Tweets, posts, status updates, shares, favorites, comments, likes, and more – these functions have one commonality and that is an establishment of an online, or internet, presence. There is more to this presence than what is commonly thought, however. Underestimated as it might be, it has proven to serve as a purely unbiased description of what society is. Subjectivity of online content does not necessarily skew reality, but shows researchers a multitude of cultural phenomena.
Much can be inferred about a geographical region or place by looking at the country’s online presence, or lack thereof. This type of globalization was founded by Sir Timothy John “Tim” Berners-Lee in what every person in the world refers to as the World Wide Web. This digital trait of human civilization continues to serve as Earth’s looking-glass.
Morality, for example, is something that can be gauged through this medium; humor and cultural values are blatantly characterized through prose, entertainment, and never-ending creation. Scientists are becoming well aware of the power of the internet, as some believe it to be the best method to obtain and direct social experiments, social studies, and everything else that can be found on the space-time continuum.
An internet presence does not just describe these human feats of culture and society, but it also allows for power, money, and overall welfare to be obtained and to grow. Examples include avenues for political support, online petitions, unions, support groups; causes and event channels that can be coordinated and executed via the web. Scientists can use this information to systematically quantify and analyze the power through a variable of force, making the future quite predictable in some cases.
Petitions organized within the United States allegedly only need somewhere between 100,000 and a million signatures in order for high-ranking officials to respond to them, including the President of the United States. Quantifiable measures like signature goals, seen on Change.org for instance, and policy requirements scientists can use as a rule book (governing allowable behaviors or predictors), can lead researchers into a magical sub-field of psychic prediction. That in mind, the internet has proven to be a visual time chart, an aid to all specialties, and with the rule book in hand, people can literally tell if a movement will succeed by the amount of force it carries. This psychic ability researchers will be using really is just mathematical analysis; a whole new, developing realm of scientific investigation.
Another online presence, though proven difficult to quantify, is known as good journalism. This has been known to be an invaluable tool in spreading news and awareness of current, pressing matters. During pen and pad days, it could have taken many months to collect information on breaking news stories. Corruption in politics, for instance, can now be leaked with one sentence on any social media outlet. This has led freedom supporters into the current global debate on government censorship, government spying, and NSA tracking, which some relate to corruption.
Google had recently announced its encryption initiative, encouraging many other giant companies to partake in their effort to block government entities from spying on user activities.
Just today, March 14, United States officials were reported in the Washington Post to have intentions of giving up control over internet administration. This might reportedly have some business leaders worried, but international critics and supporters of free speech are exceedingly pleased to hear the news. This announcement was in the wake of a recently-alleged CIA scandal involving the investigation by an Intelligence Committee member from California who claimed the CIA searched her computers and files without an explanation, continuing a behind-the-scenes battle between Congress and federal agencies.
A government cover-up is much harder to accomplish now. It is just one of the many threats of local, state, and federal agency involvement in online and network activity, leading many people to believe this power to be a crippling move against freedom of speech and press. An internet presence is a powerful tool that can be used to describe society, organize events and causes, gain power, spread awareness, and almost anything else a web surfer can imagine.
Opinion by Lindsey Alexander
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The Washington Post