Personally – trying to speak No Evil

google3Because who’s managing our online reputation?

Taken from an article by James Dolan in the Technology section of Nuvo Magazine.

It’s amazing that we have the ability to talk to, learn from, and work with people from all over the world – from the comfort of our home.  The liberty to exchange opinions, explore new ideas, the freedom to do what you want, say what you want, be who you are, without the government, the boss, or mom and dad getting in the way.google1In practice, the freedom by the Internet has proven something of a double-edged sword.  True, the combination of anonymity and interconnectivity has allowed millions to enjoy unprecedented freedom of expression.  Out of that…

Gossip, misinformation, unverified rumour, tall tales, bald-faced lies – all of it can be found in plentiful on the Internet.  With the rise of Facebook, Twitter, and other sites as the 21st century’s communication medim of choice, It seems we can all look forward to the badmouthing growing in frequenty and expanding in volume, cached on countless servers until the end of time.  Or at least until we run out of hard drive space. google2 Now that the Internet has developed into a powerful tool for the pursuit of wealth as well as happiness, the fabrication of untruths has become a viable business strategy.  In an environment where what people say about you (and how they say it) can make the difference between profit and loss, it is easy to imagine how such activity could be used for less-than-pure-purposes: a positive review to falsely promote a brand’s reputation; a negative review to destroy it.

Uncomfortable with the “anything goes” culture of user-generated content, many popular websites have taken their own approach to protecting and policing the reputations of users.  Auction site eBay encourages users to leave feedback; tech blog Slashdot has developed the concept of “karma points”; and last year search giant Google launched a toolset to help users request expedited removal of confidential or unwanted content.

There is also professional help.  For a fee, a reputation manager will monitor online activity and defend one’s cyberstanding from the slings and arrows of muckrakers and hacks.  Part public relations officer, part computer engineer, part private eye, such specialists are quickly becoming essential staff members for celebrities, politicians, high-profile athletes, and multinational corporations looking to cure themselves of bad press.

There is no denying that the Internet at times resembles a giant high school, where mean-spirited children (of any age) can mock, tease, and intimidate without the fear of reprisal.  By eliminating our ability to criticize and scold, to bitch and complain, to shake our collective fists at injustice both imagined and real, we lose no small part of that freedom we were once promised.  Slowly but surely, truth comes to resemble our reputations: something no longer earned, but “managed”.


Personally speaking – what more does the future have in store?

“Life is like a box of chocolates, You never know what you’re going to get” –Tom Hanks, Forrest Gump.amber3At present I find most people live in the past and worry about the future while waiting for things to happen.  This article I came across while scouring the internet intrigued me enough to want to share it.  No matter what, in order to grow we must get used to sharing the future with new technology and make friends with it.  It’s jumping ahead pretty quickly so get used to it.  Here’s how one person lives in the future.

How to live in the future – now

Amber Case, cyborg anthropologist who works at software company Esri, isn’t waiting for the future – she’s living in it.

She is surrounded by electronic devices, but those devices don’t control her: They step out of the way and let Case be a better human.

Amber Case
Amber Case

Case’s world is the world of the invisibl button, a world where she walks around and things just happen. Her phone — which is just one of a slew of devices that is constantly receiving information about Case and her environment, processing it, and returning useful nuggets of insight — tells her whether she’ll need to bring an umbrella for the walk to the meeting she’s heading to later, and reminds her that she should eat chicken and greens for lunch and skip the chips.

Case didn’t wind up in this world by accident. She thinks about technology — where it is now, where it’s going, where it should go, and how that will change how we interact with it and with each other — constantly. Here are a few of the things she looks for when she’s dreaming of the future:

1. Imagine what would happen if the stuff you have and love went away forever.

If there’s anything we know about technology in the twenty-first century, it’s that it changes fast. Huge players disappear and leave holes behind — holes that someone else will fill in a new ways. One trend Case thinks is imminent is personal ownership of our own data via home servers. How will this catch on? If people realize that an abrupt exit by Google or Facebook means their documents/photos/memories/life’s ephemera will be effectively erased, they’ll scramble for a way to log their own data before sending it to the data giants.

2. Look to the past.

“If the future is unevenly distributed,” said Case, “then there are little pockets where people are seeing the future early on.” Case looks for those pockets in the present and the near past. For example, her current obsession is the evolution of the user interface from solid (machines that had to be reconfigured) to liquid (software that can be rewritten to redefine the meaning of a button) to air (no button or physical at all – just you interacting with information and the environment). To vaporize the user interface, Case looked at the work of Steve Mann, who built wearable heads-up displays thirty years ago. Sure, Mann’s inventions weighed as much as a Golden Retriever, but they essentially predicted Google Glass.

3. Hang out with weirdos.

Weirdo is just another word for visionary, according to Case. Activities happening on the fringes right now could one day fall into the center. What’s regarded as bizarre will someday be mainstream. If you want to beat it there, head for the passionate group of people in the corner, wearing forty pounds of sensors and hacked electronics and drinking home-distilled spirits.

4. If you don’t see the future you want, don’t wait for it: Make it.

Unlike some futurists, Case doesn’t just speculate about the next big trend – she creates it so she can start to play with it and understand its dynamics. “If I don’t see somebody making something, I build it,” said Case, “because I can’t wait around for five years.”

“To predict what will happen in the next period of time is impossible, but If certain things haven’t been made, then I will have to make them,” said Case.

And there’s no reason why you can’t, too.

We have the world at our fingertips!
The world is at our fingertips!  From Images.

Remember, the only way to get to the future is through a series of todays.