The growth in any technology will oftentimes positively affect the development of any other technology. The advancement of research towards neuroprosthetics is constantly expanding; therefore, other fields of science and neuroprosthetictechnology are developing because of this. Neuroprosthetics are a valuable technology and have the potential to affect many people’s lives as long as efforts continue in an attempt to improve it. This pertains to people in need of neuroprosthetics along with people who would benefit from other similar technologies. For this reason, there is a critical need for more research to be done in order to perfect neuroprosthetics.

Neuroprosthetics are a type of brain computer interface (BCI). A BCI requires a different brain output than that used to complete regular motor activities. This device focuses on the user’s intent in using brain activity in order to create a new form of communication (Moran et al.). This includes a communication between the brain and a prosthetic. The concept is simple; those who either lost their limbs or are no longer able to use them will be connected to a prosthetic (an artificial body part) that they can control with their mind to complete the tasks the person wants done. Currently, nearly all of the neuroprosthetics that are being researched are for arms because if this area of the body is negatively affected, it plays a more detrimental role in someone’s life. With this technology, losing the ability to use a typical human arm wouldn’t mean never being able to use an arm ever again. Neuroprosthetics give people the ability to yet again complete daily activities more easily such as picking up and putting down objects, along with driving. At the state in which the research is at, neuroprosthetics can be used to catch and throw a ball with high accuracy. However, the fingers cannot move one at a time and cannot move very quickly as a whole. Seeing that neuroprosthetics can give people the ability to go from a non-functioning arm to a highly technological functioning arm, they can aid in the betterment of many people’s lives. Neuroprosthetics are growing more popular and because of this, it is more realistic that it will become a commonplace technology.

Although mind control has been a fictional concept throughout history, the neuroprosthetic actually uses neural control to make the prosthetic complete the desired actions (Leuthardt). Signals from the brain travel through the nervous system and end up at the neuroprosthetic, causing it to move. Once the person thinks of how they want the arm to move, the brain sends a signal to the rest of the nervous system. The nervous system consists of neurons, which relay messages to one another throughout the body through chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters (Boeree). At the end of the cycle of neurons, the signal is sent through the skin to something outside of the body. This is where electrodes come in. Electrodes (connected to the neuroprosthetic) are threaded through the nerves in the stump and are stimulated in order to allow the prosthetic to receive the signal from the brain (Kwok). This gives the person the ability to cause activity within the prosthetic.

According to Marshall McLuhan, the medium in which something (or someone) is portrayed gives a greater message than the information within the medium itself (McLuhan 8). Whenever someone has a physical problem, it causes people to stare and oftentimes judge about his or her life. For example, seeing someone in public with a missing limb draws peoples’ attention towards that person and will sometimes make them feel sorry for the person because they seem to have a harder time in accomplishing daily activities. No matter the person’s personality, culture, or ideas, they are automatically viewed as “socially different” and put into a category of people with a similar appearance. People will be quicker to accept the message portrayed by others’ looks (a missing limb for example) than someone’s feelings about the situation. The neuroprosthetic can make others view them as more relatable, as they will be more likely to do everyday activities easier. Even though neuroprosthetics are out of the norm and people with them will still be labeled as “different,” the growth of this technology may bring about a growth in accepting people’s physical, emotional, and social differences.

Along with possibly changing the way society views them, people with neuroprosthetics will have their lives changed by being able to complete tasks they couldn’t before. As mentioned, neuroprosthetics will give people the ability to complete simple daily activities like taking a drink of water or catching a ball. Whether someone has a paralyzed part of their body, an amputated limb, or just have a hard time using their limbs, this technology can help them complete the tasks that have become difficult for them. This technology can also be used for people who have had strokes, but since the nerve pathways in stroke victim’s brains have been severed, the brain itself instead of the nerves within a limb must be activated (Kwok). This means the researchers have to mimic the signals within the limb or make the brain learn all new signals about what stimulation causes what reaction in the body. This shows that more research needs to be done because there are some people who would benefit from neuroprosthetics, but the technology has not yet been created to help them.

There are other reasons more research needs to be done; neuroprosthetics are imperfect in many ways. The reaction time of performing certain activities when using this technology is much less than when using a typical human arm. Neuroprosthetics lack the complexity of fully functioning limbs, like being able to type on a computer. Another complaint is that there is a lack of sensation to those using the prosthetic limb (when something touches it, the person has no way of knowing that it happened or what the object is unless they see it happen). These people do not have an accurate sense of differences in pressure, texture, or temperature (Kwok). This can cause difficulties because the person might not know how hard to hold an object to make sure they don’t damage it (they might break it if they hold it too tight or drop it if they don’t hold it tight enough). Research is, however, currently being done in order to make the prosthetics more high-tech and allow people to know more about what type of object they are holding or touching. Another difficulty with neuroprosthetics is that, like any other necessary technology, they might be too expensive for many people to be able to buy. This means that even if the technology is available, people who are in need of it will not be able to get ahold of it. Also, as this technology becomes more popular, the demand might be greater than the supply. This means that unless there are more people working in the field to create them, people who need them and are able to pay for them still might not be able to get them. Neuroprosthetics are still at an early age of development, meaning if someone were to invest in one now, there may be a breakthrough soon that would allow the neuroprosthetic to have more features and be more complex. Currently, the only people who are using neuroprosthetics are those who are participating in research (no one uses it on a daily basis yet due to the list of imperfections). There is a hope that with more research in how the brain and technology used to make neuroprosthetics work, neuroprosthetics can become more common and available to people. Once it comes to the point in time when neuroprosthetics will be used by the common member of society, these people will have to spend a lot of time and energy to get used to it and learn how to use it.

This shows that there is a potentially extremely beneficial future when it comes to neuroprosthetics, even though there is room for improvement. As mentioned, there is a lot of research that needs to be done to find out how to receive more complicated signals from the brain and relay them to the neuroprosthetics (which could cause someone to move their fingers, or have quicker reflexes). When advances are done in neuroprosthetics, this opens the door for growth in development of other scientific and technological aspects. For example, if messages can be sent from the brain to a neuron to an electrode to the neuroprosthetic, brain messages can possibly be sent to the outside world in other ways. People are able to concentrate and use their minds to move objects like neuroprosthetic hands that are not near them (and are even multiple states away from them). This means that a person doesn’t have to be directly connected to something in order to move it, which is already an advance in technology in the right direction. This concept opens up the question of mind reading. Even though mind reading is possibly a socially unethical idea, there are many benefits that could come out of it. There are people in the world with conditions in which they are unable to easily communicate with others. Being able to send thoughts to others can be extremely beneficial for some people. Another possible future concept is mind control. Even though this is also debatably unethical, if a person can mentally control a prosthetic arm, there might be a way for people to mentally control other objects in the world that they are not connected to in any way.

Neuroprosthetics could not have been created without the use of a multitude of subjects including biology, neuroscience, and engineering. This shows that people from many fields of study have to come together in order to accurately put together a technology with the greatest level of function. This collaboration and large amount of work sets an example for how research should be done in the future: by working together and sharing ideas in order to put something together that could help the greater good.

Currently, neuroprosthetics are still in an early age of development. The research being done includes testing out the technology to see what is still imperfect and what needs improvement. There is a dire need for this research to continue, because any breakthrough could positively affect the lives of thousands of people in the world. Whether or not a person is in need of a neuroprosthetic, this technology may benefit them in the long run (neuroprosthetic research may lead to research and development of other technologies). The future of neuroprosthetics holds an endless amount of potential development and improvement in the scientific society.


  1. Boeree, George. “Neurotransmitters.” General Psychology. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.
  2. Kwok, Roberta. “Neuroprosthetics: Once More, with Feeling.”Nature. Nature Publishing Group, 8 May 2013. Web. 24 Mar. 2015.
  3. Leuthardt, Eric C., Jarod L. Roland, and Wilson Z. Ray. “Neuroprosthetics.” The Scientist. N.p., 1 Nov. 2014. Web. 24 Mar. 2015.
  4. McLuhan, Marshall, and Quentin Fiore.The Medium Is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects. Corte Madera, CA: Gingki, 2001. Print.
  5. Moran, Daniel, Jeffrey Ojemann, and Gerwin G. Schalk. “The Emerging World of Motor Neuroprosthetics: A Neurosurgical Perspective.” Neurosurgery 59.1 (2006): 1-14. Web. 24 Apr. 2015.

Central Argument About Neuroprosthetics

The development and growth of neuroprosthetics is necessary in order to expand in all fields of science and technology. A multitude of subjects come together in order to create neuroprosthetics including engineering, neuroscience, and biology. This means that learning more about this topic and creating more advanced technology would lead into a growth in technology all around. Neuroprosthetics is a complicated technology that in the long run will help many people.

Being able to develop neuroprosthetics into a completely advanced technology will aid many people who are in need of the prosthetic. Most neuroprosthetics that are being studied at the moment are arms and hands. There are still many imperfections of this technology (because it does not yet have many of the functions that a working arm and hand have). It is a common hope that one day this technology will include ways to sense different temperatures or weights. Currently, people who are testing out neuroprosthetics have a difficulty with how hard they should grasp an object because they cannot tell how much it weighs or how hard they are already holding onto it. How hard to grasp an object is not something most people think about when they pick something up, it comes naturally to them. Grasping something with neuroprosthetics always holds the risk of holding something too tight and breaking it or not holding it hard enough and allowing it to fall. Also, there are currently studies being done in order to quicken the reflexes of people (so they can grab and let go quickly, for example). As this technology improves, it will greatly improve the lives of the people who need it.

If advances are done in neuroprosthetic research, this can cause a growth in research and understanding in other fields of study towards other types of technology. For example, if messages can be sent from the brain to a neuron to an electrode to the neuroprosthetic, brain messages can possibly be sent to the outside world in other ways. People are able to use their minds and concentration to move objects that are not near them and even multiple states away from them. This means that a person doesn’t have to be directly connected to something in order to move it, which is already an advance in technology in the right direction.

Also, even though as of right now, mind reading is impossible, the science community may be getting closer to being able to do so. There are people in the world with conditions in which they are unable to easily communicate their thoughts to others. Even though it is something that may come very far into the future, a way to send the thought signal through neurons may allow a new way of communication at some point in time. All technology is interconnected in one way or another. If it wasn’t for someone discovering how messages are sent throughout the body with neurons and neurotransmitters, neuroprosthetics would have never been created, and if neuroprosthetics weren’t created, they wouldn’t open the door for so many more topics to be researched and discovered.

Research Question: How are Anxiety Disorders Correlated with the Brain?

Anxiety disorders, like other disorders, are not a choice to have and people cannot just decide to turn it on or off. People cannot control the anxiety they feel when they are put in certain situations. Anxiety disorders are often brought up due to environmental factors that include excessive fear (which could be caused by a traumatic experience), which then can lead to post-traumatic stress or phobias. This means that when put in certain situations, people with an anxiety disorder feel an excessive amount of fear. They feel anxious when they are put in situations that are not necessarily dangerous, like meeting someone for the first time (“Psychological Treatments for Panic Disorder”). Even though symptoms of anxiety disorders are shown due to an environmental factor, they are still closely correlated with the nervous system. This both has to do with what happens in a brain when there is excessive anxiety, along with the nature vs nurture debate (that there may be a genetic factor to anxiety disorders).

Exposure therapy is a type of therapy that helps ease the extensiveness of an anxiety disorder. A stimulus that causes fear is exposed in a safe environment, and the fear responses are slowly suppressed (Gallagher). When this fear-inducing stimulus is created, some neurons in the amygdala are activated. The amygdala is the part of the brain that deals with the emotions a person has (which explains why a fear-inducing stimulus would affect the amygdala). With exposure therapy, these neurons can be silenced, meaning they are less active and the response is not as strong.

Even though the amygdala plays a large role in anxiety disorders, other parts of the brain are also involved. The brainstem, diencephalon, and insular cortex may also be included in the process (Bergland). These parts of the brain could sense the body’s inner signals of danger when basic survival is threatened. When someone feels an excessive amount of panic or fear, this may be due to a part of the brain outside of the amygdala. Although outside world information is filtered through the amygdala to generate fear, signs of danger from inside the body can provoke fear even without an amygdala present.

Anxiety disorders can leave to many other emotional and physical problems. For example, children or adolescents who had anxiety disorders have a higher risk for depression, suicide, a poorer quality of life, social difficulties, and increased mortality due to cardiovascular disease (DeSousa et. all). In children especially, anxiety disorders can involve dysfunctional processes in various emotional and cognitive processes, each of which is in turn regulated by several brain regions that may support anxiety disorder pathophysiology. This includes the amygdala (as mentioned before) along with the prefrontal cortex and the basal ganglia.

Anxiety disorders are partially due to the genes that run within a family and are heritable. However, there is also an environmental to how prevalent these disorders are. For example, a person many have an anxiety disorder from their genes, but it wouldn’t affect them until a specific environmental factor came about and caused them to feel the extreme fear and anxiety.


Bergland, Christopher. “Decoding the Neuroscience of Fear and Fearlessness.” Psychology Today. N.p., 6 Feb. 2013. Web. 13 Apr. 2015.

DeSousa, Diogo, Giovanni Salum, Maria Rosário, Daniel Pine, and Gisele Manfro. “Pediatric Anxiety Disorders.” Scielo. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2015.

Gallagher, Siobhan, and Jennifer Kritz. “Neuroscientists Determine How Treatment for Anxiety Disorders Silences Fear Neurons.” Tufts Now. N.p., 31 Oct. 2013. Web. 13 Apr. 2015.

“Psychological Treatments for Panic Disorder and Social Anxiety Disorder.” Oxford Neuroscience. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2015.

Our Class Archive

At this point in time, the class has created an archive of blog posts full of many different ideas, ranging from the effects of music to robots. As a whole, these blog posts all relate to one specific topic: technology. Having a topic chosen but also having a lot of free space to write gives the student guidance while still giving them the ability to write about what they’re interested in.

This same idea pertains to when the blog must relate to an essay read previously; everyone has a general topic to write about (like “the self”) but everyone approaches this topic in a different way. This is what makes the blog posts as a whole interesting and enjoyable to read. It groups them together in one way but also allows for individuality as everyone has their own opinions and thoughts about certain concepts. As a fellow student, I enjoyed looking through all the blog posts because I got to pick up ideas that I didn’t think of before.

The best way to describe a lot of the blog posts is passionate. Especially when it comes to the blog posts pertaining to the final paper (in which people chose their own topics that they are interested in), they show passion and excitement about a topic (because of the leniency of the paper). To be able to see this on a massive scale while scrolling through the blog is inspiring.

Our class’ compilation of blog posts serves as a mix of ideas. This can be seen through the ability to write comments. One person may write a post expanding on a thought, while a few people might comment and include their own thoughts on the same topic. The same goes for the option to tag something. This gives a reader or fellow blogger the ability to look up a topic and find slightly different ideas about the same thing.

As the archive continues to grow every week with each person’s new blog post, more ideas are developed that otherwise would not have been. Before the blog posts, there were certain topics I hadn’t thought about, or certain thoughts I haven’t shared with anybody. With the posts, I received the ability to do both of these.

Even as the semester ends and everyone in the class moves on with different plans, we are all still interconnected through the blog. Every one of us can go back onto it and read through our old posts along with others’ posts. As we continue to gain more knowledge on different topics, our views may expand or change. This means they might be different from what we wrote on the blog. However, it is still good to know that the blog posts are available to see and it is interesting to think that we can look back and see how our views have changed. Maybe we will even rediscover an idea we forgot about that can inspire us in the future. Either way, the blog isn’t just a technology that aids us in the past and until the end of the semester. It can affect us far into the future if we let it.

Neuroprosthetic Outline

Introduction: Define neuroprosthetics as a type of prosthetic that can help people with certain disabilities to move and use the limbs that they are no longer able to use to do daily activities. Explain the growth of research and the growth of popularity as neuroprosthetics are starting to become a more common technology in performing day to day tasks. Neuroprosthetics can aid in the betterment of many people’s lives.

About Neuroprosthetics (the technological aspect of it): Go into more detail about the step by step process of how neuroprosthetics work (how the brain is able to send signals to the prosthetic limb and in turn cause it to do what the person wants it to do). Include the function of electrodes and nerves in the process of neuroprosthetic signaling. Also include the level of accuracy neuroprosthetics are at (ex: being able to raise the prosthetic and catch and throw something, but not being able to move as quickly as when using a fully functioning arm or use fingers in more complex situations).

The Medium is the Massage: Incorporate ideas from McLuhan’s work in describing the “message” neuroprosthetics gives off. It gives off hope to many people as a way to get back into the swing of things after a limb is lost or once they get a disability. Many people may be curious about it, and they tend to stare (as they do with people with diseases or disabilities). If the neuroprosthetic becomes more common, will it change the message people receive to being something more positive? Will it be viewed as just another technology or at some point in time will it be looked at as “just another part of the body?”

How neuroprosthetics are changing lives: Include stories from people who have neuroprosthetics and include what types of people would aid from them (people who have strokes, who have become paralyzed, who have lost a limb, etc.) Describe the effect on their lives (is life easier because of the neuroprosthetics or harder because they have to get used to a new technology?)

Room to grow: Neuroprosthetics are still not perfect and can use a lot of improvement (they lack the complexity of fully functioning limbs, like being able to type on a computer or feel a difference in temperature). Many complain about the lack of sensation using a prosthetics, which causes difficulties when it comes to holding items (like not knowing how tight to hold it). Their extensive use of technology causes them (like any other prosthetic) to be expensive, meaning not everyone who needs them is able to get them. Hopefully with more research, neuroprosthetics can become more common and available to people (as society learns more about the brain and about the technology that is used to make neuroprosthetics).

Conclusion: Answer the questions: where do we go from here? What steps can people in a community take to give people who need neuroprosthetics this technology? How intricate can the technology become? Include how far we have come with this technology and the continuous potential there is for growth in it.

The Future of Neuroprosthetics

The growth of research towards neuroprosthetics is constantly expanding. The concept is simple; those who lost their limbs will be able to get prosthetics that they can control with their mind.  Losing a hand and forearm wouldn’t necessarily mean never being able to use that arm again with this technology. Although mind control has been a fictional concept for years, it is possible to use neural control on a prosthetic connected to the nervous system within the rest of the arm (Leuthardt). Electrodes are threaded into these nerves in the stump and are stimulated in order to cause activity within the prosthetic (Kwok). This technology can also be used for those who have been paralyzed and are no longer able to move certain parts of their bodies on their own. They can control a neuroprosthetic robot arm with their mind in order to aid them in accomplishing simple activities like getting a drink of water.

According to Marshall McLuhan, the medium in which something is portrayed gives a greater message than the information within the medium itself (McLuhan 8). For example, seeing someone in public without part of their arm causes people to believe the person has a harder time doing daily activities than other people. They often get weird looks because of a small difference in their body. However, with neuroprosthetics, a new name can be given to these people, as they will be able to do important activities like hold and grab objects or aid in driving. They will also have an arm, meaning they will not be as different as everyone else feels they are.

Neuroprosthetics as they are not near to being perfect. The reaction time of performing certain activities when using this technology is much less than when using a real limb. Another complaint is that there is a lack of sensation to those using the prosthetic limb (when someone touches it, the person has no way of knowing unless they see it happen). These people do not have an accurate sense of pressure or temperature. This can cause difficulties because the person might not know how hard to hold an object to make sure they don’t break it. Research is, however, currently being done in order to make the prosthetics more high-tech and allow people to know more about what type of object they are holding or touching (Kwok).

This technology can also be used for people who have had strokes, but since the nerve pathways to the brain have been severed, the brain itself instead of the nerves within a limb must be activated. This means the researchers have to mimic the signals within the limb or make the brain learn all new signals about what stimulation causes what reaction in the body.

The future of neuroprosthetics holds the possibility for the people who have them to be able to not have any difficulties participating in everyday activities while also having the ability to do some complex activities. As the development of neuroprosthetics expands, people will be able to perfect the skills to relay information from their mind through their neurons and into the prosthetic limb. This opens the path for other new technologies to be developed, like someone being able to use their thoughts to show someone else what they have seen. At this point in time, the possibilities for new technologies are endless.

1. Kwok, Roberta. “Neuroprosthetics: Once More, with Feeling.”Nature. Nature Publishing Group, 8 May 2013. Web. 24 Mar. 2015.

2. Leuthardt, Eric C., Jarod L. Roland, and Wilson Z. Ray. “Neuroprosthetics.” The Scientist. N.p., 1 Nov. 2014. Web. 24 Mar. 2015.

3. McLuhan, Marshall, and Quentin Fiore. The Medium Is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects. Corte Madera, CA: Gingki, 2001. Print.

Teenage vs. Grandparent Magazines (as a Medium)

Side by side, a Seventeen Magazine and a GRAND Magazine are rather diverse. The audience for each of the magazines is undoubtedly different, which explains why a Seventeen magazine does not have six pages about what type of activities babies like to participate in, or where to put paintings up around the house. It also explains why grandparents won’t be spending their Sunday afternoon reading about what makeup would look best on date night. The different tastes between teenagers and grandparents become apparent through the content of the magazines that are specifically veered towards them. However, what is less apparent (but just as important) is the effect the different magazine types as a medium play on the tastes and attitudes of those it is meant for.

The way the information in magazines is portrayed to teenagers and grandparents plays a large role in what they think of the information after reading it. According to Marshall McLuhan’s The Medium is the Massage, “societies have been shaped more by the nature of the media than the content of what is actively communicated” (McLuhan 8). Specific magazines can have extreme effects on a person’s life. Magazines that are specifically made for teenagers are known for causing self-esteem and body-image issues (Zeiger). However, these problems do not come up for grandparents who read magazines. This relates to a specific portrayal of information that is not seen in magazines for grandparents. Pages in Seventeen are filled with models, many of them with certain “ideal” body types. By including solely a specific body type, the readers tend to believe that only those models look good and are happy with their lives. Also, a teenager might subconsciously compare themselves to these images sprawled throughout the magazine and feel that their bodies are too big. Many ads use people with this certain body type in order to promote their product. There are sections of content about healthy snacks and workouts that could be done, but it is due to the images that are included in the magazine that makes teenagers really use their sense of sight in comparing themselves to those in the magazine.

Good Housekeeping (one of the magazines common among older adults) also includes sections about foods to eat and exercises to do to stay healthy. However, with images of food instead of a model, the grandparents will not acquire the same self-esteem issues as the teenagers might. This is what McLuhan means when he says the nature of the media will affect society more than the content. Both magazines could potentially include phrases like, “fruits and vegetables are a part of a balanced diet” or “exercising for 30 minutes a day is healthy.” However, with one medium portraying this information along with a picture of a model, the message that the teenagers receive (being healthy is good) will become more extreme than it is for the grandparents, leading to the self-esteem issues. This shows that the different content within the magazines (focusing on celebrities in pre-teen magazines and focusing on betterment of the self in grandparent magazines) corresponds with the medium in which the information is portrayed.

When it comes to pre-teen magazines like J-14 and Girl’s Life, there are many colors and pop-ups all throughout the magazine (“Top 10 Magazines for Teens”). This can be seen just by the cover of the magazine (which is covered in words of different sizes, many colors, and images of celebrities). These extremely eye-catching features draw pre-teens towards the magazines (when looking at them in a store, for example) because of how fun they presume to be. While flipping through the magazine, there is never a dull moment because of all the things going on at once. This keeps the attention of the reader because if they aren’t interested in one piece of information on the page, there is a lot more that they can look at. This is similar in magazines for teenagers like Seventeen, though not to the same extreme. In Good Housekeeping, there are (in comparison) less colors and chaos going on in one section. The cover of this magazine also includes a lot of words popping out at the reader in order to grab their attention, though it is less hectic. There are longer articles that are informative about certain topics, because these topics cannot just be stated in one simple statement (like in pre-teen magazines when they say a fun fact about a celebrity and then move on). This organized style appeals more to grandparents because it helps them follow along better. This is same role is played by the more black-and-white text in magazines, giving the magazine an added sense of professionalism and organization.

All types of magazines allow the audience to interact with the magazine and with society, though in different ways. The possibilities for interaction within the teen magazines are nearly endless. Many pre-teen magazines contain surveys or quizzes to find out information like, “Which Celebrity are You Most Like?” allowing the reader to write in the magazine and interact with it. Other pre-teen or teen magazines will have posters that can be ripped out and shared with friends. Many teenagers will make collages with words or pictures cut out of magazines and place them in a scrapbook or on their walls. This means the information within the magazines can spread to more people (like friends who see the scrapbook, for example). There are oftentimes perfume samples within these magazines, meaning the reader can use their sense of smell to interact with the magazine. A main part of teenage magazines is an “Ask Amy” column, or a section in which readers will send in questions or comments and one of the authors responds. This creates a connection between the reader and the author of the magazine. In this sense, teenagers can interact with society and the creators of the magazines in many ways. Grandparents can also participate in writing to authors and sharing articles with friends. In this way, they become more connected to society due to magazines but not as much as teenagers might be.

Magazines, in a sense, are archives of information that can be stored for as long as the magazine is held together. Just by looking back on an issue of Seventeen from the past, a reader can see the changes in society over the years. What was trendy in 2004 is very different from what is currently “in.” Different clothes were socially acceptable at different times. Different free time activities were viewed as fun. In this way, magazines reflect the society in the time period it was published. This same idea is portrayed in magazines that are made for grandparents. Looking back at an old issue of Good Housekeeping allows someone to learn about what health tips were thought of as most reliable at the time, certain housing trends that were exceptionally stylish, or what the most popular dishes to cook were. Again, the change in the information found in these magazines reflects how society has changed over time, becoming more knowledgeable on many topics. By creating this archive that is available to people decades later, a community within the audience is created. There is a sense of understanding and closeness to those who are able to reminisce from magazines and have memories from those times. In her book, An Archive of Feeling, Ann Cvetkovich includes this idea of the importance of being able to look back on an artifact. These magazines acting as “cultural artifacts” describe culture at the time as a specific “way of life” (Cvetkovich 9). The way of life represents what information was important to share to the public at the time.

The main difference between magazines made for teenagers and those made for grandparents lies within the content. A popular celebrity is more likely to be found in a pre-teen or teen magazine, while a gardening tip is more likely to be found in a housekeeping or magazine for grandparents. Magazines for grandparents have a large focus on families, while magazines for teenagers tend to stay away from this and other important life topics like school. This means reading magazines for teenagers becomes more of a leisurely activity to get away from the stresses of daily life, while magazines for grandparents include ideas they could incorporate into their daily lives. This difference is emphasized in the distinction in the way the types of mediums are portrayed. Whether it’s due to the layout of the magazine, or the ways in which it helps the reader make a societal connection, each magazine can variously affect the emotions and lifestyle of the reader.

Works Cited

Cvetkovich, Ann. An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2003. Print.

McLuhan, Marshall, and Quentin Fiore. The Medium Is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects. Corte Madera, CA: Gingko, 2001. Print.

“Top 10 Magazines for Teens.” Kidzworld. N.p., 27 Jan. 2012. Web. 28 Feb. 2015.

Zeiger, Stacy. “The Media Affects a Teen’s Body Image.” LoveToKnow. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2015.

Self Portrayal Online

The emergence of the internet as a commonly used item brought about many possibilities for how people could portray themselves. The internet gives people the opportunity to talk to others, who they will never see again. This freedom allows for self-expression in a way unlike when communicating with someone face-to-face. Oftentimes, people portray themselves as one of two ways on the internet: as their completely truthful selves or as the way they want to be (and are not).

Chat rooms, online games, blogs, social media, and other websites in which people can comment allow for people to portray themselves a certain way to the (online) public. The online world gives a person the opportunity to construct and edit a “self” (2). Many times, people will construct their ideal self, or someone they want to be. They do so by making themselves online look a certain way or give themselves certain characteristics. Having this opportunity allows people to explore different identities in a virtual environment, which overall wouldn’t have any consequences on their real lives. On virtual reality websites, you are able to experience things that would happen in real life, and be able to react without real life pressures (you are able to log out or delete yourself at any point).

However, instead of completely lying to others about themselves, people can be brutally honest (more than they would be in real life around people they know). Many times, people will make blog posts describing their current feelings that portray ideas they wouldn’t be willing to tell people in real life (but would be willing to tell strangers that they don’t have to see or talk to anymore in their lives). The virtual self can allow people to practice sharing their feelings and prepare them to do so in real life. Virtual life also allows people to gain confidence with this practice in order to do things they would otherwise be worried to do (for example, coming out to others). By being able to say certain things to strangers, it makes it a little easier to say it to friends and family.

Apart from virtual reality, people can also talk to others in other ways online. For example, people will talk to friends and family over social media (like the option to chat with others). Without having the person in front of you when you tell them important information, it makes it easier to say what is on your mind. The internet communication, in comparison to face-to-face communication, also allows a period of time people can have before responding. Many people find this preferable because they can think about what they are going to say before they say it. Even just the lack of physical contact (which usually leads to a more personal connection) allows people to feel more open to share ideas (1). People will also post their thoughts as a “status” which is public to all of a person’s friends or followers (and sometimes to the whole world). In this case, if people react positively to the message, the person who posted can feel good. If people react negatively, the browser could just be closed and the person wouldn’t have to deal with people’s responses (which is easier to do than having to physically run away from a group of people who are disagreeing with you). The online option is a less stressful way to express oneself.

The ability to portray oneself differently than they are in real life is slightly misleading. If you talk to someone solely online, that doesn’t give you an accurate representation of how the person is in real life. Online communication also takes out the personalized aspect of building relationships (2). However, it also brings a sense of comfort that would not be available in person.

(1) Suchanek, A. M. (2012). Is your social media presence an accurate portrayal of who you are? Information Space. Retrieved from

(2) Turkle, Sherry. (2011). Alone Together. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Scanners and PDFs

A scanner is a machine that copies the image of a printed text (or even other objects) and allows it to be viewed on an electronic device, in which it could then be edited, shared, or just saved (giving a reader the ability to store multiple files in one space). This scanned image is usually saved in the format of a PDF or Portable Document Format. Without a scanner, it would be less convenient to read a text on an electronic source.

Hayles makes the argument that reading a physical text is a completely different experience than reading another form of the text. This can be seen in the difference between reading a physical book and a PDF of the book on a screen. PDFs can be read on a laptop, tablet, or other electronic device. This is convenient for many people. However, it could also cause someone to receive the message of the text in a completely different way. With technology today, the same devices that someone could read a PDF on could also be connected to the internet. This means the reader is readily available to distractions throughout their entire reading experience. With the touch of a button they could automatically switch over to a conversation on social media, or randomly remember that they needed to check their e-mail. All of these distractions ruin the experience that the author meant for the reader to have, since instead of completely focusing on and thinking about the book, the reader has many other things on their mind.

Due to editing programs being easily available, there is the potential for a PDF to be meddled with. In a book, a word could be crossed out or added to but the reader will see that there has been a change in the text. The PDF however might be misleading if it is gotten from a source that edited the text to say something that the author did not intend to be in it (and the reader might not even realize there was a change).

A book offers the potential for a person to have a more personal connection with the text than a PDF does. A book might be passed down from a grandparent who took notes in the book. This not only offers personalization from grandma’s handwriting (you cannot get this personalization if grandma types up her notes next to the PDF) but also the idea that the book was in the hands of a loved one more often than not makes the reading experience more enjoyable. With some paper that texts are printed on, the book can virtually last forever. However, many electronic devices need to back up information or might just stop working, both of which could potentially lose the PDF. Also, in the future there might be a new system of technology, making the PDF irrelevant and making anything saved in that format impossible to open or use anymore. When looking at it this way, the book is more stable.

A book and the PDF of a book share the same font and images, which helps keep a similar experience between reading a book and reading the PDF. However, there are more roadblocks in keeping the experience stable when reading a PDF. A scanner might fail to fully scan some images or words. Also, the reader doesn’t get the experience of little things, like the texture of a page or the action of flipping the page, all of which make a book more personalized. Even though the words may be the same, reading a book provides a different experience than reading a PDF electronically.

  1. Hayles, Katherine. (2002). Writing Machines. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.
  2. Mercer, Billy. (2009). A Physical Book vs A PDF Book – SoFoBoMo. Retrieved from 
  3. Rouse, Margaret. (2010). Scanner. Retrieved from
  4. Rouse, Margaret. (2010). Portable Document Format (PDF). Retrieved from

Artifact Politics


There are only a few technologies that cause every student in a classroom to get out of their seat and out of the door in a matter of seconds, without needing to hear a word from the teacher. This technology is the fire alarm, which detects the presence of fire by monitoring the changes in the environment. It is found in many public areas, especially schools, and it sets off an alarm in the presence of smoke or fire in order to inform people of a potentially dangerous situation. Fire alarms contain an authoritarian power unlike many other devices. Every child learns from a young age the steps to take when a fire alarm goes off: leave everything at your desk, line up at the door, leave the school to a designated area outside in a single file line, and wait quietly until the teacher takes attendance. This means that the fire alarm requires a cooperative “form of life” from everyone present in the building. If a student refuses to line up and leave the room, the student holds back the teacher and other students, which may put everyone in danger.

In the case of the fire alarm, it holds all of the power over the students and instructors within a school. This idea disrupts the social arrangement within a school in which the teachers hold the power over the students, because overall the alarm makes everyone in the school (students, teachers, and the principle) equal in that everyone must exit the building when it goes off. Unlike other technologies that tend to hold authoritarian power over people, there is a small amount of people who would argue against fire alarms due to their overwhelming help in events of danger. However, the fire alarm might also give authoritarian power to a certain student or faculty member. The fire alarm is available for anyone to pull it, meaning one person can easily cause 2,000 people to feel a sense of nervousness and make them leave the building. To be able to affect a large group of people’s feelings and actions gives both the fire alarm and whoever decides to control it an intense amount of power.

In many places, it is a law that all schools in the area must have a fire alarm (and an evacuation plan). All states have some kind of laws about fire alarms. This means that every school is similar due to their system of protecting everyone under the authoritarian power of a specific law.

Another aspect of fire alarms, however, has a democratic sense. Some fire alarms trigger either a sprinkler system within the building or an automatic call to the nearest fire station, which sends a fire truck to the building. In the case of fire alarms in schools, the faculty, students, and firemen must work together in order to solve the problem. It is due to the fire alarm going off that everyone is able to share the power and do their part in order to keep everyone safe.


1. Work Safety Blog: “What is the Difference Between Fire Alarms and Smoke Alarms?” 25 June 2012.

2. AVS Systems Inc: “Fire Alarm Systems” 2010