Virtual cops patrol cyberspace

A pair of cute cops will start to patrol China’s cyberspace from 1 Sep. One male, and one female, they will pop up every half hour on 13 of China’s top portals to remind users that they are being monitored, and that they should avoid undesirable materials such as profanity, porn and piracy.

They will also give tips on Internet security, as they walk, cycle or drive across the screen.

Beijing hopes that the cartoon pair will help to rein in the world’s second largest  population of about 137 million Internet users. 

We all know how governments are starting to grapple with problems arising from online use, and we also know how hard it is to police or censor the Internet. We also know that China is known for monitoring its media closely. No doubt, the fluid and open nature of the Internet has been a tough challenge for the Chinese authorities.

But, who would have thought that the solution they have come up with is a pair of very cute, and very cartoon-y cops!

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Whether the pair is able to arrest the undesirable elements that reside in the Chinese cyberspace remains to be seen.

I don’t know about you, but frankly, I imagine I’d be more amused than scared when these guys pop up on my cyberspace. Can anyone imagine a cuter pair of piracy and porn-busters?!

What do you think? 

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Technosexual

Today, as I was flipping through the pages of a local community magazine, a word in the headlines of an article caught my attention and made me take a double look. What was the word? It’s “technosexual”.

Sure, we have all heard of homosexuals and metrosexuals but technosexuals? According to the magazine, a technosexual is someone who spends the entire day in front of the computer. Not surprisingly, it comes with some negative connotations such as being socially withdrawn and isolationist.

My curiosity piqued, I decided to check to see if the term is used by others, or was it coined by the writer of the article. To my surprise, it was defined in Wikipedia as a word used to “desscribe an individual in one of two ways:

  1. A person (usually a male) with a strong aesthetic sense and a love of gadgets. In this sense, it combines “technophile” and “metrosexual“, which was first promoted by creative professional Ricky Montalvoa.
  2. A person with a sexual attraction to machinery. Occasionally, this term is used as an insult, implying in a derogatory way that a person would prefer a sex toy to an actual sexual partner.

According to another site, WordSpy, ” technosexual is not simply in touch with his feminine side but is connected to it on multiple platforms. He likes gadgets that have lots of gigabytes but are still small enough to fit in his pocket.” —Eric Edwards

So, there you have it – the era of the technosexuals has arrived!

Sounds scary, doesn’t it? 

Elvis is Alive!

August 16 (Thursday) marked the 30th death anniversary of Elvis Presley. Indeed, Elvis lives on. He lives on, not just in the hearts of his many fans the world over as seen in the commemorative shows, night vigils and all that have been held, not just in his hometown, Memphis, but also in places as far as Japan and the Philippines, but also in New Media! (Btw, when I visited Graceland in Memphis a few years back, I just couldn’t help but in awe of the King of Rock n Roll. Sure, he had his extravagant and even garish excesses, but there’s no denying the allure and longevity of his charismatic voice, but I digress…)

Well, what do I mean by Elvis and New Media? Yesterday, his daughter, Lisa Marie Presley released a video of her and her dad singing “In the Ghetto” on spinner.com. To commemorate the 30th anniversary of Elvis’ death, Lisa Marie Presley decided to sing with Elvis. Thanks to new sound and visual technologies, “In the Ghetto” music video has been made possible. Of course, we all remember the amazing duet Elvis had with Celine Dion on American Idol singing one of my favourite Elvis songs, “If I Can Dream“.

What makes it more interesting is that she launched the song via using a music video on an online music portal, which marks a new way of promoting music that has become increasingly popular with artistes in this Youtube generation. 

The proceeds of the sales of the song will go towards helping a new Presley Place transitional housing campus in New Orleans, which was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. (Btw, I’m really thankful that I had the chance to see New Orleans before the hurricane struck. I was there about three months before Hurricane Katrina billowed its way there, and it saddens me that a lot of the charming streets and houses of New Orleans have been destroyed. Anyway, I digress…)

Via using the online medium, Lisa Marie is able to showcase her music on a mass scale. At the same time, she ensures that Elvis lives on!

Gaming addiction

The desperation of gaming addicts continues to astound.

Last week, a Sec 4 student, Syafic Hussin,  pleaded guilty to housebreaking and theft, and hurting a 19-year-old youth who woke up and found Syafic in his room, trying to steal from him.

Why did Syafic do it? He stole because his parents had refused to give him any more money to buy accesories and game cards for his online games.

Syafic had also stopped going to school to play on the computer all day. He only paused for meals. He enjoyed role-playing games and felt a sense of thrill to be in character. I wonder if his act of violence has anything to do with his role-playing games.

Reading about this case, I can’t help but recall another act of desperation by another gaming addict, Garyl Tan, who was caught mooching (tapping illegally into others’ broadband access) as he cycled around his neighbourhood with his computer trying to find an unsecured network.

With gaming becoming more popular, especially with large scale events like the the World CyberGame Championships being organised, I think that more and more youngsters will fall into gaming addiction. Just like other addicts such as gambling and drug addicts who have received much attention and hence help, there needs to be some focus on gaming addicts too, so that we don’t end up with more Syafics and Garyls in our midst. 

Workshops, seminars and conferences on New Media

New Media is constantly evolving. Each day, new forms of using New Media emerge as well as new forms of New Media!

In order to keep up with all the developments as well better my understanding of New Media and its related issues, I’m looking out for seminars, conferences and workshops on New Media organised for this or next year. It would be great if they had a slightly more educational than technological slant, as I’m more interested in the various issues related to the use of New Media than the technology behind it, though I’m aware, often the two are related.

If you do know of any good seminars, conferences or workshops coming up, I would appreciate it if you could drop me a line or leave a message in the Comments box.

Cheers! 

Faking it online: Floggers exposed

Just yesterday, I talked about online identity theft and faking online profiles. An added dimension to this, is that companies are also faking profiles online, as well as creating fake blogs where fake bloggers, aka “floggers” write about their positive experiences with a certain product or company.

 Advertising using new media is set to increase, and many companies are latching on to new media to promote themselves and their products. Using Youtube or blogs are seen as useful means of generating interest amongst consumers and reaching out to consumers. Viral marketing is one of the best ways to get your brand around.

However, companies who try to fake responses by crating fake blogs or having floggers write positive things about them could backfire as in the case of Walmart. It paid floggers to write about their happy experiences at its stores. This could be seen as false advertising and it was pressured into ending that blog.

Also, last month, CEO of Whole Foods was caught making negative comments on his competitor using a pseudonym on various online message boards, and this of course, totally discredited him.

Companies and advertisers need to work at exploiting new media and not abusing it. By all means, they should use blogs and podcasts to reach out to their consumers but they must keep it real. if not, the consequences could be pretty severe. The public does not like to be misled, and the online community is a pretty vocal lot.

How could companies and individuals exploit new media to advertise themselves in a credible way? Do share your views. 

Online Identity Theft on MySpace and other social networking sites

We all know how easy it is to disguise yourself online. I mean, who really knows that it’s YOU? You can lie about your age, gender, occupation, nationality and so on…no one would really know.

Now, what’s complicated matters further is identity theft. We have heard about how hackers can access your personal data such as bank account numbers, and other personal details. With so many people going online, and socialising online, especially with the proliferation of social networking sites, it’s become easier for people to steal identities online, and Internet identity theft is a “a new brand of stalking, harassment and defamation”, according to a recent article in the Starits Times.

Recently, an Australian woman had a MySpace account and profile created of her, which she didn’t know about until she started receiving strange emails and calls from people who had seen her ‘profile’. In the US, a woman was charged with hacking into the MySpace account of American Idol star, Diana DeGarmo’s MySpace page and responding to emails in her name.

The thing is it’s hard to determine which are real accounts and which are not, and with social networking sites getting more and more popular, this will be an issue online users will need to watch out for and deal with. 

Another online fake who was recently busted is Daniel Lyons, a technology writer at Forbes, who for 14 months, assumed the identity of Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs in a blog, the Secret Diary of Steve Jobs. Posting anonymously, “Fake Steve” Daniel Lyons lampooned the real Steve in the blog, and the blog has developed its own cult following. Lyons has even landed a deal to write a book as “Fake Steve”. I don’t think the real Steve will be too thrilled about this.