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With the release of Windows 8 and Internet Explorer 10, Yahoo and Microsoft have recently found themselves butting heads over a critical issue of the Internet: privacy.  In a recent article published on the GMA News Network it is outlined that Yahoo firmly stands against the automatic enabling of “do not track” (DNT) software, which stops websites from observing where you go on the Internet and using the data to tailor advertisements on websites toward a specific group of people.  Companies such as Apache who compile this information claim it to be completely anonymous yet many people remain skeptical about just how much of their information they are privy to and dislike the idea that they are being watched at all.  After all, advertising for a general audience has worked for years, why change it to require user information?

After the initial outcry, Yahoo returned with several statements claiming…

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Put Your Damn Phone Away and Enjoy the Show

In this day and age there’s no escaping technology, it follows us everywhere we go and is an enormous part of what we do on a day to day basis. The extent to which we use our technology is more invasive and infiltrating than one might think, as we don’t often realize that we’re using our phones and other devices when we should really be putting them away and enjoying the moment. Technology robs us of the ability to live in the moment, to enjoy what’s going on around you as it’s happening and to take it in as memory in your head instead of on a hard drive. 

The way we think about going out to any sort of event has changed since the infusion of mobile devices and social networking into our every day lives. We can’t just enjoy the night any more, we have to fully document it so we can enjoy it later. To start of the whole process, instead of just leaving the house and getting on with one’s life you run to Facebook and make sure that you post about what you;re about to go do, tag all our friends that are attending with you and the exact location where all this will be taking place. You know, because it won’t be any fun if know one knows about it, right? 

Next, we get out and go to the event, say a concert in this case. Once we’re there pictures have to be taken before, during, and after the performance so that we can look at how we felt afterwards and relive the memories. During the show you live-tweet whenever the next song starts, sharing your opinion of the performance with the general public. Not to mention that during your favorite song you have to pull out your iPhone and make sure to take video of it, making sure that you don’t move the camera in the wrong direction so you can’t see the singer. When all is said and done, you head home and post on Facebook again about how great the night was and retag all your friends so they can remember to. 

Looking back on the night you might have the pictures and the status updates, but where are the memories? All the time spent trying to capture that moment could have been spent living in it, not worrying about documenting it so that everyone can see. Personally, I think there’s a lot more value in being able to actually remember those moments than being able to look at pictures and video of them. there’s nothing quite like being there, living in the moment and taking in all the energy and emotion of an event. that memory of when your favorite band starts to play the first notes of your favorite song causes chills to go down your spine and the hair on the back of your neck to stand up . It’s almost like reliving it all, knowing that you were there in person soaking it all up. Looking back at video that you shot is no different than looking at video one of your friends or a total stranger shot on youtube. It’s just not the same, the emotional attachment just isn’t as glorious or breathtaking anymore. Technology robs us of those feelings so for your own sake, put your damn phone away. 

(P.S. I’m currently headed off to see Public Image Ltd. at the Marquee. Guess who’s phone will be safely in his pocket?)

The Political Impact of Online Commenting

Flame: “to insult someone electronically, or otherwise…” –Urbandictionary.com

As Leets’ 2001 article on hate sites discusses, the Internet is an unprecedented mode of communication. It has the potential to give a platform of communication to those traditionally denied one, to disseminate information and opinions immediately to thousands of people, and to provide endless forums for any opinions about any subjects to be heard.

Problems:

However, this promising discursive arena comes with several challenges, including issues of free speech. As our most recent reading explains, the Internet’s recent political involvement, especially in elections, has both benefits and challenges. One challenge is that user-driven content means campaigns have less control over candidates’ image and message. Although Gueorguieva’s article discusses specifically the problems that can arise when users create social networking profiles or video content on behalf of candidates, comments sections, especially on comment-driven websites like YouTube and news/blog websites, may also distort candidates’ images and political messages. Jesse Singal’s article, “Most Comments are Horrible—Sites Look for Ways to Make Them Better,” discusses the unfortunate prevalence of vitriolic comments online (i.e., flaming, defined above), and notes their presence on news websites like the Huffington Post.

Solutions: 

Singal suggests several methods websites can use to keep inappropriate comments under control. Although the Internet is hailed as a forum of free speech, comments are still subject to moderation policies by website owners, and so Singal proposes comment moderation as a costly, but effective, method. He notes that some major news providers, like NPR and The New York Times, already engage in comment moderation. Singal also suggests eliminating comments completely, and using a private form of communication like email in its place, or using a “tl;dr” (too long; didn’t read) comment structure like that on Reddit to allow users easy access to substantive comments even in the midst of dozens of inappropriate ones.

In considering whether or not online commenting, especially on YouTube and news websites, should be moderated at the cost of free speech and with the potential risk of moderator bias in what content is displayed, it may be useful to ask the question, “Can online commenting serve as a substantial source of misinformation, slander, or distorted political messages?”

If so, is moderation the appropriate response? And should campaigns have some say in whether or not clearly slanderous and false comments about candidates are displayed?

*It’s interesting to note that on YouTube, most Obama-related videos contain strictly supportive comments, whereas most Romney-related videos contain very mixed (esp., negative), and often inappropriate comments. This may be due to the fact that most of the Obama-related videos were posted by the official Obama page (and are therefore probably censored), whereas Romney seems to lack an official presence on YouTube. This puts Romney at a clear disadvantage on YouTube, a perhaps significant news source for people who do not take the time to follow campaigns, but still cast votes based upon a few video clips and hearsay.

Are you an Internet-aholic?

Americans are addicted.  We are addicted to all kinds of things.  Some to eating, some to drinking, drugs, shopping, technology… the list of addictive behaviors goes on and on.  We are in denial, and turn to these things as a way to mask too many difficult and unpleasant events in our lives.  When we’re stressed, we may eat to mask the stress and make ourselves feel better temporarily, but the effects don’t last, so we keep eating, but all we’re really done is make ourselves fatter, adding a new stress to our lives of being fat, and become addicted to eating.  We may turn to drinking or drugs as a way to lift the weight of the world away for a while, but these too, are temporary escapes that almost always turn into addictions; this addiction will eventually cause permanent organ damage or even death of the addicted of an innocent bystander.  Oddly enough, many people are turning to the internet for the same sort of relief.

With social media technologies, many people create personas that bear no resemblance to their true identities and struggles as a way to escape the woes of reality.  They spend hours and hours wasting away on online games, social media, and other internet offerings.  Depression, loneliness, stress, boredom, and anxiety can be washed away through imaginary online gaming spaces and chat features, which take the place of actual face-to-face conversations.  For some, the internet can produce feelings of euphoria.   In fact, the excessive use of the internet, online gaming, and social media has become a serious problem, and psychologists have now classified Internet addiction as the newest mental health disorder.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, a person who suffers from an internet addiction, or Internet Use Disorder, will experience many common symptoms associated with other addictive behaviors. The American Psychiatric Association’s list of symptoms of Internet Use Disorder include, but are not limited to a an preoccupation with internet use and/or internet gaming, symptoms of withdrawal if removed from the internet, the need to spend increasingly more time on the internet, loss of previous interests and hobbies, a significant relationship, educational or career opportunity, or a job due to excessive Internet and/or internet gaming use, deception of family, or other significant people in their life about internet use, and trading time for sleep and/or interaction with family and friends to be online, and the use of the internet as an escape or to achieve a euphoric mood.

So, Internet Use Disorder is now joining the family of other addictions and psychological disorders. What do you think? Is Internet Use Disorder actually a addiction or psychological disorder? And more importantly, are you an internet-aholic?  Take this quiz, and find out!

New Tech, Ungrateful Kids

Every holiday season, there’s a list of “must haves” for kids and teens. In recent years, computers, phones, and cars top that list, with the Apple brand in particular acting almost like a status symbol according to a blog by Tim Traux. With the new Microsoft Surface Tablet coming out (and the new Windows 8 OS to boot), society keeps gaining more toys to become even more technologically advanced. However, are we really becoming “technologically advanced?” Or, should I say, are we becoming more “technologically spoiled?”

Technology is everywhere and most of us wouldn’t be able to survive without it. We have become overdependent on things such as the internet that we usually take it for granted. Instead of being grateful for what they have, people start becoming picky and have preferences as to which tech to have. In general, when people don’t get what they want, they start acting up. Last year’s article on gizmodo makes this apparent as it reveals the dissatisfaction of teens with their parents for not getting them the latest tech.

It appears people yearn to be part of what’s popular and what they see their peers are into. Staying connected with “what’s hot” has become so prevalent in today’s society that it takes up a great deal of our free time and builds anxiety as pointed out by ktkalina in the case of social networking. It makes me wonder why people want to be part of the “in-crowd” so badly. Why do we feel the need to be accepted in society by people who we could care less about? So much so that we begin losing sight of the people who do care about us and all the effort and hard work they do for us. Why do we so badly seek that “human connection” as proposed by ljudetinnan?

The theme of following popularity trends just happens be in this week’s reading where Boyd talks about the myspace/facebook divide. To stay connected with their family and friends, a large majority of people switched over from myspace to facebook. Boyd brings up an interesting idea to this transition: teenagers relate certain features with certain racial, ethnic, and socio-economic groups. Facebook is seen as more mature and college-orientated whereas myspace is more expressive for inspiring artists. Since certain people tend to use one more than the other, stereotypes begin to arise. To identify and be associated with a particular group of people, people use the technology in which they find suitable. Could this be the reason why we are so picky with our technology? Does what we use really tie in with our identity? Instead of wanting to use the latest tech, are we innately afraid of being classified with the certain group of people who doesn’t use it?

I honestly don’t know and I feel people (including myself) think too much about it. As Bowling for Soup puts it, “High School Never Ends”…

Light Skin vs. Dark Skin

When you see the title “Light Skin vs. Dark Skin”, you may have assumed that this was about White people vs. Black people. Well it’s not. What if I told you it was about Black people vs. Black people? What if i told you it was about an online war between Black people?

When the issue of online racism was introduced in class, I was very quick to argue that it did not exist. Racism, however, takes a number of different forms that I failed to acknowledge. One of these forms is called “colorism”. Colorism is the idea that people are not only racist against other races, but against different pigmentations within their own race as well. For example, in 2011, a Twitter war sparked between “light-skin” and “dark-skin” Black people. Roots trace this disagreement back to the days of slavery when the dark skin slaves were supposedly given harder labor; but this disagreement has recently gone viral as a result of the rapid changes in web technology.

Twitter hashtags, such as #TeamDarkSkin and #TeamLightSkin, have provided online spaces for these “teams” to congregate and bash each other. Their arguments tend to focus on the stereotypes that surround the two different pigmentations. While dark-skin supposedly suggests ugly girls, unfaithful men, and “ghetto”; light skin supposedly suggests better hair, better looking, and overall more appealing.

Here are some examples of tweets found from the dark-skin vs. light-skin “war”:

1.) The lightskin vs. darkskin hate goes way back to slavery times when the lightskins was in the house and darkskins was outside in the field.

2.) Light skin girls >>>>>

3.)dark skin girls are the prettiest to me. their skin is always poppin & they have this glow about them.

4.) dark skin boys >>>> Light skin boys *shrugs*

5.) Dark Skin hoes only good for directions & lighting cigarettes

6.) “@steezyshatto: Dark skin girls shoplift hair at least 5 times a weak. Broke bald headed bitches ” lol

7.) Honestly To Me Dark Skin Girls Are More Beautiful Than Light Skin Girls. ♥

8.) IF YOU LIGHT SKIN YOU A HOMEWRECKER ITS PROVEN . RIHANNA , ALICA KEYS

Celebrities, such as Beyonce, have even played into this #TeamDarkSkin vs. #TeamLightSkin in a more indirect way. The stereotype is that light-skinned black girls are more beautiful because they more closely resemble the European standard of beauty. In fact, studies have shown that people with light skin are placed on a social scale just below white people and significantly ahead of people with dark skin. So why wouldn’t all girls want to represent the more socially acceptable idea of beauty? That’s just what Beyonce did. In 2008, Beyonce was in a L’Oreal ad that depicted her with much lighter skin and lighter hair than normal. The photo seems to be digitally edited, but Beyonce denies it. Here is the evidence:

What do you think? Should technology be used to digitally enhance women? Should black women feel the need to lighten their skin to be more beautiful? Has this light-skin vs. dark-skin war gotten out of control? Should Twitter have some sort of control over this war?

Are There Cyborgs Among Us?

In a recent article “The Underground World of Human Cyborgs,” a new group called biohackers are an underground operation away from medical regulation. These people use rare earth metals and implant them into their bodies with scalpels in tattoo parlors instead of hospitals, and without anesthesia. Once implanted, the biohackers can sense electromagnetic fields, giving them a “6th sense” to feel the world around them.

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One of the biohackers suggests that this will be the new wave of technology for humans that will soon be the norm. I partially agree with him because there is definitely a market for people who want to “push the limits” and crave that “6th sense” experience. He also makes another statement about the use this technology has for disabled people (such as the blind) and also firefighters which could potentially save people’s lives.

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These newer trends are significant if we consider the current relationship between handicapped people and the technology accessible to them. The possibility that it could save a person from danger seems to make me more accepting to it. i think that ultimately this would be a personal choice to “enhance” your body, but what if these technologies allowed people to cheat in life? Would these people be allowed on airplanes?

Some questions to consider:

1. Would you personally use some kind of enhancement like the ones discussed in the article?

2. Would you be okay with others using such enhancements?

3. Can you think of any ways this could be dangerous?