Eyes On The Road: The Dangers Of Texting and Driving.

Go on admit it… we’ve all done it!

Those of us with cell phones (which is just about everyone these days) have texted while driving at some point. If you have a cell phone and you drive a car, you most likely have done the two simultaneously. I have to admit that although I am now aware of the dangers of using my cellphone while driving, that certainly did not stop me from using it in times past. Being distracted while driving – even for a quick second can be tragic. Using cellphones may have helped many individuals in a sticky or dangerous situation. But we have to stop and think about when this form of communication could be the one causing an emergency situation. Texting and driving is increasingly becoming one of the most common distractions among drivers. With this, the number of fatal accidents that are caused by texting and driving is also on the rise. By choosing to text and drive we are putting our own lives in danger along with those we share the road with!

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The Truth Hurts:

Are you someone who still uses your cellphone while driving? Well, you aren’t the only one…CNET News reported that almost one-third of people polled do. Of the two thousand drivers that were surveyed this means “35% of them revealed that they do use their smartphones while driving” (Whitney, 2013). With that being said, the numbers would be a lot higher, but it’s more than likely that many people do not own up to their use while driving. If they are hiding the fact that they are doing something, then they know that it must be wrong, so they are consciously engaging in this dangerous cell-phone use while driving.

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Psychology Today, talks about the truth about texting/talking while driving is that “people do not turn off their connection to the outside world when they get into their cars” (Pastorino, 2012). We are a society that is obsessed with technology and always wanting to be connected no matter what cost this may be.

Realistically, our brains are “not capable of fully concentrating on two things simultaneously. Our brain has what is called a cognitive load— an amount of mental activity that it can engage in at one time” (Pastorino, 2012). To put this into perspective, think about a time when you are hanging out with a group of friends and everyone’s eyes are glued to their phones, have you ever tried to keep up an engaging conversation with someone who’s mind is elsewhere? If you are texting while driving, or picking up a phone call you leaving your brain with a substantially smaller cognitive load, limiting your focus on driving. Having years of driving experience may require less cognitive load however, for the younger generation who are the most likely to be using their phones while driving have less experience with driving. Conversely, elderly people who do in fact have more years of experienced driving under their belt run into a problem because they are not as familiar with new technology as the younger generations. When I think about watching my parents try to send text messages and how long it takes them to type it out I would hate to imagine people like them trying to do this while driving at the same time!

Kicking That Dangerous Habit To The Curb!

It is without question that texting and driving is very dangerous and is currently being disputed to be more dangerous than drinking and driving. Ask yourself: would you want to get in the car with someone who had been drinking…NO, then why would you want to get in the car with someone who will be paying attention to their phone and not the road? It’s the same thing!  You might not really think about it as the same, but drinking and driving impairs your vision along with impaired judgement, but when you look at texting and driving your eyes are not even on the road at all. Think about it, if someone asked you to close your eyes for 5-6 seconds would you do it? Probably not, but you are doing exactly that by taking your eyes off the road every time you check your phone to send or read a text message.

Experts suggest that this sudden turnaround in dangerous driving trends is dubbed the epidemic of distracted driving (Vaughan, 2012). Texting and driving is just as dangerous as drinking and driving. In fact, one study conducted by Car and Driver magazine covered this issue and showed that “texting while driving is more dangerous than driving under the influence of alcohol” (Vaughan, 2012). I would argue that for those of us who drive, on any given day, at any given time, will see other people on the road driving while texting or talking on their cellphones. “Ontario’s ban on hand-held devices while driving took effect on October, 2009”(Vaughan, 2012). If you use your cellphone while driving you could face a $155 fine. In taking one look out on the roads today we can clearly see that this fine is not having much of a deterrent affect on society. If we compare this fine to the penalties of impaired driving we see the “first offence means an immediate loss of license for three months and minimum fine of $1,150. The second offence gets a bigger find and 30 days in jail” (Vaughan, 2012). If texting and driving is just as dangerous as drinking while under the influence of alcohol don’t you think that the penalties should be a little harsher than they currently stand?

If you are still someone who texts while driving, quitting might be easier than you think. While many people are aware of the dangers that texting and driving poses, this still does not seem to be stopping them as it continues to be a problem, especially among younger drivers. In a 2012 survey conducted by AT&T on teen drivers they found that “74 percent of teens say texting while driving is common among their friends and the majority of respondents said they have texted when stopped at a right light and often glace at their phones while driving” (southeastsun, 2013). While the messages that you receive from family and friends could be important, nothing should override the importance of the safety of you inside your vehicle, along with those sharing the road with you.

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Texting and Driving Kills!

Real life examples, it DOES happen…unfortunately more often than we think!

NBC News.com reported on a Massachusetts teenager who was convicted of motor vehicle homicide by texting. Before imposing the sentence on the teen, the judge said he was “sending a message of deterrence” (Mach, 2012). He also addressed the growing concern in society that “people can violate these laws and there really isn’t much of a deterrence without examples like this” (Mach, 2012).

Taking it a little closer to home, thestar.com reported on a TTC bus driver caught texting while driving. An individual who is supposed to be responsible for driving a busload of people around was photographed texting while driving over 50 km/h. Not only is this illegal, but he was also jeopardizing the safety of each and every passenger and putter others on the road in danger. What sort of message is this sending out to society?

A Social Norm?

Texting has quickly become a social norm since cell phone plans these days almost always include a plan for text messaging. With the skyrocketing rates of smartphone purchases, this is also increasing the changes of usage. I am not here to argue that cell phones are not a great way to communicate with others while offering a high level of convenience but the dilemma arises when individuals are choosing convenience over safety.

Wheels.ca declares that it is time to put an end to the blasé attitude toward distracted driving. While many drivers will admit that they use their hand-held devices while driving, they are very few that will actually admit that this is an issue. Distractions while driving, such as the use of cellphones doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. For many motorists it seems as though their attention to operating their vehicles and keeping their eyes on the road is second in line. According to Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), “you are 23 times more likely to be involved in a collision if you text while driving and four times more likely if you talk on a cellphone (hand-held or hands-free) while driving” (Romeo, 2012). This is interesting when you think that hands-free devices were invented for all intensive purposes such as driving, however, actually talking on the phone or texting and not focusing solely on driving is what seems to still be the problem here. With the new seatbelt laws introduced in the 1970s, this “met with some resistance before achieving widespread acceptance among drivers. In the 1980s, tougher drinking and driving laws met with resistance until that unlawful activity became a social taboo” (Romeo, 2012). We will continue to fight this uphill battle unless something is done about the culture that surrounds distracted driving changes being made, and society ultimately chooses to no longer accept it.

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Taking A Stand Against Texting and Driving! 

Thespec.com addresses how texting and driving is not a LOL matter. The Hamilton police traffic unit has created a Drive Wise Simulator as part of their campaign targeting distracted driving. There are no questions when it comes to the fact that “people are getting faster on their phones. We’re the generation of multi-tasking” (Grover, 2012). People think that it does not make a difference if they are fast at texting; this simulator demonstrates that every little bit does in fact count. As it currently stands, if you are caught texting and driving, the fine is $155 with no demerit points. While this fine may not mean a lot to many, perhaps having a law being passed that issues demerit points for those caught texting and driving will help curb this nasty and dangerous habit.

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Forbes.com looks at how two renowned cellphone carriers; AT&T and Verizon have “committed marketing dollars to build awareness for the problem” (Wilms, 2012). Even celebrities like Justin Bieber have created public service announcements hoping to curb texting while driving. These cellphone companies are creating a parental controlled, no-texting-while-driving smartphone which would allow apps to use the phone’s GPS cut off the keyboard when it tracks it moving beyond a certain speed. However, the problem that may arise out of this is that parents will have to know about the app, along with knowing how to download and install it all the while hoping that their children will not just simply shut it off.

Check out Glee’s PSA on distracted driving!

According to bizjornals.com,on average, “someone is killed or injured once every five minutes in an automobile crash that happens while a driver is texting and driving” (Bertola, 2013). AT&T’s It Can Wait program, is a “national movement tapping the power of social media and social networks to make texting and driving as unacceptable as drinking and driving” (Bertola, 2013).

Watch this short clip put out by AT&T to promote their “It Can Wait” program in hopes to not only change the behaviour of drivers, but also educate on the significant dangers behind texting and driving.

WARNING, this eye-opening video contains real scenes and stories of deadly accidents caused by texting and driving. This short documentary is titled “The Last Text,” which features families that were impacted by senseless texting and driving accidents

Visit  http://itcanwait.com/ and take the pledge to never text and drive and watch videos and other others who have shared their stories. Try out the texting and driving simulator here for yourself!

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Automotive-Fleet.com looks at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and have concluded that “on-the-job crashes cost employers more than $24,500 per crash, $150,000 per injury, and $3.6 million per fatality. And distracted driving caused by hand-held mobile device use is an emerging contributor to these accidents” (Lyden, 2011). There are a number of phone apps that can disable certain functions on a cellphone such as texting, automatically. These apps helping to curb cellphone use while driving include:“Sprint’s Drive First, FleetSafer Mobile, DriveSafe.ly, iZup, Textecution, Cellcontrol” (Lyden, 2011).

Criticisms of Enforcing a Ban:

The biggest argument out there for banning texting while driving is that it may become safe or helpful for people in certain circumstances. As an example, if someone is stopped dead in a traffic jam, they may be able to safely use their phone to text someone to let them know that they will be late and will have to reschedule. On the other side of the argument, it is important to look at the wording of these type of texting bans. Instead of enforcing a ban on things such as reading or writing, or anything that distracts someone from driving, the law itself would probably be banning sending an actual text message. However, with the voice recognition technology that is currently out there you are able to send and receive text message without having to even look or type on your phone at all.

Conclusion:

If you have a couple of minutes… visit TxtResponsibly.org to share your very own texting and driving story, or read others stories while they hope to raise awareness of the dangers associated with texting while driving.

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Will you continue to text and drive after reading this? We have all done it at one point, and we should be very thankful that we made it out alive and didn’t injure others on the road or ourselves. Within this technology-obsessed society, it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep people from not taking part in this dangerous activity. Many of these individuals feel pressured to remain connected even while behind the wheel. What they might not realize are the serious dangers involved when their eyes are off the road and their hands are typing away on their phones, and focusing on everything but driving! To put all of this into perspective, costarica.com states that the average text message takes nearly five seconds to send, that means “when traveling at 55mph, that’s enough tie to cover the length of a football field” (Rico, 2012).

Take out your cell phone right now! Now…read the last message that someone sent you out loud. Would this text be worth responding to or even reading while driving, or worse, getting in an accident and injuring yourself or others? Chances are, that text can wait.

Ask yourself, how would you feel if a text you sent someone might be the last text they ever saw? Is staying connected really worth the risk?

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Smile! You’re On Big Brother’s Crime-Fighting Camera!

Introduction: 

Do you every have that cringing fear that there are a pair of eyes always watching you? Well, that feeling you are experiencing is most likely right, as there is a high chance you really are being watched. This issue arises from the video surveillance cameras that we see and don’t see! The topic of CCTV cameras really grabbed my attention early. CCTV cameras or “closed Circuit Television refers to a visible or covert video system intended for only a limited number of viewers. In Closed Circuit TV (CCTV), the picture is viewed or recorded, but not broadcast”(source).

I find these cameras especially appealing as I am very interested in the area of crime and criminal justice. This form of law enforcement started in the United Kingdom in 1986 with three cameras within a 1-square mile radius. In England today, they have more CCTV cameras when compared to any other country in the world. I have become very fascinated with the ways in which video surveillance is being used to deter crime from occurring, along with catching individuals in the act. A large percentage of cities have, or are beginning to install these closed-circuit television cameras. Police monitor the videos in an effort to prevent crime and catch lawbreakers in the act. You have most likely seen these cameras as many of them are not exactly meant to be inconspicuous. Their goal is to let you know that you are being closely watched and your actions are subsequently being recorded. With the dramatic increase in computer technology and continuous prevalence of crime, the never-blinking eyes of Big Brother are now, more than ever coming to streets, stores, and more near you! In the end, how can we utilize CCTV cameras in conjunction with the current crime prevention measures in order to ensure a safer society for all?

The Birth of Big Brother… WARNING: You are being watched!

I don’t know about you, but the thought of potentially having my every move being watched really creeps me out. However, I began to look at the ways in which playing Big Brother could actually help many individuals feel at ease about going out in public, along with feeling, and actually being more protected from becoming victims of all sorts of crimes. For years there has existed surveillance cameras in businesses such as banks or casinos in order to prevent crimes, or after the matter, locate someone who has stolen something from a store. These days, those surveillance cameras seem pretty amateur to the current computer advancements that are out there now. Regardless, by placing CCTV cameras around the streets in numerous cities it may aid in catching some individuals in the act, or have individuals at the most, think twice before committing a crime.

CCTV Camera Effectiveness:

To measure the success rate of police surveillance cameras preventing crime is an extremely tough process as it includes a vague set of variables. We cannot be one hundred percent sure that these cameras stop someone from deciding to commit a crime. There are additional factors such as the “season, economy or other law enforcement tactics can also have an influence” (source).

Police however; believe that by using these cameras as a security measure does in fact deter crimes at a particular moment from occurring. Taking that outlook on things, I personally come to feel that having these cameras isn’t so bad after all. The real question then lies on whether having these cameras present actually will deter individuals from participating in criminal conduct. This is where I stand on the fence in regards to this matter. I tend to hold the view that those individuals who are out there committing crimes, or thinking about committing crimes have a specific mindset and will do so regardless of whether a camera is watching them or not. In all truthfulness, although we would like to believe that the installment of these cameras will deter crime and evidently protect us, CCTV cameras have been shown to not deter crime at this current time in society. This raises the question then of why are these cameras still being used if their main goal of preventing crime has not been reached? How about putting forward the idea that perhaps these cameras to not prevent crime per say, but they may assist individuals in solving a crime more efficiently. And while I still feel uneasy about these cameras invaded our privacy, by looking at it from the viewpoint of cameras assisting officers in catching individuals who are captured on film.

On the upside… a huge advantage of CCTV cameras is that it can help lower the amount of racial profiling that occurs within some police departments. This is an ongoing issue within the theme of police and society and perhaps these cameras can help in catching criminals, while also keeping the protection of the public a priority. The technology in the camera itself is able to recognize faces therefore, alleviating the potential for officer bias during their investigation.

NYPD Example:

It’s the same old NYPD… only now they have a new crime fighting technology to help them from being dominated by the bad guys. Throughout Hollywood movies and television shows, there has always existed an aspiration to fight crime in society with the help of computer technology. And while many of these ingenious plans do not work out or are too far fetched, it seems as though we are getting closer to this future of crime fighting technology than ever before! I know when I watch shows such as criminal minds and CSI I am always amazed by the technology that they use in their crime labs but think to myself they don’t exist and are just to add dramatic affect. After learning more about CCTV cameras I am beginning to think that technology such as those portrayed on TV is not that far into the future after all. This particular technology has been created “by cops, for cops” and this particular system is only activated once a crime has been committed, therefore there are no peering eyes constantly monitoring screens.

One of the technology giants Microsoft has also started a partnership with the NYPD which launched an all-seeing Big Brother crime and terrorism prevention system. The Domain Awareness System is a software used to “suck in, analyze, connect dots and otherwise monitor data that is constantly collected and stored in a database. This is data that would be comparable to ones found in license plate monitoring and CCTV”(source). We could almost call it a”Minority Report crime fighting surveillance system”(source). It would appear to show a substantial resemblance to the hologram data screens that Tom Cruz used in the fictional film Minority Report, which seemed very futuristic, and indeed the future is now here. Microsoft has without a doubt become one of the world’s top providers for “integrated intelligence solutions for police departments and security agencies”(source).

Concerns of life inside a fish bowl:

While CCTV cameras may be helping to deter some forms of crime, we must keep in mind the feelings of those individuals who are concerned with being recorded as they go throughout their daily lives. This is where a very fine line tends to be drawn. We want to ensure that we (the public) are protected at all times, or when possible, but at the same time we do not want to have all eyes on us. In other words, for many, you can’t eat your cake and have it to when it comes to CCTV cameras.

Have they taken it too far?

While they are numerous reports on the effectiveness of these cameras there are also those arguing the other side. American’s in particular find that this form of crime prevention measures violates the Constitution. Skeptics are also concerned about police becoming ‘peeping toms’ specifically zoning in on “woman and minorities rather than criminals” (source). For the most part however, it is reassuring to know that police departments designate officers to watch live footage and there actually exists scarce instances of misuse of the surveillance. Damien Gayle wrote a great piece on Google’s new spy software and introduces us to the critics it has received. One of the main concerns is that the government will be able to use the information as a means of “monitoring and tracking people online to detect signs of dissent” (source).

Another example of whether CCTV camera use has gone too far can be best shown as they are being used in school changing rooms and toilets. While I’m not too sure where you might stand on this as an issue, but I personally find this to be a little too much invasion of our privacy and would certainly leave me uneasy about going to these places and wondering whose eyes are watching me! However, playing a little bit of the devil’s advocate here, I guess you could say that by installing more of these cameras inside schools could actually be doing good and leave many students not feeling worried about getting bullied or jumped for their valuables. Personally, if I were on a school campus and something were to happen to me I would want surveillance of that incident so that the person would get caught for what they did. This is where it is hard to draw the line, I wan’t my privacy but then I also want to be safe in my surroundings.

Eye spy with my little eye…

Google has introduced its latest software that “mines through data across social networks and “tracks people’s movements and even predict future behaviour”(source). Predicting the future?? COOL! Personally, with the implementation of software such as this it seems to be going against our civil liberties as human beings along with a large invasion of our privacy and what we do or say on social networking sites. This software will also be able to use information it obtains from Facebook along with a GPS tracking device taken from Foursquare which more than 25 million people worldwide use to share their locations with friends. Surveillance “already exercises a ‘chilling effect’ over basic freedoms- this can only make things a great deal worse’”(source). Police officers will use this software not only for crime investigation purposes but also with the hopes of stopping crime and disorderly conduct before it even takes place.

Unsuccessful tale of CCTV cameras in the UK:

CCTV cameras saw a significant boom but hasfailed to slash crime in the UK. In London, only 3% of street robberies were solved using CCTV images notwithstanding the fact that Britain has more cameras than any other country. These cameras were put in the UK to be used a preventative measure and they were supposed to invoke fear, but people are just simply not fearing them. By posting the pictures obtained from CCTV cameras this may have criminals thinking twice if these cameras are proven to be effective. I believe if handled correctly, these cameras can be effective at preventing some criminals, and some preventative measure is better than none at all right? The Toronto Star article really drives home the idea that many are up in debate over when they state that  “we encourage them, whoever they are, to only use CCTV as a last resort when other methods to combat serious public disorder have not proved effective,” he said”(source).

Predicting crime, say it ain’t so!

Numerous police departments in the United States are using “IBM predictive analytics technology which may help – by predicting where crimes might occur”(source). And while it sure sounds like a scene out of the previously mentioned fictional film, The Minority Report , however, predictive analytics technology being used to combat crime is already being used. Researchers are aiming to come up with a software that identifies crime-prone cities. This particular software will help “police to recognize patterns and determine a city’s criminal ‘hotspots’ – to then patrol them more than others, deploy traffic enforcement and launch targeted operations,” says IBM’s Ron Fellows(source)

They’ll Be Watching You…

“You’re automatically a person of interest”(source).

“This is Big Brother on steroids!”(source).

LIBERTY VS. SECURITY!

Just a short video to keep you on track with my blog and potentially really creep you out about the wandering eyes of Big Brother and what may be next in line for this type of technology!!!

Breaking News!

Most of my mornings involve waking up and checking my twitter feed to update me on the latest news. I am following CTV news on twitter and came across a fascinating article on police identifying the suspect involved in subway train stabbing just last night. I thought to myself, wow this really can’t tie in any better to my blog topic of CCTV cameras. Just the next day (today), police officers were able to identify the suspect through a series of images that were captured on video by a closed-circuit camera. After watching the short news clip at the beginning of the article, the interviewer asks citizens right off the street how the feel about this incident. This really opened my eyes to the safety issues that surround cities such as Toronto. What I also found quite interesting was a TTC representative speaking on how these occurrences are “rare” and the cost is substantial to have someone monitoring this form of technology closely. He suggests that money, along with the resources would be better spent in a different sector. Personally, this news article to me, shows the significant impact that CCTV cameras can have on a case such as this. Police are now in possession of a number of photos of the suspect, have put the description out from them, and are currently on the lookout for their suspect. Meanwhile, the public also has access to these images as they are displayed on their televisions, online, or in newspapers. This is just further helping in having CCTV cameras gain a lot of respect in helping the police solve crime. And while this crime was not prevented by this camera, we can only hope that this suspect will be caught and evidently charged as a result of his horrific crime that unfortunately for him was caught on film.

After reading this blog and watching the two videos after the jump I ask,  YOU BE THE JUDGE! 

Part 1:

“Do we gain safety by loosing privacy, and how do we measure the payoff?”(source).

“Is it a placebo, do cameras just give us a false sense of security?”(source).

“If it is used properly it can be a proactive tool”(source).

Part 2:

“We live in a culture that we are overexposed to it [being on camera]”(source).

“If the crime is going to be committed and the cameras there, they will just move out of the range of the camera”(source).

“Right now these cameras are so dependent on human intervention”(source).

…Now I don’t know about you but after watching those two short segments I have not only learned a lot more about CCTV cameras but also some of the downsides that come with the upsides of these cameras. There still seems to be a discrepancy not only between the guests in the interview, but we could also say the members of society at large. Once we begin seeing a larger percentage of crimes being stopped and solved by these cameras is when the popularity of them will rise and individuals will be able to feel more comfortable with Big Brother watching them if it is for the betterment of society.

Conclusion:

Whatever the methods may be, we seem to be drawing closer to the crime control that we see in glamorized television shows and the infamous movies such as The Minority Report. With the billions of dollars that go into these mechanical eyes, it really gets us asking ourselves do they really curb crime? As mentioned previously, this really depends on who you are. If you ask those enforcing the law of course their general consensus will be that it does and will cite drops in violent crime to back them up. However, many other individuals would tend to say otherwise and find that they are not doing a good enough job in preventing high percentages of crime and the invasion of the public’s privacy is really at risk. The eyes of Big Brother leave many law-abiding citizens in society feeling uncomfortable and questioning whether their civil liberties are being invaded as a result. On the other end, do we look at the bigger picture and view Big Brother as our protector?  I leave you to think about that!

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Has Instagram Changed The World Of Photography As We Know It?

Insta-duction:

Do you have an Iphone? If you do, then you either have installed the Instagram photo app or at least have heard about it. Instagram is continuing to become one of the up and coming apps that allows its users to download a free app, and share photos across the social network. It is a very simple app to use, letting its users capture an image or use a pre-existing image and apply any one of fifteen filters that it provides. Users can share their photos with family and friends right on the Instagram network itself or as of recently, with other powerful services such as Facebook and Twitter. The possibilities are really endless when using this app…and did I mention it’s free?? This app has most certainly sparked an interest in photography for me. I have always been interested in capturing life’s “Kodak moments” but Instagram has allowed me to take pictures of ordinary things such as flowers, the sunset, historical buildings; the world really is my  playground. As such, I am of the opinion that Instagram has not changed the world of photography per say. It has definitely had a significant impact on society and as you read on you will find out all the ways that this app can be used and how it has inspired so many!

Something to think about…

A camera that you always have with you is the best type of camera you could possibly have!

Filters:

With fifteen different possible filters to choose from the possibilities are almost endless and I am sure in the months and years to come Instagram will only be adding more to this list. Have these filters gotten in the way of the actual picture and skilled photography? . Many of these filters give your photos an aged touch, having you feel nostalgic. One of my all-time favourite trends on Instagram is the “throwback Thursday” or “#tbt” which is a way of placing other individuals pictures with this hash-tag all together in the app. For me, it has been a really great way to remember some of the moments of my childhood or past and share them with my friends and family, along with seeing what throwback pictures those that I follow choose to upload as well. It is funny how quickly we can forget about moments but by taking one look at a picture again this can spark our memory and have us feeling as if we are almost reliving the past. After all, a picture’s worth a thousand words right?

Current Filters Available (mimic the ones used by professional photographers COOL, HUH?)

X-Pro II– warm, saturated effect. Emphasis on yellow.

Earlybird– Faded, blurred, focuses on yellow and beige.

Lo-fi– Slightly blurred, with yellow and green saturated.

Sutro– Sepia effect. Emphasis on purple and yellow. Whole image made darker.

Toaster– High Exposure. Some blurring.

Brannan– Low key. Focus on grey and green.

Willow– Black and white with some blend effect.

Valencia– High contrast, slightly grey and brown.

Inkwell– Black and white filter with high contrast.

Walden– Washed-out with a light blue overtone.

Hefe– Classic colour with gold and yellow overtones

Nashville– A magenta-blue tint and a Velvia film border. It is one of the most popular used Instagram filters.

1977– Somewhat pinkish overtone.

Kelvin– Super saturated, retro photo with scratchy border; formally called “Lord Kelvin”

Amaro– Lighter contrast. Focus on paler tone”(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instagram).

How some new Terms of Service almost cost Instagram it’s life:

After the recently updated changes to Instagram’s Terms of Service many users where up in arms and threatening to delete the app. The problem arose when a few words subtly slipped into the Terms of Service which had many users worried that their personal photos will be used as a advertising strategy for the company without their consent. For me this did not pose as a problem as I merely just use the app for fun and while I do enjoy my pictures I realize I am not a professional photographer who more have a lot more at stake. With the new rules, photos were going to be able to be used by advertisement companies with no compensation  given to the user who captured the photo.  This of course poses as a significant problem for individuals who use Instagram to showcase their professional photographic skills. However, they must be careful due to the fact that this is an open social media network and anyone can have access to your photos along with take them and save them. So what does this all mean? With all the commotion that surrounded this issue for weeks following the introduction of the new terms celebrities began to hop on board and we all know that once a celebrity expresses their view on something they have the power to change many people’s views and that is exactly what happened. Not only celebrities, but also everyday users were voicing their opinions and rebelling by saying they were going to delete the app or actually deleting the app.

Food for thought:

After doing a great deal of research on this topic on the significant impact that Instagram has had on society I came across an excellent article on certain restaurants in New York City banning patrons from taking pictures of their food. After reading this article it really stood out to me as a controversial issue, that at the time I was not really sure why it is an issue. I mean I see where the chefs at these restaurants are coming from when they say that the constant flashes going off is distracting to no only them but the customers who are paying to eat there. However, I think it would be really hard for a ban like this to last as it is almost stripping individuals their rights of being free to capture pictures. It is one thing to ban photographing food but where do you draw the line? If you ban all flash photography then you are also getting rid of all those special moments that individuals capture at restaurants with their friends and family. Capturing pictures at establishments such as restaurants has been happening for years and years and has really become something that people are really accustomed to. The way I see it is that if individuals are capturing the food and often times mentioning where they are eating on their accounts it is a great free way of advertising for the company and a way to attract customers after seeing pictures of nicely presented and well photographed food.

Hang on a minute…Snap! Now you can eat:

Something that I find very particularly intriguing about food photography is how so many individuals are taking the time out of their every days lives to capture great pictures of appealing looking food. Many people will not even take a bite of their food until they capture that perfect picture and then they can continue on. Is this really an indication of how technology driven our society is? Without a doubt all of us are living in a world where many of us have cell phones on us all the time, along with the quality of camera phone cameras becoming increasingly better in quality allowing the convenience of photography to become a way of life.

Food has always been an interesting and widely photographed subject. However, in taking one look at Instagram you can see that with the use of this app, pictures of food have also dramatically increased. This growing trend has been commonly named “foodstagram”, making the convenience of having your camera phone with you at all times you can quickly capture a picture and post to your followers. Looking at the friends that I have on my own Instagram account I started to notice this trend developing within particular types of people who photograph their food. Many of these individuals are those who really appreciate fine cuisine and capture their food photos when they are out at an expensive restaurant or cook something that looks nice on a plate and are proud of what they cooked and want to share it with other users. As of recently I have also noticed a significant increase in the amount of food photos that people are taking of healthy items where they hash-tag things such as, “#insta-good” and “#eatclean”. The only really food photos I personally post are ones of certain desserts that I have made myself and are really proud of. I always wonder why people want to constantly post pictures of what they are eating, and does anyone really care what you are eating?  This can show the dramatic influence that this photography app has had on individuals that they want to show other people that they are eating healthy and by taking the time to present their food in a nice way and take a cool picture of it will somehow impress people.

“Photo -Mapping” on Instagram:

“Photo-map” is is a feature that comes with your free app and it is a great way to add geo-tagging on your photos. Not only can you take a picture of the Great Wall of China and tag your photo with all the places you have been but you can rub it in the faces of all your followers!! This goes to show the substantial strides that technology and photography have taken. It also brings to light how before cell phone cameras came to be what they are today,  society’s behaviour was drastically impacted with the advent of digital cameras. Photo-mapping is a great way to tie in Tom de Castella’s term of “I was there” which attests to my previous statement of individuals wanting to prove something by taking pictures at certain restaurants or at certain locations. You no longer have to take a picture from your vacation and mail it off to friends and family; but with the tap of one simple button you can tag your location (if you choose to do so). This is a great way to share your life story and memories on Instagram as you can go back and look at all the places you have visited at your convenience all within this one app! It is almost like a virtual scrapbook, which is a lot less time consuming and less messy than making your own photo memory scrapbook! Be mindful of where/when you choose to use the photo-map attachment as it may pose as a security issue for some depending on who you decide to share your photos with!

2013 Presidential Inauguration Captured In Pictures:

 Check out these amazing photos covering the 2013 Presidential Inauguration taken from celebrities, photographers AND everyday people just like you and me! Truly an unforgettable moment captured in pictures!

800,000 Instagram pictures of the 2013 Presidential Inauguration!

Not only was President Barack Obama’s re-election a memorable moment in history around the world, it also sparked substantial attention in the world of Instagram. By visiting the popular page in this app on the day of the presidential inauguration it was flooding with individual’s posts of the ceremony capturing this historic moment. So what exactly did Instagram teach us about the 2013 Presidential Inaguration? . In this CNN news article it really captures the essence of this social networking phenomena as the photos are not just about the president, the glamorous gowns, or the re-election but moreover, it is about the stories that were told and shared through photographs of those who attended, along with a representation of the country as a whole. For those that attended the ceremony, they will never forgot attending and now they have a little piece to bring home with them through their Instagram pictures.

Should we embrace or be ashamed of Instagram?

I do not believe that by using Instagram this will bring an end to the skilled profession of photography. There still exists a very strong recognition for photographers whose professions continue to play a prevalent role in society. For someone like myself, who is far from a professional photographer, using Instagram has helped me capture moments as they happen right under my fingertips. Before installing the Instagram app I had not captured as many photos whereas having this app has allowed taking pictures of everything and anything if I choose to do so. This is exactly what Tom de Castella is talking about in his article when he talks about the significant impact cell phone cameras have on photography as they allow the user to take potentially as many photos as they would like;whereas in the past of photography you would limit the amount to capture that one perfect picture. I truly believe that Instagram is an amazing way for us to capture images and not only share them with our friends and family but potentially worldwide. A great example of this was the presidential inauguration where this social media site was swarming with hastags and images of the ceremony. To me I believe this goes to show the significant impact that Instagram has left on the world, even those who are not American citizens were appreciating these posts. It is an amazing way to show how individuals around the world can be connected so quickly in such a simple and creative way.

WOW! Fascinating!!!

A Blind Man Using Instagram!

My, oh my! If this doesn’t show how far along photography and technology has come than I don’t what does! For a man who has been blind since birth, and has never owned a camera before is now able to capture images of his life with the assistance of the accessibility function on his iPhone. It is really amazing that even though he cannot physically see the world around him he is passionate about sharing it with those around him, and I must say some of his pictures even have mine beat!

Conclusion:

In my mind Instagram has without a doubt made a name for itself as a simple yet powerful app that introduced millions everywhere to a brand new world of photography with millions of users to show for it. I do not think that Instagram has negatively changed the world of photography if anything it has made many appreciate this area of expertise. With the news of the it’s Terms of Service this left many really thinking about this issue and just validated how significant of a spot Instagram holds in the photography and technology realms. Similar to the advancements made to cameras in the past, Instagram is another technological advance making it easier to capture and share images. I think we should embrace technological advances such as these and recognize that Instagram allows us to live in the moment, and capture these moments effortlessly at our fingertips. While many are still refusing to give up their old film cameras and switch to digital cameras I believe that they should follow the future of technology, and that future rests in what we want to do with our memories. For me, Instagram has sparked a living in the moment mentality and while I know I am still young, I want to be able to capture life’s every day moments and make them memories that I will now be able to always remember and share with those I love. And might I add it’s not too shabby pretending to me an amateur photographer, it sort of leaves you with a sense of pride especially for those great moments you capture and you find the picture filter that suits it!

A final thought…

If a picture’s worth a thousand words why does it matter how we capture it? It should be about the excitement, passion and most importantly the memories that we encounter along the way.

Check out some of my very own Instagram pictures!

A snowy drive in Guelph!

A snowy drive in Guelph!

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A crisp fall day in the country-side!

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Christmas Cake-Pops!

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It’s ruff being a dog…

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What a beautiful technology advanced city!

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Pristine beach of Magen’s Bay, BVI

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On top of the world

 

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Guelph Homecoming Cupcakes!

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Splish-Splash!

 

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