Author Archives: qha123

Week 4

I took the CITI course almost two years ago, but I went back and took some tests to refresh my memory. I did re-learn some thins through the course, but by and large I didn’t relate much in terms of my own experiences and understandings. I don’t have much personal experience with ethics and ethical dilemmas (which I would say is a good thing?) so I wasn’t able to fully relate to the work. That being said, I did gain a deeper and better understanding of potential ethical issues in general.

After reading the first article about the VCU study with twins, I can see a few ethical implications. Like the father said, it could be seen as an invasion of privacy for everyone who is involved whether its tangentially or not. This brings up the issue of confidentiality and informed consent. Can someone consent when they don’t even know they’re being studied? Their information should be kept confidential, even though they aren’t directly involved, right?

There was also the issue of IRB regulations. While they do have a set standard of regulations, there is still some room for interpretation between boards. But is requiring the boards to screen more really going to help research, or simply bog down researchers with more administrative tasks? There comes a point when there is too much.

I think that, at times, researchers do come across difficult decisions that cannot be easily solved. Promising compensation for participation could be seen as coercion or undermining informed consent. When researching children, it’s hard to make sure you aren’t overstepping any boundaries with the parents of the kids. These types of situations and more are difficult to traverse, and that is what the IRB is for. In murkier cases, researchers should defer back to the IRB to make sure their decisions are ethically sound. While we would like to avoid too much administrative tasks in order to conduct research, there’s no denying that the safety of the subjects comes first. There should be more regulations in place in order to make research standards clearer and easier to follow.

Week 2

In light of everything we’ve read, I feel like there are quite a few issues that could arise when studying social phenomena. One pertinent issue is confidentiality vs. anonymity. For example, a researcher focusing upon the sociology of higher education may want to interview freshman students against transfer students to better understand how they feel about their cost of attendance and their sunk cost into their experience within the sphere of higher education. In order to do this, students would be asked to disclose their financial status, their parents’ or legal guardians’ financial status, their personal experiences within their institution and more. With this personal information, it would be understandable that a student would refuse or, at the very least, be reluctant to disclose this due to possible stigmatization. It is incredibly important to clearly distinguish between when a respondent is anonymous as opposed to their information being confidential. We have an obligation as researchers to make sure this line is well understood, instead of using these terms interchangeably when we clearly know better than this.

There is also the issue of deception when researching. While I may not fully understand all of the nuances of social research, I can certainly see how this can complicate research. In my personal experience, I was collecting data from multiple people on their usage of Pokémon Go. I went into multiple Facebook groups and spoke with the admins before posting within their groups. I thought to myself if I should or should not be completely honest upfront with the people I was speaking with. I wondered if maybe I should present myself as an independent researcher, or if I should use my university affiliation in order to provide legitimacy. In the end, I decided to be honest in the beginning and it worked in my favor. I received a plethora of responses from around the country, which was excellent. While I may not have had to use deception to achieve my goal, I could see reasons why. In some cases, the ends could justify the means such as the “Tearoom Trade” study. Thanks to Humphreys, there was more research done on the interactions of men who participate in these casual sex acts. There was even another study done called the “technological tearoom trade”.

Although deception shouldn’t be the first thought a researcher has, it is undeniably useful. However, as a community we have to make sure that people are held accountable and are indeed using deceit for the best purposes of the study.

Test post

Hello everyone! My name is Qarahn Anbiya, but everyone calls me Q. I’m currently a non-degree seeking grad student, and hoping to move into the master’s of sociology program for the fall of 2017.

I’m from Fredericksburg, VA, and I just received my BS in sociology from VCU this past December. I absolutely love anything related to Pokémon or Harry Potter related. My favorite kinds of books are fantasy, sci-fi, and dystopian novels. I have a huge passion for the sphere of higher education. Also, on the weekends I play Quidditch and travel with my friends to play teams in other states.

I’ve had some experience with collecting original quantitative data, and I’ve done a good amount of reading on the topic of research itself. As it stands, I have a preference for qualitative over quantitative, but we’ll see how that is by the end of the semester!

I’m honestly very concerned about our research proposal having to be mixed methods. I’ve done quantitative data collection and analysis, and I wasn’t good at it at all. I’m a friendly person, so qualitative comes more naturally for me since I get to deal with people more often. However, I hope to learn how to become better at dealing with quantitative data, and I have every intention of doing my very best to make an excellent proposal for the end of the semester.



Commitment to IP Project

After reading over the Google Doc and seeing all the amazing ideas everyone was putting out there, I think I found my project. You see, even though I was looking through the Doc and posting my own ideas and reading others, I already had an idea of what I wanted. Browsing through all those ideas, it became solidified. I want to research the effect of streaming media is having on traditional cable and satellite companies. This is something I’ve been thinking about long before this class. Now this class has given me the motivation I need to actually start looking further into this.

What inspired this to come about is really quite simple. I’m a binge watcher, and I don’t like paying for cable. Why pay for cable when I can pay significantly less for Hulu and Netflix and still get the same content? If I’m ever desperate to watch a show, there’s plenty of ways to find it online. I know more and more of my friends who are skipping paying for cable and are just paying for internet so they can binge watch their shows. I want to know what this is doing to the traditional TV providers. Sure, it’s a small movement now, but what about in 10-20 years, when our generation is on top? When our generation, and the generation behind us, was practically raised on binge watching? What will happen? This is what I aim to find out.

Analyzing what was obvious to me.

A bachelor’s degree requires a minimum of 120 credits.

11:10 am

So I started my search with what I believed to be an obvious statement: “A bachelor’s degree requires a minimum of 120 credits”. However, being my social justice loving self, I ended up reading this post about international rights. This time, since I was supposed to use the computer as a compass, I looked for things I really wanted to know and understand. I didn’t want to just read cool things, I wanted to learn why this was a widely accepted fact. Apparently, according to this PDF report, 120 wasn’t always the minimum. In fact, it wasn’t even required. A majority of programs were around 123-128 credits. It wasn’t until 1995 when the Nation Center for Education Statistics released a report showing that the average credits earned before a degree conferral was 136. In response, Florida put out legislation requiring all bachelor’s degrees to have a 120 hour minimum, except on a case-by-case basis as determined by the Florida Board of Regents. After Florida, multiple states and schools followed suite even though they weren’t required to under any circumstances. How did I get from this to social justice you ask? Well, I decided to dig deeper.

The next question I had was, “Why do we have semester hours and quarter hours?” So I searched that next, and I came up on this lovely article detailing the difference along with pros and cons. Apparently, semester hours are more commonly used and quarter hours don’t transfer well, but quarter hours allow for more classes taken in a shorter time frame and are more focused on the material. I thought this was pretty interesting, especially since one of the master’s programs I was considering runs on a quarter hour system. From here, I asked myself “Well, how did higher education even start?”

Once I searched that question, I came up with a list of results that only focused on higher ed in America, but I wanted a holistic view of it. Thankfully, Wikipedia saved the day again by having an article solely about higher education. It talks about higher ed in more developed countries, vocational schools and community colleges, and it even breaks it down into different types of majors. It was a fascinating read, and then something caught my eye. In the second paragraph of the article, it was talking about international human rights, and at the end of the paragraph was a link to something about the right to education. Curiosity piqued, I followed my gut and the link to the next page.

Apparently there was an international convention about the right to education, including “equitable access to higher education, ideally by the progressive introduction of free higher education.” While a good majority of countries was on the list for ratification, the U.S. was not. The U.S. signed the document, but never ratified it. From there, well it was just article after article about human rights and the three generations of rights. I loved this assignment more than associative trails honestly. By having the freedom to choose a starting point more near and dear to me, I was able to find links and articles much more quickly. I even went over the 50 minute time limit because I was so engrossed in what I was reading. I now have a new paper topic and several sources for another class of mine. This was way too fun. I also learned that no matter the topic, I’ll still find a way to see if it is equal and accessible to under-served, underrepresented, and marginalized groups. My research might become inherently biased since I’m a racial minority, so I do need to watch myself and make sure I research arguments against my trains of thoughts to see if I can counter them logically.

My favorite nugget ever.

Okay, so this is the Man-Computer Symbiosis nugget and as a person who loves science fiction, this got me really excited. The quote I picked was this:

“It may be appropriate to acknowledge at this point that we are using the term “computer” to cover a wide class of calculating, data-processing, and information-storage-and-retrieval machines. The capabilities of machines in this class are increasing almost daily. It is therefore hazardous to make general statements about capabilities of this class. Perhaps it is equally hazardous to make general statements about the capabilities of men. Nevertheless certain genotypic differences in capability between men and computers do stand out and they have a bearing on the nature of possible man-computer symbiosis and the potential value of achieving it.”

This made me so incredibly excited because there are so many options! By defining computers in such a broad way, the choices are limitless! If you want symbiosis, what about the android from fallout 3?

His name is Harkness, and he is a perfect symbiosis of man and machine. On the outside, he looks like a typical, cisgender, heterosexual white male. However, on the inside, he is pure machine. He was created by the Commonwealth, a community up in post-apocalyptic Boston that creates androids to make their lives easier. Harkness here escaped the Commonwealth and made it down to the Capital Wasteland. If none of you are following me, that’s okay, I’m definitely nerding out right now and I don’t expect anyone to follow.

Or, what about Bender and Fry from futurama? In season 10, episode 11, Bender and Fry are outside on the hull of the Planet Express ship trying to fix the engine. Bender’s gyroscope gets busted, and he stuffs Fry in his compartment so he can fix it.

My favorite nugget ever.

The result of that is yet another symbiosis of man and machine, albeit an unconventional one. There could come a day when we have robotic exoskeletons. Who knows for sure?

And speaking of robotic exoskeletons, let’s talk about Halo. There’s a show called Red vs. Blue on Youtube and Netflix which is about soldiers who get into all types of crazy shenanigans. One of the plot lines was *SPOILER ALERT* that there was a group of soldiers called Freelancers, and they have amazing, high-tech armor. However, they can’t use certain parts of their armor with an A.I., or artificial intelligence. Here’s the majority of the AI from the show.

My favorite nugget ever.

These little people right here could help their soldiers turn invisible, drop shields, hack databases, retrieve intelligence, analyze combat situations and give percentage rates of success and injury in less than 10 seconds. This perfect symbiosis could revolutionize military combat. Imagine going on to the battlefield, rifle in hand, and having a voice in your ear tell you everything that’s going on before your enemy can even fire a bullet. It’s incredible.

The options for symbiosis are unbelievably expansive and infinite. The direction we’re heading now, we could easily see more closely aligned computer-human interaction within the next decade. Our entire lives are becoming files on electronic databases. Who’s to say that we won’t become electronic ourselves?

While reading this article, I couldn’t help but think of a few classmates’ blog posts that were related to this in some way. Like GabbingGabby’s post about how it feels when she thinks. She said that computers aren’t capable of emotion, and that’s it a solely human trait. She also said she couldn’t imagine programming computers with emotions without it ending in “a crazy action movie with robots taking over the world.” I think that she’s right, for now. But eventually, science make come up with a way to make robots akin to humans in terms of emotions.  After all, emotions are just a series of chemical processes in the brain. Given enough time, we could replicate it just like we’ve replicated numerous neural pathways in the brain already. If we lived in a world like I, Robot, I can’t say I’d be mad honestly.

However, there’s also security, like jaffreywang brought up in his associative trails post. How would symbiosis affect electronic security? Would be more secure, due to having more encryption keys and such, or would we be less secure since everyone is operating on the same wavelength more or less? It makes me think of the game WatchDogs, in which the entire city of Chicago uses one operating system, ctOS. Because everyone is on that system, if a person hacks one thing, he hacks it all. This is displayed in game, like this trailer here with beautiful graphics. How would internet security and privacy be affected by a man-computer symbiosis? These are the questions that keep me up at night.

I also thought of hruiz’s nugget on augmenting human intellect, and that got me going. If we reached symbiosis, what would that do to our intelligence? Would we become so intelligent that we lost touch with our emotions, like the Observers in Fringe?My favorite nugget ever.

Or, would we retain our emotions along with our heightened intelligence? Would we be more analytical than a super computer, or the lines of code used in space shuttle launch, or would we still be bested by computers since we wouldn’t technically be computers ourselves, but something mixed with a computer?

This nugget is going to keep me up for days just thinking all of the different possibilities there could be when reach a true symbiosis of man and machine.

Concept Experience 3

Doing this assignment was actually really fun. It was so interesting going through everyone’s associative trails and seeing what really interests you all. The two I found most interesting were lauramarieee’s and jaffeywang’s. While they both looked into security, they were in two totally different fields. Laura focused more on the physical world, which is why she had links such as espionage and neighborhood watch groups. Jaffey focused more on the electronic, which is why he had links like computer security and packet drop attack (everyone should read that last article honestly). I think it was so cool how they both had the same general idea, but went about it in different ways. It makes you think just how much we need to protect ourselves, both in person and online. There’s many different versions of security and protection, and these two trails made me realize that I need to tighten up a little bit more.

Concept Experience 2

When I started this assignment, I had a vague idea of where I wanted to start. I chose Netflix, but my general area was the after affects of the wealth of streaming media we have nowadays, such as on-demand and Amazon Prime and the like. I chose the links I followed out of simple curiosity. I clicked binge because I wanted to know what the “official” definition of binge-watching was. If that’s the definition of binge watching, I have a very serious problem..

I think the links I chose really reflect who I am as a person. I did this project twice. Once, as a person gathering research, and again as a person just clicking random links. I have the document labeled and separated so it makes more sense. Part one was the research aspect. Part two, the part under the line, is when I was just clicking links. I ended up pretty much staying on because it was so interesting to read all those different aspects and associate them with TV shows and movies that I’ve watched. Like I said in my previous blog post here, the brain makes associations incredibly quickly. Also, I believe in equality and social justice, so reading these tropes was akin to feeling validated in my view of most shows on the air (or on the internet) today.


I feel like the last link I ended up in for part one was exactly where I would’ve ended up no matter what. The article here explains how the Netflix original show Bojack Horseman is really just about another white guy, except he’s an anthropomorphic horse. Honestly, it makes sense. I never watched the show because the different clips, screenshots, and gifs I have seen all rubbed me the wrong way for some reason. After reading that article, it makes sense. He acts just like another white guy in any other sitcom. He’s just a horse. So honestly, it makes a lot of sense that I would’ve ended up reading an article about racial representation. For part two, I never expected to end up on a website about tv tropes, but that’s how I ended up spending my Tuesday night. I spent so much time on it, I ended up losing track of time and having to leave the library because it was closing. It was just so interesting to see all the things I’ve noticed but never had a name for. I’m still browsing the site, but I’m getting my work done as well.

I’m not surprised in the slightest on where I ended up. I followed my interests and curiosity and I wound up right where I belonged. The computer really helped with this process though. All the links within the articles really gave me a plethora of options, and my computer helped me follow them and suggest others on the way. I don’t think I could’ve gotten where I ended up without my computer. It makes it so much easier to narrow your search and really focus on what you want to study. We worked together on this; it wasn’t me or the computer in charge. My computer and I were a team for this adventure. My computer would help recommend and open articles, and I chose which ones to explore. It was a really fun way to spend a Tuesday night.


Part one: research


Netflix (Starting point)




Feelings of loneliness and depression linked to binge-watching television (dead end)


Binge Viewing: TV’s Lost Weekends


Go Ahead, Binge-Watch That TV Show


Unsurprising: Netflix Survey Indicates People Like To Binge-Watch TV


Way More People Are Streaming Content Than Ever Before


FX’s President Is Taking Shots At Netflix, Says They Are Better


Kevin Spacey’s MacTaggart lecture prompts defence of traditional TV (Not an article, I was just browsing articles tagged Netflix. It led me to my next link.)


BoJack Horseman: to avoid another show about a white dude, make him a horse



Part two: For fun


I live in Tumblr.

The vast majority of my online life is spent either researching random things that cross my mind, such as pokemon related things or the nearest pizza place, and Tumblr. I absolutely love it. Tumblr has fostered my sense of curiosity, strengthened my critical thinking abilities, and even provided me with quite a few good laughs and stories along the way, like this one.

Tumblr helped to me truly understand feminism, privilege and oppression, gender expression, and so much more. People will knock Tumblr and say how it’s all about “slacktivism” and the people are there don’t actually fact check anything and so on and so forth. However, Tumblr has millions on millions of users. You’re only allowed to follow 5,000 blogs. How could someone possibly know how every single person on there acts? I speak from experience when I say I have truly learned and grown since joining Tumblr almost 5 years ago. I’ve met so many friends on there, and discovered things about friends I have in real life that I never would’ve guessed. Something about Tumblr just allows people to spill their innermost thoughts and secrets. They can really be themselves. People can identify with how they truly feel, whether they be a biromatic, asexual, transgender person of color or a cisgender, heterosexual, white male. I would post links, but I honestly prefer to keep my Tumblr URL private. However, I can say that if it weren’t for Tumblr, I wouldn’t be as open-minded, accepting, socially active and engaged, or even remotely interested in politics. I absolutely live and love my online life on Tumblr.

As we may think

“The human mind does not work that way. It operates by association. With one item in its grasp, it snaps instantly to the next that is suggested by the association of thoughts, in accordance with some intricate web of trails carried by the cells of the brain. It has other characteristics, of course; trails that are not frequently followed are prone to fade, items are not fully permanent, memory is transitory. Yet the speed of action, the intricacy of trails, the detail of mental pictures, is awe-inspiring beyond all else in nature.”

This paragraph really stuck out to me. I love psychology, and my favorite part of psychology is associative thinking. This particular little piece resonated with me because it made me think of this particular situation.

I may be nearly 20 years old, but I still think Jimmy Neutron was one of the best thinkers of all time! On a more serious note, the brain truly is fascinating. How could we ever hope to mimic, much less encapsulate, the power of the mind? I’m not saying that we only use 10% of our brain power, as that has been thoroughly debunked to death as we can see


And here:

And, because 3 is a magical number, one more source here:

However, the question still remains, how can we ever copy in machinations and coding what we do in our heads? I still don’t understand for the life of me how I can go from discussing statistical variations with my friend to talking about our favorite Pokemon types. Association within our minds happens so quick and fleetingly, we sometimes don’t even remember how we got from Point A to Point D. We just hopped right through Points B and C and arrived at Point D feeling dazed and confused. If we’re still trying to map out and understand the human brain, do we really stand a chance in being able to copy that pattern into machines?