Thursday, 25 June 2015

Birthdays and the Facebook problem

Ha! I posted only Six days later than when I said I would. It's still a struggle really, to post atleast once a week. Somedays, I get two or three ideas, that make me go "Oh yeah, That'd be great to post on my blog", and then, I just sit on them, for days on end, just turning them over in my mind. Believe me, when I say that I love to write, it's just that, I enjoy having these ideas bounce around in my mind all the time.

It's like having a rubik's cube that you can take out of your pocket whenever you feel bored, minus all the looks of annoyance that everyone around gives you for being a show-off.

So, anyway, yesterday was my birthday. I'm now a grand old chap of twenty summers. Leaving the teens was more panicky than I thought it would be. The sheltered shelf-life that I've led as a student and a son, so far is set to expire pretty soon, perhaps as soon as two summers henceforth.

Ah. Well. Reality.

So, one thing that I noticed was that, it's pretty easy for people to wish each other for occasions than it was say, in the nineties. Relatives as far away as Australia were able to wish me via Whatsapp, at practically no cost.

Yeah. Observant right? The thing is, a LOT and I mean a LOT of people, some whom I didn't even know were my friends on Facebook wished me on my wall. But what would have happened if, I'd entered my birth date incorrectly whilst filling in my personal details? what if I'd say, by mistake mentioned my birthday to be the 24th of August instead of June?

That was answered when it happened to a friend of mine. His wall was flooded with messages and wishes on group conversations. Poor chap had to clarify to everyone that it was not his birthday, and had to announce, to great general sadness, that the treat would not be forthcoming.

Wacky, innit? But think about this tidbit too. Facebook recently reached a deal with several websites to stream and host a lot of original content on their site itself. Like, if you were to open a link on facebook, on your phone, you'd be directed to a page on facebook itself, with several easy to access options to save or share the link via messenger.

It was pretty intuitive, and could make facebook a literal ocean of original content. Throw in the fact that it is pretty much standard to incorporate share options on literally any damn online page, and you have so many information being spread around each day, it'd probably take a lifetime to read everything sent around in a day.

So, what would happen if say, a hefty chunk of that information turned out to be misinformation? More and more pop culture reference sites, blogs, shops and social websites are being hosted on Facebook everyday. What would we do if something sufficiently believable, yet enough to cause panic were to hit the web?

With Facebook's increasing clout starting to remind us of the old saying "Putting all your eggs in one basket... " It could just cause some problems in the future.

Friday, 12 June 2015

The future has changed, or has it snuck up on the present aleady?

Unfortunately, I was unable to write a post for last week, since I was seriously gassed out by my intern. But I've told myself that I'd work towards making posts more regular, for the sake of all of my non-existent readers out there.

And so, with that cheery note, lets talk about something today.

In books like Nineteen Eighty-Four by Orwell, The Perfect day by Ira Levin and A Brave New World, the future is portrayed as one where technology has reached incredible heights, but at terrible cost.

It must be kept in mind as well, before we proceed, that these books were written decades ago, in the middle of the 20th Century, when the definition of the computer was vastly different from what it is now. Still, the thoughts and portrayals of the future in those books suggested a confidence, a modicum of self-assurance, that despite the wars, the sufferings and the disparities, mankind would unite itself at some point in the future.

The authors of these works evidently believed that once that happened, humanity would embark on a journey of incredible technological discovery and space exploration. Our downfall, as explained in the books, would be that our innate desire for perfection would cost us our emotions and that, we would rob ourselves of our own humanity, becoming mindless cogs in a larger machine.

Concepts of an all-controlling thought-police, human clones programmed to carry out only the purposes they were mandated for and even a entire society controlled by a computer were discussed as potential scenarios for mankind's downfall.

But now, it appears that the future has indeed changed. It could be that the future of the past has now become the present- atleast to an extent- and our vision for the future of the present has become more reflective of that.

In other words, there is a growing feeling that despite the technological genius that we've seen over the past decade- we've moved from CDs to Pendrives to Cloud storage in the same time span it took for programmers (They were more of mathematical electricians back then) to advance the first generation of computers to the next.

Our science fiction of today, imagines our downfall. No more of the space-ships, the super-intelligent AI, the clones. Tomorrow, we expect the dead to rise, we expect a society of poverty, driven to fight each other to the death for survival.

So the question is, has our vision for the future changed? or have already reached (an albeit disappointing version) the future, and the books of today are merely telling us what could happen next, that is, the future of the present.