I just received, for the first time ever, random hate mail from someone who noticed I disagree with their view of how to best serve Israel’s interests:
(This is apparently in response to a couple of comments I made here [Heb] about the strange scare tactics the IDF is using against the popular struggle in Nabi Saleh, which you can read about in English here.)
Unfortunately this person’s user account appears to have been deleted. I was hoping to be able to talk to them (in a somewhat more polite and conciliatory way.) Oh well.
Visualization of the structure
of a piece of the Internet. from Wikipedia
The main topic of today’s Spanish class was teleadicción – television addiction. To start it off, we had to do a little self-test that would supposedly determine how addicted we are to television. After reading the first question, I immediately had to raise my hand — I couldn’t answer the question, as I don’t have a TV set. It quickly turned out I’m not alone: of the 15 or so that were there today, only two students had a television!
For myself — and I gather that the same applies for most of my classmates — this doesn’t mean I don’t watch any television shows. It’s just that with Internet-enabled computers, you can watch all of that content without a television set.
As we went through the self-test (instead of us all taking it, each of us got to read out a question and the two lone TV owners had to answer) something interesting occurred to me. The Internet, so often blamed for distraction and even the destruction of the attention span, is actually something many of us use to better control our media consumption and the attendant distraction. I can hardly imagine it being a big deal if friends suddenly pop over while I’m watching my favorite show (one of the scenarios in the self-test) — I could just pause it. Another scenario from the self-test, leaving a show on while doing chores, makes sense with a TV; something interesting might be on. Somehow it never occurred to me to do so with the shows I choose to watch. I’d put on music, not a show that would require more attention than I can give.
So while in some ways the Internet produces a lot of distraction, for me it also replaces technologies that were even worse, dictating when I get what content. I wonder if this is a sort of generational shift going on; the Spanish textbook which so brazenly assumed everyone has a TV set is less than 5 years old. I’m sure university students aren’t a representative sample, anyhow. But the consumption of shows might just be another area where the Internet is setting us free.
Of course, it’s always possible the Israeli Right is, well, right, and that like all lefties I’m an unwitting copywriter for Hamas… But it’s unlikely, so I dilligently applied Occam’s Razor and concluded it must be a typo (okay, I mean I took a guess), and followed the link to see what it’s all about. It turned out to be an auto-generated newspaper-esque page of content — powered by paper.li — collected from tweets with the #Hamas hashtag, conveniently called “The #hamas Daily” — which is this case sounds like an official Hamas publication.
Since one of my posts yesterday was about topics related to Hamas and since I apply an excessive amount of tags, which Feedburner selectively-but-automatically turns into hashtags when tweeting my posts (see tweet below), I ended up being an unwitting copywriter for Hamas, who incidentally would like to kill almost everyone I love.
I never used to believe it when they said machines will rise up to destroy us… But now I’m starting to see it… A conspiracy of half-intelligent automatons, interacting on the wild Internet, producing their own newspapers and slanderous tweets… They are the real enemy!!
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how, where, and with whom I share interesting links I find. I first realized that sharing mainly on Facebook doesn’t make so much sense, since things I share there only reach my relatively list of friends, and only some of them are interested in each of the different topics that interest me. I’ve also started realizing that sharing links on Google Reader (which I do a lot) has basically the same problem (except worse, since I have 40 instead of 400 followers.)
Many of the things I want to share I want to share because I want to help make them public and spread. Since I’ve started using Twitter a lot lately, I guess Twitter is a good venue for this; links reach more people and can spread through Twitter’s huge, globe-spanning network. Of course, like all things Twitter, they easily get drowned out in the never-ending feed.
Of course there’s this blog of mine right here, but it’s too much work to blog all those links. I have to explain what it is I’m posting and why, and I read more than I could do that for.
But I might set up a separate feed for links, using Tumblr or something. Would anyone reading this be interested in that? Would anyone follow it?
Happy New Year everyone, and welcome to didyoulearnanything.net.
I spent a lot of the last ten days installing WordPress, learning about CSS, fiddling with file permissions, and figuring out the new name and domain name. It’s a huge pleasure to finally be posting this.
I hope you like the new site. Let me know if you bump into any errors, or if you have ideas for improving the layout or something.
It’s been really great getting to know WordPress better. It really is an amazing project, and I’m glad I could move from the turnkey hosted environment of wordpress.com to this web server without needing to learn to use a whole new system.
As for the hosting, I was very happy to discover the provider I chose: NearlyFreeSpeech.NET. At first I was a little hesitant about using such a non-user-friendly service, and it’s been a true challenge. But it’s great to work with such a likable service provider. They have a really great attitude and it feels right to be their customer.
A note about Sappir.net:
Sappir.net currently still points to the old version of the blog. It will change to point here over the next few days. I think RSS feed subscriptions should continue working once the transfer is complete, but you should just remove the old feed and switch to the new one if you don’t want to miss anything.
Wired has a fascinating look into Google’s search algorithm and how it has developed. I may not have mentioned this, but I really love Google. However, I was hooked into this one by the quote provided on The Daily Dish, which made it sound like linguistics might come up:
Google’s synonym system understood that a dog was similar to a puppy and that boiling water was hot. But it also concluded that a hot dog was the same as a boiling puppy. The problem was fixed in late 2002 by a breakthrough based on philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein’s theories about how words are defined by context. As Google crawled and archived billions of documents and Web pages, it analyzed what words were close to each other. “Hot dog” would be found in searches that also contained “bread” and “mustard” and “baseball games” — not poached pooches. That helped the algorithm understand what “hot dog” — and millions of other terms — meant. “Today, if you type ‘Gandhi bio,’ we know that bio means biography,” Singhal says. “And if you type ‘bio warfare,’ it means biological.”
The European Parliament will soon vote on doubling the term of copyright in sound recordings. This measure will benefit the record labels but hardly anyone else. If you’re in Europe, go over and sign Sound Copyright’s online petition: link
Tzipi Livni, Israel’s foreign minister, has been saying all week that, although Israel’s immediate aim is to stop the rocket fire and not to topple Hamas, there can be no peace, and no free Palestine, while Hamas remains in control. She is right that with Hamas in power in Gaza the Islamists can continue to wreck any agreement Israel negotiates with Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority on the West Bank. Mr Abbas, along with Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak, may quietly relish Hamas being taken down a peg. Egypt is furious at Hamas’s recent refusal to renew talks with Fatah about restoring a Palestinian unity government.
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