Posts tagged ‘Internet’

August 27, 2011

White Whine of the Day

by Vince

July 10, 2011

A Web of One

by Vince

I finished last week Eli Pariser’s book The Internet Bubble. His above TED talk is captioned as follows:

As web companies strive to tailor their services (including news and search results) to our personal tastes, there’s a dangerous unintended consequence: We get trapped in a “filter bubble” and don’t get exposed to information that could challenge or broaden our worldview. Eli Pariser argues powerfully that this will ultimately prove to be bad for us and bad for democracy.

His TED talk essentially captures the main points found in his 250 page book. What he doesn’t cover in those 9 minutes of talking is some background on the engineers and technological goliaths currently taking the internet by storm. He delves into their dreams for the internet (Google hopes to one day not even have a search bar but have an algorithm so good that it knows what we want to search for) and how this new era of internet and social networking is guissed as transparently democratic but is mostly shadowed by ever changing privacy settings and our data (info we share, links we click on, et al.) sold to creepy third party entities.

Pariser’s caveat regarding personalization as contrary to creative, serendipitous living (as well as democracy) is half truth and half inflated out of fear. While our Facebook newsfeeds are taylored by algorithisms that direct us towards things we “may” be interested in (based on what we click on or search for), personalization is personalized for each of us. What I mean is this: if you use Yahoo news as a daily source for news or even Facebook (which believe it or not is rising rather quickly as a place where plethora of people find out the news), you most likely will receive some skewed results. However, if you are similar to me in that I find my news via blogs (all set up through Google Reader), my personalization will be different from yours. Seventy percent (give or take) of the blogs or news sources I check can be classified as left of center. That itself lends towards a personalized experience that differs from a daily intake of The Blaze, The New York Post, and Fox News. With blogs, I choose which to read based on what I like and the quality. These blogs I check do not (yet) personalize what they present to me and the rest of their viewers. You have no choice in that matter, according to Pariser, when you look for the day’s news on Google or Facebook.

One other note: I experimented with another computer (both logged in to our Google accounts) in Google searching the following terms: BP, Barack Obama, dogs, and horses. Each of our results had the same front page results as well as total number of results. This doesn’t conclusively refute Pariser’s argument that everyone has a different Google search experience but goes to show that this whole Brave New World-type internet bubble is not as scary as he may crack it up to be.

June 23, 2011

The Energy Expenditure of Internet Usage

by Vince

This is an interesting short video titled “How Green Is Your Internet?”


Hungry Beast‘s Dan Ilic explores the facts and figures behind the oft ignored energy expenditure of Internet usage.

May 26, 2011

YouTube’s Daily Traffic

by Vince

is off the charts:

We’re amazed that over this last weekend, you drove YouTube past the 3 billion views a day mark, a 50% increase over last year. That’s the equivalent of nearly half the world’s population watching a YouTube video each day, or every U.S. resident watching at least nine videos a day.

I visit YouTube a lot to listen to music and watch politically-related video clips. When I am at the library, at least half of the patrons are on YouTube watching videos. YouTube really has taken off.

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May 18, 2011

Visuals, Yay! of the Day

by Vince

Coming soon will be the speech from Barack Obama on American safety and the Internet.

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May 16, 2011

Algorithms Shaping Out Internet Experiences

by Vince

This is a pretty interesting video:

The Filter Bubble author Eli Pariser gives an illuminating TED talk on the dangers of online personalization algorithms that limit our worldview by attempting to predict our interests.

February 15, 2011

Internet Freedom

by Vince

Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton gave a speech today on Internet rights at George Washington University. Read the full (and long) speech here. Here is a good paragraph:

When countries curtail internet freedom, they place limits on their economic future. Their young people don’t have full access to the conversations and debates happening in the world or exposure to the kind of free inquiry that spurs people to question old ways of doing and invent new ones. And barring criticism of officials makes governments more susceptible to corruption, which create economic distortions with long-term effects. Freedom of thought and the level playing field made possible by the rule of law are part of what fuels innovation economies.

She meant the above when the following happens:

In China, the government censors content and redirects search requests to error pages. In Burma, independent news sites have been taken down with distributed denial of service attacks. In Cuba, the government is trying to create a national intranet, while not allowing their citizens to access the global internet. In Vietnam, bloggers who criticize the government are arrested and abused. In Iran, the authorities block opposition and media websites, target social media, and steal identifying information about their own people in order to hunt them down.

January 19, 2011

Charts on Media and the World

by Vince

First, on media usage trends – done by Pew.

Second, demographic changes from 2000 to 2010:

Click on the images or their website to enlarge the charts.

September 23, 2010

Facebook and the Internet: Circa 100+ years ago

by Vince

This was one of the best chain e-mails I have ever received.

September 19, 2010

Religious Search Engines

by Vince

Here are three for three different religions. NPR reports:

Some Jews, Muslims and Christians are abandoning Yahoo and Google and turning to search engines with results that meet their religious standards.

Shea Houdmann runs SeekFind, a Colorado Springs-based Christian search engine that only returns results from websites that are consistent with the Bible. He says SeekFind is designed “to promote what we believe to be biblical truth” and excludes sites that don’t meet that standard.

Houdmann says a search on his site would not turn up pornography. If you search “gay marriage,” you would get results that argue against gay marriage. And if you type in “Democratic Party,” your first search result is a site on Marxism.

This sounds good, in some ways, for kids. But unless you want to be a fundamentalist, I wouldn’t suggest the Christian one.

August 1, 2010

Internet Addiction

by Vince

Greg Beato describes the new age diagnosis: addiction to digital items such as the internet and iPhones:

Last summer Ben Alexander, a 19-year-old college student obsessed with the online multiplayer game World of Warcraft, was profiled by CBS News, NPR, the Associated Press, and countless other media outlets because of his status as client No. 1 at reSTART, the first residential treatment center in America for individuals trying to get themselves clean from Azeroth, iPhones, and all the other digital narcotics of our age.

On a pound-for-pound basis, the average World of Warcraft junkie undoubtedly represents a much less destructive social force than the average meth head. But it’s not extreme anecdotes that make the specter of Internet addiction so threatening; it’s the fact that Internet overuse has the potential to scale in a way that few other addictions do. Even if Steve Jobs designed a really cool-looking syringe and started distributing free heroin on street corners, not everyone would try it. But who among us doesn’t already check his email more often than necessary? As the Internet weaves itself more and more tightly into our lives, only the Amish are completely safe.

July 7, 2010

Focus on this post ONLY!

by Vince

Robert Wright tells of the mind “chipping away” due to the Internet:

For your own sake, focus on this column. Don’t think about your Facebook feed or your inbox. Don’t click on the ad above or the links to the right. Don’t even click on links within the column.

Failing to focus — succumbing to digital distraction — can make you lose your mind, fears Nicholas Carr, author of the much-discussed book “The Shallows.” At least, it can make you lose little parts of your mind. The Internet, Carr suspects, “is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation.”

He’s not alone in his fears. Since his book came out there have been lots of ruminations — including one or two or three in The Times alone — on whether online technology is friend or foe, good for our brains or bad.

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June 27, 2010

Pakistan censors Islamic blasphemy

by Vince

The Pakistani (and Turkey) government is deciding how strictly it wants to follow the sharia law in its latest proposal to censor results coming from Google, Youtube, Yahoo, and others:

“Pakistan Telecommunication Authority spokesman Khurram Mehran said an example of one of the 17 sites being blocked include, created through Google’s Blogger service. That site features postings with headlines such as “Islam: The Ultimate Hypocrisy” and links to anti-Islam online petitions.

A top court had ordered the ban on Facebook for about two weeks in May amid anger over a page that encouraged users to post images of the Prophet Muhammad. Many Muslims regard depictions of the prophet, even favorable ones, as blasphemous. YouTube also was briefly blocked at the time.

I would need further reading to look at both sides of this, but Google is closely monitoring this so in case it needs to act in similar ways to the China case.

How much do anti-religious websites turn away people from a given religion and does banning all such websites that seem threatening to its dominion work to solidify believers? Moreover, are these questions I am rattling off the most important questions to be asked?

June 11, 2010

Tehran and USA usage of Internet

by Vince

Patrick Appel puts together a nice piece on the census of Internet usage, comparing contemporary America a bit to Tehran, Iran:

The greatest divide between denizens of digital and physical worlds is generational: according to Pew, 93 percent of 18-to-32-year-olds use the Internet, while only 38 percent of 65+ Americans are online. Beyond age, the Internet population is richer, better educated, and whiter than the general population. When you look at the most influential, active, or politically engaged Internet users, these discrepancies are even more stark. These skews suggest that issues and political opinions favored by the young, rich, educated, and white get more traction online than elsewhere.

The young are more libertarian, pro-marijuana, and less religious than the American population generally. Millennials (pdf) are gay-friendly, racially tolerant, technologically savvy, welcoming of immigrants, open to government intervention, less hawkish, more accepting of non-traditional families, less inclined to marry early, and more optimistic about the state of the state of the nation. Thus, the consensus view among American Internet users may differ substantially from the result at the ballot box.

And for Tehran, see the above pie chart and below:

A few weeks after the protests broke out Sysomos found that 93 percent of Twitter users were located in Tehran, the center of the protests and one of Iranian opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi’s strongest bases of support.

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