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Law enforcement agencies are challenged on many fronts in their efforts to protect online users from all manner of cyber-related threats. Through constant innovation, cybercriminals across the world are developing increasingly sophisticated malware, rogue mobile apps and more resilient botnets. With little or no technical knowledge, criminals now occupy parts of the Internet to carry out their illegal activities within the notorious Dark Web.
As the analysis reaches deeper behind the recent Paris attacks, it has become clear that terrorism today is a widening series of global alliances often assisted and connected via cyber social media, and electronic propaganda.
For this brief series of posts, we Teaching Authors are celebrating Internet Day. April started last Friday with a little history, a Paul Simon song, and a thought-provoking poem. On Monday, Mary Ann discussed movies, marriage, and misinformation. Here’s my take: Like all technology, the Internet is wonderful when it works. Unfortunately, it can’t do everything.
Take my brand-new Dell Inspiron laptop—please. I bought it during a back-to-school sale and used it just long enough to invest in and install some new software, create a couple of conference presentations, and transfer a few files. Last weekend, the entire left half of the keyboard went dead.
At Dell’s Technical Support center in New Delhi, technicians work at night so we can reach them during our daytime hours. My email got no response and the chat option was unavailable, so I finally called. Two hours later, after the technician took control of my computer from halfway around the world, I had a diagnosis (faulty motherboard), a promise that a shipping label would be on its way as soon as I hung up (It was.), and multiple reassurances that my computer would work just fine in five to ten days if I sent it to a service center. (I did.) I hope the old one, which now shuts itself off spontaneously, lasts that long.
I went for a walk. Stomping through the park, I started thinking in haiku. Short, curt lines expressed my frustration but didn’t give me enough room. Back at home, I decided to explore the tanka form. I started (of course) with a Google search.
Tanka have syllable counts similar to haiku: five lines of 5, 7, 5, 7, and 7 syllables. Many poems have a turn or pivot in the third line. Other than that, as this helpful article by Michael McClintock points out, “in form, techniques, and subject matter, the modern English-language tanka shows wide variation and invention, and appears disinclined to observe any rigid set of ‘rules’ or conventions.”
Fancy new laptop diagnosed from India but not fixed. Oh, well. I’ll write with paper and pen and flaming leaves streaming by.
I’ll play with the form some more while I wait for my laptop’s return. Wish me luck!
My husband and I are former drama majors, who met in community theater.
What does this have to do with the Internet? Patience, please!
We are huge movie fans. Pre-child, we would see three or four movies a week. Post-child and Pre-Netflix, we were Blockbusters' best customers. Watching movies is not a passive experience for us. We discuss the direction, the acting, the anachronisms that pop up. (The average upperclass American 1950's wife did NOT have pierced ears!)
For years our biggest argument was over a line in The Godfather. Did Tom Hagen say to Michael Corleone, "You know Pop worked hard to get you a deferment" or "You know Pop worked hard to get you into Furman"? (A small Baptist college in South Carolina...my husband is a South Carolinian.) It didn't matter that the book said Michael went to Dartmouth.
"They changed it for the movie," my husband insisted.
This guy went to Dartmouth.
Enter the Internet! I first met "the 'Net" when I was a university reference librarian in the mid-90's. I learned that the right combo of search terms on the right search engine (my favorite was Alta Vista) would get me any information my heart desired. The Godfather screenplay was online. Yes, Don Corleone got Michael a deferment, not into Furman. Having settled the matter of Michael Corleone's alma mater, my husband and I continue to "discuss" movies and actors. Thanks to a wonderful database, www.IMDb.com, our differences in opinion are settled before the first commercial.
"Oh there's what's-her-name. You know her; she was the Lucky Hat Girl in Goodfellas?" Tap tap tap. "Welker White. She does a lot of Law and Order."
"Didn't we see Goodfellas when we were dating?"
"Nope. We were living in Wisconsin."
Tap tap tap. "We're both wrong. Goodfellas came out September 1990. We were living Alabama."
What does all this have to with writing? The Internet, used with caution, saves a boatload of research time. I wrote the first version of Jimmy's Stars in 1984. I spent months in the microfilm room of the Pittsburgh Carnegie Library reading old newspapers, making hundreds of pages of notes. After I finished the book, I sensed it was missing something. (A plot! A conflict!) So, Jimmy lived in my bottom desk drawer for nearly 30 years. (Never throw anything out. Especially something you have researched so long!) When I re-wrote the book (this time with a plot and conflict), I could re-verify my information from my home office with just a couple of hours of online searching.
In the past, I would begin a writing project by collecting information. Pictures, maps, books and bits of ephemera picked up here and there (ration books, streetcar schedules, old postcards.) My tiny office looked like an episode of Hoarders. Now my pre-writing prep consists of a list of questions and items in an notebook. 99% of what I need, I can find and use online. The other 1% comes from my collection of diaries, family letters and photo albums. (OK, there is a still a corner of my office that looks like Hoarders.) Fairy tales can come true, if you are a reference librarian! No more juggling enormous reference books. No more waiting for the new edition of that reference book to come out. Instant reference gratification! Almost everything you could ever want to know is online, somewhere.
Along with the good stuff, comes the wrong, the bad and the half-truths (to say nothing about the wonderful world of Photoshopped pictures). It's the Wild Wild Cyberspace out there. Anyone can publish anything online, and it doesn't have to be the truth. I am reminded of students from my first school library job, circa 1982. Do you remember the old Sprite commercials, that showed a "limon--half lemon, half lime"? I could not convince otherwise intelligent kids that a limon was not a real fruit because...they saw it on TV!
A limon is a mythical fruit.
Just because it's online, doesn't make it true.
There is no such thing as a jackalope, either!
The Internet is an endless source of information and misinformation. Some sites may or may not have accurate information (Wikipedia) that has to be verified another way. I found "satirical" news sites, such as The Onion, masquerading as legitimate information sources. If it's too weird to be true, I either search the name of the original source (which will tell me if the site is "satirical" or affiliated with a particular political agenda) or I hit www.snopes.com. Snopes keeps up with latest rumors, urban legends and conspiracy theories.
Some people avoid writing by playing Solitaire or Candy Crush online. Me? I can spend hours happily toggling from one site to another, answering for own curiosity (and not story research) question after question. And then double checking those answers.
As the old Russian proverb (which was swiped by President Reagan's speechwriter) says, "Trust but verify." If you don't verify on the front end, some editor is going to ask you to do it eventually.
Now, I am taking a break from blog writing to scroll through my new obsession, www.murderpedia.org, a data base of murderers, living and dead, from around the world.
. Howdy, Campers! Happy Poetry Friday...and Happy Internet Day on October 29th!
The P.F. link and my poem are below (and trust me--today's host posts a tasty Poetry Friday!)
The Internet: it all began 46 years ago with Leonard Kleinrock
With this post, TeachingAuthors launches a short series celebrating the birth of the internet. And we want to hear from you: has the internet changed you? In what ways? What comes to mind when you think of the internet?
According to TheInternetDay.com, on October 29, 1969, under the supervision of UCLA computer science professor Leonard Kleinrock, the first message was sent over an internet connection.(Click here for the sound of connecting to the internet via dial-up...) When I think of the internet, I think of moving to a new town, into our new house and connecting to the internet, in 1994. Not long after, my friend Barney Saltzberg (whom we've featured several times on this blog) and I began to email each other. We could read each other's thoughts--instantly! We could complete each other's sentences! We could talk deep into the night without speaking! We could collaborate on stories through the air! It was A-freakin'-MAZING. My. Brain. Exploded. Were our lives ever going to be the same again?
Mine was not. Not long after, I met Courtney Campbell, who regularly tours schools in Europe. She was incredibly generous, sharing the contact information of her host in Germany. If she had simply given me his snail mail address, I may have stuck that note in my desk and never done a thing about it. Instead, she gave me magic: his email address. I emailed him that evening: "Hello! Would you be interested in having an author visit your schools?"
In the morning, his reply arrived: "How soon can you come?"
And so began several years of my touring schools in Europe. Yup. My life had changed forever.
When I think of the internet, I also think of how each freshly-baked email, each amazing link, each post by every dear friend is a pretty shiny thing which grabs my attention...again and again and again...
...wait, what was my point?
My brain on the internet. from www.gifbay.com
...and I see how the very structure of my life has changed since that initial euphoria Barney and I tasted, splashing in the shallow end of the 'net.
When I think of the internet, I also feel weighted down.
Off to chop down a few emails...
These days the internet is an unending desire to send a friendly and intelligent reply to every message in my inbox.
It's perpetually polishing my shiny online portrait.
It's forever unfinished homework.
How did we go so quickly from "Oh, WOW--this internet thing is AMAZING!" to "I can't drive with you to the party tonight--I'll meet you there. I need to finish my blog post and I have too many emails to answer" which--and I swear this is true--I just said five minutes ago (paraphrased) to my husband.
Still, when I think of the internet, I also think of Paul Simon's stunning song (co-written by Forere Mothoeloa), The Boy in The Bubble, on Simon's Graceland album, 1986.
Here is the chorus:
These are the days of miracle and wonder This is the long-distance call The way the camera follows us in slo-mo The way we look to us all The way we look to a distant constellation That’s dying in a corner of the sky These are the days of miracle and wonder And don’t cry baby don’t cry Don’t cry
(If you'd like to simply listen to the song, then you can stare at a static image of the Graceland album's cover as you listen here. On the other hand, if you'd like to see Simon's official music video--i.e. pretty shiny stuff--here 'tis.)
In the spirit of that song, here's a poem I wrote in April 2012--which I rewrote last night and again (and again) today--thank you, Bruce and ADR, through the miracle of the internet!
MIRACLES AND WONDER
by April Halprin Wayland
"The average farmer’s wife is one of the most patient and overworked women of the time." ~ The American Farmer, 1884
I am descending fifteen flights of stairs
from my lonely hotel room to a breakfast of buttered toast and eggs.
Each empty floor’s the same:
the same metal stairs,
the same smell of dust and cleanser,
the same beige walls...
so I pull my cell out of a zippered pocket,
dial my sister to say hi, to keep me company,
and as her phone rings in California,
I am descending in time.
I imagine a prairie wife,
one who helped lace the land with barbed wire,
churned butter, gathered eggs, fed the fire,
birthed and buried babies.
No time for mourning.
As winds scratched the plains, she murmured to the hens.
She had no other company.
She might have called her sister if she had had a phone,
might never have wandered off,
head tilted back, mumbling to the wide sky.
Each day was the same,
the same metal horizon,
the same smell of dust and scrub,
the same beige crops...her solitary lot.
If only a phone instead of a lonely yearning;
with a single cell she might have kept
her own fire burning.
poem and drawing (c) 2015 by April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved.
So now,when I think of the internet--when I think of any technology--I may be overwhelmed (a dilemma which the next generation of users will undoubtedly solve) but I'm also singing about Miracles and Wonder.
These are the days of miracle and wonder And don’t cry baby don’t cry Don’t cry
Defining “privacy” has proven akin to a search for the philosopher’s stone. None of the numerous theories proposed over the years seems to encompass all the varied facets of the concept. In considering the meaning of privacy, it can be fruitful to examine how a great artist of the past has dealt with aspects of private life that retain their relevance in the Internet age.
An unacceptably large proportion of mentally ill individuals do not receive any care. Reasons vary but include the dearth of providers, the cost of treatment and stigma. Telemental health, which uses digital technology for the remote delivery of mental health services, may help toward finding a solution.
बेशक डिजिटल इंडिया बहुत अच्छा प्रयास है औए स्वागत योग्य है पर जिस तरह से नेट वर्क इतना धीमा चल रहा है कि सुबह से दोपहर हो जाती है बस Page is loading. ही चलती रहती है कुछ पोस्ट नही कर पाते ऐसे मे किस मन से सुस्वागत करें हम इसका …
Here’s what you need to know about the Digital India initiative | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis
Several people have changed their Facebook profile pictures after CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Prime Minister Narendra Modi did so and urged other to follow suit to support the Digital India initiative. But wait–this profile picture change actually ties more closely in to Facebook’s own Internet.org strategy, which should not be confused as being congruous with India’s Digital India movement.
So merely switching to a tricolour profile picture has, in fact, nothing to do with the Digital India initiative. Lets clear the air and re-look at the tenets that define the Digital India initiative.
Also Read: From Microsoft’s Satya Nadella to Apple’s Tim Cook, who said what about ‘Digital India’
Launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 1, 2015, the Digital India initiative was started with a view to empower the people of the country digitally. The initiative also aims to bridge India’s digital segment and bring big investments in the technology sector. Via dnaindia.com
Acho que o que vou dizer vai parecer algo incrível para alguns, mas é perfeitamente possível debater online SEM:
– agredir verbalmente o colega; – usar falácias relacionando coisa alguma com coisa nenhuma; – usar expressões vagas como "sementes do mal" , "defensores dos manos", "bandido bom é bandido morto", "coxinha", "esquerdopata", "feminazi"; – fazer ameaças, revelando a própria maldade, tipo: "espero que matem alguém de sua família", "espero que lhe estuprem", "torço pra que aconteça com você"; – usar referências de baixa credibilidade como Olavo de Carvalho, revista Veja, pregacões de pastores-vindilhões; – usar argumentos religiosos como se todo mundo fosse obrigado a seguir a mesma religião (que, aliás, tampouco seguem de fato); – ser preguiçoso e responder com memes prontos quando não sabe o que dizer; – GRITAR (tira o dedo do capslock); Ou sentar o dedo no potássio (kkkkk) – como diria o Leandro Karnal.
The Federal Trade Commission has just sent a press release touting its first successful action against a failed Kickstarter campaign.
The FTC’s mission is to protect consumers from false or misleading advertising, and as part of its new FinTech program the agency is developing new strategies for curbing deceptive practices online. Target #1: The Doom That Came to Atlantic City, a crowdfunded vaporware boardgame that netted more than $122,000 for its would-be creator.
Anyone planning to start a Kickstarter campaign might want to consider what the FTC found wrong with this failed campaign and the penalties imposed in the resulting settlement. And if you’re wondering what this case could mean for the future, the FTC is hosting a Twitter chat with its attorneys today (Thursday, June 11) from 2-3pm.
In its first case involving crowdfunding, the Federal Trade Commission has taken legal action against the deceptive tactics of a project creator who raised money from consumers to produce a board game through a Kickstarter campaign, but instead used most of the funds on himself. The defendant has agreed to a settlement that prohibits him from deceptive representations related to any crowdfunding campaigns in the future and requires him to honor any stated refund policy….
According to the FTC’s complaint, Chevalier represented in his Doom campaign on Kickstarter.com that if he raised $35,000, backers would get certain rewards, such as a copy of the game or specially designed pewter game figurines. He raised more than $122,000 from 1,246 backers, most of whom pledged $75 or more in the hopes of getting the highly prized figurines. He represented in a number of updates that he was making progress on the game. But after 14 months, Chevalier announced that he was canceling the project and refunding his backers’ money.
Despite Chevalier’s promises he did not provide the rewards, nor did he provide refunds to his backers. In fact, according to the FTC’s complaint, Chevalier spent most of the money on unrelated personal expenses such as rent, moving himself to Oregon, personal equipment, and licenses for a different project.
Under the settlement order, Chevalier is prohibited from making misrepresentations about any crowdfunding campaign and from failing to honor stated refund policies. He is also barred from disclosing or otherwise benefiting from customers’ personal information, and failing to dispose of such information properly. The order imposes a $111,793.71 judgment that will be suspended due to Chevalier’s inability to pay. The full amount will become due immediately if he is found to have misrepresented his financial condition.
This case is part of the FTC’s ongoing work to protect consumers taking advantage of new and emerging financial technology, also known as FinTech. As technological advances expand the ways consumers can store, share, and spend money, the FTC is working to keep consumers protected while encouraging innovation for consumers’ benefit.
Light occupies a central place in our understanding of the world both as a means by which we locate ourselves in nature and as a thing that inspires our imagination. Light is what enables us to see things, and thus to navigate our surroundings. It is also a primary means by which we learn about the world – light beams carry information about the constituents of the universe, from distant stars and galaxies to the cells in our bodies to individual atoms and molecules.
On our first date, my husband-to-be asked what I did for a living. I told him I was a school librarian. "Well there's a profession that will be obsolete in twenty years," he chuckled. I did not chuckle. I did marry him and twenty five years later I am still waiting for his prediction to come true.
OK, I admit that twenty five years ago I never dreamed that I would have a phone that could help me find my way around the zillion streets of Atlanta named "Peachtree." Or a device that could download hundreds of books, cutting down considerably on overweight luggage fees. My 1989 school library had computers, but they were little more than fancy typewriters. Who knew that entering the right search words on my jazzy little laptop could find pictures of the battleships my father-in-law served on in WWII? Or the history of the long demolished amusement park of my childhood, the genesis of The Roller Coaster Kid? Yes, Craig was right...I could access all that information without setting foot in a library.
But yet there are still libraries. In my neck of the woods, it appears that most people are there for free computer time and to check out videos. If I am there, it is to do research. Guess what? Not everything is available on the Internet. At least not for free. When I wrote Jimmy's Stars and Yankee Girl I spent months reading newspapers from WWII and the 1960's....on microfilm machines. While there are a good number of old periodicals available online these days, they never seem to be the ones I need or there is a hefty fee to join a database. All the branch libraries in my immediate area were built in the last 15 years and don't have microfilm machines. But if I need one, all I have to do is go downtown to the main library.
The library is a source of professional literature such as Library Journal or Publisher's Weekly. Usually they are kept in the librarians' work area, but they have always let me read them on the premises if I ask. There are also databases and reference materials that I can't find anywhere else...at least not for free.
I have had the good fortune to have worked in a university library which gave me access to all kinds of information not found in a public library. My library allowed the public to use the collection for a nominal yearly fee. As an employee I had free reign, but even if I hadn't, I would have paid the fee. It's something to investigate.
I could go on forever about the information that you will find only in a library....but why tell you? Check it out yourself. By the way, my husband has had to finally admit that libraries and librarians are not obsolete or likely to become so any time soon.
For many of you, by now your little ones will be well and truly back into the school routine. Apart from the usual school-related requirements, you may have also restocked your return-to-school library, determined to share the educational and emotional journey your child is embarking on, perhaps for the first time. You will find some […]
The title is from this fascinating article from the NewYorker, which gave me much food for (rambling) thoughts about words and reality, libraries and the Internet, memories and memorials.
In it, the writer attacks the myth that what’s online stays online forever. Instead, she says, the Internet is intrinsically ephemeral. Unlike books, the Internet cannot be catalogued because it lacks the dimension of time; online, it’s always today. Academic and legal footnotes and references to books and documents (those painstaking page numbers, edition, publish date) have been replaced by web links. But what happens when those links no longer exist? The evidence disappears, the original source vanishes; anything could be true.
Anyone who says we no longer need libraries because ‘it’s all online’ should read this article. It isn’t all online. Some of it might have been, yesterday, but that’s no guarantee that it will be today. Or it might look like what was there yesterday is still there today, but in fact it could have been completely rewritten since yesterday, and you’d never know.
Funnily enough, I spent most of yesterday hunting for an online article about some Russian legislation, adopted in October last year, that retroactively legalises pro-Russian authorities in Crimea from February 2014 when Crimea, according to Russian law, was legally part of Ukraine. From a legal point of view, Russia rewrote history with that bit of legislation.
The article, as far as I can see, is no longer on the Internet. It disappeared, and history is rewritten.
I know, history is always rewritten, that’s whathistory is; a constant interrogation of the evidence from yesterday, viewed through the inescapable prism of today. But what if the evidence from yesterday no longer exists? What if it’s been written over, or just disappeared?
Two years ago I visited the museum of political history in St Petersburg. It used to be called the museum of the revolution (there you go, history rewritten). It’s full of fascinating exhibits, but the one that struck me most was a catalogue of exhibits that weren’t there.
It was a fat, handwritten ledger, open on a page listing all the documents and artefacts relating to Trotsky which had been removed in the late 1920s, when Trotsky was ‘rewritten’ as an enemy of the people. The museum staff had got rid of the historical evidence, yet they had kept a carefully catalogued record of the evidence that no longer existed. I really wonder why they did that. Despite orders to rewrite the past did they too believe, like the Internet librarians, that ‘our job is memory’?
Is that really what a library is – a repository of memory? As someone who uses libraries all the time as a reader and as a writer (just got my PLR statement, hurrah!) I started to wonder, do we write books, fact and fiction, because at least part of our job is memory?
Libraries are repositories of facts and interpretations of facts to make versions of history, but they are also a storehouse for imaginary worlds and other people’s memories. We write things down so as not to forget them. We record them and we transform them through language, through fancy, through characters, into (in the best books) something unforgettable.
Do we write (do we read) to remember, or to be remembered?
This is my last post for ABBA, for the moment anyway. Its been a privilege to contribute alongside such wonderful fellow writers, and a huge thank you to the administrators who keep it running. If you’re interested, you can follow my blog, updated mostly about Ukraine and Crimea affairs these days. Thanks for reading!
Diana Gabaldon wrote the first book of her eight book Outlander Series in the early 90’s, so I am sure many of you have already read these books by now. But if you haven’t read them I highly recommend that you do. The first book sat on my book shelf for two years before I picked it up to read in October. This series is hands down the Best Adult book(s) I read this year! The only problem is that each book is at least 1100 words in length, so each one is like reading three YA novels.
Outlander – Book 1
Dragonfly In Amber – Book 2
Voyager – Book 3
Drums Of Autumn – Book 4
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – Great voice
Influx by Daniel Suarez – Has anyone read this book. I am almost half way through reading and I haven’t started to enjoy it yet. Does it get better?
Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi – The third book of one of my favorite series.
Deep Betrayal by Anne Greenwood Brown – The third book of one of my favorite series.
Pretties by Scott Westerfeld – The second book of the Uglies Series – one of my favorite series
Specials by Scott Westerfeld – The third book of the Uglies Series – one of my favorite series.
Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey – second book in 5th Wave Series
Contemporary YA Standalone Novels
We Were Liars by E Lockhart – Great voice
Pandemic by Yvonne Ventresca - thoroughly enjoyed this book
Panic by Lauren Oliver – Love everything she writes.
Before I Fall – by Lauren Oliver – Love everything she writes.
Flat Out Love by Jessica Park – Jessica proves that self-published books can be great.
Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Giver by Lois Lowry – 1994 Newbery Medal winner
Middle Grade Novels
Wheels of Change by Darlene Beck-Jacobson – Hits all the things that people look for in a perfect middle grade book.
The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky by Holly Schindler – on Darlene Beck Jacobson’s recommendation – another well-written and enjoyable book.
Cirque du Freak: Vampire Mountain by Darren Shan – Book Four – This series is great for kids who love to be scared. 12 books to this series.
Lined up on my nightstand for 2015 so far
The Young Elites by Marie Lu – bought this book because I loved her legend series.
Atlantia by Ally Condie - bought this book because I enjoyed her Matched Series.
Paradox by Ammi Joan Paquette – bought this book because I wanted to read something written by Joan.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – bought because of the reviews.
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – bought because of the reviews.
Where’d You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple – bought because of the reviews.
Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – bought because it was written by Neil
The light Between Oceans by M.I. Stedman – bought because of the reviews.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – bought because it won the Pulitzer Prize.
The Martian by Andy Weir – bought because of Goodreads reviews.
Red Rising by Piece Brown – Bought because of reviews.
End of Days by Susan Ee – Coming out May 12th 2015 – Pre-ordered because it is the third book in the Angel Series, which I loved.
Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer – Coming out June 2nd 2015. Pre-order because it is written by Lexa.
Do you have a book that you thoroughly enjoyed? I’d love to hear about the book and why you loved it.
The wifi in my eldest daughter’s laptop died recently. Being the home’s Chief Technology Officer, I worked through the handy troubleshoot on the system which told me it was working perfectly. Of course, the inability to connect to the internet and the distraught look on my poor daughter’s face told me it wasn’t. No worries, I bought a USB dongle and she was up and running.
Little did I know that my trouble-shooting skills would soon be needed again. A week ago, she informed me that her dongle wasn’t working. Of course, at 11:15, my system was shut down, so I didn’t pay much attention and went to bed. When I awoke, I realized it wasn’t her computer – there was a wholesale internet outage in the house!
I think that is mentioned in Revelation, isn’t it? The Mark of the Beast and the inability to access High-Speed Wireless is in chapter 13, if I remember correctly. I looked outside and it didn’t appear the Battle of Armageddon had begun yet. A check of the beds told me the wife and kids were still here, so the rapture hadn’t left me behind (Whew!)
But I still had no internet.
This has happened before and I fixed it. What did I do? Oh yeah, I unplugged it and it rebooted itself. So I pulled the plug and let it regenerate. Unfortunately, the light blinking was still red long after power was restored. So I called my ever-helpful internet service provider and got stuck in the web of automated attendants who sound helpful, but are very patronizing. Don’t they know I am the CTO? That should give me some status, I would think.
My biggest problem wasn’t the self-righteous know-it-all computer voice on the other end of the phone, it was the fact that my cell phone service is spotty in the basement where the router resides. So I put the phone on speaker and listened as best I could. Like a rat pushing through a maze, I found the tech support cheese after seventeen minutes and the new, smarter sounding Tech Support Weenie voice tells me we are going to have to restart the system.
TSW: I will now tell you how to restart your system. This is a medium level procedure and will take approximately 3-5 minutes.
TSW: Can you see your internet router?
TSW: Please find the power cable on the back of the router and say yes when you’ve found it.
TSW: I didn’t understand you.
TSW: Trace the cable to the electric outlet. Unplug the cable and wait 10 seconds before plugging it back in.
Well, that’s what I did before, but okay
TSW: Did this solve your problem?
At that point, my spotty cell service affected my ability to clearly hear the next steps in the process. What I am pretty sure it said was for me to disconnect all cables, kick the box across the room, plug it back in and see if any lights were blinking. Repeat until no lights function.
After I hung up, I went to work early and left this note on the floor:
The good news, there is free wifi at the hotel, but I really wish they would call.
As soon as humanity began its quest for knowledge, people have also attempted to organize that knowledge. From the invention of writing to the abacus, from medieval manuscripts to modern paperbacks, from microfiche to the Internet, our attempt to understand the world — and catalog it in an orderly fashion with dictionaries, encyclopedias, libraries, and databases — has evolved with new technologies. One man on the quest for order was innovator, idealist, and scientist Paul Otlet, who is the subject of the new book Cataloging the World. We spoke to author Alex Wright about his research process, Paul Otlet’s foresight into the future of global information networks, and Otlet’s place in the history of science and technology.
What most surprised you when researching Paul Otlet?
Paul Otlet was a source of continual surprise to me. I went into this project with a decent understanding of his achievements as an information scientist (or “documentalist,” as he would have said), but I didn’t fully grasp the full scope of his ambitions. For example, his commitment to progressive social causes, his involvement in the creation of the League of Nations, or his decades-long dream of building a vast World City to serve as the political and intellectual hub of a new post-national world order. His ambitions went well beyond the problem of organizing information. Ultimately, he dreamed of reorganizing the entire world.
What misconceptions exist regarding Paul Otlet and the story of the creation of the World Wide Web itself?
It’s temptingly easy to overstate Otlet’s importance. Despite his remarkable foresight about the possibilities of networks, he did not “invent” the World Wide Web. That credit rightly goes to Tim Berners-Lee and his partner (another oft-overlooked Belgian) Robert Cailliau. While Otlet’s most visionary work describes a global network of “electric telescopes” displaying text, graphics, audio, and video files retrieved from all over the world, he never actually built such a system. Nor did the framework he proposed involve any form of machine computation. Nonetheless, Otlet’s ideas anticipated the eventual development of hypertext information retrieval systems. And while there is no direct paper trail linking him to the acknowledged forebears of the Web (like Vannevar Bush, Douglas Engelbart, and Ted Nelson), there is tantalizing circumstantial evidence that Otlet’s ideas were clearly “in the air” and influencing an increasingly public dialogue about the problem of information overload – the same cultural petri dish in which the post-war Anglo-American vision of a global information network began to emerge.
What was the most challenging part of your research?
The sheer size of Otlet’s archives–over 1,000 boxes of papers, journals, and rough notes, much of it handwritten and difficult to decipher–presented a formidable challenge in trying to determine where to focus my research efforts. Fortunately the staff of the Mundaneum in Mons, Belgium, supported me every step of the way, helping me wade through the material and directing my attention towards his most salient work. Otlet’s adolescent diaries posed a particularly thorny challenge. On the one hand they offer a fascinating portrait of a bright but tormented teenager who by age 15 was already dreaming of organizing the world’s information. But his handwriting is all but illegible for long stretches. Even an accomplished French translator like my dear friend (and fellow Oxford author) Mary Ann Caws, struggled to help me decipher his nineteenth-century Wallonian adolescent chicken scratch. Chapter Two wouldn’t have been the same without her!
Photograph of Paul Otlet, circa 1939. Reproduced with permission of the Mundaneum, Mons, Belgium.
How do you hope this new knowledge of Otlet will influence the ways in which people view the Internet and information sites like Wikipedia?
I hope that it can cast at least a sliver of fresh light on our understanding of the evolution of networked information spaces. For all its similarities to the web, Otlet’s vision differed dramatically in several key respects, and points to several provocative roads not taken. Most importantly, he envisioned his web as a highly structured environment, with a complex semantic markup called the Universal Decimal Classification. An Otletian version of Wikipedia would almost certainly involve a more hierarchical and interlinked presentation of concepts (as opposed to the flat and relatively shallow structure of the current Wikipedia). Otlet’s work offers us something much more akin in spirit to the Semantic Web or Linked Data initiative: a powerful, tightly controlled system intended to help people make sense of complex information spaces.
Can you explain more about Otlet’s idea of “electronic telescopes” – whether they were feasible/possible, and to what extent they led to the creation of networks (as opposed to foreshadowing them)?
One early reviewer of the manuscript took issue with my characterization of Otlet’s “electric telescopes” as a kind of computer, but I’ll stand by that characterization. While the device he described may not fit the dictionary definition of a computer as a “programmable electronic device” – Otlet never wrote about programming per se – I would take the Wittgensteinian position that a word is defined by its use. By that standard, Otlet’s “electric telescope” constitutes what most of us would likely describe as a computer: a connected device for retrieving information over a network. As to whether it was technically feasible – that’s a trickier question. Otlet certainly never built one, but he was writing at a time when the television was first starting to look like a viable technology. Couple that with the emergence of radio, telephone, and telegraphs – not to mention new storage technologies like microfilm and even rudimentary fax machines – and the notion of an electric telescope may not seem so far-fetched after all.
What sorts of innovations would might have emerged from the Mundaneum – the institution at the center of Otlet’s “World City” – had it not been destroyed by the Nazis?
While the Nazi invasion signalled the death knell for Otlet’s project, it’s worth noting that the Belgian government had largely withdrawn its support a few years earlier. By 1940 many people already saw Otlet as a relic of another time, an old man harboring implausible dreams of international peace and Universal Truth. But Otlet and a smaller but committed team of staff soldiered on, undeterred, cataloging the vast collection that remained intact behind closed doors in Brussels’ Parc du Cinquantenaire. When the Nazis came, they cleared out the contents of the Palais Mondial, destroying over 70 tons worth of material, and making room for an exhibition of Third Reich art. Otlet’s productive career effectively came to an end, and he died a few years later in 1944.
It’s impossible to say quite how things might have turned out differently. But one notable difference between Otlet’s web and today’s version is the near-total absence of private enterprise – a vision that stands in stark contrast to today’s Internet, dominated as it is by a handful of powerful corporations.
Otlet’s Brussels headquarters stood almost right across the street from the present-day office of another outfit trying to organize and catalog the world’s information: Google.
Now that the Internet has been with us for over 25 years, what are we to make of all the concerns about how this new medium is affecting us, especially the young digital natives who know more about how to maneuver in this space than most adults?
Although it is true that various novel media platforms have invaded households in the United States, many researchers still focus on the harms that the “old” media of television and movies still have on youth. The effects of advertising on promoting the obesity epidemic highlight how so much of those messages are directed to children and adolescents. Jennifer Harris noted that children ages 2 to 11 get nearly 13 food and beverage ads every day while watching TV, and adolescents get even more. Needless to say, many of these ads promote high-calorie, low-nutrition foods. Beer is still heavily promoted on TV with little concern about who is watching, and sexual messages are rampant across both TV and movie screens. None of this is new, but the fact that these influences remain so dominant today despite the powerful presence of new media is testament enough that “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”
When it comes to the new media, researchers are more balanced. Sonia Livingston from the UK reported on a massive study done in Europe that found a lot of variation in how countries are dealing with the potential harms on children. But when all was said and done, she concluded that the risks there were no more prevalent than those that kids have confronted in their daily lives offline. What has changed there is the talk about the “risks,” without much delving into whether those risks actually materialize into harms. Many kids are exposed to hurtful content in this new digital space, but many also learned how to cope with them.
2013 E3 – XBOX ONE Killer Instinct B. Uploaded by – EMR -. CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr.
The perhaps most contentious of the new media influences is the emergence of video gaming, either via the Internet or on home consoles. The new DSM-5, which identifies mental disorders for psychiatrists, suggests that these gaming activities can become addictive. Research summarized by Sara Prot and colleagues suggests that about 8% of young people exhibit symptoms of this potential disorder. At the same time, we still don’t know whether gaming leads to the symptoms or is just a manifestation of other problems that would emerge anyway.
Aside from the potential addictive properties of video games, there is considerable concern about games that invite players to shoot and destroy imaginary attackers. Many young men play these violent video games and some of them are actually used by the military to prepare soldiers for battle. One could imagine that a young man with intense resentment toward others could see these games as a release or even worse as practice for potential harmdoing. The rise in school shootings in recent years only adds to the concern. The research reviewed by Prot is quite clear that playing the games can increase aggressive thoughts and behavior in laboratory settings. What remains contentious is how much influence this has on actual violence outside the lab.
On the positive side, other researchers have noted how much good both the old and new media can provide to educators and to health promoters. It is helpful to keep in mind that many of the concerns about the new media may merely reflect the age old wariness that adults have displayed regarding the role of media in their children’s behavior. In a recent review of the effects of Internet use on the brain, Kathryn Mills of University College London pointed out that even Socrates was skeptical of children learning to write because it would reduce their need to develop memory skills. Here again, the more things change, the more they remain the same.
Daniel Romer is the Director of the Adolescent Communication and Health Institutes of the Annenberg Public Policy Center. He directs research on the social and cognitive development of adolescents with particular focus on the promotion of mental and behavioral health. His research is currently funded by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. He regularly serves on review panels for NIH and NSF and consults on federal panels regarding media guidelines for coverage of adolescent mental health problems, such as suicide and bullying. He is the author of Media and the Well-Being of Children and Adolescents.
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Hiaasen, Carl. 2014. Skink - No Surrender. New York: Knopf. (Advance Reader Copy) Skink - No Surrender is Carl Hiaasen's first foray into YALit, and he's making his entrance in a big way, employing Skink —the outrageous and outlandish character from his adult novels.
In keeping with his customary practice of setting books in Florida's great outdoors (Hoot, Flush, Scat, Chomp), Skink No Surrender begins on a Florida beach where Richard finds Skink buried in the sand—on the hunt for turtle egg poachers. Though at first taken aback by the one-eyed, cammo-wearing giant of a man with buzzard beaks braided into his beard, Richard soon finds out that he is the ex -Florida governor and a force to be reckoned with - even if he is presumed to be dead.
All kinds of wild rumors got started, and some of them turned out to be true. According to one Wikipedia entry, the ex-governor became a wandering hermit of the wilderness, and over the years he'd been a prime suspect in several "acts of eco-terrorism." Interestingly, he'd never been arrested or charged with any serious crimes, and it seemed to me that the targets of his anger were total scumbags, anyway. The web article included interviews with a few witnesses who'd supposedly encountered Clinton Tyree by chance. They said he'd lost an eye, and was going by the name of "Skink." They had differing opinions about whether or not he was nuts. The most recent entry quoted the governor's closest friend, a retired highway patrol trooper named Jim Tile, who said: "Clint passed away last year int he Big Cypress Swamp after a coral snake bit him on the nose. I dug the grave myself. Now, please let him rest in peace." Except the man was still alive.
An unlikely pair, Skink and Richard team up to find Richard's cousin, Malley, who has run off with (or been kidnapped by) a young man she met online.
An intense hunt takes the two across the swamps in search of Malley and a dangerous impostor. Suspenseful and very funny at the same time, Skink No Surrender presents a case for Internet safety, bird habitat conservation, and the value of family, but you'll be havimg so much fun that you won't even notice!
Children have become heavy new media users. Empirical data shows that a number of children accessing the internet – contrary to the age of users – is constantly increasing. It is estimated that about 60% of European children are daily or almost daily internet users, and therefore, by many they are considered to be “digital natives”.
However, in our view, the use of this “digital natives” concept is misleading and poorly founded, and is based on the assumption that children are quick to pick up new technologies. A recent EU Kids Online study invalidates this assumption. The study shows that even though children actively surf on various online applications, they lack digital skills such as bookmarking a website, blocking unwanted communications, and changing privacy settings on social networking sites. Many children are not capable of critically evaluating information and changing filter preferences.Interestingly, the lack of skills to perform specific tasks while being online does not impinge on children’s beliefs in their abilities – 43% of surveyed children believe to know more about the internet than their parents. At the moment, no correlation between this proclaimed self-confidence and their actual understanding of how internet works can be done due to the lack of data. Nevertheless, it is worth questioning whether, and to what extent, it is reasonable to expect that children understand the implications of their behaviour and what measures could mitigate children’s online risks in the most efficient and effective way.
It is probably closer to the truth to say that, in terms of privacy and data protection awareness, children are anything but “digital natives”.
Indeed, children’s actions online are being recorded, commercialised and serve for the purposes of behavioural advertising without them actually realising. This media illiteracy is tackled by awareness raising campaigns and policy measures on domestic and EU levels. However, it seems that these measures only partially address the challenges posed by children’s online engagement.
The European Commission (EC) seems to be in favour of legislative measures providing for a stronger legal protection of children’s personal data in the online environment. In Article 8 of the proposal for the General Data Protection Regulation, the EC introduces verifiable parental (or custodian) consent that would serve as a means of legitimising the processing of a child’s personal data on the internet.
Article 8 of the proposal foresees that parental consent would be required in cases where the processing operations entail personal data of children under the age of 13. The age of 13 would be the bright-line from which the processing of children’s personal data would be subjected to fewer legal constraints.
In practice, this would divide all children into two groups; children that are capable to consent (i.e. 13-18 year olds) to the processing of their personal data and children that are dependent on parental approval of their online choices (i.e. 0-13 year olds). Drawing such a strict line opposes the stages of physical and social development. Also, it requires the reconsideration of the general positive perception of the proposed parental consent from a legal point of view. In particular, it is necessary to evaluate whether the proposed measure is proportionate and whether it coincides with the human rights framework.
In a recent article published in the International Data Privacy Law Journal, we have analysed the proposal to distinguish between children younger and older than 13 years and found many practical and principled objections. Apart from the practical objections, which are often self-evident (e.g. what about the protection of children in the age group from 13 to 18 year old? How to ensure the enforcement of the proposed parental consent?), there are several fundamental problems with the proposed 13 years-rule.
The bright-line rule, which would require data controllers to obtain parental consent before processing personal data of children aged under 13, seems to be incompatible with the notion of evolving capacities. The proposed measure is based on the assumption that from the age of 13 all children are able to provide an independent consent for the processing of their personal data in the online environment. The proposed Article 8 ignores the fact that every child develops at a different pace and that the introduction of parental consent does not ensure more guidance regarding online data processing. We also regret that Article 8 in its current form doesn’t foresee a way in which children could express their own views regarding the data processing operation; the responsibility to consent would rest exclusively with a parent or a legal guardian. This set-up opposes the idea of children’s participation in the decision-making process that concerns them, an idea anchored in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and that is recognised by both the EU and its Member States.
Finally, our analysis suggests that children’s rights to freedom of expression and privacy may be undermined, if the proposed parental consent is introduced. As a result of Article 8, children’s access to information could become limited and dependent on parents. Also, the scope of their right to privacy would shrink as parents would be required to intervene in children’s private spaces (e.g. gaming accounts) to make informed choices. Therefore, it can be observed that the introduction of parental consent contradicts the key principles of human rights law enshrined in the UNCRC.
Featured image credit: Student on iPod at school. Photo by Brad Flickinger. CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr.
My technophobic wife has taken an increasing shine to internet shopping.
Point, click, receive, wrap… Point, click, receive, wrap…
At this point, you might be thinking this is another husband-rant about all of the clicking activity and the bill that will come due in January. Well, that may be a subject for another post (I hope the title changes), but right now I’m trying to wrap my mind around the amount of email spam that her clicking has brought us. You see, we share an email account. Mistake? Maybe… but it has worked thus far.
Here is the problem, cleaning my inbox is the one thing I’m OCD about. I need it to be current or I lose focus. At work, I churn through emails faster than a Gopher on balsa-wood. If I can answer it immediately, it is gone. If it makes me mad, gone. If it is ambiguous and may not pertain to me, whoops, I hit delete. My inbox is squeaky-clean. The one at work, that is.
The shared inbox at home gets bogged down in December with order confirmations, shipping information, and advertisements. Oh the advertisements. Did I mention my wife is a technophobe? So, while she has mastered the checkout function of two hundred seventy-four websites, I can’t convince her that they won’t think any less of her if she unchecks the little box that says, “Would you like us to send you an ungodly amount of emails that are irrelevant, obnoxious, and likely to cause enmity between husband and wife?”
I should be working a second job to prepare for the aforementioned bill, but I spend my December trying to unsubscribe from every mailing list known to mankind. Only they lie to you when they allow you to hold the illusion that leaving them is an option. It’s a web of deceit – an impossibility. You cannot be removed from mailing lists. “You have been removed from our mailing list. We are sorry to see you go” is a lie from the bowels of the earth.
What the little button should say is, “Thank you for verifying your existence, I will now torture you every fifteen minutes with a blinking email reminder of your incompetence.”
After trying unsuccessfully to remove our email address from yet another list, I marched to the den, bowed out my chest, and sternly gave my wife an ultimatum!
“Either you learn to uncheck the subscribe button, or we are changing our email address!”
Women don’t like ultimatums.
Of course, our email address remains the same and though wounded and alone, I am off to fight a MailChimp.