Week 14: Reflection of the term

world of technology
We have learnt in the past term how the Internet and technologies have become pervasive in literally every aspect of our lives, and have shaped and continues to define our future.

We have looked at the 3 giants: Apple, Microsoft and Google. We have seen how they are in politics business, education, education, social and communication aspects of our lives. There is no doubt that our lives are a lot more convenient and open to the world with the introduction of the Internet and its technologies. There is almost nothing that does not involve technology and personally, I can’t imagine my life without it now.

To The Internet!

As a communication and sociology student, I am especially concerned about the effects and impacts on our future. Whilst this is no place to bring up all the communication and sociology theories to bore you.  I would say that we have to be very careful about balancing technological advances and possibilities and the dangers that it can bring.

The chapter on viruses shows us how  there can be so much deception online and how we can be crippled so easily and so helplessly. The recent Heartbleed fiasco is said to be a time-bomb waiting to explode on us, with all the confidential information collected over the past 2 years before it was detected.heartbleed

Scandals on Facebook and Google on privacy control and confidential information show that even big brand name companies might not be trusted. Conspiracy theories on Google may be far-fetched and untrue, but the truth is they do have the information and tools at hand, damage can be done, should they decide to, or if the resources fall into the wrong hand.

facebook scandalPrivacy issues

In Communication Theory class, we learnt that the media comes with its pros and cons, with its far reach and influence on the people. Similar to that, I feel that technology and The Internet is the same. The term we used was the Faustian’s Bargain, or the deal with the devil.

faustians bargain

In exchange for all the benefits and possibilities that it brings, we might give up many things like privacy, freedom and perhaps, peace and relationships. As they become more of a lifestyle than a tool, we should be wary of our dependence on these technologies. Our usage and habits can prevent some of the dangers that it may present.

Evolution with technology

This is just my reflection after this term, because whilst we have learnt so much of technologies’ possibilities and usefulness and I really do appreciate the wider understanding and awareness of the Internet world, that we may forget that it can also be a double-edged sword.

With that,

THANK YOU

for reading my blog! Hope that you found something interesting and my thoughts not so boring. 🙂

Happy Baby!

 

 

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Week 13: Our Future

I think with all that we have learnt so far, it is undeniable that the Internet and technologies have been advancing faster and faster, and it will grow to become an integral part of our lives and even define our future.

We have been trying to predict the future since forever. I remember one of my favourite cartoons when I was young – The Jetsons! Some of you would hopefully recall this with fond memories as well!

I was surprised to learn that this cartoon was created in 1960s! Whilst a lot of the technology imagined in the cartoon have not come true yet, such as a robot nanny and floating vehicles. (I wish!) There is a whole genre on imagining the future: Science Fiction!

Can you believe that all the way back in 1899, someone had already imagined the iPad?? It seems like my robot nanny and floating cars might not be so far after all!

In recent years, I think the biggest trend and greatest advancement was is Augmented Reality.

Whilst I have posted about AR before, I found this really cool video from Holition, a company that specialises in using Augmented Retail. This is a perfect example of how technology would change and define everything in the future! My current peeve about shopping online is that there is no way to see how it looks on me prior to purchase. This changes things! It does make me excited for the future…

As seen from Sci-fi, our future seems to be only limited by our imagination. The possibilities are limitless and the technology just has to catch up. Just look at this, wouldn’t these be awesome if it comes true?

Future CatFuture Drink

 

In the mean time, we would just have to make do with these funny inventions!

Week 12: Google’s Web

3 giant wars

This week we learnt about the Internet’s Big 3 : Microsoft, Apple and Google. I am a loyal Windows user on my PC, I had an Apple iPhone for the past 3 years but have since made the jump to a Windows phone as well. Many friends have asked me to switch to the Mac, but I have stubbornly refused change, like how Microsoft users have been characterised.

Over the term, I have learnt more about Google in class, more than Microsoft and Apple. In e-business, we covered Adwords and Adsense, Google Trends. In AR, we talked about Google Glass and their AR-game: Ingress. In Google Tools, we covered so many products that I use on a daily basis like Google Maps, Gmail, Google Hangouts and Google Translate and of course Google Search! I always knew that Google was important, but I only JUST REALISED the extent of just  how so many products and services that Google covers and in so many aspects of our lives.

So many and even more to come!!

So many and even more to come!!

It is pretty amazing how far Google has come, since it was a latecomer as compared to Microsoft and Apple. Its humble beginnings in 1998 as a search engine was also very quickly outshone the earlier predecessors like Yahoo, Aol, MSN etc. It has since come a long way, from offering online services to hardware products like the Nexus phones, Chromebooks and Google Glass. Now there are even going into self-driving cars, robots and homeware products like Chromecast, Google TV!

How is this done?

Google has been expanding by creating new products and services within its company, acquiring start-ups and companies big and small like Youtube, Picasa, and partnering other companies like GeoEye for satellite images for Google Earth.

An interesting and really ingenious strategy that Google has used is to play to their strengths and to make use of their existing products to build on their database, which is their main resource! A few posts ago, I wrote about Google’s global AR game, Ingress. It is said that the game also serves the function of using the members to build a database of walking directions from one point-of-interest to another. I was very surprised to learn that they have used this strategy before, such for the ESP game in 2006. It was a hugely  popular game which got people to match associative words to image. Their answers contributed to Google’s database to improve their image search through word tags. reCAPTCHA also used the same strategy, banking on all the people using Google to verify hundreds of millions of words for the eBooks that the scanner could not recognise. 

ESP Game

Recaptcha

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recently, they have been causing rifts in the industry because of their recent purchases of companies in the robotic industries, leading them to guess what is the motive of Google! Here are some of the purchases:

Hmms… suspicious? Well, Google’s unofficial slogan is

Don’t Be Evil!

Given the world’s dependence on Google and at the rate of their expansion in so many fields, I sincerely hope not! If not, I trust that Google is pushing new frontiers, and putting new contributions and changing our world for the better.

On a side note, one thing I really appreciate Google for is their sense of humour. Their little Easter Eggs, April Fools’ jokes, and their really pretty Google Art. As a large corporation, I think it’s really warm that they bother to add a little joy to our lives in their little way.

Here is a short video to add some laughs:

Week 11: Photojournalism in the Internet Times

In class this week, Mr. Choy showed us a video on photojournalism. I found it greatly inspiring because it is a profession that I greatly respect and admire. I have a great appreciation for photography as an art and a science, and I believe very strongly in the influence and the power of photos conveying messages to the world.

In fact, when the National Geographic Top 50 Photo-exhibition came to Singapore last year, I loved it so much that I went twice. There were too many to list as my favourites, but one of my most memorable ones was

The Afghan Girl

The famous Afghan Girl, next to a more recent photo of her all grown up

It is one thing to take a good photo, but it is completely another thing to take an impactful photo. To use the craft in those situations and to make a difference in the world, I find it most admirable.

There are lots of discussion on how the Internet is killing traditional media and journalism and how journalists have to evolve and adapt to the new online and social environment. For the purpose of this post, I will focus on photo-journalism has been impacted by the online environment.

The Demise of a Profession

This is John White, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist

This is John White, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist

The Sun-Times in Chicago just laid off its ENTIRE photography staff, including this world renowned photojournalist above last May, citing that:

“The Sun-Times business is changing rapidly and our audiences are consistently seeking more video content with their news. “

Similar to traditional journalism, photojournalism is also badly affected.The rise of citizen journalism is a trend that cannot be ignored. In Web 2.0, it is unavoidable.  The readers are now creating the content, and now while a cameraphone in everyone’s pocket, a range of photography apps and sharing platforms like Instagram and Facebook, anyone and everyone can be a contributor to the news.

After laying off the staff, The Sun-Times intends to rely on freelance photographers and citizen-submitted pictures. They have also plan to train their staff in basic iPhone photography! Apparently this is not new to just The Sun-Times, even the BBC is creating apps for their journalists. I was very disappointed to learn about this. As aesthetically attractive and creative photos can be taken with a smartphone camera, photojournalism is a professional craft that cannot be so easily replaced by anyone.

Iphone Photography

Iphone Photography

Migrant Mother, taken by Margaret Burke-White

Migrant Mother, taken by Margaret Burke-White

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With digital cameras and smartphones and sharing platforms, there are more photos taken everyday and an aspiring photographer everywhere.There are many great amatear photographers with good skill, and the rise of the internet lets them share it and more people have come to appreciate better photos. However, the introduction of ‘selfies’, filters and digital effects, whilst they have made beautiful pictures, but they are simply not the same impactful photography that photojournalists aims for.

If I may quote the animated movie, The Incredibles, the state of photography now is:

incredibles-when-everyone-super

This brings about a lesser respect for the profession, simply because supply outnumbers demand.  Photojournalism is being devalued. Photographers like John White are at the top of their craft but are being laid off because news companies would rather spend on more visual journalists who create multimedia news, citizen journalists, freelances and wired services. It is a regret.

What many photojournalists are advocating now is to change and adapt to the times. The medium that news is being consumed and the audience who are consuming the news are just not so easily satisfied anymore. It is not that good photos are no longer appreciated, it is that they are appreciated for a shorter amount of time. As stated in my earlier post, we are no longer happy with one of our sense engaged, we need multimedia. Thus more are turning to become the visual journalist that uses both videos, pictures and music to tell the story.

It is a shame. But it is a undeniable fact in the changing times. I hope the photojournalists who join the profession for passion and love for their craft, will keep taking more impactful photos to keep the standards up!

 

 

 

Week 10: Singapore Government in the Social Media

I chanced upon this post while searching up the online and social media presence of our Singaporean politicians. I have to say that I find it quite heartening to see that some of the political figures are using the social media sphere quite well.

Foreign Minister Mr. George Yeo, one of the more experienced politicians here in social media, having started in 2006, has said that:

Social media ‘humanises politicians’

Amongst all the benefits that social media brings, I think this is the most important because when the citizens see you as a human, they see you as one of them and they connect with you.

Tin Pei Ling and grandma on Chinese New Year and her 'cheapo' ice cream!

Tin Pei Ling and grandma on Chinese New Year and her ‘cheapo’ ice cream!

Lim Swee Say celebrating the rain like everyone else!

Lim Swee Say celebrating the rain like everyone else!

George Yeo and his wife meeting a church friend in Hong Kong and posting about it!

George Yeo and his wife meeting a church friend in Hong Kong and posting about it!

Khaw Boon Wan and his random post about spraining his ankle on the stairs. I especially like how he bothers to reply to posts!

Khaw Boon Wan and his random post about spraining his ankle on the stairs. I especially like how he bothers to reply to posts!

Even PM Lee Hsien Long is doing quite a good job at social media front. Somehow I find his posts quite funny! Whether it is his media team or him, Kudos to them!

The time where he was strolling down Orchard with his wife like what my own parents do every year for Christmas

The time where he was strolling down Orchard with his wife like what my own parents do every year for Christmas

Then apologised for calling them makciks after realising his own age against theirs! :p

Then apologised for calling them makciks after realising his own age against theirs! :p

His ‘selfies’ are also quite the rage, having seen them being shared around on Facebook!

Selfies with the youngsters!

Selfies with the youngsters!

Selfies with the Prime Minister of Malaysia!

Selfies with the Prime Minister of Malaysia!

And instagramming from his own phone! Somehow I find this very sweet of him

And instagramming from his own phone! Somehow I find this very sweet of him

In any case, I am heartened to see the efforts put in by the politicians and prominent figures, on top of have their own official responsibilities. They understand the importance of the social media channel, but I feel that they have indeed done a good job in trying to make it personal to connect with the people.

Week 10: Social Media and Internet Activism in Singapore

The topic this week is kind of linked to one of my research projects in another subject: SOC 349 Classical Sociological Theories! We looked at satire in Singapore media, and examined what are the functions that it serves in the Singaporean context. In case you are wondering what satire means,

Satire is a powerful art form which has the ability to point out the deficiencies in certain human behaviours and the social issues which result from them in such a way that they become absurd, even hilarious, which is therefore entertaining and reaches a wide audience.

It is a commonly used tool in other countries mainly in The United States, with talk shows like The Daily Shows with Jon Stewart, pseudo-news website The Onion, and even comics!

Blog-object-2-29dmva4

 

Of course with the rise of social media, the spread of such media is even wider! Take this hilarious video, critiquing the US intervention in the Middle-East, has gathered over 6 million views!

In Singapore, there has been a rise in satirical media as well recently, though of course not on that level. Now, there might have been others but the first one I was exposed to was the Mr.Brown Show, created in 2005. At that time, it was just audio podcasts by  Lee Kin Mun and Benjamin Lee. Their hilarious parodies and commentaries were refreshing yet full of local flavour that connected with us in our tightly regulated environment then. Since then, the show has gone on to  create videos, and other shows on its own website, youtube channel, Facebook page and Twitter and Instagram! Here is one of their recent videos:

There are also other many other channels such as sgag.sg, a website that has hopped on the trend wagon of 9gag and memes to poke fun at things in Singapore. Common topics include

Government policies

                                                Government policies

Rising Costs

                                                         Rising Costs

Transportation

                                                           Transportation

Amongst other topics, these are some of the favorites! So this website, citizens are free to submit their own memes to share to the local public. Viewers who see the memes and find it funny, would share it on their own social media which spreads to everyone.  Besides s9ag, there are similar websites like SMRT (Feedback) that have a strong presence on social media.

However, an analysis of the satirical media in Singapore shows that it is not serving the same function of its counterpart in other countries. We surveyed over 50 students (in SIM) about their thoughts on this issue. Many responses showed that besides raising awareness on certain issues in Singapore, it does not incite much social change or influence the government as much. The tone of the satirical media have gone ‘too entertaining’ to be taken seriously to create much of an impact. This can be seen from one of the responses on their opinions on satirical media:

Just for laughs. Never treat them too seriously as they often shed superficial lights about the issues, and disregard some other more important aspects. They are not meant to solve problems!

However, there are some areas that social media is creating waves, or perhaps more like ripples for now, in the public.  For example the Facebook page:

Petition to remove Tin Pei Ling as a MP

46,036 likes · 3,642 talking about this

that was created during the hype when she was first announced as PAP’s youngest candidate. It has since evolved into a popular place that posts news about our country and social issues, inviting viewers to think critically about them. They have become so popular that they have created a site called  www.TheRealSingapore.com, which is very active on Facebook on socio-political issues, but in my opinion, are quite biased to be anti-government.

The Real Singapore

155,405 likes · 57,242 talking about this

Nonetheless, its popularity and influence is a sign that social media is an outlet for socio-political commentaries and citizen activism. The Real Singapore calls themselves the Voices of Average Singaporeans.

I think Singapore still has a long way to go before we become as outspoken and declarative on socio-political issues. We have a culture of apathy, “complaint-but-no-action”, or perhaps we all know that despite all the problems, we already have the better end of the stick. But I think the rise of social media and satire can help to keep us aware of what is going on around us, and hopefully help the communication between the government and its people rather than create a mess  and dissatisfaction. It takes both hands to clap, for the people to voice their opinions but have patience, and more importantly, for the government to recognise their voice, listen and take action.

Video

Week 9: Augmented Reality

Hi guys!

just wanted to share some videos I found on how AR is applied in other ways besides games!

I thought it was really interesting how AR can be used to expand the possibilities of magic and performance! Marco Tempest calls himself a Technoillusionist, digital magic and magic to trance and entertain audiences. The video below shows his unique brand of performance and also the possibilities of AR!

Week 9: How Multimedia, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality comes together

So we learnt about Multimedia, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality this week! If we look at the the advances in technology through the years, it seems like a very natural shift from increasing the engagement senses (Multimedia), so much so as to want to immerse ourselves in the wonder and possibilities of the virtual world (Virtual Reality) to trying to bring that wonder to our real lives (Augmented Reality). Whilst AR is all the rage today about how it will change our lives in so many ways, today, my post will focus on how it all comes together in the world of games.

Multimedia

I think multimedia has already become a part of our everyday lives, which is a wonder given how young the technology is. We are no longer surprised by it because apps, games and even shop directories are multimedia. We have become so used to engaging different senses at once, that if we have only one sense engaged, we get bored easily.Multimedia games came with sound, pictures, and video. Today, all these are a given in any computer games we have. I think my generation really witnessed the growth of this through the games we play from our childhood.

Virtual Reality Games Through the Years, not that I know many...

Some Games Through the Years, not that I know many…

Virtual Reality

As the technology advances to a point where we can bring our imagination to life, albeit in the virtual world, why wouldn’t we want to stay in it?  The next level from multimedia games is virtual reality. The games get more real and more interactive. Besides the usual sight and hearing, movement is now incorporated in through the Nintendo Wii, Xbox Kinect etc.

I am typing this post while my brother is back for the weekend. He grew up on computer games and now, he spends most of his time on the computer when he’s home. He insists that I should put in one of the game trailers to show how advanced games have become. (I think he just wants to justify how interactive and thus addictive for him to be so obsessed with his games.)

I am really quite impressed with the quality of the trailers, they are very life-like, with lots of attention to detail, and the cinematography is pretty fantastic as well! He also shows me how the game world is like, and how he, as a player, can interact with the world realistically, such as climbing buildings, picking up objects, talking to people. In the newer games, every decision you make has different consequences which lasts till the end of the game. Thus each player’s experience can be very different!

With such realistic and complete worlds created, there are technology that immerses you in the virtual world such as headsets and sensors. Did you know that Facebook has just bought over Oculus Rift VR, a gaming headset company? I think this technology is going to come to the mainstream consumer sooner than we think!

oculus riftfacebook_62996

Augmented Reality

As the virtual world gets more and more realistic, the next level is merging the virtual and the real world together, to bring the possibilities that the virtual world offers to our reality.

Google is considered to be investing quite a bit in AR, with the hyped-up Google Glass already in work. They have also brought the level of gaming up by incorporating the technology of AR through the game Ingress.

It is a near-real time AR Massively Multiplayer Online Pervasive game that is global! Players have to choose between 2 factions and create and take back portals and territories in real-world locations by actually moving to them and scanning with the mobile phone app. It is pretty cool and has gathered quite a big following, even in Singapore. Since May 2013, there were more than 500,000 members globally!

So as we can see, the world of gaming has been growing and evolving with the help of multimedia in the beginning, and the possibilities are even more expanded by the rise of VR and AR through various technologies and more importantly, our imagination and creativity!

 

Week 8: Cyber Attack on Singapore

In November 2013, this video went live on Youtube, announcing that ‘The Messiah’ from the infamous hacker group Anonymous was about to wage a war against the Singapore Government, to “bring down key infrastructure in Singapore”.

In the course of the next few days, several government websites were hacked into, such as the Istana website, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Long’s website, Seletar Airport, Ang Mo Kio Town Council websites, 13 school websites, and PAP’s Community Foundation. Singapore Art Museum also discovered personal information of about 4,000 people on its online mailing list had been illegally taken from a data file on its web site and uploaded to a New Zealand-based server. Its web site had also been hacked, with unauthorised links added to one of its pages.

Anonymous hacked into   The Straits Times blog, defacing reporter Ms Irene Tham's criticism

Anonymous hacked into The Straits Times blog, defacing reporter Ms Irene Tham’s criticism

I think that it is a very scary prospect that so many of our websites, and even governmental websites can be so easily hacked into. Whilst the consequences of what happened were not too serious (luckily!), it is very telling that we are weak in these defenses. I am glad that the government is realising this and not taking it as an obstacle and threat that is overcome, but rather a warning and a reminder to bolster our defenses in not just the military but in the IT side as well.

Singapore has come up with a  five-year National Cyber Security Masterplan, and upgrading the Cyber Watch Centre and Threat Assessment Centre to be more equipped to handle future threats. Training of infocomm experts will also form a big part of the five-year plan, which  Info-communications Development Authority of Singapore or IDA, will be working with Tertiary and Higher Institutes of Learning. CII Protection Assessment Programme will be launched to help industries protect themselves better against the cyber threats. 

We need a strong protection, especially in our critical industry sectors, against future threats

We need a strong protection, especially in our critical industry sectors, against future threats!

 

At a time where information rules and Internet and technology are increasingly smarter and more instrusive into our everyday lives and our society’s infrastructure, we must be wary of the threats that may present themselves through these mediums. War is not longer fought just through bombs and bullets, but rather through disruption and disclosure on the virtual world. Even the FBI is increasingly concerned with Infomation Warfare which include Electronic warfare and Infomation Operations, but also Cyber terrorism. We have opened ourselves up to another front for attack and thus, our governments must step up  to protect the country in this aspect as well.

In the case of this, we are only as weakest linkstrong as our weakest link.And I feel that, whilst the government take on the macro approach of taking precautions on a large-scale, we as everyday users of the Internet must also be educated and take the necessary steps to protect ourselves as well.

 

I think what the government is doing is a timely measure that will hopefully be useful in the future! Perhaps this Anonymous threat did us some good after all!

Thanks, but bye bye and don't come back please!

Thanks, but bye bye and don’t come back please!