Are Facebook and Twitter tools of revolution?

Social networking played a key role in the popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and Iran over the past year. “Did Twitter make them do it?” asked Jesse Lichtenstein in Slate.com. With hundreds of thousands of Egyptians massing in Tahrir Square in defiance of a severely weakened regime, fans of social media are pointing to the role of Facebook and Twitter in sparking yet another revolution. In similar popular uprisings in Yemen, Tunisia, and Iran over the past year, social media played a key role, helping dissidents form connections and organize protests.

That was even more true in Egypt, said Jennifer Preston in The New York Times. The uprising there was sparked by the death of Khaled Said, a 28-year-old businessman who was beaten to death by police last year after he obtained proof of police corruption. Human-rights activists created a Facebook page called “We are all Khaled Said,” featuring a photo of his grotesquely disfigured face, and within weeks, the page had 130,000 followers—growing to nearly 500,000 as the street protests began several weeks ago, organized partly by tweets and text messages.

In authoritarian regimes around the world, Facebook and Twitter are allowing “the discontented to organize and mobilize” in ways they never could before. Tell that to Lenin, said Malcolm Gladwell in The New Yorker. I could have sworn that both the Russian and French revolutions took place “before the Internet came along.” The East Germans who overthrew their government and tore down the Berlin Wall in the 1980s didn’t even own phones, let alone smart phones or computers. Under despotic regimes, brave souls willing to fight for freedom “will always find ways to communicate,” whether by iPhone, furtively passed handbills and pamphlets, or urgent whispers in the street.

Our fixation on the social media angle of these revolutions betrays a “simplistic Western chauvinism,” said Frank Rich in The New York Times. We love the thought that these “downtrodden, unwashed masses” are only able to free themselves thanks to the tools we gave them. Besides, said Lee Siegel in The New York Observer, the power of social networking “cuts both ways.” In Iran, the regime actually spied on dissidents involved in the Green Revolution through Facebook and sent out misleading tweets. Nineteen months later, the regime is still in office, carefully monitoring the opposition through the Internet.

In the short term, said Clay Shirky in Foreign Affairs, the advent of new communication technologies “is just as likely to strengthen authoritarian regimes as it is to weaken them.” The Chinese government, for example, has evolved beyond some early, crude attempts to block the Internet altogether, and now has developed sophisticated systems “for controlling political threats from social media,” and for using them as a tool of manipulation and surveillance. In the long run, though, said Walter Isaacson in Foreign Policy, social media can only be bad news for authoritarian regimes. “The free flow of information is the oxygen of democracy,” and there’s no disputing that the Internet, smart phones, and social media have radically increased and accelerated that flow.

“It’s not the tools” themselves, said Jose Antonio Vargas in HuffingtonPost.com. It’s the new sense of community and togetherness that those tools have made possible. Protesters on the streets of Cairo, Tunis, and Tehran are united not only by a thirst for freedom and self-rule, but by a new awareness—brought about by new technology—of their “common humanity.” Online, “the individual can be heard.” And in a matter of a few keystrokes, “‘I’ easily grows to ‘we.’”
- As seen in The Week



Humans still have the edge over AI

AI as in artificial intelligence. Jeopardy fans were mesmerized when Watson, the IBM computer that was programmed to play the trivia game, squared off and beat the world champion. It was a reminder of when Deep Blue out-chessed the Grand Master in 1990. But according to Stephen Baker, author of the book "Final Jeopardy: Man vs. Machine and the Quest to Know Everything", not to worry.

"Watson isn't nearly as smart as it looks on TV. Outside of its specialty of answering questions, the computer remains largely clueless. It knows nothing. When it comes up with an answer, such as "What is 'Othello?,'" the name of Shakespeare's play is simply the combination of ones and zeros that correlates with millions of calculations it has carried out. Statistics tell it that there is a high probability that the word "Othello" matches with a "tragedy," a "captain" and a "Moor." But Watson doesn't understand the meaning of those words any more than Google does, or, for that matter, a parrot raised in a household of Elizabethan scholars.

Watson is incapable of coming up with fresh ideas, much less creating theories, cracking jokes, telling a story or carrying on a conversation. Humans still have an edge. - As seen in the L.A. Times, read the full story here!

Brought to you by NetLingo - Improve Your Internet IQ



Listen to Erin on Martha Stewart's Radio Show - Tuesday, March 1st

Listen in as Erin Jansen, Founder of NetLingo.com, discusses "The NetLingo Top 10 Internet Terms of 2010" and as she reveals new online jargon and texting lingo on the Martha Stewart Living Radio Show! Joining her are the co-hosts of Morning Living: Betsy Karetnick and Kim Fernandez and it promises to be an eduating and entertaining time :-)

The program is on Tuesday, March 1st at 8:00am EST on Morning Living on Martha Stewart Living Radio, Sirius 112 / XM 157. Please note: They are unable to provide copies of the interview so if someone could record it, that would be awesome! In case you missed Erin's television appearance on The Martha Stewart Show (it aired in April and in July, 2010), watch it here: NetLingo founder Erin Jansen discusses texting on the Martha Stewart show!

The Top 10 Internet Words of 2010 saw a huge emphasis on numbers and so we decided to feature multiple terms within one expression. Here are the Top 10 Internet Words of 2010 according to NetLingo.com:

1. leetspeak (1337) - a coded language replacing letters with other keyboard characters
2. 143, 1432, 459, 831 - means I love you
3. 182 - it means I hate you
4. 9, 99, H9, W9 - code to alert another computer user that someone is watching you
5. 53X, 8, CU46, LH6 - it means sex, oral sex, see you for sex, and let’s have sex
6. 10Q - it means thank you
7. LOL - most popular use means "Laughing Out Loud," not as popular is "Lots Of Love"
8. digitally grounded - a modern form of punishment that forbids use of electronic devices
9. cyberbullying - being bullied online by peers became a serious health concern this year
10. zerg - in gaming it is to outnumber the other team, in life it means to gang up on someone

Did you know most of these? If not, it’s time to get with the program! You can easily learn more lingo when you sign up for our Word of the Day newsletters and subscribe to our blog and RSS feeds.

Remember, Erin will be on the Martha Stewart Living Radio Show on Tuesday, March 1st at 8:00am EST on Morning Living on Martha Stewart Living Radio, Sirius 112 / XM 157 :-)

How to Get Rich Off the Internet

The bloggers who provided free content for the HuffingtonPost.com won't receive any of the $315 million AOL paid for the website. You have to admire Arianna Huffington’s chutzpah, said Debra Saunders in the San Francisco Chronicle. As a sometime “populist” who loudly laments “corporate greed,” Huffington attracted thousands of left-wing bloggers to write for free at her HuffingtonPost.com website. Then last week she sold out to AOL for $315 million.

After the spoils are divvied up among her “venture capitalist pals,” she’ll walk away with some $18 million and a new title as president and editor in chief of AOL’s Huffington Post Media Group. What will her army of bloggers and “citizen journalists” get for their labors? The chance for further unpaid glory toiling for AOL, a media giant with a market cap of $2.2 billion.

To understand Huffington’s business model, said Tim Rutten in the Los Angeles Times, “picture a galley rowed by slaves and commanded by pirates.” After all her bluster about “Wall Street plutocrats and crony capitalism,” she’s made a fortune off the backs of unpaid scribes and content “aggregation”—a polite term for stealing from legitimate news outlets that actually pay their writers.

Huffington’s bloggers got their just deserts from this deal, said Nate Silver in NYTimes.com—which is nothing. HuffingtonPost.com publishes hundreds of blog posts every weekday. But the overwhelming majority of its 15.6 million daily page views are generated by content that the site “pays its staff to write or curate.” By my calculation, the advertising revenue generated by the site’s unpaid bloggers amounts to no more than a few bucks per blog post. Since our site commands millions of eyeballs, said Jason Linkins in HuffingtonPost.com, we’re doing people a favor by running their blogs or aggregating their content. That’s why the country’s major newspapers and magazines plead with us to run their stories, and why some of our contributors write for free. They know our site helps them reach the “widest possible audience.”

If Huffington can “make a fortune off people’s desire to express themselves,” said Andrew Sullivan in TheAtlantic.com, then more power to her. And Huffington’s business model is hardly unique, said David Carr in The New York Times. It’s basically the template for all digital media, where “low-cost and no-cost content is becoming the norm.” The multi-billion-dollar valuations of Twitter and Facebook are derived largely from the content created by millions of users like me—for free. We are all digital serfs now, working for the feudal lords of cyberspace. Just don’t expect a share of their fat profits. “The check,” as Arianna might tell you, “is in the mail.”
- As seen in The Week

Brought to you by NetLingo - Improve Your Internet IQ

Online Advertising Lingo: social media

social media


Social media can take many different forms, including social networks, blogs, vlogs, social bookmarks, user reviews, video sharing, podcasts, rating systems, collaborative ranking, wikis, comments, message boards, and online forums. Technologies include: picture-sharing, wall-postings, e-mail, instant messaging, music-sharing, crowdsourcing, and VoIP, to name a few.

Examples of social media applications are Google Groups (reference, social networking), Wikipedia (reference), MySpace (social networking), Facebook (social networking), Last.fm (personal music), YouTube (social networking and video sharing), Second Life (virtual reality), Flickr (photo sharing), Twitter (social networking and microblogging). Many of these social media services can be integrated via social network aggregation platforms like Mybloglog and Plaxo.

More specifically, Facebook is one of the most popular social media platforms. Facebook pushed the door wide open to user-generated content when it launched its application in May 2007. Facebook's platform is an API that developers can use to create widgets that can easily be distributed on Facebook. To encourage "take-up," Facebook's platform strategy allows developers to keep the revenue they generate through traffic to their applications. Within a year, Facebook had nearly 20,000 applications created mostly by thousands of 3rd party developers.

Primarily, social media depends on interactions between people as the discussion and integration of words builds shared-meaning, using technology as a conduit. Among overall online users, reading others' comments on a Web site and reading blogs are the most popular social media activities.

Online Advertising Lingo: 1% rule

1% rule

A rule of thumb that suggests that if you get a group of 100 people online, then one will create content, ten will interact with it (commenting or offering improvements) and the other 89 will just view it (also known as lurking). Earlier metrics garnered from online community sites suggested that about 80% of content was produced by 20% of the users, but the growing data due to social networking sites and blogs creates a different picture. The lesson? A Web site that demands too much interaction and content generation from users will see nine out of ten people just pass by.

See also: the long tail, Web 2.0

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NetLingo The Internet Dictionary

Online Advertising Lingo: Lesson #1

3-way linking

An example of 3-way linking is when a person owns two Web sites, and uses one of the Web sites to offer link exchanges, in an attempt to build up the popularity of the other. In doing so, he or she adds a link to your site on the link exchange Web site, and asks in return that you link to the main site being promoted.

The higher a search engine can return your Web site when a user types in a keyword, the more traffic your Web site will receive. These optimized results are important on an ever-growing World Wide Web, and that's why Google is so revered: their algorithms produce the best results. Webmasters attempt to do all they can to accommodate the search bots, so as to increase their search results and their page rank. However, Google regularly penalizes Web sites for too many paid links and lowers page ranks. This is why 3-way linking and dedicated pages are important.

Many search algorithms are able to detect link trading as an artificial means of boosting the popularity of a Web site, thereby discounting the value of these links. By doing a 3-way link between Web sites hosted on different servers, a Webmaster can build link popularity without the search engine detecting the trade as easily.

3-way linking

The image illustrates the example: Site A represents you, the Webmaster of your own site. Sites B & C are owned by us. Site A links to Site B and Site C links to Site A. (If search Google for "3-way link" below, it will bring back several current Webmaster forum links and postings.)


NetLingo The Internet Dictionary

She’s Virtually Virtual: The Perils of Building an Online Business

With books like The 4 Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss (which was on the New York Times best seller list for 75 weeks), thousands of people everywhere have been trying to make money online by capitalizing on new, virtual business models. The appeal of reaching a global audience while generating passive income is irresistible… I read the book, I drank the kool-aid, and I love the philosophy. But outsourcing your company is risky business.

My BFF is an infopreneur in the mind/body fitness industry. Tired of trading her time for money, she decided to “virtualize” her business last year and take her personal training practice online - complete with a virtual gym, DVDs and iphone apps :-) But now it’s a grueling 1 year later, and she’s found out that creating a business in the cloud is a bigger deal than she thought. In fact, she barely weathered the storm. Here is one girl’s account about outsourcing in cyberspace

Hot on the trail after reading Ferris’ book, she hired some developers in India to build her an open source site using Joomla, which was to be a virtual gym and e-commerce store with the ability to deliver digital products as downloads. They promised her a fully functional site with all the training she would need to run her online business. She had fun working with them on Skype for months on end, getting the “look and feel” down and the content exactly where she wanted it. She said it was interesting to work with people on the other side of the planet, their accents were cute, blah, blah, blah, but the long (and sad) story short is that when her site was delivered, it looked great, but she had no idea how to run the CMS (the back end) nor how to arm the back end with the necessary marketing tools needed, like autoresponders, list management panels, newsletter generators, etc…. all the things that are crucial in creating a successful online business! Duh.

Furthermore, she realized her IT guys in India weren’t necessarily direct marketers, they hadn’t gone to the conferences she went to, they didn’t know a sales funnel from an affiliate tracker from an opt-in page to a landing page to article marketing and beyond. And that’s cool she said (I told her it was not) but she was still understanding and said “you can’t be an expert at everything.” “One area you do need to manage,” she said, “is your site, you need to understand it from the back end forward. It doesn’t matter how cool your site looks on the Web, if you can’t update it behind the screens and run it yourself, it’s not going to work.”

“And don’t think that what you save in money by outsourcing (sometimes $3.00/hr) you don’t spend in time. That old adage, ‘Time is money’, still holds true, right? The Internet hasn’t changed that! But add in the sometimes 12-14 hour time difference, communication issues regarding the subtle nuances of our native tongues, and the need to discuss complex technical matters, and you have a recipe for a time/money suck!” Oh boy, I could tell things were not proceeding as planned. And BTW, she’s smarter than the average bear especially when it comes to geek stuff.

She was near tears by now and going on and on, “Face it, this “ain’t your daddy’s business world” anymore. Employers are lucky to have an employee stick around for a year, let alone 50! The Internet has revolutionized the way we work, the way we communicate, and the way we are creating --and replacing-- jobs, and not just in this country but in the world.” There was no consoling her at this point so I let her go on…

“This supposed technology that was invented to help us “save time” and “make life easier” has not gone exactly as planned. If anything it’s complicated and it’s a major time suck. People today work, date, play, and essentially LIVE online. Okay it can be fun sometimes but look at the millions of people actually living virtual lives on 2nd Life! What is that all about?!” I started to explain but she was already on to the next rant-and-rave

“From big corporations who outsource their customer service calls to companies in the Philippines, to infopreneurs who outsource their website to developers in India, we are officially a global community. It truly is a global work force. But you know what? That may be a beautiful thing in theory, but I’m seeing first hand now how it has its share of draw backs.” So what’s your takeaway I ask? Our lesson? Your next step?

“Make sure your outsourcers understand the look you want and the functionality you need out of your site. Because, 9 months later even though my site looked great, full of rich content and pretty pictures there was one big problem. The outsourcers had hard coded it instead of using the plugin Joomla modules that anyone can use. They said they would teach me how to do this...or I could pay them a maintenance retainer. REALLY? I want to run my business not become a Joomla goddess!” I completely agreed.

Frustrated and tired of being lost in translation on late night Skype calls, my friend decided it was time to hire a U.S. based, Joomla guru to get her virtual business up and running. Of course, this would cost double the money, but half the time. So, running out of resources, what did my little entrepreneur do? She shelved her old site and built a new site on iWeb in about 4 hours. She signed up for 1shoppingcart.com (which has built in autoresponders) to manage the entire back end from one console panel. She’s like “Sheesh, 1 year later, and it’s the little site that could!” And I’m like, okay fingers crossed, I just want it to work for her. She’s virtually virtual, and when she transcends once and for all, that will only be a good thing.
Stay tuned,
Erin

5 Easy Places to Recycle Your Old Gadgets and Computers

Maybe you got next-generation gear over the holidays, or maybe it's time to clean out your unused gadgets for the new year. Whatever the reason, if you've got old gizmos that need to go, Kevin Purdy of Lifehacker.com tells you where to recycle them.

Did you know that many towns, cities, counties, and states have their own e-cycling programs that offer convenient drop-off locations for dead computers, dead cell phones, big monitors, and other electronics? The Environmental Protection Agency suggests a few sites to help you find a local solution, including EcoSquid and Digital Tips. However, almost everybody has a Best Buy, Goodwill, or Staples somewhere near them and they may even pay you back in green for helping keep the planet green.

Best Buy Recycling has one of the most convenient and customer-friendly electronics recycling programs. Each household can bring in up to three items per day including older-style CRT TVs, any flat-panel TVs, monitors, cell phones, GPS units, DVD players, basically anything that you can carry that has a plug and a display, Best Buy will take it. (There's a $10 charge for TVs and monitors, but you get that back in a $10 gift card.)

New cell phones often come with a plastic pouch in which to mail back an older cell phone for recycling, or for re-purposing as an emergency 911 phone for community services. Each cellular phone provider, including AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon offers phone recycling services and they are generally free through both in-store drop-offs and postage-paid mail-ins.

Both Office Depot and Staples are fairly convenient for recycling smaller gadgets in different ways. Office Depot sells boxes (small, medium, and large for $5, $10, and $15, respectively) that you can fill with pretty much any gadget that fits, then drop it off for recycling. Staples does the smaller stuff for free, like phones, PDAs, and calculators, and if you drop off TVs or monitors or other notably big gear, it's a $10 charge.

But one of the first stops to make is good old Craigs List. As one user notes, turning in a working laptop for recycling so that it can be destroyed is NOT recycling. If you really care about recycling then selling it for a small price to someone who will use it for a few more years is the best recycling you can do.
Until next post, see you online,
Erin

Early Adopter Update: It's Time to Hurry Up and Wait for 4G

It's the CES this week (the Consumer Electronics Show) and the industry is buzzing. Standards are being solidified. Convergence is taking place. It's a good time to be a geek. One of the major announcements is 4G.

If you've read the NetLingo definition, you know what 4G is :-) If you haven't, go read the 4G definition and come right back because Roy Furchgott of the New York Times tells us that the refrain from the cell phone industry at CES has been “4G, 4G, 4G.”

As NetLingo explains and Roy confirms, "Just what constitutes 4G at this point is debatable. But this week T-Mobile announced it would double the speed of its 4G network, AT&T vowed to have nationwide 4G LTE coverage by 2013 and Verizon is stumping its LTE build out." (LTE is also in the 4G NetLingo definition :-)

So here's the thing early adopters, "If you are leaning toward 4G, you certainly will have plenty of cell phones to choose from. Verizon said it would have 10 4G devices, from phones to tablets to wireless hotspot cards. Sprint announced three. AT&T announced two and promised five to seven more. T-Mobile announced two tablets and promised more devices." And on and on... that's CES. It's these kinds of advancements that make early adopters happy.

If you still don't quite get it, try looking at 4G from this point, "It’s the same problem that faced TV buyers when televisions with 1080p screens first came out. You could spend extra for a premium set, but what are you going to watch on it? There were no 1080p shows and practically no DVDs at the time (and when there first were, selection was small and very expensive). Yet people snapped 1080p TVs up. They wanted to be ready with 1080p when shows became available." Did someone say first-mover advantage?

In the end, Roy fesses up, "I live in the first city in America to go 4G, that was in 2008. I still don’t get reliable service. If your carrier charges you extra for 4G service, don’t buy it yet... if you don’t get charged extra for 4G service, consider it but make sure the phone works well on both 3G and 4G."

It's good advice. If you're not entirely certain about exactly what 3G is, be sure to read the NetLingo definition of 3G too! It'll only take a moment and you will learn something about the amazing technology that powers your cell phones and handheld devices! You know those little things you can't imagine living without, also known as your life?

Meanwhile at CES, it's all about convergence. This time it's merging television sets with the power of the Internet... but, there's nothing really to blow you away, not even Google TV, we're just not there yet.
Until next post, see you online,
Erin

Should parents let toddlers play with iPhones?

Moms and dads are discovering that iPhones can entertain little kids more effectively than traditional toys, but does that mean it's a good idea? The iPhone may just be this generation's "boob tube." The iPhone has not merely revolutionized communication, says Hilary Stout in The New York Times. It's also given parents what may be "the most effective tool in human history to mollify a fussy toddler." Moms and dads are finding that their 1-, 2-, and 3-year-olds can amuse themselves endlessly with this new "Toy of Choice," pressing buttons to see the screen light up, watching videos, or even mastering educational apps. Though the phenomenon can give parents rare moments of peace, some child development specialists worry that handing a toddler an iPhone may be as neglectful as planting him in front of a TV for hours. Are smart phones damaging our babies?


Resist the temptation to hand your kid a phone: As conveniently bewitching as the iPhone is, says Paula Bernstein at Strollerderby, "kids--especially little ones--don't need any more screen time." Letting them get obsessed with gadgets only keeps them from learning how to interact with "the outside world" and don't fall for the notion that kid-targeted apps are automatically educational. "Do toddlers really need an iGo Potty app (sponsored by the company that makes Huggies) that will remind them when it's time to go potty?"

"Why toddlers don't need iPhones"
As always, parental supervision is key: "Every generation has its vices," says Jack Loftus at Gizmodo. The iPhone is one of ours--parents just have to do their job and make sure toddlers don't get carried away. Besides, "touchscreens and ultra-portable communication devices are the inevitable future," so there is no harm in letting little Bethany get used to "the tools she'll be immersed in when she's older."

"Experts worry toddlers are becoming iPhone addicts"
Used correctly, the iPhone can be an educational toy: It's true that iPhones and iPads can be instruments of "boob-tube zombification" if all your kid does is look at videos, says Wilson Rothman at MSNBC. But some "edutainment apps" are worthy additions to an array of traditional toys. If anything, instead of reactionary panic, what parents need is more research. The real question should be: Which iPhone apps do help kids? - As seen in The Week

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Give hours of fun to your digital friends!

The new NetLingo book is a handy guide of every text abbreviation and chat acronym you'll ever need to know!

In time for the holidays, "NetLingo: The List" is a great "gag" gift and conversation starter for your digital friends. Not recommended for children under 12 due to adult content, this "coffee table meets toilet humor" book contains thousands of hilarious sayings used by millions of people.

Featured on The Martha Stewart Show, it's easy to order and send to your friends!

NetLingo is the leader in tracking online terms and "NetLingo: The List" is the largest collection of text and chat acronyms to date! More than 82 million people text regularly, it's no wonder you've seen some of this cryptic looking code... but you haven't seen it all until you've seen "NetLingo: The List." Order a few copies online and have them mailed to your peeps today!

* Material is not appropriate for children under 12 due to mature and suggestive themes
* Contains a cornucopia of crude humor, sexual content, profanity, drug & alcohol references,
* It's modern, it's shocking, it's funny, it's real, it's timely, it's handy, it educates, it entertains
* It's for parents and professionals, educators and enthusiasts, everyone who gets online
* Learn the difference between acronyms, abbreviations, shorthand, initialisms, and leetspeak
* Take an inside look at the dynamic language that eludes conformity or consistency
* People magazine says "The NetLingo Guide to acronyms is super!"
* Great gift for adults, only $9.95, get copies of "NetLingo: The List" here!

Happy December everyone,
Erin
p.s. Be sure to sign up for our Word of the Day newsletters and subscribe to our blog and RSS feeds.

NetLingo Top 10 Internet Words of 2010


NetLingo.com announces the Top 10 Internet Words of 2010! There has been a huge emphasis on numbers this year so we decided to feature multiple terms within one expression. Listed in no particular order and chosen for their popularity, here are the Top 10 Internet Words of 2010 according to NetLingo.com:

1. leetspeak (1337) - a coded language replacing letters with other keyboard characters
2. 143, 1432, 459, 831 - means I love you
3. 182 - it means I hate you
4. 9, 99, H9, W9 - code to alert another computer user that someone is watching you
5. 53X, 8, CU46, LH6 - it means sex, oral sex, see you for sex, and let’s have sex
6. 10Q - it means thank you
7. LOL - most popular use means "Laughing Out Loud," not as popular is "Lots Of Love"
8. digitally grounded - a modern form of punishment that forbids use of electronic devices
9. cyberbullying - being bullied online by peers became a serious health concern this year
10. zerg - in gaming it is to outnumber the other team, in life it means to gang up on someone

Did you know most of these? If not, it’s time to get with the program! Make one of your New Year's resolutions to learn more lingo and sign up for our Word of the Day newsletters and subscribe to our blog and RSS feeds.
Happy New Year 2011 everyone!
HHTYAY,
Erin

Happy Thanksgiving from cyberspace

Happy Thanksgiving America, are you really going to spend it in front of the boob tube or waste it in cyberspace? Here's a quote by author William Gibson, who coined the term cyberspace, "Cyberspace, not so long ago, was a specific elsewhere, one we visited periodically, peering into it from the familiar physical world. Now cyberspace has everted. Turned itself inside out. Colonized the physical. That makes Google a central and evolving structural unit not only of the architecture of cyberspace but of the world. This is the sort of thing that empires and nation-states did before. Empires and nation-states had their many eyes, certainly, but they didn't consitute a single multiplex eye for the entire human species." - As seen in The Week

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First Engrish, then Euro-English, and now Singlish

In world news, Singapore is urging its people to speak standard English instead of "Singlish," the city-state's unique patois. Singlish, which employs English words in a framework of Chinese grammar, is the one language that Singapore’s ethnic Chinese, Malays, and Tamils share in common, but authorities worry that the dialect is hampering business and tourism. "We need to remain relevant to the world," said government minister Vivian Balakrishnan. She said the government would soon put up posters giving proper English versions of common Singlish phrases. "Got problem call me can," for example, translates as "Please let me know if you need help." See also: Engrish - As seen in The Week

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If you use Verizon, check your bill!

Verizon copped to overcharges and will offer customer refunds. FYI: Verizon announced last month that it would reimburse millions of customers who had overpaid for Internet access, said John Sutter in CNN.com. Verizon blamed a defect in its mobile phone software that “caused at least 15 million customers to be charged data fees, even if they didn’t subscribe to data plans.” Refunds of $2 to $6 will appear in subscribers’ bills in October and November. Consumer activists faulted Verizon for a lengthy delay in correcting the overcharges, which were first reported in 2009. The total amount rebated could reach $90 million. - As seen in The Week

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Did you hear the one about...? And other dumb Facebook stories!

I know many of you use Facebook on a regular basis, in fact the NetLingo blog posts get automatically streamed to the NetLingo Facebook Page so it's a great way to stay informed. Since I regularly write about what NOT to do on social networking sites like Facebook --did you see the "5 Guidelines if You're Gonna Facebook It" post-- there's no excuse for you to make the same crazy mistakes I read about in the news!

Case in point, did you hear about the school board official who posted attacks on homosexuals on his Facebook page? C'mon dude, not only is this bad behavior but it's also downright stupid. Apparently Clint McCance never considered empathy, let alone his digital footprint. The school board member resigned from Midland School District last week after he used his Facebook page to encourage "queers" and "fags" to kill themselves. What? Turns out he wrote a series of posts in response to a campaign called "Wear Purple Day," which was meant to show solidarity with gay youths in the wake of a spate of suicides connected to cyberbullying. I don't even want to reprint what he said, it's that bad. If you're curious, read more here.

And how about the story of the woman who got fired because she posted criticism of her boss on her Facebook page? Even though I empathize with her more than the authorities who fired her, it reminds me of the dooce story and is still a lesson in what NOT to do! Turns out this story could have far reaching implications: The National Labor Relations Board announced last week that it had filed a complaint against an ambulance company for firing a worker after she criticized her boss on her personal Facebook page. Board officials said Dawnmarie Souza, an emergency medical technician in Hartford, Connecticut, was fired after posting sarcastic remarks on Facebook about her supervisor at American Medical Response. The company said Souza had violated a policy barring employees from depicting the company "in any way" on social media sites. Lafe Solomon, the National Labor Relations Board acting general counsel said "Employees have protection under the law to talk to each other about conditions at work." Labor lawyers said the conflict has the makings of a landmark case that may help define the rights of workers in the new frontier of social media.

In other far reaching news, if you're planning on climbing Mount Everest anytime soon, you'll now be able to text us and Facebook your journey all the way to the top. Ncell, a Nepali telecom firm, constructed a new facility allowing climbers of the world's tallest mountain to make cell phone calls, send videos, and access the Internet all the way to 29,035 feet!

Back on the ground, did anyone notice the fact that numerous candidates running for the House and Senate this past election had to contend with old photos, circulated via Facebook or the Internet, that captured them in embarrassing situations? Again I will say, what were they thinking!? Several photos appeared during the campaigns including a man dressing like a Nazi and another simulating sex acts with a toy. ID10T.

Finally, it seems the Wakefield Track and Field team adults don't read NetLingo. The Massachusetts high school handed out shirts with the team's initials, "WTF." School officials said they were unaware of the initials' meaning in online jargon (as in "What The F***")... someone please forward them a clue! Tell them they can subscribe to free NetLingo word of the day, acronym of the day, and blog posts here :-)

How to make time slow down, really!

Looks like I'll be moving to another high-rise! In his theory of relativity, Albert Einstein put forth a very strange idea: Time moves faster or slower depending on how fast you’re moving and the strength of the gravitational field around you. Subsequent experiments proved Einstein right: Time ticks slightly slower on a fast-moving satellite compared with a stationary one, while a clock in the mountains--farther from Earth’s gravitational field--runs faster than one at sea level.

The same weirdness applies at a more intimate scale, but only now have scientists been able to measure it. Using a pair of ultra-precise atomic clocks, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology demonstrated that a clock raised just a foot above the floor ticks marginally slower than the lower one--by a difference of about 90 billionths of a second over 79 years. In a second experiment, they found that a clock moving at as little as 20 mph ticks ever so slightly slower than a nonmoving clock. "People tend to just ignore relativistic effects, but relativistic effects are everywhere," NIST’s James Chin-Wen Chou tells ScienceNews.org. The effects, however, are rather subtle: Over a lifetime, people who live at the top of a skyscraper age about 100 millionths of a second more slowly than people on the ground floor.

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No message is worth dying for :-(

Having spent the summer in a state that has not yet passed any texting laws, let alone hands-free cell phone laws, I came to fear for my life at the hands of multitasking, mini-van soccer moms speeding past me completely unaware. For the good of us all, it’s time for the kind of aggressive police crackdown that was mounted against drunken-driving a generation ago, said Michael Fumento in the Los Angeles Times. “No message is worth dying for.”

“Border collie jill surveying the view from atop sand dune.” Those, said Michael Fumento, were the last words typed into a cell phone by Malibu, Calif., plastic surgeon Frank Ryan, just before he drove his Jeep Wrangler off a cliff in August. May he rest in peace. He was just one of thousands of motorists who’ve lost their lives while typing out messages in recent years, most of whose last words are not known. But we do know, from these tragedies and numerous studies, that texting while driving is far more dangerous than driving while drunk. One study by Car and Driver found that a test driver who was legally drunk took 4 feet farther to come to a full stop when confronted with an emergency; the same driver stopped 36 feet farther when reading an e-mail, and 70 feet when sending a text. Yet few states truly enforce their texting laws or laws banning talking on hand-held phones. - As seen in The Week

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Toasted Skin Syndrome: When Laptops Singe

The latest health scare in the tech world? Your laptop. “Toasted skin syndrome’’ generally disappeared around the time people stopped spending hours huddled close to a potbelly stove. But the syndrome is now cropping up again, in young people who spend hours a day with laptop computers on their legs, says the Associated Press. Toasted skin syndrome is a rare skin condition characterized by “sponge-patterned skin discoloration,” and it’s caused by long-term exposure to heat. Cases are now popping up in the medical literature, including a Virginia law student who toasted her leg while having her laptop propped on her lap six hours a day. The temperature underneath registered 125 degrees. Another case involved a young man who played computer games for hours a day; his left thigh, where he balanced the laptop, turned brown and mottled, while the right did not. The discoloration may be permanent, and researchers say laptop users who won’t give up the habit should at least place a carrying case or other heat shield under their devices. Uh, duh. - As seen in The Week

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Have I taught you nothing about privacy?

If you're a parent, maybe you've already heard about this recent study. I hope so and I hope you've done something about it! For those of you still in the dark, read on... About 92 percent of American babies and toddlers under 2 have their pictures and names posted online (sometimes along with the names of their mothers) on social networking sites such as Facebook, a new study found. Privacy advocates warn that identity thieves may someday exploit this information. Ok everyone, this doesn't mean you can't post pictures of junior to share with your friends and family, it just means you need to take time to learn how to set the privacy settings on your social network of choice so that only the people you know can view the pics. Got it? - As seen in The Week

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Artificial intelligence behind the wheel?

First spotted on the highway almost a year ago, Google is developing a self-driving car. The company’s fleet of self-driving Toyota Priuses have logged a collective 140,000 miles, 1,000 of those with no human intervention, driving the Pacific Coast Highway, Hollywood Boulevard—and even San Francisco’s Lombard Street, reputed to be the most crooked road in the world. Engineers point out that robot cars, unlike humans, don’t drive sleepy, distracted, or drunk. Though years away from mass production, self-driving cars could transform society, Google says, reducing traffic and saving lives. “Can we text twice as much while driving, without the guilt?” said the car’s inventor, Sebastian Thrun, director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and a Google engineer. “Yes, we can, if only cars will drive themselves.” - As seen in The Week

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Stop the Ban of Facebook in Egypt


In November, I've got a lot of tech news updates coming your way so read on...! Alarmed by opposition groups using Facebook to network, the Egyptian government has launched a propaganda campaign warning people away from the site. One opposition group, called the April 6 Movement, has used Facebook to organize strikes and pro-democracy rallies. Another group, of more than 100,000, uses Facebook to lobby Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohammed ElBaradei to run for president. On state-run TV, Mona ElSharkawy, the host of the country’s biggest talk show, has called for a ban on the social networking site. She warned viewers against its “evil,” saying it can be used by foreign intelligence agencies to gather information about Egypt. Within days, an Egyptian Facebook group called “Stop the Ban of Facebook in Egypt” had formed, attracting thousands of members. Makes you appreciate the fact that you live in the land of the free and can use Facebook any time you like! -As seen in The Week

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Face it, technology can be a PITA, even for the pros!

This was too good to pass up. Facebook is back in the news today only this time due to a SNAFU with their new Groups feature. Poor boys, they got a taste of what a PITA technology can be for the rest of us. Here's how it went down, no pun intended...

NAMBLA is an acronym for the completely unsavory North American Man/Boy Love Association. (For South Park fans, it refers to the National Association of Marlon Brando Look-Alikes). This acronym became popular after Facebook launched a new Groups feature and suddenly technology blogger Michael Arrington, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Mahalo founder Jason Calacanis all found themselves added to a Group called NAMBLA.

Apparently Calacanis quickly fired off an email to Zuckerberg saying that he was troubled to have been added to the Group without being given the opportunity to opt-in. It turns out, the Groups feature lets users automatically add existing friends to Groups, but they can't do this with people they don't know.

So how did Zuckerberg get added to NAMBLA then? That's all down to tech blogger Arrington. "I typed in his name and hit enter,' Arrington wrote on TechCrunch. "He's my Facebook friend, I therefore have the right to add him." Arrington added that "as soon as Zuckerberg unsubscribed I lost the ability to add him to any further Groups at all, another protection against spamming and pranks." A Facebook spokeswoman confirmed that Group members can only add their friends to the Group.
Allrighty then,
Erin

Everytime you go online, data miners are tracking your every move!

I've said it before and I'll remind you again, they're watching you! On the Web it's is almost impossible to avoid prying eyes. It's important that you understand how online marketers are monitoring you and what you can do about it. As seen in my favorite magazine The Week, please read on!

How frequently am I followed online?
Constantly. Your computer leaves a unique digital trail every time you visit a website, post a comment on a blog, or add a photo to your Facebook wall. A growing number of companies follow that trail to assemble a profile of you and your affinities. These profiles can contain shocking levels of detail—including your age, income, shopping habits, health problems, sexual proclivities, and ZIP code—right down to the number of rooms in your house and the number of people in your family. Although trackers don’t identify their subjects by name, the data they compile is so extensive that “you can find out who an individual is without it,” says Maneesha Mithal of the Federal Trade Commission.

How does the technology work?
The moment you land on a website, it installs a unique electronic code on your hard drive. Owners of websites originally placed “cookies,” the simplest such codes, on computers for users’ convenience, in order to remember things like the contents of online shopping carts. But a cookie placed by one site can also serve as a tracking device that allows marketers to identify an individual computer and follow its path on every Web visit. It’s like a clerk who sells you a pair of jeans at one store, then trails you around the mall, recording every store you visit and every item of clothing you try on. “Beacons” are super-cookies that record even computer keystrokes and mouse movements, providing another layer of detail. “Flash cookies” are installed when a computer user activates Flash technology, such as a YouTube video, embedded on a site. They can also reinstall cookies that have been removed. Such “persistent cookies,” says Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), make it “virtually impossible for users to go online without being tracked and profiled.”

Who’s doing the spying?
Marketers, advertisers, and those whose businesses depend on them. Most websites install their own cookies and beacons, both to make site navigation easier and to gather user information. (Wikipedia is a rare exception.) But third parties—advertisers and the networks that place online ads, such as Google and iAds—frequently pay site hosts to install their own tracking technology. Beacons are even sometimes planted without the knowledge of the host site. Comcast, for example, installed Flash cookies on computers visiting its website after it accepted Clearspring Technologies’ free software for displaying slide shows. Visitors who clicked on a slide show at Comcast.com wound up loading Clearspring’s Flash cookies onto their hard drives, which Comcast said it had never authorized.

How is personal data used?
It’s collected and sold by companies like Clearspring. Such information can be sold in large chunks—for example, an advertiser might pay $1 for 1,000 profiles of movie lovers—or in customized segments. An apparel retailer might buy access to 18-year-old female fans of the Twilight movie series who reside in the Sunbelt. “We can segment it all the way down to one person,” says Eric Porres of Lotame, which sells these profiles. Advertisers use the profiles to deliver individualized ads that follow users to every site they visit. Julia Preston, a 32-year-old software designer from Austin, recently saw how this works firsthand when she started seeing lots of Web ads for fertility treatments. She had recently researched uterine disorders online. “It’s unnerving,” she says.

Is all this snooping legal?
So far, yes. While an e-commerce site can’t sell to third parties the credit card numbers it acquires in the course of its business, the legality of various tracking technologies—and the sale of the personal profiles that result—has never been tested in court. Privacy advocates say that’s not because there aren’t abundant abuses, but because the law hasn’t kept pace with advancing technology. “The relevant laws,” says Lauren Weinstein of People for Internet Responsibility, an advocacy group, “are generally so weak—if they exist at all—that it’s difficult to file complaints.”

Can you avoid revealing yourself online?
Aside from abandoning the Internet altogether, there’s virtually no way to evade prying eyes. Take the case of Ashley Hayes-Beaty, who learned just how exposed she was when The Wall Street Journal shared what it had learned about her from a data miner. Hayes-Beaty’s computer use identified her as a 26-year-old female Nashville resident who counts The Princess Bride and 50 First Dates among her favorite movies, regularly watches Sex and the City, keeps current on entertainment news, and enjoys taking pop-culture quizzes. That litany, which advertisers can buy for about one-tenth of a cent, constitutes what Hayes-Beaty calls an “eerily precise” consumer profile. “I like to think I have some mystery left to me,” says Hayes-Beaty, “but apparently not.”

How to fight back against data miners
There are ways to minimize your exposure to data miners. One of the most effective is to disrupt profile-building by clearing your computer browser’s cache and deleting all cookies at least once a week. In addition, turning on the “private browsing” feature included in most popular Web browsers will block tracking technologies from installing themselves on your machine. For fees ranging from $9.95 to $10,000, companies like ReputationDefender can remove your personal information from up to 90 percent of commercial websites. But it’s basically impossible to eradicate personal information, such as property records and police files, from government databases. “There’s really no solution now, except abstinence” from the Internet, says Lt. Col. Greg Conti, a computer science professor at West Point. “And if you choose not to use online tools, you’re really not a member of the 21st century.”
Signing off,
Erin

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New to the NetLingo Blog or Facebook page? Welcome!

Hi, my name is Erin and I am the founder of NetLingo.com ;-) If you are new to the NetLingo Facebook page or NetLingo Blog, I want to personally welcome you!

People tell me everyday "it's tough to keep up with all of this new technology!" I tell them "you're not alone!" It used to be that understanding the Internet was only for computer professionals and web design folks. Now you see technology permeating our lives everywhere and you realize that knowing Internet technology and online communication is no longer a luxury, it's a necessity.

Research shows technology continues to proliferate... there's new software, new hardware, new technologies, new websites, new online services, and new lingo created literally every day. If you're a professional who feels like you're on information overload or a parent who wants to keep up with what your kids are talking about, NetLingo can help you!

Why does NetLingo exist? To track new Internet terms and text and chat acronyms. Others can do that but NetLingo is unique because it’s written by a woman using layman’s language, we are the oldest site who specializes in Internet terms, we have the largest list of text and chat acronyms, and we offer a service that is organized to educate, entertain, and empower you.

NetLingo.com has thousands of definitions that explain the online world of business, technology, and communication, including the largest list of text and chat acronyms. We help everyone from students, teachers, parents, and seniors, to gamers, designers, and techies, to bloggers, journalists, and industry professionals worldwide. NetLingo has been the leading Internet dictionary since 1994 helping millions of people each month understand this new jargon.

Below are just a few of the useful, relevant, and reliable features that can help you learn more each month!

  1. Content is King
    The NetLingo Dictionary
    is structured in an easy-to-read layout and filled with easy-to-understand definitions. Compiled by a woman using layman's language, Erin's purpose is to educate, entertain, and empower you about the language used in the online world. All definitions are cross referenced and sorted by Category to give you the big picture. We encourage you to Add Your Own Lingo and Become an Editor.

  2. Word of the Day Emails
    Sign up to receive any or all four of our popular Word of the Day emails. You can get a daily Online Jargon Term, Online Business Term, Technology Term, and the Acronym of the Day. It's an easy way to learn a little bit at a time... Subscribe here!

  3. Feeds and Widgets
    It's a brave new world and NetLingo understands you want your information whenever and wherever you go, that's why we provide content in various Feeds and Widgets. Once you get the hang of it, you'll love it. You can even subscribe to these feeds so they automatically appear on your "My Yahoo" and "iGoogle" pages: Acronym of the Day, Jargon Word of the Day, New and Updated Terms, and Improve Your Internet IQ Blog. Plus, you can friend NetLingo and follow us on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter!

  4. Tips and Tools to Get With The Program
    We also understand the power of search, that's why we created a Toolbar that lives on your browser and a Search and Browse Box that lives on your website or blog. In addition to our popular Pocket Dictionary, NetLingo is loaded with tips to help you easily learn and reference online information, from Country Codes to File Extensions, from Top 50 Lists to Cyber Safety Statistics, NetLingo offers a free Blog and a paid subscription service called Get With The Program for parents and professionals to stay up-to-date on issues that matter.

  5. Books, apps & PDFs
    NetLingo publishes several products including our new book "NetLingo The List: The Largest List of Text & Chat Acronyms" and our "NetLingo iPhone app The List: Text & Chat Acronyms". You can still order the original book "NetLingo The Internet Dictionary" along with a series of NetLingo PDF Guides. We're also proud to offer a wide range of recommended reading books and geek gifts.

At NetLingo, our first commitment is you. We are dedicated to providing you the best Internet information and resources possible in order to empower you and your family to enjoy an active online life. To ensure that we live up to our commitment, we keep our content up-to-date and written in our signature style so everyone can easily understand the most amazing invention of our time: the Internet.

If you have any questions regarding NetLingo, don't hesitate to contact me personally.
See you online!
Erin Jansen
Founder, NetLingo.com

About NetLingo:
NetLingo.com is a definitive guide to Internet culture. In business since 1994, we are a consumer-technology publishing company and provider of personalized Internet information and educational tools. These tools motivate tech-conscious people like you to learn, understand and grow in your knowledge of hardware, software and online technology, business and communication. NetLingo has been featured on national radio and television programs including CNN, MSNBC, BBC, Fox News, Good Morning America, The Martha Stewart Show, and NPR, as well as in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, Good Housekeeping, Real Simple, and many more newspapers and magazines.