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The way to get (really really!) rich

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Before the launch of the iPhone, who could have ever imagined the potential of carrying a smartphone that allows users to access the internet in similar fashion like how they do so on a desktop computer?

If I were to be able to correctly predict the future of the internet, I would instantly be a very very successful (and really rich) person.

And history has proven this point, as the top visionaries in the internet age, have all risen to be multi-billionaires. People like Mark Zukerberg of Facebook fame, Sergey Brin and Larry Page of Google, or even Steve Jobs of Apple, who totally changed the model of music buying with iTunes.

It is not hard to understand why it is difficult in to predict the future of internet by going back to history. It is simply because mankind have never experienced such revolutionary degree of connectedness on the internet. Take Facebook for example; human individuals had never shared that much information on themselves, and they do so for a variety of reasons never heard of before the internet age. This unprecedented degree of connectedness was something totally unheard of in all of human’s history of existence up to about half a decade ago. Then in 2004, Mark Zukerberg saw the potential in personal information sharing, and dramatically changed the way humans disclose their personal information.

So, while the internet provided a totally new infrastructure for information flow, it is the revolutionary ideas on how to capitalize this infrastructure that actually make a difference.

From the few benchmarks in the dot-com age, we can see the general evolution on how the internet is used. From the early days where Internet is used as an interconnected storehouse of information where users could retrieve and upload information into a shared domain, to interactivity where connected users could share information in real time fashion. The logical step forward would be trying to accurately predict what users want, and feeding them with a narrower scope of information to facilitate an even fast flow of information.

Why is this logical? Because from history, the internet as an infrastructure, was meant for connected users to find, retrieve and share information. It is still primarily the case in general currently. But with the evolution in the past decade, improvements have been made to better find and retrieve (in the case of google) and share information (in the case of various social media platforms like blogs and Facebook).

However, as more and more users engage in sharing, it becomes a challenge for users to accurately find and retrieve information they want, not to mention the creditability and accuracy of information they eventually get from sources on the internet.

Hence, I believe the next step forward would be the ability to predict and filter user’s needs during the process of finding, retrieving and sharing information. Pretty much like a know-all librarian who can point out the books you are looking for even with vague and incomplete information fed to the librarian.

The general direction seems to be pointing towards this direction, where the tech industry call it “semantic web”, where the internet becomes an extension of your thought process and accurately point to the information you need from the vast library online.

However, it is never easy to understand human behavior. While this may be a logical step forward, I believe this evolution would never materialize as fast as what we have seen so far. Although we have seen some baby steps already in place like Google’s approach to pageranking, as of now, it is not a fool proof approach, and like I’ve outlined previously; far from perfection.

But if anyone could get this formula right in marrying the prediction of human behavior and the internet, that person would be a really rich person in no time. 🙂

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Written by garygoh

April 25, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Bullying turns to Cyberspace

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A screen shot on the report about the first cyber bullying death that occurred in Singapore.

To be frank, it sounded a little ridiculous at first when I first saw the news a on what it appears to be the first death from cyber bullying happening in Singapore.

A 16 year old Myanmar girl committed suicide at the height of a cyber bully attack by her ex-boyfriend.

Her ex-boyfriend posted nasty comments, like calling her a “loose woman” on her Facebook page.

This instigated her to jump to her death at her Pasir Ris block.

What made me feel a little ridiculous was that cyber bullying, to me, is literary an online name calling exercise. Perhaps unlike nasty bullying taunts in real life, people can have a choice in ignoring taunts made online.

In fact, the buzz word on the Internet is choice. With millions or even billions of other content to occupy yourself, why bother about online taunts?

But I digress. This is an issue that not only plugged Singaporeans of late. In the US, cyber bullying is seen as a major issue, especially when the circulation of racy sexual content comes to play. Coined as “sexting”, young and usually oblivious teenage females take naked pictures of themselves and send it to their then boyfriend. After breakup, the boy turns rouge and forward that naked picture around to every boy he knows.

“Sexting” occurs usually among females, where they would take sexually explicit pictures of themselves, and send them to their lovers in attempt to capture more affection or attention from them.

While I have to agree that sexting is a bigger issue as compared to the milder cyber bullying, but that is even easier to prevent.

Just DON’T take naked pictures of yourself and sending it to everyone! While teenagers might think sexting is something that can improve their social status by breaking that “clean mummy’s girl” image, I think it is just plain dumb. Never mind if your partner doesn’t leak out these images, what if you lose your phone and the person who picked it up isn’t all friendly?

The bottomline, think and act rationally online. If doubt about cyber bullying, please consult the Stop Cyberbullying page.

Written by garygoh

April 13, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Citizen Journalism – putting citizens’ views into journalism

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Citizen journalism sites like Channel News Asia’s Your News portal, and Straits Times Online Media Print (STOMP) provides a platform for everyday people to post happenings that news agencies like them can spin into full fledged news reports.

With the onset of social media, the world of journalism has evolved rapidly over the last 5 years. Before social media, the news journalism revolves around a selected army of journalists, working with a rigid editorial process that determines what news to be printed on papers.

However, with the invasion of the internet, suddenly everyone can be a journalist. No need for any editorial process, citizen journalism is all about writing what you see, and pushing out the content of what you see to the crowds on various social platforms.

Unlike traditional newspapers, social networks provide a ready pool of users that would be eager to see what you see. Based on the same principals that made social media platforms successful, people consuming these platforms are always interested to see what their peers – that guy next door – is looking at.

Due to the ease of publishing, anyone can upload happenings. Because of this ease, citizen journalism could be faster and more accurate then traditional news agencies. This appears to be apparent, with many of today’s newspaper stories originating from citizen’s reportage.

To demonstrate this, I personally did a small experiment on how a snippet of a happening I saw became national news.

Sometime ago, there was this commotion at the car park right below my block. A Malay couple appears to be in a rather violent quarrel, complete with the lady shoving and screaming. Police were called in to mediate, but unfortunately, the couple did not show any sign of cooling down. Like a set straight out of a soap drama, the lady was arrested after much attempts to calm her down.

The thread I posted on HardwareZone on the commotion I saw at the car park right at the foot of my block

From my kitchen window 6 floors up, I took my camera and started to snap pictures of the happenings below, and posted what I saw on a popular local online forum, HardwareZone forums.

Someone sent STOMP what I saw at my kitchen window and it appeared on the citizen journalism portal the next morning.

Within hours, my thread on the forum was sent to STOMP, a popular local citizen journalism site by an anonymous user who probably saw my post.

After appearing on STOMP, Lianhe Wanbao picked up the news, and it appeared on the cover of the Chinese evening daily the next evening.

That very same evening, Lianhe Wanbao, a Chinese evening daily picked up this very same piece of news, and ran it on the front cover.

The next day after Lianhe Wanbao (two days after the incident) used the story on their cover, The Newpaper ran the story on their cover as well.

At the same time, a reporter from The Newpaper, an English tabloid, contacted me via the forums’ private messaging system for an interview on the pictures I shot, and to give them an eyewitness’ account of what happened.

The story appeared on The Newpaper cover the next day.

So this small experiment demonstrated the power of citizen journalism, of how one person’s pictorial account could become national news appearing news covers.

But more importantly, it is also a show of the force behind citizen journalism – the idea that anyone can be a reporter, having a say on how national news is crafted.

Written by garygoh

April 6, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Online campaiging is vital and critical

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The official White House Youtube channel, where clips of US President Obama addressing timely issues would be uploaded.

The internet is getting more and more political these days, as we can see from the 2008 US Presidential election, then closer to home in Malaysia’s 2008 national elections, and now in Singapore as Singaporeans gear up for the upcoming elections.

It is not surprising that political groups are scrambling online, in efforts to capture as much eyeballs as possible, since the current generation of Gen Y voters are old enough to vote – and these Gen Y people are not a small number to be chunked in the backseat.

Consider this, people who were born between late 70s to late 80s, are among the most tech savvy people around. These are the same people who grew up in a generation of mobile phones, computers and the internet.

Instead of the previous generation of Television and Radio – which could be biased due to an editorial process, the internet is still largely free and neutral.

People could log online and see the contents they want, and click on the links they want to see. It is this choice that makes internet a largely neutral battle ground.

A recent study by Pew Internet, a not-for-profit American online research company states that up to 73% of all adult internet users use the Internet for political reasons. Be it for gathering information about political parties, or even getting involved in political parties, 73% of all adults used the internet for political reasons in 2010.

And I predict, this number will continue to grow in the coming years.

Be it incumbent minister or up-and-coming opposition candidate, having an online presence is a must.

Already in Singapore, with the elections slated to be announced in the next 2 months, election fever had already started here. Politicians are significantly getting more engaged on various social media platforms. Facebook, twitter, blogs, Youtubes, you name it.

Perhaps you can start by looking around on Facebook, almost EVERYONE who’s contesting in the upcoming Singapore general election is on it.

Written by garygoh

March 28, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

How the combination of media made things interesting

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Posters like these are placed at selected restaurants at Portland, Oregon, where people holding a Near Field Communication (NFC) infused phone, such as a Google Nexus S, can scan their phones on such posters,  getting them the latest promotions, reviews, and other information exchange between the restaurant and users in general.

Multimedia, as the name suggests, is a combination of different technologies that offer an experience that does not parallel to any single medium could offer.

Take the recent Google’s push for Near Field Communication (NFC) for instance, is a brilliant combination of Google’s sterling Maps services, combining with a new NFC.

NFC itself is not a new cutting edge technology that Google invented, it is in fact, a technology that we Singaporeans use almost everyday. The EZ-Link card is an implementation of NFC technology.

What exactly is NFC then? It is a technology where users possess a chip that could be electro-magnetically be powered by a near by transmitter. When powered, data communication could be established between the chip in consumer’s hand, and the transmitter at at business’s end.

In EZ-Link, NFC is used as a contact-less paying system for commuters to pay fares. But in Google’s case, the marriage between Maps, and NFC creates a whole new experience.

Google built their latest Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) mobile OS, and their latest phone, the Google Nexus S to support NFC technology. Which means to say, their latest phone has the NFC chip embedded inside.

Combining with Google’s ever popular Maps application present with in both mobile and desktop form, other businesses could drop “pins”, or virtual markers on the Maps application, with information about their businesses. Google calls this Google Places.

An introductory video released by Google during the launch of their Nexus S phone, highlighting NFC features with Google Places

In pilot program, restaurants in Portland, Oregon which are marked by pins in Google Maps,  were given physical stickers at the door of their physical premises. These stickers actually include NFC chips embedded to it, where uses of Google’s Nexus S phone could scan their phones on these stickers to get more information about the restaurant. For instance, they could instantly read about the restaurant’s promotion, rating and reviews on the said restaurant.

To add on, these social infused information are then updated live to Google’s Map services, where other users who are not physically in the vicinity could read about.

So in all, NFC or any medium by itself isn’t exciting. It is the marriage of various forms of media that makes multimedia an exciting experience.

Written by garygoh

March 22, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Scenes from the Turfclub

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Managed to put together a short piece on the scenes at the Turf Club, where punters bet their days away….

Written by garygoh

March 13, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

The thin line between good and evil

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One of the most frustrating worm that gained international notoriety was the “Sasser” worm. Once a Windows 2000/XP computer was infected with it, pop ups with a count down timer would appear and after the 1 minute countdown, the worm would automatically shut down that computer.

As defined by Wikipedia, the term “malware” is “a software designed to secretly access a computer system without the owner’s informed consent, and is termed by computer professionals as a variety of hostile, intrusive or annoying software or program code”. And a “computer worm” as defined as “self replicating malware computer program, which uses a computer network to send copies of itself to other nodes and it may do so without any user intervention.

So a computer worm is a “hostile” piece of code designed to cause great harm to your computer right? So it’s a really bad piece of code that aims to wreak havoc to innocent victims and its creators must be a really evil person right? Or at least, its creator must have been someone who didn’t harbor good intentions during the production of a computer virus, right?

But how if a computer virus can actually save the world?

Sounds cliche?

Well, it actually is. Just not too long ago, a computer worm named “Stuxnet” actually did something like this.

This map shows the amount of computers that carried the “Stuxnet worm.  Iran is highlighted in red, with the most amount of infected instances of “Stuxnet”. Nuclear enriching plants located in Iran was reportedly the target for “Stuxnet”.

Rumored to be coded by the American and Israeli government, this worm does nothing to the normal computer. Other then duplicating itself and sending itself via internet that the infected computer is connected, this worm did not do anything to normal computers.

But once this worm detects a particular industrial Siemens controller, typically used to control uranium enriching centrifuges, the worm takes control of the controller, spinning the centrifuges in speed excess of what it is designed for, and destroying it.

These uranium, when enriched, can be used to create nuclear weapons.

The worm is so well written, that it could actually circumvent protection and alert systems used to monitor any malfunction on these controllers.

The aim of Stuxnet, according to some experts, is to silently destroy key nuclear enriching facilities that Iran reportedly have, and are not too forthcoming in declaring the actual use of such destructive material.

In fact, the Stuxnet worm was so specifically written that after programmers examined code, they found that a section of the code is designed to target 984 machines linked together. Later when an official visited Iran’s key uranium enriching plant, they found exactly 984 machines out of commission.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mentioned recently that Iran’s nuclear efforts have been put back by a few years, before they could get back to the pre-Stuxnet state.

Stuxnet is not the only worm that people considered to be helpful to the world, there was another worm known as Nachi, which aims to plug a known security hole in Microsoft Windows systems.

So, while worms and viruses are scary in today’s connected world, I believe it is the intent of worm/virus programmers that actually matters between being a cyber-criminal or a cyber-hero.

Written by garygoh

March 13, 2011 at 12:55 am

Posted in Uncategorized