Monday, March 7, 2016

News Briefs 3.7.16

It's Different but Close Enough

Recently a website was created attempting to emulate what it's like to read when you have dyslexia. Created by Victor Widell after talking to a friend, the website takes an excerpt from Wikipedia and constantly moves the letters around as you try to read it. In fact everything on the page, minus the comment section, moves. From the title to the tags and even the page navigation, everything on the site changes, making it harder to read.

Now this isn't exactly an emulation of the experience of all people who have dyslexia, especially since dyslexia is really an umbrella term for disabilities related to a difficulty in reading and learning ability. Everyone's experience with dyslexia is different. Also, since more than likely you'll be reading this as a learned adult, it'll be a lot easier for you to read. Remember this is a learning disability as much as it is a reading one. There are many other things to consider when taking on this experience, so I encourage you along with trying to read the page, read the comments and see what people have to say about their own experiences because you can learn a lot more than what the page can show you. Here's the link.


                                                                  The Power of the Hashtag

I don't know when it happened but it did. The pound sign became important. It became so important that it lost its name and now its no longer the pound sign. You may remember it as the thing you had to hit when voting for your favorite American Idol contestant way back in Season 1. You might also remember it as the abbreviation for number, as in Symphony #5. However, with the emergence of Twitter and other social media outlets circa 2009, we have come to know this slanted tic tac toe board as The Hashtag.

Here's what's great about The Hashtag:
It allows you to look up certain events, movements, and people across multiple platforms.

Here's what's scary about The Hashtag:
It allows you to look up certain events, movements, and people across multiple platforms. 

Public profiles are free game. 

Allow me to elaborate:
The Hashtag (which I am consciously treating as a title because it is that big) allows for an exponential amount of freedom which is both frightening and beautiful.  

"Fun Day at the #Beach"

The picture or status you've just uploaded is now available to anyone who searches 'beach.' Cool right? Yeah. Kind of. Sometimes. Not really.  I'd like to think that this is more harmless and convenient than creepy but if sci-fi has taught us anything, it's that 'harmless' and 'convenient' usually mean AI's destroying the world.

Just kidding.

The Hashtag has done some good too. Its been a major influence in social movements around the world like, but not limited to, the #BlackLivesMatter movement, #ALSIceBucketChallenge, #NaNoWriMo, and more, allowing people all over the world to connect and explore common interest through just a few key words.

"But remember with great power comes great responsibility so tag your things responsibly"
--Spiderman and Hillary Clinton, both said this.


Ray Tomlinson Passes @ 74

For those who may have never heard of Ray Tomlinson, there are a few interesting things you should know about this quiet legend.

Known as “one of the early ARPAnet pioneers”, this is the man who is credited in many ways as being the inventor of the email.

A graduate of both Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1963 and Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1965 with a master's in electrical engineering, Tomlinson left impacts at engineering firm Bolt Beranek and Newman (BBN) and in his studies of speech synthesis. Sadly, he passed on Saturday, March 4, 2016 due to a suspected heart attack.

Tomlinson is credited for leading the construction of what we now know as the standard email format, including the from, subject and date fields found in every single one of our endless supply of emails – from acceptance letters to Seamless spamming our accounts. His biggest known accomplishment however, is something I personally find neat - he was the one who chose the @ symbol to indicate where an email should be sent. The @ symbol distinctly shows which network every piece of mail is virtually sent, and has become such a regular part of every day life for at least the last fifteen years, if not more, that like many small ideas I have never thought to question that someone might have originally had to come up with it.

I love stuff like this. This man is not some paraded hero, nor do we know much about him. According to this attached PDF, his  fellow BBN employees have many fond memories with him, and both his social impact and worth ethic are definitely to be admired. 

But in a roundabout way, knowingly or not, he has left a tiny yet almost incredibly universal impact for years to come. Almost everyone has an email, some have many, and his little @ attachment that is glued to everyone lets his one small idea live long after him, seeping its way into billions of lives.

Call me a sap, but I’d like to think that this actually means something. That there are millions of tiny, yet universal, impacts that we can all make with nothing but a simple idea. As a closing thought of celebration, Tomlinson was inducted into the internet Hall of Fame in 2012. 

RIP Ray Tomlinson. Thanks for letting us know where its @.

Stay golden all,

1 comment:

  1. hashtags are important especially for the way they have helped mobilize social movements, dyslexia is a painful disability to live with and that page definitely proved it so thanks for sharing this. Never heard of Tomlinson but thanks for informing us.