How the Internet looked back in the olden days

September 17, 2008

This is an actual image from the McDonald’s corporate website back in 1996

I find it quite odd talking to teenagers today since the are truly the internet generation. So much is it a part of our daily routine that it’s difficult to think back to BI – Before Internet.

I first “surfed” the internet back in 1994 during my university days. I was already familiar with computers and programs such as Word Perfect, but the internet was something new. The terminals at my school library were hooked up to the internet, but it was still text-based meaning no images, and a lot of tabbing and hitting “enter” since the mouse wasn’t all that useful. Most time in those days was spent on Usenet.

The following year our computers got an upgrade and the world wide web came alive. Images flashed on our screens, and always very slowly…..waiting for objects to load was par for the course. The search engine of choice was AltaVista (yes, this was pre-Google) and your website options were quite limited.

Here is a presentation of what the internet looked like in 1996. You’ll notice how primitive sites were and how aesthetically unappealing they could be. It’s a great collection courtesy of the Wayback Machine.

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Digital Disinformation – a growing threat to us all

September 15, 2008

Disinformation, whether intentional or unintentional quickly spreads across the internet

The threat of tiny black holes slowly swallowing up Earth as the Large Hadron Collider was switched on last week led to many jokes across the internet involving dumb eggheads with a death wish. Not everyone was laughing. The man credited with inventing the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, has expressed concern at how his creation allows for the lightning fast dissemination of disinformation across the globe. He particularly highlighted how the notion that our world is in jeopardy from the LHC spread so quickly through the media yet was demonstrated to be false.

In response to the danger of false information finding a safe home on the internet, Berners-Lee is launching a foundation:

The Foundation will brand sites that it has found to be trustworthy and reliable sources of information.

For those of us familiar with the internet and its ways, the elasticity of truth and its blurred lines with falsehood is no great surprise. To counter disinformation, companies like Reputation Hawk have sprung up, promising to fix your online reputation whether you’re a business or an individual:

If you or your company is getting bashed on the net – they can evidently ‘fix’ it. But they don’t contact the owners of the offending web sites which is what we immediately assumed, instead they focus on pushing the negative information off of the first few pages in Google. This new field is known as internet reputation management or online reputation management.

The free flow of information heralded by the internet age has had its drawbacks as we’ve noted already. Both Berners-Lee and Reputation Hawk consider vigilance to be the key to countering damaging information or disinfo that finds a very fertile atmosphere in the virtual world.

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Hello, my name is ******* and I’m an internet addict

September 12, 2008

Why is this page taking sooooo long to f*****g load?!!!!!!

If you’re like me your hours spent in front of the television are pretty much down to zero….but that’s because you’re spending hours in front of the computer on the internet. With the days of dial-up internet and slow loading pages consigned to the electronic dustbin of history, easy access to entertainment, mass communication, and learning thanks to high speed broadband has left us addicted. Source for news? The internet. Source for music? The internet. Source for finding where that new flick is playing? Why, the internet of course!

Very cheap and very accessible, the internet has come to dominate our lives in a way simply not possible to understand two decades ago. Think back to university when researching and being forced to dig through moldy stacks of books for sources on an essay about the French Revolution. Think back to booking a vacation by visiting a travel agent and putting your trip in their hands. Think back about combing through the yellow pages to make a dinner reservation at a restaurant. The internet has made so many things so much easier by placing information at the tips of our worn fingers attached to our carpal-tunneled hands. Read the rest of this entry »

e-mail response time and what it says about you

August 29, 2008

how do you respond to e-mails?

In an age of instant communication many are accustomed to prompt response when sending a message to others. Unfortunately for some, a prompt response isn’t always a certainty.

How quickly do you respond to e-mails? Dr. Karen Renaud of the University of Glasgow tells us that people break down into three groups when replying to e-mails: relaxed, driven, and stressed.

Women, in particular, felt more pressure to respond quickly to a new email than men, she said.

‘The relaxed group don’t let email exert any pressure on their lives,’ Dr Renaud, an expert in computer science, said.

‘They treat it exactly the way that one would treat the mail: “I’ll fetch it, I’ll deal with it in my own time, but I’m not going to let it upset me”.

‘The second group felt “driven” to keep on top of email, but also felt that they could cope with it. The third group, however, reacted negatively to the pressure of email.

read the rest here

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Why the Internet Makes Identity Theft So Easy

August 20, 2008

identity theft
Identity theft is much easier than you might imagine

We humans being the most social of animals leads us to constantly talk about ourselves (some more than others, some much, much more) no matter how mundane or trivial the actual subject can be. New technology such as the internet has only facilitated this urge to speak about ourselves even more in the form of social networking sites.

In a previous post here at vodka/soda we discussed some of the dangers of social networking sites on the internet. One of the most costly dangers is identity theft, a theft made much easier by the amount of personal information available about ourselves and made available by ourselves (and websites) on the web.

Herbert H. Thompson, a professor of computer science and a software developer, shows us how easy it is to steal a person’s identity just by mining data on the internet in: How I Stole Someone’s Identity. Here’s a quote from the article:

I asked some of my acquaintances, people I know only casually, if with their permission and under their supervision I could break into their online banking accounts. After a few uncomfortable pauses, some agreed. The goal was simple: get into their online banking account by using information about them, their hobbies, their families and their lives freely available online. To be clear, this isn’t hacking or exploiting vulnerabilities, instead it’s mining the Internet for nuggets of personal data.

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The Globalisation of Hip

August 15, 2008

“Hip” now moves faster and has more “sameness” thanks to globalisation

We can trot out cliches about globalisation like “the world is a global village” all day long, but in my opinion this current trend can be described as the “great leveler”. Globalisation has seen money move to places where the quickest profits can be made only to see it abandon those places once they found a more profitable location elsewhere. In the meantime, the world is becoming more similar from location to location as people consume the same products, are wearing the same clothes, and are exposed to the same culture.

Globalisation is also affecting Hipster culture as trends now move more quickly and with more force than they once did. Previously what was cool in New York wasn’t necessarily cool in Helsinki….but now what’s cool in Paris can be what’s cool in Buenos Aires in a matter of weeks. Tim Walker explores the globalisation of hip in: Meet the Global Scenster. Here’s an excerpt:

“Trends aren’t transmitted hierarchically, as they used to be,” explains Martin Raymond, co-founder of The Future Laboratory, a trend forecasting company. “They’re now transmitted laterally and collaboratively via the internet. You once had a series of gatekeepers in the adoption of a trend: the innovator, the early adopter, the late adopter, the early mainstream, the late mainstream, and finally the conservative. But now it goes straight from the innovator to the mainstream.”

The global scenester stays on top of what’s cool worldwide by reading such urban culture despatches as The Cool Hunter, a blog begun in Sydney four years ago by Bill Tikos, which reports on the hippest fashion, furniture, and design culture. The Cool Hunter has more than 600,000 unique visitors per month, who pore over the contents of its licensed offshoots in the US, UK, Turkey, Italy, China, and Japan. Its global audience allows Tikos to homogenise cool worldwide.

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4 Search Engines for a Better Wikipedia Experience

August 12, 2008


Wikipedia – the world’s most popular collaborative website

Are you a Wikipedia junkie like I am? I’ll spend hours bouncing from page to page never once completing a destination that I first intended but still having a great time throughout the entire journey. This site also uses wikipedia as a source for many of the hyperlinks that you find embedded throughout the posts.

I just came across a great article that lists four search engines for wikipedia. One of the links offered is Similpedia:

Similipedia is one of the best Wikipedia search engines available. Not only is it extremely accurate and effective, it has a completely different approach to search. Instead of typing in a query, e.g. computers, you are asked to copy and paste a URL or a paragraph containing at least 100 words. Just press “enter” and let it go to work.

I decided to try copying and pasting the first two paragraphs of Tina’s article on Adobe Reader. The result were articles on Wikipedia ranging from Adobe Acrobat, PDF, to a comparison of e-book formats – all of which were relevant. Similpedia just added a new widget to their website that allows you to add code to your website and Similpedia will automatically add relevant Wikipedia articles. They have other widgets that include: a Firefox add-on, bookmarklet, contextual RSS as well as a WordPress widget for similar content. I highly recommend trying them all out.

Read about the other three search engines at this link.

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