How long are we lectured?

For my data collection this week, I decided to time how long Dr. Sample talks for each class. I collected this data using my phone, and every time Dr. Sample paused (asking a question, writing on the board, etc.) I hit the split button. Then every time one of us spoke, I completely stopped the clock and would start it back up when Dr. Sample started talking again. Here are the results:

Tuesday —    43 minutes 12.45 seconds of talking for Dr. Sample

4 minutes 34.03 seconds of “dead” periods

27 minutes 13.52 seconds of students talking

Thursday —  26 minutes 20.21 seconds of talking for Dr. Sample

1 minute 59.86 seconds of “dead” periods

46 minutes 39.93 seconds of students talking


It is obvious that Dr. Sample likes students to be engaged and part of class. He also does not like periods of silence over 10 seconds (that was the highest “dead” period where he wasn’t writing on the board or pulling something up on the computer).


The Emotional Argument

John Foreman’s use of the doom-and-gloom tactic is interesting. On one hand it is a useful narrative that showcases his opinion; suppressed enthusiasm by the consequences of the technology.  But is his negative attitude towards where the technology is pushing society any different than many headlines make? Should I stop drinking milk because it increases my risk of getting cancer? Should you stop reading this blog post on the computer that sits in your lap because it kills sperm count? Should you stop reading my nonsensical words on your phone that is sitting on your chest because it might cause breast cancer? Some of these cases are using worst case scenarios to make you believe whatever fact or opinion they have.

Bringing me to my second point, Foreman is using similar methods that an advertisement will use to push their product/opinion. He is attempting to illicit an emotional response so that his argument becomes more valid in the reader’s mind (the better his argument gets, the better his name is known, the more books he sells). Objectively, are his points valid? Certainly. Does his use of the doom-and-gloom tactic weaken his argument? Definitely not. This is how you win arguments, by presenting facts in a way that illicit an emotional response. Would you be persuaded by a presidential candidate if they just spit out facts, or would it be more effective to give you a sob story to showcase the facts? The answer is pretty clear (for the majority of people). So does using emotion fueled targeted ads destroy humanity? No because at the end of the day, you are making the decision to buy the good or service, and (depending on who you talk to) this ability to freely choose is what makes us human.

Observed Data

Since I was not in class all last week, I collected data this week to make up for it. My data is presented below:

The first thing I observed was the total number of minutes someone was looking at their phone or computer screen when Dr. Sample or someone else was talking (I did not take data when we were supposed to be looking at the computer and a few minutes after as well).

Person 1 Person 2 Person 3 Person 4 Person 5 Person 6 Person 7 Person 8 Person 9 Person 10
3 9 5 3 5 2 8 1 7 2
Person 1 Person 2 Person 3 Person 4 Person 5 Person 6 Person 7 Person 8 Person 9
3 7 22 1 7 14 2 5 4

Although you do not have the data, it is interesting to note that the majority of the time spent browsing on phones and computers happened towards the latter half of class.

The next thing I observed was different on Tuesday and Thursday. On Tuesday, I observed the number of times Dr. Sample furrowed his eyebrows…it was 20 times during the class. On Thursday, I observed the number of times Dr. Sample flicked his hair…it was 2.

The last thing I observed was the number of times someone looked confused during class. On Tuesday, it was 94 and on Thursday (it was much harder to tell since faces were focused on the TV screens) it was 42.

As with all data, I could give you my interpretation of my data but then it would influence the way you looked at the data. However, one thing to think about after you look at my data…Is it meaningless data or is there more to it?

Developing an Opinion on Edward Snowden’s Leaks

When I first started reading the article, my knowledge of the Snowden leak was very limited. I knew he had taken classified documents and made them available to the public so that the public would be aware of privacy violations; however, anything beyond that I had not given a great deal of thought. After reading and listening through the article, I was still left with a sense of “Does it really matter?” All the article did was present to the reader that their privacy was being violated and that it was not a good thing; I never got any insight as to why violating a person’s data privacy was a bad thing, instead, the idea that it was bad was forced repetitively down my throat. So I spent some time in introspection and browsing through different articles online and I developed a very basic and short list of reasons why it was a bad thing (beyond the idea of it violating the Constitution).

  1. I found a TED Talk that was given by the journalist, Glenn Greenwald, with whom Snowden confided his story. In it, he gives his argument to the people who argue “We don’t actually need privacy if we are not acting like criminals.” His response is to give them one of his email addresses and asks them to send him the addresses and passwords for all of their email accounts. He has never received one.
  2. It leads the American public to believe that America is not as Democratic (yes I do know that we are more of a Republic than a democracy) as was once thought.
  3. Snowden only took some of the classified documents…there are many other secrets that are undoubtedly as bad if not worse than the documents he lifted.

My opinion on the matter is much more complex than this blog post (and my list of reasons) allows, but hopefully by pointing out that the article only tells us that the leaks are bad, and not the potential implications of the leaks, you develop an opinion that goes beyond the surface.

Greenwald’s TED Talk: