Stories about internet

Floods and selective silence in the blogosphere

As I write these lines, the latest reports put the death toll from floods at some 1,100 with 1.5 million affectees and some 100,000 plagued by diseases like cholera. Most of those affected are stranded at remote areas, away from safety, with no food or shelter or clean water and with no access to medical facilities. The waters still rage on and more villages are vulnerable to disaster, risking yet many more thousands of lives. However, I am appalled by the utterly careless, stolid response of the Pakistan media in general and the blogosphere in particular towards this issue. While ...

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The trouble with free information

Wikileaks makes over 90,000 classified US military documents public. An aspiring activist posts offensive content on Facebook. Iranians oppose broadcast of their election protests over the internet through Twitter, fuelling international outrage at the regime. What do these events have in common? These events all represent the changing face of war. For a modern state now more than ever, insecurity is going to be measured by how secure its information systems and databases are, and not just by how many troops it deploys along its borders. This new threat that governments fear is well illustrated by Julian Assange’s attack on US strategy ...

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Who remembers buying CDs?

If you got into Metal when the internet was still not widely accessible and the abomination better recognized as Justin Beiber was still being genetically engineered in a lab somewhere in Alaska, chances are, you look back fondly on the bands you discovered through 30 rupee acquisitions made at the local music shop. Bands that you have come to adore would often hide away beneath highly deceptive cover art, featuring, for instance, Lionel Richie spacing out about something or if you were really lucky, you would get the occasional scantily clad Britney Spears. As far as I can recall, these CDs ...

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Help, I’m being impersonated!

It’s been a long day at work keeping track of fake degree reports flying in. I’m sipping on Pakola trying to sustain myself in front of the computer screen, switching over to my email inbox and clicking the send/receive button like the nerd’s answer to squeezing a stress ball. Incoming mail. No, it’s not an irate writer demanding why their byline hasn’t appeared on a story. It’s something completely unexpected. It’s a follow-up comment to a post by Asif criticizing me for slamming his article on an independent blogging site. The only problem is, I have no idea who Asif is and ...

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When I was a ghost

Three years from today, if I was given a course assignment, I would log on to the internet, browse a few sites, copy, paste and get done. To copy from one source is cheating, but to copy from several sources is research. That’s how I justified it till I started academic writing – yet another unjustified endeavour. For all the academic writers (aka ghost writers) here, you know who you really are. You write papers for students from all the big universities worldwide. What the hirer calls it is ‘assisting’ the students perform better. Or is it? Here’s the rule. They ...

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PTA plans to push Pakistan to 1984

A leaked confidential draft of the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) allegedly delivered to the Lahore High Court (LHC) has suggested the implementation of a new draconian system which would greatly curtail internet freedom in the country, not unlike Big Brother from George Orwell’s ‘1984’. Needless to say, the document obtained by APCmember Bytes for All has begun to make rounds online, leaving many (including this writer) extremely worried about the possibilities of such a system being actualised. Pertinent points from the PTA draft suggestions follow: 1. The draft states that blasphemous content found online has created dismay and discomfort among the government and ...

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Internet – the final frontier!

Not so long ago, a group of smart British MPs (236 to be exact), sitting on their cushiony green benches, decided to vote on and accept the Digital Economy Bill. The bill enabled copyright holders to block a household’s internet connection for downloading copyright material without permission. Quite naturally, the “criminals” were angered. Not to worry though. Shortly thereafter a group of  smart unknown coders, possibly sitting on their not-so-cushiony chairs of unknown colour, wrote an 86-line code to make bittorrents (choice method of downloading for “criminals” all over the world) untraceable. Joy returned to the e-world and all was ...

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Banning websites: reign of the Iron Curtain

When the decision to ban Facebook was revoked by the high court, I felt relieved like most of us that finally reason had reigned supreme over religious sentimentalism. However, little did I know that this was a brief respite because yet another petition filed in the Lahore High Court may completely negate it. Banning a score of sites, including Hotmail, Yahoo, Google, Bing, YouTube and Amazon, the moral axe has yet again grinded on the pretext of blasphemous content. Without a doubt, such a ban is bound to impact millions of users across the country, positively inhibiting their online ...

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Hello [Digital] World

As we celebrate almost two decades of the internet’s presence in Pakistan, intuitively it makes sense to believe that as the consumer in Pakistan gets ‘Digital’ and the technologies mature, there would have been innovations & change of behaviors in the marketing practices of companies. Yet astonishingly despite the fact that the computing grid is now increasingly available all around us via GPRS / EDGE Services, Wireless Broadband, DSL, etc, there is still a parallel and increasingly irrelevant universe which is inhabited by marketers and their agencies still clinging on to practices & notions of a pre-digital world where even ...

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