Bring It On, Future.

This video was shown to us in class, and I have to say, it gave me a rude shock into the possible future that we will be facing. Personally, I would not want to live in a house like that because I would turn into one big sloth. I am already lazy as it is so I definitely do not need all that technology doing every single thing for me. I can, however, see the appeal of having everything being done in an instant. For example, in the video, it showed that you can buy groceries just with a touch, without having to actually go out to the supermarket. That is very convenient, especially when you are extremely busy (or lazy) and do not have the time to go out.

I guess it depends on a person’s preference. I’m sure there are others out there who would love to live in a house like this, while some would turn away in disgust. It is the same with Google’s upcoming project, Project Glass.

Again, I would not want to have something like that because I just think that it is a little intrusive. Everywhere you go, technology is right in front of your face. Of course, it has its advantages like getting information in an instant, making it a very efficient tool.

I think the future of the Internet is filled with endless possibilities that it is hard to predict what will happen in five or ten years time. Technology is changing rapidly that everything does not stay constant. However, I think this course has helped me grasp the possibilities of what we can expect in the future. You never realize it because the Internet has become very much a part of our lives, but the Internet really has helped the world in so many ways. It has its advantages and disadvantages, of course, but I think the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. Just look at what we are capable of doing now, just with the help of the Internet. We have the creation of social media, online political campaigns that have resulted in revolutionary changes, citizen journalism, the list is endless.

It makes me excited to see what human beings are going to come up with next. The next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg are out there, and the thought of the things they will create really makes me look forward to the future.


Online Journalism

I’ll admit, I don’t read the newspapers regularly. Mainly because they are never anywhere near me, so I don’t remember to read them. As they say, out of sight, out of mind. However, with many newspapers going online now, every single newspaper around the world is within my reach. It is even possible for a newspaper to set up an online-only platform such as The Huffington Post.

Online journalism has been seen as a threat to the traditional newspapers and The Huffington Post’s recent Pulitzer win might just support that notion. It is the first time that an online news website has won a Pulitzer Prize. The political journalism organization, Politico, which publishes a daily newspaper but is popular for its website, also won a Pulitzer along with HuffPost.

The Huffington Post won the Pulitzer for their 10-part series, Beyond the Battlefield, which focused on the wounded veteran soldiers of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Politico won the Pulitzer for Matt Wuerker’s cartoons that highlighted partisan political divides. Below are some of his cartoons.

However, the HuffPost’s Pulitzer win has received some criticism by some in the newspaper industry. This criticism mainly stems from the uncertainty in the quality of the HuffPost’s content. Some people in the journalism industry expressed their shock at its win. Among them were the founder of Slate, Jacob Weisberg, who wrote on his Twitter, “I admire many things about HuffPo, but its original journalism still of minimal quality and value.”

Weisberg’s concerns are echoed among those who share the same view that there is some doubt in the quality of HuffPost’s content. However, although these concerns are valid, I personally think that the journalism industry should accept these new changes because they are unavoidable. With the Internet, anyone can set up their own news site, by creating a blog, for example. Validity will always be an issue, but let’s face it, validity is an issue even in traditional newspapers (See Jayson Blair and Stephen Glass fabrication scandals). It all boils down to the ethics of the journalist.

I don’t think that online journalism will ever go away, and there is really nothing we can do to make it go away. So all we can do as consumers of the news is to be intelligent readers, and not blindly consume the content that is fed to us from various news sources.

Image credits:
The Pulitzer Prizes

Small (Political) Steps, Big (Political) Changes

Social media websites like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube have taken the process of networking and building connections among people to a whole new level. It is not just about getting in touch with that childhood friend, or being able to find out what your favorite artist is doing right this second (cue the Twitter stalker), or wishing that you will become the next YouTube sensation.

Social media has become much more than that.

It is about putting forward the important issues (or at least, what is important to you). It is about supporting those people who are bringing up these issues, or intelligently debating them if you disagree with their arguments. Social media, or rather, the Internet in general, allows people to talk about issues that are important to them through many different ways – be it in text, or music, or self-made videos. With some creativity, passion, and bravery (because people can be mean sometimes if they disagree with others), it is possible to bring about a change in the world, little by little.

Take for example this music video of a song called Aalu Anday, meaning Potatoes and Eggs, by Pakistani band, Beygairat Brigade.

This political satire video by Beygairat Brigade, or A Brigade Without Honor, touches on the issue of religious extremism and militancy in Pakistan. It went viral after being uploaded last October, and has since gotten more than 740,000 views. The song talks about how religious extremists in Pakistan are seen as heroes, along with those who commit to murdering the people who openly disagree with the views of the extremists.

For instance, the band sings about how “Qadri is treated like a royal”, referring to the elite police guard who assassinated Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab. Mr Taseer was known for his vocal opposition to the religious parties in Pakistan, and for campaigning against Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.

With this song, Beygairat Brigade represented the Pakistanis who share the same liberal views but who are afraid to speak out for fear of what might happen to them if they do. It is things like this that provide the opportunity for people to unite and gather up their courage in standing up for what they believe in. It might seem like a simple approach – anyone can create a song – but sometimes, the simple approaches are the ones that can create the biggest impact.

For Beygairat Brigade, they took that small step, through their song, in giving Pakistanis a voice, and with the help of YouTube and social media, that small step created a big awareness to the public about what is going on in Pakistan.

Interacting with Art

Multimedia is a computer-based interactive communications process that incorporates text, graphics, sound, animation, and video.

The use of multimedia can be applied to various categories such as entertainment, education, and even art.

A multimedia artist is one who uses a wide range of media to communicate their art. Multimedia art involves more than one medium; the artist combines visual art with sound, moving images, and other types of media.

The video above shows how Takagi Masakatsu – a multimedia artist and musician – uses different types of software to incorporate sound and graphics in his art. His work has been showcased in many galleries around the world, from New York to Japan to Italy. He has also performed live at art spaces worldwide. The video below is one of the videos made by Masakatsu, entitled world is so beautiful.

Multimedia art usually involves interaction with the viewer as it encourages the engagement of our senses other than sight, such as our sense of touch, hearing, or smell. Thus, audience interaction makes up a big part of a multimedia artwork, bringing art appreciation to a whole new level.

Every Online Gamer Should Have A Penny

World of Warcraft.

What I know about it is that it is a multiplayer online role-playing game and… yeah, that’s basically it.

I’ve never been much of a gamer, unless you count the short stint I had years back playing Mario being a gamer but that’s really it. Since I have no knowledge whatsoever on online role-playing games like World of Warcraft, I had no idea that they suffered from the same problems of Internet security such as hacking.

That is, until I watched this particular episode of The Big Bang Theory.

In this episode, Sheldon’s World of Warcraft account was hacked and he reported it to the police, as all crimes should. Unfortunately, however, the police could not do anything about the situation since the crime isn’t really “real” – it happened online.

What got me thinking was whether there have been real cases of hackers of online role-playing games that have been arrested by the police.

Turns out, there are.

In 2009, a 23-year-old man was arrested for hacking hundreds of accounts on the medieval fantasy game, Runescape, to steal the players’ weapons and virtual money. A year later, a 17-year-old was arrested for hacking into Call of Duty to boost his own score.

These are just a couple of examples of how hackers of online games can still suffer real-world consequences due to their virtual criminal acts. Although there are many hackers out there who are clever enough to get past any kind of Internet security and hack a player’s account, there are still certain methods to reduce the chances of it happening.

Game developers and third-party software developers have created a few anti-cheating software in an attempt to prevent hacking. For instance, Warden is an anti-cheating tool integrated in many Blizzard Entertainment games such as Diablo II and World of Warcraft. Another example of an anti-cheating tool is HackShield – a set of anti-hack toolkits that are used in games like Combat Arms and MapleStory.

If all else fails, and your World of Warcraft account still got hacked, this is always an option.

RuneScape Computer Hacker
Call of Duty Hacker

Learning Through A Rookie

Whenever I think of the word e-learning, the first thing that comes to my mind is the lessons that I had in the computer lab in primary and secondary school. In those days, my use of the Internet at home was only limited to an hour everyday, so I jumped on every chance I got to use the school computers.

E-learning is not only associated with academic-related stuff though. It consists of any forms of electronically-supported learning and teaching.

Let’s say you watched an episode of Community recently, and was inspired by the hilariously odd pair – Troy’s and Abed’s – idea of making a blanket fort.

No idea on how to make a fort as awesome as the one in the show? Well, let’s just start with the basics first. Here you go.

Bored of your old white sneakers that are just sitting there, collecting dust? Why not turn them into a pair of saddle shoes? Here is something to get you started.

For those of you who love them out of this world nail art? Take a look at this.

All these tutorials are part of e-learning because we are learning about them through the Internet. E-learning does not only have to include the things you learn in school. It includes everything and anything you can think of.

One of the websites I love to visit to learn about anything DIY is Rookie. (Which explains all the links that I have posted here.)

Rookie is an online magazine mainly for teenage girls but really, it transcends any age boundary because any girl/woman out there can relate to the stuff that its writers talk about. It is the brainchild of Tavi Gevinson, a 15-year-old fashion blogger, and the magazine is filled with all sorts of creative, quirky, and very real and genuine articles about absolutely anything.

One of the things that Rookie posts regularly are DIY tutorials such as the ones I have shown above. It is really great for people who love getting hands-on and creative. There are so many things on there that I would not have thought possible to make by yourself so if you find your creative juices dry one day, make a visit to Rookie and have fun learning!

Because I’m Happy.

So here’s my first ever self-made video. Watch it if you’re feeling happy!

No Rest For The Online Shopper

I confess. I am a HUGE consumer of e-commerce, more specifically in the area of online shopping.

I remember there was a time when I use to scoff at others who would rave of online shopping. I could not wrap my head around the idea of browsing through products online without being able to see them for yourself. If you are buying clothes, you cannot try them on and see how they look on you. If you are buying shoes, you cannot tell if they will be comfortable enough for your feet. What is so great about all that?

It took me a while to finally jump on the bandwagon and join other advocates of online shopping. There are definitely advantages to it.

The greatest one, for me at least, would have to be being able to avoid the crowds in the stores. Online shopping allows you to shop in the comfort of your own home (or anywhere for that matter) without having to squeeze between people or uncomfortably rub shoulders against complete strangers. It’s just you and your computer (or laptop, phone, iPad etc.).

Plus, with online shopping, everything is at your fingertips. Practically everything is available online nowadays. You can even buy things from stores that are not here in Singapore, which means a whole array of outlets is open for your shopping pleasure.

However, there is a downside to online shopping. The most obvious one would probably be consumers spending too much money compared to when they actually physically go out to shop. It is easy to get carried away in the midst of browsing through the thousands of products online and adding them to your shopping cart.

Although online shopping has its perks, I would not totally eliminate the option of going out to stores to shop as that has its advantages as well. Being able to try on clothes and shoes and what-have-you is still important and I do not think anything can replace that experience (I’m talking to you, virtual shopping) but online shopping combines accessibility and comfort to the shopper’s experience, and that in itself is a win.

Image credits:
Everyday People Cartoons
Cartoon Stock

Back to Business: Blogging

When I think of the word blog, the first few things that come to my mind are fashion blogs, food blogs, and music blogs. These kinds of blogs are commonplace on the Internet. But one thing that has never crossed my mind is corporate blogs.

A corporate blog is published and used by an organization to reach its organizational goals. There are mainly two types of corporate blogs: internal and external.

Internal blogs are blogs that any employee of the particular organization can view, and are generally accessed through the corporation’s Intranet. Meanwhile, external blogs are publicly available, and allows anyone to view and comment on the posts.

Corporate blogs may either be written for consumers (Business-to-Consumer) or for producers (Business-to-Business). Some of the more well-known corporate blogs are the Official Google Blog and The Windows Blog.

While corporate blogs are popular among many major organizations, small and independent entrepreneurs are also creating their own blogs to promote themselves and their products. Some examples are WilloToons and Inheritance Jewelry. Creating a corporate blog is an effective way for entrepreneurs to showcase their products simply because almost everyone has access to the Internet. With proper promotion of their blogs (using social media such as Facebook and Twitter, for example), anyone can find out about them and share with people they know.

So for those who have an idea that they have been mulling over for a while now, go ahead and share it with the world – start blogging about it.

Corporate Blogs (Wikipedia)

Twitter: The Next PR Agent?

Can Twitter, with its 140-characters-per-tweet limit, be the next celebrity PR agent?

Okay, let’s look at the facts.

1. Currently, there are approximately half a billion Twitter users worldwide.
2. Twitter users send 175 million tweets a day.
3. The most popular events on Twitter generate tens of thousands of tweets every SECOND.

Judging from these statistics, I’d say traditional PR agents better look out because Twitter might just take over their jobs.

I’m sure most of you are aware of Kanye West’s twitter rant that happened last month. (Here’s a link to an article about it if you didn’t know.) The internationally-renowned hip-hop artist and fashion designer started a Twitter tirade that caught the attention of his six million followers, which basically meant non-followers of his caught wind of it too. (That’s social media for you.) West tweeted about his new clothing line, and went on to reveal plans for his new company, DONDA, named after his late mother. The rapper might have gone on a Twitter overload – with over 70 tweets within three hours – but it definitely caught people’s attention, especially on the news of him planning to launch DONDA.

Since Kanye West is such a huge celebrity, his tweets about DONDA inadvertently gained him a lot of attention. Even to the point where DONDA trended on Twitter. This goes to show how powerful Twitter (and social media, in general) can be. If West had gone the traditional way of releasing a press release on his plans for the new company, it would still have got a lot of attention from the world, but probably not as much attention as what Twitter has done.

This isn’t to say that PR companies are going to be out of jobs in the next few years. A publicity stunt like this can only be successful if one has a huge star reputation like Kanye West. Celebrities like Lady GaGa and Rihanna may follow the same path as Kanye West; using Twitter as a publicity platform. However, if a relatively unknown musician who does not have millions of followers on Twitter tries to adopt the same method, it will most likely backfire. In this case, just stick to the PR companies and let them do their jobs.