How to Defend Your Privacy on the Web

Pressing something as simple as a “Like” button for most people is no big deal but, believe it or not, it’s something that I have intentionally never done in my life.  I’m extremely hesitant because I know that that click means so much more than just a click.  It’s what companies are paying millions of dollars for.  It’s this permanent marker for whatever company –and the government– to know something, even if it’s personal, about you and later store that information to possibly use against you, target market something, share that information with others that you don’t want to have access to (again, this includes government agencies, such as the DEA and IRS, who “regularly collect, store, and request information from companies like Facebook and Twitter”), and much more.

Simply put, violating your privacy = big bucks.

But, as many people think, why bother to protect your privacy when, at this point in time, “Privacy is dead, right?”  Because, no matter what you do, no matter where you go, you just can’t hide from the internet age where the government and companies like Facebook and Google know everything there is to know about you.  But, this is far from true.  There are several ways to protect yourself and one of your most important and effective tool is just being aware.  Be aware of what information you are giving out online, be aware of companies that ask for your address and more in exchange for something, be aware of what you “Like,” and just be alert as a whole.  Think twice before giving information out because once it is out, it’s likely bought, collected, and stored and you don’t have the right to change it.

I will briefly mention some ways to protect yourself, but to get a complete story of knowing how to take such measures, please visit this link:  http://lifehacker.com/5887140/everyones-trying-to-track-what-you-do-on-the-web-heres-how-to-stop-them

For chrome users, as lifehacker explains “there are tons of great add-ons and tools designed to help you uncover which sites transmit data to third parties without your knowledge, which third parties are talking about you, and which third parties are tracking your activity across sites.”  Below I’ll mention some of their suggestions, but to get the full details on how to use the following tools, just take pay a quick visit to their site.

-Install Adblock Plus

-Ghostery

-ScriptNo for Chrome

-Do Not Track Plus

For Firefox users, you can use very similar features as Chrome users.  They include:

-Adblock Plus

-Ghostery

-Do Not Track Plus

-NoScript

-Priv3

Again, to get the full details, please visit the the site that I provided.  Lifehacker also provides information on how to protect your privacy if you browse the web using Internet Explorer, Safari, and Opera.

Just always remember that your data is undoubtedly valuable.  There is a reason that it possesses financial worth, there is a reason that it is being tracked, there is a reason that companies want it.  As the adage goes, “If you’re not paying for a service, you’re the product.”

To learn more about why should care about and defend your privacy, please visit this site:  http://lifehacker.com/5904966/why-you-should-care-about-and-defend-your-privacy

Blogs in plain english

Recently, a friend of mine asked me why I was always blogging something this semester. I explained to her that for one it was fun and for another I am required to do so for this class. This led us into a discussion about the purpose of blogs and how they came to be so prevalent. Why are people who don’t blog so against blogs and those who do blog love them?

I think that the answer is about expectations. People, especially from an older generation, are used to getting their news from professionals, a reporter with a degree. In other words, they are looking for an authority to tell them the news, to bring it to them in the form of broadcasts and newspapers. This meant that the few informed the many. However, in today’s day and age in which technology is spreading rampant, people are becoming more & more reliant on themselves to generate and seek information. As a result, people opt to spread the news themselves or find others who are interested in the same thing.  For instance, one can capture an event, and using his smartphone, make it available within seconds on the web. He can then put on his reporter hat and comment on his own findings. The speed in which this transformation and transmission of information happens in unbelievable and is so much faster than any traditional source of media can provide. In fact, it is so fast now that we often even see the authority figures (CNN, Fox, etc.) relying on regular citizens to provide them with footage (how many times have you see on tv and event that was captured using a smartphone?).

I think this is a fundamental shift in the way people think about information. It has allowed people to take information into their own hands. In a lot of ways I think that blogging is so attractive to us because it is a very democratic way of expanding our knowledge base. In fact, it can be seen as both a literal and theoretical tool for us to imagine how we want America to be.

 

Internet Hall of Fame: Honors Raymond Tomlinson

After searching for something to write one of my last blogs on I came across something that was both new to me and something that struck me as an overall thought to this class entirely.

First, I did not know that there was an Internet Hall of Fame, but then again there is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, so why not. It includes people like Al Gore and the person who was the founder of Craigslist. Someone that was honored was Raymond Tomlinson, who was the benefactor of the “@” symbol. If you think about it how often do you really use the @ symbol? I must use it at least a dozen times a day if not more. With things like email and the internet it is inevitable for anyone who owns a computer to have to at some point use the @ symbol. In a Washington Post article, it clarifies that the @ symbol is more then just used to help send emails. It is something that can define where a person is geographically at on the internet. The @ symbol defines where you are actually at or sending something, it is not an activity but a location. Which gives a meaning to the internet itself. It is not simply this huge database of digital information but a location or place that you will go to. It can be creatively used in a way to send your mind and well being in a place or location that you might not be able to physically go or afford. You can go and find out information about things and places or how to do something. But you will be “@” that place doing it not just reading about it. It is no longer a state of mind about things but a place.

Using the @ symbol creates this sense of leaving the physical world and entering a digital world in a location that you will need something. The need that you are trying to fulfill can be at the users discretion. Whether it be entertainment and playing games or looking up the best vacation spots the internet can take you there. It wasn’t until this article explained the true definition of the @ symbol and where it came from until I thought about where it really means to be “on the web.” When people are sitting at a computer doing whatever it is that they are doing, from simply tasks to the most complex of tasks, it takes the frame of mind and being and puts you in a place, a location. It is symbols like this that people take for granted in their use and oversee what is was defined as. Now used as a short term for the word “at” it still pertains to the same roots for a person being “at” a location in the digital world.

This class has made me think in ways that I have never done before and will always stick with me about digital media. Whether it is a simple video about Walmart or an information podcast about human trafficking, the internet and creativity are something to not take lightly. The possibilities are endless just like its usability. With the internet growing bigger and bigger everyday, people start to take advantage of more and more things in their lives. 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/internet-hall-of-fame-honors-raymond-tomlinson-whose-at-symbol-defines-web-life/2012/04/24/gIQAk1NVfT_story.html

New definition of Anomie

An article in the Huffington Post about anomie and its new internet age definition gave an interesting insight to how things have started to drastically change in a heavily social media world. Back in the 1970s and earlier before there was any Facebook or Twitter, it was considered that a good friend was someone that you could trust with your very own secrets. Now a good friend could be anyone that starts to follow you on twitter and comments on your Tweets or a stranger half way across the globe who likes your status updates when you feel alone or like no one is out there listening.

Can you truly define these people as being friends? I think that is up to the person them self. But how does this relate to anomie? Anomie was a term used to feel disconnected and especially used in anomie suicides when people would feel so disconnected from society that they had no point or use in the world that they would just end it all. Before things were much clearly seen when some was being left out in society because they could show physical characteristics that someone could pick up on and then address. Now with the internet and digital age it is getting much harder to determine that. Anomie could result in the feeling of being disconnected from the digital world as a whole. If you are not up to date on your posts or on Twitter you could start to experience anomie because of not keeping consistent updates or checking on the newsfeed. There could also be an anomie of the definition of what it means to be a “friend.” When it used to be that people would have one or two really good friends and the rest were acquaintances, now it seems that it is very rare for someone to have only a few people that they would call a friend, but many more.

Some people will see people that they friend on Facebook or follow on Twitter their friend, but they lose sight of what it means to be a true friend to someone and share the same experiences and ideas. Thus they are starting to pull farther away from true friendship and start to get lost in a big pool of friends that may not really know that much about you.

Anomie is something that will have to be addressed and kept an eye on because I feel that with the way that the social media sites are going, it can get worse. Anomie will have to be re-defined in a way to explain that it may not only be disconnection from just a physical person but also from a society or culture all its own, even if its digital and online.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-a-weil/anomie-in-a-world-of-social-media_b_1449218.html?ref=technology

Netflix has seen better days

Netflix, one of the biggest online DVD rental companies, started to see a decline in their users as got their first quarter numbers. An article in the Huffington Post Tech website explains that because of their increase in subscription prices, Netflix could have started to get to cocky when it comes to their playing field. With Blockbuster getting out of their way as stores are closing and even now struggling with their own online DVD rental service, Netflix could be next.

A trend that I am starting to see with DVD rental services is that many people want to use it for an extended period of time and then they are over it and no longer want to have to ship DVDs back in the mail and have to worry about DVDs themselves. Which raises my question of are DVDs starting to go out of style just like VHS did? With so many gaming consoles now that have their own movie players installed on them or being able to stream videos through iTunes now to your own television it could be possible and in the near feature there could be a slow discontinuation of physical DVDs themselves. I don’t think it will happen in 5 years but in maybe 10 years, sure. It only took DVDs around a decade to get rid of VHS so soon it will be evident that something will come along to challenge it.

Many movies and tv shows are being downloaded now by iTunes or other sites to be uploaded on their Xbox or PS3. Making it less of a hassle to worry about a plan or amount to pay every month and also eliminating the hassle of having to put a DVD in the mail or have to remember to mail it back so you can get the next one on your list. If you have iTunes or the Apple TV console you can simply just watch one movie one night and watch another one the next night, but at your own expense. Yes it does technically cost more to pay $3.99 to rent a movie and pay for two when you could have a whole month for $14.99 at Netflix, but isn’t everything about what is much simpler no matter the cost now? I think so. Technology has grown on to some people regardless of how much more it is going to cost them, as long as it is going to be easier on their lives with less to worry about and less hassle.

Where is society going though if you can’t simply put a DVD in a sleeve and put it back in your mail box? Probably not in a good direction because that would mean we are getting even lazier then I have imagined.

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2012/04/is-netflix-doomed.html

The IMATS New York

I don’t know if any of you follow what goes on in the beauty world, but the annual International Makeup Artist Trade Show took place in New York a couple of weeks ago. I clearly wanted to go so bad, but tickets to the two-day event presaled at $40 dollars a day and my college student budget wasn’t really able to handle that. Well, to be honest, as much as I try to keep updated on the latest trends, my knowledge about the IMATS was very limited. I didn’t realize it until a week before the event, through a friend, and tickets had sold out by then. Upset at my lack of knowledge, I immediately wanted to find out more about what I was missing out on, and I was surprised at some of the information I had found actually.

The IMATS is actually a huge convention that takes place in 5 different cities every year. It’s very organized and features keynote speakers by big namers in the beauty world (including one by my favorite Kandee Johnson, which I’ll put up a clip of at the end), beauty classes at both pro level and amateur, exhibits of nearly everything beauty related, and of course a trade shop with all the big brand makeup priced at a discounted rate. http://www.imats.net/newyork/newyork_exhibitors.php It’s amazing to see how far the beauty world has come, and to realize that most of the beauty world was kicked off through various artists posting tutorials on YouTube.  I will be exploring more of how the beauty world came into being on my project blog whatbeautymeans.tumblr.com so feel free to check that if you’re interested!

Excerpts from Kandee Johnson’s speech: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qkJtVRSaWo

 

Outdating Television?

An article in Engaget described how many people now no longer watch their television on TVs themselves but on their tablets. I don’t know about you but I much prefer my 42 inch High Definition with surround sound TV.

According to the Viacom study, more people are watching their TV shows on a tablet then on their TVs. I personally do not understand this, but is this the direction that television is going in? One can only hope not. Things are getting smaller and smaller now a days and it is only a matter of time before things get so small you can barely see them anymore. I do not even like watching youtube clips on my iPhone because they are so small. I have a nice 27 inch computer screen that I can go home and watch it on. But now things are all about mobility. Being able to take things on the go with you. Being able to use things right then and there when you want to be able to see and use things. When television first was introduced they said that it was the end of the radio but then came satellite radio. Radio just had to adapt to the new times and come up with a new angle on how to keep and attract its personal value to the media consumer. I think that with tablets starting to get much more hype and popularity, television is going to have to do something fast before it loses all its ratings to those of people who want to watch Glee and House on their iPad later in the week when they feel like watching it and not when it is on TV the night the episode aires.

Okay, so I admit that I don’t exactly have time to watch things when they are on TV but that is why there is DVR, so I can go back when I have an extra hour to so to watch the shows that I love and watch them when I can. But I don’t want to watch them on an iPad. There is something about sitting on the couch with the remote in your hand and popcorn or snacks that jus makes the whole experience of watching TV, exactly that, watching TV. Its a gathering of people that you can not really do around a 10 inch screen and still get the same feel from.

The real question comes though, how many people would stop buying a television and just have an iPad? I dont think very many would. It just in the end hurts the ratings of many of the shows on television because now people are watching their favorite shows online now or on their iPad through iTunes. Maybe something will come out of 3D television and have viewers come back to their gathering place and away from their iPads. At least until they come out with iPad 3D.

http://www.engadget.com/2012/04/21/study-shows-more-people-watch-tv-on-tablets-than-computers/

Google’s 70/20/10 plan

Links: http://money.cnn.com/magazines/business2/business2_archive/2005/12/01/8364616/index.htm

http://allthingsd.com/20120412/google-can-still-find-time-for-self-driving-cars-and-it-doesnt-expect-you-to-understand-why/

We’ve had articles here about Google’s self drving cars and computerizied eyewear.  Here’s why those things exist.

Google follows a  70/20/10 model that manages innovation.  Employees are expected to:

 Spend 70 percent of your time on the core business, 20 percent on related projects, and 10 percent on unrelated new businesses.

That 10% is where all of the innovative ideas come from within Google.  These ideas are developed by employees and the strongest survive and are enhanced by their creators with funding from the company.  They have plenty of money to throw around but limited time.  I think this is pretty interesting and imaginative, and a good way to keep creativity and ideas flowing even in the professional world.  Each department focuses on different tasks for their 70% and 20%, depending on what they are experts in, but everyone (even founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin) is required to participate.

Google really focuses on creativity.  Googleplex has bean bag chairs for their employees to sit and brainstorm.  All of their surroundings encourage abstract thinking:

… murals and decorations expressing local personality; Googlers sharing cubes, yurts and “huddles”; video games, pool tables and pianos; cafes and “microkitchens” stocked with healthy food; and good old fashioned whiteboards for spur-of-the-moment brainstorming.

You can learn more about Google and their creative offices and events here.

How Google works:

Google strongly encourages creativity and expression from its employees and that’s reinforced by their 70/20/10 solution.  Sounds like a pretty cool place to work. 🙂

Consumer Anticipation of Products

Something that I have started to notice that a lot of companies are starting to do is that they are no longer just announcing what they are going to do next but they are going to hint or tease you at what is going to come next. Recently Samsung made an anagram site that could be translated to “the next Galaxy” and it included a countdown for around 17 hours. Thats it.

But what is it exactly saying, you don’t really know. But I think that it plays into this new advertisement trick that consumers are buying into and thats the trick of anticipation. What will come next? What does this message mean? What are they trying to tease you about? It becomes a game with consumer as they try and guess what is going to happen next. This is were the buzz starts to generate around what it could possibly be. It is smart because now the company is getting buzz about them and they have not even released anything yet, just a clock with a countdown.

It becomes more of a game when the company starts to continue things more and more just like a murder mystery puzzle. The countdown for this site is over but has only revealed a very vague teaser trailers. You don’t really get anymore information then you had before now more curiosity as to what is going to happen next.

Companies such as Apple and Android are doing the exact same thing and it is working on getting their word out about their product. There is nothing more a company wants then word of mouth of their product to get around. With word of mouth, it becomes free advertisement for them and thus making their advertising dollars even more value then before.

New Nook Sheds Some Light

I know that we have talked about the Nook and Kindle a couple times in class and I recently read an article on Engaget, one of my favorite technology blogs, that the Nook will be shipping out a Nook that has a built in back light in it. Because as you know the Nook and Kindles now, not the tablet ones, you have to be in light to be able to see them. But even in some dim light it is very dark and hard to read unless you are in a well lit area. I absolutely love my Kindle and wouldn’t give it up for the world, except I am an avid night reader. I tend to only read and night and when it is dark out so I usually will be reading in my bed. The lamp that I have in my room is on the other side of my bed and depending on how I am laying in bed it gets hard for me to see the pages as I am reading.

This new Nook that is being released will have a backlight display so that you can see it in the dark and read when there is not very good lighting. This is something that I think will make the Nook and hopefully soon to be Kindle virtually untouchable when it comes to dominating the paper book industry. The Nook now has a one-up when it comes to traditional books which is that you can now read them in the dark and it still looks like paper. It is not like the iPad or the tablets that both companies have with an LED backlit display but this is a natural lighting on the back of the screen that is just enough for you to read the book that you are reading.

Now I think it will only be a matter of time before the Kindle will be releasing their version of the e-reader. I thought this would go along really well with some of the discussions that we have had in class about them. But would this make some of you that were very unsure at first now buy them? Is the backlit display that much more of a deal breaker for you to go buy one? I think for some people that are on the fence about it, this just pushed them over the edge to the e-reader side. You can’t make a book glow in the dark and still make it readable. Lets see a publishing company try and do that.