The iPhone: A Revolutionary Device

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Apple introduced the first iPhone in 2007. It combined three kinds of technology— a widescreen iPod with touch controls, a mobile phone, and Internet device (Ritchie). Steve Jobs said, “iPhone is a revolutionary and magical product that is literally five years ahead of any other mobile phone. We are all born with the ultimate pointing device—our fingers—and iPhone uses them to create the most revolutionary user interface since the mouse” (Ritchie). Apple thought and still does think that the iPhone makes everyone geniuses. The iPhone was promoted through television advertisements, posters, online advertisements, etc. that showed its groundbreaking functions.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lfmlKYZ-vU

The iPhone breaks down many binaries— being face-to-face while having conversations, the space/distance between people, etc. The cultural response when the iPhone emerged was instantaneous and people were ecstatic that this device had arrived. Over time, the perception of the iPhone has changed. In Re-Newing Old Technologies, Tom Gunning explains the importance of the cultural archeology of technology, which refers to grasping again the newness of old technologies. The excitement surrounding each new generation of the iPhone proves how this ideology is, in fact, true.

People go through Onians’ four stages of amazement every time a new generation of the iPhone is released. For example, when I received my iPhone 4, I was amazed that it was a shiny white, slick, thin phone and I couldn’t believe how “pretty” it was (Stage 1: a striking visual or aural experience). I was in shock and didn’t know what to do with it. (Stage 2: physical paralysis). Since I was fascinated by the iPhone and everything it could do, I wanted to learn how to use it to its greatest potential (Stage 3: a mental reaction leading to learning). Finally, using my iPhone has become part of my lifestyle. Among other things, it reminds me to do tasks, wakes me up in the mornings, and, most importantly, allows me to keep in contact with my friends and family (Stage 4: a new action) (Gunning).

Gunning uses the word “uncanny” to describe the unfamiliarity which greater and constant exposure [to the technology] will overcome (Gunning). The iPhone is uncanny because it takes items that we use daily and makes them virtual. For example, the iPhone is like one’s own miniature computer. It is normal for people to use computers, but it is an “alien” concept that the iPhone, being small, is like a computer in and of itself. Through de-familiarization (Gunning), people have “rediscovered” this technology. The iPhone is a revolutionary device that has changed the world (and people’s lifestyles), creating a way for people to do and be a million things.

Gunning, Tom. “Re-Newing Old Technologies: Astonishment, Second Nature, and the Uncanny in Technology from the Previous Turn-of-the-Century.” In D. Thorburn and H. Jenkins (eds). Rethinking Media Change: The Aesthetics of Transition. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp 39-60.

Ritchie, Rene. “History of iPhone (original): Apple reinvents the phone.” iMore. 26 August 2013. Web. 31 January 2014. <http://www.imore.com/history-iphone-2007>.

Reddit

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If one were to ask a college student if they know of Reddit, the most common answer would be yes. reddit is a very unique website when it comes to online forums. It was founded by two 22 year old graduates from University of Virginia in June of 2005(The History of Reddit). Reddit users, also known as redditors, flock to reddit to be up to date on news and topics currently trending. The idea of reddit is that any user can submit an entry under certain “subreddits”, which are subsections of reddit where anything can be found, ranging from cute animals to horrific pictures. Now you may be thinking, what is the big deal about this reddit website? What makes reddit so extraordinary is that it is an anonymous forum of social media that is direct at the general population. It allows one to be themselves and not worry about what their peers would think. Accounts can also be created in a matter of seconds, and the website is very easy to navigate which draws lots of users in. Interestingly, many of these ideas can be linked to Tom Gunnings article “Re-Newing Old Technologies.”

In Tom Gunnings article, he states “Astonishment is inherently an unstable and temporary experience. One finds it difficult to be continually astonished by the same thing”(Gunning). Unlike Instagram where photos and videos can only be posted, reddit is filled with anything you can think of on the internet. Based on the subreddits you visit, you look at anything you want. This is very important in our generation because we are known as the “We Generation”, meaning we want certain things and have things personalized our way. There is always something new on reddit every day which leads one to believe that this website will thrive for a long amount of time. It also states in the article that “new technologies evoke not only a short-lived wonder based on unfamiliarity which greater and constant exposure will overcome, but also a possibly less dramatic but more enduring sense of the uncanny”(Gunning). This can be related to almost any activity. For example, a new game may be trending in the app store. The game may be the most fun game on your phone, but in the next week, it will be old and a new one will replace it. This seems to be a common occurring theme, showing in many social media sites like Myspace and Friendster. However, reddit is only growing in size and continues to impress me every day as more people join. It gives a new insight to other peoples lives, some you may even know personally.

Reddit can become very addicting, and it is apparent in the image of “What my parents think I do” in the meme. My friends constantly think it is making me more stupid, but I really am much more up to date on things going on in the news. Society tends to think of redditors as the common computer geek, seen in the picture above. Also, journalists have been caught using articles and even stealing comments word for word pertaining to a certain subject. Unfortunately, my girlfriends knows what kind of stuff can get posted on there like nude pictures, and I think the picture is pretty self explanatory. The last picture of what I really do seems to capture the whole idea of reddit. It is super engaging, and your identity is unknown which is symbolized by the guy wearing a ski mask over his face.

Citations

Vreeswijk, S.. N.p.. Web. 30 Jan 2014. <http://www.stikkymedia.com/blog/history-reddit&gt;.

Gunning, T. 2003. ‘Re-newing Old Technologies: Astonishment, Second Nature and the Uncanny in Technology From the Previous Turn-of the-Century’, in Thorburn, D. and Jenkins, H. (eds) Rethinking Media Change: The Aesthetics of Transition. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press