Thursday, 28 February 2013

Game, video and cheat - Ngram

I'm a little disappointed that cheat didn't increase, I'm assuming it's not counting video game magazines. But yes, I've gone for a really geeky one and the results are as expected. Huge increases in the 1980s as video games emerge for video. "Game" seems to be on a continuous increase which is best attributed to increases in commercial sport.

Article, Treatise & Programme: N-Grams

Looking at different ways in which information has been conveyed - articles, treatises and programmes - it is clear that programmes, likely in the form of radio and television broadcasts, have become more prominent over time. Notably, this starts in the late 19th Century as technology is beginning to develop. Treatises have gradually diminished, perhaps for reasons of changing vocabulary and reclassification (where this was a prominent term in Medieval writing, the use has clearly diminished and, so far as I am aware, is much rarer nowadays.) Articles, though having apparently diminished, are still in far wider use than the other terms.

Terrorist, rebel, resistance: N-Gram results

As you can see, putting the terms 'terrorist', 'rebel' and 'resistance' into the N-Gram Viewer yields some interesting (although not unexpected) results. Obviously, 'rebel' and 'resistance' may be used in more metaphorical ways than 'terrorist', and so have appear much more often in the results, but the trends in their use and the very clear peaks reflect world events and, presumably, the opinions of people writing in English at the time. The term 'rebel', peaking around the time of the Taiping rebellion (which had little effect on english-speakers), is quite non-committal, reflecting the lack of vested interest of the writers in the events at the time. The term 'resistance', however, is more biased towards the party which is doing the 'resisting' - predictably, this shows a drop during the 1920s but then a sharp rise in the 1930s, peaking during the Second World War.

Finally, the word 'terrorist', a word which has come into vogue more recently, is heavily weighted against the party which goes against the 'norm'. A sudden rise is seen during the late 1970s, which is maintained through the 1980s before dropping back to a more gentle curve. As extreme rebellions have had a greater domestic impact on English speaking writers, the term has come to be used more often. It is also interesting to note that the other two terms have started to slowly diminish in use, in spite of not being particularly archaic.

Anonymity & The Internet

Anyone who browses the modern form of the world wide web, with its hyper-popular social media networking, linked-together business networks, and increasingly identity-driven entertainment content, comes to a point where a decision must be made: to 'sign in with Facebook'? Or to stay anonymous - or in many cases, to stay silent? This issue is not simply one which stays on the web: it has real-life consequences, too.

One proponent of the idea that anonymity online is not only an unnecessary feature of the web but is, in fact, a negative is Randi Zuckerberg, marketing director of one of the world's number one websites with over one billion member profiles and increasingly liberal privacy standards (regardless of whether the users tend to agree with those changes or not). She suggests a strong link between the anonymity of the internet and the prevalence of cyberbullying, and told Marie Claire magazine that online anonymity 'has to go away'. But is she right? Is online anonymity not only not an intrinsic right - but something which encourages

Perhaps even those who strongly agree with Zuckerberg's solution - that the end of anonymity is nigh and that's a good thing - would not go so far as to suggest that all of the problems of both the internet and 'real life' could be solved by removing anonymity: physical and verbal bullying is certainly not anonymous, and doesn't come with the option of 'blocking' the offender; racial and religious hate speech is encountered off-line as well as on-; and sexist comments on an online game are surely more easily ignored than harassment in person.

Randi Zuckerberg may be only one voice - albeit certainly an influential one - but she is not the only one calling for the end of online anonymity. Just this month, an Illinois Senator, Ira Silverstein, introduced and then called back 'the Internet Posting Removal Act', a bill specifically intended to remove the right to anonymous comment online. While this little-known bill would have obviously had at least some positive effect on such issues as cyberbullying, harassment, and cyberstalking, the potential for political censorship and other such uses is evidently too great and too obvious for this bill to have ever passed; at least in the current political climate of America.

Whether or not one chooses to 'sign in with Facebook' or use your full name on Twitter, everyone currently has the ability to choose. You are not forced to 'verify your ID' when signing up for Facebook - you are not asked for your home address while signing onto Tumblr - and you are not asked for anything more than your age when trying to watch a Youtube video - but those freedoms and rights of privacy are not necessarily a certainty, and wherever one stands on these smaller issues, one is taking part in the shaping of, and witnessing the metamorphosis of the changing face of the Net.

Carriage and Car

My search on Ngram looked at the use of 'carriage' and 'car'. As expected 'carriage' initially is presented as more frequent, before 'car' takes over and becomes the new norm. The use of 'car' begins a quite steep increase beginning around the 1880s, crossing 'carriage' at 1905. The use of 'carriage' it appears, remained relatively steady until around 1903. Sadly my transport knowledge is not brilliant however, this would suggest that during the early 1900s a particular shift occured from 'carriage' to 'car'.

The growth of the internet.

 The internet remains to be a modern invention and concept. As it has developed, so have the varieties of internet connection that we have used. As the internet is still fairly recent, the use of words such as dial up, boradband and even more recently, fibre optics were irrelevant to anything up until the late nineties. The n-gram shows the rapid growth of the use of the word broadband that coincides perhaps with how many people are connected to it. As the n-gram searches books, there would have also been an increase in manuals and instructions. Around 1980's, the word fibre optic sees an increase that ever so slightly decreases come the twenty first century. There has been a lot of discussion recently surrounding the use of fibre optics to create faster broadband, with Virgin media for example, yet it is still a phenomenon that is to catch on. The majority of people still use broadband, which explains the difference in people speaking about the two. Dial-up has the least increase and popularity because very few people are connected to the old fashioned modem.

Mediums of communication

For my n-gram search, I used three of the most popular written methods of communication since 1800: the letter, telegram and e-mail. Whilst once the only way to pass along a message was via the letter form, as technology has advanced other ways of communicating have advanced, most latterly through the internet. As expected therefore, the use of the word letter has been dominant since 1800, peaking in the late 1830s. Despite a few slight increases in use again, it follows an ever decreasing trend, not only due to the increase in use of e-mails but also other methods not shown on this graph such as phone calls and text messages. Thus the use of e-mail was completely unheard of until the rise of the internet in the 1990s, where it has experienced a sharp increase ever since. What surprised me most was the use of the word telegram: perhaps ignorantly I expected telegram to be almost as popular as letter in the late 19th century, however it never received such popularity and has slowly dwindled since the 1920s peak. What will be interesting to see in years to come is if, and when, letter becomes less used within books than e-mail: possibly a sign that technology has prevailed over traditional methods and changed the face of communication for good.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Feminism and Masculinism

You'll have to excuse the picture, but for whatever reason right clicking wouldn't work so I had to print screen it. I decided to look at the words "feminism" and "masculinism". As you would expect, in the early 20th Century "feminism" appears and suddenly explodes with the increase of new-wave feminists in the 1970s. Oddly, though "masculinism" stays at a fairly even level until the 1990s when there is a small clime. I can only assume this is a reaction to the success of women in liberating themselves.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Google N-Gram: science and technology

Google N-Gram of 'science' and 'technology'

My N-Gram result produces something which I did not expect. With the Industrial Revolution occurring from around 1760, I expected the word 'technology' to have a sharp increase in use at this time, instead of the illustrated increase around 1920 onwards. Therefore the use of 'technology' does not reflect the increase in society. Science shows an overall increase in use, as to be expected due to the continuation of scientific discoveries and explorations.

Portfolio Entry on Mapping

Is now up. Apologies for the delay!

Deadline is March 5th, 23:59.

Types of Journalism

It is evident from this N-gram of Broadcast Journalism, Media Journalism and Photojournalism that there has been a huge amount of variation between these terms since 1942. First to experience an increase is Photojournalism, which apart from the years between 1969 and 1976, maintains a higher rate and faster increase in popularity and use than that of Broadcast Journalism and Media Journalism. In comparison, the use of the term Broadcast Journalism steadily increases up to 1975, but then experiences a gradual decline to 1989 before picking up again. On the other hand, it is interesting to see that Media Journalism maintains a fairly steady, but noticeable lower rate of use, with a minuscule increase between 1975-1985 and then again in 1995-2008. The differences between all these journalism types reflects the changes in the world, what new devices are introduced, and what mediums are the most effective forms for reporting events, and putting a story across in a way that the audience are able to understand, emphasise with and appreciate.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Mediums for Writing

In the early twentieth century, the thought of writing on anything but paper would have been perplexing. However, technology has changed this; now, one can take notes and write on a multiplicity of things. These mediums include old-fashioned, trustworthy paper, but also computers and, most recently, tablets. Computers have only got increasingly more portable, but tablets are immensely portable. The graph shows the rise of 'computers' that corresponds with the use of technology from the 1950s. Tablets, however, show no increase up until 2000. Obviously, there is the tablet for medicinal uses, which is the reason for the use of the word on the graph. One may predict that the use of 'tablet' will rise exponentially in the near future. What remains to be seen, however, is if 'paper' will remain stubbornly unchanging, or whether another medium will take over as our favourite thing on which to write.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Too much too young?

“Hi cuz wot u up to #crazy”. I had to read it three times, check the user who had sent me such a message, check their followers and cross-reference completely until I was certain that this day had arrived. I had just been tweeted by my 10 year old cousin. Obviously, I couldn’t believe it and was instantly outraged. Yet but it raised numerous questions about the generation that was to follow me: are they really ready to be released upon the world of social media at such a young age? Is this what advancements in technology has led us to?

Social media websites have of course imposed their own boundaries: you must be 13 to set up a Facebook page, and twitter offers the option of age-screening for brands, where you must insert your age before being allowed to follow certain pages. However, the ‘age restrictions’ found on Facebook and numerous other mediums such as tumblr often only consists of filling in your date of birth: I’m almost certain that most twelve year olds are capable and more than willing to merely change their year of birth by a year in order to obtain access.

But what effect can these social media websites have upon young children? Well, take twitter for example, you are never more than a few clicks away from naked pictures, abusive comments and inappropriate behaviour galore. Facebook also has seen a recent inundation of videos depicting despicable acts, and this is without even beginning to discuss the implications of followers/friends who are not who they say they are and the ever-present risk of interaction with pedophiles.

Personally, I feel that 13 is a reasonable age to impose upon such websites. By the time British children reach 13, they will have completed their first year of secondary school and will have begun to form some sort of understanding of the world. It’s important that children are given the freedom to explore the internet nowadays, and we will always hear that you must ‘learn from your own mistakes’ and ‘you can’t keep them wrapped up in cotton wool’. However, whether these social websites will ever be able to, or indeed want to pay for the software, to prevent those under the age of 13 from using such websites is a different case altogether.

Friday, 15 February 2013

The benefits of Validation, and Progress

I made a start this week on the iBrum app - a very basic and incomplete prototype is now ready, and has been distributed to the testers (see below). This has provided another example why it is beneficial to validate your data. In this case beneficial to the tune of about 30 minutes of development time. In the real world that would be about £30 or so.

For testing purposes I was using two sample XML data files, which had not been validated (unless the validation process went horribly wrong!), but I assumed they were valid. When testing the code that loads the XML into the app, it crashed. And the bit that crashed was the XML parser (I am using the opportunity to try out a new parser I hadn't used before which makes the whole thing much easier than the standard parser I was using before). I traced the error inside the XML parser (luckily an open-source component!) but all seemed well. Until I found the error: a comment was missing the exclamation mark ("<--" instead of the required "<!--").

I changed it, and then found that on the map only one of two locations was plotted. This time I checked the data file first, and indeed, 'longitude' was misspelt in the tag name, so the coordinates were incomplete. Quick change, and it works now.

Had the file been validated, this would have been much easier. So, whenever you edit an XML file for this project (or any other), run it through a validator to make sure it's OK! And it also shows what kinds of errors one has to deal with while developing an app. Lots of them are really trivial but still take time to chase.

On the positive side, it works now. So far you can see the main screen, tap on 'Map View', and see a map with the two attractions, Chinatown Quarter and Selly Manor (which incidentally is in the wrong location!). You can also switch between that and a list view, you can change the map type from plain to satellite to hybrid, and you can centre the map on your own location.

The prototype is distributed to testers via TestFlight, which is an easy way to distribute test versions. Apple is very protective as to what you can run on your phone, so it's a right old dance with various certificates and device IDs to get this working. If you're not a tester, but have an iOS device, let Ashley know: he's collecting addresses, and you will then receive a TestFlight invitation. So far two people have accepted their invites and registered their devices; everybody else has to wait until Thursday to see it in action!

Running a prototype will usually reveal things one didn't think of before, so I assume the specification will change a lot over the next few weeks. And it is very exciting to see the thing in action, the fruit of all the hard work you're currently still putting in!

SaveTheHour: Internet Campaigning

The BBC recently announced that, after two series and an impenetrable cliffhanger,  50s Newsroom drama, The Hour, is to be axed. This news created waves amongst the fans of the show, which have rippled across the internet since, culminating in a series of campaigns, petitions, twitter tags and attention grabbing articles objecting to the decision and imploring the BBC to rethink. Seeing the fervent backlash (this example, in particular, resonates) led me to interesting questions about how the internet has been harnessed as a tool for pressure campaigning. 

It is unlikely that The Hour will return; press reports from the BBC make it clear that the show will be replaced with new and upcoming dramas, but this has not deterred fans from expressing their support of the show in a multitude of ways. Tumblr, a sharing based micro-blogging site, provides the perfect backdrop for viral campaigning. As on Facebook, users like and reblog from their dashboards, but unlike Facebook, which focusses on social networking functions, Tumblr has become a centre of culture (TV fans, book fans, film fans unite!) and, most importantly, creativity. If something becomes a meme on Tumblr, it can be shared between tens of thousands of people at a few clicks; the potential of this for campaigning stretches beyond fandom, most notably having been employed by Barack Obama’s presidential committee.

Within minutes of the show’s cancellation, The Hour’s tumblr stream exploded with artworks, articles and outrage. Within a day the Save The Hour campaign started to go viral, linking Tumblr with the twitter tag (#SaveTheHour), a Facebook group of the same name and an online petition (now toting over 20,000 signatures and rising). The key to this was making the campaign accessible to fans: blog posts advertising the links to each of these things, sporting graphics that would not have looked out of place in a government propaganda campaign, and above all information about the campaign itself. This allowed fans who might not have been aware that they could write to the BBC the means to do exactly that, and become actively involved in the campaign. 

It is no secret that any site with a member count as high as Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr quickly becomes a powerful force; instant access to others with the same, strong opinions on anything from political views to favourite TV shows provides the perfect backdrop for these ideas to snowball and for movements to come together. By spreading a campaign such as Save The Hour across multiple platforms, the fans have increased the campaigns exposure; furthermore - whether the BBC decide to commission another series or not - they have come in together a force of which I believe the show’s main character, the integrity-driven, news-hungry reporter Freddie Lyon, would have been proud. 

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Social Media is taking over my life!

I remember being hooked on MySpace as a spotty 16 year old, often spending many a night tweaking my profile and trying to get more profile views. This is nothing however, compared to my behaviour (and indeed most of my friend’s behaviour) towards social networking now. Having a smartphone is probably the worst thing possible, as I am now constantly connected to the virtual world of Facebook and Twitter. It has now sadly become a morning ritual; turn the alarm off, reach for phone, check Facebook. Some feel the need to tweet their every move throughout the day; this I find a little too excessive. Whilst I often check my Facebook and Twitter, I actually hardly ever post anything.
            It can be seen how much of an effect this new found addiction is having on society. You’ve only got to go to a pub or cafĂ© in Selly Oak and in most groups of people, at least one or more will invariably be on their phone. But does this mean we’re losing the ability to make conversation? In short, yes. Whilst Facebook doesn’t feel like a huge part of our lives, it is. Before Christmas I decided to deactivate my account to aid my productivity with end of term essays. This was useful, but I felt as though I was without a limb.
            So can be really be blamed for the fact social media is taking over many of our lives? Or are the websites themselves really to blame? I think it’s down to the individual, though I recommend you give it a miss once in a while, you might like it!