on Diigo. We really are "revolutionizing learning".

This semester has been so much different from any other. I wasn't even planning on attending school until I got my mission call in early September and found out I wouldn't be leaving until the middle of January. Consequently, this whole semester has been a time of preparation for me. I've had numerous milestones in my life in just these past three and a half months, and this class was a unique opportunity to cultivate those experiences. Probably the most direct way I got to express myself was through the final project, working directly with the local missionaries and the returned missionaries in my group. Many of the tools and skills we've learned throughout the class will be vital to making a difference in this age we live in. Before this class I didn't even know where to go to start my own blog, I had never bothered to try it, and I still thought Skype was something you had to pay to use. Now I've not only learned how to use things like Prezi, Google docs/calendar, and even some HTML, but I've also been a part of an event that was broadcasted by us students to hundreds of people online. I didn't realize how new some of this stuff was to most people until the end of our event. My dad was blown away by some of the stuff we've been doing in class, and now he wants to try and incorporate some of the key aspects into a school he's helping to organize. One major theme of this class that has stuck with the most is the idea of Free Software and Open Source technology. It never made sense to me before how or why people would donate so much of their time to developing something that they would, in the end, just give out for free. Yes, there is altruism, but eventually people have to make a living. I've learned through this class, however, that some things, reputation for example, can be a much better investment in the long run.

Sorry if that seemed to drag on too long. You made not have even read the whole thing, which is okay. I just wanted to say, thank you for all the things you've taught me Professors Burton and Zappala. I'm really glad you guys took the challenge of creating this class, and I hope the administration will let you keep teaching it. This really is a Digital Age we're living in, and what you guys are teaching is relevant to any area of study nowadays. I'll miss this class and I look forward to applying my new knowledge in the future.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Evolution of Missionary Work

Here's a Prezi I'm working on for the historical content of our final project. It will probably update automatically so I may just edit this post when I get the finished product.

I'm still unsure if I should keep the arrows or if they just make it look cluttered. Also, I'm planning on adding more to the online part of it (I'm not exactly sure what yet) before the showcase. If anyone has any suggestions I'd love to hear them.

EDIT 12/1/10:
I added the part on how we can help. Thanks for the post Kurt, I used a lot of what the missionaries gave us at the fireside, in a very summarized fashion of course.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Project Showcase

It's official. Each group in my Digital Civilization class at Brigham Young University will be showcasing our final projects.

December 9th, 2010
7:00-9:00 p.m.
3108 JKB (Jesse Knight Building) BYU
Refreshments will be served.

This will be a great opportunity for anyone in the Provo area to learn a variety of ways they can get involved in today's digital world. We will also hopefully be able to stream it onto the internet for those who can't make it. 

Our projects range from Microfinance to exploring how being digitally literate is affecting Tibetans in India. We've done a lot of work planning it so it should turn out to be a great experience for everyone. Please come if you get the chance!

Sunday, November 21, 2010


In our Digital Civilization class we split into groups for final projects, and mine is doing one the Mormon presence in the Digital Age. So far we've created a website to gather and share ideas - Sharing the Gospel in a Digital World - and tonight we'll be hosting a fireside at BYU to show members just some of the things we can do to help further online missionary work. It may not be well known that the church actually has several full-time missionaries working completely online. At our fireside we'll actually Skype them in to talk a little about some of the things they do and also what we can do.

As there is still a "Civilization" in the class name, my main job in the group will be to apply the historical aspect missionary work to the project. We're still brainstorming, but our first order of business will most likely be to add to the "Historical Content" area of the website. We want to compare and contrast how missionary work was done when the church was formed (maybe even earlier) to what it's like now.

At the end of the semester, on December 9th, each group in our class will be presenting our final projects. They will be on a wide variety of topics from class so I encourage anyone who would like to learn more about Digital Civilization to come. I'll most likely be putting more information into a comment on this post soon.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Online Republic

Last month I wrote a post on the possibilities of having an Online Democracy. Throughout the semester, however, my views on that have changed a great deal. First of all, contrary to most American thought, we are not a true democracy, we're a republic. If you have time I highly encourage you to watch the following video, it will explain this better than I could.

There are many more reasons the Founding Fathers created a republic rather than a democracy. Sometimes the majority can't always be trusted. People are too human. This is why we have elected officials.

My original question still remains. How can we use the internet to strengthen our government? Surely it can be used to help congressmen be closer to those they represent. Nowadays we have senators that Tweet and others that keep blogs. But there are other ways to bring us even closer to those in Washington. A couple ideas I had were:

1.) Frequent, non-binding votes online sent out by members of the House to those they represent. This would give the representatives a much more precise and current idea of what the people want. They wouldn't necessarily have to agree with the people (that would ruin the whole point of having representatives), but they certainly could take it into consideration.

2.) I'm kind of doubting of this one myself, but possibly live streaming of congressional sessions? (When there's nothing confidential involved of course.) I honestly don't really know much about what goes on in the Capitol Building, but it would be interesting to see if those we vote for really do what they say they will.

If you have any other ideas or opinions let me know. I'm still sorting my thoughts out myself so there's a chance you may be seeing another post on this in the near future.

Impact of the LASER

First thing's first, for those who may not know, the word 'laser' is actually an acronym standing for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. For the purposes of this class, I won't delve deep into the physics of it, but rather list a few of the impact this discovery has had on our modern society.

The first concept of a laser wasn't thought up for recreational, medical, or even for simple lighting principles. Physicist Charles Towne was an expert in spectroscopy, or as puts it, "the science that deals with the use of the spectroscope and with spectrum analysis". (If you're like me that didn't help clear it up at all, basically it's the study of radiation, visible or not, and its sources). Nowadays our uses for lasers vary from making slits in baby bottles to measuring the distance between the earth and moon. Here are some other neat (obvious and not-so-obvious) uses for lasers you may or may not have known about.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

How much trust do you put in a stop light?

We spoke the other day in class about an idea called Game Theory, which is a way of predicting or manipulating people's actions by combining a limited number of options with assumed rational thinking (a more thorough explanation can be found in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).

To demonstrate, many people use the Prisoner's Dilemma. Say two people, Bob and Alice, are arrested for committing an armed robbery. Each has enough evidence to convict the other, and the chief inspector give's them both two options: confess or refuse. If they both confess, they will both spend five years in prison. If one confesses and the other stays silent, then the confessor goes free and the other spends ten years in prison. If neither one confesses then they both spend two years in prison.


Confess Refuse
Bob Confess 5,5 0,10

Refuse 10,0 2,2

The tendency for most people in this situation is to confess, because they want to play to their best strategy, which makes this a stacked game.

I noticed a connection between this and our global driving system. I've often marveled at how hundreds of millions of people have all been taught the same way to drive. Not only that, but for the most part we all comply with the same laws even though they sometimes may be a hindrance. What keeps people from running stop lights? Why do we drive on the right side of the road if no one's coming the other way? The answer is simple, self-preservation; the road system is there to protect us. A similar table could be drawn for this situation.


Run red light Don't run
Bob Run red light 0,0 10,0

Don't run 0,10 7,7

In this case, a 0 represents a crash, 10 means getting to your destination as fast as possible, and 7 is getting to the destination but having to wait a little longer. Occasionally people do run red lights when they feel the risk of getting in a crash is very low. Add on to that the possibility of getting pulled over by a policeman and we have a rather reliable roadway.