Category Archives: Internet

Parental Control: Where does it stop?

As Facebook has continued to evolve over the past couple of years, more of the worlds population has decided to rid themselves of all free time, and begin to take on procrastination as a hobby. In other words, more people have Facebook. Originally intended for college students, Facebook has expanded it’s demographic to all ages. Children as young as 13 and even grand-parents are jumping on the bandwagon these days. But for most college-aged students these days, the second their mom decides to “facebook friend” them spells trouble. All of the sudden every comment you make, every picture you are tagged in and for the most part, every move you make on Facebook suddenly must hold strong under the question “What will mom think if she sees this?” and “could anything be worse?” and unfortunately yes kids, it sure does.

The whole concept of having parents using the same sites as their children raises several points, some good and some not so good. First of all, we’ve now reached an age in which technology reigns supreme over all age groups. Never before has everyone been so digitally connected no matter their race, age, or colour, Facebook seems to transcend the age barrier that has for so long created a division between young and old.

But does this fact have certain repercussions for some Facebook users? The horrors of having parents on Facebook watching your every move isn’t a desirable for most young adults, but they aren’t the only red flags that must be watched out for these days. With almost everyone nowadays aware of the benefits of Facebook; teachers, coworkers and even people’s bosses are present on the site, with access to your photos and status updates. Now however this has always been a problem, it has recently risen to the surface that the owners of Facebook, WERE infact giving our personal information to 3rd party viewers. The New York Times unveiled its information concerning the situation in an article on November 29th;

“ The order says that Facebook, which has more than 800 million users worldwide today, in some cases allowed advertisers to glean personally identifiable information when a Facebook user clicked on an advertisement on his or her Facebook page. The company has long maintained that it does not share personal data with advertisers.”

This only makes me wonder, how can Facebook survive? A Company that has pledged to undertake more efforts in the privitaization of Facebook now admitting that they’ve spread “gossip” world wide. Whats next?  Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and chief executive of Facebook, went onto to explain how there were “a bunch of mistakes,” but said it had already fixed several of the issues cited by the commission. Thankfully there seems to be a light at the end of this Social Networking Nightmare, Facebook is now obliged to undergo an independent privacy audit every six months for the next 20 years, according to the terms of the settlement.

There have been countless stories of people getting the axe from their jobs over frustrated status updates about their bosses’ not so pleasant attitude. If fact, some employers have been known to scout out the pictures of potential employees on Facebook as method in deciding wether they would make a good employee or not. So next time you think about how horrified you are that your mom stumbled upon a photo of that sweet kegstand you did last Saturday, think about how you’d feel if it was on a billboard in Times Square for the whole world to see.

Think twice about what you post to the internet.

I’m begging you.

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You Better WORK!: New Application Shows When Photos Have Been Altered

Striving to look like the model on the cover of Cosmo may just be more achievable than you think! With one simple click, we have seen the magic of Photoshop create seamless beauty in less than a minute. This program can do many wonders, from removing blemishes, smoothing out skin complexion, or adding a sun-kissed glow. But now, more than ever models are shedding 10-20 pounds right before our eyes. This monster of a program has single handedly given the self-conscious market an unknowing boost in the wrong direction.

As discussed in Class, we have pondered the question of, “what happens if technology takes over?” and to be completely honest, I think that ship has sailed.

There always has been an issue with young girls and boys regarding the top models and imitating them to their best potential. However, now with Photoshop it creates the illusion that these “celebrities” are in fact at some unattainable level of perfection that no one dare compete. Photoshop gives amateurs the upper hand in this; pretty much anyone with the application is more than welcome to alter their own photos as well. However, this, as I’m sure you can imagine, does WONDERS for the self-esteem of the youth of today.

Hany Farid, a professor of computer science and a digital forensics expert at Dartmouth, sheds his insight in the New York Times on the problems with Photoshop, and the false notions of beauty that are displayed to the public through advertising and celebrity photographs.

The most recent discussion is whether or not viewers should be informed. In other words, should there be a notice or a watermark on the photo stating when it has been digitally enhanced? Will we be shocked by how many photos are in fact edited? Or will the public all of a sudden seem more and more beautiful as we begin to compete with unaltered photos of celebrities?

Technological advancements have enabled an application that is still in the works, however, essentially the purpose of the tool is to point out when a photo has been digitally Photo shopped.

“The algorithm is meant to mimic human perceptions. To do that, hundreds of people were recruited online to compare sets of before-and-after images and to determine the 1-to-5 scale, from minimally altered to starkly changed. The human rankings were used to train the software.”

Their work is intended as a technological step to address concerns about the prevalence of highly idealized and digitally edited images in advertising and fashion magazines. Such images, research suggests, contribute to eating disorders and anxiety about body types, especially among young women.
So maybe there is hope? Or just a really beautiful future?

You decide.

Instant Photography Pro?; The Pros and Cons of Instagram

An interesting note to speak about on the quality of cell phone photos, and more importantly, photo taking applications. What’s the big deal about Instagram? And why is that the single thing making me want so desperately to become an IPhone user? Is it ownership? Is it that the photos that any amateur with an IPhone takes looks like a gallery worthy image that would take years of education and portfolio building to achieve?

Nope, simply answered, the application uses filters to enhance the photos appearance, and give it a vintage look. This leads me to my second question? With technology that is on the brink of discovery and is so fresh and new, why would you want to upload photos that look like they were taken in 1867?

The merging of old and new technology has been a recent fad. From Skype calling, to ipads, there is clearly a need for society to hold onto these old mediums as we brace ourselves for what is in the future. I appreciate the success of Instagram. It’s a very well-executed product. It’s fast, fun and has a very expedient way of blasting out photos of things people see as they go about their lives. The fact that the entire social network revolves around pictures of relative mundane activities relieves users of the pressure of creating great works of art before showing them to the world.

However, is there really a necessity to making mundane photos seem more appealing? Does society really need another procrastination tool?

It almost seems to me like a money grabber, another application for the iPhone turning consumers into bandwagon chasing zombies. An article in the Globe & Mail discusses the situation and brings to light some very interesting points.

“Vintage filters became the barbecue sauce of the photography world: a strangely appealing taste that’s so pungent it overrules whatever might have been going on in the underlying food, for better or for worse.”

However repetitive it may seem, why do people stick to Instagram over any other photo editing application? Trust me, I’ve looked it up, there is no close to awesome equivalent to the BlackBerry, or the android.

I guess ownership is the glue of this operation. Knowing that YOU took that photo, and it looks just as good as anything a professional could take, is what keeps the users happy and entertained. The social media aspect included is also a great way to enhance a networked community, with the uploading and sharing of photos, only users with the application are able to participate.

So this leaves me wondering…how long until I cross over to the dark side?

Journalism: I Will Survive, or Will I?

In today’s modern society there is an incredible array of choice today in how the masses achieve their information and news. News comes to us from TV, radio, news papers and increasingly, from multiple websites available, and now with blogs becoming so increasingly popular, one may question how journalists plan to fit into this high-speed media landscape? And ultimately, what’s the future for journalism?

There are all sorts of kinds of journalism. You’ve got internet journalism such as blogs and online newspapers, gossip journalism, with websites like Perez Hilton, there are reporters, commentators and a lot of amateur content with personal opinions of the masses. I think this is an age, because of the information overload, where there is probably more focus on commentators, analysts and opinions to try to make sense of the amount of information being steered in the direction of the masses. Journalism has changed from being a conscience means for information to a way for advertising and for commercialism. Unfortunately war sells and peace doesn’t. You try and sell a story of peace and all the public is interested in is the war over seas, and not the feel-good piece on dieting. That’s the problem. The media has drastically changed, thus causing a threat for the future of journalism. The increase of amateur content raises the hurdle of what can be constituted as a legitimate source of information. Can a consumer trust the journalist who has done the research or the average Joe-blow who happened to be at the right place at the right time with his camera phone?

Journalists bring the news to the people, because if a bomb happens to go off in Iraq, and nobody knows about it, than is it still considered terrorism? Is it only terrorism if the knowledge of incidents in particular is spread worldwide to the masses to await a negative reaction from the people in regards to the opposing country? This shows the ethical distinction of whether or not a situation is in fact blown out of proportion due to media coverage, or if it is just information brought to the attention of the consumers.

It’s also the responsibility of the audience and of the citizenry to start understanding the effects of terrorism; it’s also the move from professional to amateur. The inclusion of technologies like digital cameras and camera phones certainly have created their own circumstances around how professional journalists actually need to go about collecting their information, and doing their jobs properly. Professional to amateur content is probably one of the hardest circumstances the journalists of today are dealing with in order to make way for the future of journalism and information broadcasting in the years to come.

Screw the laptop


I was quite happy when Professor Strangelove told us we were not allowed to have laptops during our lectures. Out of the 36 courses I have taken at the University of Ottawa, this course is one of three that prohibited the use of laptops during the lectures. And I applaud these three professors!

Now being a Communications student, I should be in horror that I cannot log into Facebook, read Perez Hilton or even surf the web….all during a lecture….which my parents are paying $ 50 to my institution each time I sit down and listen to a professor teach me for an hour and a half. I guess I should be paying more attention.

Now I will admit I have brought my laptop to lectures, just like any student does. My reasoning was that the professor was going through the material way too quickly for me to write it by hand. I prefer writing by hand because I am someone who is very visual and it helps me to grasp the material better writing. I picture myself actually writing my final exam as corny or even old school as that sounds. But hey, this method has never failed me.

However, something I guess is disappointing to admit is being a 4th year student at uOttawa and I still have never used the university’s Wi-Fi. Not once. But I know, the moment I get that Wi-Fi installed to my laptop, I will end up being one of those zombies you see in class, not paying attention to the professor while surfing the Net. There goes $ 50 of my parent’s hard earned money.

I guess you should say I should get with the times and bring my laptop to class or at least get Wi-Fi. But if not brining my laptop to class is a better opportunity for me to get an A because I am paying attention versus getting a C because I wasn’t. Well then, it’s not hard to choose the more successful method of learning for me.


Offline invites Online Reality into their homes thanks to YouTube.

The idea of Internet fame is funny at first when you think about it. Internet identities have such a bizarre reputation that the thought of becoming famous from something posted online seems far fetched. It can almost be said that one blogger who uploads her weekly “vlog” (Video Blog) on Youtube can have an infinitely higher number of views than an episode of the latest MTV trash Reality Shows. In my opinion, Youtube has become its own generation of reality TV, following people world wide as they go about their regular mundane tasks, but add their own little quirk to make it watchable for a consumer audience; that’s raw reality TV; and something worth watching.

The ShayTards are a Youtube Channel that I personally have been subscribed to on Youtube for over 5 years. I have watched them grow as a family through the birth of two of their four children, I’ve seen them get fired from jobs, gain new experiences,  pay off their debt, and most recently, Shay Carl has become an entrepreneur by harnassing the one skill he does best- Vlogging and making videos on the internet.

Sound bizarre? I dare you to watch one episode without being charmed by the beauty and honesty of their family. I dare you to watch another and tell me you don’t feel a personal attachment to them. Its weird to think that this family has opened themselves up to be watched  by people world wide, and believe it or not people are watching…with over 75,000 views a video, Shay Carl is amongst some of Youtube’s Heavy weight competitors, making collaborations with Philip Defranco, Ray William Johnson, Michael Buckley, and Charles Trippy, to name a few.
According to Forbes Magazing, “Sometime this year, online video comedian Shay Butler and his family’s Youtube channel will likely pass a half-billion upload views. At the heart of that success is a quintessential man-child. Butler, best known as ShayCarl, has created a series of reality shows that could draw comparisons to a cleaned-up Osbournes, adds a dash of “Tool Time” sensibility and finishes with a question that sparks many classic American family sitcoms.” Shay goes on to recount his journey to Internet stardom. He recounts the instant connection he felt with Youtube, he explains, “I loved the feedback and the gratification was instant. I would film some random thought I had about hand sanitizer or gas prices or me dancing in my wife’s old uni-tard and I would upload it and people were instantly there to tell me if they thought it was funny or not. I loved the communication and the community of it all.”

I personally have never been a fan of television shows, and have always found it hard to keep up with a series of a specific show. But my prayers were answered with one little websites initiative to keep things short, simple, and to the point; and the point was entertainment. Laughter is the best medicine, and what better way than with a simple click of a button to instantly catch up on your weekly giggles.

Youtube subscriptions are the television addiction I never had. Being able to have videos catered to my liking, sent straight to my home page stunned me.  Started in 2008, I have been following the ShayTards religiously without missing a video; that’s 3 years of daily vlogging. Something that I, one day, wish to accomplish. To know someones life as intimately as I have learned to watch and get to know this family is a great feat, and an amazing thing to think about having such a connection with someone who lives

One thing that sticks out in my mind that is repeated in the ShayTard videos is one simple phrase, “ if life’s worth living, its worth recording”

To Read Shay Carls full Epic rise to Internet Stardom ;

Click Here!


Or do yourself a favour and subscribe to Their Channel on Youtube.