Tag: internet (page 2 of 15)

Muting the American internet

This is a humorous article, but one with a point.

[W]e need a way to mute America. Why? Because America has no chill. America is exhausting. America is incapable of letting something be simply funny instead of a dread portent of their apocalyptic present. America is ruining the internet.


The greatest trick America’s ever pulled on the subjects of its various vassal states is making us feel like a participant in its grand experiment. After all, our fate is bound to the American empire’s whale fall. My generation in particular is the first pure batch of Yankee-Yobbo mutoids: as much Hank Hill as we are Hills Hoist (look it up!), as familiar with the Supreme Court Justices as we are with the judges on Master Chef, as comfortable in Frasier’s Seattle or Seinfeld’s Upper West Side as we are in Ramsay Street or Summer Bay.


I should not know who Pete Buttigieg is. In a just world, the name Bari Weiss would mean as much to me as Nordic runes. This goes for people who actually might read Nordic runes too. No Swede deserves to be burdened with this knowledge. No Brazilian should have to regularly encounter the phrase “Dimes Square.” To the rest of the vast and varied world, My Pillow Guy and Papa John should be NPCs from a Nintendo DS Zelda title, not men of flesh and bone, pillow and pizza. Ted Cruz should be the name of an Italian pornstar in a Love Boat porn parody. Instead, I’m cursed to know that he is a senator from Texas who once stood next to a butter sculpture of a dairy cow and declared that his daughter’s first words were “I like butter.”

Source: I Should Be Able to Mute America | Gawker

The new digital divide  

We’re already at the stage where most people in the developed world have a device that can access the internet in their pocket. Many families have multiple devices in their house that can access the internet. We’re getting to the stage where that’s starting to be the case in developing countries.

So the new digital divide? How we use the internet. I think there’s a lot to unpack here, especially as we live in unequal societies dominated by hyper-capitalism. It would be easy to victim blame, but I know from experience that when I’m burned out, all I want to do is stare and scroll at my phone…

People using devices

In his seminar, Moro referred to the socio-economic divide based on how we use the internet as the second digital divide, in contrast to the original digital divide which was based on access to the internet.

Getting online in the 1990s required a personal computer and an account with a service provider, and e-commerce transactions required a credit card and bank account. As our economy was becoming increasingly digital, major new inequalities were now arising because so many around the world could neither afford a PC or an internet account and had no bank relationship or credit card. The reach and connectivity we were all so excited about in this initial phase of the internet era was in reality not so inclusive. While the internet was truly empowering for those with the means to use it, it led to a growing digital divide both within countries and across the world. The internet was ushering a global digital revolution, but it was disconcerting to have a global digital revolution that left out the majority of the world’s population.

This picture started to change in the 2000s. Continuing technology advances were now bringing the empowerment benefits of the digital revolution to a majority of the planet’s population. Mobile phones and wireless internet access went from a luxury to a necessity that most everyone could now afford, initially in advanced economies, and later in most of the rest of the world. We were transitioning from the connected economy of PCs, browsers and web servers to an increasingly hyperconnected digital economy of ubiquitous, powerful and inexpensive mobile devices, cloud-based apps, and broadband wireless networks.

While the original internet access gap is now minimal in developed economies, Moro and his collaborators found that a digital usage gap has now emerged, representing the distinct uses of the internet by different socio-economic groups based primarily on their income and educational status.


The study found quantitative evidence of a significant digital divide in internet usage between two socio-economic groups, each with different income and educational attainment. In principle, all individuals had access to the same internet. But, the study found that each group generally accessed its own distinct version of the internet, and their socio-economic behavior was thus influenced by the fairly different services and information that they were exposed to. By analyzing mobile traffic flows, the study identified the key services that each group accessed:

  • Higher income & education demographics – Information-seeking traffic predominates, e.g., news, mail, search; Instagram, WhatsApp and Twitter are the dominant social media apps; games like Clash of Clans are the most widely used, …
  • Lower income & education demographics – Entertainment traffic predominates, e.g., video-streaming, gaming, adult services; Facebook and Snapchat are the dominant social media apps; games like Candy Crush are the most widely used, …

“The digital usage gap is so profound between low- and high-income or low- or high-education areas that it can be used to clearly distinguish between them or even identify the relative composition of these groups in a given area,” wrote the authors. “High-income areas or those with higher education attainability show a more pronounced utilization of mobile devices to consume news, exchange e-mails, search for information or listen to music. At the same time, they display a reduced use of some social media platforms or video-streaming services.

Source: The Digital Divide in How We Use the Internet | Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Image source: Robin Worrall

Signalling that you’re AFK in a world where you can never really be AFK

*AFK = ‘Away From Keyboard’

I used AIM and MSN Messenger as a teenager, from around 1996 to about 2001. It was great, and I remember messaging with friends and the woman who is now my wife using it.

Part of the whole experience of it was that you were using the service on a shared device, a computer that the rest of the family would use. In that sense, it was more like a text-based landline phone. It wasn’t personal like the smart devices that live in our pockets these days.

There a lot of nostalgia about how things used to be, and we’re certainly not going back to shared devices as a primary means of getting online anytime soon. So that means that we need other ways of respecting one another’s boundaries. This is something we can actually reclaim ourselves by responding to messages on our own terms.

Sometimes you had to step away. So you threw up an Away Message: I’m not here. I’m in class/at the game/my dad needs to use the comp. I’ve left you with an emo quote that demonstrates how deep I am. Or, here’s a song lyric that signals I am so over you. Never mind that my Away Message is aimed at you.

I miss Away Messages. This nostalgia is layered in abstraction; I probably miss the newness of the internet of the 1990s, and I also miss just being … away. But this is about Away Messages themselves—the bits of code that constructed Maginot Lines around our availability. An Away Message was a text box full of possibilities, a mini-MySpace profile or a Facebook status update years before either existed. It was also a boundary: An Away Message not only popped up as a response after someone IM’d you, it was wholly visible to that person b they IM’d you.

Nothing like this exists in our modern messaging apps.


People send too many messages. I send too many messages. The first step in making messaging amends is to admit that you, too, are an inconsiderate messaging maniac.

But I’ll never stop, and neither will you. Quick messaging is a utility. It is, in many cases, the most efficient and meaningful form of communication we have. It’s crucial for relationship building, for organizing, for supporting others through hard times. It can be joyful.


Would something like the Away Message, a relic from an era when we just didn’t message so darn much, actually put up the guardrails we need? Maybe not. But I’m willing to try anything at this point. If we can’t ever get away from messages, at the very least we can create a digital simulacrum of ourselves that appears to be away. What else is the internet for?

Source: It’s Time to Bring Back the AIM Away Message | WIRED