No, Google’s Not a Bird: Bringing the Internet to Rural India

TARADAND, India — Babulal Singh Neti was sitting with his uncle on a recent afternoon, trying to persuade him of the merits of the internet.

It was 105 degrees outside, and the sun was beating down on the frazzled croplands. His uncle said he had no use for the internet, since he had never learned to read; furthermore, he wanted to nap. This he made clear by periodically screwing up his face into a huge yawn.

Mr. Neti, 38, pressed on earnestly, suggesting that he could demonstrate the internet’s potential by Googling the history of the Gond tribe, to which they both belonged. Since acquiring a smartphone, Mr. Neti couldn’t stop Googling things: the gods, Hindu and tribal; the relative merits of the Yadav caste and the Gonds; the real story of how the earth was made.

Access to this knowledge so elated him that he decided to give up farming for good, taking a job with a nongovernmental organization whose goals include helping villagers produce and call up online content in their native languages. When he encountered internet skeptics, he tried to impress them by looking up something they really cared about — like Gond history.

His uncle responded with half-closed eyes, delivering a brief but comprehensive oral history of the Gond kings, with the clear implication that his nephew was a bit of a good-for-nothing. “What does it mean, Google?” his uncle said. “Is it a bird?”

And then, theatrically, he yawned.

While India produces some of the world’s best coders and computer engineers, vast multitudes of its people are like Mr. Neti’s neighbors, entering the virtual world with little sense of what lies within it, or how it could be of use to them.

The arrival of the internet in their lives is one of India’s most hopeful narratives.

In the 70 years since Independence, India’s government has done very little to connect Taradand, in Madhya Pradesh State, in central India, to the outside world: The first paved road appeared in 2006. There has never been a single telephone landline. Electricity is available to only half the houses. When Mr. Neti was growing up, if someone in the village needed emergency medical care, farmers tied the patient to a wooden cot and carried it five miles through the forest to the nearest hospital, a journey of four hours.

By comparison, India’s battling telecoms have wired Taradand with breathtaking speed. Two years ago, Mr. Neti counted 1,000 mobile phones in the village, which has a population of 2,500. This tracks with India as a whole; last year it surpassed the United States to become the world’s second-largest market for mobile phones behind only China, according to Groupe Speciale Mobile Association, an industry group known as G.S.M.A.

With the cost of both smartphones and data plummeting, it is fair to assume that Taradand’s next technological leap will be onto the internet.

Those who work in development tend to speak of this moment as a civilizational breakthrough, of particular significance in a country aching to educate its children. India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, has made expanding internet use a central goal, shifting government services onto digital platforms. When Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, toured India in 2014, he told audiences that for every 10 people who get online, “one person gets lifted out of poverty and one new job gets created.”

So it is instructive to follow Mr. Neti as he tries to drum up a little interest in Taradand. Young men use the internet here, but only young men, and almost exclusively to circulate Bollywood films. Older people view it as a conduit for pornography and other wastes of time.

Women are not allowed access even to simple mobile phones, for fear they will engage in illicit relationships; the internet is out of the question. Illiterate people — almost everyone over 40 — dismiss the internet as not intended for them.

Still, Mr. Neti persists with the zeal of the newly converted.

“You can call me the black sheep. That’s what I am,” he said cheerfully. “I don’t care. It’s the internet age. One day they’ll all come around.”

Mr. Neti is, in some ways, an unlikely harbinger of technological change. His parents pulled him out of school in fifth grade to marry — his wife was 10 — and though he can read and write in Hindi, his school transcript brands him illiterate, foreclosing any opportunity to get a government job.

When he bought his first mobile phone, in 2001, he was so nervous he did not make a call for nearly a week. When he finally did, he blurted out: “Friend, I have bought this mobile. Is this your number and your name? I…

Ally Mc-Stealing The Spotlight: Cat Grant Returns To ‘Supergirl’ & The Internet Explodes

'Supergirl' [Credit: The CW]

This article contains spoilers from Supergirl Season 2.

Supergirl may have drastically improved since it moved to The CW but the second season of the hit #superhero drama has been severely lacking in one thing in particular — Cat Grant. As the show moved production from L.A to Vancouver when it switched networks, actress Calista Flockhart was unable to continue on as a series regular.

While she was initially meant to recur throughout Season 2, Cat was written out in the second episode of the season and has remained absent ever since. The latest episode was without a doubt the most explosive, action packed instalment of #Supergirl but despite all that, the internet was focused on one thing and one thing only — Calista Flockhart.

'Supergirl' [Credit: The CW]
‘Supergirl’ [Credit: The CW]

Ally McBeal actress finally made her long awaited return to Supergirl and viewers took to social media to express their joy — #WelcomeBackCat took over Twitter and several terms such as “Cat Grant” and “Supergirl” were trending!

Cat showed up just as National City was experiencing its deadliest threat yet — several thousand Daxamites invaded the city. But, fear not, Cat gave Supergirl a much needed pep talk — oh how we’ve all missed those pep…

Family Makes Sign To Explain Why Their Dog Is On The Roof, And It Becomes An Internet Sensation

Meet Huckleberry, the doggie who loves nothing more than spending time on the rooftop of his human’s house and looking at the world from up high. Passengers are so surprised by the view, Huck’s owner even wrote a ‘Don’t Be Alarmed’ note. It says that they’re perfectly aware of the strange roundabouts of their dog and that they make sure the canine is safe at all times.

“We never leave him in the backyard without someone being at home. He will not jump off unless you entice him with food or a ball!,” reads the note. The owner adds: “We appreciate your concern but please do not knock on our door… We know he’s…

Meme La France: To stop globalization, alt-right meme makers have begun a global movement

Image: mashable/Christopher Mineses

Pepe has made his way to France.

Of the many wildly unpredictable aspects of the 2016 election, the usage of memes by a fiercely active, populist conservative movement stands alone.

Using easily shareable and emotionally driven images to promote nationalist conservative politics, internet meme evangelists believe that they had a direct impact on the election, carrying Donald Trump all the way to the White House.

Six months later, this coordinated movement has taken their Great Meme War overseas to help elect Marine Le Pen, candidate of the far right National Front Party, as the next president of France.

“This is a global movement because people around the world are being forced to accept a globalist agenda that benefits the few at the expense of our nations, our cultures, and our peoples,” the moderators of the subreddit r/The_Donald said about their campaign. “Memes, humor, images, and videos that people come up with … draw people in… Meme magic works if you have the right message/plan.”

Seemingly emboldened by Trump’s electoral win, the weaponization of memes has been codified into something that mirrors the form of a social movement.

That movement has zeroed in the French election.

Allons meme!

France will elect their next president in a run-off election on May 7, when Le Pen — currently the face of extreme populism — will face Emmanuel Macron, a centrist from the En March! party. Thanks to Brexit, an increase in terrorist attacks throughout France, and the election of Donald Trump, the election is now the center of international attention.

In the months leading up to the election, American nationalists have taken their brand of online activism across the Atlantic, working hard to spread their message to the people of France. Some have even created best practice guidelines for using virality to push Le Pen to a win, while others have more deviously pretended to be French in order to better spread their partisan memes, as reported by BuzzFeed.

The American assistance has not been unwelcome. French meme-makers have deftly accepted the baton and are vocal about “Making France Great Again,” even offering tips on how best to fight the Great Meme War on French shores. One post in Reddit’s r/LePen forum explained that though French people might not be super familiar with Pepe, the oddly-shaped cartoon frog that became a standard bearer for the alt-right, the community should readily use memes with him.

“There is no doubt that French people will react positively to dank Pepes, the danker the better,” the post by TortueGeniale666 read. “No need to hold back, use Pepe the way he is the most efficient: destroy Political Correctness.”

Following this advice, the community has not held back and have focused their attacks on what they see as the immigrant threat to France, and on Macron himself. Images invoking terror attacks, memes of Muslims in France (suggesting an overrun country), and emasculating pictures of Macron have been widely spread on Facebook, Twitter, 4chan, and Reddit. As they did during the 2016 U.S. election, users want these memes to be easily shared, replicated, and provoke an emotional response, enough so to hopefully sway voters.

Image: Storyful

This particular meme factory believes that they are spreading the will of a greater population than just their own; crossing international boundaries to do is a matter of duty in the fight as what they perceive to be dominant, malevolent forces like the mainstream media.

Many right-leaning meme-makers exude confidence, sure that their populism knows no global boundaries — memes, to them, are just an extremely effective tool to harness a movement and center it on a target.

“There exists a massive internet subculture devoted to creating these masterpieces and distributing them,” Reddit user DecoySlug said. “This means that the idea of meme magic is not confined to a specific region but is rather spread over the world. An example is the French who are now using memes to support Le Pen.”

The memes have indeed shown support for Le Pen and trashed her opponents, and the community was rewarded when Le Pen thanked her fans for the internet bravado, much as Trump did when he visited r/The_Donald for an AMA last summer, back when he was merely a presidential candidate.

“At the end of the first round, I thank the Internet activists of the #patriosphere, mobilized since the beginning of this campaign,” her tweet read, referring to the alt-right nationalist movement that supports her.

The message added confidence to the web’s alt-right activists, who feel that they are not only helping to elect Le Pen, but are actively involved with educating the masses in a hope for their future. All this, through memes.

“The goal of weaponizing memes is to get a message across to as many people as possible,” DecoySlug said. “With a well-made meme, a poignant point can be made in a format that allows it to be shared and distributed throughout the internet. In this way, these memes can have an actual and profound effect on people.”

James Cohen, Program Director and Assistant Professor of New Media at Molloy College had a different take on the message that was being spread through the alt-right channels. He believes that the meme-makers ultimately want to disrupt conventional thinking and create more noise so that signals like traditional media and establishment governmental messages are distorted. The alt-right hope their reactionary ideas will grow dominant through their self-created static.

“It’s less about the message being delivered than about the obfuscation of the message,” Cohen said. “The heavier the obfuscation, the less time there will be to do critical thinking. If they can do that, they believe the populism will prevail, because only those with clarity will be able to make the right decision. But the thing is, no one will be clear.”

For many supporters of Trump, Le Pen, and memes, the goal is simple and universal: nationalism.

A Reddit user named Spartharios, who said they lived in Bulgaria, had a basic outlook for what the community should use memes to accomplish.

“Ultimately, the goal of the whole culture of memes and ‘meme magic’ is to spread our political message, which is nationalism and a right to self-determination of all peoples,” Spartharios said simply.

However, Florian Cramer,…

This Emotional Wedding Photo Is Bringing The Internet To Tears

Posed wedding photos can certainly be beautiful, but there’s something to be said for the raw, genuine emotion that’s captured in candid shots.

On April 30, photographer James Day was taking wedding pictures for a couple named Adrian and Roslyn, who tied the knot in Bowral, Australia. He was setting them up for some posed sunset photos when he was struck with a better idea.

Tonight I was photographing Adrian & Roslyn at sunset. I was setting up those grand sunset scenes… you know the ones… the little people in a big scene… I love those kinda shots… but tonight that just didn’t seem enough.

“Just as the light became amazing, I scrapped everything I knew and I walked up to them and said, ‘Guys, stop posing. Just enjoy your first sunset together as husband and wife,’” he recalled in…

A Wayback Machine for Early 20th Century Tunes

A gramophone playing a 78.
A gramophone playing a 78.

The Internet Archive’s name can be a little misleading. Sure, it’s preserving large swaths of the internet with its Wayback Machine and you can still play Oregon Trail online with its MS-DOS emulator, but it’s also archiving physical media that never lived on any server, even as it transfers the contents into its massive digital bank. The nonprofit digital library has an impressive collection millions of books and about 200,000 shellac discs engraved with rare music from the early 20th century.

“We’re trying to make sure the physical object is saved, as well as the digital, because we don’t know which will last longer,” says B. George, the sound collections curator at the Internet Archive. “When information disappears digitally, it’s gone forever.” If you’ve ever had a hard drive crash, you know this all too well. Storing and preserving the physical media behind all of that information—if it exists—is one way to future-proof the archive. We may someday lose the ability to digitally play back certain file formats (though the Archive is working on that, too), but we’ll always be able to cobble together a machine with a needle and a horn that can play a record, if you can keep that record in good shape.

The shellac discs in the Archive’s Richmond, California, warehouse are the precursors to the 12-inch vinyl records that became popular in the mid-20th century. Invented by Emile Berliner in 1887, the discs came in different sizes and materials, including rubber, until the industry eventually settled on 10-inch discs made of shellac that were played on gramophones (originally Berliner’s patented variation on Thomas Edison’s phonograph) at 78 revolutions per minute, with about three minutes of music on each side. By today’s audiophilic standards, these “78s” sound pretty rough, with plenty of hissing, clicks, and crackling. The shellac, a resin produced by the lac insect native to parts of Asia, was mixed with fillers, including finely ground rock, to make the fragile records a bit more durable and affordable. The fillers don’t do much for playback quality, though, and the earliest 78s sound much worse than ones produced later, when companies had refined their filler mixtures. Finding pristine 78s made with high-quality fillers is…

Massive Google Docs phishing attack swept the internet today [Updated]

Massive Google Docs phishing attack swept the internet today [Updated]

If you just received an unexpected email in which someone you know is sharing a Google Doc with you, do not open it.

There is currently a rather massive phishing attack making its way through the internet. It’s pretty sophisticated, and very easy to fall for. To summarize a reddit post by JakeSteam, it basically works like this:

  1. As seen in the image above, you receive a simple email saying a Google Doc has been shared with you, likely from someone in your contact list.
  2. When you click on the button, you are taken to a real Google account selection screen (or at least it does if you have multiple accounts open).
  3. Select the account you want to use, an what appears to be “Google Docs” asks for several permissions to access your account. This is not the real Google Docs; the real one doesn’t need to ask for any permissions. But if you didn’t know this, it looks authentic enough other than all the permissions it requires.
  4. It then self-replicates by sending itself to all your own contacts.
Credit: JakeSteam on Reddit

The attack bypasses two-factor authentication and login alerts. Because you gave the imposter Google Docs full access to your email, it’s possible the attacker could extract any information stored in your messages. It could also be used to access your passwords for other services by sending password reset emails. Be…

Internet Archive Headquarters

View all photos
Internet Archive headquarters Evan Carroll (Creative Commons)
Ceramic Archivists by sculptor Nuala Creed Christopher Berry
Ceramic figures of Ted Nelson, Brewster Kalhe, and Aaron Swartz leiris (Atlas Obscura User)
Internet Archive and Alexa founder Brewster Kahle playing Prince of Persia leiris (Atlas Obscura User)
Ceramic Archivists by sculptor Nuala Creed Jason Scott (Creative Commons)
Ceramic Archivists by sculptor Nuala Creed Natalie Downe (Creative Commons)
The main hall Jason Scott (Creative Commons)

With the stated mission…

IuT ! IoT

Let’s build the Internet of USEFUL Things, not just the Internet of Things. IuT ! IoT

That’s what we’ll be doing over the next five weeks. The second challenge of the 2017 Hackaday Prize begins today. We’re looking for the best ideas we can find for useful connected devices. Twenty entries will recieve $1,000 and move on to the final round to vie for the top prizes ranging from $5,000 to $50,000.

There is no doubt that the future is connected. It has been our future since the advent of the telegraph, and we’re unarguably becoming more connected at a faster rate. The phone in your hand, pocket, or bag connects…