entropy Web

Entropy on Web

Internet is the great box of all that is said, thought or done in our era.

Internet is a participative space. 
Practically, it gives everyone the freedom of speech and thought. 

It is the natural consequence of the global need, to participate, to express one’s own thought and opinion, by debating and countering.
Modern society limited to very few the publication and diffusion of contents, to authorities or privileged, leaving to all others, the mass, only the role of listeners, readers and viewers.
“Webmodern” society, beginning with Internet, has opened Pandora’s box. It has given to everybody the immediate possibility to bring the own contribution, even if not authoritative.
In fact, we moved in a short time, a decade, from an elitist management of information to an anarchic management of the same; from preclusion to total openness, from a mono flow of a directional communication to an informative and global tsunami.

Every network node, every person, communicates, participates. 
Everyone can write what he wants. 

All the world’s inhabitants who have a normal level of sociability and communication are exposed online.

It is estimated a traffic of 5 billion gigabytes per day. 
That means approximately 1 gigabyte for each inhabitant of planet Earth. 

What is generating this enormous informative mass?

Entropy, a lot of entropy. 

To explain what is happening, we support two definitions of entropy, which we find very modern and relevant.

  1. A gradual degeneration of a system toward the maximum disorder.

It is our case: Internet has been overloaded of contents of every kind; it is getting more and more difficult to find, browse, trace and expose, if not taking to extremes the ways of communication as well as the content published. First we have overcrowded our urban centers turning them into metropolis, now we are overcrowding the web.

  1. The information theory, what is of impediment to the clarity and uniqueness of the message; major is the entropy, minor is the quantity of information.

An informative overloading, coming from below, can progressively create an informative short circuit? Absolutely! In the face of billion of contents inserted daily, the original information, valid and competent, is submerged by an endless quantity of “trash contents”.
The search engines, especially Google, in front of this informative tsunami, must evaluate all the information by guessing what is relevant and understand what the cyberuser is searching for.
It is an ocean of noise that very often turns into small waves on the shore. Google algorithmically disintegrates the entropy by reducing it, on the first page, to thirteen or fourteen occurrences, of which three or four proposals for advertising. The rest, all of it, is in the storage, available only beginning from page two, for few, very few curious; a single process, unthinkable only ten years ago.
To an excessive increase of posted contents, getting from all over correspond a very high level of entropy and consequently a reduced set of useful information.

What will happen in the next decade? 

The most catastrophists say that the entropy, the overloading of contents, will win and all of us will be satisfied with the first ten options of the result list or maybe only with the first occurrence on the list.
The most optimists are convinced that this is only an early stage. A new “Generation Z” more skilled to use the web, will make use of the information more consciously. Simultaneously the search engines will develop more rational and intelligent algorithms.

To be realistic both dynamics will partially impose. 

The surplus of contents which involves all the topics discussed online makes difficult the search and the evaluation having an impact on our way of thinking, our ethic, our social and political conscience.
The Internet’s future lies in the dynamics of use by billion of users as well as in the informative flows which follow, ever-expanding flows. The limits for this process or the expanding methods are unknown and, to this day, are unpredictable.
Maybe the excess of information will determine in the future a BIG BANG of our virtual universe, the Web. To that point, we will invent something else.


Educating to the use of smartphone

In just six years, since 2011, the use of smartphones, and therefore the access on the move to services and contents online has increased from few percentage points, often below 1%, to over 50% of the connections.

This axiom, so clear in the percentages mentioned above, already described in our Italian article “The smartphones more used than the personal computers” has suggested us an original study.

We have positioned ourselves on an avenue of high-density of traffic in Rome, at 8:00 o’clock, in a sunny working day. We have chosen deliberately a spot of the avenue where at peak times the traffic progressively slows down and proceeds at a walking pace.

Educating Smartphone Car

Taking up a sheet of paper and a pen, bothered by the acrid unbreathable smell, we begin to write down the drivers’ behavior for an hour. The revealed data are therefore to be considered approximate by default we might have eluded some behavior.

We assure you that the sample, considering the huge traffic, is very significant in terms of numbers, age and social background.

 What have we seen? 

Approximately 2 out of 10 drivers, meaning 20%, use the smartphone for calling. They “are holding” the smartphone while driving. This behavior, dangerous and forbidden by law, was already widespread with the “normal cell phones”. The driver uses only one hand for driving, with the other one he is holding the phone and often distracted by what is happening on the road causes conversation.

Even more concerning is the fact that of these approximately 1 driver out of 20, actually almost 1.4 drivers, meaning 7%, uses the cell keyboard while driving, maybe for “texting” through chat, perhaps  through WhatsApp or Facebook.

We are dealing with a dangerous behavior because, very often, to our message follow those of our friends which, instinctively or out of curiosity, we are immediately tempted to read.

The driver sees the road “intermittently”, he is elsewhere. In some cases he places the phone on the wheel maybe to read better or even worse to write with both hands.

None of the drivers caught by us fiddling with the smartphone had a travelling companion; an aspect to be taken into consideration.

It is right to point out that the huge traffic surely stimulates this deviant behavior.  It is equally important to specify that the spot subject of monitoring doesn’t have traffic lights and the line, although continuous, has practically never had a total block, therefore, even though at a walking pace, the cars never stop, they are always on the move with lots of cars coming from other streets.

What we detected is that holding in hand the smartphone while driving is a very dangerous behavior. 

But why a very significant part of Italians is using the smartphone in a compulsive and villain way?

The first motivation stays in this article’s premise; internet and smartphones have spread very fast. There has been a lack of “education to the use of smartphone” or driver’s ed if you prefer. We use the smartphones and nothing else!

In schools it is forbidden the smartphones’ use, but there is no explanation why. This is not provided for a digital educational path, if not in some experimental cases. A significant path, arranged in more lessons, with ad hoc teaching, different in age and student sensibility, intended to explain when to go online and when is not appropriate.

On second thought, there aren’t very young people driving at 8 o’clock in the morning, so the lack of digital education doesn’t concern only the young millennials, but the adults too; the adults who live the day partly characterized by frantic rhythms partly by long waiting.  Waiting in which the smartphone acts as a socialization tool, an entertainment. The smartphone becomes an indispensable tool for alienating the boredom and for maintaining constant the frantic rhythms of our day especially when we are alone.

We need to communicate with our social web, our family and our friends, we want to share and smile a little. We find difficult to resist this need, especially when our smartphone is handy.

Let’s try to be constructive what can we do to get rid of this bad habit in adults in a short time?

It is simple, by daily broadcasting on TV (and Internet) commercials which underlines the inherent risks in using the smartphone while driving.  Broadcasting on and on alongside with those of phone companies, snacks, cars, perfumes and so on…which are being proposed to us at every hour of the day.

A digital education project, similar to those already proposed in other contexts by the Italian Progress Publicity Foundation

An innovative project which could save a lot of lives made by Italian RAI television that, we remind you, is a public communication company.

It is a simple principle: we use the mass communication tools and the web for educating as well as for convincing to buy things. Let’s use it properly and not symbolically and occasionally!  We do hope that this simple suggestion will be adopted.

We conclude with good news, during the experimental period 7 bicycles had passed us. People we presume, according to their clothes were aimed to work, cycling, with their hands tight on the handlebars and the smartphone, probably, in the pocket.

There is hope for the future! 


Internet and people’s wisdom

Internet people’s wisdom There is a deep bond between sociology of the20th century and  web, the Internet, the virtual universe, explicit expression of our times.

Take, for example, Stanley Milgram and his visionary theory of the “small world” subsequently becoming “the theory of Six Degrees of Separation” to which we have dedicated an article a while ago.

Milgram had empirically proved how an individual could reach a perfect stranger by means of a parcel post with a number of passages between five and seven. Theory largely debated over the last few decades by the international sociological community and definitively proved in 2011 by the University of Milan through a concrete experimentation on the social network Facebook; an experiment which underlines how much all of us are really close in this globalised world, reachable and even closer if we use a social network.

Do we have other cases in which the bond between sociological analysis and modernity can be seen? 

In the 1895 Gustave Le Bon wrote the test “The Crowd: A study of the Popular Mind” in which he stated the destructive power of the crowd. An individual in the crowd, in line with the mass, abandons his own personal sense of responsibility, overcoming his own limits allowing himself to be dragged: a very present argument even on the net where the virtual context becomes scenery for situations of collective mockery and cyber-bullying.

The net, meaning the crowd, submits very fast new tendencies to comply with, the comments quickly overlap, one after the other and the opinions become provocations and then insults.

The web determines very fast new dynamics of thought. It praises, debates, defames and in the end destroys. 

But are we really sure that Internet, through its social networks, produces only negative effects on cyberusers? Is it real this alarmist and catastrophic vision of Internet or is it the digital divide’s creation? Is Internet only a jungle where to move in packs?

To this topic we got help from Francis Galton, still in the early 1900s, who decided to ask, during an agricultural fair, the weight of an ox to passersby and sectoral experts and subsequently to find out that the median calculated on the judgment of the passersby is by far more accurate than the hypotheses feared by the experts. We refer to “the wisdom of the crowds” a concept diametrically opposed to the precedent one for which the mass is able to provide best answers and attitudes compared to what are the possibilities of one single person.

Theory that in our view sustains the network work and the Wikipedia’s organization; Universal Encyclopedia based exactly on the contribution of the users, on the reciprocity determined by the common synergic effort, although with full regard of its role.

Wikipedia is an example of flow capable of channeling in a positive way the great energy present on the web; an imperfect but tangible example, valid both for the quantity of the proposed contents as for the anthropological value of the organization which proposes them; theory proven by the strong network presence of beneficial movements and voluntary organizations as well as onlus and humanitarian associations. All examples characterized by a strong collective identity along with a strong presence on social spaces where sharing, searching for solutions, communicating, showing, reaching unthinkable goals are above one person expectations.

Theory which sustains some “web colossuses” such as Tripadvisor, where 385 million reviews wrote by “normal” readers constitute a framework of together which goes far beyond the individual.

Internet is the participatory space that, despite its enormous contradictions and its multiple deviant events, exceeds the limits of the previous social models. The web produces dynamics of sharing and thinking “from the bottom”, collective and emotional; it is indeed the web of “say” and “do” anything.

Often these dynamics are diametrically opposite, extremely positive or extremely negative where the network group becomes a super group, a frisky herd running on the virtual prairies powered by hashtags and webtrends.

The bond between social analysis and modernity, between dynamics in progress and sociological thought proves the continuity between past and present; it reveals the foundations on which is based the new web, explains our history and motivates our present.

After all these reflections, what really matters is our need to participate, in the town square, on the window, in the window, on a disco podium or sitting on the couch and telling a story.

Network’ safety in numbers creates confusion, stimulates new ideas and new tendencies, makes a mess, does what all of us do every day in this world, a 2.0.world.


The multimedia World

multimedia World

Let’s start with numbers. In February 2014 the WhatsApp users exchanged approximately 600 million images in a month. The same month, two years later, the exchanged images have become 1.600 million, exactly a BILLION more. Over the same period, the video messages have increased from 100 million to 250 million (according to Statistics).
YouTube, the multimedia storage of knowledge, this year receives every second approximately 300 hours of video. The proportion between the actual time and the stored digital time is 1 to more than one million (according to Brandwatch).

We store a million copies of each second we live on this planet. 

On Facebook are used every day 100 million hours of video (according to Techcrunch), and still talking of Facebook we find equally important the statistics on the number of images uploads (loadings), even if uncertain, they vary depending on the source, between 300 million and 80 million photo uploads per day; an extraordinary number, no doubt!
Without considering Instagram, the social network based on images and video sharing, that in February 2013 had approximately 100 million active users and today, no more than three years later has 500 million active users on a monthly bases (according to Statista).

Millions of cyberusers post photos (or videos) on the Internet with events or facts that have characterized their day.

In the last decade we have created a limitless digital space where anyone can position images, videos and audios. Server after server, disk after disk, rack after rack we are building a “Multimedia World”.
The smartphones are the access keys to this new world. The phone is not just for calling; it offers multiple services, online services, first of all the possibility to make videos, to take pictures and to share them immediately.
The purchase of a smartphone cannot be separated from the camera’s quality, a crucial factor in accordance with the video’s dimensions and resolution.

Our relation with our smartphone and internet is more and more symbiotic and multimedia. 

The way we deal with an event has changed for most of us, not only for the youngest ones; we live it, but more and more often we try to record it and share it. We are constantly looking for consent.
In the 21st century, every day all of us live a significant media exposure. This exposure, in the recent past, concerned only public figures and celebrities. Now has generated the need to be popular, appreciated, mentioned by our real or virtual community.
More and more often the personal success goes hand in hand with the popularity gained online, popularity which brings with it the obligation to expose oneself in a multi-media way; by means of videos, photos, audio messages. We examine all that surrounds us from a new perspective while we live the moment we consider it with a view to sharing it with our friends and followers, depending on our popularity.

We post what we do and sometimes we do it only to post it.

Events sharing, facts and news sharing have excessively increased, and that is good for most of the times… The press reports have reconsidered a new way of communication, real-time, ever more based on the multimedia material made by common people.
The multimedia information, limitless and fast comes more and more from the plain folks. 
As every big change which involves the whole of society, the “Multimedia World” brings also huge negative consequences.
The ability to live the real world to the fullest, uninterruptedly, using all our senses, is losing ground, influenced by the obligation and the urge of sharing right away, of being popular, of keeping truck, memorizing and offering.

But it could be worse! 

The recent debate on the relation between the terrorism actions and insane violence and the offenders’ need to gain popularity on a global scale is more than appropriate. Looking for popularity is a viral phenomenon that involves all, including unstable minds and terrorists. The echo owed to the news and the pain felt after a tragic event is the arrival point of an insane project of multimedia exposure in search of a stage to exhibit. Looking for the multimedia popularity through pain represents, unfortunately, the true lowest common denominator of the dramatic events of recent months.

Back to us and our conclusions! “The Multimedia World” distracts us and often the real image reaches our gaze through a lens, through our smartphone’s video and not directly. At the same time we communicate more and more, via web, with more and more people preferring to share images and videos rather than texts; immediate material to get, exhaustive, of high-definition or resolution.

We are the video-makers of our lives.
We are more and more what we share.
We are more and more multimedia!



The Internet thought


We are at home, connected to the Internet, we open Google to look for something… We have the mono field in front of us where to write, the keyboard and maybe the mouse; here too we follow a logical scheme.

Only few of us read sequentially the Google search result list, usually our look scrutinises familiar reliable terms such as wikipedia, amazon, promotions, last minutes, commercials. And very few of us, probably the same who believe that the draughts pieces can be of chocolate, continue analysing the following pages to the first one on the result list.
From the Google list we select a website, as mentioned before, the one which brand or terms present in the first two lines proposed by Google, lines following the title, seem to us pertinent or familiar. The two lines proposed by Google for every occurrence are really minimal to decide rationally.

The selected site offers hundreds of alternatives, menu items, icons, large texts, small texts, images and videos, sliding windows. In this case too we follow a scheme, in the face of such entropy we automatically discard and we don’t read everything sequentially, it would take too long! We look for single terms, our attention being drawn away by images or titles and, finally, we click.

What we found seem interesting and we share it on Facebook, even if we are well aware of the fact that many of our friends will not read it. Nobody has the time to read all the things posted by the friends on the social network. We open Facebook, with the help of our mouse or of our fingertip, we quickly scroll down the posts shared by our friends, looking for some image or some funny or trendy term, or the most “liked” one. This is another case where we follow patterns of reading and thinking aimed at simplification.

Internet has introduced in our life new patterns of thought, fast, selective, caustic; patterns we repeat more and more often.
The enormous amount of information has set in motion a process of disinterest and massive discard, of selection through repeated and sometimes trivial fruition patterns.

The Internet thought” follows logical schemes and customs different from those we live in the real world; a different conception of the sentence, space and time for reading.

We can quit reading anytime because we have no restrictions to follow and no obligations.  The Internet provides, to each of us, the possibility to give our own contribution, of merit or without value, allowing us to live constantly the virtual spaces and to dissolve the enormous entropy by selecting only what we intuitively consider extremely important or interesting.

All of these are virtual elements, concomitant, which determine new patterns of thought, new methods of reasoning online, namely collective or individual.

There is nothing dramatic or definitive in all this, we are simply facing an epochal and global change which concerns our mankind.

Basically Internet is changing our way of thinking.