Thursday, April 5, 2007

QotW10: My Second Life Is A Box of Chocolates

My short-lived second life wasn't all that rosy. I was excited but the technical difficulties that I faced pissed the hell off me. Everything was all fine and dandy initially. Unfortunately, the trouble started the next time I logged in.

Firstly it was the 'laggy-ness', I couldn't walk around without imitating some female bot who needed urgent oiling. Then it was the Orientation Island bit, I couldn't proceed with the tasks at all for some reason. Then the program kept hanging and crashing on me and not long after, my alter ego could walk on automation through walls and disappear into grass patches. I tried many, many times quitting and relogging and after what seemed like the 20th attempt, I gave up the stupid idea. Thereafter I terminated my account and decided to start anew. Life sucks; I experienced the same old problems with the new account! I was being teleported repeatedly to this place called Morris. I swear, that island's cursed. Second Life, do something!

It was impossible getting out of that darned place into another because Dionne (yup, we have the same name) had a fondness for going berserk. I was bewildered, depressed, and lonely.

My only friend was a purple dragon.

It didn't help that I had boobs the size of watermelons, an ass that could suffocate, and two fluffy ponytail bun-things. I was a nightmare! Finally, I came to my senses and decided to stop trying to get out. What was meant to be was meant to be. Instead, I focused my energies on being trigger-happy. I found a funny guy by the name of Kazin Klees who seemed lost. Taking advantage, I stood next to the poor thing and subjected him to endless photo taking.

I was thinking if he would ever notice me.

Oh, so he did.

Stop doing that weird para-para hand dance. Show off.

Shortly, I met another strange stranger Manon Bing who allowed me the liberty of snapping us together while she was in stone mode.


And still stoning.

I got bored waiting for her to react so I proceeded to do some more limited exploring. Thank God an angel by the name of Jeremiah Baxter gave me some freebies and clothes. Hooray!

After my extreme makeover I felt so much better. No more china doll wannabe!

The last person whom I got hold of for a snapshot turned out to be classmate Daphne's character Velvet.

What a coincidence. Finally, a friend!

And one final momento of that horrid place Morris.

(I know I know, I have trouble looking directly into the camera.)

With that I concluded my Second Life virgin experience that was full of surprises (pleasant and unpleasant). As Forrest Gump says, life is a box of chocolates; you never know what you gonna get.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

QotW9: Speak Up if You're a Citizen?

In 1994, author Catherine Lim was admonished by then PM Goh Chok Tong and challenged to enter the political arena for her commentary in a Straits Times column on a disjunct between hard-nosed government policies and the aspirations of citizens. The Government had always maintained that those who want to discuss politics should join a political society. (Koh, 2000) But this changed in the Government’s recent nod to politics in the media and their “light touch approach” to Internet regulation.

Singapore’s most well known blogger shot to higher fame with his parody that had a certain pig organ as the star. Mr Brown’s Tur Kwa podcast which poked fun at the Government’s put down of Worker’s Party candidate James Gomez for his blunder of not submitting his election forms properly and blaming it on an Elections Department official amassed a big following. This earned him a mention in PM Lee Hsien Loong’s 2006 National Day Rally speech with the infamous misquote, “Mee Siam Mai Hum”. Yet another podcast was spawned with a funny spoof from pop group The Black Eyed Peas. Although the Government made no apparent response to that issue, Mr Brown’s TODAY article in another separate incident got him fired from the newspaper. “S’poreans are fed, up with progress!” spoke about his concern on the constant price increases that came with the country’s strive for greater progress via satire. (Brown, 2006) This time, he drew flak (and blood) from the Ministry of Information, Communications, and the Arts (MICA) for “distorting the truth.” (Giam, 2006) Many expressed disappointed with the still somewhat lack of transparency towards political opinion despite the country’s willingness to open up to new media.

Then in came STOMP (Straits Times Online Mobile Print), an online portal by the Singapore Press Holdings. STOMP enables Singaporeans to interact and engage in current affairs of Singapore through the three platforms of online, mobile and print media. (STOMP, 2007) STOMP is meant to pave the way as citizen journalism takes on a whole new meaning. Citizen journalism, also known as "participatory journalism," is the act of citizens "playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information". (Citizen journalism, 2007) Personal journalism has come a long way- from whistleblowers to becoming an emergent force in society. (Gillmor, 2004) While STOMP positions itself as a medium of citizen journalism, I beg to differ. Yes, STOMP offers a variety of topics ranging from where to find the best makan to the really bizarre singlish spotted. It has the participatory elements of allowing average citizens the chance of engaging in the act of journalism and interacting with others about their ideas. But I don’t quite consider it to be pure citizen journalism because while citizen journalism has the total freedom of expression, the information that appears on STOMP is limited and regulated to a certain extent. Cherian George, a former Straits Times reporter gave his definition of citizen journalism, but added that "The potential of citizen journalism today is limited by access to information. For many aspects of life in Singapore, the authorities monopolize information and release it selectively to the accredited media. Citizen journalism has greater potential in countries with Freedom of Information Acts, empowering ordinary citizens to obtain data from the government." (Much ado about citizen journalism, 2006) I think STOMP has that potential, it has definitely encouraged more people to speak up and to contribute to the dissemination of information online. Singaporeans could perhaps be given more discussion channels on sensitive issues like politics instead of being restricted to mainstream topics already set by the editors.

While STOMP is the best form (that we can have) of citizen journalism publicly acknowledged here in Singapore, the country still has a long way to go in reaching the true spirit of citizen journalism.


Brown, M. (2006). S’poreans are fed, up with progress! Retrieved March 30, 2007, from

Citizen journalism. (2007). Retrieved March 30, 2007, from

Giam, G. (2006). Review - The politics of Singapore’s new media in 2006. Retrieved March 30, 2007, from

Gillmor, D. (2004). We the Media. Retrieved March 30, 2007, from

Koh, S. (2000). Speak up if you’re a citizen. Retrieved March 30, 2007, from

Friday, March 16, 2007

QotW7: Twitter For Twits?

I’ve always liked instant messaging. I think it’s probably the greatest thing ever to be invented (after the Internet of course). Being a fiercely loyal consumer of MSN, I was skeptical when I first signed on with Twitter. A quick exploration around the site had me clueless. The name sounded absurd, the lack of security was absurd, even the thought of me using it long-term (not just for the blog assignment) was absurd. I didn’t understand what was going on. I felt like a twit (pun intended) because all I saw was an empty page. It was only after a little trial and error and that friends started to join in I started getting the hang of it. Before I know it, I’m logging in multiple times a day. I never expected myself to get hooked. I like how it connects me to everyone at once, and that I can tell others “what I’m doing right now.” And as I dig deeper, I realize it isn’t just some useless website. It is more than that. Twitter is something that has a life of its own.

Rheingold defines virtual communities as "social aggregations that emerge from the [Internet] when enough people carry on those public discussions long enough, with sufficient human feeling, to form webs of personal relationships in cyberspace”. (Fernback & Thompson, 1995) But it does not necessarily mean that there has to be a strong bond among all the members. For example in Twitter, there is no need for one to know another personally. The adding of friends is not restricted and sorely up to the individual. Twitter to me is considered a virtual community simply because it enables people to interact with one another in the virtual world. The site allows users to send messages via the phone or instant messaging and they can receive updates from other selected users via the web, IM, or SMS. (Twitter, 2007) The term virtual community is more indicative of an assemblage of people being "virtually" a community rather than being a real community. The special thing about virtual communities like these is that despite the lack of social presence, people are still able to sustain productive and supportive relationships. (Wellman et al., 1996) Everything is text-based; what we want to say and how we want to say it is communicated through the keyboard. This works somehow even though one may not know how the other looks like.

Participating in a virtual community is not just about forging relationships. Through Twitter, users can exchange pleasantries and argue, engage in intellectual discourse, conduct commerce, exchange knowledge, share emotional support, make plans, brainstorm, gossip, feud, fall in love, find friends and lose them, play games, flirt, create a little high art and a lot of idle talk. (Fernback & Thompson, 1995) It reminds me a little of IRC (Internet Relay Chat) where information overloads because a huge bunch of people are communicating at the same time and it tends to get messy. With so many useful features available on the site, Twitter has suddenly become more instantaneous than any other IM service. I am now a humbled convert with the many other addicted converts.


Fernback, J., & Thompson, B. (May, 1995). Virtual Communities: Abort, Retry, Failure?. Retrieved March 14, 2007 from

Wellman, B., Salaff, J., Dimitrova, D., Garton, L., Gulia, M., & Haythornthwaite, C. (1996). Computer Networks As Social Networks: Collaborative Work,Telework, and Virtual Community. Annual Review of Sociology, 26: 213-238. Retrieved February 7, 2007, from

Twitter (2007). Retrieved March 14, 2007 from

Saturday, March 10, 2007

QotW6: Don't Get Caught In The Act

At “Hollywood’s most hated website”, privacy is the last thing on everyone’s mind. With paparazzi lurking at every corner hoping to get the latest and juiciest gossip, celebrities have to be on their toes all the time- even if it means having to wear underwear and not shaving your own head bald in the middle of the night. The popularity of celebrity gossip sites like Perez Hilton are fueled by the common-folk who yearn to catch a glimpse of how the stars wine, dine, party and self-destruct. Unfortunately, privacy is one privilege that the celebrities can never buy. The paparazzi will always be their shadows. Although we the mere mortals of this world do not have “stalkers” watching our every move, yet we do have our own little grudges about people invading our personal space.

The ironic thing about some bloggers is that they are exhibitionists but at the same time they want to preserve some form of privacy. They want the world to know about their existence therefore every snippet of their life is documented- what they ate (crunchy fried grasshoppers), what they did (tried a bomb experiment in the backyard), what happened (got kidnapped by a psycho), etc. They post pictures of everything- family and friends, their homes, and perhaps even naked torsos. But when they become more prolific, more bloggers find themselves having to deal with issues of privacy and liability. That’s when they start limiting access to readership to their entries. This does not apply though to the A-list bloggers who encourage voyeurism- blog-hopping to read about the happenings in the daily lives of complete strangers. They seem to encourage this by being so open with the intimate details of their lives.

Xiaxue a prominent blogger in Singapore admits regretting some of the things she’s written but she’s fine with being so transparent. “[I regret] things that affect my friend’s privacy that I didn’t really consider and then I just put it online.” But she’s never felt any invasion of privacy with so many pair of eyes reading her blog every day. “I’m ok with it. I never had issues with privacy even when I was younger. I always tell my friends everything.” (Yuen, 2005) In The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, Milan Kundera examines the phenomenon of graphomania - the pathological desire to express yourself in writing before a public of unknown readers. People are always experiencing the constant din of intimate typing; the information that they give is endless personal disclosure. (Rosen, 2004)

While I do blog, I’m neither catering to a worldwide audience nor hoping to get thousands of hits in a day. My purpose is more intimate- sharing the occurrences in my life with people I know. That said, it means people that I’ve seen and talked to face to face before and not just some complete stranger whom I know by a pseudonym. My entries are locked for friend’s eyes only. I want to keep things safely under personal boundaries; I don’t want to end up having an archive of content that can be used against me. Only when I know the audience I’m writing for I can be comfortable. I certainly don’t want my parents reading my gripes about them or having anonymous comments describing you were sighted where, when, and with whom. The thing is, voyeurism only thrives at the expense of privacy. The more people are willing to sacrifice their privacy, the more voyeurism grows. Back in 2004, Robert Steinbuch, former legal counsel for now-displaced Republican senator Mike DeWine, started an affair with a young woman in his office. The woman was intern-cum-celebrity blogger Jessica Cutler who had been detailing their sexual encounters including tidbits like Steinbuch's spanking habits and dislike of condoms, in her blog, Washingtonienne. (Lafsky, 2006) Steinbuch had to leave D.C in disgrace and he accepted a teaching job in Arkansas, leaving Washington and Jessica behind. Now that the Internet is allowing strangers to observe us even as we observe them, even ordinary citizens like us have to worry more about being caught off guard. (Rosen, 2004) At Perez Hilton, the celebrities don’t even think about escaping.


Lafsky, M. (2006). Sex, Bloggers & Privacy: Let The Lawsuits Begin. Retrieved March 10, 2007, from

Rosen, J. (2004). The Naked Crowd. Retrieved March 10, 2007, from

Yuen, Y. Y. (2005). People. Retrieved March 10, 2007, from

Thursday, February 22, 2007

QotW5: This Is Me

Identity plays a key role in virtual communities. In communication, knowing the identity of those with whom you communicate is essential for understanding and evaluating an interaction. Yet identities are also ambiguous because many of the basic cues about personality and social roles we are accustomed to in the physical world are absent. (Donath, 1996) People are free to redefine who they wish to be. In Peter Steiner's famous New Yorker cartoon, a canine computer user says, "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog." (Online identity, 2007) I can be America's Next Top Model, a TV star, a serial killer, Paris Hilton’s new BFF, anything. Genders can even be switched. How then, does one access the reliability of information and the trustworthiness of a person whom you’ve never seen? Every word and action online then adds to a reputation. People get associated offline with their online identities. The persona projected reel life is how others will perceive you to be in real life. With technology booming like no tomorrow, there are so many outlets where one can assume a virtual online identity like Internet forums, MUDs, IRC, instant messaging, MMORPGs, and social networking sites. I used to maintain a blog as an online identity. LiveJournal was where my virtual self existed.

I hopped onto the blogging bandwagon in 2004. LiveJournal (LJ) started in 1999 and is a virtual community where Internet users can keep a blog, journal, or diary. (LiveJournal, 2007) While others choose to use their real names so people will be able to tell who they are, I assumed a pseudonym (daydreamsindecember) but kept other personal information in the “User Info” page available. Each user has a "User Info" page lists of friends, interests, communities, and even schools which the user has attended in the past or is currently attending. As with any other blogging websites, I recorded personal snippets of my daily life as well as other interesting tidbits. Everything that I put online was basically “me”. I didn’t hold back any barriers when it came to showing my personality through my writing. I wanted people to be able to get to know me better even though it was only through words and pictures. Although users post extremely sensitive information ranging from “I want to kill my mother” to “I shagged David Beckham”, LiveJournal provides pretty good privacy facilities- The popular "friends only" security option hides a post from the general public so that only those on the user's friends list can read it. LiveJournal additionally has a "private" security option which allows users to make a post that only the poster can read, thus making their LiveJournal a private diary rather than a blog. (LiveJournal, 2007)

Yet despite the security measures, people still get their accounts hacked into. Jack (not his real name) is an LJ user whose account was compromised. He isn't sure how it happened, but one day he logged in and discovered a huge portion of his journal entries had been deleted. The attacker didn't stop there -- she or he also plundered his friends' "locked" entries (visible only to other friends) and reposted extremely private exchanges as public entries in Jack's journal. Although he quickly changed his password and fixed the problem, the damage was done. My friends were really upset and the bad feelings persisted," he said. (Newitz, 2003) Much of a modern person’s life is spent online nowadays. No matter how insignificant people may think their existence is, everyone is actually vulnerable to identity theft especially with so much personal information readily available. Identity theft can happen to anyone. You’ll never know if you’ll be left faceless one day. In this world where anything goes, never say never.


Donath, J. S. (1996). Identity and Deception in the Virtual Community. Retrieved February 21, 2007, from

LiveJournal. (2007). Retrieved February 21, 2007, from

Marlin, A. S. (2000). Online identity theft a growing concern. Retrieved February 21, 2007, from

Newitz, A. (2003). Defenses lacking at social network sites. Retrieved February 21, 2007, from

Online identity. (2007). Retrieved February 21, 2007, from

Saturday, February 10, 2007

QotW4: Pay It Forward


A simple sentence spurred Trevor, the 12-year-old hero of “Pay It Forward,” who thought of quite an idea. He described it to his mother and teacher this way: "You see, I do something real good for three people. And then when they ask how they can pay it back, I say they have to Pay It Forward. To three more people. Each. So nine people get helped. Then those people have to do twenty-seven." He turned on the calculator, punched in a few numbers. "Then it sort of spreads out, see. To eighty-one. Then two hundred forty-three. Then seven hundred twenty-nine. Then two thousand, one hundred eighty-seven. See how big it gets?" (Hyde,1999)

What initially began as a work of fiction by Catherine Ryan Hyde has since evolved into a real-life social movement not just in the U.S but also worldwide. The Pay It Forward Foundation was established in September 2000 by the author and others to educate and inspire students to realize that they can change the world, and provide them with opportunities to do so. It has even spawned a movie of the same name starring Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and Haley Joel Osment as the hero. Trevor completes the assignment by helping three people. In return, he asks only that each individual help three more people, and request that they do the same. Likewise, the gift economy works the same way. A gift economy is an economic system in which help and information is offered without the expectation of any direct, immediate quid-pro-quo. A gift transaction involves a diffuse and usually unstated obligation to repay the gift at some future time. Gift exchanges should not involve explicit bargaining or demands that the gift be reciprocated, but a relationship in which there is only giving and no receiving is unlikely to last. (Kollock, 1999) For instance, free help and information are given out often to complete strangers whom one may never meet again. This is in contrast with the market economy where individuals in commodity transactions are self-interested, independent actors. No obligation exists after each exchange is consummated – the bottle of water purchased at a convenience store does not create an obligation to buy something there again. Commodities are not unique and derive no special value having been acquired from person X rather than person Y – a pound of flour is a pound of flour is a pound of flour when purchased at a supermarket. (Kollock, 1999)

Gift giving has come a long way since historic times. Lewis Hyde locates the origin of gift economies in the sharing of food, citing for example the Trobriand Islander protocol of referring to a gift in the Kula exchange as "some food we could not eat," when it is not food at all, but an armband or shell necklace made for the explicit purpose of passing as a gift. Today, the modern world has its own variations of the gift economy in the form of organ donations, blood banks, freeware communities, and free education, etc. (Gift economy, 2007) The Internet itself has developed several gift economies. A virtual community is one such economy that engages in open information exchange. I have been a proud member of one of them since the year 2005. Soompi Forums at is a Korean community that invites members to talk about anything and everything under the sun. Although gift giving in online communities are often in the form of opinions and information, the main draw of this community is the exclusive downloads of drama and music files. Drama and music lovers are able to get their hands on the latest in lighting speed. I for one am an avid fan of weepy Korean melodramas. Thanks to a team of dedicated members, it is possible to catch each drama episode just 24 hours after it has been broadcasted in Korea. Not only are they in high-definition quality, but also contain Chinese subtitles painstakingly translated and embedded. However no matter much effort is put in, the forum moderators and administrators do not require any fee to be paid to them, unlike some other forum boards that request “donations” for up-keeping. Other types of dramas (Chinese, Japanese, English) and music are also freely shared. While users are expected to be contributors of any kind and pay the favor forward, it is really their own free will whether they want to volunteer or not. Simple to say, once something is freely posted online it benefits recipients but generates no obvious reward to the providers of the information, beyond the intrinsic satisfaction that comes with contributing to the common good. (Lampel & Bhalla, 2007)

Nevertheless, giving is always easier than taking. Giving gives joy. And that may be the reason as to why many are so driven by their passion in investing so much time and effort on something that ultimately does not benefit them. As Trevor says, “Pay it forward!”


Gift economy. (2007). Retrieved from February 8, 2007, from

Hyde, C. R. (1999). Pay It Forward. Retrieved from February 8, 2007, from

Lampel, J., and Bhalla, A. (2007). The role of status seeking in online communities: Giving the gift of experience. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12(2), article 5.

Kollock, P. (1999). The Economies of Online Cooperation: Gifts and Public Goods in Cyberspace. Retrieved from February 8, 2007, from

Saturday, February 3, 2007

QotW3: How to Make People Happy

As China tries to curb audio-visual piracy across the country, 2611 piracy cases worth 2.06 billion yuan in the audio-visual market have been uncovered and there are estimated financial losses of 990 million yuan. (China continues effort to curb online piracy cases, 2006) In Singapore, police arrested three people, including a student, in the city-state's first online music piracy case. The unnamed trio are alleged to have at least 20,000 MP3 music files "intended for distribution" on their computers. They could be jailed for up to 5 years and fined $SGD100,000. It was not immediately clear when they would be charged. (Singapore arrests three for music piracy, 2005) File sharing, for instance, is now one of the most common online activities. More than 60 million Americans have downloaded music and the number of file sharers continues to grow rapidly. (Oberholzer-Gee & Strumpf, 2005)People do not need to pay to listen to music anymore; music can be freely downloaded over the Internet. On one hand, the public are more than happy. On the other, content creators are enraged. Unfortunately, as information technology takes over the world, piracy will always be here to stay. The question is- Will this tension between them ever work out? Is there any possibility of reaching a compromise?

It is difficult to deny that the advantages of piracy are attractive. Back in the early days, computer programs were very small and the means of transfer was slow. Now with the vast increase of program size, the method of data transfer has evolved from computer disks holding 0.360 MB to recordable CDs holding 8oo MB or even more. The ways of transferring information have gone from giving your friend a disk with software, to local bulletin board systems, to the globe spanning Internet. Rising costs of software, and increases in technology have also made piracy more appealing. Methods have been developed so you can fit hours of music onto a single CD, play your favorite video and arcade games on your computer and watch DVD-version movies. Why pay so much money for a program when you can download it for free in just a couple of hours? Why should you buy a music CD with 10 songs, when you can have one with 10 of your favorite songs from the artistes you choose, for free? And how would you afford paying hundreds for a legitimate video game when you’re still a student? The affordability and sheer convenience are just among other factors that give people more reason than ever to practice piracy.

What has been done to stop piracy and help the content creators? Desperate measures have been imposed in a bid to protect their interests and stop the industries from being destroyed. Associations and campaigns try to educate the public and gain awareness. People have been arrested and charged. Copyright infringement laws give copyright ownership to the authors. Yet as far as copyright laws are concerned, they are enforced to ultimately benefit the public by promoting “the progress of science and useful arts;” that is, learning and knowledge. The means of this promotion is in the creation of laws that give creators exclusive rights to their creations for a limited time. Creators can benefit financially from their creations, which should give them an incentive to continue creating. Copyright law is intended to proscribe a balance between the interests of the authors and the interests of the general public. (Ovalle, 2005). Content creators and developers have suffered and will continue to suffer great financial losses.

Because there are so many people working in the shadows of the Internet, it is almost impossible to eradicate piracy totally. According to Joe Fleischer, co-founder of BigChampagne an online media tracking service, "What everyone forgets is that the Internet was designed to facilitate file transfers. It's completely agnostic." (Brown, 2005) There is also the temptation to make money by selling illegal programs. All one needs to become a pirate is a CD burner, which now costs very little, and the pirate's computer can become a virtual cash cow. How can piracy be killed when it’s being indirectly encouraged with the constant expansion of bigger and better technology? Look at the various MP3 players and iPods. Doug Morris, the CEO of the Universal Music Group, justified it quite succinctly: “These devices are just repositories for stolen music, and they all know it,” he said. In the music scene, record labels have been arguing for quite a while that they should be “paid for it”–specifically, trying to get Apple to pay them royalties on every iPod as reparations for all that stolen music that would be played on the devices. Microsoft currently pays Universal a dollar for each Zune device sold. It may not seem like a practical strategy in the long-term. Even if Apple had paid Universal a dollar for each iPod sold, that would only be 80 million. That would be less what Universal is making from royalties on iTunes songs. (Apple has sold maybe 1.5 billion songs. Universal has a quarter of the market–that’s 375 million songs, with about 70 cents royalties on each–$262 million and rising fast.) (Levy, 2006) But, this solution of paying royalties is one probable way that would appease both the content creators and public because whatever that they’ll be earning is “better than nothing”. Laws will never catch up with technology. You can catch one, but you can’t catch all. In my opinion, a move like this will help more rather than hurt. After all, technology and copyright issues has always been some sort of an oxymoron that blurs the line between both parties.


Brown, S. (2005). Why File-Sharing Piracy Will Never Die. Retrieved on February 2, 2007, from

Felix Oberholzer-Gee, K. S. (2005). The Effect of File Sharing on Record Sales. Retrieved on February 2, 2007, from

Levy, S. (2006). A Universally Bad Idea. Retrieved February 2, 2007, from

Ovalle, C. (2005). What is Copyright? Retrieved on February 2, 2007, from

People’s Daily Online. (2006). China continues effort to curb online piracy cases. Retrieved on February 2, 2007, from

The Sydney Morning Herald. (2005). Singapore arrests three for music piracy. Retrieved on February 2, 2007, from

Friday, January 26, 2007

COM125 Week2: You've Got Mail

The communication world kick-started with little forms of sending messages that they had over great distances- homing pigeons, smoke signals, the Morse code, and telegrams. However as the world modernized, communication had to progress to cope with the developing demands of a new era. Snail mail made things a little easier but it wasn’t enough. The breakthrough in technology came when the electronic mail was born. As contrary to popular beliefs, email predates the Internet; existing email systems were a crucial tool in creating the Internet as early as 1961. (E-mail, 2006) Practical implementations of the World Wide Web began only during the late 1960’s and 1970’s. (History of the Internet, 2006) Electronic mail started off being a file directory. It works by putting a message in another user's directory in a place where they could see it when they logged in. (The History of Email, 2004) Unfortunately, email could only be used to send messages to various users of the same computer. Then in 1972, Ray Tomlinson who worked for Bolt Beranek and Newman as an ARPANET contractor chose the "@" symbol to combine the user and host names, thus coming up with the notation "user@host'. (Email History, 2000) Messages could now be sent from one computer to another.

The 1998 romantic comedy, “You've Got Mail” distinctly opens with Meg Ryan's Kathleen Kelly and Tom Hank's Joe Fox zooming in on their laptops, logging into AOL, and anticipating the words, "You've got mail" eagerly once their partners leave for work. This demonstrates the influence that email has over people; their uncontrollable need to check their mails first thing in the morning above anything else. Although real time communication has become more popular, the email’s humble beginnings have played a part in the development of the Internet. After Tomlinson’s invention, only computers that were networked could use email. That is why only businesses had email because home computers didn’t exist until the early 1980’s. That was before the Internet, so the only way home computers could send email was by dialing into the same large computer and swapping messages. (Email, 2004) This in turn spurred the development of the Internet to allow home computers to be networked in order to connect people from all geographical locations. Email took us from ARPANET to the Internet. Individuals can be virtually connected to everyone via private email or public real-time chat. Together with the World Wide Web, email started to be made available with free web clients by providers such as Hotmail, Yahoo, and Gmail. That's the email that all are familiar with today. In fact, the word “email” has become synonymous with the Internet.

The evolution of the electronic mail has brought people beyond the initial requirements of maintaining a network. It has become such an important tool in the I.T world that its uses are often exploited. Certain companies who think that they can use the Internet as an advertisement opportunity abuse the use of email by sending unsolicited mail known as spam. Yes, compared to the new and better technologies like instant messaging, email is inefficient; it’s chaotic and pretty much out of date. Yet, in spite of these shortcomings, one can assume with confidence that email is still the preferred method of collaborating and sharing information with others. Statistics show an estimated amount between 32 and 62 billion emails are sent around the world each day. (Ask Yahoo, 2006) Email is almost universal. Everyone has it and everyone uses it. While instant messaging is a rage with young people nowadays, the older generation is less likely to know how to use it unlike email. Also, it is accessible everywhere as long as the Internet is around. You can send an email to a Mac, Windows, UNIX box, cellphone, etc. and still be able to read it. In addition, companies are more liable to use email in the office to reach out to its employees rather than instant messaging that is often restricted. Email is and will continue to be a primary means of communication around the work place.

It does not matter that more people are leaning towards real time online communication. Email remains as the most important application of the Internet and the most widely used facility it has. It may not remain as the best in the future but as far as many are concerned, email is probably the best thing that has happened to the evolution of the Internet.


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Clayton. (2004). Email. Retrieved January 26, 2006, from

Crocker, D. (2000). Email History. Retrieved January 26, 2006, from

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Name Game

Hello, my name's Dionne. First thing's first- I'm neither a Dianne nor a Dionna. And most definitely not a Dionnee. After 21 years when I have been everything from a Celine Dion, a Dino, a Donnie to even a Donut, I sometimes wonder: why couldn't a kid be given a plebian name? No. The mother had to name me something which came short of sounding like a tongue twister. At age 6 the constant mispronunciations since I popped (no kidding!) became the bane of my life. I constantly had to keep correcting people that it's "Dee-Yawn" not "Dee-Oh-Nee" or "Dee-Oh-Na". Some just didn't get it. Once I had the psychology lecturer spelling my name out because she gave up on my name. How wonderful. It was only after a quick check in a baby book that I found myself to be the "divine greek goddess of love". From then on, I felt better somehow. I have come to love both my identity and myself more. I don't really bother trying to correct people anymore and have learnt to take things in good stride. In fact, I'm a tad grateful. Can you imagine being Julia Robert's son Phinnaeus instead? I mean, come on! The name when correctly said practically sounds like a certain male anatomy part. Poor poor boy.