Another employee gets into trouble for Youtube video

Don’t they ever learn? A British supermarket chain has started  investigations into the posting of video clips on Youtube showing people perfomring stunts while wearing the company’s uniforms. The staff were shown to be fooling around and skiving from work. They were also reportedly shown giving management “the finger”. Not a smart move.

In my last posting, I talked about the need to use new media responsibly, and that call is now more urgent than ever! Now, it seems that cyberspace is also used for cyber-bullying. In the past, bullies were more or less confined to a particular space, like school or work, but now, it’s taken on a new global spin, with cyber bullies taunting their victims 24/7, transcending time and also space! The bullying comes in the form of posting nasty remarks on personal pages or aggressive taunts and insults during instant messaging. This is sad given the tremendous potential cyber space offers for social networking.   

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Using new media responsibly

aplA recent survey by the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) of Singapore shows that children aged between 10 and 14 are the most tech-savvy. More than 85% in this age group use computers and the Internet to play, learn and communicate. The finding is not surprising. This would be the group to have grown up and been socialised in a highly technological environment filled with PCs, laptops and other gadgets.  

While the use of technology is part of their daily lives, it is a concern that many are spending too much time, as much as up to 18 hours a day playing online games such as MapleStory. Don’t they sleep, eat, go to school? And this doesn’t just afflict those aged between 10 and 15!  

Just a few days ago, an older teen, 17 year-old, Garyl Tan, was charged with being a Wi-Fi mooch. He had tapped into an unsecured network to get online access to play the game, when his parents had stopped him from playing it at home.

This case has created a controversy. Many have questioned whether it’s illegal to mooch and if the person who allowed his network to be unsecured to be the guilty party instead. That aside, what really caught my attention was the description of the boy cycling around his neighbourhood with his laptop, cruising for an unsecured network! It totally reeks of desperation and madness. It’s little wonder he has been sent for psychiatric treatment for his addiction.

The worrying thing is, how many more of such youngsters are there out there? They seriously need help. Especially at a time when online games are touted as the next big educational tool! The concept of playing as learning is not a new one, but what’s new is the use of online games, as seen in Learning by Joystick. It’s important for children to be taught how to keep some balance in their lives as they play and learn, so that they don’t succumb to gaming addiction.

Another group of people who need help are those who think they can wield the power of new media with impunity. There was yet another recent controversy about the posting of a video online of a couple engaging in a sex act on the bus: bus-sex videotaping. What’s worse? Having sex on the bus, or taping it and showing it to the world? In a separate incident overseas,  a beating of a girl was posted online. It’s not sure if this is another case of happy slapping. Or if the person who caught it on camera simply wanted to show it to the world instead of helping the victim. Or is this a new form of citizen journalism where the citizen journalist goes round looking for a story, not unlike traditional journalists. And not unlike traditional journalists, they face the dilemma: do they interfere or intervene in an event, or do they simply act as the recorders of the event?

  

Bloggers get sued

In my last posting, I wrote a note of caution about bloggers writing negative comments online. While there is nothing wrong with writing negative comments, bloggers need to ensure that what they say is accurate, or risk getting into trouble. It is naive to think that you can post anything you like and get away with impunity.

Yesterday, we heard news that the Malaysian paper, The New Straits Times, has sued a couple of Malaysian bloggers for defamation:  NST sues bloggers. The case is a landmark case, as many see it as a test of how new media is perceived in Malaysia. It’ll be interesting if laws for traditional media will also be used to judge the case involving new media.

However, this case is different from the mean bloggers I mentioned previously. It has been complicated due to political undertones or rather, overtones. The leading Maysian newspaper has sued two bloggers, Ahirudin Attan and Jeff Ooi over postings in their respective blogs for defamation. The pair had been attacking top company officials. Apparently, the two bloggers have been reflecting pro-Mahathir sentiments, and NST is owned by the ruling party, UMNO.

This is the first time bloggers have been sued for libel in Malaysia, and some say that this is curtailing the freedom of expression, especially when Internet communications has been increasing amidst government controls on mainstream media. Many feel that tightening control will have an impact on democratic principles in the country, and will have a detrimental impact on citizen journalism and the growing blogospehere in the country.

There is no doubt the verdict of the case will be eagerly awaited by users of both new and mainstream media alike, in Malaysia as well as the rest of the world.

Mean bloggers, beware!

In a recent posting, I brought up the concern raised by a netizen in Singapore, about pictures of people put online in order to shame them. In a somewhat related issue, another netizen wrote in to the press when he saw a photo of his friend posted in a blog owned by two female bloggers, with mean things said about his friend. Student Low Wei Xiang wrote in to ask if that was acceptable. In their blog, the girls have written “We are mean and we are not shy about it…You can’t stop us and we are not doing anything wrong.”

While it’s still a grey area if commenting on someone else in the new media in a negative way can constitute libel, the act of ‘grabbing’ another person’s photo and using it online or not, is wrong as the rights to the photo belong to the photographer. Still, there is no definitive law about photographing someone and using it and commenting on it.

Nevertheless, netizens should be aware that they can’t hide behind anonymity online. It’s a false sense of anonymity and discretion and discipline are still needed in deciding what can be done or not. Albeit the rules have yet to set on new media; yet, good common sense and common courtesies should still rule. 

Sell a PC, plant a tree!

The New Paper article Sell a PC, Plant a Tree caught my eye. Finally, a technology company is bold enough to remind society that in the ongoing quest for new technologies and in the ever increasing use of gadgets and appliances, the environment is being adversely affected. The PC industy needs to go green.

The recent natural disasters and weather phenomena have made me think about how our materialistic and consumerist society is affecting Mother Earth. El Nino, the Greenhouse effect, global warming…we’ve heard much about them, and their effects are hitting close to home, with rising temperatures and freaky weather the world over.

Yet, on the other hand, each day, we are told to buy more, use more! We seem more concerned about wireless hotspots than weather hotspots. We are told to go online, and be connected, yet we are not reminded that using the computer, surfing the Web, playing online games all use energy and deplete our resources.

Finally, Dell has been brave enough to remind consumers and technology users of that connection. The company has launched its “Plant a tree for me” prgramme, and announced that it will “foster the planting of trees to help compensate for the effect on the environment of the energy used up by the devices” it makes. It will plant a tree for every PC sold.   

Kudos to Dell!

  

You can’t ban Youtube!

Just a few days ago, I wrote about a Brazilian judge ordering a ban on a steamy Youtube video of Brazilian model, Daniela Cicarelli. This ban has now been reversed. Of course! How is it possible for anyone to ban a video on Youtube, or on the Internet for that matter. With borderless technology, such a ban can only be seen as futile. In fact, the ban drew much flak from many, saying that it was against the freedom of the press.  And not surprisingly, not unlike previous bans, the ban on the video made it even more popular and it started popping up elsewhere.

This goes to show that traditional forms of censorship no longer work. Instead, society needs to be more responsible about what goes online. However, that will be tough as different societies have different ideas of what’s acceptable and what’s not. Do you think society is ready for self-censorship then?

In another separate yet somehow related issue, shame sites have also created a stir in Singapore. Just as the Brazilian footage was shot without the knowledge of the model, and hence is seen as a violation of her privacy, some people have started taking photos of shameful acts such as people who pretend to sleep on the trains or buses so as not to give up their seats to others, which can be seen as a violation of privacy too. These pictures are then posted online for all to view and tsk tsk over. Is such a public embarrassment wrong, if the end is to make people behave themselves in public? The verdict is still out there.

Some useful blogging blogs

Found  a few pretty useful blogs on blogging recently so thought I’d include them here for reference. Hope they will be helpful for your use and reference too!

Tips on choosing blog software

15 blogging tips for 2007

Blog software comparison chart