Category: Internet

The difference between outrage and accountability

I was recently reading the newspaper when I came across a story that pushed my outrage button hard: a public figure, one whose position depends utterly on public trust, was exposed as a hypocrite, an egomaniac and a liar. I composed a snarky tweet in my head, pulled out my iPhone and began to type. But somewhere between the 140th character and “send,” I paused. A humiliating hashtag was already trending.…  [more]

Craig Detweiler on Apple, Google and other “iGods”

Calvin College's January Series is still underway, but organizers were kind enough to share this video of one of the more intriguing talks so far: Craig Detweiler's discussion of "iGods." Based on his book, iGods: How Technology Shapes Our Spiritual and Social Lives, Detweiler's presentation explored the "big four" entities that dominate our digital existence - Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google - and…  [more]

Deathswitch: the latest attempt to reach beyond the grave

In the digital era, mortality takes on a new dimension. Consider Deathswitch, which offers users the opportunity to communicate important messages after their death and even the ability to communicate well into the future. Deathswitch checks in with users periodically and, if a specified number of attempts to reach the user go unanswered, the system automatically sends out the user’s pre-written messages to…  [more]

Hacking for the Kingdom?

In an age when net neutrality is under attack, personal information is anything but personal and identity theft is on the rise, “hacktivism” (the practice of hacking an organization’s data pools in order to draw attention to a social or political issue or gain information to advance such a cause) presents itself as a force for good on the Internet. Perhaps most famously among the hacktivists is the…  [more]

What Christians lose if we don’t have net neutrality

It’s been a weird couple of weeks on the digital frontier. People of faith and fans of the not-so-mainstream should particularly pay attention. President Barack Obama officially spoke in favor of net neutrality on Monday, advising the FCC to issue rules that would prevent massive corporations from dominating the new media landscape by creating Internet “fast lanes” for themselves, while leaving…  [more]

Samaritans Radar, suicide prevention and the limits of social networking

When the suicide-prevention organization Samaritans launched a Twitter app Oct. 29, they called it “an online safety net.” The Samaritans Radar app scans tweets from accounts a user is following, looking for phrases that may indicate a person is at risk for suicide. Once the risk is identified, the app alerts the subscriber via email, sharing the cause for concern and suggestions for reaching out and…  [more]

Emojis and “the face of our inmost being”

I was a latecomer to emojis. Despite my wife’s frequent requests that I use them, I refrained from doing so until she installed them on my phone for me. Even now, I still use them with relative rarity. As emojis have surged in popularity, so too have creative ways to utilize them: to describe the life of characters in popular culture; to recreate the first lines of famous novels; to define a diet. One couple…  [more]

The other reason not to look at those nude celebrity photos

If the stolen photos of naked female celebrities have taught us anything this week, it is that there is a difference between those who consume pornography and peeping toms. Unlike past glimpses of celebrity skin, this instance is particularly disturbing because of the means used to acquire them. The images – including some of actress Jennifer Lawrence and model Kate Upton - were stolen. And they were not…  [more]

Through an algorithm, darkly?

Two recent news stories – about the “right to be forgotten” by Google and Facebook’s surreptitious newsfeed study - have me thinking about what technology enables us to know about each other. In May, the European Union affirmed a “right to be forgotten,” under which people are asking for news stories and other pieces of information to be scrubbed from Google searches. It’s…  [more]

A closer look at that ‘handsome’ mug shot

Most people in the world had never heard of Jeremy Meeks less than two weeks ago. But that was before the 30-year-old’s “handsome” mug shot went viral on a California police department’s Facebook page, generating more than 2,400 comments in less than 24 hours. Within days, the photo had been shared more than 11,000 times and had attracted no fewer than 86,000 “likes.” Meeks’…  [more]

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