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 »

Infidelity in the Digital Age

September 11, 2008

Does internet porn qualify as cheating?

A running theme at Vodka/Soda Magazine is how technology has been trumpeted as an inherent good but always turns out differently than first imagined by the creators and standard bearers of that technology.

The internet was created as a form of communication that would be safe from foreign ears and it then morphed into things such as the world wide web, e-commerce, and web 2.0. The internet has also changed how we communicate. It has allowed us to communicate faster, better, and in many new forms from uploading videos to YouTube to chatting on MSN Messenger. It has changed the dynamic of our personal communications as emails have largely replaced “snail mail” and especially in how virtual worlds have been created with virtual communities of people who have never physically met in person.

With this shift in the paradigm of communications, new problems arise. For instance, is a harmless flirtation with someone you’ve met in a chatroom sincerely harmless? The two people may never have been in the same room and may never have actually spoken to one another, but nevertheless it does affect the integrity of their real life relationships should they have a significant other.

This new form of communication begs the question: how real are virtual worlds online? The virtual world is more real than the imagination, but less real than what is termed “the meatspace”. Imagining sexual dalliances is not considered cheating by anyone but the most rigid of moralists but sexual innuendo online or “cybersex” certainly does cross a line. The real question therefore must be: Is pornography adultery? Ross Douthat tries to answer that question in this month’s The Atlantic Monthly. Here’s an excerpt:

A second perspective treats porn as a kind of gateway drug—a vice that paves the way for more-serious betrayals. A 2004 study found that married individuals who cheated on their spouses were three times as likely to have used Internet pornography as married people who hadn’t committed adultery. In Tom Perrotta’s bestselling Little Children, the female protagonist’s husband—who is himself being cuckolded—progresses from obsessing over an online porn star named “Slutty Kay” to sending away for her panties to joining a club of fans who pay to vacation with her in person. Brink ley’s husband may have followed a similar trajectory, along with many of the other porn-happy celebrity spouses who’ve featured in the gossip pages and divorce courts lately.

click here to read the article in its entirety

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The Dead Sea Scrolls Are Coming to the Internet

September 3, 2008

Dead Sea Scrolls
A portion of the Dead Sea Scrolls

Back in 1947, a Bedouin goat herder stumbled upon the archaeological discovery of the century in a place called Qumran in what is now the West Bank. What he found in there is what we refer to as The Dead Sea Scrolls. The importance of these scrolls to history and faith is still yet to be determined as much of their contents have been jealously guarded.

Thanks to the rise of the internet, the scrolls themselves will be open to all eventually as scientists have announced that they will be publishing the scrolls on the internet using American space technology:

Scientists using American space technology have started a huge project to digitally photograph the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest known version of the Hebrew Bible, and post it on the Internet for all to see, Israeli authorities said Wednesday.

High-tech cameras using infrared photography are being used to uncover sections of the 2,000-year-old scrolls that have faded over the centuries and become indecipherable, the Israeli Antiquities Authority said.

The project is expected to take about five years and the goal is to make the scrolls accessible to scientists and the general public, Antiquities Authority official Pnina Shor said.

“Now for the first time the scrolls will be a computer click away,” said Shor, who heads the authority’s department responsible for the conservation of artifacts. “This will ensure that the scrolls are preserved for another 2,000 years.”

The internet has been a boon for amateur archaeologists and anthropologists as historical records have been finding their way into the virtual world. The two best examples are The Domesday Book from Medieval England and the Ellis Island Records from the turn of the century USA. I have no doubt that the Dead Sea Scrolls will prove just as fascinating as these two already available online.

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Google enters the Web Browser Market with Chrome

September 2, 2008

Google released a comic explaining the workings of their new web browser “Chrome”

Microsoft has another reason to be worried.

Late last night, Google announced that they’ll be releasing their own web browser entitled “Chrome” later today in 100 countries. Alongside the announcement is a comic that explains the technology behind the release and does it in a fashion that a layman can understand. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is the web browser king and Google is looking to bite into its market share with this release.

From what I’ve seen, the main benefits touted in this new browser are its better service of web applications, better internet security, and its open source nature plus the fact that it is lightweight compared to its competitors.

Take a look at the comic for a thorough explanation of what is behind Chrome and what it intends to do.

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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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