Friday, August 6, 2010

Facebook

Facebook has become a self sustaining monster with world domination on its mind. It has found its way into just about every single person's life that I know. You can't even watch a commercial anymore without seeing a little F in the bottom of the screen at the end of the commercial. What boggles my mind is how it got so big and why? Right now, if Facebook were a country it would be the third largest country in the world behind China and India. With 500 million active users, Facebook is similar to a giant network with billions of pieces of data just floating around for the taking. The significance of that info is most advantageous to our great friends in the marketing and advertising departments of the world. With all that data about you, your friends, your interests etc. They can target specific advertisements to you using marketing algorithms that write themselves (scary shit). Maybe you too have noticed that on the right side of your home page, there are advertisements that seem to match your interests. That is an example of one of these marketing algorithms and they make money based on the amount of clicks they receive. But aside from the marketing portion of Facebook, let's talk about the users (ie, you and me). Facebook has made it possible to always be in communication no matter what the circumstances. If you have a Facebook and your friend in Eastern Siberia has a Facebook, you can always stay in contact with them via messaging them, writing on their wall, commenting on their status, liking their pictures, poking them, or Facebook chatting. This "always accessible" means of communication is both a good thing and a bad thing. It's great if you need to talk to someone or, someone needs to talk to you. It's bad when someone that you don't particularly like becomes your friend on Facebook because now they know what you're doing at all times and they know how to get in touch with you. This can make things extremely awkward in the real world when they write on your wall and you don't respond. But what Facebook truly diminishes in my eyes is the novelty of getting to know someone. I have met someone new that I had never met before and within ten minutes they sent me a friend request via Facebook for Iphone. It was creepy to say the least, and now I know that person as that creepy Facebook stalker instead of who they really might be. I hope to god I meet my future ex-wife in the real world before she's my friend on Facebook, so I can get to know who she really is instead of who she wants me to think she is. I brought in an old colleague whose never even heard of Facebook, Swamp Grass Petey...

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Myspace

Myspace was the jam back when I was 15 years old, but when I came to college, it suddenly and abruptly died. Back in my good ol' high school days Myspace was how people interacted online. If you came to school without commenting someone back, things could get ugly... But suddenly without any warning at all, Myspace wasn't "A place for friends," it became a place of shame. If you still had a Myspace, you were no longer part of the "in" crowd. It was a dark time for alot of people, but what came of it was something even greater...FACEBOOK. How, in the blink of an eye did something so incredibly new and innovative get stomped by the same exact thing (but different). It is an anomaly that will haunt me for many years, but let's try to figure it out. Myspace came out in 2003 and was a place where anyone at practically any age could to interact. Facebook came out in 2004 and its primary function was a means for college students to connect. When the shift began from Myspace to Facebook it was spring 2006, I had just found out I got in to FSU. At that point in my life I knew practically no one at FSU, but I needed to connect to them. I had my college email address (which was required for an account, back in those days) and I was ready. Once I made my Facebook account almost instantaneously, Myspace became a thing of the past. I no longer needed my Myspace to connect to people, everyone was shifting to Facebook; it was far more cosmopolitan compared to the childish Myspace. Now as a whole, Myspace has still maintained a fair share of users with over 65 million (accroding to Google Analytics) but compared to the 500 million on Facebook; it's safe to say they will probably never catch up. It is an interface that was overtaken by something newer and more innovative. I will miss my days on Myspace (especially my sweet profile song) but since I have joined Facebook...I can't say I ever looked back. See what my Guido cousin Vinny has to say....

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Second Life

Second Life could very well be the strangest thing I have ever heard of. Put simply, it is a website where you literally live a "Second Life." There's a good idea! The problems in my normal life aren't stressful enough, so I'm going to go online and live through an avatar! It's going to have its own persona and its own issues because it's a reflection of myself and it's going to be awesome! People are actually going to this virtual world and creating a "second life." Maybe your life is boring, but why would you resort to an online world that is basically a mirror image of the real world? I might be able to understand why people use this site if it was a fantasy game like World of Warcraft or Grand Theft Auto; but it's not, people are actually living a "second life." It gets even more ridiculous when you see how it intermixes with the real world. you can use real money, to buy fake land in Second Life, then sit on this land for a while until it becomes more valuable and you can sell this fake land and turn a real money profit. Maybe I'm too much of a realist, but I don't see any relationship between the value of fake not real land and real not fake money. It's one thing if all the shit on this site was fake including the money, because that is what creates the fantasy in participating in such a world. But intermixing shit from the real world into a fake world blows my mind. It takes the fantasy out of it and makes it too close to reality. Pretty soon users of Second Life are going to think that it's okay to do Second Life things in the real world (similar to a Grand Theft Auto scenario) which as we know would be very bad. I enjoy video games just as much as the next person, but when a video game begins to seem too real, like Second Life (in the sense that it's no longer fantastical ie: something I couldn't do in real life) then I want nothing to do with it. Maybe for some people Second Life has made them some real/fake friends, or maybe they finally met someone who can relate to their real/fake problems; but to me interaction on such a site is very weird. You're talking about real issues and real life things in a fake world. Here's an idea, go to a real coffee shop in a real world and have a real conversation with a real person! Then maybe you can have a real relationship instead of one with your computer! Here's a preview of a day in the life of a Second Life/real life person...

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Wikipedia

If you want information in this day and age, where would you go? If you're not ancient and technologically illiterate your answer should be...WIKIPEDIA. Wikipedia claims to have over 3,362,000 articles written in English. For an informational database, that is a pretty incredible number. But with a huge number like that and given that Wikipedia allows users to create, contribute and edit posts, how accurate is the information being disseminated? I'd like to think the information is pretty goddamn accurate, but then again I'm no expert on the subject. When looking at the articles on Wikipedia, I like to check the end notes first, if the sources seem viable (or scholarly) then I'm more likely to take the article seriously. If the sources are blog posts from an asshole like me, most likely that article is very biased and perhaps false. This is the whole issue with Wikipedia being taken seriously as a scholarly source, there is no authority that determines what is fact and what is not. I could go on there right now and make a post about myself claiming that at one point in my life I could fly and turn anything into gold. I could then cite a source that doesn't exist and voila, I would have created an article on Wikipedia that is false. I would never do such a thing because I am not a scumbag like that. It would be awesome if the people who posted on Wikipedia only used facts that were validated; but the truth is, there are people out there who are scumbags and will post false things just to post them. But with all this bad comes some good news, 90% of the edited pages on Wikipedia were done by the top 15% of most active editors on Wikipedia (according to Mikolaj Piskorski and Andreea Gorbatai). This is at least some indication that an "authority" exists on Wikipedia and that this "authority" is trying to make everything fact based. But when you have numbers of articles in the millions, it's unquestionable that some falsities will fall through the cracks. Hear what my Scottish Cousin Murdoch has to say...
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Monday, August 2, 2010

YouTube

YouTube has everything, and when I say everything, I MEAN EVERYTHING. YouTube is a website that allows its users to upload videos and share them with friends, and the rest of the world wide web. It is the third most visited website on the internet according to alexa.com behind Google and Facebook. Whether people are visiting YouTube for the vast number of "how to" videos, or just to watch my awesome channel, it has become a global phenomenon. It's affect on how we obtain information and entertainment will have a lasting impact on generations to come. YouTube's "how to" video's bring about a clear shift from a textual source of information to an audio visual source of information for users. What this tells us, is my generation "The Millennials" has changed the medium in which information is exchanged. Some might call it an improvement while other, more ignorant folk would call it a regression. By that last statement you can probably tell I think it's fantastic that I don't necessarily have to read shit anymore to learn how to do something. The same thing can be said for entertainment, YouTube has made almost any clip from any television show in history accessible for free. This could be the beginning of the end for Cable TV as we know it (a medium with little to no interactivity). YouTube offers the option to make comments on videos, user profiles, for the user's channel to have links embedded into videos, and very limited advertisements. The permanence of these television clips is unknown due to copyright infringement, but it hasn't stopped users from uploading millions of copyrighted clips daily. The original purpose of YouTube was as its slogan states, "Broadcast Yourself." With the ability for anyone in the world to film themselves and broadcast it to a gargantuan audience has created a new medium for the "stars" of this generation. I don't think I know anyone who does not know who the "Star Wars kid" is, or who the "Numa Numa guy" is. Had it not been for YouTube, no one would ever have known who those weirdos are. The point of all this nonsensical bullshit is YouTube has changed the media of information, the reach of such a media, and who can be exposed/exploited. Nowadays you don't need to move to Hollywood to get famous, you just need a camera and a YouTube account. I let my Uncle Ned weigh in on this...
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