Happy New Year! Some reflections and musings about the blogosphere
3, January, 2007 3 Comments
A happy new year to you, dear reader. I hope that the year has been good to you so far.
December and January tend to be months of reflection. In fact, January takes its name from Janus, an ancient Greek (?) god that had two faces: One looking back and one looking forward. Now, before I start rambling too much, I thought I’d just take a quick look at some of the events that have happened in the recent past, before I start looking at some other issues.
Now, which Internet user did not feel the effects of the Taiwan earthquake. I mean, the aftershocks and reverberations were felt the world over, well, perhaps a bit more on the Asian side of the world. It may not have been the physical earthquake we felt, but the effects were no less real. The online business people would attest to that, not forgetting the bankers and financial consultants who have come to heavily depend on the latest financial info the Internet brings. Scary isn’t it? If more online connections were affected, the entire economic system could and would possibly crash!
It was the earthquake in Taiwan, but to many Internet users, it’s the Tsunami of the digital world, the Katrina of new media! Okay, okay, perhaps a bit too much hyperbole, but you get the picture.
I guess the silver lining in this would be that people are now more aware of how dependent and perhaps over-dependent people are on the Internet. And now we know how dependent we are on a few cables that were strategically laid in earthquake prone soil. Did anyone research the spot in the first place? And hopefully measures are being put in place to put things right.
Another issue is that of employees and videos and Youtube-the need for the responsible use of technology. One incident that brought this up was the Youtube video of ‘Starhub’ employee goofing off and fooling around at work. Bottomline is, don’t do it. Both the goofing off and fooling around AND/OR putting it on Youtube.
Now, another issue caught my attention recently: the article in Digital Life, “Staying alive as a digital warrior“. No, the article is not about killing your way as a warrior or soldier in one of the many digital games (they are always about soldiers and warriors, aren’t they?) but about how people who stay on their but the whole time could seriously be putting their health at risk! I’m sure we remember the case about the boy who refused to stop playing computer games – he didn’t eat, didn’t sleep , didn’t wash…Ewww! And it seems that games nowadays are also epileptic-inducing, which means they can cause fits. They definitely need to come with a label of warning!
Well, on to something else. In Asiaone.com, the article Speakers of new digital language talks about the new breed of teenagers aka “digital natives” who “cannot do without mobile phones, blogs, vodcasts, MSN chat and YouTube, which give them a voice to as large an audience as they can get.”
MDA’s recent research found that “half of all Singaporean teens aged 15 to 19 are blogging or podcasting” and this is reflective of the situation worldwide: “as of May 2005, more than half the world’s about 38 million blogs belong to those aged 19 or younger.” Even young kids are getting in on it. “A Straits Times survey of 60 youth aged 12 to 19 found that most started communicating online by the age of 10. All have e-mail accounts, half have blogs, and 87 per cent use online instant messengers to talk to friends.”
Interestingly, some time last week, I came across an article stating that more elderly are also seeking a new form of expression in blogs, and the article mentioned one of the more famous blogs by a 70 plus Frenchman! Wonderful! As the Flying Dutchman said in his retort to critics who called him too old to be hosting blogtv, who says that the Internet is only for the young? It could be the tool for egalitarianism!
Anyway, many young people cite freedom of expression and instant interaction as top draws for using online communications. But what worries me are comments like these: ‘You write what you want, say what you feel behind a veil you can choose to pull aside when you want. No one judges you.’ According to Counsellor Daniel Koh, ‘blogging lets them assume a role they cannot assume in real life’. He says there are three kinds of bloggers: opinion leaders, those who experiment with their identity and others who ‘have problems expressing themselves in real life’.
This is worrying, as hiding behind a mask for a while may be fine to allow you to learn to express yourself, but hide behind it too long and you may never ever learn to reveal your true self! Technology could be used to help as an emotional crutch but if used wrongly, it could be an emotional cripple instead. And now with new games such as Second Life encouraging people to spend all their free time building up communities online, let’s hope that people do not get too involved in their virtual selves and virtual worlds. Instead of building a second life, they should simply get a life!