Monday, May 19, 2008

Semester in Review - Spring '08

Another semester has come and gone, bringing me one step closer to graduation. This semester sparked in me a passion for my education that was missing before. As my education moves forward, I have been given the chance to study particularly interesting and valuable topics. This semester, I became fascinated with information and communication technologies and their effects on society. Throughout the course of the semester, I studied in depth the ethos of collective intelligence projects like Wikipedia, the nature of Web 2.0, and the relationship between communication technologies and economic development.

This semester, it was my goal to integrate the work I did in all of my courses into one cohesive body of work. In some ways, I was successful. In other ways, I was limited by the general education curriculum. In any case, I learned a great deal about the world in which we live.

A course in environmental biology gave me an understanding of the ways technologies can effect ecosystems. The course emphasized sustainable ways of living, even in the face of increasing dependence on technologies that pollute the environment. Technologies that have a positive or neutral effect on the environment were also discussed.

A course in ancient Greek philosophy gave me an understanding of the earliest stages of western thought. The course focused on the beginnings of philosophy and natural science. Questions like, "what does it mean to live virtuously?", and "what is the nature of reality?" were discussed in depth. Both this course and the environmental biology course gave me moral guidelines, which provided the framework for my investigation of technology's effects on society in general.

I was not able to produce any original work relevant to my general inquiry in either of these two courses. In my rhetoric course and in my geography course though, I wrote multiple papers on the topics I mentioned in the first paragraph. I have set up a place to post my work online. Here is a brief description of each paper and a link to its location.

1. Michael Jordan, Wikipedia, and Internet Rhetoric - This first paper is what started my investigation into information and communication technologies. It was written for my Rhetoric course. It reviews several websites, including the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. Wikipedia has become immensely useful to people from all walks of life. In this paper I compare the ethos of Wikipedia to other "credible" websites. In the end, I conclude that Wikipedia is just as reliable, if not more reliable, than traditional sources of information.

2. Communication and Information Technologies in the Developing World - This paper, written for my Geography of the Developing World course, examines the effects that technologies, like mobile phones, have on developing economies. Massive inequalities exist between the developed and developing worlds in terms of access to information. This translates into inequalities in many other aspects of society, most notably economic development.

3. Soma - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 - I wrote this three part short story independently over the course of the semester. It is a mythological tale about a young man who is transported to a mysterious castle located in orbit around the earth. The nature of reality is questioned when 1000 origami cranes become real live birds. Experiencing art is elevated to a new level, which raises questions about the digital age and the rise of alternate online realities.

This collection of my work is somewhat incomplete. A significant presentation about the development of communication throughout the ages is missing. Also missing are several essays which are not all together relevant to the theme of technology's effects on society.

As I look back on this semester, I feel I have grown as a student and as a person. It is my pleasure to share with you the fruits of my labor this semester. One thing that I have learned at Elmhurst College so far, is that what college aught to be, is a community of students dedicated to pursuing knowledge in any way possible. I feel that online communities will soon become the epicenter of modern education. Until that time comes, I will continue to advocate for the internet as the most effective means of sharing information.


-Kevin Lepore

Sunday, May 18, 2008

O Summer, Where Art Thou?

The summer is fast approaching, and everywhere college students are worrying about finals and are getting ready to start working at summer jobs. Life for college students changes dramatically during the summer months. Our brains are given a chance to mellow out and our wallets are able to slowly fill up with cash.

Though our wallets might bulge initially, rising gas prices are sure to thin budgets and curb travel plans to far away places. Where o where is that elusive Green Revolution hiding? On the West Coast? Progressive California has seen a massive increase in Green technology, in architecture, transportation and other aspects of daily life. Though you might not be ready to buy a hybrid car, there are measures you can take to help protect the environment and save you money.

My first suggestion is, RIDE A BIKE. Riding a bike is good exercise and it is obviously much cheaper than having to pay for gas. Anyone who can, owes it to themselves to ride a bike whenever possible.

My second suggestion is, SAVE ENERGY IN YOUR HOUSE. Recently I've noticed how often lights are left on at my house, overnight and all day long sometimes. Make sure to always turn lights off whenever you leave the room. As our entire nation moves towards a more sustainable way of living, simple things like energy saving light bulbs and reading a book instead of watching T.V. will make a huge difference in the amount of energy we consume.

My third suggestion is, TALK ABOUT IT. Start a conversation about Greening your community. Start thinking about ways to create a cheap sustainable lifestyle for yourself. Solar panels? Alternative fuels? Green roofs? It is really important to think progressively about this topic. Lots of people already understand this, so get ready to join the movement as it sweeps across the United Sates.

Just this weekend, Chicago hosted a Green Festival at Navy Pier, which showcased 350 local and national green businesses that are helping to make our future more GREEN. Mayor Daily was in attendance and delivered some remarks about his city's environmental successes. You can read more about the event here.

Go green this summer!


- Kevin Lepore

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Internet and The Printing Press:

I am beginning to think we are on the verge of a New Age Renaissance.

When Johan Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1439, information was spread across the European continent like never before. The printing press enabled widespread literacy, and thus the scientific revolution, the protestant reformation, and modern forms of participatory government, i.e. democracy. Cultures started to spread and bleed into each other, which boosted creativity, and so great works of art and music start to appear. This of course all steamrolled into the American and French Revolutions. And all of this was enabled by the widespread availability of information.

Twenty years ago, Tim Berners-Lee invented the internet. We are beginning to see the same sort of things happening now that happened five hundred years ago during the first Renaissance Age. The internet is the printing press of a new renaissance. That is an over simplification of an idea that I intend to look at more closely in the future. Nevertheless, information is becoming more widely available now then it ever has been before. People are working together on collective intelligence projects like Wikipedia and other forms of 'Web 2.0' participatory media. More people in the developing world are becoming educated. All of humanity can come together on the internet. Our cultures are migrating onto the internet, and forming the ultimate global melting pot of ideas, images, videos, music, art and information.

It's a very exciting time to be alive. Don't you think?

Ah, selah!

-Kevin Lepore

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Oh, I Do Lots Of Things:

Here's a list of useful ways to spend time on the internet:

1. Stumble Upon - This fun application can be downloaded for free here. Stumble Upon is a web surfing tool that allows you to attune your web surfing experience to your specific interests. Click the stumble button on your web browser's tool bar and Stumble Upon will bring you to a website that may or may not interest you. A rating system is used so that Stumble Upon can learn your likes and dislikes. This tool will help you find all of the golden nuggets hidden in the deep recesses of the internet.

2. TED Talks - Ted Talks, available at, are by far one of the most educational nuggets that I have ever stumbled upon. TED is an annual conference, where experts in Technology, Entertainment, and Design are invited to give 20 minute lectures about the most exciting advancements in these fields. Some notable attendees: Bill Clinton, Steven Hawking, Richard Dawkins, J. J. Abrams, Peter Gabriel and Bono. The talks are about a range of things; from saving the African continent and building a better (more GREEN) future, to the importance of slowing down and stopping to smell the roses, TED has it all.

3. UC Berkeley Webcasts - Only about a tenth of applicants are accepted into the freshmen class at the prestigious University of California, Berkeley. Now, thanks to the internet, anyone can attend classes at UC Berkeley for free (though not (yet) for college credit). For convenience, the university records lectures and posts them on a specially created Website. Here anyone can view an entire semester's worth of lectures in a range of subjects.

4. Hulu - is a website that has all of your favorite t.v. shows in one convenient location. Fox and NBC control over 50 cable networks, all of which post high quality streaming videos of the hottest shows onto Hulu. Such fan favorites as The Office, The Simpsons, Family Guy and Arrested development can be watched here, at anytime, for free, with very limited commercial interruption. Remember the writer's strike? Writer's weren't getting paid for ad revenues coming from sites like these - now they are.

Whether you are looking for entertainment, an education, or any number of other things, the internet has something to offer for everyone. Flip through these websites and let me know what you all think.


- Kevin Lepore

Thursday, May 8, 2008

It is the best of times, it is the worst of times:

Check this out. It's a real doozy.

What do you all think about this? Is the internet evolving into "a summary of the world, deeper, broader and more nuanced than ever before?" or has it become "merely a collection of trivia, much of it untrue, all of it narrow shallow and sensational?"

I dont know. I think you have to make the call for yourself.


- Kevin Lepore

A Meme Depository:

What is this blog's purpose?

This blog is a meme depository. What is a meme depository?

A meme is a unit of cultural information, that is transmitted by humans, from one to another. I will filter the most interesting memes, or bits of culture, from my life and from the internet and deposit them on this blog.

A word about myself: My name is Kevin Lepore. I am a student majoring in English and Philosophy at Elmhurst College, a small liberal arts school in suburban Chicago. I have a passion for music, language, history and science. I am majorly interested in the ways information technologies affect societies and civilization in general.

That being said, this blog will serve as a place to learn about the ways in which the world shapes our lives.


-Kevin Lepore