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Internet Apocalypse

It’s a scary thing to recognize how many facets of our lives are founded in online facilities, how much we depend upon the web in our day-to-day interactions, transactions, and exchange of information. It’s even more terrifying to imagine what we would do if the internet ever….collapsed.internet-not-working

These days, everything from our interpersonal communication, to our storage of all sorts of information, to our transfer of funds, to even our telephone usage is based off of the internet. What would happen to society if this forum for exchange and communication ever disappeared? How much of the world’s data and knowledge would be lost with the loss of the internet?  New data suggests that there are 1.3 trillion gigabytes of information stored on the internet.

In the very beginning, the internet was built around a feeling of trust for other internet users. As scientist Danny Hillis recounts, “The Internet was designed with the assumption that the communications links could not be trusted, but that the people that connected computers to the Internet were smart and trustworthy.”

In this video, Hillis recounts the early days of his internet experience and confesses his concerns regarding the future of the internet—its security and lack thereof.

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Facebook: From Self-centered to Stalking

If you have been a part of the social networking craze from its very beginnings with Myspace, AOL, and Xanga, you have probably noticed the dramatic shift in focus of these sites. When you first made your MySpace profile, you most likely spent oodles of time writing a full self-description in the “about” section, including your favorite animal, favorite color, current favorite music, favorite quotes, and favorite movies. You uploaded pictures of yourself (but only the good ones) to complete this online identity, so that anyone browsing your page might get a full and extremely accurate (note the sarcasm, please) depiction of who you are and why you are worth getting to know. But we all know: if you were anything like the average social network user, you spent exponentially more time on your own profile than you did on your friends’.

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With the advent of facebook, we saw all of these same features—pictures, lengthy descriptions of interests and “likes,” space for quotes and long ranting paragraphs about the things you wanted everyone to hear about you. However, as time has gone by, the popularity of these portions of social networking pages has dwindled. People pay less attention to the nitty gritty details on their own page and have begun to use facebook for what is perhaps an even more unhealthy purpose: intensive stalking of friends’ profiles. And of your friends’ friends’ profiles. Suddenly, facebook has become less about helping others get to know you and more about getting to know other people—people who, too often, you are too lazy to get to know in person. It’s an interesting social phenomenon, really. I’ll be honest—one of the primary reasons I find and friend recent acquaintances on facebook is so that I can get a fuller, more rounded picture of what that person is like from their facebook profile. But like we’ve already said—all the effort we put into building our own profiles is geared toward establishing the best possible self-image for all to see.  So what does this boil down to? Are we really getting to know each other through our facebook profiles? Are we really building friendships or are we building false pretenses and expectations of one another? Regardless of whether it’s “right” or “wrong,” there has been an obvious shift in the purpose of facebook. So this is question we must answer: is it socially beneficial and validated to use facebook as a means of discovering things about people that we are too lazy or scared to ask them about in person?

facebook-stalking

 

While my instinctive reaction is to be repulsed by this obvious, society-wide leap back in social capabilities, my other response is simply: if you’re willing to post your info, you’re welcoming people to use it in whatever way they deem necessary.

 

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Outsourcing

 

Taking a whole new angle on internet entrepreneurship, Freelancer.comprovides a forum for freelancers to connect with small businesses, capitalizing on peoples’ need for freelancer services. The website proudly claims the status of “world’s largest freelancing, outsourcing and crowdsourcing marketplace for small business.” With over 7,500,000 employers networking on their site and with over 4,500,000 projects posted since 2004, they certainly seem fit to make such a claim.

So how does it work? Whether you’re a small upstart, an already established small business, or a full-fledged company, you can upload design projects to Freelancer.com, then compare and consider bids from freelancers interested in being hired. You don’t pay anything until you find a find a product with which you are 100% satisfied. If you’re an aspiring freelancer, all you have to do to find work is sign up for free and browse the project listings!

The ease of this network is really what makes it a beautiful idea—it guarantees quality for the professionals seeking help, and offers a plentitude of easy opportunities to freelancers looking for hire.

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Larky

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How many times have you realized, after the fact, that you had a discount at that store you just left, that you could have saved money on entrance tickets to that last museum you visited, or that you had a membership loyalty card to that retail store, but forgot all about it in the chaos of trying to find your credit card? And who can keep track of all the membership bonuses and perks from all of their clubs and associations?

Mobile app and web service Larky offers a solution to this dilemma, organizing all of these rewards systems, so that you can get the most out of your memberships and can capitalize on as many savings as possible. Currently, Larky only has an iPhone app available, however their Android app is promised as forthcoming. The app service serves not only as a means of organizing all your rewards programs on its “perks dashboard,” but also as an alert system, alerting users when they are near potential savings and membership bonuses and discounts.

Larky

This service is obviously targeting a pain felt by the majority of frequent buyers and cuts right to the heart of loyalty programs’ weaknesses. With this system at our fingertips, not only will consumers be better off and organized, but merchants will be able to offer stronger loyalty programs, since customers will be better assured of the benefits.

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Bio Aid

bio-aidAs the popularity of the smartphone seems to have swallowed the nation, the mashup of medical services and smartphone technology is becoming more and more plausible. BioAid, a UK-based company, offers one such service in providing a hearing aid smartphone application. The team has developed a system by which users can configure the app to one of 6 possible settings, according to their individual condition. The phone takes in surrounding sounds via the built-in microphone, and then plays it back to the in real-time through the loudspeaker or headphones. This extremely cost-effective alternative to the traditional hearing aid is also unique in its ability not only to amplify the small sounds, but also to mute the extremely loud noises that tend to plague the hearing-impaired population.

Professor Ray Meddis, formerly a professor of psychology at the University of Essex, is part of the BioAid development team. Here he explains the product in more detail:

Besides offering improvement of life for the hearing-impaired, this app also signals a new age of medical technology: cheaper, easier, and increasingly user-friendly.

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