Aug 14 2009

Dependencies – A new one

Jamie Barrows

New iPhone
A few years ago I wrote a post on here about modern dependencies. In that post, I was referring to Internet access and how dependent I had become. And now I have yet another dependency that crept up on me when I wasn’t looking. And annoyingly it is one I should have seen coming. Especially since it is related to my previously mentioned Internet dependency.

I’m talking about my iPhone. Specifically the always on internet connectivity and email it gives me. So I guess the dependency is really a mobile internet dependency. The actual phone is not really the issue. Most likely any halfway decent smartphone would fill my new need. It just happens to be that the smartphone I have is an iPhone.

As with the Internet dependency, I feel cut off when I can’t get a decent connection. And old non-smartphones, that I previously would have been perfectly satisfied with, now feel excessively limited. All of the information and communication advantages of the Internet are now with me 24/7. And I’ve become used to having them around me all the time.

What brought this realization on, was buying a new phone for my wife. We went to the store and picked out a phone that was well rated and had a great looking design. It wasn’t a smartphone, but it was a highly advanced text messaging phone with a full keyboard and a touch screen. Just a few years ago I would have loved the phone. But my standards have changed since then, and what I expect from a phone is very different from what I expected then. So when we got it home, and started actually using it, we found it to be frustratingly limited. It had all the technical specs of a smartphone, and yet it had a crippled non-smartphone OS. Email was clunky, web browsing was limited, and there were no applications except the standard ones that were built into the phone. It just felt too limited. And that is when I realized that I could never go back to a “normal” phone.

The end result was that after keeping the phone for a week, we took it back and got a smartphone. And we are much happier than we ever were with the other phone.

Jun 17 2009

The power of the social web

Jamie Barrows

I already posted this video in my twitter feed, but in light of the current happenings in Iran, I thought I would post it here as well. That way if you missed it in my twitter feed or if you don’t follow me on twitter you will still see it.
Watch this and you should get a better understanding of how powerful and revolutionary the social web (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Etc.) actually is.

This video really highlights why the social web is so disruptive and game changing for both governments and traditional news. The amazing thing is that you can see it happening right now with the Iran situation. If you really want to know what is going on in Iran, your best source for news is Twitter. And that news isn’t being generated by governments or by news organizations. It’s being generated by individuals who are directly involved.

Mar 10 2009

Finding things Out

Jamie Barrows


I find that a great part of the information I have was acquired by looking up something and finding something else on the way.
Franklin P. Adams

Read the above quote the other day and thought it was particularly true in the Internet Age. How often do you go online to find a bit of info, only to learn 10 different things that you weren’t even looking for?

I know it works that way for me.

Feb 3 2009

Privacy and the Inadvertent me

Jamie Barrows

I’m not sure if I mentioned this before or not. At least I’m not sure if I mentioned it on this blog. But even if I have mentioned it before, it still bears repeating. Anything you put online may come back to haunt you some day in the future. So be careful what you post or say in forums and on blogs like this one.

What brought this topic to mind for me was a blog post I read on the Freedom To Tinker blog, called Satyam and the Inadvertent Web. Basically it’s the story of how a group of pictures taken and uploaded to Flickr several years ago, suddenly became highly relevant when Satyam became news worthy.

The pictures were taken by someone with no real connection to the company other than visiting it on a trip to India. They sat on Flickr for years and lived in obscurity all that time. Then Satyam got in the news for one of the biggest financial coverups of the Indian high tech industry. Suddenly, they were being referenced and viewed regularly. Suddenly those photos became a very large part of who the photographer is online.

The point is, whatever you say online. Whether on an obscure blog like mine, or on a major traffic destination, could become a big part of who you are and how you are perceived when people do a search for you.

People search engines are becoming better and better at finding all the bits and pieces of yourself that are scattered all over the web and aggregating them into a clear picture of you. Don’t believe me? Do a search for your name on Google and see what comes back. Probably more than you would expect. And Google doesn’t even specialize in people searches. If you do a search on a people specific search engine like Pipl.com. You will be amazed at what it can find about you. All those little comments, pictures, and even government records get matched up to your name. It can often even match up nicknames and pseudonyms that you have used in the past.

Those little tiny pieces of you that are scattered all over the web may lie in obscurity and be hardly noticed for years, and then a current news story can easily bring them to the forefront. Suddenly that comment or picture you posted years ago, is on the first page of a Google search for you. And what’s worse, is that you can’t ever really get rid of info once it is online.

It’s not like having an embarrassing conversation with someone or saying something stupid. Those things are easily forgotten once the conversation is over. Comments, blog posts, pictures, and social networking profiles can stick around forever once they are online. Even going back and deleting them (assuming you can) doesn’t really make them go away. They will still be in caches and archives all over the web. And it’s getting easier and easier to find that info if you are looking for it.

I’m not writing this to scare you off from commenting in forums or on blogs. And I’m not saying you shouldn’t have your own blog or facebook/myspace account. All I’m saying, is that you really should think very carefully before posting anything online. You should carefully consider your words before whipping out a comment on a blog or forum. Because you never know when that little piece of you might become a BIG piece of you.

Jan 20 2009

No Internet!

Jamie Barrows


Click image to see full size

Jul 25 2008


Jamie Barrows

Well, now that I’m back in the US, I’m having to readjust to the “always on” life that I had before going overseas. And it’s becoming a bit of an effort to keep up. I’m actually not sure how I did it before. And even worse, my current volume of mail and phone calls is actually lower than normal. So I know that as I get back into the swing of things, the amount of things needing my attention will increase.

Don’t get me wrong, I like being connected all the time. But after being away from it all for a while, I can understand how people get overwhelmed by it all. And why they want to turn off their phones and ignore their computers. Between work phone calls, personal calls, work email, personal email, and all the social networks out there, I can hardly keep up. Oh, and I almost forgot. I also have to(more like want to) keep updating this blog.

I know I can handle it. After all, I handled a much larger volume of information than what I’m working with now. I just am a little out of practice.

Feb 1 2008

New Ideas

Jamie Barrows
Eyes in Chalk

I’m really wondering if I’m in the right career. Am I really supposed to be a programmer? Keeping up with my projects and responsibilities is almost more than I can handle. I’m stressed out and overwhelmed most of the time. And I really don’t think I’m all that good at programming.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not bad at it, but I’m not good at it either. I’m just average. And average isn’t good enough.

I enjoy programming, but I don’t enjoy it enough to do it for fun. And if I wouldn’t do it for fun, then maybe it isn’t something I should do for a career. Or even something I want to do for a career.

My problem is that I don’t know what I do want to do. I like computers and I get excited about the tech industry. So I think whatever I do should be connected to the computer industry. Especially since that is what I know about.

The computer industry is massive and covers a lot of aspects besides programming. So I should be able to find something I enjoy. I just need some ideas, and then I need to start working towards them.

Jan 31 2008

True life

Jamie Barrows
My Life on the Internet

When I saw this pic, I just had to post it. It was too much like my real life. I spend all day at work at my computer and then come home andv spend more time on a computer

Jan 3 2008

Copyright – Hoarding vs. Sharing

Jamie Barrows
Broken Safe

I had an interesting discussion with a friend of mine the other day. My friend is an amature photographer. And he is quite good. He was showing me some of his pictures, and I asked him if he had posted them anywhere on the Internet. His response was that he had a few low resolution images posted on his webpage, but nothing with a high resolution. Plus he only had a few of his large collection posted there.

Now my friend isn’t into the latest Internet trends. He is computer literate, but a lot of Internet culture and services just pass him by. So I started telling him about Flickr and the ease with which he could post his pictures on the site. I described the community benefits of the site, and I stressed the offloading of bandwidth and hosting costs for large pictures. My assumption being that bandwidth and hosting space were the reason why he hadn’t posted very many pictures on his site.

His response was not at all what I had expected. Though maybe I should have. Now that I think about it, I think his response may be typical of how most people not in the computer industry and coming from his background would respond.

What he said was, “If I post my pictures on Flickr, it would make it easier for people steal them.” He then went on to explain that his photos were quite valuable. In fact, he had already managed to sell a few of them to the local newspaper. His worry was that by posting his images on the internet for anyone to access, he would be reducing their value because they would be easier to “steal”.

News StandI didn’t try to convince him otherwise, but I do think he is wrong. He thinks the Internet would reduce the value of his photos. The truth is that at worst would have no affect on the value, and at best it would increase the value.

Right now his photos only exist on his local computer. He knows about them, and knows what they contain. No one else, other than a few local reporters, knows they exist. From the perspective of most of the world, his photos and his expertise as a photographer do not exist at all. Because they can’t find him and have no way of knowing he or his photos exist.

If he posted the photos on Flickr, or any one of the many other photo sharing sites, people could find them. They would be categorized, indexed, and searchable by the whole world. The pool of potential buyers for his photos would become huge and nearly unlimited. His photography skills would be displayed and advertised to the world. Which would make his photos, and his skills more valuable than they ever could be with him pitching them only to local reporters and newspapers. And it wouldn’t cost him anything.

Will people “steal” his photos? Of course they will. But would the people who “steal” his photos have ever bought them in the first place? I really doubt it. If they aren’t the kind of people who would honor his copyright terms in the first place, then they are unlikely to to be willing to buy his photos.

So if they take his photos off of Flickr and use them without paying him, he isn’t really any worse off than he would be if they hadn’t taken them. In fact, he might even be better off because more people will see the images. And reputable publications will attempt to track down the owner before using the images. So the “stolen” photos actually become a form of advertising for his portfolio and his skillset.

That doesn’t mean I don’t think he should ignore violations of his copyright. After all, if you don’t attempt to enforce your copyright there is no incentive for anyone to ever honor it. The point I’m trying to get across, is that you shouldn’t let concerns about potential copyright violations drive what you do with the images you own. Because the benefits of sharing the images, far outweigh the protections you get from hoarding the images.

By the way, the images I use on this blog come from morguefile. A great site for free images and amature photgraphers.

Nov 19 2007

Five questions about me and my blog

Jamie Barrows

Good Question
Heidi over at Virushead tagged me in a post about blogging. I don’t normally do the blog meme thing, but I was bored. So I thought I would make an exception this time. So here goes.

1. How long have you been blogging?
Not that long. About a year. I started blogging with a blogger account, and only recently purchased a hosting account with Dreamhost. Domains are cheap, but hosting isn’t quite as cheap. But Dreamhost isn’t bad.

2. What inspired you to start a blog and who are your mentors?
Well, I started blogging for two reasons. First I just wanted a place I could post things that I found interesting or funny. That way my friends and family could see the things I found. That was my first blog, and I still run that blog and post to it on a regular basis. My posts there have gotten a little more professional as I’ve gotten more writing experience, but the basic theme is still the same.

I started this blog as a place where I could post my thoughts and ideas. A good friend of mine suggested that I start writing as a way to let off some stress. Of course, the suggestion was for me to be writing in a journal. I don’t think I could do a paper based journal. I’m too much of a digital person. So this is what I got.

I guess that kind of answers the mentors portion of the question as well.

3. Are you trying to make money online, or just doing it for fun?
Well, I’m certainly not trying to make money off this. I don’t have any adds or sponsors on either of my blogs. I post for fun and my own personal development. As long as I can afford to keep paying for the hosting, both blogs will probably stay ad free.

4. Tell me 3 things you LOVE about being online.

The sheer wealth of knowledge. Anything I ever want to know or am even curious about is online and available with a simple search. Before the internet, the only way I could have satisfied my curiosity would have been to go to a library. Then I had to hope that the library would have a book on the subject. Now within five minutes I can have all the info I could ever want.

The communication aspects of the internet. I have friends all over the world that I correspond with daily. Without the Internet, I would never be able to keep up with them. I would be limited to only those who are within telephone access. I know that snail mail exists, but the long turn around would just make any real communication not possible. And telephone costs for overseas calls would be totally impractical. The Internet makes that possible.

The ability to create and publish my own ideas and thoughts. Basically blogging like this. The internet has made it possible for people who don’t have access to expensive equipment or traditional publishing resources, to publish their own words. That is something that has never been possible before. And it’s an exciting thing to see and experience.

5. Tell me 3 things you STRUGGLE with in the online world.
Keeping focus. The sheer number of distractions and calls on my attention when I’m online can be really overwhelming. I’ll go on with a purpose, and discover an hour later that I have forgotten what I was looking for because I spent the whole hour looking at cats with inane text captions.

Feeling inadequate. The internet is a big place and it makes you realize what a small fish you are. For every thing I know, it is really obvious that I don’t know much. There is so much knowledge and information out there. And no matter how much I ever learn about any particular subject, I will always know so little compared to how much there is to know about it.

Keeping up with people. Instant communication is great, but you can get really overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of messages you get. It’s really easy to let someone fall through the cracks. Or to let a message go unanswered by accident.

At the end of this, I’m supposed to tag some other bloggers, but I don’t think I will. Not because I’m stingy with my links, but because I normally hate being tagged in one of these things myself. So I don’t think I’ll do it to anyone else. Hope you enjoyed my answers to the questions above.

Image citation
good question from e-magic’s photostream.