Posts Tagged Internet

Excuses, excuses…

Excuses, excuses...

The Daily Mail is fast turning into my favourite online comedy resource. Forget all those bawdy joke sites and funny videos involving cats, if you want real genuine lowbrow entertainment, there’s no better place to go than the Daily Mail online – the masters of the slow news and non-news story. Read the rest of this entry »

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Many of us use social networking sites. Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Twitter. I personally use them to promote my websites, broadcast my latest take on a sports event or to showcase my array of culinary delights, but they can be used for doing anything from sharing holiday photos and playing badly-written quizzes through to playing silly games like Farmville. Like anything, it’s a service that can be misused by many, and flagrantly abused by some.

In recent weeks, Facebook has made its way into the headlines for the most unfortunate of reasons – a sad chain of events that was to lead to the tragic rape and murder of teenager Ashleigh Hall. Of course, the professional sledgehammer-wielding nutcrackers have waded into the act with talk of restrictions, panic buttons and all other sorts of interfering jiggery-pokery.  The sort of rhetorical bullshit parroted by some expert-about-everything-and-nothing like Carol Vorderman on some ITV primetime show or by some two-penny hack at the Daily Mail who probably has no idea what the difference is between Facebook and Faceoff.

I will be as straight as I can be here. Yes, this story is indeed a tragedy, but it is something that has less to do with Facebook or any other social networking site than the sheer idiocy displayed by the teenager in agreeing to meet up with a total stranger. Quite simply, it could have been avoided had she displayed a degree of caution and common sense. How many times have we advised kids not to go meeting up with strangers whom they might have met online? How many times have we advised them to go with a parent or perhaps a couple of friends so things could be checked out? Yeah, so you meet someone you fancy on the ‘net, and you don’t want to take Mum or Dad along to check them out – ‘cos it’s embarrassing, right? Bullshit. It’s a whole lot less embarrassing than ending up in a mortuary.

Looking at the photos of murderer Peter Chapman, I would have clocked him immediately from a mile away. He has that face that any adult would view as suspicious.

The dangers of this sort of things have continually been highlighted in the media, and poor Ashleigh Hall was not the first person to fall victim to a professional predator. Nor, unfortunately, will she be the last.

The government and their army of overpaid technological advisors (oh, woe!) have suggested that Facebook put some sort of “panic button” (again, woe!) on the site so that users can hit it whenever they suspect suspicious behaviour; I cannot see what good this will do save provide japesters with yet another way of pissing off their mates online. Oh, Pete’s a paedo. Kate likes putting small animals in the oven. Hahaha, lol. That sort of thing. Furthermore, it cannot see how the presence of a panic button would have helped Ashleigh Hall – she obviously couldn’t see anything untoward about the “teenage boy” she was going to meet.

Facebook is useful, as well as being a source of frivolous and at times utterly pointless fun. I can keep in touch with business colleagues, have managed to find long-lost school friends, and have used it to promote this blog. I have also used it to post commentary on the Winter Olympics (confusing some people with my complete and utter randomness, often in deutsch) and pass comment on the culinary fare being served up on Masterchef.

While I use it for these reasons and to keep in touch with people I actually know, others might use it to rack up “friends” as part of some silly competition with their peers. “I have a thousand friends on Facebook”. Yeah, well, whoopee-doo – you probably have no friends in real life, and are just the sort of person who might take things far too literally when some fat weirdo you don’t know from Adam advertises himself as some bronzed Adonis with lots of (online) girlfriends.

Like anything, social networking sites should be used responsibly, and – if making “friends” with complete strangers is your thing – with a degree of caution. There should be no need for any “panic button” – if you see something suspicious, you can simply tell a friend (a real-life friend, that is) or a parent. Better still you can email Facebook and tell them. These facilities exist: there’s no need to provide the likes of Stalin Johnson and his bunch of know-it-alls with yet another reason – sorry, excuse – to nanny us.

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That silly twit again…

That silly twit again...

Our old friend Stephen Fry is at it again, moaning about the haters on the Internet. Well, boohoo. Someone needs to tell this chap being an arse-licking sycophant is not a prerequisite to sharing opinions on social networking sites and bulletin boards, and that out of the million people that are following his tweets there are bound to be few who might have something negative to say.

“I would not say that I lost faith in Twitter, I would say that I lost faith in my ability to negotiate it”, quoth Fry. Not knowing anything about Twitter, one might assume that our so-called national treasure is talking about something infinitely more complex and serious as opposed to a social networking tool that is essentially frivolous and worthy of no more than a couple of seconds of your time, if that.

He rambles on:

“I don’t know about you but whenever I read a blog I do not let my eye drop below half the screen in case I accidentally hit the bit where the comments reside. Of all the stinking, sliding, scuttling, weird, entomological creatures that inhabit the floor of the internet those comments on blogs are the most unbearable, almost beyond imagining.”

This is truly laughable. The very purpose of blogs – unless you are someone like Kim Jong Il preaching to his lackeys – is to create discussion, elicit debate, and – on occasion – strike up an argument. Critical commentary is central to the entire concept of online discussion, and if you don’t like what you see it is a simple matter of leaving things alone. These “stinking, sliding, scuttling, weird, entomological creatures” will continue to plague you so long as you continue to post your verbose and rather self-pitying lamentations, Mr. Fry.

And on:

“Their resentment, their desire to be heard at the most vituperative level, at the most unpleasant and malevolent, genuinely ill-willed malevolent, level is terrifying and I am very often simply not able to cope with that.”

It is not only the haters who “desire to be heard”, Stephen. There are also the serial whingers and moaners, people who say something and then throw a hissy fit if a bunch of complete strangers choose to be a wee bit critical rather than bow and scrape in praise of your banal witterings.

I do actually believe the misapplied label of “national treasure” has got to Fry’s head – for his attitude can only be described as precious in the extreme.

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Tumbleweed at the Telegraph…

Sometimes you have to wonder how the online newspapers are able to roll out the glut of stories that land on their desk – or in their email inbox. In the old days, there would be a strict editorial process and a fight amongst the hacks to get their story on the following day’s printed pages; as a result, you’d encounter some inspired and well thought out headlines and well-written articles.

The advent of the Internet has changed things however: far fewer people are paying the fifty or so pence it costs to read the news in print, preferring instead to visit the plethora of online resources at their disposal. As a result, those churning out the news are turning over a greater number of stories. There’s no issue with space – it’s a case of just adding a link. There’s also no great concern about accuracy either – if you get a complaint you can just just edit the article or zap it altogether, which is something you cannot do with a printed newspaper.

While there is certainly a lot more to read, the downside of all this is that much of what is out there is of an inferior quality when compared to what we might have seen in print not even twenty years ago. Articles littered with grammatical errors, bad spelling and mistranslations are common, to the point where it leaves you wondering whether the writer (read: teaboy-cum-deskmonkey) has simply run a piece through Babelfish and used Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V.

Which brings me to the point of this post, and the otherwise pointless article posted today in the Telegraph about Neil Armstrong’s missing “a”.

I find it hard to believe that people are actually debating this minutiae, never mind devoting an online news page to it. Some people clearly have plenty of time on their hands. In any case, we all know that this footage was filmed in some remote location in the Nevada Desert…

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