DailyAfirmation (dailyafirmation) wrote,

Homework and "675 Survivors"...

I worked from home today.

I created my blog entry for our four readings due for tomorrow's class:
  1. Eric Abrahamson, "Hear Me Now"

    • This article is germane to our study in terms of learning the history of the wireless industry in the United States. Abrahamson documents that history by covering both the how and the why — that is, enumerating both the technological development chronology, as well as the associated influential socio-economic issues at play at each point in time.

      The first part of this article does a good job of explaining the enormous effect that the "politics of spectrum" has had on cellular innovation in the U.S. (or more accurately, lack of innovation). The next part proceeds to give examples of how "competition in the regulatory arena and the slow pace of institutional change cost the U.S. its lead in cellular development." The article concludes with a lessons learned look at U.S. wireless history: the importance of the "social construction of technology," "the kinds of organizational capabilities needed to survive in regulated markets and the processes by which they deploy those skills," the "importance of political factors in managerial decision-making," the dependence of new technologies on the co-evolution of businesses and regulatory agencies," and the "huge role played by antitrust laws."

      During the discussion in this piece about, particularly AT&T's, resistance to moving away from a proprietary model of technology, I often thought of Microsoft's similar strategy versus IBM's (and others') strategy to embrace open standards. Microsoft continues to focus on making its own products work better in general and with its own (other) products, while IBM (and others) strive to make sure their technology is compatible with other companies' technologies.

  2. Richard Ling, "Introduction" (pp. 11-17)

    • Ling's introduction, in contrast to the "Hear Me Now" piece (which looks at U.S. cell phone history), looks at a global picture of cell phone history. This global history is presented not as a political and regulatory quagmire, but described in terms of the worldwide distribution of mobile telephones and the adoption rates for various regions and countries. It is more of a "numbers article."

      The most interesting thing in this article to me was the list of analysis caveats enumerated, as they made me aware of things I probably wouldn't have considered just reading the statistics; things such as: (1) some subscriptions in the count are associated with functions as opposed to individuals, (2) per capita adoption rates ignore the fact that some individuals have more than one subscription, (3) there is a consideration of "dead subscriptions" and "discarded handsets," and (4) that some individuals might report having a device when, in fact, they are "sharing" a device with a friend or "function."

      A weakness in this book excerpt, in my opinion, is that it doesn't at all discuss "usage type" statistics, such as x% of Asian subscriptions use text messaging y% of the time, highlighting that fact that though they're talking about a "mobile telephone" survey, the device, in many, many cases, is used least of all as (what we think of as) a telephone.

  3. Brown, "Studying the use of mobile technology" (pp. 3-11)

    • Brown, Green, and Harper (Eds.) present wireless history in terms of the "social, cultural, and interactional aspects of mobile technology." Abrahamson's article was a nice complement to this one, as it provided the (sometimes excruciating) detail behind broad statements made in this article; for example, "This further delay [of mobile phone developments] was caused not so much by technology, but by the regulatory and business decisions made by the government and phone companies." As well, at times, this article provided a simple example of a detailed point of Abrahamson, such as this general observation, "By 1976 in the USA, for example, while 44,000 people had mobile phones there were 20,000 individuals sitting on 5–10-year waiting lists," related to Abrahamson's involved description of the issues around frequency spectrum allocations.

      Toward the end of this article, I found myself thinking about the videophone and the constant rearing of its ugly head only to be hammered down by the masses. I posit that it, yet, will become successful — once the technology and social aspects are eventually addressed. I don't think it will be technologically successful until the "video" part is embedded (or experienced) in the same device as the "audio" part, as well as not being tied to a location in order to connect, and the social part is addressed with regards to a person feeling "presentable" to participate in such a connection, which is more often the case once they are "out and about." Mobile phones, or devices, seem to be evolving to accommodate all of these elements. Also, with the adoption of the technology by younger and younger users, they will not have the preconceived notions of past "That'll-never-work" naysayers.

  4. Farley, "Mobile telephone history" (pp. 22-34)

    • Farley's article provided the most "timeline-like" account of the history of wireless communications. The strength of his article lies in its more "layman" description (specifically in the "early years") of the technological developments, his integration of global developments into our history, and his expanded coverage of "modern" history.

      I particularly liked his paragraph on the failure of satellite service, as it was the only failure I remember being discussed in such specific terms — what technology failed, why it failed, what investor lost the most, and what's become of it (i.e., "...satellite telephone service remains a niche market to this day").

      It's arguable that this article might be "less scholarly," as it is not rife with citations. This, however, is what makes it more accessible. In any case, it is well-written, and does not seem to be biased toward any particular company or technology.

Tonight, STC presented "675 Survivors" (a program I thought of, developed, and organized), to this semester's ENG 675 students. ENG 675 is the "capstone" course in which you use everything you've learned in the Master of Science in Technical Communication to do a project that you "defend" at the end of the semester. This "defense" is in lieu of doing a thesis.

Tonight's program consisted of three graduates (two from May 2006, and one from May of 2001) who spoke using the following agenda:
  1. About Me (introducing themselves)
  2. My Advisors (who their advisors were and why they chose them)
  3. My Project (a summary of what kind of project they did [e.g., paper, website, user's guide] and an overview of the project)
  4. Project Genesis (what gave them the idea for their project, and any ideas that were considered and rejected)
  5. Preparation Lessons (lessons learned during the semester as they did the project)
  6. Presentation Lessons (lessons learned the night of defending their project in front of the faculty and other master's degree students)
  7. Final Words of Wisdom
The three presenters were just great, and well-received by the students. Here are the results of the "Program Evaluation" I distributed at the end of the class.

Program Evaluations Summary


12 of 13 respondents indicated that the program met or exceeded their expectations.
1 of 13 respondents indicated it didn't, but then clarified that s/he didn't have any expectations, because s/he didn't know the program was going to occur.

Write- in comments:

"This was really great and very informative."
"Very informative."
"This program was extremely helpful. It was nice to hear success stories."
"Great idea, executed well, very helpful! I am most grateful for the information."
"Excellent, honest advice. Made me feel better about my future work in ENG 675."
"Very helpful."
"Thank you!! Excellent program. :-)"
"Encouraging speakers; useful information + tips."
"Thanks for putting this together."


7 of 13 respondents indicated that they had attended other students' ENG 675 project defenses.
6 of 13 respondents indicated that they had not attended other students' ENG 675 project defenses.


12 of 13 respondents indicated that this program was "just in time."
1 of 13 respondents indicated that this program should be offered earlier in the semester.


13 of 13 respondents recommended offering this program to the next semester of ENG 675 students.

Responses to "Any comments at all about the program..." question at the end:

"I didn't see any information regarding defenses for last semester, therefore I didn't get the opportunity to see them."
"This was really great!"
"Great advice to have a final meeting with professors and to combine your project with work."
"Would have been nice to have copies of work... URLs, if online."

With the about whether the program should be offered to next semester's ENG 675 class that they all said "yes" to, I had also asked for volunteers to present for that session if we do it, and three people volunteered! Bonus — a "self-funding" project.

I received this note from the professor of the class, which really made my evening:

"I thought it was a major hit. I thank the student chapter, and especially you, John, for putting it together. I may have learned more than anyone in the room, but that is the great thing about teaching.

Please do continue to offer this to future 675 classes."

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