Lit 80, Fall 2013

Month: November 2013 Page 1 of 4

TagIt – Google Glass Challenge (Craig, David, Joy)


Synesth Sense: Google Glass Challenge (Kim, Matt, and Liz)”

Google Glass App Challenge: Deja Vu

Google Glass App Challenge

Created by Mithun Shetty, Shane Stone, and Xin Zhang

XperienceLearning– Google Glass Challenge

A link to our presentation of the Google Glass App, XperienceLearning


Ebocloud Response

Reading Ebocloud reminded me of one of my favorite TED talks, “The Power of Introverts” by Susan Cain. In her talk, she emphasizes different ways introverts play important and often critical roles in our society. She makes points about creativity requiring periods of isolation and other ways that introverted behavior is often so useful. Being a pretty strong introvert myself, most of her points make a lot of sense to me, and many of the examples she describes have at some point applied directly to me or to someone I know. It is probably for this reason that the technology in Ebocloud unsettles me so much. I can’t imagine an environment less conducive to introverts.

The dToos have some extremely cool applications in the book. I particularly liked the Helping Hands app and the example of the group of friends collectively jumping out of the way of a bus, and I generally enjoyed Moss’s cleverness in coming up with interesting applications for the technology. What I think would be problematic, however, is the overarching goal to bring human minds closer to together and forever end human loneliness. While the idea of it sounds good in theory (especially to extroverts), I think the constant connection would become exhausting and eventually debilitating.

I would claim that any current (and foreseeable future) human society requires hermits and eccentrics to function. Even in the world of Ebocloud, the majority of the innovation driving the new tattoos comes from the two characters in the book most separated from the rest of the world, Radu and Ernesto, and it should also be mentioned that Lotte and Penchast choose to leave for a remote island in Desalt’s novel.

Ebocloud Response

Our society today thrives on interconnectedness. We pursue it avidly, expanding the scope of social media in every direction we can. I broadcast to the world what music I like, what news I find interesting, even the state of my love life without a second thought. I do this both to learn about myself through my choices in assembling an online persona and to make this available to others so that they might learn about me as well. But we do not live in a world that could produce the Ebocloud, which caters to “the primordial urge for belonging”. Interconnectedness as we crave it is centered around the individual. We seek to know each other, but not necessarily to unite. I need control over my music, my profile, my identity. We use social media to define ourselves as discrete entities within an increasingly large world, and any common bond we form with other users is secondary to the ability for us to personalize our own experience.

Ebocloud shapes our addiction to social media into a single leviathan, capable not only of connecting the people of the world, but physically influencing them. Rather than simply allowing users to interact, the Ebocloud begins to shape people’s behavior through the use of tattoos that release hormones to encourage ‘good’ behavior. This is a literalization of the way that social media can lead toward the development of a more empathetic society, as well as how our reliance on technology can come to control us. But while social media today can influence their users, they do so in a very different way. Websites like Pandora and Netflix which recommend content to their users will influence people’s tastes and form small ‘communities’ of users who are all consuming essentially the same content. However, these communities are not families like the ebos from the novel. Today’s users exist in an isolated bubble, only connected to their fellow consumers by invisible mechanisms used to recommend more content. I couldn’t find other Netflix users with similar taste if I tried. There is no brotherhood between us. Netflix has no moral investment in how we relate, and would probably prefer that we remain isolated enough to maintain the illusion of originality rather than let us feel like near-identical cogs in a much larger machine.

Ebocloud acts as a parable for the good and bad that could emerge in the next step of social media, but it is one that is unlikely to occur. The Ebocloud is an answer to a problem that the world does not believe it has, and as long as our society remains as ardently individualistic as it is today, I expect the world to move farther from its interconnected utopia before it gets any closer.


Ebocloud Novel Response

    Ebocloud is a science fiction that shows social singularity by projecting the social networking to a plausible extreme. In Ebocloud, there is a network in which the member are connected to each other not only by cyber space but more by physical-world interaction. The members are called “ebo cousins” and they are marked by “digital tattoo” which connects their minds to the network. In the network, members help each other to earn “Kar-merits” which show their influence. We can say that Ebocloud is a future-version Facebook with physical-world interaction. It is also this physical-world interaction that almost changes everything.

digital tattoo

    It seems cool at first glance to live with Ebocloud as everyone has a big “family” and many “ebo cousins”. But this collective consciousness leads to another kind of singularity without robots, or in other words, social singularity. The first creepy one about the social network in Ebocloud is privacy and individuality. We can be offline in Facebook easily by turning off our computer or just by throwing away our smart phone. But with a “digital tattoo” on one’s body, one’s mind is connected to the network all the time. This “digital tattoo” gets rid of the free mind of human. One’s mind is affected or even shaped by the collective consciousness all the time. One will never have his or her own free will. That makes human robots with collective consciousness. However, the “digital tattoo” is not very far from us with the development of digital technology. Scientists in Google even have succeed in making this creepy technology come to truth. So be careful when someone wants to make tattoo for you! The second horrible one about the network lies in the social relations between people. I think the negative effects on actual communication between people are obvious which have been discussed much in Facebook age. I want to use politics as an example. Let’s try to think about what politics will be with a physical-world interaction Facebook. The first scene comes to my mind is the world depicted in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. With “digital tattoo”, it would be much easier for “Big Brother” to control our minds. Some careerists such as Hitler may use this powerful network to control the innocent members to do nonhuman behaviors like terrorism. The world may again get into chaos.

    Ebocloud depicts a world with social singularity. But it is more than social singularity. The book makes us think more about “if this is true, what else is true?”. So what is the next?

[1]Ebocloud, Rickmoss





[6]Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell


Ebocloud response

Ebocloud, by Rick Moss, features a world where a deep social network drives humanity towards a social singularity. The social network – the Ebocloud – connects strangers into familial units and awards points for altruism. In combination with the functional tattoos introduced, the cloud has the power to influence and direct humans with ‘superhuman’ efficiency. As a result, groups of people can be harnessed to perform acts that would otherwise be impossible to coordinate.

Much of our conversation in class revolved around the ethical ramifications of the cloud. In my opinion, the ability of the tattoo to biologically influence others both very dangerous and a boon to society. The tattoo is also necessary for the efficiency mentioned above, so the question becomes whether or not it is worth the potential dangers it introduces. For example, someone could hack another person’s tattoo and paralyze them by flooding their body with a certain type of hormone. The connection  the tattoo proves to Ebocloud allows for the ‘computing’ power of humanity to be pooled into a single resource. The cloud can mine this data and through humanity produce works that benefit the populace as a whole. The idea is reminiscent of a ‘hive mind’, a concept in science fiction where a single entity controls a group towards a common goal. The structure certainly exists in Ebocloud. It is demonstrated in the book that the Ebocloud can control humans successfully, and that it is only one step away from turning people into drones.  There is a great risk that humans become absorbed into their ebo’s and lose their individuality.

With a hive mind structure, the cloud can harness human thought as the ultimate creative resource. In my mind, what puts apart a smart artificial intelligence and a stupid one is the idea of supervised vs. unsupervised. A supervised machine can produce decisions based on the information that is already within its database. An unsupervised machine can make new decisions and teach itself based on what observes. The Ebocloud to me is strictly a supervised machine. I believe it will succeed in harnessing the best ideas of others, but will ultimately falter in producing great ones of its own. In the end, I see the cloud ushering a new era of human efficiency, but not one of great understanding or advancement.

Ebocloud produces an interesting alternate reality with many possibilities. I enjoyed that it took a different approach from other singularity stories and put the focus on giant social structures like Facebook, and what would happen if this became an even bigger part of our lives. The book definitely a scary and impressive vision of what could happen, and it definitely made me think about the dangers, difficulties, and benefits of control.

Ebocloud Novel Response

At the dawn of the 21st century, the advancement of the internet has resulted in the emergence of social network media such as Facebook and Twitter, which successfully served as an interactive and communicative platform for millions of internet users. Rick Moss, in his novel Ebocloud [1], boldly explores futuristic possibilities of social media development and the its potential consequences and societal implications.

The novel Ebocloud assumes that all future social media outlets have been amalgamated into a single entity, or so-called “social singularity” if you will. This singularity, named Ebocloud itself, utilizes an altruism-reciprocation award system to encourage the forming of extremely close online communities. The system works in that if someone registers as a new ebocloud user, he/she will be automatically and randomly assigned to an “ebo-family”, with family members called ebocousins, and receive reward points, named “kar-merits”, for helping them in times of need. This idea might sound innocent and positive at first, but ultimately has to be more deeply scrutinized to truly interpret its inner, more abysmal meanings.

The story’s plot follows Ellison Luber, a NY artist, who is trying solve the mystery of his girlfriend’s attempt to kill him by setting his apartment on fire, and who enlists several of his ebocousins to help him out. During the ongoing story, the narrative goes deeper into the Ebocloud relationship system and questions how this omniscient medium created for humanitarian and utopian purposes might have a darker and sinister side to it. Ellisons quest for solving the mystery of a possible case of pre-planned murder eventually refolds into a adventure for understanding the “powers and promises” [2] of Ebocloud.

Rick Moss’s idea about Ebocloud is certainly extremely intriguing and not so far-fetched from reality given the numbers of social network websites nowadays. Ebocloud, by providing rewards for each ebocousin by helping other ebocousins, virtually applies the model of reciprocal altruism, formulated by behavioral psychologist B.F. Skinner in the twentieth century. The constant application of this psychological approach can lead to close-knit communities with extremely intimate ties and opinions (i.e. each ebocousin regards the other as a well-known and trusted friend, if not family). Ebocloud, therefore, attempts to form a so-called “collective consciousness” by gathering massive amounts of people and creating tribal identities within each ebo-family.

The power of Ebocloud is not overstressed if it has the ability to truly assimilate every human being, or most people for that matter, into its cloud system. In fact, the powers of a single collective community is most often portrayed in modern science fiction movies, such Star Trek and Aliens. In Star Trek, for instance, human’s most bitter enemy, the Borg, are all controlled by a single mind, the Borg Queen. All the different physical Borg entities are thus psychologically bonded together. The idea  that everything can merge into a single entity, is scary for most people, yet in this era of high technological advancement this prediction of a possible future should be seriously discussed. What would happen to privacy if we all shared an extremely close space with each other? What can be done to prevent this technology from falling into the wrong hands? These ethical questions and many more should be comprehensively considered even before the appearance of such technology.



[1] Ebocloud Accessed Nov. 17, 2013.

[2] Ebocloud, A Novel About Social Singularity Accessed Nov. 17, 2013.



Ebocloud Novel Response

Recent years of rapid technological development demonstrate increasing societal dependence on technology. Devices and programs are being invented one after the other that alter our perception of the world around us and augment our ability to communicate with one another. Google Glasses overlay technology onto the world around us and improve our ability to interact with the world around us. Applications on our mobile devices allow us to perform tasks on-the-go formerly thought to be impossible. In this way, man and machine seem to be becoming one. As social integration and access to such technology becomes more popular, we may be simultaneously losing the power to remain independent of technology. This dependence on technology is not completely grounded in necessity, either; while we do use it to store the information integral to running our infrastructures, we also have come to rely on it to live socially amongst each other. The amount of data being generated about and shared with millions of users on the internet’s social media networks is endless. Facebook generates about 500 terabytes of data on its users each day, none of which is essential for our existence or survival. Yet, people have turned to social networks because it is a very accessible, easy, and instantly-gratifying method of finding old and new friends and sharing your life with them (without going through the work of actually doing so physically). This social dynamic begs the question: What is the next stage in merging sociality and technology?

Rick Moss’s Ebocloud is an immersive science fiction novel that depicts a near-future in which a new social network entitled “Ebocloud” has become a huge social construct in daily life. This network groups its millions of users into separate families (based on their personalities and preferences) and utilizes a data cloud that acts as a server for sharing information between the members. The cloud connects to their minds and bodies via digital tattoos and stores thoughts, ideas, and experiences within the cloud. These tattoos, among other things, have the ability to control hormonal balances within a person, allowing for neurological rewards for doing certain tasks and good deeds within your Ebocloud family. Clearly, Ebocloud is an example of system that is almost 100% integrated into the daily lives of mankind. The cloud “families” you are placed in group you with those who are similar to you, allowing facilitated communication of thoughts and ideas. This type of system has major drawbacks alongside its supposed benefits. While it does help you meet new like-minded individuals while simultaneously accomplishing volunteerism/positive karma/social helping (via the kar-merit system, in which those who do “good” things are rewarded with more influence and power in Ebocloud), the negatives may outweigh these benefits. Not only are you essentially forfeiting all of your privacy to those in control and maintenance of the cloud, but you are slowly and surely losing your individuality by separating into a cloud. Families can be seen as separate homogenates of certain individuals who, after a certain amount of time, may fail to contribute new ideas and content to their families and simply perpetuate the same shared ideas instead (after all, there is no privacy among families, and everyone is working towards the goal of attaining kar-merits). Most importantly, however, the biggest danger in using such a system is the biological component of this network. Without the tattoos, this network is relatively harmless. However, allowing a vast system beyond your personal control to directly influence the inner processes of your body (i.e. hormonal balances) is a dangerous, terrifying idea. You are forfeiting your control over your body – it is as if you are giving a set of strangers the green light to drug you whenever they desire. There is also no escape from participation, as the tattoos are permanent. To engage in such a network is to have complete faith that the system is and will forever remain free of corruption, which is a dangerously naïve mistake. The plot of the novel goes on to show a scenario in which the controlling few of the cloud fall into the throes of corruption, putting the protagonists into a dangerous, compromising situation. This not-too-distant hypothetical raises some interesting questions about our real lives. When will we draw the line between technology and privacy? Is it likely that we will ever settle for a certain level of technological development, or will we continue to integrate it into our daily lives? Also, how will increased reliance on technology shape the way we interact with each other and live our lives? How much is too much?


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