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Technology

Goldilocks

Goldilocks is a part of a web series that is shot entirely using an iPhone 4 and iPod touch. I’ve watched it over a few times and I still don’t quite understand the plot of the video. Besides that, when watching the video, I noticed that some of the shots were filmed using a fish-eye lens. I didn’t like the idea of using a fish-eye lens mainly because I think that it makes the shots look amateur and the goofiness of the fish-eye effect made it lose its credibility and its seriousness. It just didn’t fit the tone of the video. Also, I thought the lighting and the resolution could have been better, but taking the fact that everything was shot using an iPhone or iPod touch into consideration, I thought they did a pretty good job. Subsequently, the footage had been shot extremely well, in terms of the steadiness of the shots, the framing, the camera composition as well as the camera angles. I thought they were clever with their use of ‘leading lines’ to help direct the audiences’ focus to the subject. In addition to that, I was impressed by the various camera angles used in the video. Take for instance the motorbike scene and the scene taken from under a wine glass. Finally, I like the concept of communicating through the lens of an iPhone, or any phone for that matter, and thus I do believe that this is a notable advancement for storytelling.

Sound of my voice

Sound of my voice is a movie trailer about a woman who came from the future. There were interactive pop ups throughout the trailer. These pop ups encouraged discussions about random objects or words mentioned by the characters as well as allowed viewers to educate themselves regarding the topics mentioned by directing them to specific web pages. Besides that, I thought that the right choice of music, accompanied by the clever use of mise-en-scene helped build the suspense really well. Despite all of that, I did feel that the structure of the movie trailer was very misleading as it featured scenes that potentially communicated themes like kidnapping, suicide, illness, religion and human sacrifice. Criticism apart, I thought it had an intriguing storyline and I would definitely catch the full movie when it’s out. Last but not least, I think that this is a significant development for storytelling. It always has been and always will be.

Taylor Swift’s “Eyes Open” Lyric Video

I was casually browsing through YouTube when I stumbled upon this lyric video. I thought the wordings and animation were really fun to watch and I liked how they were constantly in sync with the music. The only criticism I have would probably be that the images and/or writings were a little hard on the eyes every now and then. To illustrate my point, the illustrations were moving and changing a bit too fast and that the designs of the drawings or writings were a little too complicated and colourful. But all in all I really admire all the hard work and effort put into the piece. I trust that this is a significant development for storytelling, simply because I think it’s a compelling and innovative way to communicate.

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QR codes have made a big impact on society. Advertisers use them to advertise products, shopping outlets use them as a shortcut to their website or catalogues and there are even restaurants, specifically in Korea, that utilizes QR codes to not only display their menu but also allow customers to view and pay their bill. QR codes are simple to use and they can pretty much help link or direct viewers to anything existent on the World Wide Web.

I’ve generated a QR code for myself using a QR stuff and the code I’ve created tells a tale.

qrcode.11425546

In this time and age, almost everyone owns a smartphone. Smartphones have become such a big part of our lives, in fact they have become our lives and as a result, we’ve learnt that we cannot live without it. You can download apps onto your smartphone and these apps exist to make your life easier. Smartphones apps are what helps us organize our agendas, do our shopping, pay our bills, email, stay connected to friends and family via social networking sites, etc. You can typically do everything on a smartphone. However, smartphones are a great distraction and they can get quite overwhelming. To illustrate my point, kids nowadays would rather stay indoors and play video games or sit in front of a computer all day than have a fun day at the beach.

Like majority of the population, I too own a smartphone and I’ve decided to get one for reasons mentioned above. Below are the pros and cons of some of my most used apps.

Facebook

Instead of having to go onto a web browser to get on Facebook, there is a Facebook app up for download on the app store. I like to know what’s happening with my friends and family all the time and the app definitely makes it easier to keep track with the lastest happenings. The layout of the app is simple and user friendly, the content loads reasonably fast and unlike the desktop site, the mobile app displays the last time someone came on Facebook messenger. Despite the pros, I feel that it’s a bit too basic. Some features or functions are disabled or unavailable on the mobile site and that can be quite irritating

Whatsapp

Whatsapp makes keeping in touch easy. I use whatsapp to communicate with friends and family all over the world rather then spending a chunk of money on international phone calls and text messages. Next, I like how whatsapp allows its users to create groups. That makes communication much faster and easier. Besides that, I like how I could easily send photos, videos and voice messages rather than having to inconveniently send it through email. A couple of things I don’t quite fancy about the app is how it messages sometimes don’t get sent or received and also the fact that it could take a while to start up, if it starts up at all

Kaching

This app allows me to do my banking – money transferring, bills, account management, etc – on my smartphone. It’s convenient, safe and more importantly it save me a trip to the bank. The con about this app is that it crashes a little too often

TramTracker

Travelling by tram can be quite unreliable and as a result, you can easily miss or be extremely early for one. This app provides real time information about trams so it’s useful when planning trips to and fro. It also allows you to track your location while you’re on the tram. Even though the app is a lot better compared to the printed version of the schedule, it still has a way to go as it can still be inaccurate from time to time

Conclusively, smartphone apps have their pros and cons. I feel people nowadays, myself included, are too reliant on smartphone apps and this could pose as a problem. If we rely too much on apps to do our work for us, we won’t know how to do things for ourselves if they suddenly ceased to exist. They are great tools but only to a certain extent.

References

http://www.harmony.co.uk/articles/mobile-website-or-mobile-app/

An e-book is a digital version of a hardcopy book that is readable on computers or other electronic devices. However, e-books are not always copies of printed books, there are some that exist without a printed version. The first e-book was invented in 1971. It has come a long way since then. Now, every corner you turn you see someone reading off a kindle or their smartphones. E-books are now a worldwide phenomenon.

Since the growth of its popularity, it had gained a large number of supporters. E-books are mainly accredited for their mobility, cost effectiveness and readability. E-books are lightweight and easy to carry around. An e-book allows its users to store and bring along with them hundreds of books, whereas an average sized bag could only carry a handful. This makes it more convenient for all readers and at the same time gives them the option to toggle between different books on the go. Next, sites like Amazon offer e-books at a cheaper price. Most e-books can be purchased somewhere between 10 and 15 dollars, while a printed book would probably cost about 30 dollars. Other than that, readers have the option to adjust the text size and font on an e-book. This is a huge plus for those who have difficulty reading from printed books.

Despite the large percentage of people who are all for digital books, there is a big percentage of people who favor hardcopy books. These people favor printed books firstly because they treasure their hardcopy libraries. A great deal of people feel that nothing could replace the satisfaction of reading from a hardcopy book. Secondly, the number of copyright issues have gradually increased since the emergence of e-books on the market. For example, Amazon had to delete books from user’s libraries because they did not have the permission to sell them. Last but not least, DRM, otherwise known as Digital Rights Management, has become a big problem when it comes to ebooks. This is because e-book publishers publish their books in a different formats and put up safeguards to prevent users from changing that format, or reading the book on a separate device. So if say, you purchase an e-book for Amazon Kindle, you’re permitted to read it only on the kindle.

As for me, I strongly agree with the people who are in favor of printed books. Not only do I like reading books, I like collecting them as well. Besides that, reading from an electronic device or a phone just wouldn’t give you the satisfaction you get when you’re flipping through the pages or making notes or just doodling on the book. Also, I’m not one to jump between books. When I start reading one, I’ll finish it before starting another. All in all, I view e-books as more of a con.

References

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-book

http://www.ghostwriter-needed.com/ebooks.html

Web 1.0 and the Evolution Web 1.0, Web 2.0 to Web 3.0

I’ve decided to discuss the two videos at the same time as they tend to overlap. Anyway, it has been a while since Web 1.0 first emerged on the market and when it did, it mainly gave out information. Web 1.0, or rather the person behind it, had full control of what to publish and what not to publish and as a result of this, people only knew as much, or as little, as the Internet had to offer. In other words, it was authoritative, and so people surfing the net on Web 1.0 were greatly restricted in terms of content as the material published on the Internet were inadequate and often times completely irrelevant. Not forgetting the fact that Web 1.0 is passive and was not at all interactive with its users. But that all changed when the new and improved, Web 2.0 makes its debut.

Web 2.0 came about not long after Web 1.0 went public. Unlike the uninteresting, one-way Web 1.0, Web 2.0 encouraged its users to socialize. It was interactive, which in return brought upon various social networking sites. Besides that, it features user-generated content through the act of blogging, tagging, social networking and social bookmarking. This then led to a newer, more intelligent version of the web, formally known as Web 3.0. Before we go into the specifics of Web 3.0, below is a table featuring the comparison between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0.

Picture taken from blog.vovici.com

Web 3.0 isn’t a far cry from what we know the Internet to be today, but rather a continuation of existing techniques. Web 3.0 utilizes recommender systems, which take on a personal approach. Online polls, ratings, comments and reviews are all examples of recommender systems. In addition to that, it also employs smart systems that anticipates and/or calculates user preferences.

The Internet transforms gradually until it is invisibly present in our everyday lives and appliances, and when all these appliances start communication and exchanging information between one another via the Internet, they help make our everyday lives easier by providing us humans with additional services. Services develop because data from more sources can be linked easily and with the wireless infrastructure, these new Internet services are made available to us anytime and anywhere. To back up my point, social networking sites often cross-reference schedules and events present in all your registered social networking accounts then automatically add them to the your online calendar. While the Internet may show signs of steady growth, the look and feel of the Internet changes ever so rapidly. The evolution from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 and finally Web 3.0 is astounding. It’s amazing how much the Internet had grown and how fast it is growing. Not to mention, it’s interesting to know what future computer scientists will bring.

Web 2.0.. The Machine Is Us/Ing Us

It took me a while to actually wrap my head around what this video was trying to communicate. It was definitely more of a struggle as compared all the other ones. What it basically says is this. HTML determines the design structure of a web document and a design structure of a web document will never be short of structural elements such as

and

  • , which refer to “paragraph” and “list item” respectively. As

HTML developed, stylistic elements like <b> for bold and <i> for italic were added. These stylistic elements went on to controlling how content would be formatted. After that, form and content became indivisible. It was difficult to differentiate one from the other. XML was invented to solve this problem. It helped separate the two by introducing more structural elements – <title>, <description>, <link> and <image> to name a few.

On the other hand, XML facilitates automated data exchange and the exchanged data is then organized into their own categories. But who exactly organizes the data? The answers is simple. The data is organized through the act of tagging, which is easily done by Internet users just like you and I. When we post and tag pictures or posts, we are teaching the machine and every time we copy a link, we teach it an idea. Web 2.0 is all about connecting people and because people are given the freedom to share, contribute and collaborate with one another, we need to reexamine a handful of things, including the copyright, ethics, privacy and identity.

Intro to the Semantic Web

The Semantic Web is all for helping the computer understand what it’s showing us. The web came up with a way us to retrieve and view information as we please. When we type in a site address in the browser, the browser sends a request to the website, telling them to pull up the required content stored at the given address. The website then retrieves the information and sends it back to the web browser in the form of HTML codes, and finally these codes are analyzed, understood and later displayed by the computer. But even though computers may be taught to interact with one another, they don’t actually understand what they are saying or the semantics of the web page. Computers need to make sense of what they are showing us so they could assist us more effectively. As soon as they can fully grasp the semantics of the content(s), it can help us interact with one another better and at the same time, search engines would also be more accurate with their results.

Lastly, the Semantic Web is something all of us use on a daily basis. But not all of us is aware of its existence, in the sense that we’ve already too familiar with it, so familiar that we don’t even realize that it’s there. Many people use things without actually knowing how it’s made or how exactly it functions. I found this video very compelling and upon watching it, it got me curious about how things, especially gadgets work.

The Semantic Web of Data Tim Berners-Lee

Now that we know what the Semantic Web is all about, the next question to ask ourselves is how these computers manage to first analyze the topic we’re exploring then recommend other sites or posts that it deems useful or relevant to our topic of interest. The answer to that question is as such. The Semantic Web describes the correlations between things and the properties of things. To illustrate my point, when we look up diseases on the web, it will not only get back to us with information regarding the disease itself, it will also display links to posts discussing the symptoms and treatments for the disease. Inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, set out to make all types of data available to everyone and anyone using the web and he succeeded in that aspect.

Next, the data web, like the document web discussed above, involves standards and while the document web is represented in the form of HTML codes, the data web is represented in RDF, otherwise known as Resource Description Framework. The RDF describes Web resources such as the title, author, modification data, content and copyright information of a web page. Besides that, putting information into RDF files, allow computer programs or “web spiders” to search, discover, pick up, collect, analyze and process information from the web.

If HTML and the Web made all the online documents look like one huge book, RDF, schema, and inference languages will make all the data in the world look like one huge database – Tim Berners-Lee, Weaving the Web, 1999

Whether you’re a scientist, researcher, financial analyst or even a stay-at-home mom, the data web is no doubt an essential tool to all of us. Lastly, the Semantic Web had come a long way and it will continue evolving and improving to help make our lives more comfortable.

Epic 2015

Epic 2015 is a speculative prediction of what the future might hold for us. It predicts the end of print media and the way news is published and read by the masses. Its forecast may not be flawless, but it still is scarily accurate at times. For instance, it predicted Google Maps, Apple’s iPhone, social networking, etc, but lets now dwell in the past. Epic 2015 also predicted an evolving personalized info construct, also referred to as EPIC. EPIC produces a custom content package for each user. Things like the user’s choices, consumption habits, interests, and demographic are all taken into account in order to shape the product to its finest.

Subsequently, it predicted the New York Times to go offline in the year 2014 and as for the year 2015, it predicted that people everywhere would start tagging their broadcasts with GPS data, which in return changes the way news travels and potentially increase its efficiency and relevance. The future without a doubt sounds intriguing. However, whether or not this becomes a reality is still yet to be determined.

References

http://blog.vovici.com/blog/bid/18085/Web-1-0-vs-Web-2-0

http://www.w3schools.com/rdf/rdf_intro.asp

http://www.w3schools.com/web/web_semantic.asp

This is a story about the founders of Amazon and eBay and how they turned their businesses from nothing into something everyone wanted to be a part of. Even back in the day, we humans have always been obsessed with shopping, be it clothes, furniture or even groceries, and it is exactly this activity that led to the imminent evolution of capitalism. But then came a new phase of capitalism and this new phase, ushered in by a revolutionizing technology – the World Wide Web, Amazon and eBay, changed the way we buy and sell.

Amazon and eBay first emerged on the market in the 1990s. Amazon was born in a garage in suburban Seattle and it was created by a man named Jeff Bezos. Bezos started out on Wall Street in the early 90s and was known as a “spreadsheet junkie”. Bezos had an idea, one that revolutionized the way we do business. His idea was online shopping. He created a list of potential products to be sold and books were first on his list. He dreamt of creating a place where people could look up book titles and buy them without the hassle of taking a trip out just to get it. His dream was to create the world’s largest online library, and he succeeded. Amazon went live in the summer of 1995. Around the same time, the founder of eBay, Pierre Omidyar, came up with a similar idea. His plan was to construct an online auction place for the general public. This project was later dubbed, eBay and was launched in September of 1995.

Both Bezos and Omidyar thought of the web as a place to do business and the moment they went live, they were an instant success. 30 days after Amazon was launched, the site shipped books to 45 different countries and in all 50 U.S. States, while Omidyar earned thousands of dollars in fees in the span of a few months. Both companies had explosive growths. Things were looking up for both Amazon and eBay. But little do they know, their successes were short-lived. History shows us, time after time, where there is a breakthrough in technology, there will be consequences. To illustrate my point, an advance in technology results in a large number of risky startups. Investors will dash to lay their hands on the latest piece of technology, this in return causes bankruptcies, foreclosures and stock market emulations.

Amazon’s IPO took place in the year 1997 and back then, it had little or no revenue and was not earning any profits. Regardless, Bezos would still lower the book prices whenever he got the chance. His argument for this being, and I quote,

Profits could and should be sacrificed temporarily in favor of rapid growth.

It wasn’t that profits weren’t important, it just wasn’t his priority at that time. Bezos’ marketing strategy could be expressed in three simple words – get, big, fast. But for this strategy to work, Amazon needed their customers to trust them with their credit card numbers. This problem was later solved with an invention by some mathematicians who go by the names Diffie, Hellman and Merkle. The mathematician trio introduced public key cryptography, which in time became vital in secure e-commerce.

On the other hand, Omidyar too was having problems of his own. eBay was scheduled to go live in September 1998, but nobody, especially those on Wall Street, took him or his business seriously. So, the reached out for help and Meg Whitman, marketer at World Disney and top executive at Hasbro, was the woman for the job.

Both Amazon and eBay had yet again managed to come out on top. eBay’s stock went through the roof on the same day they got their IPO, while Amazon’s shares doubled in the span of just a few weeks, and that was but the beginning of the crazed bubble.

Amazon and eBay got insanely popular, which resulted in imitators and sites like Razorfish, Pets.co and Loudey emerged on the market. The minds behind these sites, however, had no strategy or basics of economics, but they still manage to round-up enthusiasts and/or investors. The reason for this being, people were willing to bet and they were willing to throw out a couple of million just so they wouldn’t miss out on the big score.

A lot of e-commerce companies were fundamentally unsound. But this wasn’t necessarily a good reason not to buy their stocks – Henry Blodget

By that time, it was blatant that we were living in a speculative bubble and after realizing that the overall economy was close to overheating, Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank took matters into his own hands. Wall Street too started getting more sensible. But it was too late. The stock market crashed, people got angry and throughout everything, approximately 300 trillion was lost. It was the biggest collapse in the history of the stock market and people referred it as Black Friday. Many big companies went out of business, Amazon and eBay however survived. They prevailed because they both understood the importance of the masses.

We set a new standard for customer service – Jeff Bezos

It’s all about the empowering people, regular people, to use the tools in a way that they see fit – Pierre Omidyar

Some people see the bubble as a bad thing, to which the Chairman of Intel disagreed.

what this bubble craze did was draw untold sums of billions of dollars into building out the Internet infrastructure. Everything from fiber optic cable to Amazon’s customer database and while that infrastructure would probably have been built anyway, it happened over 5 years instead of 15 – Chairman of Intel

In the span of a few years, we have gone through a wave of innovation, financial mania and a horrible stock market crash and the companies that suffered from the crash acted as a guideline to make the newer ones more sustainable. Since then, new classes of companies, such as YouTube, Digg and Facebook have materialized. Take YouTube for instance. YouTube was founded by Chad HurleySteve Chen and Jawed Karim and like Amazon and eBay, it was started in a garage. When it went live, the company encountered rapid growth within its first few months. As of 4th April 2006, Venture firm Sequoia Capital invested a total of 11.5 million dollars into the company and a day after that, Judson Laipply uploaded a video titled “The Evolution of Dance” and it became the most popular clip in YouTube history, with a combining total of approximately 131 million views. After that, YouTube continued gaining popularity and today, YouTube is localized in 43 countries and across 60 languages, it gets over 800 million visitors each month and has 72 hours of video uploads every 1 minute.

References

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=06f_1220127715

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_YouTube

http://www.fastcompany.com/1514469/brief-impactful-history-youtube