Web/Tech

Calling it out

If you're as old as me, you'll remember the days before the internet ... and social media.

Those days when if we wanted to contact people, we would have to write a letter, take the trouble to meet them in person, or phone them.

Today, though, we can post something online, send a 'direct message' on one of the social media platforms and get almost instantaneous replies.

It's like magic! 

Well I think it is anyway.

When social media first came around I was a bit dubious. Did I really want to tell the world what I was up to? Did I really want my opinion out there? Did I want to get involved in conversations not just with people I know, but perhaps with those I don't?

Well ... the answer was 'YES'... although I determined from the start that I would try to be wise.

Social media has, of course, been accused of creating the downfall of humanity, or something similar.

But actually I've realised that social media is only the vehicle for misbehaviour and vile, and even evil. It allows us to be more vocal, to be nasty ... especially for those who want to do so while 'hiding' in plain sight. 

Social mediaBut as this quote reminds us ... it's not as simple as that!

And it's down to us all to call it out.

Take, for instance, the recent racist vile and vitriol posted online ... on Twitter primarily ... by those who blamed certain individual footballers for losing the England football team the Euro 2021 Cup.

So, a few of those most excellent young sportsmen missed a penalty which meant that the Italians won the game, and picked up the trophy.

In the past those racists who pointed out that these brilliant sportsmen are not white might have spouted their evil to like minded friends in the pub. But instead they posted on Twitter. Which thankfully resulted in lots of 'calling out' .. and hopefully a ban from that social media platform. Hopefully for life!

Posting on social media in public IS just like having your face on a big poster for all to see. And if you think you can behave immorally and unethically, and with hatred and offence, then think again!

You will be called out and there are masses of us online now who are determined that the social media platforms will NOT be hijacked by the 'Nasty'.

When I first started using social media, there were lots of people who doubted my sanity and thought I was going to the 'dark side' of life.  Social media was an evil place and we should all stay clear. If we didn't want to be corrupted, we should just not go there.

But I quickly learned that it didn't have to be like that. We don't have to exclude ourselves from the magic of social media. In fact, we can be part of the solution, rather than the problem or allowing the problems to be perpetuated.

I've seen so much amazing stuff, so much positivity, on social media. Prayer circles for sick friends, positive quotes and comments for people to be inspired by, encouragement for folk who are having a hard time. Certainly during the COVID19 pandemic, and lockdown, social media was a bit of a saviour for a lot of us, keeping us in touch with our family and friends when we could not meet. 

So ... as for me ... when I'm on social media I try to block the negative. I report when I see bad stuff, and I try to stay away from the controversial discussions. I certainly don't welcome them into my life and I don't go looking for the bad, but I do try to share the 'good'. It's part of what I'm trying to do with this daily blog, which I daily also post to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

I'm mentioning all  this today because apparently it was on July 15 2006 that Twitter was publicly launched!

Yes, it wasn't that long ago and yet these days Twitter and the other social media platforms - Facebook, Instagram, and now Tik Tok and other newer inventions - are just part of our every day life. And some of us can't imagine life without it!

When Twitter came along, with its 140 character limit, I thought I'd never get it. 

As you know if you read this blog regularly, I'm a bit verbose!

But now I love it. These days I get up to 280 characters to say what I want to say, but for me each tweet is a bit of challenge.

Although the first 'tweet' or message was sent in March 2006 by the company's CEO Jack Dorsey, (who created the platform with Noah GlassBiz Stone, and Evan Williams) it was publicly launched in July and it soon caught on. By 2012, more than 100 million users posted 340 million tweets a day,  and Twitter was handling an average of 1.6 billion search queries every day.

Today (actually as of January this year)  Twitter  has in excess of 350million active users!

It's a powerful platform.

Yes, of course those who run these huge companies have a duty of care to ensure the platform is not abused, and to ensure those who do abuse others online are dealt with, but it is also down to us, the users, to ensure we behave online, and to call out those who don't.

If I want social media to be a healthy place, I need to be part of the community which encourages goodness online.

And I suggest that if we all did a bit of that, the world (and that includes social media) will be a better place!

 


You Affect the World

If you're as old as I am you will remember a time before the Internet.

In those days we had to write letters to people or chat to them on the 'phone if we want to communicate with them.

If we wanted to research subjects we had to look at books called 'encyclopaedias' or visit the local library to check out books with the information you needed.

Work was certainly different before the computer age. Yes I am one of those who used a manual typewriter and certainly, as a reporter/journalist, I had to do much more leg-work when it came to research. No looking up people, contacts and subjects on the internet. And actually that meant one got to talk to people face-to-face, which in some cases meant being braver than I certainly was in the early days.

Then came (Sir) Tim Berners-Lee, one of the early pioneers of computer science. Born on this day - June 8 - in 1955, he is best known as the inventor of the World Wide Web, which today of course connects us all. He invented the WWW in 1989 and by 1993-94 it started to become widely available and the likes of you and I could create and browse websites to our hearts content.

These days, of course, most of us use the internet, some for good but unfortunately some not. 

Many of us use computers and the connectivity it provides to do that all important research. How did I know that today was Tim Berners-Lee's birthday? Well a website told me so. All I had to do was to type 'on this day' into a search engine and there, at my fingertips, was a host of information about 'stuff' that happened on this day in history, people who were born and died, music released, and much more more.

At the click of a mouse I am able to find out a bit more about the World Wide Web which Sir Tim invented, and connect you to that information - just click the 'hyperlink' ! 

And I can even find quotes attributed to the great man, including this one ...

Tim-Berners-Lee-Quote-You-affect-the-world-by-what-you-browse

This I think is a profound thought.

Sir Tim has of course always been an advocate of the web, and ensuring it is freely available to everyone. But he has over the years spoken and warned us about its misuse. In 2019 he unveiled a global plan to 'save' the web from malevolent forces like fake news, violations of privacy, political manipulation and the other 'darkness' which some use the web for.

The Contract for the Web  calls on governments, business and companies and all of us individuals to protect the web from abuse and ensure it benefits humanity. Sir Tim has warned that otherwise the world could plunge into a “digital dystopia”.

While most of us use the internet, many are fearful of its power to corrupt, and even its size and that is justifiable. Lots of 'bad' stuff does happen online but I would say lots of good things happen too.

Take social media for example. Some use it to bully and harass and 'troll' others. People they may not even know but just because they can post, oftentimes anonymously, things they probably would be unlikely to say if they were face-to-face with their victims. Not just 'celebrities' but anyone they can get their teeth into. 

Many of us, however, try to use the internet and social media for good, to share positive messages and thoughts, to support each other, even at a distance. The internet has made keeping in touch with family and friends much easier and I for one am grateful to the likes of Tim Berners-Lee for bringing us all together.

And this quote from the great man reminds me that it's down to us all to make the world, and the internet, a better place.

We do affect the world by what we 'browse'.  All of us who populate the web with content rely on people clicking on the links. By browsing stuff that is not good for us, well ... that can corrupt us when we are online, and when we've switched off our tablets and computers! By 'following' those social media accounts that represent the bullies and trolls we perpetuate their existence. Even by clicking 'like' on horrid comments we give them space and license.

It doesn't mean we can't post debate that is constructive but I think, as the Contract for the Web says, it is down to us all to monitor our own behaviour.

We can't turn back time to the days before the internet, and why would we want to do that? But we can all be part of creating a future where the World Wide Web is overwhelmingly positive in its use and influence.

And that has to be good for all aspects of our lives, and our world!

 

 

 

 

 

 


Simple Things

There are some things in life we just take for granted, aren’t there?

Like picking up a spoon to eat our breakfast cereal.  Grabbing a knife when we need to cut something up?

Or how about a drinking straw with which to sip our cool beverages? 

Just simple things!

Straws have gone a bit out of fashion in recent times ... plastic straws having been identified as possible pollutants. These days, of course, we're encouraged to use the biodegradable kind and lots of different types of drinking straws are being created as alternatives.

But did you know that the modern drinking straw was patented today – Jan 3rd  in 1888 – by an American inventor called Marvin C. Stone?

He was originally in the cigar making industry but came up with an idea to wrap paper around a pencil and apply thick layers of glue to make a drinking straw.  Bit by bit, the process was refined to ensure the straws would survive even strong alcoholic beverages. He created an automated machine to produce the straws and they proved instantly popular. 

But drinking straws go back much further, and some take us back actually to more biodegradable options.

Over 5,000 years ago the ancient Sumerians used straws made from gold and lapis lazuli, a precious stone, to sip beer. Sumer was in Mesopotamia in modern-day Iraq and Kuwait,  and archaeologists have discovered drinking straws in the ruins of cities and tombs dating back to 3000 BC. And it appears that even earlier versions which preceded those had been crafted  in wood or from hollow plants.  Told you - biodegradable!

Meanwhile, in Argentina in South America, there’s evidence that natives also used drinking straws made from wood for several thousand years. Later they developed devices made from metal called "bombilla".

By the 1800s in the USA, the trend for drinking through cheap, easily produced rye grass straws took off, but they were prone to turning to mush when left in liquid for any length of time.  Cue Mr Marvin C Stone!

It’s easy to forget that sometimes even the simple things in life come after much hard work and testing by pioneers who have come before us.  We take for granted the freedoms that most of us enjoy, forgetting the sacrifices that might have been involved to get us to this point.

As we step out into a new year, let us stop to think about the people in our lives who have brought us to this point. Those who have shaped us, who perhaps gave up things and gave something of themselves, including talents, intellect, imagination and expertise, so that WE might have the lives we enjoy today.

Note - http://www.eatingutensils.net/history-of-other-eating-utensils/drinking-straws-history/


One Day At A Time

A little while ago, before the coronavirus pandemic took over our lives, I was rummaging through a pile of stuff in a charity shop when I came across a little pendant. 

It's not gold, or silver - worth practically nothing. But it carries a very special message, I think.

One day at a time

I've been thinking about trying to do a daily blog for a while now. Just a few thoughts to help me/us through the day maybe, or the week ... or the moment we're struggling in.

I'm a bit of a spiritual person, so this might be sometimes sort of religious, but not always. 

And when I found the pendant, I knew I had my title!

And as we move from 2020 into 2021 - with all the relief we can muster after the pandemic lockdown and disruption and with all the hopes and dreams for a better, healthier year ahead - for me this thought is engraved in my mind, and on my heart. 

Just this - I'm not going to get ahead of myself. I'm going to try to breathe into each moment, find joy in the simplest of things and satisfaction in the everyday. While planning and dreaming is the human condition, for me it sometimes stops me from just BEING in this moment.

S0, don't know about you but I'm going to try to live this year ... just One Day at a Time!

If you fancy it ... why not join me?