Tag Archives: internet

RIP: Denis Dutton, “creator of complicated fictions”

As another year approaches its sad end, Professor Dennis Dutton, who created “complicated fiction” (as seen doing so in front of a live audience in the clip below) by combining art and literature with science and skepticism, and curated digital streams of works from across these creative realms for our perusal at the Arts & Letters Daily from the earliest days of the WWW, has died. Read this tribute, watch his funny appearance with that living work of art Stephen Colbert below, and pick up his book (at a bargain price) about how art may be a tool for propagating our species. Whether you agree with the evolutionary psychology aspects of that argument or not, the man gave us plenty to think about. RIP.

Good to be back in the land of 4 bars… or is it?

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Not that we did any fishing. But, as you may know, I’ve spent most of the past 2.5 weeks in places with no bars at all, let alone 3G coverage! And it was the most fun, relaxed, refreshing perambulation (if one can use that word for a road trip) of the erstwhile Wild West I’ve ever been able to do with the family. Our first real vacation in years! So, no, I did not miss being offline and off the net at all – and am glad to have reaffirmed (not that I had any doubts even if you might have) that we haven’t become so hopelessly addicted to the web as to be unable to enjoy being away from it.

And what a vacation it was indeed – as you might know if you’ve been following the occasional tweet/facebook update from me whenever we happened to be in wifi zone. I will share some of the gazillion pictures I took (bless digital photography!) of some remarkable places and creatures via and here over the next few days/weeks as and when I manage to do so (curse digital photography! now I’ve got to sort through/process these gazillion images?!). Watch this space…

Infographics on the progressive (regressive?) loss of privacy and control on Facebook

Even as Facebook has become the 800-pound gorilla dominating the social networking aspects of the internet, and takes up more and more of our social mindspace (I find myself using it a fair bit on a daily basis for academic and personal networking, and to share my blog writing; chances are, you’re reading this because you found it on my Fb wall!), its gradual overreach to grab for our personal information for commercial purposes has set alarm bells ringing all over the net. If you are a Facebook user, but haven’t been paying attention, better sit up and take notice – for it is your information that they are hoping to profit from! The growing outrage and concern has also inspired infographic artists to find creative ways to visualize what Facebook has done as you can see from the two examples below.

Matt McKeon brings us this clever interactive infographic depicting how Facebook has gradually expanded the domain over which all of our information is shared by default! Click through to the original website for the interactive experience of the timeline from 2005-2010.

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If that alarms you, but not enough to scare you off Facebook entirely, you might want to secure your info by tightening up your profile settings and battening the hatches down from the wide-open defaults, for they do claim to allow you control over what is shared with whom and when. But have you tried looking into the settings to shut these leaks? As this NYT infographic shows, they’ve made the settings a rabbit’s warren as well, even as their privacy policy itself has become more byzantine than the original US constitution! Yep, the whole US constitution took up less words than Fb’s latest privacy policy!! So can you navigate your way through this, to secure your info?

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And here’s how the privacy policy has grown, 5-fold, over the same 5-year period!

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Feel all safe and secure now, as far as your information is concerned?