Tag Archives: web 2.0

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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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.

Viruses and why they’re so profitable

PROFITABLE VIRUSES: Spyware, adware and computer worms

ORGANISED crime online has become rife over the last few years with more and more computer and Internet users falling victim to phishing and different forms of viruses and spyware. Gone are the days of hackers creating viruses for sport; we are now entering a new era where viruses are being deliberately developed and spread for potential profit – huge profit.

Image: techtips.comAntivirus software is becoming big business, not only because new viruses are constantly being created or ‘improved’ that can bypass existing antivirus software, but also because people are living in fear of getting a nasty infection and losing all their valuable data.

Many people are also scammed into purchasing antivirus or anti-spyware software by being made to believe that their pc is infected. There are many ways that any computer connected to the Internet can become infected or accessed by viruses and spyware. These are outlined below along with some easy-to-apply suggestions for protecting your digital self.

Malicious Software: Spyware & Adware

Tracking software, such as spyware and adware, work by gathering information from a computer or Internet user without their knowledge. This information is often relayed to advertisers or other interested parties, which will then spam you with adverts and false security warnings. Spyware can get on your computer as a software virus or as a result of installing a new program off the Internet.

antivirus software alertSpyware is often installed without a user’s consent – usually as a result of clicking on a dodgy pop-up window. Spyware that is specifically designed to serve advertising is known as adware, and is becoming rife in the online world. Any software that gathers information about you without your consent is an infringement of your privacy and is considered as malicious. Spyware actually forms part of an overall public concern over privacy on the Internet.

The image alongside is an example of spyware that looks like an active anti-virus solution. Such windows will often direct you to the anti-virus website in an attempt to make a sale.

The presence of spyware is typically hidden from the user and can be difficult to detect. Such software can slowly collect and leak various types of personal information, such as Internet surfing habits, most frequently-visited websites and even credit card information. Spyware is also known to change a computer’s settings, often resulting in slower connection speeds, failure to run certain programs and having your web browser’s activity redirected for potential profit.

“Unlike viruses and worms, spyware does not usually self-replicate. Like many recent viruses, however, spyware – by design – exploits infected computers for commercial gain. Typical tactics include delivery of unsolicited pop-up advertisements, theft of personal information (including financial information), monitoring of web-browsing activity for marketing purposes, and routing of HTTP requests to advertising sites.” – Wikipedia.

Computer Worms

Worms are nasty business as they can independently reproduce and spread across network connections. They can spread via email, instant messaging and file-sharing.

The spreading of worms is most prominent via infected email messages. Any form of attachment or link in an email may contain a link to an infected website. If the user clicks on the link or opens the attachment in an infected email, the worm can quickly infect your PC without you knowing.

Microsoft Outlook is renowned for spreading such emails and users should be wary of any unexpected emails they receive. Email worms are also known to harvest email addresses from an infected computer and can also construct new sender addresses, making it difficult to determine the original source of the worm.

Internet worms work by scanning the Internet for vulnerable machines (i.e. ones that are not properly protected against viruses and malicious software). An attempt will be made to connect to these machines and gain full access to them.

Chat channels are the main target for Internet worms whereby the same method of infection and spreading occurs (i.e. the sending of infected files or links to infected websites). If such links are clicked on, the worm will copy itself into a shared folder – usually under a harmless name.

Protecting your PC

At this point I could probably sell my own antivirus software to any reader that fears their computer may be at risk. This is often how antivirus companies sell their products. Some are even known to have created viruses and spyware of their own in order to justify the need for their product.

Avast logoThere is a copious amount of anti-virus and anti-spyware software available – some for free and some for a price. Generally speaking, the pricier and most popular products are better, such as Norton, NOD32 and AVG. However, there are free and equally safe options too.

Avast and Kaspersky Internet Security have both become hugely popular as they are both free and efficient. I personally use Avast5 for easy-to-use purposes. Once downloaded and installed, Avast will automatically update itself on a regular basis and keep your PC protected from new threats. However, it is also important to always be cautious when surfing in unfamiliar territory and never open an attachment which appears strange.

Related Article:
The Nasty & Profitable World of Viruses & AntiVirus Software

MeetYourFriends: Anti-social networking

MEETYOURFRIENDS: The real deal or complete scam?

IT can be forcefully argued that Facebook has set the benchmark for new and emerging social networking sites. In fact, morsels of the Facebook phenomenon can be seen in several non- social networking websites too – usually ones that allow users to provide status updates, add ‘friends’, comment willy-nilly and “like” certain things by giving them a digital thumbs up.

It almost seems that the online giant that Facebook has become could never be rivaled or surpassed by any other social networking site – no matter how enticing they appear; but there are still some that try.

MeetYourFriends dot com is one of the latest social networking websites to reach our screens and feels confident that it will “bury their rivals within days.” With a healthy initial investment and the aim of tapping into an apparent emerging market of 30 and 40-somethings, time will only tell if MeetYourFriends will succeed or fail.

MeetYourFriends

"MeetYourFriends.com is a back-to-basics social network that brings together new friends from across the globe. With simple sign-up and fast search, the website offers instant friendship using Direct Messages and Live Chat. Based on secure and powerful web technology, the social community brings the world to your front door for chat, fun, and friendship" - http://www.meetyourfriends.com

For those who wish to raise virtual cattle and throw sheep at their peers, MeetYourFriends will not satisfy. According to a popular MeetYourFriends press release published on Techcrunch, the site is a back-to-basics social networking site that will appeal to fans of The Beatles and sliced bread.

MeetYourFriends developer, Neil Bryant, explains that the service aims to target users who simply want to engage in casual chat. “We wanted to bring some fresh new ideas into the social networking sphere, and with a unique combination of email and live chat we think we may have just achieved that,” says Neil.

There have already been over a hundred comments from Internet users regarding MeetYourFriends – most of which were not favourable of the endeavour. There is a general feeling of “do we really need yet another social networking website that does the same things as Facebook?” as well as shared feelings that the entire venture is a scam.

One intrigued commenter tested the waters by signing up on MeetYourFriends only to find that he had to pay in order to chat to existing, high-profiled users. It was discovered that the ‘social networking’ service had a dating component to it whereby users had to pay if they wished to converse with the more exotic-looking users already on MeetYourFriends. He also found that many of the “models” on MeetYourFriends were Ukrainian and that he was unable to unsubscribe from the service.

A word of warning

Firstly, anything new in the social networking world needs to be different; different and easy to use. If legit, MeetYourFriends may win favour on the simplicity front, but I do not imagine it will become anything to write home or Facebook about.

It is also always important to consider the motives behind new social networking websites – especially ones that have invested so much into their creation. According the aforementioned press release, MeetYourFriends will not change its privacy policy or allow advertising once it’s settled on its laurels.

“We think Facebook is nervous, adds Neil. Global domination awaits.” Most will find that very hard to believe. As always, be cautious when handing over any personal information online; and if you dare enter, beware of being spammed by adware and spyware and the occasional Thai bride.

Some social networking humour: I leave you with the advert for Friend Face from that timeless episode of The IT crowd:

Related: The Future of Social Networking