Archive for category COM 125

Blog Entry 12: Conclusion

It’s been an interesting but exhausting semester, and I’ve come to the end of my blog entries. If there are indeed any followers or readers, I thank you for your support and hope that you’ve enjoyed reading my insights and opinions on various internet-related issues.

Overall, here are what I covered and some comments on how I feel about them now, at the end of the module:

  1. Web Browsers – Google Chrome: I still use Chrome, and I must say that it really is the best browser on the market at the moment. I do not, however, like the constant call for greater synchronicity, and am unlikely to ever sign into the browser with my Google account.
  2. Social Media – IM, VoIP, Video Chatting Services: Mainly because I don’t brush my hair unless I absolutely have to, I don’t really have a habit of using video chatting services like Tinychat. I do, however, appreciate VoIP programs, which allow me to hold extended conversations with people both inside and outside the country, without breaking the bank.
  3. Social Networking – Facebook Addiction: Facebook is not a necessity to me. I could remain perfectly contented not logging into my account for weeks on end, and my friends can attest to that.
  4. e-Business: I think online businesses are great ways to establish your name and build a customer base before expanding into a brick-and-mortar storefront.
  5. e-Learning: Now that it’s part of our academic reality, e-learning is much less an enjoyment and more a method of improving efficiency.
  6. Internet Tools: All I have to say about this is that I have way more fun than I should with Windows Movie Maker.
  7. Internet Security & Malware: Still hate malware to the core, and still greatly appreciate the daily hard work of my antivirus program.
  8. Multimedia on the Internet: I believe that hypermedia will enjoy an increased use in the classroom in time to come.
  9. Politics & the Internet: Politics has certainly experienced a facelift thanks to the convergence with the internet, but the impact within Singapore is still not as widespread as it is in other more liberal countries.
  10. Journalism & the Internet: Citizen journalism is neither all bad nor all good, and it really depends on how people use this new power to share their thoughts and feelings.
  11. Future of the Internet: The best – or worst – is yet to come.

So yes, that’s about it. Goodbye!

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Blog Entry 11: The Future of the Internet

The internet has certainly come a long way since its inception. No longer is it limited to military or corporate use, with most people in today’s industrialized countries owning at least one, if not several, electronic devices capable of connecting to the World Wide Web.

Many services and knowledge bases that just ten years ago we could never imagine obtainable from the internet are now ubiquitous. And with the advent and subsequent prevalence of social media, privacy has taken on a whole new definition. Instead of keeping our own secrets, we now expect the social networking sites to keep them for us. We get angry when personal information we shouldn’t really be sharing in the first place becomes leaked to strangers. (Of course, I’m not condoning the constant changes in Facebook’s privacy settings – I find that a gross invasion. I’m just saying that we should also take responsibility for what we say and do on SNSs, making sure that we don’t share anything we don’t want outsiders to become privy to.)

The main trend that bears watching pertaining to the future of the internet is Web 3.0, also known as the semantic web. In this version of the internet, the computer, rather than humans, is generating new information, and users will thus be able to sit back and let the machine do everything for them. While this may sound appealing to some, I cannot help but be reminded of the scenario portrayed in the movie I Robot. Set in 2035, anthropomorphic robots used widely as servants for various public services are controlled by V.I.K.I., a supercomputer whose artificial intelligence eventually grows to the extent that it gains independent consciousness. V.I.K.I comes to believe that humans are incompetent of taking care of themselves, and should be protected at all costs, even if said protection involves killing some of the people.

Thereupon arises a question – will Web 3.0 follow in the footsteps of V.I.K.I? Is such a situation really a distinct possibility in the near future?

I guess one can only wait and see.

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Blog Entry 10: Journalism & the Internet

The convergence of journalism and internet has led to interesting developments in the writing world. No longer does one have to hold an appointment in a prominent newspaper or magazine to broadcast his or her views and opinions – with the right platform and a reasonable amount of followers and subscribers, citizen journalists can make an impact comparable to that of a professional journalist.

Perhaps that’s why media elites have been expressing worries regarding changes in their industry. According to a poll conducted by The Atlantic and National Journal, 65% of media insiders feel that journalism has been hurt more than helped by the rise of news consumption on the internet.

Truth is, I can’t help but feel that the rise of the internet as a journalistic arena has somewhat marred the sanctity of writing. Quality takes a backseat to quantity as some non-professionals proclaim themselves writers based on stuff they posted on sometimes unregulated blogs and forums. And while there are, of course, many brilliant amateur writers all over the internet, for every amazingly articulate citizen journalist are more of what many unflatteringly label as “keyboard warriors”.

The desensitization of people as contributed to by the merging of journalism and the internet is another issue that causes me discomfort. About a week ago, I was on the bus with a friend, going back to school after having lunch. Along the way, we encountered a traffic jam revealed to be caused by a traffic accident – the driver of an ambulance had somehow lost control of his or her vehicle, crashing it right into the road divider. Now before the scene even came into view, the woman sitting in front of me had already whipped out her iPhone in gleeful preparation. She then proceeded to take quite a few pictures from various angles as we passed the ambulance. Her satisfied smile as she settled down to upload those onto Twitter (wasn’t peeking, just that the angle was right) really disturbed me.

Of course, effects related to the conjoining of internet and journalism are not limited to negative ones; positive impacts are also abound. Some such impacts include the ability of citizen journalism to help local newspapers endure by making the latter more interactive, thereby increasing the connection between readers and the publication, as well as the capability of citizen journalism in broadening the type of events covered by the media, since traditional reporters are not omniscient.

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Blog Entry 9: Politics and the Internet

In recent years, politics have become a pertinent part of the Internet, as politicians take to garnering support over various social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and individuals become accustomed to sharing their oftentimes very strong political inclinations on blogs and in forums. So much of a trend has this become that even politically-conservative Singapore is not spared – the 2011 General Elections and the outpouring of support for the opposition parties and expression of disgruntlement with the incumbent government painted a very sobering picture.

A particularly interesting (and worrying) trend pertaining to the interweaving of politics and the Internet is the concept of the “splinternet”. Also referred to as cyberbalkanization, the splinternet is a characterization of the Internet as splintering and dividing due to numerous aspects, including politics and nationalism. Pertaining to these two aspects, it was discovered that many countries engaged in politically-motivated filtering of information. This selective provision of information – and therefore implied valuing of one source or type of information over another by the government – will invariably change the way affected people perceive the world. People will come to adopt a biased position on pertinent issues, or, in some extreme cases, not even be aware of the existence of these situations.

Other issues include the emergence of tribal mentality alongside the rise of the global village in the digital age – rather than a collective or mass consciousness, what results are various specialized electronic tribes contentious over diverse beliefs and values regarding a wide array of issues, in this case regarding politics.

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Blog Entry 8: Multimedia on the Internet

You have to admit, that multimedia is what makes the Internet so entertaining. Without all the prosumer videos, animations, music and podcasts, as well as all the flash games and virtual worlds, the Web wouldn’t be half as enjoyable. And it’s not just about entertainment and enjoyment, but also educating ourselves – multimedia have become a very powerful form of learning.

One of the most interesting trends pertaining to this facet of the Internet would be the rise of hypermedia. Used as a logical extension of the term hypertext, hypermedia is the phenomenon where graphics, audio, video, plain text and hyperlinks entwine to create a generally non-linear medium of information.

The first hypermedia system was developed at MIT by a team working with Andrew Lippman in 1978, using ARPA funding. Known as the “Aspen Movie Map”, it enabled the user to take a virtual tour through the city of Aspen Colorado. I imagine that must have been immensely enjoyable for users when it was first introduced – I do remember how excited I was as a child of 8 years when my primary school’s official website finally got with the times, dropped the text, and created a similar hypermedia function. It didn’t matter that the virtual tour lasted all of one minute, or that we were in school and could easily see much more of the campus by walking around – the insinuated advancement in technology was what threw us into a tizzy.

Speaking of education, hypermedia has been linked to learning, so much so that several theories have been developed. One significant claim pertaining to hypermedia learning is that it provides the reader or student with more control over the instructional environment, and another is that it levels the playing field among students with differing abilities, thereby enhancing collaborative learning. Psychologically-speaking, hypermedia is also said to resemble the structure of the brain more closely than simply printed text.

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Blog Entry 7: Internet Security & Malware

I’ll admit; I’m a big fan of the World Wide Web, specifically the Internet of today. These days, it’s become so easy to find information that, just half a decade ago, would have been worth quite a sum of money. (Or my big toe.) Not to mention that communication with far flung regions have been made so convenient, contributing to the metropolitanization of Internet users

Sure, there are a few annoyances here and there, but I can usually deal with it. Well, most of it anyway. Because if there’s one thing that I really hate about the internet, it’s malware.

Short for “malicious software”, malware, according to Wikipedia, is software used or created to disrupt computer operation, gather sensitive information, or gain access to private computer systems. It includes computer viruses, worms, trojan horses, spyware, adware and other malicious programs, and has led to the increased use of protective software types like firewalls, antivirus and anti-malware.

According to Apartment Therapy, there are 7 ways to avoid malware, namely:

  1. Developing Good Web-Browsing Habits: Avoid clicking on links you don’t trust, don’t install software unless you’ve specifically requested for it, close a pop-up using keyboard shortcuts (Alt+F4 for PC) instead of clicking it
  2. Watching Out for Emails: Never click on spam, pay attention to even emails from trusted sources, watch out for irregularity from regular contacts
  3. Being Careful of What You’re Installing: Note what you’re clicking “Yes”, “Ok” or “Next” for, ensure no additional software is added to your computer
  4. Keeping Your Software Updated: Official updates for browsers and operating systems will often fix security loopholes or bugs in earlier versions
  5. Use a Legitimate Antivirus Software: Ensure that the antivirus is from a trusted source, keep it turned on and updated, and schedule regular scans
  6. Set Up a Firewall: Depending on the setting, firewalls will note all attempts to access your computer and make you aware
  7. Don’t Share Files: Such as illegally downloaded music and videos. This includes files from flash drives, which may not necessarily be safe

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Blog Entry 6: Internet Tools

This week, I have something a little bit more special for my blog. Rather than simply uploading a textual post on internet tools, we were requested to put these tools to practical use, and create a video with the default film-making software loaded in our computers. After, we had to upload said video to video sharing websites like YouTube, Dailymotion or Vimeo.

Being a YouTube junkie, it was an obvious decision for me. So now, let me present a video I made with Windows Movie Maker*.

*I feel I simply must clarify that it’s WMM, not Windows Live Movie Maker, because honestly, “newer” doesn’t always equate to “better”.

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