Computers


Keep on Trekkin

As I did at the end of 2013 & 2014, so I do again here at the end of 2015 to recount some travel experiences, which I don’t normally write about here. I need not give the whole setup again for the premise of such entries and see my blog from the end of 2013: Travels of Spocklogic. The notables this year (travel blogs I finished or made additions to) include:

feature-Erice2014-lgFeature-Indian_Wedding

Feature - Washington DC-1

Feature-China_2014

Feature-Spocklogics_TravBuddy_Meetups

 

That’s the summary for 2015. Some are carry overs from 2014, but I finished the blogs in 2015, after my last post on travels (see: Travels of Spocklogic II) in December 2014 or earlier if I made additions. As I alluded to in recent entries, I will take a break from this Cogito Ergo blog for a while in 2016. I’ve had 20 years of internet exposure and been blogging for 10 years (see: 20 Years of Internet and Mapping the Internet). I hope to return again with a fresh perspective down the line. There’s plenty to explore in the Cogito Ergo blog archives until then (see the link to: Browse Blog Posts). Best wishes for the New Year 2016! See you in the future…

bones-travels-through-time

Advertisements
Map-cyberspace?

Cyberspace?

If you had to imagine what the Internet looked like, what would come to mind? This seemingly innocent question has given rise to some interesting and occasionally bizarre representations. There are the physical aspects, the infrastructure that makes it possible, the hardware that runs it, the software that interfaces with people and then there are the people themselves. There is a whole other conceptual side to it, which strays into realms of the human mind, and even the name cyberspace congers up visions of some universe within our own, but that is ill defined in physical space. The prefix cyber cyber comes from the Greek word kybernet,  meaning to steer or guide (a helmsman), from which cybernetic  is derived. One can appreciate the irony there and does the internet do the steering or the people using it? Well, this is a big topic and the many questions raised are outside the scope of this blog. When it comes to visualizing the internet I tend to like maps of the world that reflect human behavior or trends in activity. I showed some in a previous blog from June, 2014: The Internet – Yesterday to Today. The maps shown here show the who and how people are connected:

Map-of-internet-users-per-100-people-2012

Map-world-online-by pervcent-2013

Map-world-online-growing-access-2013

Map-of-internet-freedom-2014

Map-of TeleGeography-2015

In viewing some of these maps, I began to wonder what my own WordPress map of visitors compared to some of these. Turns out it actually looks fairly similar for the most part and is most easily compared with the map of Internet users per 100 people and Map of Internet Freedom. Below I show my map of visitors to Cogito Ergo during the period 2012 to 2015, and the associated list of countries with number of visits below that. All total, this blog has had more that ~11,000 views; ~6,000 visitors. On a monthly basis there are an average of 276 views; 163 visitors; 1.78 views per visitor. Currently there are 117 posts, 40 categories and 230 tags. I just record these stats for posterity and reference, and not sure they are of much interest to anyone. The map and countries below only reflect 2012-2015 since I activated the mapping feature, not the total numbers since I started this WordPress blog in 2011 and migrated all my previous years blogs here from another platform. I have actually been writing this blog for just about 10 years now. It may be time to give it a rest for a while and pondering a hiatus in 2016.

wordpress-2015-map

Cogito Ergo WordPress map of views (2012-2015)

WPmap-countries-107

Cogito Ergo list of countries by views (2012-2015)

This idea of Mapping the Internet is likely to expand in the future. It’s not just about the technical details or the purview of science to tell. Science is good at telling us how thing work, but not why they work or what they are good for. For example, we can figure out how the universe works, but not really why it works that way or why it exists. The future will have to go beyond the science and statistics of things and delve deeper into the relationship of man and machine. Mankind has been mapping the physical space on earth and outer space for millennia. The physical space of the human body and inner space of the human mind the brain has been explored for centuries and we are just beginning to map it. This thing called the Internet or cyberspace is as vast and complex I think than even we realize – like the universe itself or the human brain. In this case, however, the creator will be examining his creation. The ultimate Mapping of the Internet may reveal the creator in a new light, hopefully not Man the God, but Man the inquisitive explorer. Ultimately man is a temporary tenant of Planet Earth. Reaching into inner space or cyberspace to see ourselves may someday inspire us to reach for the stars. I like that line from the 2014 film Interstellar:

Man was born on Earth, but he wasn’t meant to die here.

I give some links for Internet Map exploration:

Global Internet Maps

The Internet Map
Geonet
Internet Census 2012
The Opte Project
Ways to Map the Internet
.

20-yrs-internet

I read somewhere once that in the Middle Ages some people believed we are all created from preformed tiny human beings, called homunculus (Latin for “little man”), which grow into ourselves, but the inner homunculus always maintains control. Who is really pulling the strings, eh? I mention this because it is near about 20 years on the internet for me now and it feels a bit like a homunculus, even though I was born long before it became widely available to the public. I can’t really imagine what it’s like to be born into the world with the internet already existing. Sometimes it feels like it has always been there, so ingrained has it become, but I know when I think back in ‘the before time’ I have memories of a world without it. I don’t want to focus on the ‘before time’ in this blog, but say something about 20 years of Internet. Just for fun, I can start by sampling what the internet looked like 20 years ago. Should I be capitalizing it as Internet?

Web-sites-1995

Looks pretty cheesy by standards of today, but back then it was the ‘bees knees’, to use a very old fashioned phrase. In those days most of these companies were using available technology, but the internet was mostly slow and clunky. I bought a 28.8k baud modem in 1995 and squealed my way into cyberspace. At first I only found things like BBS (Bulletin Board System), Usenet or News Groups. These were mostly discussion based arenas for sharing information, though some media could be exchanged as well, but it could be time consuming depending on the size. I did this on the cheap finding numbers to dial up and get online, then once accessing information I found ways to set up TCP/IP and access web pages with a thing called Netscape using various other dial-ups. These free dial-ups came and went with the wind, but I suppose the seeds of a homunculus were planted inside me during those days. You had to be sort of clever and tech inclined to make this shit work back then. The October 1995 issue of FHM (featuring Cindy Crawford on the cover) had an article entitled: “How to log on to the internet – the pleasures and pitfalls of going online”, by Tony Horkins.

dissecting-fhms-seminal-october-1995-feature-how-to-log-on-the-internet-101-body-image-1433515762

Eventually I think I got Compuserve and then AOL (America Online) after that. The rest is history and the homunculus that has grown inside me now seems to have a mind of its own – well, it’s my mind, but still… At least I think it’s still my mind. This brings me to the infamous Clifford Stoll Newsweek article from 1995 entitled “The Internet? Bah!“. Clifford Stoll is much maligned today for getting it wrong, but on reading it in 2015 I think maybe he got it right – for the most part anyway. I feel his vibe now in attitude and it brings us together, but at the same time isolates us from one another. There’s a great passage at the end of the article:

While the Internet beckons brightly, seductively flashing an icon of knowledge-as-power, this nonplace lures us to surrender our time on earth.

At the time Clifford Stoll wrote those words, he had the 20 years experience with the internet already, not as advanced as it is today, but enough to recognize something fundamental in the human experience. My own experience 20 years on after using the internet allows me to recognize that while it has its uses it is just a tool, another in the history of mankind. We should not lose sight of that and while mastery of tools set us apart from the beasts of the wilderness, those tools do not define us. We are all something more than the sum of our parts or the tools we use. There is a danger in being servant to the internet as opposed to allowing the internet to serve you. As Mr. Spock said in the 1968 Star Trek episode “The Ultimate Computer”:

Computers make excellent and efficient servants; but I have no wish to serve under them.

Such reflections are well considered and philosophically sound. Take a step back and think about it, whether it be 20, 10, 5 or 1 year of internet experience…

vintage-social-networking1

kirk-and-spock-travel-back-in-time-to-2014

As I did at the end of 2013, so I do again here at the end of 2014 to recount some travel experiences, which I don’t normally write about here. I need not give the whole setup again for the premise of such entries and see my blog from the end of 2013: Travels of Spocklogic. The notables this year are a couple of blogs I finished and some reviews that may be of interest:

spocklogic_Lyon-France_travel_blog.
spocklogic_Wroclaw-Poland_travel_blog.

spocklogic_Kirin-Hot-Pot_review.spocklogic_Long-Chao-Shou_review.
spocklogic_Ram-Pam-Pam-Pam_review.spocklogic_Raclawice-Panorama_review

That summarizes some travel selections for 2014. I did travel to Italy also in July 2014, and have some links to share for photo collections I put together for a special year in Erice to celebrate a 40th anniversary of the International School of Atomic and Molecular Spectroscopy (ISAMS):

Rino: 40 Year Erice Celebrations (2014) – Erice, Italy
2014 Erice Workshop: 30 July – August 5 – Erice, Italy
People (2014) – Erice, Italy
Places (2014)
– Erice, Italy

In addition, I traveled to China again this year in November 2014, but am still working on my travel blog for that, so it will have to wait until my 2015 account of my travels. I will make this type of entry something traditional at years end to cover where I have been and what I have done in travel ways. It’s all rather like the City on the Edge of Forever perhaps…

city_on_the_edge_of_forever-kirk&spock

 

 

In the beginning there was an idea to share information and seeds of the internet were born sometime in the 1960’s. Segue to the early 1990’s and there is altavista & webcrawler for search engines, no advertisements and the start of the internet for everyone. There were modems that worked over the telephone line and squealed their functionality with signature precision. They were slow, but the internet didn’t need speed back then as it was mostly text based information. Then it all began to change: AOL, Friendster, Myspace, Facebook and the people didn’t really want information, they wanted to socialize. That was the real revolution of the internet.

The_internet-2007

The Internet (c. 2007)

 

The_Internet-2010

The Internet (c. 2010)

 

The_Internet-2013

The Internet (c. 2013)

 

Interesting from a certain viewpoint (don’t think physicality in the construction similar to the continents, but where you are and where you go to online based on the map designations). In this sense, it’s another travel dimension of sorts! It’s rather like the the maps you see in the Age of Discovery in the centuries past when men explored the world in sailing ships. The maps were crude at first but became more refined over time. There is a perspective here to be appreciated and that is the following: All things human begin from the fundamental to the advanced – that is how our species learns and understands. We seem to be better at this in some ways, especially technology, but not so good in other ways, especially getting along with each other.

A final comment: The internet is capable of breaking down barriers like class, religion and wealth and everyone can participate (in principle). The reality is that the human species does not use the brain it has developed and the instances of this are too numerous to mention in the thousands of years of civilization. Although Carl Sagan did not live to see the full potential of the internet age, I like what he had to say about humanity in general – The Frontier Is Everywhere:

We were hunters and foragers. The frontier was everywhere. We were bounded only by the earth, and the ocean, and the sky. The open road still softly calls. Our little terraqueous globe as the madhouse of those hundred thousand millions of worlds. We, who cannot even put our own planetary home in order, riven with rivalries and hatreds; are we to venture into space?

By the time we are ready to settle even the nearest other planetary systems, we will have changed. The simple passage of so many generations will have changed us; necessity will have changed us. We are… an adaptable species. It will not be we who reach Alpha Centauri and the other nearby stars. It will be a species very like us, but with more of our strengths, and fewer of our weaknesses; more confident, farseeing, capable and prudent.

For all our failings, despite our limitations and fallibilities, we humans are capable of greatness. What new wonders undreamt of in our time, will we have wrought in another generation, and another? How far will our nomadic species have wandered, by the end of the next century, and the next millennium?

Our remote descendants, safely arrayed on many worlds through the solar system, and beyond, will be unified, by their common heritage, by their regard for their home planet, and by the knowledge that, whatever other life may be, the only humans in all the universe, come from Earth. They will gaze up and strain to find the blue dot in their skies. They will marvel at how vulnerable the repository of all our potential once was, how perilous our infancy, how humble our beginnings, how many rivers we had to cross, before we found our way.

References:
The internet 2007 – http://xkcd.com/256/
The Internet 2010 – http://xkcd.com/802/
The Internet 2013 – http://jaysimons.deviantart.com/art/Map-of-the-Internet-1-0-427143215
Carl Sagan – The Pale Blue Dot

 

 

drspock

I don’t often write about my travels in this WordPress blog (Cogito Ergo) as I have another site for that (TravBuddy). In this year of 2013, I completed a number of travel blogs on that site that are worth noting and I give the links to them here. Mind you, I don’t know that any of my travel blogs are ever really completed. Each one is like a child I nurture and raise up, but always needs attention in future ways. Anyway, I suppose I list them here for my own reference and also to offer it to others who may be interested in my travels. There is some connection of the blogs, one to another in embedded personal ways, but are also self-contained. Here they are:

Spocklogic_DC_Travel_Blog

.

Spocklogic_Italy_Travel_Blog.

Spocklogic_Switzerland_Travel Blog.

Spocklogic_Germany_Travel Blog.

Spocklogic_Travel_Topics.

Spocklogic_China_Blog.

Some of these blogs have been posted for some years, and I either added to them, made them more complete, and/or formed connections between them. Some of them are entirely new in 2013. They do tell a story in total I suppose and maybe that’s why I decided to make a sort of review of the Travels of Spocklogic here. They were also all the blogs featured on TravBuddy for me this year. My Italy blog (L’Avventura Dell Italia) seems never-ending and I have some more work to do on it, but the majority of important events are there for the most part. The last one in this list, the blog on China, is something I am still working on too, but intend (or hope) to complete it before the end of 2013. I suppose this collection of blogs forms a personal journey of sorts that I tried to form this year regarding my life and relation to travel. When I finish the China blog, maybe I will know what I have been endeavoring to understand and ultimately discover in my life. It’s not a teaser, or cliffhanger, but maybe more a matter of what I will embrace. Sounds enigmatic I suppose, but not really. It’s my personal perspective, the choices I make and what is ultimately best for me in a world of possibilities…

knowyourspock-1

Myspace-July2013

What’s left of the Myspace page I had

In the blink of an eye, without warning, MySpace wiped out almost all the content of its Classic users on June 12, 2013. Not a chance to save nary a thing  – email, comment, blog, photo, or other content. There was, of course, an outcry of injustice:

For immediate release: User betrayal on the most massive scale in internet history. On June 12 this year, the owners of Myspace rolled out their shiny new platform, accompanied by carefully orchestrated media fanfare and a $20million ad campaign. But there was a small detail they neglected to share with the world at large: the upgrade also deleted almost all Classic user content. Most stupefying is the fact this took place without giving users of the Classic format any warning or opportunity to back up their content elsewhere beforehand. Only the management of Myspace knows exactly how many thousands of users lost blogs, emails, games, conversations with friends, comments from their fans and myriad other memories. But the Myspace help forum is ablaze with outrage: at the time of writing, there are approximately 10,000 individual posts of complaint and despair on this subject. The most shocking of these concern lost correspondence from loved ones who have died, and from users who have had up to 10 years’ worth of regular blog entries summarily deleted. This digital genocide not only shows an absolute disregard for the user community, but also a complete ignorance of basic business principles and an astounding lack of common sense. If the head office is full of people who ‘live and breathe Myspace’, the fact it didn’t occur to anyone that destroying years of people’s online life might anger a lot of faithful users, suggests they are living and breathing something more exotic and potent as well. One would think that in the face of an outcry on this scale, the first thing a management team should do if they have any brains at all is to give users some kind of option to recover their lost data. But that’s not the Myspace way, apparently. When the help department was inundated by this livid backlash, there were initially some cursory (albeit cheerful) attempts by Myspace staff to help people migrate their pictures — peppered with awkward murmurs such as ‘Blogs have not been moved to the new Myspace.’ Note the lack of even a symbolic apology there. This failed to placate users who had, in some cases, lost millions of words, so instead the moderators began deleting strings they found particularly unsavory, and marking problems ‘solved’ when they were nothing of the kind. One user, distraught at having lost seven years’ worth of email correspondence with the love of her life, was so vocal about trying to retrieve her content that Myspace banned her from the site for 50 days. Her posts were neither threatening nor abusive, just numerous. For a supposedly social site in the 21st century to use such fascist tactics is outright chilling — not to mention, a blaring indictment of its hypocrisy, when the slogan is being bandied around that ‘We built the site with one thing in mind: you.’ Nothing could be further from the truth.It is hoped that sufficient media exposure and public awareness of this matter will motivate someone at 407 North Maple Drive to reunite countless thousands of users with their personal content. At least long enough for them to back it up elsewhere before leaving Myspace in the dust — where it belongs. For more information, please visit: (www.facebook.com/down.with.myspace).

Web_search_interest-Myspace

Web search interest of Myspace from 2004 – 2013 (from google trends)

There is little chance now it seems that users will get an opportunity to backup their content. I am not worried about it personally since I always save backups of my online content and have done so for some years now, but I feel for those who trusted and believed the content would always be there. Or in the very least they would be given an opportunity to save it. Such Draconian measures by Myspace to re-create themselves is a cautionary tale not to trust social media sites to be guardians of your content. The headline photo I posted at the top of this blog illustrates how it is – like Myspace took away your home and moved you to a cabin in the woods while you were sleeping. Quite the shock on waking up to find everything in familiar surroundings was gone. Well, maybe that’s a bit over dramatic, but there is a sentiment to it and social media is a fabric of life today that people rely on to be there. It shouldn’t have been a surprise that change was coming, but it’s not what Myspace did and rather how they did it. They have essentially betrayed millions of people around the world in removing their content and alienated the very core base of people who made them thrive in the first place. Maybe that was their intent – to start fresh! A good many members had since moved on anyway.

myspace_tom

Myspace Tom

Remember Myspace Tom who was everyone’s friend, and even Tom moved on long ago. As one of the co-founders of Myspace, Tom Anderson is a rich guy now as the company was sold for $580 million dollars to News Corp. in 2005. Myspace continued flying high in those days until it was knocked out of the sky by Facebook in 2008. Those early days of social media, when security and privacy were not foremost on the minds of people embracing the new wave of social media, seem sort of innocent now. People who had no professional web design experience were allowed to create their own pages and express themselves as they wished. A great concept that was poorly maintained. As the internet developed,  it was inevitable that security became a liability for Myspace. The platform was not flexible enough and Myspace was slow to respond to the new security demands too. People began to see it as an unsafe place. Today we live in a world where terrorists, computer thieves and other degenerates control the behavior of the majority as a small minority of society. As the saying goes, it only takes a few bad apples to spoil the whole bunch, yes? Nevertheless, we’ve created a world today where fantasy and reality are blurred and security is a necessity. There is an old online video called “The Parlor” that was made in 2001 that illustrates this well. It’s clearly based on America Online (AOL) chatrooms going back to the 1990’s. Yes, I was one of those who hung out on AOL for many years too, before going to Myspace around 2005.

I enjoyed Myspace for what it was over the years I used it. You could individualize your page using html script and a bit of creativity. There were alot of interesting pages to look at for people expressing themselves in creative ways. A stark contrast to Facebook, where there is uniformity across the site. Ultimately people wanted the social interaction more than the ability to create inventive pages. I offer a snapshot of what my page looked like when the Myspace site was still operational. I provide a link to a site where my page was crawled by the Internet Archive in 2011. Not fully functional, but you’ll get the idea if you feel nostalgic and want to take a look. To link to the page from the Wayback Machine click here: spocklogic’s Myspace page

spocklogic-myspace-2011

spocklogic’s MySpace page (gone but not forgotten)

So, Myspace classic is gone for good it seems – Maybe a blessing for many who forgot their passwords long ago or just stopped visiting and forgot all about it.  Here’s a couple of links for further reading if you are interested:

Forbes Magazine piece: Four Morals From Myspace’s Fall

Some humor from Mashable: Top 8 Things You’ll Miss About Classic Myspace

The New Myspace is going forward and trying to reinvent itself, leaving those millions of classic profiles in the dust. Oh, the pages are all still there, but just mostly empty space now. The new site apparently lets you import content from Facebook (no surprise there), but will be heavily focused on Music (no surprise there either) as it is partly owned by Justin Timberlake, who bought an ownership stake in the company in September 2012.

Rolling Stone piece: Myspace Relaunches, But Does It Have a Chance?

Well, I don’t want to over analyze this topic too much more here, but only to say, as AOL went south back in the day, so followed Myspace and Facebook’s fate is probably written on the Wall, or rather their Timeline has an ending too. That’s life in the digital age of social media. Maybe I can Tweet that in 140 characters or less for posterity!

Next Page »