Tag Archives: internet

Control of your personal data online (infographic)

INFOGRAPHIC: Control of your personal data online

I’M not usually a fan of these ‘shocking’ infographics as it’s quite difficult to check their sources and verify the information contained within. But as someone who receives scam emails via Gmail on a regular basis, this one seems more or less accurate (or at least believable).

Continue reading

Walk Off The Earth: A YouTube Fairytale

* View this Post in HD *

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.

Continue reading

Does the Internet impair our ability to concentrate?

* View this post in HD *

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.

Continue reading

Embracing Change

* View this post in HD *

THE world is changing pretty fast – exponentially in many cases, particularly in the technology and online industries. It’s natural for anyone, regardless of age or creed, to feel overwhelmed by the library­ of choice. Laptops, iPads, notebooks, Kindles, iPhones, netbooks, iPods and gaming consoles are all on offer under different brands and with varying specifications. This is failing to mention the infinite range of smartphones.

Continue reading

The lives of people on the Internet

* View this post in HD *

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.

Google: Behind the screen

*View this post in HD*

GOOGLE: A critical look at Google behind the screen

A wise man once said: “We should always be cautious of that which is powerful.” No doubt Google has become an extremely powerful entity in our modern lives. It can be argued that it is fast becoming the gatekeeper of all of the world’s information — the new Great Library of Alexandria. Yet to be cautious of this requires reason to be so, and what better place to start than to understand how Google works.

HOW GOOGLE WORKS

Internet databaseGoogle can basically be separated into three parts – search, database and interface. To take account of all the new information and web pages that appear on the web on a daily basis, Google sends out digital robots (also called bots, spiders or crawlers). These bits of software crawl the Internet and scan new content and web pages. They assess what words, and more specifically, what keywords, are used on each page and send these to a database.

The physical part of the Internet can basically be thought of as huge, underground databases. Envision underground computers with powerful processors and lots of storage space. All the information gathered by the Google bots is brought back to these databases where it is stored. Importantly, information is only gathered from the web pages which Google sends out bots for. This excludes web pages that are not indexed by Google, are hidden from Google or require a password or some kind of authority to access.

And then we have the interface. This is essentially the Google search bar, which we are all familiar with and often take completely for granted. When we type in keywords or search phrases into the Google search bar, the Google bots search the database and bring up web pages that contain a high number of those keywords.

HOW GOOGLE BEGAN AND GREW

Google billboard equationGoogle began with a small group of engineers in 1999, who became overnight billionaires after Google went public in 2004. The company now employs the keenest minds from around the world and is still growing. At one point Google devised a mathematical equation which was advertised on large billboards worldwide. Solving the equation and typing the result into the Google search bar took one to the Google jobs page.

It has to be said that Google employees with cushy jobs have it good. At the corporate Google Headquarters (Googleplex) in California, employees are allowed 20% of their working time to pursue whatever they are passionate about. There are also several stress-relieving facilities available such as gyms to volley ball courts. Employees may even get a professional massage during their lunch breaks.

The Google goldmine is in advertising. Generally the first three web pages that appear as a result of a search are sponsored links. These are usually highlighted in some way. The links that appear along the right-hand column are also sponsored links. Companies bid against one another for these spots, which has proven to be an effective and profitable system.

GOOGLE’S GOALS

Google’s initial aim was to create the world’s best search engine. Its stated goal now is to host all of the world’s information. Google Search has literally expanded into space, with offerings such as Google Books, Google Maps and Google Mars just to name a few. However, there is also the phenomenon of Internet users constantly pouring in new content. The goal on Google’s part here is to organise all this information.

GoogleplexThe Internet is now flooded with large amounts of opinion pieces as more and more people throw in their two cents. But how can a search engine be objective and rank opinion? At one point in time, a search for “the holocaust” fetched articles with titles such as “Did the Holocaust really happen?” A search for “the truth behind 9/11” fetched a host of conspiracy theories arguing that 9/11 was a governmental orchestrated undertaking.

With such an influx of good and bad information, it’s fair to say that Google employees have their work cut out for them. To keep things democratic, Google has started giving preference to web pages that update more frequently and are more interactive in terms of user participation and commentary. The relevance of any piece of information on the web is also largely determined by how many external web pages link or point to that information.

ISSUES OF PRIVACY

The fact that Google stores user information is not something it tries to cover up. It openly states that this information is used to help improve Google services. However, even if Google doesn’t misuse this information, there is very little preventing others from doing so. Information regarding user behaviour, such as your search habits and history for example, can and have been sold to third-party advertisers arming their spam cannons.

Whether we consider Google as a profit driven company acting under a façade or not, the question begged for, really, is whether Google (and ergo the Internet in general) will ultimately become a public enterprise or a public enterprise.

A further point of concern is the idea of Google having a monopoly over all of the world’s information. While anyone is free to create a search engine, your chances of competing with Google and being taken seriously are less than slim.

As difficult as it may be, laws of media diversity will have to find a firmer place online if we are to prevent a situation of having one world view or ideology at the expense of critical thought.

Why Google is called Google
The name “Google” originated from a misspelling of “googol”, which refers to 10100 (the number represented by a one followed by 100 zeros). Having found its way into everyday language, the verb “google” was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2006, and means “to use the Google search engine to obtain information on the Internet.” — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google