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“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” Maya Angelou

Once In A Lifetime

On January 22, I had the pleasure of listening to Civil Rights activist and political Angela Yvonne Davis at my university. We were commemorating the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr. and what better way to do it than invite Angela Davis to speak? I really enjoyed listening to her speech on how important it is for us, as a nation, to reflect on how far we have come in terms of the Civil Rights Movement. Although there is still much work to be done, as Davis highlighted perfectly throughout her talk, it is also important that we take pride in ourselves because we have indeed progressed. I was exposed to several things, for example the Black National Anthem and the congresswoman who pushed to dedicate a day for remembrance of Dr. King. It was very eye opening to have someone who has experienced personally what it feels like to be ridiculed invite and share with you intimate memories of her past. This event was a major success and I believe that through events such as this, we can highlight problematic areas in our country, such as racism and gender inequality, and question ways in which we can encounter them as a WHOLE nation.

My Next Chapter

It honestly feels surreal that Winter Break is about a week away. I am so excited to see my family!! My uncle is also coming from Turkey this Sunday and so I am beyond excited to see him during break as well. During Break, I plan on shadowing my father’s friend, who is a radiologist, for a week or so and seeing how I like it. I also want to shadow other doctors in different fields to get a feel of which one I like the most. I really like medicine and learning about it but hands on is so much better for me and so I think after being put into that environment, I’ll know exactly if its something I want to do for the rest of my life. My family also wants to go on vacation during break so we might go to Ohio and visit our family friends. Overall, I am just really excited and looking forward to being stress-free for a month and not having to worry about finals or anything.

Big Data Podcast Presentation

This link will direct you to the podcast but then you will have to click download to open it up in iTunes. 

This is the link to the podcast!

Song Credits: The instrumental for “Sweet Creature” by Harry Styles was featured in this podcast.


I used Audacity for this project as well because I have become familiar with the set up and features on the software. I spent roughly two hours recording and editing the project so it took much less time this time around. I think the content of the podcast went really well because I focused on the main components of my essay as they were the most important so it very closely resembles the essay. I would probably change the volume of my voice now that I think about it or possibly have another person be my “interviewer” or something. I didn’t think this project was really suited for an interview so I went with the traditional podcast but it could have been a bit more spiced up if I included another person in there. The music could definitely be tweaked as well; I like the song choice because I did not want something obnoxiously loud or upbeat. If I had more time, I would definitely make sure my voice flowed throughout the podcast so it sounded natural and not completely edited. I also could have experimented with the music effects and seen which ones I liked best. One thing I wish could be fixed is to just have a link to the podcast instead of having to convert it to a YouTube video because it gets confused with a video.

Big Data Project Sources

Although I initially mentioned how I wanted to explore Big Data and how it has helped advance medicine, I keep coming back to the CQ Researcher source, especially when it focuses on how customers do not have a right to consent anymore.  I think if I chose to, I could focus on how different companies find ways around not receiving consent and how it is invading our privacy, one that we most definitely have a right to maintain. Although, I also really enjoyed the TED Talk by Kenneth Cukier, particularly when he talked about the advantages Big Data has; for example, it can help prevent car accidents from occurring in the future and has already been used to implement anti-theft devices in cars. If I choose to stick with the medical aspect, I could also use the article by Adam Frank where he talks about the Network Theory and how it has allowed the CDC to predict lots of information about diseases and prevent any major outbreaks from occurring, thus benefitting us. With the medical aspect, I feel like I would be arguing how Big Data affects our privacy but does not do so in a harmful way as our data is used for the common good of everyone. Therefore, it would be much more PRO Big Data opposed to the other views from the previously named articles. I have also found a couple of sources through the UNE Database that I think will be good to use if I decide to go with the medical aspect. One of the articles I found is titled “Epidemiology in the Era of Big Data” and it’s a source that is very pertinent to what I want to argue for and after reading the abstract, I knew I wanted to read the full article to see how they provided justification for their stance. I feel like overall I have good sources for different views so it all comes down to which route I want to take.

TRIAC of Privacy and the Internet

There are several scientists and researchers who believe that the integration of the internet into our daily lives is affecting our privacy. One of the biggest concerns deals with companies and the controversial way they are handling our data, mainly by not requiring and receiving consent before releasing personal data to the government and other companies. Further elaborating on this, journalist Ellen Kennerly stresses in her article “Privacy and the Internet” how “the new rules created by the FCC in 2016 that were overturned by the current Congress would have forced ISPs to give consumers the opportunity to ‘opt in’ before collecting personal information…”, thus allowing customers to dictate when companies could “share additional information” about themselves (126). Kennerly’s stance precisely pinpoints the controversiality and necessity of such a requirement. Although it is true that customers might freely give their consent when they agree to the “Terms & Services” of a company or website’s page, it is nonetheless not giving consent to selling our information to other companies. Kennerly highlights how these rules could have served to force ISPs to provide consumers the “opportunity to ‘opt it’ before collecting their personal information,” giving us the the right to make the final judgment call on how we want our information to be handled and distributed. These rules would have helped but were nonetheless overturned by Congress, why? Because of this, companies are now able to toy with all of our personal information without any legitimate consent. These regulations should be examined very closely when we decide where we want to place our personal information as we are now providing it to not just one company but all of their allies which could, potentially, turn around to affect us in other aspects of our lives as well.

My Big Data

After listening to the podcast, reading the article, and watching the two TED Talks, I think I have a greater understanding for what Big Data is and its role in our society. What I can draw from it is that the information that I put out online as well as anything I search up is collected by scientists to determine several aspects of myself and my life as well as other throughout the world. They identify comparisons between individuals as well as where we may differ in terms of our attributes, all thanks to the information we choose to put out for the world to see. I think one of the benefits of Big Data to me personally is that they customize certain sites and “things” (for a lack of a better word) I visit frequently and thus bombard me with different ads that I may find interesting. What’s funny though is that one weekend while I was at home, I was on YouTube trying to watch a show and there were like a thousand ads (maybe a little exaggeration) embedded in the video and they were all from the University of New England. It got annoying after a while but I found it interesting how it was so relative to me considering that I am a student here and the internet knows that. One of the drawbacks of big data, though, is that they (scientists) can predict nearly everything about you and use your information without legitimately getting consent from you to do so. To me it seems like a violation of privacy yet what’s online is always fair game to use. Personally, I barely have any information online either so it doesn’t affect me as much but I can see how it would be bothersome to others.

Sally Herships, a Journalist based in New York, studies the effects of Big Data on people and how it relates to our lives daily. In her podcast, she elaborates on an example of searching for an object and then receiving ads for the same object merely minutes later, tying back to how this is all intertwined into the network for Big Data. She speaks about the cookies in a computer software and how they are used to keep track of how often we visit a site or what we’re searching for in particular (1:10). Consequently, the ads we receive later on are complementary to what we have previously searched for. Retailers take our interests, including the similarities between them for different people, and inundate us with items we have already searched for and possibly bought. This is all part of the tactic of Big Data and proves how every action we take on the internet definitely is being recorded somewhere for future use. Although Herships may be speaking more about certain negative aspects relating to Big Data, there are certainly pros to this new networking scheme.

Kenneth Cukier is an American Journalist and author of books relating to technology and society. In his TED Talk, “Big Data is Better Data”, he speaks about certain functions we can have performed once we amplify our data. He reminds us about how “datafying” more aspects of our lives could lead to the production of certain components that could make our lives easier (7:00). He gives the example of developing a car that senses once a driver is drifting off or falling asleep and thus instigates an alarm within them to wake up and take action, preventing a collision or accident from occurring (7:25).  This can all be possible thanks to Big Data. With the constant collection of our information, locations, and statuses, scientists are able to develop machines that are aimed to better humanity and make life easier, such as how researches in Tokyo are using Big Data as an antitheft device in vehicles (Cukier 6:00). Although there may be some negative aspects of this new Networking Theory, there are definitely pros to it as well. It is something we must consider as individuals and determine what is best for ourselves and for the future development of our society and generations to come.

Diary of Afnan’s MacBook

One thing you must know about me is that I always have the UNE Email tab open. Rain or shine, happiness or despair, this is a must for my daily task. It gets checked at least five times a day. Maybe too excessive but some will beg to differ. In addition, the day will consist of periodic visits to Gmail, particularly the UNE Gmail Domain. YouTube is also one of the highlights of my day as it takes away and stress and unhappiness that may manifest during the day. If I am lucky, I will be directed to sites for shopping and other means of entertainment. Amazon has been on the top 5 list of visited websites ever since the start of the school year and I don’t see it going anywhere else. For the most part, although sad but true, I am used for school-related, academic purposes like 95% of the time.

Quoting Twenge

Jean M. Twenge, a Psychologist and current Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University, pinpoints the negative correlation between depression and smartphone usage amongst teenagers in her article, “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation,” published on The Atlantic. She articulates on how extensive screen time imposes negative feelings within an individual. Twenge argues, “But recent research suggests that screen time, in particular social-media use, does indeed cause happiness”.  Essentially, Twenge is asserting, through paramount research, that teenagers are more likely to become unhappy with their increased usage of screens, particularly social media.

Although Twenge is right about there being a correlation between teenager emotions and social media, particularly a negative one, it is not necessarily accurate to state that social media is the root cause of an individuals unhappiness. She also states this is her argument multiple times, referencing how it is very plausible social media is the resort for individuals who are already unhappy.

Transferring Skills

Active Reading skills I have acquired in English is something applicable to many of my other courses as well. It is important for me to be capable of picking and choosing what information I feel is important to note down. In Biology, for example, the textbook provides an abundance of information and so with these active reading skills, I am able to select the information I think is the most important and one that will need to be written down in order to better comprehend the content of the course. I will definitely be trying more to apply these skills to my biology class as well, perhaps even all of my classes.

Eulogy Tweet

Throwback to sixth grade Afnan on Facebook sharing what’s on her mind, daily. I promise nobody was THAT interested in your middle school life or what your new score was on Farmville. But hey, it was the excitement and effort that was put into it that counts, right?

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