Tag Archives: Internet

Security or Surveillance: Who Sees What You Share?

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Social media has made it easier than ever before to have your opinions and views heard. Facebook, Twitter, and other major social media networks around the world have given individuals a collective ‘voice’ of unprecedented scope and power. With a simple hashtag or ‘share’, a small conversation between just a few individuals can spark a larger debate with far-reaching implications. Millions can weigh in on topics ranging from the benign to the profound; proclaiming a passion for yoga or distrust of genetically-modified foods as well as sharing cute photos of nieces and nephews.

Yet many social media and Internet users are unaware of the additional weight their personal information carries. Today it’s safe to say that any data transmitted via digital device isn’t private – in addition to government agencies, it’s become common practice for the marketing arm of corporations, HR departments, and other entities to seek out and ‘mine’ the data willingingly shared to social media sites as well as via other digital tools.

In addition to well-known NSA activities, the government hires data retrieval companies to compile what they call “public opinion.” By keeping track of who is influencing the most individuals with their postings, it’s possible to keep tabs on certain activists and compile a “watch list” of groups on the forefront of social disruption. Even with your privacy settings on their highest restriction within your social media preferences, these data retrieval companies can still gain clearance and obtain personal information. Continue reading

Energy and the Internet: How To Be A Conscious Browser

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Many people around the world are concerned with the real impact of global warming, but they often think in terms of large-scale energy users such as factories or municipalities, ignoring one of the biggest factors in energy use: the Internet.

As a growing percentage of people conduct business, shop and communicate online, companies must be mindful of building a “greener” Internet, and those who are concerned with saving the planet must be aware of which companies are working to power their services and websites with renewable energy. Continue reading

Getting into Better Shape with Technology

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When summer comes along, and the warm sun and blue skies banish the gloom of winter back whence it came, it’s normal for us all to want to look our best. Everyone naturally puts on a few pounds in winter, between the claustrophobic confines causing our exercise routines to suffer, and the body’s natural storing of fat when cold weather rolls around.

Not only do we feel better physically and emotionally for putting the work into a summer exercise routine – our health and longevity benefit as well. Still, as the mercury rises in those thermometers, many of us fall short of our fitness goals, owing to how back breaking and tedious exercise can often be. Continue reading

Making Science Cool and Getting Sleep

We live in a generation where teachers make a fraction of what professional athletes take home. People can become celebrities by being really good at Twitter and you could get an MTV show by being able to ride in a shopping cart and crash into things, so we think it’s kind of cool how science and learning is making it’s comeback and our current favorite is the #SciShow on Youtube!

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One World: Shiva Ayyadurai on Inventing E-mail at Age 14

Shiva AyyaduraiMost 14 year old boys find themselves interested just in sports, school dances and making it through high school. Shiva Ayyadurai was no ordinary 14 year old.

While his peers were busy just with the traditional pursuits of adolescences, Shiva was inventing email.  This did not mean he was a “nerd”, who sat drinking Red Bull and programming all day. 

He was more of the American kid — the one you’d want to bring your mom home to.  He excelled in baseball and soccer, had a paper route, made extra cash running a landscaping business, and did love the girl next door. 

“It’s been an interesting journey, as I look back on it. It’s a story of what can take place anywhere in the world,” he explained to Deepak Chopra. “Be it in any inner city or in any village, as long as we provide the right conditions.”

Shiva is clear that his success was contingent on a number of factors including his very supportive parents; teachers who stepped up to the plate and changed administrative rules to accommodate his talents; mentors who allowed him to excel well beyond his age, by enabling an environment of freedom and respect, that allowed him to create a computer program that fully automated the interoffice mail system — the system he called “email” — the system we all know and use today.

His creation, though, was not without controversy as his innovation was heatedly debated by academics, huge companies and the media. Shiva sites his political awareness as having been a key factor in ensuring that he was able to survive being raked through the mud by various media outlets as well as the support of Noam Chomsky whom had been a professor of Shiva’s during his time as an undergraduate student at MIT. Chomsky is famously quoted as calling the negative attention Shiva was receiving “childish tantrums” by industry insiders.

A brilliant mind from a young age, Shiva Ayyadurai’s story highlights the fact that so often society assumes that knowledge is owned and monopolized by the powerful few.  Knowledge must be fostered at every age, in every corner of the globe as intelligence is not solely the property of the rich, the powerful or the well connected.

It is a reminder that could help us expand the lens with which we view the world and make room for the next great innovation regardless of from where it may come.  The invention of email by a 14-year-old boy reminds us of a larger truth: Innovation Anytime, Anyplace by Anybody — the motto of Innovations Corps, a new initiative, which aims to unleash innovation among youth, to replicate more “Shivas”.

You can find Shiva’s full interview with Deepak Chopra on Newswire.FM here.

Be Present in a World of Constant Connection

presentThe bus from Yangon to Mandalay was packed and I was the only foreigner on it. As such, I was given a seat up front, among the monks dressed in their dark orange robes. Slowly we made our way north on the toll way. In Myanmar, there aren’t any radio stations or satellite radio to be played as the miles crept by. The country has the lowest mobile phone penetration in the world after North Korea and, well, considering that that country is on permanent lockdown, Myanmar has the lowest mobile phone penetration of any country where you can actually buy a phone.

This means as the miles roll by, the people on the bus start to converse and talk. The conversations start muted, whispers from two people sharing a thought or secret and then they slowly built. By the time we were an hour out of Yangon, people were standing in the aisles, talking, laughing and sharing snacks. By the time the bus stopped for lunch, everyone piled out together and shared tables at the the roadside restaurant.

I thought of that trip last year as I sat at the airport in Boston recently. All around me were my fellow passengers on the journey, glued to their phones and computers, listening to music and shut off from the world. There wasn’t a single conversation happening around me. No one had met anyone or shared a story of their day. No snacks were being pulled out and traded.

In Myanmar, they are anxious for the chance to buy the latest phone. They lament the lack of Internet and how slow it is when it does exist. They wonder how much better their lives would be if they had more wifi, more connection and more technology.

In the States, I don’t think that collectively we understand the impact of technology on our lives. I have learned a lot during my yoga practice about being present, about being on the mat. At one of my favorite yoga studios in the world, there is often a sign on the blackboard about how you can’t do anything tomorrow and you can’t do anything yesterday, today’s the day.

We speak in the Internet and the ability to be in touch with everyone in our collective worlds as being “connected.” Partially, that’s true. The technology and the platforms that are at our fingertips do make it easier to stay in touch with family, friends and business colleagues – especially the ones that are at a great physical distance from us.

But it comes at the cost of disconnecting from where we are now. At the airport in Boston, I watched as people messaged, emailed and called people who were not around them physically. I realized that every person around me was trying to connect electronically with a person or a place – they all were trying to be somewhere else, or with someone else.

When a hundred people gather to get on a plane, and everyone is trying to be somewhere else, there is no chance of true connection. There is no chance to meet someone interesting or perhaps, meet a new partner or even future spouse. My parents met in Washington, D.C. at the airport. My mother was flying up to New York for the weekend and my father was heading home to Boston. Would they have even met if they had both had their heads down texting friends? I doubt it.

The advent of wearable technology, Google Glasses and the like, will make the situation even worse. At least when people have to look at their phones or computers, there is the chance that that they might make eye contact with someone. If they are wearing their phone, that low chance is completely gone.

In Myanmar, they anxiously await lower prices for cell phones and improvements in the Internet. All that does is make me want to return there before it happens so that I can enjoy a people and a culture that is still truly connected.

Intend to Disconnect to Reconnect

(140/365) Computer magicIt may seem like a conflict in ideas but the only way to connect is to disconnect. To connect to your real self  – to know your talents, strengths and passions – that will allow you to connect to your best life – you have to disconnect from your world. Not for long. Just every now and then.

See, the more we are connected to the distractions and noise of our world, the more difficult it is to quiet things down enough to focus inward. All important information happens within. We have information about who we are, what we believe, what matters to us, what we are passionate about and what we are good at. We don’t have access to this information unless we disconnect from our busy and distracting world; we have to tune out to tune in.

In nearly every moment, we are connected to a world that demands our constant attention. We are on the Internet, texting, calling, communicating. I did an informal test this morning while I was stopped, waiting for my left arrow light to change from red to green. I counted the cars that passed me; of the thirty-two cars that passed, twenty-four were on their phones. Seventy-five percent of the people just at that light were connected.

True, while driving is not the place to disconnect to connect – when driving we need to be fully present to the road and the conditions. But it was an indication of how many of us are unable to disconnect from today’s distractions. And the more this happens, the less we create the space to be able to connect to the really important things – our sense of self. Without this information, we don’t know what we are good at, passionate about and what matters to us. Without this information, we are unable to look at our world and know how to find our fit – our place. And because we don’t know what opportunities fit us, we listen to others and herded around life by those who tell us where to go, how to live and what to believe. We have to disconnect to connect, we have to tune out to tune in.

In the quiet of tuning out, we start to listen to our inner voice. We can only hear this when things are still – quiet. Though our internal voice is very powerful, it rarely can compete with our ego and our world’s voices. To be able to hear our internal voice, we have to find the volume control and turn the outside voices down. Our deepest self has amazing wisdom, as it is our core – our spirit. It has all that it needs to help us show up wisely, happily and successfully each day. It is just that we haven’t ever learned about what it has for us, and how to access it. We have instead been taught that today’s wisdom is in books, schools and in others. Few of us realize that today’s wisdom is in ourselves – unavailable until we choose to access it. And for that, we must take the time and create some quiet space.

How can you take 15 minutes at the beginning and end of each day to disconnect from the world so you can connect to yourself? What will it take for you to see the value in listening in the quiet to your own personal wisdom? How could life change for you if you did?

Tune out to tune in; disconnect to connect. It takes effort to break our old habits but the benefits of developing the habit of creating quiet time to access our inner knowledge and wisdom is the key to living our most amazing lives. Now stop reading and go spend time with your awesome self.

photo by: Sarah G...

Beyoncé Releases Surprise New Album and What It Means for Art in the Age of the Internet

Screen shot 2013-12-13 at 1.51.46 PM“Beysus has risen.”

That’s what my Facebook feed reads to me last night as I’m about to go to bed. The next 15 posts are all various screams of excitement or disbelief that one of the biggest currently performing artists on the planet right now put out an album at the stroke of midnight eastern time. The singer’s fifth studio album is aptly named “Beyoncé” and features her husband Jay-Z, Drake, Frank Ocean and a verse by her toddler daughter Blue Ivy.

That’s the news clip and that is the thing you’ve been hearing all day. Who cares? It’s just another gimmick for headlines, another pop star trying to push themselves to the front (but at least she’s not twerking, right?) The fourth quarter has seen a lot of powerhouse female releases from the likes of Britney Spears, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. Yet, somehow Beyoncé was able to create more publicity for her new album by not telling anyone that it existed than she would have been able to generate had she committed to a routine press release schedule.

The thing that makes this so extraordinary is not about the number of albums that Beyoncé will inevitably sell, it’s that she has tapped into the true power of the internet and used it to her own advantage. For the past 15 years artists have struggled against the internet to release their albums in piece-meal singles with their fingers crossed that the entire thing won’t be made available for free download before they can unveil it the way they want, the way they’ve been planning to do for months beforehand.

Last night, Beyoncé said screw that and released her entire album at once, accompanied by 17 videos for each of the songs in a complete artistic package. Just like Netflix figured out that the new generation of television watchers want their episodes in one lump sum to devour at their own pace,  Beyoncé released her album the same way – because that’s what the internet can do! Rather than try to fight the current and hand out the new creation in tiny pieces with several drawn out release dates – she gave it to everyone at once.

The beauty of the internet is that it allows for people to portray their art in full context. In the statements she’s made about the album release Bey has compared it to a movie, that she wanted to bypass the circus of press and deliver the album straight to her fans. Yes. Digital marketing and delivery is the level playing field. It’s why Radiohead created the same level of stir when they released In Rainbows on a donation basis. Internet downloading has become a cultural norm not because the current generation enjoys ripping off their favorite artists, but because the internet allows us to consume media directly without mainstream filters or interruptions. And it allows our favorite artists to speak directly to us, for us to see their vision as they intended – it provides a streamline connection between us and them the way that art is supposed to work.

We’ve talked a lot on this blog about whether Beyoncé should be heralded as a personal role model (with some seriously intense debate on either side) but professionally she created a new norm last night. This is the formation of a new wave business model. As a professional black female in the entertainment business that’s a big freakin’ deal. Oh, and did we mention she was in the middle of a headlining world tour while she put all of this together? Talk about balance.

So no matter what your opinion is of Beyoncé, this there is a lesson for every creative person reading this. Don’t fight the current. As we’re trying to figure out the next wave of things to come for Intent Blog and Intent.com we’re definitely going to try and take a page out of Beyoncé’s book – use the creative force of the internet to create meaningful projects in full context and create direct connections between us as content creators and you, who we create everything for. If anything Beyoncé proved last night that meaningful impact happens when you create that connection rather than filtering yourself through the highest bidding brands.

Way to be a boss, Bey.

VOD: Sexism on YouTube Deters Women from Hosting Tech and Science Vlogs

Having worked on The Chopra Well for over a year before joining the Intent Team I know first hand some of the ridiculous comments vloggers can get. They range anywhere from spam and complete nonsense to hate language and death threats. The anonymity of the internet allows people to spread their inner demons with reckless abandon, and while no vlogger is safe from these types of comments – women by far get the worst of it.

In this video, Brain Scoop host and noted YouTuber Emily Graslie addresses the sexist and harassing comments she has to dig through in her inboxes in every week. It’s more than insulting (because it’s the internet and we should just accept that’s the way it is, right? No.) It’s deterring other potential female vloggers from creating their own science, tech or math based channels. Emily explains that there are currently 13 male hosted STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) channels and seven of them have over 1 million subscribers. There are 4 women with STEM channels and none of them have over 200 thousand subscribers. Is that simply because guys are better at explaining and hosting STEM content? If you honestly believe that then we can tell you right now that this is not the blog for you.

The reason STEM channels and fields remain so heavily male dominated is because women are more easily deterred by the ludicrous comments they receive from viewers. There’s more pressure on women to not only deliver great content, but to look hot while doing so. And what does that say about us? That if a woman isn’t found physically attractive then the words coming out of her mouth aren’t important. God forbid she should make any small mistake in figures or say something that could be misconstrued as inaccurate because you can bet there will be a handful of trolls ready at their keyboards to demand she go back to the kitchen where she belongs. It’s 2013, everyone. Why are we still in this place?

The best point that Emily makes is that the commenters themselves aren’t the only problem. It is those that idly stand by and allow it to happen. It is both men and women that throw their hands up and say “That’s just the way it is,” that perpetuate this cycle of sexist, misogynistic nonsense. We have to do better. It’s not enough that you yourself don’t belittle women, STEM vloggers or otherwise, but we have to take a stand against those that do. We may not be able to cure the ignorance that catalyzes this behavior but if we all unite in the movement to say that it’s unacceptable we may be able to shame them back into the dark, secluded internet caves they came out of.

Thank you Emily for fighting the good fight and we wish you the best of luck in continuing your mission to provide stimulating and interesting science content for the masses via the interwebs. We stand with you. If you stand with Emily too let us know in the comments below. If your first instinct is to make a comment about how she needs cuter glasses then I request that you please step to the left – ain’t nobody got time for that.

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