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The Internet: from the laptop to the smartphone The Internet: from the laptop to the smartphone
by Joseph Gatt
2021-07-23 10:01:30
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In the laptop days, before the smartphone era, the Internet was full of promises. Promises of intellect.

In the laptop days, Internet content and input was mostly done via text (that is people uploading written articles) sometimes accompanied by pictures and videos.

But pictures and videos were more or less complicated to upload. You needed a digital camera or recorder, uploading took a lot of time, and you needed some form of literacy to upload pictures or videos online. And, of course, “live feed” did not exist, and you could not go “live” on the Internet.

intn0002_400So in the laptop and desktop days, people tended to marvel at the plethora of text you could find online. The Internet was a library, and many people picked up this hobby called “reading.”

Before the smartphone era, the Internet has two “positive” effects:

-It kept readers informed in ways they were not informed in pre-Internet years. Readers were informed in real time (in the newspaper days you had to wait until morning to get the full story) and readers could react to information in real time through the comments section. Of course, moderators censored those commentators who were causing trouble.

-The Internet was a counter-power against those who had the power to inform: the media and the government and corporations no longer controlled information, Internet users could contradict powerful sources of information any time they wanted.

Now there were problems in the desktop Internet age. Those were:

-Invasion of privacy. Some Internet users were trying to get more people to visit their blogs by revealing the private information of other individuals.

-Unclear privacy. Facebook users had no idea that the information they uploaded, while private, could be revealed by a friend who tells a friend who tells a friend.

-Getting fired from your job because of archives. Some people got fired from their jobs in 2007 because of some dirty racist joke they made in 2002 or 2001, and that stayed somewhere in some shady website, but Google retrieved it.

-Lack of quality in a lot of the content. That was the main complaint around 2010 and before that. A lot of people complained that a lot of the articles online were not accurate, and were written by some company in India that focused more on Search Engine Optimization and getting ad revenue than on providing accurate information.

-Artists and writers and politicians and ordinary people facing a deluge of criticism. In the pre-Internet age, maybe you'd get one or two bad reviews for your book. Now it's thousands of angry Internet users.

Then came the smartphone. And we went from reading fun articles to consuming lots of video content. And uploading any video takes two and a half minutes of your time. New challenges arose:

-The proliferation of X-rated content. X-rated content existed, but with smartphones, it's anywhere, any time.

-X-rated websites are no longer just for professional performers. X-rated websites now allow anyone to upload content. And you can shoot anything with your smartphone. So there are lots of women and men, who in normal times would not be video taping activities that should be private and intimate activities. Plus they sometimes upload the content online without the consent of their partner or the people in the video.

-Tattling: some people call it “whistleblowing”. Sometimes people do blow the whistle and report dangerous activities. But a lot of times, and I've been a victim of this more times than I can count, it's your colleague who tells your boss that you took a 3-hour coffee break when you should have been at the office. And instead of confronting you about the whole thing (because your boss is not supposed to know) your boss is going to punish you by making you write a report or is going to make you do the inventory or something, just to punish you for taking that three-hour break. In the desktop era, chatting apps were not all the rage.

-Filmed terrorist attacks. Public executions were banned around the world in the 1950s or 1960s depending on the country. Now you have terrorists “live feeding” their attacks.

-Communication through unconventional channels. In the old days if people wanted to talk to you, they would just... call you. And you had to pick up because there was no way for you to know who was calling. Now you have Facebook users communicating with each other via status updates and pictures rather than just call their friend.

-And, last but not least, “camera overdose”. Some people are on camera way more than they should be. And there are way more channels than there should be.

Solutions?

I would use the following inventions:

-The home pornography filter: a mandatory application on smartphones where if pornographic movements are detected, an alarm bell rings and those in the video have to use their fingerprints (or another way) to authorize the filming of the intimate act.

-Office tattling is a form of character assassination, especially when your colleagues are chatting about you all day instead of getting work done themselves. It's often the low-ranking, bored secretary who shares a lot of the information with the incompetent boss, and those two rub shoulders to exaggerate negative facts about their competent colleagues. So companies need to work on preventing bored secretaries from doing that with incompetent senior managers.

-I'd invent this device for chatting apps: if you spend more than 2 minutes chatting with a friend, a phone emoticon starts shaking in the background, inviting the two users to call each other instead of typing stuff to each other. That should limit the damage, as a lot of teenagers (and adults) are addicted to chatting with 8-9-10 or more people at the same time.

-For all those addicted to posting YouTube videos and rambling all day on YouTube, I'd have YouTube make the first 10 minutes of your video uploads free, but charge money for subsequent minutes (that you can then monetize if you get enough viewers). That should also limit piracy on YouTube.

-And, if people want to go “live” or start a “live feed”, they should pay. That should limit the traffic.

Could say more stuff, but I'll leave it at that!


   
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