Internet: 2019

It’s really hard to predict the future, especially so when it comes to technology and the likes. Here are some of my suggestions on what I think might happen to the internet 10 years from now. I’d be lucky if any of my suggestions here were to happen by then. Either they happen earlier than expected, or they don’t happen at all… But, there’s no harm thinking what the future might be like for the Internet.

 

Mobile Internet

Ok, nothing breakthrough about that. But I suppose we’ll get Internet coverages on our mobile devices in all sorts of weird places… Even out at sea… You truly can’t get lost now can you? I suppose mobile Internet should also be price affordable for all, if not low cost. And of course the speed and connectivity would be at an incredible rate. To quote Louis Nauges, president of Microcost, a French information technology firm:

Mobile internet will be dominant… By 2020, most mobile networks will provide one-gigabit-per-second-minimum speed, anywhere, anytime.

 

credited from Petitinvention.wordpress.com

Personal Website

I suppose the cost of owning your own domain and website would be much cheaper by then. Therefore, the possibility of owning a space on the Internet should be more feasible and affordable for all.

 

The boom of the cottage industry

Cottage industry? You got to be kidding me… That is so last century… So industrial revolution. Well not exactly… Blogshops are quite commonplace and easy to set up, in fact the cost to run a business online can be relatively cheap (i.e. free hosted blogshop via blogger/livejournal) Or even sell them through Ebay. This decreases the barriers to entry for individuals to own their small businesses. While “working at home” might seem like a dream for some, perhaps in the next decade it might become a viable second career for many.  A flexible second income and opportunity to explore alternative career ambitions… It’s happening now, but I can’t wait for it to start booming. 

 

Censorship

I think this is a really morbid point to mention. But I think it’s the most important point I can think of that is potentially becoming a problem for the development of the Internet. Some may argue that China and other authoritarian countries might loosen the control over their country’s Internet access over time but this may not be so. Just looking at Singapore, the amendments to the Sedition Act and even across the causeway where Malaysian bloggers/journalists are getting arrested for writing “unsavory” articles, it’s quite a scary future to blog.  The boon that Web 2.0 promises (i.e. free speech and user generated content) may be gone by Web 3.0… If we’re not careful. 

Some of us may argue that the Internet is like the Wild West. How is it possible for governments to control a domain not confined by geographical boundaries? Well… Governments are already starting to work together to create more censorship on the Internet, even to the point of criminalization of undesired content, all discussed at the Seoul Declaration in 2008.

 

Well hopefully the Internet will improve itself to become a better global network and not succumb to lawlessness or even censorship. Then again technology improves exponentially, so what might come for 2019 is still very much unwritten.

 

References: 

Civil Society Seoul Declaration Sets Out Broad Policy Framework, iCommons.org, 1 July 2008

Internet’s future in 2020 debated, BBC, 24 September 2006

What is a cottage industry?, Wisegeek, n.d.

How the Internet might shape the future of Journalism

How might the Internet shape the future of Journalism. Some say it’s shaping the tombstone of Journalism… Some say it’s making journalism cheap (i.e. citizen journalism)… But I don’t see how all of this could be that negative. Here are some of my opinions on this matter:

Credited from Zimbio.com

Instant News

The advantage of the Internet is instantaneous connection with any corners of the world. Anything that happens across the world can be reported spontaneously via the Internet. For example in the case of a coup that happened in Madagascar recently. This island nation off the coast of South Africa is very much isolated from the rest of the world. Who would have known more about it apart from the namesake cartoon movie “Madagascar”? However, news agencies are able to broadcast about this relatively unknown country’s political coup and bring attention to the world of its crisis. So in this way it improves the speed of which journalists publish their news to the world.

 

Daring News

With the Internet, people are not only given the opportunity to access knowledge more readily, they are also able to air their opinions more accessibly. Much criticism towards journalism actually comes from online bloggers (who may or may not be citizen journalists). There has been more criticism about how journalists seems to broadcast news from a vested perspective, which is many steps back from the initial ideal of journalism to inform the public of the truth. A newspaper that has faced such criticism is the Straits Times, which has been mocked by many Singaporean bloggers, and even the local satirical website “Talking Cock” for being a mouthpiece of the ruling government. In a vain attempt to correct this negative image and portray themselves as forward-thinking and concerned for the public’s opinion, the Straits Times launched STOMP as an attempt to reconnect with the public. However, STOMP has been much of a mockery and avenue of debauchery as people abuse the site to upload voyeuristic videos of teenagers engaging in public displays of affection, as well as other petty ungraceful public acts. Which begs the question really… Is STOMP an attempt by the local “mainstream journalism” to discredit and smear the credibility of civilian journalism? 

 

Citizen Journalism

There has been a lot of negative opinions about the influence if the Internet on Journalism over the course of years, especially in Singapore. This particularly relates to the advent of citizen journalism via bloggers who indulge in vigilantism by exposing corporate and governmental scandals and malfeasance.

Where do you go to find out first hand about the Lehman Minibonds fiasco? Tomorrow.sg! Where do you find out that your government has sued another publication for accusations of nepotism and other uglies? Tomorrow.sg! Of course Tomorrow.sg is essentially a directory for Singapore bloggers, rather than a blog itself… But it’s been very useful for me to understand the sentiments of another Singaporean on the same matter. And even more useful for uncovering some shady information about the government that is obviously enjoying media silence.

Citizen Journalism, I feel, is important to Singaporeans. It gives us the avenue to voice our opinions, albeit not without consequences. But at least it’s more accessible and less red-tape than giving a short speech at Hong Lim Park. Of course in time to come, it’s impact on the development of the new generation of Singaporeans will be much anticipated… Opposition anyone?

 

Less Revenue

There has been a bit of discussion about how free  & instantaneously broadcasted news on the internet is going to affect the business for newspapers. Why subscribe Wall Street Journal or New York Times when I can read the same news via Reuters or Associate Press? Well, I can read the same content for free too via WSJ.com and NYT.com!

I beg to differ that the Internet will inadvertently destroy newspapers, unless all they publish is news from  news agencies. The Internet can help newspapers, but challenging them to come up with more creative and meaningful content. Columns, analyses and editorials from the professionals are just about what makes the beef of a good news paper. People don’t just read the news to inform themselves of what’s going on outside, but to learn and reconcile different perspectives. This is exactly the forte of newspapers.

Of course newspapers would have an Internet presence too to keep up with the times. But that’s not going to lead to the death of the hard copy. What happens is newspapers open themselves to greater readership, beyond geographical boundaries. I’m not surprised if there are Lian He Zao Bao fans from US and China. Dr Hong Jun Hao (of COM240 Mass Comms) is clearly a fan of the paper. Guess he reads both offline and online copy of this local Chinese paper. 

 

Internet has and is revolutionizing Journalism. Who knows maybe decades later, it might be credited for saving Journalism from ending up being the mouthpiece of Capitalism and governments.

What is NewsML?

What is NewsML? I ask my friends in class… Some shrugged their shoulders while some tried to explain to me. But the verbosity supersedes me. At this point in time as I type this entry… I have absolutely no clues what exactly is NewsML. But for certain it’s got to do with news and some form of technology.

According to NewsML for dummies (i.e. me :( ):

 

NewsML is a media independent standard for describing news in an electronic service environment.
NewsML defines an XML based language for expressing the structure of news , associated metadata,
and relationships between news, throughout their lifecycle
So NewsML is used to delivery news content? Yes… Not only that, it is designed to deliver metacontents which includes videos, audios, animations and text (the content).
Here is an illustration of the structure of NewsML:

Credited from NewsML for dummies

 

Frankly, I still don’t exactly get NewsML… Worse than a dummy? Haha! I’m praying hard Mr Choy ain’t going to test us on NewsML for the finals…

 

References:

NewsML for dummies, L. Le Meur (AFP),  September 30 2001

The power and limitation of Internet for political campaigning

The 2008 US Presidential Election was mostly about one thing… Internet campaigning. Some credited the Internet as the reason for Obama’s victory, apart from his verbose rhetoric and attractive ethnicity (African-Caucasian mix). In fact, for the COM125 group project, my group decided to do a research on Obama and his Internet campaign as it was not only very relevant but also because we were curious as to how the Internet helped him. The below are some trivia on the power of Obama’s Internet campaign.

The Power of Obama’s Internet Campaign:

  • Obama’s campaign team set up a profile for Obama on Facebook.
  • Obama’s campaign team used a marketing technique, microtargeting, to tap on the potentials of Facebook’s vast database of personal information.
  • Microtargeting created a personal touch to the two-way communication channel between Obama and his voters
  • Obama’s profile has 807, 061 users following his campaign via Facebook.
  • His profile also churned the most following as compared to John McCain (121,152) .
  • Obama’s Facebook profile encouraged discussion groups and even fan pages that run independent fundraising for the cause of Obama’s campaign
  • Obama shared his photos from his campaign trail and speeches with the world via Flickr and YouTube respectively.
  • A fundraising event on Facebook group “One Million Strong for Barack” was able to raise $10,000 for the Obama campaign in just 2 weeks.
  • Obama’s campaign team has 13 million people on their emailing list.
  • Obama has approximately 2000 official videos on YouTube, watched over 80 million times.
  • There are also 442,000 user-generated videos on his campaign on Youtube.
  • Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Craiglist founder Craig Newman were also enlisted by Obama’s team as advisors.
  • Obama’s campaign team also hired Facebook’s co-founder, Chris Hughes to administer his campaign’s social networking sites.

Picture credited from Neuroanthropology.net

I think the limitations with the Internet is that the Internet is dominated by younger voters and obviously the majority of voters are not the younger Internet-active voters. Therefore, offline campaigning is still necessary to woo older voters. Other thing to note is that Obama’s success lied in his use of the Internet to aid his offline campaign, and not the sole use of the Internet.

Much as the Internet is able to cut down the time taken to reach to a wide pool of voters, face-to-face contact is still necessary for voters to relate to and be convinced to vote for a particular presidential candidate. After all, people are voting for a person, not a persona.

Cybercrime in Singapore

Local cybercrime is not very often reported in the local newspapers. But very often cybercrime is happening everywhere in Singapore, at this very second. When you engage in P2P sharing, downloading software and music illegally, you’ve already committed a cybercrime. However, a few years back in Singapore, there was this particular cybercrime that led to the realization that your home internet connection should be encrypted. That year was 2006…

Gary Tan, (then) a polytechnic student connected to a neighbour’s internet for free via his laptop. Nobody knows how long he has been doing this but it must have been long enough for his neighbour to be annoyed enough to report him to the police. Just as the word “mooch” referred to the sponging off of others for free, Gary Tan’s crime was coined as “mooching”. 

cow mwaaooohhh… by ~julznotdrugs

In Gary Tan’s case, he was charged under the Computer Misuse Act, Section 6(1)(a) and faced up to 3 years of imprisonment or $10,000 in fine. 

I think this particular case is really hilarious. Firstly, I believe Gary Tan and his family should have the ability to pay for an internet subscription. To tap into his neighbour’s internet connection is really a miserly and sponging gesture. He really deserved to be called a moocher, or even worse. 

But the crux of it all is that Gary Tan has been repeatedly mooching into the same neighbour’s internet connection. OK, so you may not know the first or second time when someone mooched your internet. But when you eventually found out, shouldn’t your first action to be to encrypt your wireless network and stop the moocher from mooching? No… This person allowed Gary Tan to commit the mooch time after time until he/she eventually got so fed up that he/she threw the problem to the police. 

For me, the solution to this cybercrime is very simple. Just encrypt your wireless network! For tech dolts out there, you can easily find the steps to protecting your wireless network from moochers via Google (or any other preferred search engine).

If you present the opportunity for a thief to rob you, aren’t you also at fault for the crime?

 

References: 

SINGAPORE: Teen, 17, first to be charged with unauthorised wireless Net access, Chua Hian Hou (The Straits Times), 11 November 2006

That Movie Making Experience

I must say this week’s blog entry is really interesting. We’re given the task of doing a video on Microsoft Movie Maker and uploading it to video-sharing website, YouTube. Being the “rebel” I usually am, I decided to do things differently. I made my video via iMovie and uploaded it to Vimeo. 

This movie is not my first movie. Though I must say my experience in filming is really limited. The first time I did my own home movie was in October 2003. It was my Aunty’s 70th Birthday and she was back in Singapore to celebrate it. So I decided to make use of this opportunity to get myself a video cam and filmed the event. 

Being a photography person, does not necessarily mean you’ll be good in cinematography. But needless to say, each photographer has that experience of flirting with the idea of filming moving pictures. However, the filming experience for me didn’t last for long. I gave up filming in 2004 and moved back to photography, as I found my calling not in the former. 

Honestly, I’ve not used Microsoft Movie Maker for any of my movies… OK… I did briefly… But the experience was bad… I know this is going to sound biased (from a mac lover) but iMovie is really much easier to use than Movie Maker. 

Firstly, the interface is more idiot-proof. Secondly, there are more functions on iMovie. Thirdly… Everything just looks better when done on the mac. Ok… That was a biased reason. But really, a good reason why iMovie trumps Movie Maker and other is that Apple updates its programs yearly with better functions. While Movie Maker on the other hand, despite updating its interface with the upgrade from Windows XP to Vista, the video effects and transitions are still pretty much generic.

Perhaps this is an unfair comparison between iMovie and Movie Maker since the former is produced by a company known for it’s professional video editing software, Final Cut Pro. Which is currently used by 49% of the digital editing field. Yes… It’s the desired editing program of blockbuster Hollywood movies. This is one expertise clearly lacking in Microsoft. 

Recently under the coaxing of a schoolmate, I upgraded my Mac with the latest iLife suite (think Mac’s lifestyle answer to Microsoft Office). I originally wanted to tap into the new functions available on iPhoto, but curiosity got the better of me. I decided to check out the spiffy new functions on iMovie. Not too long ago I was using iMovie ’08 for the editing of a movie I did for one of my Communication modules. I wished there were more special effects on the program. 

My wish was answered in iMovie 09. Now I can generate animated maps of the places I’ve travelled to in my holiday videos (part of Apple’s immersion of the geotagging trend in photography). Not only that, I can also use snazzy “themes” to present my videos (see video for better illustration). 

The only hitch is that iLife is updated yearly for a not-too-cheap price. iLife 09 costs $138 and contains 4 programs: Garageband (music making), iPhoto (photo editing), iMovie (movie editing) and iWeb (idiot-proof website builder). The fact is I rarely use the other programs, apart from iPhoto and iMovie. Which doesn’t make sense to buy all 4 programs at a go. To make matters worse, iPhoto and iMovie are not sold separately. Which means, like it or not, I have to pay $138 for 2 programs and 2 white elephants. 

Guess using a Mac doesn’t come cheap. But its end products are really aesthetically delicious! :)

 

 

Note: The video is a compilation of photos and video clips from my vacation in Esperance, Western Australia.

What future awaits the classroom?

I was browsing through Youtube, hoping to find a video to use with this blog entry when I came across this:

My experience

10 years ago, I would not have imagined myself using a laptop for school. After all, a decade ago, laptops were still really chunky and schools were just starting out with setting up computer labs. But today, having computer labs in school is as small as a deal as having a school library. 

In 2003, Crescent Girls School started an e-learning program by replacing the use of writing pads with tablet PCs during lessons. It was an expensive program as students have to fork out $3000+ for the device. Not surprisingly, the socioeconomic status of the student demographics enabled the school to pursue such an ambitious plan. E-learning is the future, but it was an expensive and uncertain investment. 

When I went to Trinity College (Unimelb) in 2003, I was amazed with the campus’s use of interactive whiteboards. It was amazing to see the lecturers switching between the computer screen and writing via touch technology. Though that technology may seem infantile, it was definitely an expensive investment. We were also made to do draw mind-maps via an in-house program one of the lecturers invented. He claimed that his program will greatly help us with research brainstorming. I belittled that technology until much later when I saw a more polished version of the same idea called OmniGraffle. 

Shortly after, in 2004, British Council (Singapore) also revamped and added such whiteboards to its classrooms. Though I must say, the interactive whiteboards British Council has installed pale in comparison to Trinity Colleges. 

Opinions

The future of the classroom will definitely shift away from the pen and paper education and see the rise of students bringing their own laptops/tablets/PDAs to school.

Lectures will also be broadcasted via podcasts, as is happening to major universities in US (i.e. Stanford Uni). Books will be digitally archived (which is already partially done by Google Books) and accessible worldwide.

Interactive whiteboards may be replaced with better technology from Microsoft’s Surface with sleek graphics and responsive touch sensors.

The future that awaits the digital classroom is hard to predict as technology comes and goes at an amazing rate.

11 years ago, I used Yahoo to search for web articles that are relevant to my juvenile projects. 11 years later, I access Google Books to preview the books I need to borrow from the library. To add, I wouldn’t even have expected my psych stats lecturer to use a youtube video to explain the concept of standard deviation. It’s just unbelievable how much changes technology has over education.

There is certainly no better time to be a student, than now and the future.