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Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Internet Anonymity

In today's society online anonymity provides us with uncensored freedom of expression. There are numerous cases facilitated through the use of online anonymity in which cyber-bullies have created unimaginable harm to others by posting their prejudice views - whether it be racist, sexist, homophobic, or just plain derogatory in nature, to psychologically ridicule another person or a group of people. I would argue cyber-bullying is comparable to a hate crime, defined by the United Nations as an attack against  the very identity of a victim. In cases outlined by the former, I believe that any type of harmful bullying remarks or online commentary should be immediately deleted, the perpetrator's account should be shut down, and their identity brought to the attention of the general public and authorities to deal with accordingly.

Those who make derogatory comments are aware their hateful words are harmful to others. An orientation toward social dominance, masked behind the anonymity of the cyber world is a dangerous recipe for psychological warfare at the hands of innocent victims who have done nothing to provoke outside hate toward their identity.  Hello there, Racists and Jezebel highlights individuals who hurt others through their words - namely those who have made derogatory comments toward the President of the United States, Barack Obama, based on his race. The comments shown in the site are examples of how some people post anything without thinking about it, simply because their identity is anonymous. What is interesting about these sites is they actually show the original posts and feeds from "anonymous" individuals who have made these comments through outside networks such as Twitter and Facebook and controversially reveals their identity for the general public to see.

In my opinion, this counter-measure to combat cyber-bullying derived from online anonymity, is reasonable. Having the real identity of a prejudiced cyber-bully matched with their offensive online persona and shared with the general public places them in the spotlight they deserve. It shows them for who they really are. We all may hold certain schema based stereotypes which inwardly projects prejudice, but outwardly we know this is unfair and wrong. We do not explicitly express these affect based thoughts but instead we control our thinking and we rationally understand these prejudice views are wrong. Those who fail to do so are simply ignorant or so high in prejudice the line between right and wrong has become blurred.

Some argue revealing the identity of these cyber bullies is unfair on the grounds that it can potentially ruin ties for the perpetrator between family, friends, career opportunities, and the like. Counter this argument with the psychological damage done to individuals on the receiving end of these bullies words - some leading to cases of anxiety, depression, and even suicide. Is that fair? No. Additionally, by exposing perpetrators' identities it allows authorities to intervene and provide perpetrators with the help they need to understand the real world application of their words and the repercussions that follow for the victims of their prejudice. This is especially the case for children and young adults who engage in this type of behavior who may only continue to do so into their later years if they are never taught not to hate and the erroneous ways of their thinking are believed to hold zero consequences.

Rehtaeh Parsons is a bone-chilling case example where extreme online bullying through sexually explicit photographs and commentary posts forced a young girl to take her own life out of sheer embarrassment  This is a prime example of why I draw analogous ties between cyber-bullying to hate crimes.  The police not intervening in the Parsons situation before anything happened was a great mistake. Police should be in the service of protecting people and by ignoring the evidence provided to them and not acting upon it shows injustice within the system. I think we are often just too quick to dismiss cyber crimes and accompanying evidence as unimportant, nonfactual, or "kids just being kids". While there may be a grain of truth to this I think we have severely underestimated the power of the cyber world on real life as we know it and are now paying for our ignorance through the growing body of documented cases of cyber bullying leading numerous young children to their death. Another factor potentially contributing to this ignorance of the online world is a cohort difference. Many of the online users who are both perpetrators and victims of cyber bullying are children and young adults of generation Y - a generation of the new millennium whose daily activities are largely overshadowed by the cyber world. In contrast to the authority figures who have the power to intervene in these issues coming from generation X, a generation not as cyber savvy who in consequence place less emphasis on the cyber world and underestimate the power of the internet in children's lives.

Overall my position on cyber bullying is to put those who support and participate in these activities to shame in the same way they have put their victims by sharing their true identities with the public and allowing them to experience the same ridicule they have left others to. Hopefully, by doing this those individuals will learn their lesson, understand the flaw in their prejudice, and refrain from re-offending. We owe it to those who have taken their lives at the hands of cyber-bullies, we owe it to those who have experienced prejudice and psychological harm via the cyber world, and we owe it to ourselves to contribute to building a better society - both on and offline.


Class 2012

Before this English class started I was honestly not excited at all due to the fact that English is my second language but also I have not had any good experiences with the marks during my last years of English classes. I know that for some this class might be easy but for me it was a challenge. Over the past couple of months I feel like I have gained some precious techniques which will be useful for my future. First I have noticed a large improvement in my writing technique, I am able to write faster, more clear, more effective, and also I have found different ways of how to successfully approach an audience. I have not only improve in my writing skills but also I have learned to read in a much more efficient way, I do not take as long as I use to before and I am also able to read the content and comprehend it at the same time unlike before when I use to just read but nothing was getting through. I think having blogs and projects often has improved my English comprehension drastically. This semester has been a challenge but I feel like it was worth it due to the skills I have gained which in the near future will help me. I believe I will keep practicing my writing and reading since is such an essential tool not only for work but for life.
Another thing I have learned is how careful we should be with our online activity. I know now how important our online persona is. I have learned techniques to maintain a clean professional online image, and also how to have a safe online experience.
I have actually enjoyed this class for multiple reasons, first I have improved my skills through effective learning techniques such as blogging, joining communities and having projects. Secondly I am encouraged to participate in class, think critically and analytically. Third it is a very open class, but also it has given us freedom to come to class only once a week but still get everything done. I think this approaches is what has helped me improved over the last months.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Online Identity

The internet offers us a plethora of means to establish an online identity. Via the internet you can share yourself with the world but also create your own personal facade. You can be who you really are, or be anyone you want to be. One may argue creating a false identity is wrong, others may argue this is a part-and-parcel benefit of the cyber world.
Personally, with the recent boom of the online job market and employment community it is important to keep my online persona as accurate and professional as possible for future career opportunities. I see the online environment as an opportunity to build a more professional image of myself for when I apply for jobs. I believe most people could agree with me that during high school years our online identity was not nearly as important as it is today. It did not bother me to have pictures of me celebrating an occasion in which alcohol was involved - however, today as mature student entering the professional world I  have become very particular with what I post or someone else posts of me. Do not get me wrong, I enjoy having fun, celebrating, and having memories of those days - just not in public where anyone can see it and possibly making a sweeping character conclusion based off one tasteless picture. Some may argue the internet gives you the freedom of being whatever or whoever you want but everything has a set of limitations. Yes - the internet gives you freedom of identity but up to what point? How free you are with your online identity may actually constrict your real life opportunities.
I believe the internet is a powerful tool which can close doors before they are even open for you. It may also open doors in your life allowing you to live a successful happy life. In my case maintaining a professional immaculate online identity is absolutely essential for my future.
Here is an example of what you do NOT want, and what you want as your online identity:


This is a perfect example of how strong images can be, but also how important it is to keep a clean online identity. These photos could impact a future career opportunity simply due to the fact that the employer make a character judgement before getting to know the person. I believe that this applies not just in my case of being student looking for a professional opportunity but for everyone who wants to have a clean, respectful identity online but also in real life.     

Friday, 15 March 2013

Google Article

As I was reading through the article of Google being fined 7 million dollars from 38 different states due to the collection of some WiFi information private data without the consent of the owners, I found that Google is not just a company used as a tool to obtain information via internet, but instead is a company that is not respecting peoples privacy and rights. I think that as mentioned in the article, 7 million dollars is minuscule to a company that makes close to 30 million dollars per day, but the lesson these states are trying to fortify imply is for Google to respect peoples privacy. The problem is that this is not Google's first time bypassing privacy, the Federal Trade of Commission fined Google in 2011 for 22 million dollars for bypassing privacy settings in the Safari browser. I feel like Google has been lately using deceptive techniques to obtain information without anyone's consent, and sure sometimes they do get caught and some penalties are imposed but if they have done it once than why not again. Google's latest gadget will be lunch in year 2014 "Google Glass", these glasses consist of a microphone, video camera, and GPS all integrated into the glasses. You will be able to record anything you want whenever you want and as you are recording all of these information will be transfer to Google main data collector. I think that if maybe by accident collecting WiFi information from businesses and households was a big deal for some states and people, how would these Google Glasses make it any better. Having a device that will records voice, video and location will be extremely disrespectful. I believe that this Google Glass idea violates privacy in so many different levels. You will not have any privacy at all anymore because maybe someone who might want to harm you physically, monetarily, or mentally is more than capable to do it without any consequences. This will be like having someone watching every move you make 24/7. Do not get me wrong it is a cool piece of technology but in the long run do we really want this in our lives, no privacy at all?

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Smart Phone Era

In popular culture today we are able to experience firsthand the abrupt changes in technology and how such changes consume our daily lives. Electronic companies have molded society by capturing us into a vicious cycle of constantly needing to have the "latest-and-greatest" technology out there. Today technology controls every aspect of our daily lives - how we get up in the morning, how we commute to work, how we function at school or in the office, how we interact with others, how we raise our children, and how we mange our own well-being. Everything we do on a day-in and day-out basis is completely dependent on technology - whether we like to admit it or not. If we realistically evaluate our lives,  the first and last thing we do before going to sleep and  waking up the next morning is have some sort of contact with technology. Leading this life-consuming, ever-changing industry is the Smart Phone.

The Smart Phone is a trend that has literally swept the world off its feet. Off the top of my head, I do not think I know anybody who does NOT have a Smart Phone. Smart Phones are controlling our lives - particularly through the applications we can download or purchase. Smart Phones can literally do anything we want them to. At&t now has new software that can be downloaded into your phone from which you are able to control anything you can imagine - the light fixtures in your house, your television shows, door locks, thermostats, coffee maker, you are even able to connect cameras to your home to increase security. Ihealth is a monitoring system that works through the Smart Phone sensors connection to the internet to monitor consumers health. This company sells their own compatible software and hardware that read glucose levels and this data can then be downloaded wireless to your phone. Other health devices such as Fitbit which track your steps, floors climbed, sleep patterns, and eating habits provide you with daily suggestions to improve your personal health.  Chevrolet has recently launched an application for their new cars which monitors the consumption of gas as a function of your personal driving patterns and relays suggestions for how to improve your driving to save gas. More anatomically, you are able to turn on your car from anywhere, roll down your windows, turn on your heater, adjust the seating position, and turn the radio on to your favorite station - all before you even set foot inside your car. You want to check what's playing at the theater tonight? - There's an app for that. You want to see if your favorite store has the exact size and color of the shirt you want to buy before heading to the mall? There's an app for that. You want to pay for your order at Starbucks before even getting to the payment window? There's an app for that. You want to check travel options for a last minute weekend getaway with certain specifications and within a certain budget? - There's an app for that too. Wireless is the way of the future. This pattern has furthermore proven that technology is a major part of our lives and how the majority of technology applied is via Smart Phones.
I analogize the Smart Phone as the remote control of our life. It does not surprise me that we are able to manage every aspect of our lives at the touch of a wireless button. I think the reason propelling this trend of having the Smart Phone with the latest applications is that it is simple, easy to use, efficient, it can keep up with our daily lives (i.e. has a good battery life) and it is compact (making it easy to bring everywhere - even to bed). I see this technology as a vicious cycle which we buy into but also as progress for humankind to better themselves.   

Thursday, 7 March 2013

The End of Hugo Chavez

Hey guys, huge news! what most of South American countries have been hoping for!

Since December 31 Hugo Chavez had been on life support due to cancer and was transported to Cuba for further operations. On March 5th president Hugo Chavez officially died. Many are sad but most are in joy, those who are in joy are looking forward to a new presidency election. It is said that Hugo Chavez asked the residents of Venezuela to elect Maduro as the next president. I pray that the people from Venezuela do not pick someone who would the the same or worse damage to the country. I believe that they should pick someone who will bring peace, control and wealth to the country because the resident of Venezuela have the means to run a successful and prosperous country and I hope they make the right choice this time. 
This is a new beginning for Venezuela and it is time to take advantage of it and not let the corrupted have any power. 
President Hugo Chavez body has not yet been displayed to the public to reassure his death, but from doing some research and watching various news-channels and reading some newspapers the chances that he is still alive are minuscule or none at all.
This new presidency  elections should be coming up soon! lets cross our fingers and hope for a brighter future.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Is Global Warming Real?

The buzz concerning global temperature change and its subsequent effects has become a late 20th and early 21st century pandemic. From an economic standpoint, the worldwide temperature change obsession is lead with large "environmentally friendly" companies exploiting their audience through media and reaping the gains. Scientifically though, we all must wonder what is really happening to planet earth? Why is this "going green" phenomenon sweeping us off our feet, and is it there real truth to it? 

As I started my university career I thought of global warming as a human byproduct due to the massive greenhouse gas pollution's (release of CO2) created by motor vehicles and industrial sites. As I went through my second and third year of Geology I discovered our contributing portion of what everyone knows as "Global Warming" is only a fraction of what is really happening within earth. Yes global warming is simply the release of greenhouse gasses into the earth's atmosphere creating large holes within the ozone layer - consequently allowing harmful rays from the sun onto earth's crust resulting in the distortion of weather patterns. The thing that bothers me is that media has publicized this effect into their own market to entice people into buying products that are "environmental friendly". The truth of "global warming" is not complicated if one is open to suggestion and learning. In one of my Geology classes we have learned the Earth goes through different cycles every now and then which consequentially affects worldwide temperature, factors such as water current change, magnetic pole change, wind patterns change, ice eras fluctuating, and solar cycles among countless other aspects of the Earth's biosystem are all implicated in this phenomenon.

At face value, I do believe that in certain ways humans are contributing to global warming but in a very small amount compared to the other naturally occurring factors. For example, it is scientifically proven that the earth has been much warmer during past periods such as during the Eocene and Paleocene periods PETM (Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum) but also even more recently during the medieval times

With this in mind, we know that the media is only trying to capture this "global warming" logo to increase profit at any cost. One of the main examples is Coca Cola with their polar bear aid program due to "global warming". A single 330 ml can of Coca Cola embodies the quantity of 170 g of Co2 and there are 475 billion servings of Coca Cola every year. Therefore the amount of Co2 produced by Coca Cola is extremely large and does not justify their cause. Further, where do you think these cans and bottles go? - They have to be recycled and processed which also consumes a tremendous amount of energy, resulting in large amounts of Co2 release into the atmosphere. An additional example is the "electric car" - another effective way of catching the consumer's eye via global warming. Car companies imply that this is the way to "save the planet" but in reality it takes a great amount of energy to charge an electric car whether it is from a electric station or from your home and the battery only lasts between 10 to 14 hours. The entire battery also has to be replaced within 5 years. Again this is not fixing the problem but simply just covering it with a "green" label to make profit. 

Conclusively, the message I am portraying is that these companies are just trying to fool us with pretty images in order to gain profit but in reality they are one of the main contributors of Co2 worldwide. Again, their contributions towards temperature change is small compared to the natural cycles within outside earth but we have to understand that companies are only trying to come up with this global warming fiasco to obtain money from us.

Ask yourself, maybe what we know as "global warming" being caused by humans is only the by-product of companies wanting more from each one of us.