Archives For the internet

Seriously. Somebody tweeted what I can only imagine was a semi-funny, semi-serious, question about the history of the Olympics. And wow.

Some of them are clearly joking. I hope. There’s an extended edition here with a little bit of a language warning.

Via someone named @Chrissymacc on Twitter.

Ladies and gentlemen. I give you. Your future Dog President.

I laughed. Then I laughed some more. Beats the old stick your arms out from behind another person’s back trick…

This video is doing the rounds – and I can see why. Because it is kind of interesting to know that all the 0s and 1s that make up the stuff we read on our screens actually weigh something. 50 grams, as a matter of fact.

Content farms are the bane of the content creator’s existence. Other people flooding the Internet with cheap mass produced content has the same effect on the content market that any mass producing of something once good and pure has… it cheapens the experience for everybody, big companies make all the money, and then eventually something shifts in the market. It happened with beer. It happened with coffee. Now Google is stepping in to stop content farms leeching off the Internet with their search engine snake oil.

If none of this makes sense to you – then don’t worry – this infographic and accompanying post from techi.com is here to help.

This song is awful. Just awful. Many people are calling it the worst song in the world (Dave Miers isn’t). I wish Autotune technology would become sentient and eat all the awful autotuners out there. And Justin Bieber. That’s a singularity I could get behind.

But the story behind this story (the music video has had more than 27 million hits and the single is roaring up the charts on iTunes), is that this 13 year old girl’s parents paid a company (Ark Music Factory – here’s Rebecca Black’s Profile on their website) $2,000 to make a viral video. That’s $2,000 well spent. Except for all the hate. TechCrunch’s wrap up of the viral side of the story is worth a read. Gawker’s coverage is also pretty good (here’s another, and a story about the company behind the video), and here’s a C-Net wrap up.

Her story has gone mainstream media – where she responds to all the hate and reaches out to Justin Bieber…

Here’s a parody…

Now, if only the Old Spice man would weigh in on a Bieber/Black duet we’d have some sort of viral perfection.

Here’s a handy guide to the people you meet on the Internet.

I think I’d like most of my online relationships to fall somewhere between columns 2 and 4. Column 7 is just scary.

From Pamorama. I think Steve from Communicate Jesus may have tweeted this, so I tip my hat to him. And urge you to follow his blog (and his tweets)

The iPad is pretty much the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and I only just noticed.

Here’s a passage from So Long and Thanks for All the Fish – one of the five books in the trilogy.

“Fenchurch leaned across him and drew over her canvas bag.
“Is it anything to do with this?” she said. The thing she took out of her bag was battered and travelworn as it had been hurled into prehistoric rivers, baked under the sun that shines so redly on the deserts of Kakrafoon, half-buried in the marbled sands that fringe the heady vapoured oceans of Santraginus V, frozen on the glaciers of the moon of Jaglan Beta, sat on, kicked around spaceships, scuffed and generally abused, and since its makers had thought that these were exactly the sorts of things that might happen to it, they had thoughtfully encased it in a sturdy plastic cover and written on it, in large friendly letters, the words “Don’t Panic”.

“Where did you get this?” said Arthur, startled, taking it from her.

“Ah,” she said, “I thought it was yours. In Russell’s car that night. You dropped it. Have you been to many of these places?”

Arthur drew the Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy from its cover. It was like a small, thin, flexible lap computer. He tapped some buttons till the screen flared with text. “

iPad + wikipedia = Hitchhiker’s Guide.

Actually, if you read the Wikipedia entry for the guide. Which is kind of meta. It says:

“The Guide’s numerous entries are quoted throughout the various incarnations of the Hitchhiker’s Guide series. As well as offering background information, the Guide’s entries often employ irony, sarcasm and subtle commentary on the action and on life in general.”

Which means it’s probably more likely that an iPad plus reddit is the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Maybe it’s some combination of reddit, metafilter, Lifehacker, wikipedia, and wolfram alpha.

So it seems fitting that you can buy this cover:

This is a beautiful website/book designed to introduce people to the internet – Google serves it up when you download Chrome for the first time.

If you want to know about the Internet, or have an old or young relative who keeps pestering you – then you should send them to that link.

How the Internet works

Nathan Campbell —  November 15, 2010

This is a nice, simple, little comic explaining what it is that goes on when you type a web address into your browser. It’s a handy reference for when you have those conversations with a dullard who doesn’t really know what’s going on, but suggests it has something to do with monkeys or magic. Or Monkey Magic.

Via labnol.

Useful reminder.

From FlowingData.

I don’t often give serious parenting advice here. I know my audience. But my purpose for this post is twofold – first, to congratulate Steve Kryger from Communicate Jesus for this piece on Sydney Anglicans that has been syndicated on Gizmodo.com.au, and second, to share Steve’s list of ten tips for parents. I think they’re good, and a great acknowledgment that clean feed, or no clean feed, the issue requires a thought out approach from parents not a government mandate.

  1. Understand what your child is doing online (put the computer in a public space, talk to your children, use accountability software).
  2. Ask your child to explain to you what they are doing, and why they are doing it.
  3. Talk to your child about your values, and how these should be lived out, regardless of the environment.
  4. Filter the content that your family views online.
  5. Understand the minimum age requirements for different websites and technologies (children under 13 should not be on Facebook).
  6. Understand how these popular websites are used, and what the opportunities and threats are.
  7. Understand what avenues are at your disposal if something goes wrong (e.g. your child’s Facebook account is hacked).
  8. Consider how you will respond if you discover your child is acting inappropriately, or viewing inappropriate material.
  9. Decide when or if your child will get a mobile phone.
  10. Understand the new functions of mobile phones, and what the opportunities and threats are.

If, like me, you’ve been up late at night watching the World Cup and you’re finding it hard to adjust to life without the drone of the vuvuzela – then I have a solution for you. Use this site as the gateway for your browsing and you can add the monotonous (in b flat) buzz of the Vuvuzela to any web page.

Here’s St Eutychus with Vuvuzela.

So, you like reading cool stuff on the Internet? Well it turns out most of it still comes from traditional media – so says this infographic from Good, a blog.

Some awesome things

Nathan Campbell —  April 21, 2010

Here are, apparently, the twenty most awesome things in the world. As decided by the Internet.

  1. Internet
  2. Life
  3. Oxygen
  4. Music
  5. A Nap
  6. Technology
  7. Lasers
  8. Physical intimacy
  9. Lightsaber (Real)
  10. Lightning
  11. Ninjas
  12. Leonardo da Vinci
  13. Sunlight
  14. Chocolate
  15. The Earth’s Atmosphere
  16. Super Nintendo
  17. Star Wars
  18. Tetris
  19. Liquid
  20. Velociraptor

Bacon comes in at 23. A travesty.

Here are the 20 worst things polled by the Most Awesome Thing Ever site. The Internet has taste.

  1. Kevin Federline
  2. Mitt Romney
  3. Sanjaya Malakar
  4. Robert Pattinson
  5. Glenn Beck
  6. The Hills
  7. Glitter
  8. Lance Bass
  9. Eliot Spitzer
  10. Akon
  11. Rod Blagojevich
  12. John McCain
  13. Lane Bryant
  14. Chris Brown
  15. Sarah Palin
  16. John Kerry
  17. Nancy Pelosi
  18. Mario Cuomo
  19. Republican Party
  20. Ryan Seacrest

I’ve spent a fair portion of my time in the last two years entering arguments with atheists online. These are different to arguments with atheists in real life. Steve Kryger at Communicate Jesus has posted a couple of thoughts on this matter lately – and even been roundly panned by an atheist blog for his trouble. Steve’s posts:

My motivation for doing so has been twofold – on the one hand, I don’t like seeing people bagging out Jesus without anybody mounting a defense, and on the other, I realise that people google for all sorts of things and read blogs and their sycophantic comments to help make up their minds. I want to present Jesus as an alternative worldview to militant atheism.

But I’m on the verge of giving up. Here are eight lessons I’ve learned (at times the hard way) from arguing with atheists that have left me close to pulling the pin on this particular avenue of evangelism.

  1. If you argue with atheists online, especially on their turf, you will almost always be outnumbered. There’s something about the nature of community that stops Christians using the Internet the same way atheists do. I suspect it’s because atheists are a minority with no real world equivalent to church. They meet virtually. They encourage one another through forums and blogs. The Internet, in my opinion, is their nexus of community.
  2. Being outnumbered makes actually engaging with arguments hard. If one hundred commenters on a forum each ask the token Christian a question and that Christian only picks three to answer (which is a 3:1 comment ratio ie those hundred post one comment each, the Christian posts three) then the forum often jumps on the one person, suggesting that they are being duplicitous or purposefully evasive. It’s a trial by numbers and “victories” are awarded to the masses.
  3. If you’re going to talk about science, logic or morality you need to be careful to frame your terminology accurately. If you want to engage and give a good account for yourself you need to be familiar with strawmanning, Godwin’s Law, ad hominem, Pascal’s Wager, and the “no true Scotsman fallacy” – Christians are often guilty of transgressions of the first two, the chances of an atheist resorting to an ad hominem attack in response to a Christian rapidly approaches one the longer the conversation continues. Atheists think they’ve debunked Pascal’s Wager, while the “no true Scotsman fallacy” is a favourite “trump card” they play in order to lump all theological beliefs together so that they can strawman us.
  4. Atheists have no interest in nuance. They don’t pay any regard to context. They interpret everything literally – be it text from the Bible, sarcasm in discussion (or irony), or anybody’s claim to be a “Christian.” They love quote mining – especially from the Bible. I’ve seen atheists take bits from Jesus’ parables to suggest that God wants his followers to put people to the sword. They aren’t interested in theology, they aren’t interested in why Christians can justify believing things they find abhorrent, they won’t ever really put themselves in “Christian” shoes when understanding things Christians say – they prefer to maintain distance because it’s easier to ridicule the “other”.
  5. “Christians” are your own worst enemies in these contexts. A week’s worth of reasoned and fruitful discussion can be very easily undone by one comment made without being mindful of presenting the “truth with love.” Stupid “Christian” statements, along the lines of the Answers in Genesis billboard advertisements form last year spend any credit lovingly Christ centred arguments develop.
  6. Most “atheists” are antitheists, most hold atheism at the core of their identity – but this is not true for all of them. You can’t generalise when describing atheists – some are like Dawkins who are atheists through a philosophy of scientific naturalism and evolutionary biology through “natural selection” – this view leaves no case for a creator, others are ex-Christians who had rejected all other gods already, and have since rejected God, some, like Christopher Hitchens, seem to be atheists philosophically first, and scientifically second. Each atheist is an individual. This is part of their problem when dealing with the “no true Scotsman” fallacy. They think self definition is all that matters for assessing claims – there are, in fact, external issues to take into account when deciding if a Christian is a Christian.
  7. You’ll almost never change anybody’s mind online. Particularly if you’re outnumbered. They who shout loudest win. Ten idiots in a room yelling loudly will always feel like they’ve beaten one genius speaking quietly.
  8. Your best bet in these situations is just to bring everything back to a question of the historicity of Jesus and his resurrection, this, after all, is the lynchpin of our belief. If they can disprove the resurrection then our faith is in vain. And it’s this argument that needs to be convincing. Questions of science and methodology are secondary.

Some bonus reflections – if you’re familiar with online bookmarking services like Digg and Reddit you’ll know that they are full of atheists who like to post, share, and comment on articles relating to atheism. There is almost no Christian presence (that I’ve found here). Christians need to come to terms with discourse on the Internet – because it’s, like it or not, a form of community. And a nexus for people looking to discuss new ideas. Sending people in to these forums “solo” doesn’t work. Constructive conversations in this format need more than a lone voice. I don’t know how you arrange a “team” approach – but that might be worthwhile.

If you’re an atheist who arrives here and thinks “these claims are all generalisations with no substantiation” – I can, if requested, point you to different threads (mostly on my blog, on the Friendly Atheist and on Pharyngula) where situations have arisen. Here’s one example, with a follow up, here’s a post I wrote that created quite a lot of atheistic consternation, and the response on Pharyngula. Or check out guest poster Dave’s three fantastic posts on why he’s not an atheist…

I’m not giving up arguing online – though I won’t spend as much time and I’ll try to establish my commitment to arguments early in the discussion, but I’d much rather chat over a beer in a pub where there’s not the ability to hide behind a computer screen and thousands of kilometres. Non verbal communication is important. And it’s much harder to be nasty to a person if they’re right in front of you (incidentally this is why you should always do radio interviews in studio rather than over the phone).

UPDATE: Hermant from the Friendly Atheist has kindly responded to my list. I’ve posted a response to his response in the comments on his blog.

I’d also like to make a small amendment to point 4 – atheists (as a general rule – not all atheists) also pay no regards to “medium” a blog entry is to be deconstructed, analysed and critiqued the same way a scientific hypothesis or peer reviewed journal is. They disagree with a sentence without paying any regard to the paragraph it builds. They interpret things they disagree with at extremes -  for example – I put quotation marks around the word “Christian” above as a shorthand way of describing those who take the Christian label (making no actual judgment on whether they are Christian or not – I think you can be a Christian and be very wrong about things). And it is interpreted in the following manner:

“Oh, and putting Christian in smarmy little “scare quotes” whenever you’re using it to describe a person whose actions you disapprove of? That’s what we call a “cop out.” The claim that YOUR interpretation of the Bible is flawlessly correct and that ANY judgment you make about whether a person is or is not a Christian places YOU in a position of purported omniscience. Talk about hubris!”

That might be one way to interpret such punctuation – the traditional usage is to indicate direct speech.