In a cavernous facility at Birmingham City University in the U.K., the Internet is not so much a grand idea as it is a great machine. And as a machine—as a beast that hulks and hums and whines and whirs—the Internet is loud. It emits a noise that manages to be low-pitched and high at the same time.
As Slate’s Lily Hay Newman points out, that noise can be extremely grating to the workers who are forced to endure it every day. The Internet’s data centers are both ”LOUD and COLD,” one of those workers put it on a messaging board. As another wrote on a Quora thread, ”Think of the sound from the fan on your computer. Multiply that by 20 times or more. Think what thousands of those all going at once would sound like.”
But what does that actually sound like? How do you hear the cloud? The sound artist Matt Parker has been, on behalf of the rest of us, finding out. Parker has been touring data centers—the physical grounds of the ephemeral cloud—and recording the results, painstakingly compiling a collection of the audible Internet. He has also been converting the raw recordings of those data centers into sound compositions that are equal parts haunting an ethereal—musical renderings of the great churn of an Internet whose workings are otherwise silent to us.
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If net neutrality is so important, why is it so controversial? It’s complicated.
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It would create a national behemoth out of two already-maligned companies. Then again, it’s hard to make the anti-trust case if the cable providers barely compete for any customers.
The Internet is, on top of everything else, a word generator of unparalleled proportions. As a platform for expression, the thing has provided us with an explosion of new terms—and, with them, new conundrums. There are the old classics (“Web” or “web”? “Wi-Fi” or “wifi”? "email" or "e-mail"?), but there are also the newer quandaries ("unfriend" or "un-friend"? "tweet" or "Tweet"? "LOL" or "lol" or "lolllllllllllllll"?).
On the one hand, these need not be pressing problems; one of the joys of Internet writing is its freeing of the writer to find his or her unique style. So go ahead, fellow Internet user—make up some words! Abbreviate some existing ones! Portmanteau things up, winventively and tweeatively!
On the other hand, sometimes even the uniquest most unique quirkiest Internet writer wants some standardization. Sometimes you want some rules that aren’t entirely diy DIY. Sometimes, personal style just wants some collective guidance.
Should you seek that help, it is now here.
Major tech and telecommunications companies are answering the president’s call to connect 99 percent of U.S. schools with high-speed Internet within the next five years by pledging more than $750 million in donations.
President Obama will announce Tuesday that Apple, Microsoft, Sprint, and Verizon are just a handful of the private companies contributing over $750 million worth of services and funds to schools through the White House’s ConnectED initiative.
Apple will pledge more than $100 million in iPads, MacBooks, and other services. Microsoft will make 12 million copies of its signature Office suite available at no cost. Sprint will provide wireless Internet to 50,000 low-income students, and AT&T and Verizon are both committing $100 million to the initiative.
Read more. [Image: Ben Margot/AP Photo]
Jamaica’s underfunded underdogs are going back to the Olympics—and this time their trip is backed not by wealthy businessmen but by a legion of generous Internet fans.
Bobsled driver Winston Watts and brakeman Marvin Dixon qualified for the Sochi Games, but their entry was in jeopardy after they came up $80,000 short of the funding needed to make the trip.
Enter the Internet.
Crowdfunding sites Crowdtilt and Indiegogo took up the Jamaicans’ cause, hauling in six figures in just two days from donors around the world (the original fundraising deadline was nine days). “The outpouring of support at the grassroots level through crowdfunding sites was tremendous and humbling,” said Chris Stokes, a member of the 1988 team that inspired the movie Cool Runnings and the current head of the Jamaica Bobsleigh Federation.
Read more. [Image: Photo: Robert Laberge/Getty Images; National Journal illustration]
It’s not hard to see why the Internet would be a good cave for a narcissist to burrow into. Generally speaking, they prefer shallow relationships (preferably one-way, with the arrow pointing toward themselves), and need outside sources to maintain their inflated but delicate egos. So, a shallow cave that you can get into, but not out of. The Internet offers both a vast potential audience, and the possibility for anonymity, and if not anonymity, then a carefully curated veneer of self that you can attach your name to.
In 1987, the psychologists Hazel Markus and Paula Nurius claimed that a person has two selves: the “now self” and the “possible self.” The Internet allows a person to become her “possible self,” or at least present a version of herself that is closer to it.
When it comes to studies of online narcissism, and there have been many, social media dominates the discussion. One 2010 study notes that the emergence of the possible self “is most pronounced in anonymous online worlds, where accountability is lacking and the ‘true’ self can come out of hiding.” But non-anonymous social networks like Facebook, which this study was analyzing, “provide an ideal environment for the expression of the ‘hoped-for possible self,’ a subgroup of the possible-self. This state emphasizes realistic socially desirable identities an individual would like to establish given the right circumstances.”
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Over the past few years, seven people have been so dissatisfied with the service they received from Hadeed Carpet Cleaning of Alexandria, Virginia, that they took to Yelp to air the details of their dissatisfaction. They, like so many unhappy customers since Yelp launched in 2004, did so under pseudonym.
The right to complain—anonymously or not—is a right that Americans enjoy (and they do seem to enjoy it). But such complaints, in order to receive legal protection, must be factually true. “There is no constitutional value in false statements of fact,” the Court has held.
Read more. [Image: Yelp.com]
People shared some version of the “no one should” meme more than a million times—and as they did, they changed it.