You are not free.
But here, I'll focus on the technological side of things. With the advent of social media and the rapidity with which information can be shared, I figured there would be a fast, widespread change in the fundamental way the world operated. And to an extent, this is true – only today would you be able to read the president's Twitter account or see an inaugural speech streamed on YouTube. It seems that times have certainly changed, but in this era of media freedom, I can't help but ask, how free are we really?
Writer Evgeny Morozov seems to think we only enjoy, or at the very least utilize, a small portion of our power through the internet. In an awesome video put up by RSA Animate, one of his many talking points is recognizing intended versus actual usage. Think of it this way: Although there is the occasional video advocating a particular religious/political/social view, how many more cat videos are there, or videos with entertainment as the main draw? Morozov takes it a step further and posits that a majority of internet users spend their time looking at porn instead of collaborating in any meaningful way, and he appears to be correct. According to OnlineMBA, around $3 million is spent on porn every second. That's right, not minutes, seconds. So how is an average internet user's time really being spent? Caught in a vortex of questionable content or something more sinister?
In any case, it's important to remember that government officials are able to access much of the same content you are, which means that your super-secret Facebook group you joined may not be so super or secret after all. But even if it is, what chance does it have of effectively creating change? Or is that even really the point? It seems that when individuals try to spread or acquire certain types of information through the net, they are thrown in jail, and, when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds, may resort to killing themselves.
Aaron Swartz faced 50 years in prison for essentially downloading JSTOR articles.
The average amount of time served for statutory rape is 9 years.
WTF. Is this the cost of faux freedom?
Now I won't sit here and pretend to have a solution, but reading about laws like SOPA being shot down is encouraging. At the very least it shows that internet users do have some power in their keyboards. But with SOPA being repackaged and reintroduced as CISPA, how long will it be until the voices of those fighting for internet freedom are lost in a cavalcade of Harlem Shakes and cute cats?
If you want to know more, check out Morozov’s TED Talk segment.
Image Source: http://futureblue.wordpress.com/2012/01/11/online-education-spreading-knowledge-across-the-web/
Appsfire - Trying to keep up with new apps can be a daunting task. Fortunately, there's an app for that! Appsfire is updated on a daily basis to give you information about featured products, apps that have dropped in price and, if you connect via Facebook, apps your friends have downloaded. Android users can also choose to get results from Google's Play Store or Amazon's own app store. (Android/iOS: Free)
If you want to play catch-up from the past year or so, here are some suggestions for the best items you may have missed.
- 4-Hour Work Week: Get ideas and techniques from Princeton graduate, Tim Ferriss, on ways to enjoy a millionaire lifestyle. Ferriss tells the story of how he became a record holding tango dancer, a cage fighter, business owner, and much more, all while asserting that your ideal lifestyle can be achieved by working only four hours a week.
- A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: There were a slew of deaths last year including actor Michael Clarke Duncan, author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar, and music legend Whitney Houston. Each was artistic in their own way, and, to get a sense of what it’s like to evolve as an artist, it may be time to take a closer look at this read. James Joyce’s classical story on religious rebellion, sexual frustration and struggles for independence features an overarching theme of the potential dichotomy between loyalty to society and loyalty to oneself. Sound familiar?
- Gun Fight: In light of last year’s tragedies and the increasing number of gun related deaths, American gun control laws are worth another round of consideration. That being said, this film is a bit biased due to the people portrayed on both sides — cautious intellectuals versus lowbrow gun lovers, but the bigger discussion concerning tighter gun control should still be explored.
- Beasts of the Southern Wild: A story showcasing the development of a nine-year-old girl, Hushpuppy, as she struggles to connect with her father and the culture behind a group of people willfully separated from society. Leading lady, Quvenzhané Wallis, puts on an excellent performance and is currently the youngest actress nominated for an Academy Award.
Rap – If you liked Kendrick Lamar’s “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City” then try…
“R.A.P Music” | Killer Mike – Producer El-P creates an interesting mix of new and old school style beats, as Killer Mike delivers energetic verses over each track. If you want something different from radio hits, give this album a try. Notable tracks: “Go!”, “Don’t Die” and “Willie Burke Sherwood.”
Rock – If you liked Torche’s “Harmonicraft” then try…
“Yellow and Green” | Baroness – This is a fun double disc undertaking that offers a nice mix of high energy and melodic tracks to dig into. The tonal progression from one track to another is very well done, which keeps things interesting, though the second disc is a little more stagnant than the first. Notable tracks: “Twinkler”, “Sea Lungs” and “MTNS. (The Crown & Anchor).”
Tons of new electronics are released every year, and 2012 had its own fair share of high quality products and useless commodities. For starters, Microsoft released the eighth version of Windows late last year, but should you upgrade? Good question! No, you probably shouldn’t. Windows 7 is very well established at this point and, aside from a portable, “metro” inspired interface, Windows 8 ($69.99) doesn’t bring a whole lot to the table. Instead, I would suggest taking that money and spending it on the Soundfreaq Sound Kick ($99.99), a portable Bluetooth speaker that pairs with smartphones and tablets to make your Pandora or Spotify playlists more enjoyable. The device sports a fairly sleek design, offering touch sensitive buttons and an embedded auxiliary and USB port. For the price, this speaker is hard to beat, as even at higher volumes, sound stays nice and robust.