Automated systems are part of our everyday life workforce, from manufacturing to self-checkouts in a supermarket. The implementation of said systems replaces human workforce members, generating worries each time new technologies are introduced.
Recently Amazon introduced its new convenience store “Amazon Go,” which is said to open early this year in Seattle, Washington. This store promises to provide shoppers with a simple shopping experience without lines, check-outs or registers, all thanks to machine learning, computer vision and artificial intelligence according to Amazon.
As these new technologies are introduced, questions and fears about the future of current workers arise. Since the Industrial Revolution people have worried about losing jobs to machines, however, experts argue that new technologies actually create new employment opportunities.
Automation systems do cause the loss of jobs in the short term, but not in the long term, according to University of Nebraska at Omaha Instructor of Business Administration Management Christopher B.R. Diller.
“In the long term they’re going to end up creating new, different opportunities for the workforce.” Diller said.
In this tumultuous time, it seems we hear about new protests being held every day. In the age of the Internet, a new form of activism has risen: online activism. Commonly called “slacktivism” by detractors, this form utilizes an internet connection and an unfounded precedent that gives nearly everyone a platform to speak out against injustice.
But calling it slacktivism is not just rude. It’s discriminatory. Online activism is a very accessible way to approach social justice, and it includes disenfranchised groups more than any other form. People who are afraid of what physical and emotional harm they may face by marching and protesting on the streets find online activism to be a much safer option. Those who cannot get off work to march find that they can still take part in the fight for what they believe in.
One group in particular benefits from the rise of social media activism the most: the disabled. More often than not, disabled people have been completely left out of activism in the past. Online activism is a way for those who cannot stand for hours or hold up a sign for more than a couple minutes to get their voices heard when all too often those voices have been silenced and ignored by mainstream activist groups.
Online activism gives a voice to the unheard. Before the Internet became widespread, those in power found it very easy to make it seem as though protesters were the loud minority, but now anyone can put in their two cents.
In a recent example, the recent Women’s March on Washington was tied with an online movement that allowed women with disabilities to join in the protests: the Virtual Women’s March. Disabled people were able to enter in their information provide an explanation of why they were marching, and even provide a photo of themselves in full Women’s March regalia, mobility aids and all.
Still, able-bodied activists of every group look down on those who use online activism as a way to be involved. They believe that if someone truly wanted to fight for their rights, they would step onto the streets and join in. This point of view definitively ignores the basest truth about the health effect of marching as a disabled person. Many people, if they marched on the streets for a day, would experience a destruction of health that may even put them in the hospital.
Most of those people decide that one day fighting back in person is not worth the risk to their health and the time they could be fighting back online.
And to exclude disabled people from the women’s march is to take away their voice on one of the most important issues regarding them. The repeal of the Affordable Care Act with no alternative plan in place stands to force millions of people to lose their health insurance. For disabled people, this means losing access to healthcare that keeps them comfortable and alive. So many face the possibility of a loss of what little health they have, and some even face death.
Online activism is one of few ways disabled people can feel included and have their voices heard. “Slacktivism” isn’t just a way for lazy people to pretend to truly care; it’s a way for disenfranchised people to fight back against the discrimination they face on a daily basis.
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR
Those who have been at the intersection of Dodge and 72 St may have noticed the blocky, colorful Do Space building. This establishment is dedicated to empowering the community through access to a variety of resources, including the acquisition of new skills through free courses.
From the moment one walks through the front doors of Do Space it becomes very apparent that this is a place unlike any other. Computers are free for the public to use and fill rows of tables. Rooms that may be checked out fill the building’s space with unlimited opportunities.
“We’re all about access to technology for and innovative learning experiences for people of all ages at all levels of expertise,” said Rebecca Stavick, the executive director of Do Space.
All courses and events hosted at Do Space are free with the registration of a membership either online or in person at their location.
Upcoming courses offer a wide selection of opportunities for students looking to get that extra edge by bringing their technological capabilities to their full potential. These events are hosted by either community members within Do Space or by outside organizations volunteering their time and resources to contribute to the efforts of the Do Space.
One such workshop coming up that may claim the interest of students seeking a future in entrepreneurship is the Small Business Workshop Series on Tuesday. This three-part series provided by AARP and Small Business Administration offers attendants insight into the means of starting and maintaining a business.
Other classes may offer training and even the chance to use advance crafting tools not typically available to the public. An upcoming example of this is a Laser Cutter Crash Course on Monday. Those in attendance will learn how to use a laser cutter to etch wood, metal, glass and other various materials with all participants even leaving with a free laser-cut item.
In addition to the courses available at Do Space are tech checkouts and reservations.
Tech checkouts give visitors of Do Space the chance to use a piece of technology, such as scanners to create digital renderings of photos, laptops to get some work done and other useful or fun equipment. In addition to requiring a membership, those seeking to use the tech checkout must also have a signed Technology Borrower Agreement on file.
Reservations for some of the more advance technologies at Do Space are also available. Members that have signed a Borrower Agreement and Liability Waiver are given the option to reserve use of the establishments laser cutter or 3D printer. Those unfamiliar with how to operate such devices are advised to either attend a crash course or seek out a mentor before trying to tackle a project themselves.
Do Space’s mission of providing access to technology free to the public does come with operating costs and the efforts of community members. For those interested in volunteering at Do Space or donating resources more information can be found at Do Space’s website.
(Family Features) Checking email or flipping through channels instead of sleeping? Playing video games or browsing social media in bed? If you want to catch some quality ZZZs, you should put down that smartphone.
The National Sleep Foundation reports nearly 90 percent of adults sleep with at least one electronic device in their bedroom. However, staring at a screen after 9 p.m. can zap your body of energy, turning you into a zombie the next day. To get a good night’s rest, consider shutting off all electronics before climbing into bed.
How Electronics Affect Your Sleep
Your body functions on a 24-hour internal clock. This clock is influenced by your physical environment and daily schedule. Using electronic devices around bedtime can throw off your body clock and negatively affect your quality of sleep.
Light and darkness affect your body clock. Staring at the blue glow of electronic devices – computers, tablets, televisions, gaming systems and/or smartphones – before bedtime can trick your body into thinking it’s still daytime. The artificial light sends messages to the brain to wake up and activates the body. This, in turn, can reset your body clock, delaying your normal sleep cycle.
Studies show that staring at bright screens within four hours of bedtime reduces melatonin, a hormone that makes you naturally tired when it’s time to sleep. This can cause difficulty when trying to fall asleep, poor quality of sleep or sleep disorders, such as insomnia.
In the long run, problems sleeping at night can impact you during the day. Lack of proper sleep can lead to impaired focus at work, trouble remembering, fatigue, stress and even weight gain.
It is important to get 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. To get a better night’s sleep, experts recommend:
If your smartphone is your alarm clock, set your phone to sleep mode (do not disturb function) so all calls and texts will be silenced unless it’s an emergency. Be sure to put your phone face down on the nightstand so incoming messages don’t wake you up.
Power down tonight and don’t let your technology keep you from a good night’s rest.
Find more resources to help you get a better night’s rest from Guard Your Health, a health education campaign by the Army National Guard, at guardyourhealth.com.
Night Time Stimulants to Avoid
While using electronic devices is one night time distraction, here are some other common things to avoid to get a good night’s rest:
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (man stretching)
Army National Guard
In the past five years, high school has changed dramatically, especially in the arts, technology and private schools.
Professor Adam Tyma, the graduate program chair at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, uses technology in the classroom, but only utlizes what his students already use.
“If it helps me with what I’m trying to do, then do it. I don’t use it just to use it – everything should have a utility purpose,” Tyma said.
Yet Tyma wonders if it should be used all the time, especially in K-12 education.
“At a certain point, students in the K-12 need to disconnect and be 16-year-olds,” Tyma said.
Though that would certainly help, there’s no stopping parents from giving screens to their kids atyounger and younger ages. As a result, these people are becoming conditioned to consistently look at screens.
“With a tablet, you don’t really need fine motor skills. You need one finger that can push things – or swipe,” Tyma said.
Concordia Lutheran Jr./Sr. High School at 156th and Fort instigated an iPad initiative during the 2014-2015 school year, according to business teacher Amanda Lee. Lee noted that the director of schools, “really liked the amount of technol-ogy available to the students right at their fingertips.”
If it were up to Lee, she’d do it differently.
“My preference would be laptops more than iPads just because of the functionality of them and the fact that they’re going to be using them more in the coming years,” Lee said.
Curriculum is designed not around the technology itself, but instead utilizes the main technological functions, which would then be adapted for whatever new piece is out.
While some schools buy the technology and then loan it out to students, just as they would textbooks, Concordia requires families to buy an iPad of their own since they don’t have the financial means to even begin the program. However, when the student owns the iPad, the control lessens considerably and needs to be monitored.
“You have to learn the self-monitoring now,” Lee added.
And while technology is great, it can never replace the arts.
“From the school perspective it tends to be mostly music and then obviously art – visual art – and then if you get into fancy stuff you have drama, you have more specific theater things,” said Natalie Rhebein, a music instructor at Concordia.
Rhebein noted that often arts were left out of regulation.
“The biggest thing is that arts, for a long time, weren’t a part of the things the government’s regulating,” said Rhebein. “Obviously you have to have your students at a certain level.”
While public schools do a lot of state testing, Rhebein said that if it’s not on the test, it usually doesn’t matter.
“When it’s not on the test, it’s not a high priority,” Rhebein said.
Because the arts can get expensive, it’s difficult to keep them around.
“It seems like a good way to get a lot of money out of your budget quickly,” said Rhebein, who noted that it gets expensive buying equipment and traveling.
Yet it’s the private schools who can pull it off easier.
“Private schools, there tends to be a bit more flexibility in the funding and private schools can choose which things they prioritize,” said Rhebein. “It’s more on the music teacher at a private school to make sure the arts are a priority.”
In fact, music has been evident since the beginning.
“For as long as we have recorded history, we have evidence of music, so it’s an integral part of our society that I think a lot of people take for granted,” Rhebein said. “If you accept it as an important part of history, it becomes more important.”
When people think about the arts, it is different than what one would imagine.
“I don’t think people always think of live performance,” said Emily Mokrycki, a drama instructor at Burke High School. “I think people really think about, like, movie stars, and musicians who are on the radio.”
Mokrycki believes this to be because people connect with movies and music more than live performances such as theater. Yet in Nebraska, it is a little different.
“In Nebraska, to be a class A school you have to a full-time theater department or you don’t get to be a class A school,” explained Mokrycki.
With Burke being one of the biggest schools, the numbers are staggering.
“Our productions usually involve about 60 students to about 200 students depending on the production,” Mokrycki said.
“Overall I think we have around 200-250 students involved every year,” she added.
With those numbers, come big price tags, with shows ranging from $1,000 to $24,000.
Even though people don’t think of the visual arts, Mokrycki believes differently.
“I think anything that is performance has a visual component to it,” she explained.
“Part of how you present whether it’s theater or drama or choir or band, you have to have a physical component to be able to play your instrument or hold your body correctly to sing.”
Both Burke and Concordia participate in the Nebraska High School Theater Arts Award Showcase, a national program that was brought to Nebraska three years ago.
“Each school that participates pays $100 and then they get to participate in all the Broadway-level workshops that they have,” Mokrycki explained.
At the end of the school year, the program culminates in a big show honoring the top seven shows, leads and other categories. They also select a male and female finalist who win a fully-funded trip to New York to work with real Broadway choreographers with the other finalists from other states.
“They don’t pick a one solid winner, which I think is important in the arts considering it’s really hard to determine what is the best when everything is such a vastly different type of style and performance,” Mokrycki said.
Sometimes however, fine arts and technology mix together.
“Especially with sound and lights,” Mokrycki said. “That’s a huge part of our crew side. We spent about $8000 upgrading elements in our auditorium last year.”
Although Mokrycki notes that it’s a big learning curve that she must learn and then teach the students, but she accepts that fact.
“Technology plays a huge part and it’s kind of an expectation,” Mokrycki said.
Do Space is offering a free technology course for senior citizens called The Cyber Senior Program.
The program is aimed at helping seniors increase their efficiency and understanding of technology in a fun, constructive and low-pressure environment.
“It is important for them to be introduced to that technology in a pretty low pressure environment so they gain the proper knowledge stress free,” Community Learning Specialist Brian Sarnacki said.
Sarnacki said senior citizens can bring in their software or any kind of technology into Do Space and get one-on-one lessons or group lessons during the program.
Barb Davis had a great first experience with the volunteer teachers of the program.
“The volunteers really could answer my questions and they were patient with me,” Davis said.
The Cyber Senior Event is every Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Do Space.
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR
Many students have their computers synced up to their smart phones and even smart watches to help keep track of notifications However, social media pillars like Facebook and Twitter can muddy the notifications streamWith all this noise, it’s hard to stay organized with social media, group messaging and personal reminders all bombarding devices at the same time.
Luckily, app developers over the years have designed programs to keep productivity separate from social media use and make it the forefront of the time you spend on your phone. Actually use the “smart” in smart phone and download one or more of these apps to help boost your productivity this spring semester.
This app mashes task management with geolocation. Make a to-do list and note where it can be done, and the app will send reminders when you are near that location. It’s like having your mom next to you at all times whispering, “Don’t forget your haircut when you’re downtown, sweetie!” Any.do also reminds you daily to check your to-do list so the tasks are always fresh in your brain.
Whether you’re driving or trying to get down your thoughts without being slowed down by typing it out on your phone, Dragon Dictation is a fairly fast and accurate transcribing app. It seems a little unnecessary to have to take all the finger movements out of tweeting or posting on Facebook, but it could be useful for suddenly remembering to draft an email or reminder and your hands are unavailable. Unfortunately, the app doesn’t store the notes for you, so you have to take the time to store the notes in a new email or text message yourself.
One of the most popular note-taking platforms, Evernote allows users to take and upload notes, pictures, audio and video into one productivity app. Separate notebooks can be made for different subjects. The free account allows just 60 MB of data monthly, but it can be used as an easy and quick upload program to stay organized until you have time to separate the notes into your computer or other apps.
As Google’s answer to Siri, this app is a talk-friendly command program that uses the power of the biggest search engine in the world with your voice. Ask it to remind you of tasks or even track a package. It also works as a way to browse weather, events and more.
Google launched Docs, Sheets, etc. on its interface many years ago as a seamless collaborating and cloud storage for documents, especially for college students. Students can download the app to check updates to documents on-the-go and edit while they are away from a computer. It’s a vital app to sync computer work with mobile smart phone, especially for those who rely solely on Google Drive for creating and sharing documents.
Take it from the Gateway staff: GroupMe is a great app for group messaging. The app works a lot like Facebook Messenger, but users don’t need to have a Facebook to use it. A special component is the ability to directly tag someone in a message to make sure they see it. Stickers, gifs, “liking” messages and photo-sharing are fun features of the app. Users can get notifications for all messages, mute the conversation completely, or get notifications only when tagged in a message. GroupMe is a vital app for study groups and student organizations.
Quip mixes the best of GroupMe and Google Drive into one mobile office app. Besides being a file-sharing and collaborative editing app, Quip also uses instant messaging as an easy way to quickly get in touch with the group. This program is good for group projects when multiple people have to work on a paper or presentation.
This app connects to the calendars already synced up on your phone and puts them into one app. Users then add their to-do lists, and Timeful finds time based on your calendar that may be optimal for completing your tasks. The app becomes smarter with use because it remembers when you accept or reject its suggestions for when to complete tasks. Users can also set nonscheduled “habits,” like studying or running a certain number of times a week, with a visual tracker of how many times a week that habit was completed.
For those who still write every password on sticky notes or in an easy-to-find document on their computer, 1Password keeps every password for every website and social media account in one secure, user-friendly app. Although it sounds sketchy, users can also elect to input credit card information and their address to fill out online orders quickly.