Monday, August 26, 2013

Trolling, Subtlety, and Lying on the Internet

People lie on the Internet? Why, that's simply insane!

Lying is an ancient concept, but every new interface of human communication brings new ways to deceive. From outright hoaxes to games around message intent, the Internet has brought us entirely new ways to be subtle and disingenuous. And, in a bizarre way, it's probably making us smarter.

Monday, August 19, 2013

As Real as it Gets

In 1992, The Real World hit television screens nationwide, and sparked America's love affair with reality TV.

Though, it did not rekindle America's love for beatnik sweaters.

The appeal of the show - and other shows in the reality television genre - came from the unscripted, 'raw' element of the footage. People naturally find other people fascinating, so what kind of zany scenarios could we see if we throw a bunch of complete strangers in a house and film it?

The Internet has emerged as one of the fastest and easiest ways to transfer information, through text, images, and videos. It has become the ultimate reality show, giving us a new window into other people's lives and exposure to situations previously unimaginable.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Anonymous and the Chaotic Wellsprings

Lots of people - even those who aren't too steeped in Internet nonsense - have probably heard of the group called Anonymous.

Ah yes, who could I possibly trust more to talk about the Internet than FOX News reporters?

The much-sensationalized group originated on the website 4chan, where the default setting for its members' names is "Anonymous". Since the vast majority of people don't bother to change the default name and let their online handles remain "Anonymous", the joke is that Anonymous is one entity, formed by the contributions of many. On 4chan's "random" subforum - often shortened to /b/ - the posters would get into all sorts of strange activity, giving Anonymous its wild reputation.

But Anonymous is not unique. The /b/ subforum was one of a long line of similar forums on the Internet, where the rules are relaxed and the users form an unwieldy community. Today, we'll explore the corners of the Internet where this has happened before, ant talk about why Anonymous has been elevated above the rest.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Data Dump

One of the buzzwords floating around these days is "big data" - data that exists in such large quantities that traditional data processing begins to break down. There are a lot of very cool underlying patterns that can be found when you're looking at a large enough data set, and there is no shortage of large, complex sets of data.

"Big data" can also mean you're really into Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Luckily for scientists, we live in an age where we have a constantly growing pile of data, teeming with transactions and activity records. Analyzing the Internet itself has become a worthy scientific endeavor. From economic studies of video game worlds to assessing trends on dating sites, interesting information can be found in the most unsuspecting of places online.

So today, we'll be looking at some interesting studies that have used information extracted online.