Lessons for the Information Age

Two decidedly opposite opinions on The Internet’s effects emerged in it’s early days, and persist even now.  These criticisms and praises of the net are only becoming more relevant each day.  Folks from futurists, to anarchists cherish the web’s ability to make information available worldwide.  Conversely, many people are concerned about the spread of disinformation at everyone’s fingertips.

Facebook rose to popularity in the early 2000s, and has since seen younger users drift away from their site.  Facebook, as a business, has an interest in keeping a large user-base.  Secret algorithms used by Facebook, and perhaps every social media platform, control what content users are shown.  These algorithms exploit Confirmation Bias, among other biases, to keep users coming back to their site.   Products of Facebook, Twitter, and Google present you with what you want to see.  One reason, is so that users aren’t discomforted  by cognitive dissonance and other “negative” emotional responses to their site.  This isn’t any one user’s fault.  These algorithms promote content that is similar to things you’ve liked, viewed, or searched for previously.  This is a systemic problem that happens behind-the-scenes of your favorite websites, and is mostly beyond your control.

That being said, The Internet is a powerful tool, which can be used for good.  It’s easier than ever to expose corruption by putting information online where everyone can see it.  When a website is cited, you can easily click to check any claims without even getting out of your seat.  Additionally, you can use search engines to instantly find facts and trustworthy sources.

“For true democracy to work, people need easy access to independent, diverse sources of news and information.” —democracynow.org/about

With claims from both sides that the media is unfairly for/against Trump or Hillary, these key ideas are incredibly relevant.  While we are all vulnerable to the virus of misinformation, advertisement, and propaganda, there are also ways to protect ourselves:

  1. Seek out a wide variety of content:  This is something I strive for every time I am reading the news or researching something.  If you normally get all your news from John Oliver, try watching videos made by people who have different views and backgrounds than you.  This is important for seeing both sides of every argument, and then coming up with your own balanced views.  Also, it sort-of messes with some website’s algorithms, because then you’ll get recommended content that isn’t just an echo of what you want to hear, but a broad collection of ideas.
  2. Check it: see an allegation without any sources to back it up?  Look for more info on that topic.  Just because a rich/high profile person said-so, doesn’t make it true.  Honestly, I don’t even trust so-called fact-checkers and fact-checking websites–I’d rather find out on my own than being assured something is true with little explanation.
  3. Follow the money:  Newspapers, tv programs, websites, even documentaries all get funding somehow, from somewhere.  Newspapers are almost always owned by a larger company, and they have a bottom line.  Always consider how money could be influencing the content these sources, which citizens rely on to be well-informed, put out there.  One site I like for getting my news is Democracy Now, although I do get information from elsewhere(see no.1), because they are a non-profit organization.

The wild internet is a tricky place.  Citizens of the internet need to protect themselves(and everyone else) from, and for, information.

Advertisements

The Future with Drones Video Playlist

In no particular order:

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pl2Z9N4Q82g
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4l0xavWi7kU
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvYaEAYaAJQ
  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z78mgfKprdg
  5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3ernrkZ91E

Drones: they innovate photography and cinematography, but they also can be scary when you think about it.  Oh well, the world was already scary anyways.

New PAIN Single Black Knight Satellite is Reassuring

Time leaches almost every band’s unique sound more and more every release.  With lineup changes, pressure from record companies, and the pursuit of fame, many bands slowly crumble.  In a world regular humans are incapable of seeing, is a graveyard of bands metalheads used to like, before they sold out, or started to sound too much like pop music.  Any one who’s traced a band’s discography from early demos to their latest music video steps carefully here.  Learning that there is new music from your favorite artist can be bad news.  There’s always a good chance that the tracks are poorly mixed, or worse–the vocals are layered and modified into oblivion.  One’s darkest fear of all is that the new songs will sound closer to Kanye West than Metallica.

Peter Tagtgren has had a lot of success.  Most people know him as the frontman for Hypocrisy, or through his solo project, PAIN.  In the last year, he also released the album Skills in Pills with Till Lindemann of Rammstein, under the name Lindemann.  Peter’s work, whether alone or with others, has earned him an international cult following that mostly lives online.  When I heard the news, that there would be a new album and single, I wasn’t overly worried that the new stuff would be a nosedive in quality.  Peter is capable of making diverse sounding music, but he understands that going in a new artistic direction means a new project, with a new name.

Image result for Pain Dark Knight Sattelite  The new PAIN single, Black Knight Satellite, maintains the sound that fans recognise as PAIN.  This is a relief.  Black Knight Satellite will also be on the new album Coming Home.  I am inferring from this, that the other tracks will sound similar.  If the rest of Coming Home sounds like that, then we can all rest easy that PAIN hasn’t sold out.  That being said, I urge you all to go listen to the new single, protected by the foreknowledge that it won’t be an utter disappointment.

 

No Justice for the Disabled

I can’t not share this as this is an issue close to me, and many other people as well.  I just wish everyone would ask, when they see things like this; what if I found myself in their situation?  What if my dignity, as a human, was beaten out of me?

www.buzzfeed.com/benhattem/a-beating-at-bellevue

Genital Mutilation in the name of Music

Allesandro Moreschi’s voice is preserved in the only recordings to be made of their kind. In 1902, he was recorded singing “Ave Maria” and “Hostias et Preces.” Moreschi was castrated, likely when he was only eight years old, although it could have been earlier in his life. He was a Castrato; a prepubescent boy castrated so that he would retain his high, childlike voice for his whole life instead of “dropping” from puberty. Castrati were so popular, primarily because, in church, women were usually banned from singing based on the Pauline dictum, “let women keep silent in church”(I Corinthians, ch 14, v 34). When church choirs required voices with a range similar to (female)sopranos and mezzo-sopranos, Castrati were used. Castrati were popular in Europe from the 16th century to the 1860s.
The genital mutilation of children is generally accepted these days(although not in all parts of the world) as cruel and unacceptable. Unfortunately, people made the decision to place a boy’s (potential) singing career ahead of human rights. In the end, this is another disturbing example of the ways in which sexism(the banning of women from singing in church) has had negative repercussions on men and boys.


You can listen to the recordings of the Castrato Alessandro Moreschi here, and judge his voice for yourself!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alessandro_Moreschi

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castrato

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eunuch#Castrato_singers

“…for one half of the world to use the other.. like brutes”

“I had been writing a tender tale of the sorrows of a friendless poor negro-girl, and my eyes had scarce done smarting with it, when your letter of recommendation in behalf of so many of her brethren and sisters, came to me — but why her brethren? — or yours, Sancho! any more than mine? It is by the finest tints, and most insensible gradations, that nature descends from the fairest face about St James’s, to the sootiest complexion in Africa: at which tint of these, is it, that the ties of blood are to cease? and how many shades must we descend lower still in the scale, ere mercy is to vanish with them? — but ’tis no uncommon thing, my good Sancho, for one half of the world to use the other half of it like brutes, & then endeavor to make ’em so.”

Laurence Sterne, writing in response to a letter from former slave Ignatius Sancho

This was written in 1766, yet is still relevant nearly 250 years later.

New Climate Change Hat on Zazzle!

Make Earth Great Again Political Statement Hat  I just added a new design to my Zazzle store.  The product is a “trucker” style hat with the words “MAKE EARTH GREAT AGAIN” on the front, closely mimicking the caps Trump uses to promote his campaign.  More important than a wall in between Mexico and the US  is making sure us humans have a planet we can live on!

See the swanky new hat here:www.zazzle.ca/realeccentric_prints