Thursday, December 27, 2012

How Young is Too Young?

  I apologize for the hiatus over the holidays but even I must take vacations, some would argue too frequently. But that is a discussion for another time, and perhaps on another medium. For now we must tackle the here and now. How young is too young?
Photograph: Alamy
   Here I sit, mid afternoon on a delightfully slushy Thursday in a New England Dunkin' Donuts. All around I hear the laughter of children with their parents, both avoiding their normal obligations of school and work. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I see a gaggle of 8 year-olds putzing around on all sorts of media devices. Iphones, Itouches, Ipads, Ipad Minis, Galaxy S IIIs, Google Nexuses, Kindle Fires, and more were being tapped, yelled at, and shouted over by all of these kids.
DryBones
  Now I consider myself young, and I didn't even acquire a smartphone until this Christmas (yes it was a gift, thank you Mom and Dad). But the point is that I didn't yearn for one until the need was there. I will be taking a position in a week that will require me to be much more connected and available through all mediums constantly. My last cell phone, the Samsung Freeform II, was not able to efficiently receive and send out data through the internet.
  So how young is too young to be using a media device of the ages. Well that is a complicated question. My 9 year old cousin received an Ipad Mini for Christmas, and the house has never been quieter with her in it. She played her games all day long and everyone was finally able to relax. However, when we sat down to eat, she was told to put it away.
Yonhap News




  Do children need these devices? No, they absolutely do not. But then again I didn't need a Gameboy Color, or an N64, but I was ecstatic when I got them, not to mention my parents must have loved the silence even though three growing kids lived in the house. I'm sure the last generation was just as excited to unwrap Atari 2600s and Commodore 64s.
  So the question, it seems, is not "how young," but "when." What guidelines do we give ourselves, our children, and fellow parents for these devices? Please leave your comments below and I will compile them as tips and tricks.  Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 10, 2012

What Could Be Next?

   The internet has come a long way since it's origination as a network for universities to share research and academia enthusiasts to play chess across the nation. Web 1.0 saw basic webpages which contained mostly shoveled content and had limited interaction with visitors. There were plenty of content consumers and very few producers.
Thanks to: Michael Moreyne
  Web 2.0 was able to supply all of those consumers with their own voice. Through the use of blogs and forums individuals could spout their brilliant ideas and communicate with other users. Then the explosion of social media hit and created a whole new web-culture. Everything from 4chan to Twitter saw a massive increase in use and helped propel us into a new world.
  Almost simultaneously smartphones and tablet computers ushered in the era of Web 3.0, the Evernet. It describes the current state of the internet, the incredible and constant connectivity, the scope of which is almost unfathomable. I, if I wanted to, could sync my phone, my house, and my car together to continuously play my favorite Pandora stations.
Massive Dynamics TeliPad
  Even with all of this rapid growth; according to John Udovich, a contributor to smallcapnetwork.com, we need to prepare ourselves for the next generation. Udovich calls this Web 4.0, and it is being ferried in on the back of a new long-range wireless technology produced by Massive Dynamics. The company has already implementing much of it's technology through the use of Apple, Android, and PC products.
Found At: Internet Mass Media Aggregator
  The wide use of this new technology will lead to a world where we are never disconnected. We already can access the internet almost anywhere, but imagine trying to hide from it. Your phone, your car, your coffeepot will all be connected.  Everywhere you go you will have the world at your fingertips, and you at it's. I have a feeling this is not what Timothy Leary meant by "turn on, tune in, drop out."

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Short Discussion on E-Books

   E-Books are a subject I have not yet discussed here, mostly because I don't particularly care for them. But this subject now warrants my attention as a question of ownership has come up. "Does one actually own an E-Book in the same way they own a paper copy?"
Gutenberg Bible
  Paper books are tangible, you can hold them in your hand and like most tangible items if you bought it and can hold it you probably own it.
  According to this and other articles this statement is untrue. According to the Huffington Post some users' E-Book libraries were deleted. According to Amazon's Conditions of Use "Amazon and its affiliates reserve the right to refuse service, terminate accounts, remove or edit content, or cancel orders at their sole discretion."
  Yes, this in fact means that you cannot and do not own any of the content you have purchased through Amazon's E-Bookstore. The company can in fact delete, edit, or remove any content they wish.
  Many have proclaimed the end of the paper book in favor of the E-Book. However, this insight that many are unaware of may change some minds. I personally have a Kindle account, but have not purchased anything with it. I enjoy having a library I can physically browse and pick through. I understand this is not for everyone, but these libraries may change your mind.
Trinity College Library

Monday, December 3, 2012

Government Archeologists

  Given the recent scandal with former CIA Director David Petraeus and his supposed affair many questions about the effectiveness and oversight of certain government organizations have risen. But this article raises questions more pertanent to the average citizen.
  For example, the article claims that after an email is 180 days past sent the US government can look at it without a warrant. Is this true? Have they looked at my email? Can it be stopped? These are the questions being asked in the wake of the affair and some of the answers may scare you.
Steve Greenberg
  According to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 a government agency can look through your private electronic communications once they have been read and stored for a significant amount of time, 180 days being the precedent, but not while in transit. However, this piece of legislation coupled with other legislation allows government agencies to do a number of things like track your cellphone in real time, remotely track you using a GPS on your car, and has asked several agencies like Facebook and Twitter for back doors to track information.
  Now not all of this is as scary as it might sound. A lot of these examples and others have been overturned once they are taken to the Supreme Court. Also, many of these are only allowed through special executive orders like the USA PATRIOT Act and the NDAA which focus primarily on combating domestic and foreign terrorism.
  But as one Computer Science Major at Kennesaw State University, Cody Skinner eloquently put it:

Freedom House
"If the government went through my phone right now, I wouldn't be arrested, I wouldn't be suspected of terrorism... but I would feel violated. There's no reason I should have to bend over and let the government go through all of my personal stuff."

  And how true? Do we really want the government to be allowed to dig through our electronic wallets? Many are concerned that this will begin to turn the US government into a much more controlling government in the way Iran, Russia, and China try to. In fact, SOPA and PIPA were recent pieces of US legislation and the ITU just started it's most recent conference in Dubai today. All of these things have been moves by governing bodies attempting to limit the freedom and privacy of the internet.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Open Source Medicine

  Salvator Iaconesi is a 39-year-old artist who teaches digital design at La Sapienza University of Rome. Iaconesi also has brain cancer.
Credit to: WE ARE PI
  However, instead of just letting one or two doctors prescribe a course of treatment and following it with high hopes Iaconesi did something different. He published his medical records online and opened his life to the world. He set up La Cure to allow anyone and everyone to review his case, his medical records, and his treatment for review and comment.
  Open source software has been around since the early 80's when Richard Stallman helped launch the GNU Project. Open source essentially means no one owns the information, data, or piece of work. Many companies have used this format to help develop many of their products including operating systems and smart phone software. But no one had ever thought about using this same open approach to their medical treatment.
  The response to this project has been overwhelming. An art collective has used his brain scans for a projection map during their concert, 35 videos have been produced using the images of the tumor, 600 poems have been written and uploaded to the website for Iaconesi, and about 15,000 testimonies of people who have or have had have been posted on the website as well.
  60 doctors have contacted him through the website to try and give opinion and advice on how to continue with treatment. But what is more amazing is that 40 of these 60 doctors have been spontaneously reviewed by at least 500 other visitors to the the website. Iaconesi says he has also received 50,000 remedies and treatment options have been sent to him.
  Iaconesi says that all of this has helped him formulate his own treatment, which goes beyond typical medicine.  He plans to incorperate a variety of treatment options including, surgery, oncology, homeopathy, Chinese medicine, Hebraic Esoterism, diet, and lifestyle.
  Iaconesi has yet to complete his full treatment but he is hopeful and looks forward to seeing this technological and social approach used more often when treating patients.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

#GazaUnderAttack

  A group of more than 50 protestors gathered outside the Atlanta Israeli consulate at 4 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon.
Photo by: Cody Skinner
  Those who gathered in support of Palestine were demonstrating against Israel's continuing bombardment of the Gaza Strip. Israel has been launching targeted airstrikes and bombings on the Gaza Strip in aims to disarm and dismantle the Hamas leadership.
  "Israel has been launching total war against Palestine in a way that undermines the peace process," said Phillip Alaf, an Atlanta organizer for the International Socialist Organization. "We hope that this brings together a network of people who can respond in the future as this crisis unfolds."
  "I'm here because of outrage," said Woodstock restaurant owner Imad Nassereddin. "I'm here to protest the continued bombardment of Gaza."
  "Just like the United States was helped by France in the fight for independence, I think the United States could help the peoples of Israel and Palestine fight their respective extremists and win peace," said Kennesaw State University Assistant Professor Dr. Kenneth White. "The main concern right now, I think, is that the conflict will escalate into more serious violence or spread beyond Gaza."
Photo by Cody Skinner
  "Israel has been responding to the missles shot by Gaza and that is what started the 
Operation Pillar of Defense in the first place," said Life University Student Josh Oppenheim, who was in a bomb shelter in Israel during the interview. "And Israel is targeting only the spots that Hamas is firing rockets from but they hide their silos in residential areas, unfortunately its on purpose
so there civilians get hurt when we retaliate."
  Cease-fire talks have been discussed between the two nations but an agreement has yet to be reached.  In the meantime both the Israeli Defense Forces and the Hamas have continued to fire missiles and rockets. Many fear a ground invasion is imminent.

***UPDATE***
12:40 EST Nov. 22

  A ceasefire was struck yesterday that went into effect last evening at 9 p.m. in Gaza and Israel.  As of now over 140 Palestinians have dies in the conflict and five Israelis. The ceasefire is being observed, nervously, while discussions become focused on Israel maybe easing it's blockade around Gaza.
  Many international officials attended the talks hosted by Egypt including the Secretary
General of the UN, the US Secretary of State, and Foreign Ministers from Turkey and Germany. However, Egypt's Intelligence Chief is credited with making the most progress while speaking with representatives from Israel, the Hamas, and the Islamic Jihad.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Internaltional Telecommunications Union

  If you have read a few of my posts you may have realized I am an active supporter of internet freedoms domestically and abroad.  I was excited to see the failure of SOPA and PIPA in the US.  These pieces of regulation would have begun a downhill slide towards the fracturing of the World Wide Web.
  The internet; it has spawned societies entirely encased in digital form, brought down governments (read my last post), forged international relationships, created cultures, all on it's own.
  But all this could be thrown to an abrupt stop if we, the internet users are not careful.  I believe that a free and democratic society depends upon the free exchange of ideas and information. Without that we are limited by whatever ruling power controls the flow and distribution of information.
Thanks to New World Order War
   Right now the next threatening piece of regulation that could overburden the Internet information highway is the ITU and the next international conference.
  The ITUwas founded in 1865 and became a part of the United Nations in 1947.  It's main goal has been to regulate and develop international communications world wide.  It has proved many great communication resources to third world and developing nations and has done some excellent things to further the progress of international communication networks.
  But the problem is that it is not a democratic community.  Only certain countries in the UN have voting power on the ITU and many of those countries have horrible track records with internet freedoms (Russia and China are both voting members).
  I'm not sure what can be done to battle this encroaching regulation of internet freedoms, but I recognize the necessity for a free and open exchange of ideas in today's world.