The Post-truth Yellow Effect

Remember the game Chinese Whisper, aka broken telephone? It’s a game popular amongst school children where they form a line and pass a phrase to the last person in the line who then expose the phrase. Usually, the phrase distorts into a misleading jumble of words. Well, take that and turn it into the phenomena called as the Fake News.

Broadly, fake news circulated through social media is categorized as fallacious information with aggrandized headlines or a mix of true events and incorrect facts.

There is a sudden brouhaha about the perilous nature of fake news, especially after November 8th when Donald Trump became the 45th President of America. This stunning revelation is unbelievable but the notion of fake news is not. Also Known as News Satire, there are numerous genuine fake news websites and magazines meant as a parody for entertaining the people. But recently, the mainstream media is inundated with the Facebook, Twitter, and Google being demonized for the algorithm-based dissemination of fake news. This creates the problem of segregating facts from fiction.

However, the United States of America is not new to the fake news phenomena.

What started as a rivalry between two leading New York newspaper publisher, Joseph Pulitzer, and William Randolph Hearst, resulted in a term known as Yellow Journalism. The Yellow journalism in the late 19th century was an era of sensational, scandal-mongering and unethical publishing of news to increase the circulation of newspapers and readership. The term Yellow journalism was derived from the cartoon character “the yellow kid” illustrated by the cartoonist Richard F. Outcault.

Though sensationalized and fake news has a history since 1790’s, the few involved in the fake news phenomenon in social media today call themselves the new yellow journalists.

Pulitzer’s newspaper the New York World had gained popularity because of the yellow cartoon strips, but when Hearst entered the publishing business with his New York Journal, he enticed Outcault with greater pay. This turning point intensified the competition between the two major newspapers. However, the main game changer was the Spanish-American War in 1898. Yellow journalism acted as a catalyst in the conflict between Spain and America. America soon became involved in the cause of Cuban struggle for independence as the major newspapers covered fabricated stories to foment sympathy for the Cuban rebels.

By this time Hearst and Pulitzer had garnered popularity, fame, and money. Their thriving business got another boost with the sinking of Maine, a US battleship in Havana harbor. The competition that was soon taken over by Hearst’s New York Journal published rumors of Spanish hand in the incident. The exaggerated false claims eventually led to the war.

It is hard to deny that social media has come to play a greater role in our lives. According to the website The Statistical Portal, Facebook is the most popular social network worldwide with 1.79 billion monthly active users. Lately, these alleged yellow journalists ran sites like Lifezette, LibertyWritersNews.com, Conservative Tribune and others on Facebook.

With unbound information just one click away, it is not lack of knowledge but the lack of informed knowledge that needs consideration. The generation of “like, share and comment” typically prefers to read their daily news on social media. But instead of challenging the biases of people by providing different perspectives on similar issues, the social media news feed are designed to produce what people would want to see based on their opinions. Although Facebook and Google have employed measures to check misleading news, it is indispensable to discern between real and fake news. The only way is to review the news from credible sources.

“All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them” ~Galileo Galilei.

IoT’s LaLa land

The Internet of Things is changing the way we live- One Device at A Time.

Swati Sudhakaran@TheMindMap

Technology and magic are similar in a lot of ways. Not a whole lot of people understand them but most people are amazed by what they manage to achieve.

But people wish upon technology or magic to make life easier for them and that’s exactly what the ‘Internet of Things’ aims on doing. The phenomenon of the Internet of Things is already here but a massive paradigm shift in the way we live is about to hit us in less than a decade. Are we ready?

What is IoT ?

The Internet of Things lives by the rule that everything that can be connected, should be connected; from pace-makers, automobiles, alarm clocks to one’s toasters.

But IoT is much more than the hardware- the beacons, wearables, connected machinery and infrastructure; and the software- cloud, protocols, augmented reality, that facilitate its functioning. It’s the ability to add a sensor and connectivity and hence attach a data stream to any object, systems or a network of systems.

 

In healthcare industry, for example, insulin pumps and blood-pressure cuffs that connect to a mobile app can enable people to record, track, and monitor their own vital signs, without having to go to a doctor’s office. IoT encourages people into healthcare and engages them into self-monitoring and regulation which leads to better disease management and substantial financial savings for the patient.

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Ultimately, the user wants to automate his environment according to his adjusted settings that allow maximum productivity to get work done without his intervention. This stands to be the main idea behind a lot of the new ‘smart’ devices and infrastructure around us today.

IoT In India

  • With the major themes this year being Smart Cities, Smart Classes, Smart Homes, ubiquitous broadband etc., IoT was bound to gain traction.
  • The entire market of IoT is expected to grow to $15 billion by the year 2020 from the present $5.6 billion due to the push from the industrial IoT sector, as reported by NASSCOM.
  • CISCO Investments has already backed a lot of IoT accelerators and startups like Ayla Networks and EVRYTHNG.
  • Bolt, a start-up based in Goa, enables enterprises to build scalable IoT products in just a day’s time. It is basically connecting users to the IoT platform providing both the hardware and the cloud services. They help firms create personalized dashboards to visualize data, monitor device health, send text alerts etc. In all developers just have to focus on the end product, leaving visualization, analytics, network connectivity, storage and scalability to Bolt.
  • One of the biggest boons of IoT in India is energy conservation and its implementation in agriculture. SmartAgri built by scientists at CERN allows farmers to get colour coded messages via the cloud on their mobiles regarding moisture content, pH levels and mineral content in the soil.

 

Control, Privacy and Security

We have to be ready for a flood of data and services to take over life as we know it. At the foundational core of the IoT is the embedding processes which are going to be pervasive and so ensuring that they are secure will be one of our top priorities in the future.

Up until the age of IoT, our relationship with the Internet was autonomous, consensual and optional. It revolved around us switching on and off our smartphones, laptops and iPads at our will and walking away from the cloud( as much as we could). Adding sensors to ‘things’ also puts them into a zone of vulnerability where they are prone to getting hacked. A team of researchers at Microsoft and the University of Michigan recently found a plethora of holes in the security of Samsung’s SmartThings smart home platform, and the methods were far from complex.

Control of ownership when it comes to data is complex. With sensors now tracking our actions on the devices connected, they monitor and rate the level of control we exert and also cause changes in the nature of our relationship with the device.

The 2015 Icontrol State of the Smart Home study found that 44% of all Americans were “very concerned” about the possibility of their information getting stolen from their smart homes, and 27% were “somewhat concerned.”

IoTs will leave us wanting a more protected environment but getting a full-proof immunity may well be impossible given the penetration of IoT in the near future.

IoT is on the prowl to disrupt and revolutionalise life at work and at home to connect devices rather than individuals, at a larger platform.