Wi-Fight?

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I do remember the dial-up era, when opening links was very similar to the game Mine Sweeper. Most of the times you’d click on something that seemed legit and be okay, but eventually… BAM! ASIAN PORN! No topic was safe. A history report on segregation? Interracial porn. Looking for something special to buy your grandma? Old people porn. Thinking of buying a textbook online? Nope. All we got is porn. What’s the best kind of corn? You get the idea. To add insult to injury, it would take forever to load. People aren’t fond of being decieved. To be fair, I didn’t fall for every disguised link. Some of the the link names obviously implied something sexual, like “Join MySpace!” This scenario didn’t bode well for those that weren’t particularly tech savvy with the mine sweeper-like web of the 90s. You know, the ones that had their login password as DaffyBugsSylvesterTaz because it required at least 4 characters. On a side note, this was also the time period where you could find the lamest jokes trying to be innovative by incorporating the web into the punch line. Why did the chicken cross the Internet road? To get to the other site. Debatably as offensive as porn. So this wasn’t working, and so then came the transition to the opposite side of the admission spectrum.

All my memories about the “Access Denied” phase involved me at school trying to research something. Everything was blocked. Computers had no capability of interpretation, so topics like war, abortion, anatomy, women’s protests, or Western art was off limits. Anything that could be remotely tied to violence or sex was blocked. I would dare anyone in this period to go to a middle school and try to do a research report on Bill Clinton. Pretty lame.

Coming off the heels of the Dot Com Bubble burst, we got to the “Okay, okay, we can’t just block everything. My bad.” phase of the internet. This is where we realize that there are too many layers of the internet to categorize all of them. It’s like a digital 7-layer burrito. It’s mostly disgusting, yes, and the deeper you get the less you want to know, but few things are faster to satisfy hunger. Most of the bad stuff gets blocked, but even though some stuff can seep through the filters, it’s better than blanket restrictions, right?

We make the move to the “Access Controlled” period. I didn’t really notice a huge change other than sites started looking a lot sleeker and I could access more information because the internet was seemingly doubling in size every year (mostly because of porn). We’ve come a long way from the “open internet,” and we have made a graceless transition to the era know as “Access Contested.” There’s still lots of porn out there, but now the ones that find it are usually those looking for it. Given that the other two “phases” are only five years long we should be moving onto something else pretty soon, eh? This upcoming era will probably be defined by regulation, but given the degree of user innovation, it doesn’t have to be. Because of how significant the web is becoming in our lives, there is always a legitimate fear of dependancy on the internet. What if something like the Y2K were to happen for real? If you thought it was a big deal in 1999, imagine it happening in 2019. It could happen, kiddos.

http://www.southparkstudios.com/full-episodes/s12e06-over-logging

But for now, everything is running mostly swimmingly now that most of the digital kinks are gone, as we are beginning to find a cyberspace chi through a mix of government, private sector, and user regulation. The internet has a little something for everyone nowadays- and I mean EVERYONE. There have been some ridiculous digital wars, but there are so many wonderful opportunities for our generation because of the web, that I can’t help but be really excited to be entering the new internet phase that hopefully doesn’t involve humanity’s enslavement.

Anyone else want to share their personal journey through the 4 phases of the internet? If so, I’d love to hear it.

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How Do We Regulate?

The internet is still so new that the world isn’t quite completely sure what to do with it. It is like a brand new state where the government is still trying to work things out. Certain demographics fear the internet’s endless possibilities and what people have figured out how to do with it, while other demographics love the internet’s endless possibilities and what people have figured out how to do with it. Myself and almost everyone born into a generation where the internet became a common part of your life growing up seem to rather enjoy the internet how it is and wouldn’t really do much to change it. But there are still many people who want to limit and/or change the internet and its power. So here’s the thing; who is right and who is wrong? Well quite simply it isn’t that simple. There is no black and white the internet is all grey.

The thing about the internet is that since it is endless there is so much variety of what you can find on it. Much of the internet is made up of sites that wouldn’t really need any regulation other than their own.  Sites that represent companies, let’s say bestbuy.com, are not going to put anything that might seem unsuitable for all ages on their website, because they want to seem professional and sell all their products to all age groups, while doing as little to no offending in the process. So all these types of sites are all pretty much self-regulated, but there is still the rest of the internet. I don’t know exact stats but I would assume most of the internet is made up of user generated content. Stuff that anyone could make sitting on their computer at home and then upload it to a website in minutes or even seconds. And it is all of this material that causes almost all the issues and controversy with the internet and regulation.

Now I am in no way experienced enough in this type of field to say how the internet should be run, and what and how should we regulate, but what I do know is that I am pretty happy with the way the internet is in its current state. With that said you can’t have zero regulation on a place where almost anything is possible and sites have to monitor and sometimes regulate what content goes on their pages. In the first article, “The Slippery Slope of Facebook regulation” by David Glance, I liked the explanation of how Facebook regulated its content. It talked about how the users of Facebook would determine if content was obscene or offensive and needed to be taken off the site; much like a democracy does its voting. Now that sounds like a good system for regulation but that could only work on certain sites, and even sites that use that method of regulation still have some other ways they regulate their site as well.

With the internet being so new, massive, and foreign it makes you wonder if we will ever sort out this problem of internet regulation. I am curious and scared about what might happen in the future. But my question to you is, do you think the internet will ever be clearly regulated and what do you think will happen in the future with internet and regulation?

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We definitely deserve the right to regulate ourselves

We definitely deserve the right to regulate ourselves online without intervention from larger, more powerful parties. However, if the case is in relation to something like these Aboriginal memes that were apparently only created to “provoke” and be humorous, I believe that a website has the right to instill regulations. At the end of the day, this meme is racist. Just because the Aboriginal race is very minimal and nearly nonexistent does not give anyone the right to promote racist thinking, even if it is a joke. Just like the minstrel shows of the last century, racism starts as jokes, grows into stereotypes, and eventually becomes hatred. Kids are dumb and impressionable and if their friends want them to join in on racial humor they will definitely participate.

If Facebook allows this to go unregulated they are setting a precedent that will allow more racist behavior. Minorities already face enough crap in real life, why should they have to deal with it online? No, I don’t think the government should intervene on websites’ policies. However, these sites need administrators that pay special attention to things like this.

It really is facebook’s right to ensure that their users are happy, if a small population is spreading potential hate, snuffing them out will make the majority happy. Since this is FACEBOOK’S site, not the offending users’, they can stifle crass behavior all they want in my opinion.

                In other news, google is being paid off to make certain sites more “relevant” in your search results. I say big deal. Others say that there needs to be a government regulation on google. This is not the same thing as internet service providers being regulated a few years ago as we discussed in class. In that case, people who were already paying for a specific product were going to be charged more and differently for the exact same product or even a limited version. In the case with google, google is free and always has been free. If companies are doing this payola-like practice, good for them.

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The Four Phases

I found the Palfrey article, Four Phases of Internet Regulation, very interesting. It opened my eyes to a lot of different periods of time and information I did not already know; especially regarding regulation of the internet over the past thirteen or so years. What I’d like to do with this blog is explain each phase and what their definitions demonstrate to me.

The first of Palfrey’s four phases was the Open Internet Period, which spanned from the beginning of the internet until around 2000. During this time, it was a total free-for-all of information online. Governments did not pay close attention to their people’s online activities; regulations regarding the internet were few and far between (Palfrey, 2).  Although most of the theories of the Open Internet Period have been done away with, some of them still remain. Palfrey describes one theory, saying, “Cross-cultural understanding could flourish as never before, now that these digital networks connect people from all around the world in new and important ways at very low cost” (Palfrey, 3). This is a theory that has stuck with us all the way till present day, and we are still trying to connect the world’s cultures, especially since the introduction of social media. Here is one of the many articles online reflecting social media’s globalization efforts:

http://www.beingjrridinger.com/10-Questions-by-JR-Ridinger/How-Does-Social-Media-Reflect-Our-Globalized-Culture.html

The second of Palfrey’s four phases is Access Denied, which lasted from about 2000 to 2005. During this Era State’s first began to really start regulating the internet. Because this was the first try for governments at online regulation it was a very translucent task. There were very few people in the world (provided they have internet access) who were not aware of the regulation being conducted by states throughout the Middle East, North Africa, Asia, etc. This regulation was mostly scene through filter DNS, IP, and URL’s. In many states these limits are on sexually explicit material, or government information. In the United States this reminds me of what’s done for grades Kindergarten through twelfth in public schools. Filters there block sites seen as distractions for students. (Palfrey, 7)

Here is an informational video debating the use of filtering around the world: http://youtu.be/LAUH5MbXc94

The third phase is called Access Controlled, which spanned 2005 to 2010. Palfrey defines this phase as, “A period during which states have emphasized regulatory approaches that function not only like filters or blocks, but also as variable controls.” (Palfrey, 12). When I think of access controlled I think of a refined or even evolved version of Phase 2’s Access Denied. The regulatory system used during the Access Controlled period is more nuanced and can change over time as the internet’s landscape changes. Palfrey’s article explains that China was (and still is) one of the most dynamic states regarding filtering in this third phase. What this made me think of was the highly publicized regulation of footage from the Tiananmen Square Massacre (Palfrey 13).

Here is a video on how China Cracked down on Tiananmen Square footage as the country neared the anniversary of the event: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSCOy95U2nY

The fourth and final phase of internet regulation is Access Contested, which takes place from 2010 to present day and on. This phase is less of history and more of a prediction. It is thought during this fourth phase there will be more resistance from users against the regulatory controls we’ve come to know in phase two and three (Palfrey, 15). So far it seems pretty accurate to me and reminded me of the recent protests in the United States on bills like SOPA and HIPPAA.

Here is a video on one of the protests: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOT-FAOXqKE

So those were the four phases of internet regulation and what world events they reminded me of. What world events do you associate with each phase of internet regulation?

 

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Mobile Mathematics

In 2008, Nokia and the South African government collaborated together to create a mobile phone application to promote applied learning through mathematics. This became known as MoMath (Mobile Mathematics) and it fuses with South Africa’s most popular social media platform MXit.

In Africa, because of the technological capabilities of the mobile phone, more people are using their phones to connect and communicate than PCs or laptops. A decade ago, mobile phones were considered a luxury, and now they are a necessity to modern life. MoMath takes advantage of the cheap access to this device, and thus the phone can be used as an educational tool in an environment where education can be sparse and dysfunctional in a developing society.

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The application works through MXit, which is a social media platform on the phone, and they claim to have 50 million users in Africa who use their messaging service. The popularity of this free service enables MoMath to be used in schools. Students are sent study packets, exams, self-assessment activities, and teacher feedback. Furthermore, students can communicate with teachers and other students, thus creating an educational connection among students who can channel their mathematical questions and concerns. Roughly 70% of the work done on MoMath is done outside of the classroom, thus cutting down on the possible distractions when devices are used within the school walls.

MoMath and MXit are excellent examples of social networking fusing together with education, but many parents disagree and think of them as a distraction.  The ability to communicate with other students on MoMath can be abused when used in the classroom and at home. Several schools, teachers, and parents in Africa have blamed MXit for lower exam scores and time spent less of academics.

This technological deterministic viewpoint doesn’t consider the fact that procrastination stems from the laziness of the student, and not MXit. Social media has been blamed for cutting off one-on-one interactions, but MoMath encourages peer-to-peer learning with a direct connection to the teacher who can provide feedback and offer improvement. Those who do not abuse MXit and MoMath, and consistently takes advantage of the study packages it offers gain new skills and improve upon their academic learning.

The in-class final exams greatly improve when students do the study exercises and participate. Studies have shown that the students are retaining their new knowledge and skills rather than simply memorizing for their benefit on the exams. As a result, the number of students participating in the early test stages of the program jumped from 280 to 4,000 within one year.

The South African government has held MoMath within a few certain regions around the north and western cape, but they have plans on extending the service throughout the rest of the country. Furthermore, Finland has caught on with the success of MoMath, and there are plans to bring the service into some of their secondary schools. This Finnish use of MoMath generates the ability to create an international communication and connection between people using MoMath. The exchange of information and ideas between Finland and South Africa can not only improve the student and teacher, but also the ergonomics of MoMath.

 

With the introduction of MoMath in Finland, do you think we will see more services like MoMath being used in first-world countries?

Do you think this service creates a proper environment for leaning within the classroom, or do you think the distractions will nullify the intentions of MoMath?

 

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