As a friend the other day lamented life, I think today I’m going to do the same thing.
lament (ləˈmɛnt) — vb 1. to feel or express sorrow, remorse, or regret (for or over) — n 2. an expression of sorrow 3. a poem or song in which a death is lamented
Again, as seems to be happening with each article, I have a thought and then something changes that thought. I had been thinking about the subject of online commentary and why anonymous musings online are not “evil.” However, as with any given thought I have, things change. I sometimes wish I could just turn off my brain and stop reading. I sometimes bemoan the fact that my mind is curious to read and understand both sides of an argument. Even if I did turn the computer off and walk outside, I probably would talk to the birds and try to figure out why they are doing what they do. Because of my nature, I want to understand and come to conclusions. Moreover, sometimes those conclusions are scary.
This is not to say I’m always right about those conclusions. Moreover, I sometimes wish the conclusions I do come to were not true. Today is no different.
“Google and other search engines should take steps to ensure that their websites are not used as vehicles to breach the law and should actively develop and use such technology. We recommend that if legislation is necessary to require them to do so it should be introduced.”
In other Google privacy news, the search giant has been forced to suspended part of its autocomplete function in Japan after complaints that it violates users’ privacy.
The case was brought after an unidentified man claimed he had been associated with crimes he did not commit; when links related to crimes committed by someone with the same name appeared when typing his name into Google.
According to the BBC, the man’s lawyer said his client had found it difficult to get work because of the impact the association had on his reputation.
Up front, I have to admit I do not understand Japan’s culture completely. In addition, as much as I know about the UK (big fan of Britcoms and Doctor Who) it would safe to say that not living there makes it hard to make judgments on culture. However, I do know what Super Injunctions are.
For those who may not see the video, or want to sit through advertisement, a Super-Injunction in Britain is a court order that blocks society from talking about whatever the injunction had been granted for. What I do not understand in culture, I certainly understand in technology and ignorance of technology. And more so then just the cultural impact it has on foreign lands, the very real impact it has on our land and our daily lives.
I think the best place to start with ignorance is understanding. Google’s autocomplete is not a technology that is unique to them. Autocomplete is used in all sorts of software to help users save time by guessing and completing words for the user. Where the words comes from is dependent on how the software is programmed. As I type this in Microsoft Word, the software will auto-correct my words for me based on the dictionary. In terms of Google, the search engine has a database of words that commonly used with other words built from the words people search for. Also stored is our own searches on our own computer that do not come from Google’s servers. On top of all that, the search engine also has a spell checker, that auto corrects spelling errors for us. The weight of how what results are chosen to guess your typing is done by what is called an algorithm.
a set of rules for solving a problem in a finite number of steps, as for finding the greatest common divisor.
As evil as you may think Google is, the search engine does determine these results. In fact it’s not in their best interest to. Their commodity is giving you the results you seek. We can argue advertising and paid results some other day, but their number one goal is to make searching easier for the end user. If they frustrate the end user, they will lose page views. Remember YaWHO? Okay you get the point.
The point to all this is to explain that Google has very little to do with what results are ultimately displayed to you the end user.
I don’t ___ it
Going back to my article on commenting, yes the one where I rambled on and on and on. As many issues surrounding commenting there are, there is one thing I do understand concretely. It is a truth that never changes; every generation has an older generation that cannot understand the younger generation.
The younger and old generations clash the most because they see each other as wrong. So in a war of words ignorant thoughts are thrown out. The older generation complain that their side is the best because it is “reverent” and done every week the same way therefore it must be good. They rail against the beat and instruments of the youth, make connotations, and allure to the devil in these new beats. The ignorance they blissfully ignore is history. They cannot see that these same arguments were used against their traditions and constants long before. In an ironic twist, their age is not old enough to see the folly.
The youth in turn rail against the older generation as being wrong. In turn losing out what could be learned from the past and understanding the history of music. In this, both sides miss out on what could learned from both, choosing to condemn each other. At the end of the day, books are written condemning the sides and no true understanding is reached.
And further back I wrote about the situation at Daniel Boone High School. One of the reasons I wrote this, piece you are reading, was the continued jeremiad the superintendent at Daniel Boone seems to be continuing. One thing that “struck” me after writing that post was the fact that it is known who posted the comments. While I am a staunch defender of online privacy, I am not when it comes to protecting speech that harms. It is why we have laws that prevent people from yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater. If there are truly threatening speech intending to do harm to others I can’t see how Facebook would stand in the way of an investigation. I can’t even see it being a privacy issue. However, if this is the case of boys being boys, then is there an issue.
I have no issue with punishing those who cry wolf if alternative motives. What I have a problem with is leadership and authority that use the cries of wolf to push an agenda. What scares the older generation about the younger right now is the fact that it is becoming clear the older generations have no care to change their ways. They refuse to except to accept the fact that the realities of life are changed and are outright scared of what is happening. It’s not that this is some new phenomenon that is occurring. It has happened before but with a twist. The twist is we are becoming a worldwide community now. The reigns of control that the older generations had, or were used to, are completely and utterly obliterated.
While the youth are coping with a constant barrage of changes to their life every year, month and sometimes every day, the older generations are, (it seems) completely at a loss as to how to cope. Often fumbling their way through this transition as show below.
WARNING: Not Safe For Work (NSFW) viewing
A Scary _____
The district’s website describes the forum as an opportunity to “educate the community on issues of tolerance, diversity and respect” and that the intent of the evening will be to “update the community on the results of our security efforts at the high school and to hear thoughts on how we can partner with the community to address the issues of tolerance and diversity from this point forward.”
Moreover, this is where some conclusions I am seeing be made actually scare me, and should scare everyone. The one thing that did not exist before was the ability for thought to be expressed by anyone and everyone 24/7. The Internet has given us all an outlet to express our mind. Those thoughts that used to be kept to ourselves are no longer private. With Facebook and Twitter, it’s easier than ever to express our moment to moment thoughts. The openness of the Internet is allowing us to experience culture of other countries. It means we are starting to share thoughts openly and thoughts not always from our own culture. Thoughts our present culture may not know or understand.
This is an observation I made a long time back because of watching British comedies. Many times the characters will use terms that in the US we would have problems with and some we would never have a clue were mean. One such word is Fag; in the UK, the word is slang for cigarette, as many know it has a different meaning here in the US. What happens when a younger person makes a comment about taking a drag on a fag in our culture? One would hope we have leadership in place when these situations arise to make correct judgments.
For Daniel Boone leadership bemoans technology and that which it does not understand. Going back to my early thought about the comments being boys being boys, the words may have been nothing more than words. I do not question the judgment call for safety over chance; increasing security was the right call. However, if no violence entails the comments does that mean the security measures have worked or is it the fact that threats were empty words made by boys acting on testosterone? I’m sure decision makers will point to increased security as a solution, but I could go on a limb and say that the number of bugs in the air increased the day of the threats and decreased the next day. Thus proving the controlling the population of bugs outside a school is the ultimate form of security. The truth is I’m off on a tangent and without careful consideration of all facts the real meaning of there being no violence at the school has no meaning.
Moreover, when the head of authority at said school, bemoans technology and pursues a personal side tangent, the trust of said authority is called into question. The problem with all this thought is that we as human beings do not control it. We control what we say, what we do with thought, but what we think is not always as controlled. In addition, here comes the paradox: While we are still taught to control what we do and say, we now have a new temptation. Those who are younger will struggle with this control and freedom of expression.
Now this is the place where things get scary. As I explained before the phrase “For the children…” should be banned and this is why. Children spouting testosterone is one thing, but jumping to the conclusion that a whole community has an issue is a scary thought. And it brings into question why an issue doesn’t stay the threat level it is. If the issue, and root cause, is teenagers making threats then bringing those in line with rules is one thing. Talking to their parents and assessing what the teenager’s environment might have contributed it another one. That is to say this is addressing the root cause of the problem. Jumping to the conclusion, and bemoaning, Facebook is a leap that can’t be made. Facebook is a tool, one could use the same criteria and say that sending these teenagers to school was the problem and therefore schools should be curtailed.
I’m saying it: Gary Otto was yelling at a mirror in the Facebook rant.
However, beyond this local issue you have the greater issue of what this means for society. As pointed out with Google earlier, there are those that have an ignorance of technology and how it works. This ignorance is being used for alternative motives and agendas. Some of it simply those with money and power can’t understand how their former power doesn’t work anymore. For the UK, the thought that one can’t stop the Internet is a foreign concept for the older generation. However, when it comes to Governments, we are watching and being shown in the last few years that technology is being used to overthrow and bring down authority. In addition, simply pulling a switch is not enough anymore, as pointed out with the Raspberry Pi, shutting down communication, even turning off power, is no longer enough to control people. This freedom is scary to some.
One might think this does not happen here, but surprisingly it has been and is still going on. Nevertheless, that will be for another article (SOPA FAQ time.)
The question I am left with is when those in power and authority become scared of technology, what measures will they use to stop it. And what side tangents will be used to prove their case. What happens when the realization that thoughts can’t be controlled and people are truly free to express themselves. What will happen then?