Information, Perception, and the Internet

GIGO - Garbage In Garbage Out

Check it out on Wikipedia Here

Cool techie looking thing on the top
of a building in downtown San Diego.
I learned working with software about GIGO. Garbage In Garbage Out. I learned that whatever you put into a computer will determine the results.

We have a tendency to search out things out of curiosity and fantasy.  It started when we were children when we wanted to touch the bright fire. I have seen my nephew burn his finger on a flame.  He was totally caught off guard, and surprised.

When we are conscious about what we put into our minds then we can control the outcome.  Just as when we eat junk food.  It may feel good today, but we pay for it tomorrow.

Endless Information

Zen Garden in the middle of the Oahu Intl Airport.
Zen in the midst of chaos.
You can find anything you ever wanted to read about on the internet. When I first got on the internet in 1997 I remember thinking that things would never be the same again.  People could search an endless collection of information and learn anything they could want.  I was fascinated that you could search entire databases of micro-films that you would previously have to check out at a library, and entire shelves of books were now at a fingers touch away.

If you wanted to do just about anything in the world you could gain the know-how with a few hours of hard study and google at your fingertips.   When I was in college I was afraid everyone would turn into crazed sex perverts when I learned that more than half of e-commerce revenues had come from the online pornography business at that time.

I was relieved to see that soon mainstream entertainment would change this dreary statistic.   Now there is so much money flowing across the network I don't know where to look to find that statistic they put in my textbook in 2002.

You can not hide by turning your computer off.

Some people are afraid of their online identity revealing too much about them. There are many articles about all sorts of agencies collecting, mining, selling, and analyzing our every move.  People are afraid of getting on Facebook that have absolutely nothing to hide from anyone.You can let everyone else talk about you on the internet, or you can be a part of it yourself.  There is no way to avoid it.  Just because you don't have a Facebook account doesn't mean someone isn't posting a picture of you anyway.  Illusions of anonymity are futile.  Your name is going to be in someones computer somewhere, or a traffic cam, web cam, phone cam, drone cam, and on and on.

Being a part of the internet is simply being aware of your online identity. You may not access your online banking, but it is online 24/7 whether or not you do.

Relevance and Interpretation

Three's Company CastEveryone of us can remember something different than we do now.  As a child I believed it was a perfectly innocent arrangement on Three's Company for a single man to live with two professional women.  I never caught the sexual jokes and innuendoes. I did not understand why this man would think this way toward these women and it made no sense to me in my third grade mind. I did not understand the prejudices that caused Jack Tripper to have to pretend to be gay around the landlord. I focused instead on the fact that Jack made the girls laugh, and everyone looked happy for the camera.

It was the feeling I liked when I watched the show.  Children will not be swayed toward violence by violent TV.  They may just as easily sway far away from it.

The Data Miners

The seal of the U.S. National Security Agency....
The seal of the U.S. National Security Agency. The first use was in September 1966, replacing an older seal which was used briefly. For more information, see here and here. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I used to worry about those that have access to so much data.  Working in IT I have learned that you can find anything you put into a search. The information that has to be filtered to protect our country would drive any one man insane.  You are looking for keywords that would threaten people and trying to determine the rants from real threats.  The people that are looking for this information believe they are keeping us all safe.

The problem is that we are emotional creatures,  and often people say whatever they want on the phone without discretion. People that are absolutely not a threat, and not a harm to anyone but themselves.  From time to time people will believe they have figured out why everything sucks for all of us and say things that they know are hot air, but a computer doesn't.

This is a brand new system to keep us safe, but there is no way to know for sure what would have happened without this new measure of security.

The government investigates more potential threats than you will ever be aware of. There are going to be bugs, it was made by men.  There are going to be mistakes as well, but unless it is harming humanity we would dare not judge it.

Value of Information

As a young business student I did not understand how data was worth so much money.  I couldn't make the connection at the time.

Wouldn't this picture be more valuable with additional information?
It is a mine entrance at Black Diamond Mine in the East Bay Area. 
Information is the most valuable thing we have. Information wins wars, protects lives, shines light on the guilty and spreads the justice to all.  It is the neurons of society that connect every one of us to each other. Information could make you rich, just the slightest bit applied with the right leverage.

This is how riches are gained, governments exist, and I know enough to type this article.  I learned to type because of information passed down to me through Mavis Beacon (early typing software). Prior to that I could just hunt and peck at the keyboard.  That knowledge with practice allows me to somewhat coherently make some sort of sense when I write.

Information like atomic energy can be used for great good, or it could cause chaos. It is important to know how data can be used to use it best. 

Enormous Radio Book Cover.jpg
This is the story I read.

Information Overload

In school I read a story about a woman who got a radio that picked up conversations of everyone in her apartment building.  She got curious and so involved it drove her mad. When I work in IT I purposefully ignore personal information.  I do not want to know everything about everybody.  I have to concentrate on me and those I love. There is no sense in teasing the curiosity of snooping. If you do not trust someone looking for targeted information on them will feed the distrust. It is only you that will suffer from jealousy.
Jealousy, that dragon which slays love under the pretense of keeping it alive.  ~Havelock Ellis, On Life and Sex: Essays of Love and Virtue, 1937
"If you suspect a man do not employ him, if you employ him do not suspect him." ~ Chinese Proverb

Tormenting Yourself with Information

This was my perception of this sign on the BART.
It is not hard to see how someone can easily get hooked into their own worst fears online.  Lets say you are on Youtube and are fascinated with comets.  Now you see a video that claims Comet ISON is actually going to crash into earth and kill us all. You watch that video and a series of others all with very thought out and convincing arguments.

At this point you log out of Youtube and try to get the negative crazy ideas out of your head.  The next morning when you log back in to Youtube there are now 10 more videos about comet ISON because Youtube saw you got interested in it.

Now it is three months down the road and Youtube thinks they know you.  They provide lots of sensational videos for you to look at.  Now you are sure the world is going to end so you start participating in discussions that will always lead to losing $$$.  Whether it is buying iodine tablets to survive radiation poisoning, or a donation to a nobel cause.  If you do not purchase anything you will be left to watch the propaganda over and over until you become depressed.

When you see it in your front yard that is news, when you see it online it is someones perception.

This is when you should take a look at the number of visitors your videos are getting. If there are only
30 views and it came up on your front Youtube page you will realize that you are one of the very few that watched it.  Try to break out and search for whats popular.  What do most people believe?  What do the experts think?  And ALWAYS consider the source.
Be aware of a man of one book. ~ English Proverb

Our Opinions Change With New Input

Enlightenment is knowing ourselves.. Wisdom is knowing others. 
As we grow in the way that we best benefit others we benefit ourselves.  Unless we want to live far out in the boonies in a cave, hunt for our food with stones, and rub sticks together for our heat we are going to benefit from the internet.

As we live our lives we will learn what makes us comfortable.  This will change as over time.  You may like horror movies and later on prefer thrillers. What we put into our body and mind is very important to be aware of.

Technology is advancing quickly and information can be found faster than ever.  Do not overburden yourself with information that does not pertain to you.  Concentrate on finding information relevant to you and you will find it benefits you.  Maybe not today, maybe tomorrow.