news analysis and commentary

Technology & Science

See You in Court

Are you posting anonymous comments on websites and blogs? How safe is your identity? Can you remain anonymous when you post a comment? In the state of North Carolina, you may remain anonymous when making contributions to online sites.

However, an Indiana Judge recently offered a ruling on how site visitors’ private information should be handled in the future. The ruling may compel companies to divulge the identifying information of people who post comments on their websites or blogs. For example, a slanderous comment that works itself into court may result in a subpoena, not only for the alleged slanderer, but also for the all of the users in the discussion thread where the defamation occurred. Many anonymous commentators feared this day would come.

In the future, companies may change the way they engage their website visitors when gathering identifying data from the user. Firms may also have to monitor and moderate the posts as they are submitted.

On the other hand, the visitors might change the way they engage a website where user contributions are posted and archived. The users might falsify their identity or they may choose to do business on a different Internet site.

Other states are keeping this case under close watch and consideration. This type of ruling may be coming to your state soon.

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Treasure Hunt

Archaeology is not customarily in the news. Just recently, a group of archaeologists have ventured out to Guatemala on a treasure hunt for Mayan gold. They believe the treasure in buried beneath a lake.

The team is guided by a freshly deciphered book with a treasure map inside. The book mysteriously appeared, was donated to a museum, and was just recently decoded. Sounds like an adventure already. Who would not want to go on this fantastic discovery? Sign me up.

The team is looking for the ruined Mayan capital city of Atlan. The book claims the city was ruined by an earthquake and it was buried under the lake. At the time of the earthquake, Atlan contained 156 gold tablets or eight tons of gold. This book should be pivotal in helping the team find the treasure.

Society, as a whole, needs a real live adventure story to help us escape for just a second or two. If you have the opportunity, read about this story in more detail, strap on a pair of Indiana Jones boots and a hat, and escape for a moment. The archaeology team is packed and set to go.


Stop the Stalking

Facebook recently shut down a cyber stalking application. Dan Loewenherz developed the application, named The Breakup Notifier.

When installed on your Facebook account, the app claims to monitor a person’s romantic relationships and will send you an alert as soon as the relationship status changes. If you have an interest in that person, the “change of status” alarm may be priceless.

Word of the app spread quickly, and it was a big hit. Facebook immediately shut them down, claiming the shut down was due to the popularity of the app, not about issues of information security, privacy, or morality.

Whatever the reason for the shutdown, The Breakup Notifier is not available.  Could it be the Facebook is trying to limit its liability if its members choose to use it for malevolent intent? From another perspective, could Facebook simply be trying to protect its members?

Once again, a tool has been made available to the human race, and people are abusing the tool. Cyber Social networking is the tool. Cyber stalking and identity theft criminals have seized upon the ease the social networking on the World Wide Web.

Analogous to a loaded gun, caution lies in the hands of the end user in this instance. Social network users should use extreme caution when creating online accounts. Security settings should be considered and the content of the accounts must be considered vulnerable.

Below is a video about a phone app that deletes your text messages automatically.


Tweet Revolution

A recent uprising (A.K.A. attempted revolution) in Egypt has presented some challenges for the ruling Egyptian government. The government attempted to calm the protestors and riots by shutting down the Internet and cell phone services. The government hoped to limit protest leaders from organizing and communicating with the demonstrators.

After the reports of the technology services not being available, communication found a way.  Google engineers collaborated with Twitter to develop a piece of software that would take plain voicemail and convert the voicemail into text that posts as a Tweet. They named this software Speak2Tweet. The phone numbers for the voicemail were shared across Egypt and the world could hear Egypt again.

How has technology changed the landscape of the typical revolution? After this chapter of Egyptian history is written, will historians be able to quantify the role played by technology?

As of February 4th, protestors logged 2000 tweets. Did these tweets assist in organizing the demonstrators? The mob psychology theory was raised by another blogger who says “An individual’s cost in participating in a revolution is s function of how many other people are involved.”  For example, a 2010 snowball fight at UNC-Chapel Hill was organized via Facebook. UNC students showed up for the snowball fight to have fun and socialize with friends. Facebook was simply a tool used to help orchestrate the event for the people.

Did the tweets simply serve to keep the Egyptian protestors voices “on the world stage”, which gave them leverage to apply further pressure on their governmet leaders?

We may lose tangibles, but courage, faith, love, joy, and honor can never be stripped from us.


Big Bang Theory – Fact or Faith

In a recent story on FOXNews.com, the headline reads “Vatican Science: How Pope Benedict Reconciled God and the Big Bang.

The story in summary is about the Catholic Church’s stance on science – past and present. The Pope’s sermon in the last week or so helped to reveal that the Church and science were in not in contention.

So what does this story mean to me as I read it? Glad you asked.

My first analysis of the story is that the Catholic Church is attempting to be true to its change in philosophy and theology. In the past, the Catholic Church rejected science because the truths were not gathered by revelation, but rather by observation. The “truth by observation” had to be adopted into the philosophy and theology of the church in order for the Church to start accepting scientific truths. As the story mentions, Galileo was at one point excommunicated for his scientific theories and declarations that were juxtaposed to the Catholic Church’s stance.

In the present the Catholic Church is doing just the opposite, which brings me to my second point. I believe the Catholic Church is attempting to relate and evangelize to the world.  The business world would call this marketing. They are being very intentional about telling the whole world what they believe and what they are doing to stay in touch with your life as you know it.

I believe the Pope has created a platform for discourse about science and faith.By verbalizing what the Church believes, he unveiled the collision of God and science in the minds of spiritual seekers.