Archive for the 'Computer Class' Category

How to Respond to Attempts to Undermine Our Democracy

Time magazine has good article on the way Russians are using social media and the internet to way a cyberpropaganda war. This sums up the situation well in my view:

Marrying a hundred years of expertise in influence operations to the new world of social media, Russia may finally have gained the ability it long sought but never fully achieved in the Cold War: to alter the course of events in the U.S. by manipulating public opinion. The vast openness and anonymity of social media has cleared a dangerous new route for antidemocratic forces. “Using these technologies, it is possible to undermine democratic government, and it’s becoming easier every day,” says Rand Waltzman of the Rand Corp., who ran a major Pentagon research program to understand the propaganda threats posed by social media technology.

Basically, the internet/social media is Disneyland for the Russians. Continue reading ‘How to Respond to Attempts to Undermine Our Democracy’

Could Facebook Prevent Donald Trump From Becoming President?

How Facebook Could Tilt the 2016 Election is a disturbing article. It explains how Facebook could influence the election to cause Donald Trump to lose (without anyone really being able to prove they were doing this). I really don’t want to see Trump in the White House, but if the article is correct this is really troubling. (In general, I’m getting more disturbed and creeped out by online companies like FB and google.)

Digital Natives’ Ignorance of the Internet

I recently read an Atlantic article, Digital Natives, Yet Strangers to the Web, which raises the point that students need guidance and a richer understanding of the internet, despite growing up with it. Reuben Lowey, one of the educators featured in the article, has been developing a high school curriculum to address this issue. I liked the topics in his curriculum–topics relating to the notion of identity, privacy, algorithms, differences between virtual and actual reality. These topics are more philosophical rather than practical, and I don’t think this type of understanding occurs just because someone grows up on the internet. Whether Loewy is aware of this or not, his curriculum suggests that a person’s way of knowing, socializing and even being differ dramatically on the internet versus the real world. I think this kind of distinction and awareness is really important, not just for students, but for anyone who uses technology.

Having said that, the idea of a curriculum to teach these topics gives me pause. Actually, if I were an educator, I’d probably groan and roll my eyes. As the article mentions, teachers already have a lot on their plate. Some have to fight to teach subjects like social studies and the arts.

How do you you get around this problem? Here are some thoughts: Continue reading ‘Digital Natives’ Ignorance of the Internet’

Avoiding an Internet Apocalypse

When we were growing up, our history teacher showed us a film on the Hiroshima bombing. That was probably the main reason the threat of a nuclear war stressed me out as a kid. End-of-the-world scenarios would–and still does–stress me out. The crazy thing is that there may be more plausible scenarios now.

For me, one of those scenarios involves the internet–some virus or worm that wrecks havoc on the banking/financial system or allow someone to take control of military facilities or cause a meltdown of a nuclear reactor. I’m not knowledgeable about computers or engineering, but here’s an idea that I thought could safeguard us against such a catastrophe. Continue reading ‘Avoiding an Internet Apocalypse’

Stephen Hawking Thinks Artificial Intelligence is a Serious Threat to Humanity

Atlantic Monthly had a piece about prominent scientists like Stephen Hawking urging others about the possible threat of artificial intelligence and the need to think carefully about this. Threat in this case means threat to humanity– as in the survival of the species. That surprised me. It seems little too Hollywood and science-fiction-y, but apparently Hawking and some other serious scientists do take it seriously, writing a piece in Huffington Post, Transcending Complacency in Superintelligent Machines, which got some attention and ostensibly inspired the Atlantic article. Honestly, the HP piece disappointed me, as I didn’t think it said much, particularly in terms of laying out a cogent argument for its position. (Basically, the article is compelling mainly because of the prestige and authority of the authors.) But the Atlantic article mentions a much more interesting article from Aeon (which I never heard of). The article is longer, but way more interesting (for other things besides a better argument on the threat of A.I.). I’d recommend reading it, especially for those interested in the potential thread of A.I. or for those who enjoy science fiction.

I’m starting the thread to discuss the article, but I’ll begin by giving my first thoughts about the potential threat of A.I. First, here’s my understanding of the nature of the threat: Continue reading ‘Stephen Hawking Thinks Artificial Intelligence is a Serious Threat to Humanity’

Tracking Comments on Players Entering the NFL Draft

Since I’m reading about the NFL draft, I’m constantly hearing remarks about the players from NFL draft experts. I’ve been wanting to see someone compile these commments from the experts on the high draft picks and then compare the comments to the players several years down the line. What I’m interested in identifying is how accurate these experts are in analyzing the players. Unfortunately, I have yet to find anyone who has compiled these comments. Since that’s the case, I’m wondering about a good method to do that myself.

The first thing that comes to mind is a spread sheet of some sort where I can have one column for players and a column for several experts (e.g., Mike Mayock, Mel Kyper, Todd McShay, etc.). So, for example, I might have a column for Johnny Manziel, and let’s say Mayock said that he thinks Manziel can throw well, but seems wild and undisciplined, particularly in the pocket. Now, let’s fast forward three years from now. If Manziel has trouble in the pocket, we can credit Mayock for that.

That seems simple enough, but I want to do this online so that other people can add to the spread sheet, so that I’m not the only one doing it.

Also, I think breaking each of the experts’ columns into two separate columns, for positive and negative comments, might be a good idea.

Finally, I’d want a way to rate or evaluate each of the experts. I guess we could just tally the number of times they made an accurate comment.

Any thoughts or help would be appreciated.

Web Stuff for Idiots

Some conversations I’ve recently had with Penny and Reid have led me to believe there’s something of a dearth of knowledge here about some of the emerging tools, trends, and issues on the Web, so I’m going to start posting a few informational things here. I in no way expect anyone here to jump in excitedly and decide everything here is for him or her, but it’s good to be aware of some of this stuff, especially since some of it might be useful.
Continue reading ‘Web Stuff for Idiots’


Reid asked me a while back to explain how to insert hyperlinks into your posts and comments, and I failed miserably because I didn’t know how to type html code in such a way that a web-browser wouldn’t read it as code.

So I figured it out the way I figure everything else out on the Web: I found someone else’s site and swiped the code.
Continue reading ‘HyperActive’


I’ve created this new category as a place for us to discuss computer- and Internet-related stuff. I’m no expert, but I guess I know a little more than most of you, so if you have a question, post it as a new message in this category, and we’ll tackle it together.

Hopefully, we can learn stuff that will make our V-I experiences and our WWW experiences a little better.
Continue reading ‘Web-Slinging’