Original Blog Post
Original Blog Post
Using codeacademy, I decided to explore a different programming language called Ruby, or Ruby on Rails. Ruby is an open source programming language for creating pages and applications that collect information from a web server.
Below is a preview of the code that asks a user a specific question and prompts them to send their information back.
Check out this public service announcement about innovation by myself and Janakan Srimurugan!
As a digital content manager for the TEDxRyersonU team, I have been working with a committee to produce content for this year’s conference 361 Degrees: A New Angle. As an extension of this work I have compiled all of our content regarding the conference theme and speakers into a simple and handy app. App development has never been easier than with http://www.theappbuilder.com that allowed me to manage my content using templates that are relevant to my information. Check it out! http://myapp.is/tedxryersonu
With the abundance of resources and knowledge available to us on the internet, information overload has become a popularized term that refers to the 21st century tendency of not being able to process information. The cause? We are being presented with an overwhelming amount of it and our brains just do not have the capacity to organize, interpret and comprehend it all. When using search engines such as Google, it is possible to find 1,150,000,000 search results on a topic in approximately 0.20 seconds. Out of those 1,150,000,000 results how many do you think are exactly relevant to what you are looking for? For many of us, the need to cut through the clutter and find specific and tailored content is real.
In an attempt to explore alternative methods of search and content curation, I experimented with RSS feeds. RSS Feeds stand for Really Simple Syndication and allow users to subscribe to certain feeds to receive updates from publishers on new content. I was looking for content that was specific to the topic ‘time management’ and subscribed to the following feeds from the source websites of articles that I found relevant to my topic.
After subscribing to the above mentioned feeds, I was presented with this list of all the latest headlines coming from my tailored subscribers list.
There are many benefits to using RSS feeds over standard search engines. The first is quite evident and quantifiable.- from 1,150, 000,000 to a much more manageable 190 results (amongst 10 different feeds). RSS feeds are something that I consciously opt-in to and gives me full control of the content I want to see in one centralized place. Such a characteristic is especially beneficial considering the vastness of information out there. The updated information is also conveniently in my browser, making it easily accessible. RSS feeds are very much like Twitter feeds, except with more substantial amounts of content that go beyond a 140 character limit. RSS feeds help offset the inconveniences of spam that comes from subscribing from email newsletters from your favourite sites, information overload, and time wasted sifting through the layers of the internet just to stay updated.
As a generation that grew up with the web, it should come as no surprise that security, safety, and privacy while surfing the web are never guaranteed–unless actively sought after. While going about your normal online activities you can bet that third-party websites are just as malicious in collecting and using your personal information as the websites you knowingly give information to.
Information is today’s commodity. Websites and companies alike are eagerly buying, trading, and selling your information. The collection and interpretation of copious amounts of user data is known as “Big Data” and it should be known that it is something that is becoming central to the business strategies of many corporations.
In order to understand how far reaching my personal information extends I did a little experiment. Using Collusion, I browsed the internet for 20 minutes. Collusion is a browser plugin that tracks third-party websites that collect your information and visualizes it for you in a graph relative to the sites you visited.
Here is my Collusion graph taken from my Firefox Browser.
All orbs surrounded by blue are the actual sites I visited. In total I visited 9 websites:
All other orbs are sites I have not visited. The extending lines from the sites I visited to the ones I have not indicate that data about me has been sent to these third-party websites. The website that has the most third-party connections was thoughtcatalog.com. As you can see from the image below, the list is substantial and extensive.
Personally, I was not too outraged when I saw this. When third-party websites are tracking my search habits or collecting information about my inherent characteristics such as my age or gender, I admit that I am not alarmed. I do not consider the dissemenation of this information to be harmful to me. It is when someone, somewhere is able to extract much more personal information of more substance such as my thoughts, feelings, and beliefs without my consent or knowledge would I begin to consider taking action to block these third-party websites.
If you feel violated while browsing online you must make a conscious effort to protect yourself. Downloading a third-party website blocker, exploring your browser preferences to disable third- party cookies from certain sites and looking into “encryption software” are but of the few measures taken to stop the unauthorized dissemination of your personal information.