Category Archives: web 2.0

Exploring the joys and mysteries of the web

Walk Off The Earth: A YouTube Fairytale

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WOTE: A Fairytale of New York and YouTube

IT’S fantastic how more and more people are using the Internet to start and build their careers. It gives a strong indication of what the online public wants, it creates entrepreneurs and employment and it gives us more variety and choice when spending time on the Internet.

YouTube specifically is becoming the most impressive stage for career launching. Look at someone like Ray William Johnson who basically creates YouTube videos about YouTube videos and gets millions of views within days. He has a full production crew, merchandise, a charity and cool hair.

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Does the Internet impair our ability to concentrate?

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ARGUMENT: The Internet impairs our ability to contemplate and concentrate for long, sustained periods of time

AN ex-colleague of mine (Ryan Calder) started an interesting debate about the Internet on Facebook. He was asking whether or not people thought that the Internet (and cyber culture in general) impairs our ability to concentrate. Some of the comments were quite interesting.

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Create Prezi Presentations

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REVIEW: Create impressive presentations online

MOST people would find the idea of giving a presentation to a crowd of people quite daunting. Having to project enthusiasm about an idea or piece of work and be able to paint a pretty picture with words and a few bullet points is not easy.

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Popular people and viral media

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GOING VIRAL: Popular people and viral media

I’VE just finished reading a thought-provoking book titled The Tipping Point (2000) by best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell, who is a well-respected journalist at The New Yorker. In his book Gladwell focuses on how ideas, products and messages reach a tipping point where they spread like viruses and enter­ into popular culture.

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The lives of people on the Internet

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THE INTERNET: Feel free to be a jerk

Guest post by Tharuna Devchand

SO a little while ago the Mail & Guardian suspended a journalist intern for an anti-Semitic comment on Facebook that amounted to hate speech and was therefore in conflict with the South African Constitution. Without a warning, the kid’s career was ruined because of a social networking site where groups like “My name is Khan” (a group that disrespects Hinduism) and “F*** Islam” exist with thousands of followers who spread the hatred.

I’m not justifying what Ngoako Matsha said, nor am I implying that M&G was wrong in suspending him, but consider the medium in which he said it — cyberspace.

In cyberspace, every person should be seen as a figment of their own imagination­. Nothing is real. Nothing we say is a true reflection of who we are. On the Internet, we are all Tyler Durdens. There are no boundaries, no policies and rules to keep us neatly between the lines, no reputations to uphold or cultural conventions to keep us in place.

The Internet is like a global Fight Club. It’s where we can guiltlessly des­troy something beautiful and return to our lives feeling better about ourselves. It’s cathartic and, since we all can’t be Jackson Pollocks, it may sometimes be our only outlet.

I constantly hear people complaining about how perfect their Facebook friends’ lives are or what interesting lives other people on Twitter have. It’s not true. It’s just what people choose to show you on the website that makes it all seem perfect.

Social networking sites house a giant­ community of people all suffering from small-penis syndrome. There is a constant war to keep up with the cyber Joneses. Saying that people exaggerate on the Internet about their lives, their feelings, their opinions and how great their lovers are is an understatement. If peer pressure in real life can drive one to do things one normally wouldn’t do, the pressure to be infamous on the Inter­net can land one in a mental institution. Gosh knows what Anthony Weiner was thinking when he tweeted a photo of his, um … weiner­.

While it is never easy to work out the true nature of a person in real life, it is 1 000x harder in cyberspace. On the Net, you can be anything and anyone you want to be.

Those who aren’t that popular or who lack friends may upload albums of them being cool with photos of them sloshed with their heads in a toilet just to show that they can party with the best of them. People who are going through tough times may exaggerate all the positive things in their lives and leave out the hardships. And people who are quite restricted or oppressed in their real lives, may go cyber crazy, voicing outrageous opinions and desires on the Net — probably under a pseudonym. It’s a safe outlet that we believe has no consequences — until we lose our jobs for letting loose.

The problem is that there is no line that determines how far is too far until we cross it. We constantly push the boundaries of what is right and wrong just to see how far we can go, whether it’s driving at 129 km/h in a 120 km/h zone or voicing mad love for Adolf Hitler and his beliefs.

Contemporary society has become mostly unaffected by things that are shocking or at least used to be shocking a decade ago, and to deal with this, people try to raise the bar. Cartoonists, comedians and teachers are continually trying to shock people into thinking about things on a different level. Look at how far advertisements have gone to prevent people from drinking and smoking excessively, and to encourage people to abstain from sex, and you’ll see just how just how numb our society is.

Is it okay for me to call my black friend a k***** on her Facebook wall knowing that she won’t be offended? Is it okay to tweet angrily about how upset I am about something the DA said and in turn label it as racist, not because I think that they are racist, but because I just feel the need to put the party down? No, but it feels good.

The South African Constitution currently doesn’t apply to the Internet. Maybe it should, but I doubt that will stop people from saying things, uploading videos and creating images that are shocking. Every day there are more stories of people being judged by their online images. Employers hire people based on their tweets, courts implicate people because of Facebook profile photos, people are fired because of some YouTube video that shows them spray painting expletives on a wall. But it’s those things that make us cool on the Net, that get us hits, that make us believe that this could one day make us famous.

Free music, Spotify and copywrite issues

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MUSIC & SPOTIFY: To be free or not to be free?

IT amazes me how music stores manage to survive in the information age. We are already able to stream music online from websites and radio stations, watch music videos freely on YouTube (and download these), listen to hit singles by our favourite bands via their websites and share music with others using our cellphones, iPods and iPads. The number of songs that can be stored on an iPod or MP3 player is also so high that buying a CD with between 10 and 20 tracks just seems like a disappointment.

It is also not difficult to download songs illegally online. File-sharing websites such as The Pirate Bay and programs such as LimeWire have been under scrutiny ever since their launch, but are still around and remain popular. It has even been argued that people who download music are far more likely to buy original CDs than those who don’t. Being able to familiarise ourselves with a new band or artist by listening to more than just one promotional track allows us to make a more informed choice whether or not we want to support the group by buying their original work. It also reduces the risk of being disappointed and R100-odd poorer, so the arguments go.

There is no doubt that music corporations painstakingly attempt to protect their copywrite material. Using just a few seconds of a dated song in an online video could result in a hefty fine. What often happens in the case of YouTube videos that use copywrite music is that a stern e-mail is sent to the creator stating that the video will not be pulled but that YouTube has the right to advertise alongside the video. When this happens your YouTube channel begins to look like a corporate website with big, flashy adverts unrelated to your video content.

The games industry has already realised the value of offering dated games for free online. With the proliferation of new titles, it becomes nonsensical to try to sell older games. But game companies and developers still want us playing and appreciating their previous work and familiarising ourselves with their brands. Offering older titles for free may also muster new fans and potential buyers of their newer titles. So why isn’t the same done with regards to music?

Spotify – the free music website

Spotify

Spotify is one of many websites that allow users to listen to and share music freely online. Their ultimate goal is "to have all the music in the world available instantly to everyone".

Spotify is one of many websites that allow users to listen to and share music­ freely online. It hosts more than 13 million songs and it is free to share everything you listen to on Spotify through social media sites and services such as Facebook, Twitter and even YouTube. The Spotify application is available for PC, Mac, cellphones and even home audio systems. “Just help yourself to whatever you want, whenever you want it,” it says on the Spotify website.

Spotify openly admits that its goal is “to have all the music in the world available instantly to everyone”. It also admits, however, that it takes time to arrange licensing agreements with record labels, which indicates that its goal is a legit one. Unfortunately, this does mean that Spotify is not yet available in every country, including South Africa. It’s no surprise that the countries where it is available are the most liberal when it comes to freedom of information and the Internet, such as Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands.

What is great about websites such as Spotify is that they promote the consumer policy of “try before you buy”. Users are able to purchase songs or albums off the website, which can then be downloaded in MP3 format.

But one might ask, if it is entirely free, in theory, to listen to and share just about any song on the Internet, then what difference does it make whether the same songs are downloaded? We may wish to load up our iPod before a jog or create a music CD for our car — whatever 21st-century convenience tickles our fancy.

It seems a bit bizarre that we (or at least people in some countries) are able to consume the music of our choice to our hearts content all for free, but the minute we want to listen offline at our own convenience we have to pay for it — even if they are songs or albums that are no longer stocked in music stores.

Maybe they want us spending that time listening on their websites so they can build up a record of what we like and send promotions our way.