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The Twit-Worm Exists

April 24, 2011 Leave a comment

We laughed during the Futurama episode “Attack of the Killer App” as millions of people became infected with Mom’s “Twit-worm” and lumbered like zombies to the apple store. In this episode, Matt Groening satirizes the control that corporate marketing machines like Facebook and Twitter have over us. He shows how they can turn us into mindless consumers through a constant barrage of targeted advertising. As Hermes remarks in one scene after an advertisement for a pizza shows up on his computer: “This thing always knows what I want!” This kind of marketing interaction is actually occurring constantly even as I sit here to type this post. What hasn’t happened yet is the mind control that Futurama jokingly suggests. But is it a joke? Could that actually happen? While the answer might seem to be an obvious “no,” the possibility of this might be more realistic than one would think.

As technology continues to advance, we begin to incorporate it more into our bodies. Artificial hearts and cochlear implants are just a few examples of the invasive application of technology. Therefore, it is not a huge leap to say that in the future it is possible that our communication devices might be integrated with our bodies and possibly our minds. This is where things begin to get scary. Why exactly? Well I’ll tell you. If every person’s body is connected to an interconnected network, the the same technology that helps them can also be used to break them down. If you question the power of a malevolent entity to spread to the users of a network, just consider the “Mikeyy” worm that invaded Twitter in 2009. Users would be prompted to click on a harmless looking advertisement and as soon as they did their twitter account began immediately sending out thousands of links unwillingly to every follower that the individual had. If the follower clicked on the link then the link would again be sent to their followers and so on. One could also catch the worm by simply viewing the profile of an infected member.

As Mikko Hypphen of the F-Secure cybersecurity firm commented “It would have been a simple trick for malware authors to modify the worm to infect a user’s computer, where more serious offenses like identity theft could have occurred.” Now imagine that instead of just your external twitter account being linked to the network, technology that regulated your bodily functions was connected to the same network. It could be a disaster. Cyberspace has taken years of work and billions of dollars to construct. But in nature, it is often easier to tear something down than it is to build it. It seems that it might be inevitable that the body of the internet could be invaded by a super-virus that tears it down. Let’s just hope that we’re not a part of it when that day comes.

Word on the Tweet

January 31, 2011 1 comment

Having 160 characters to express yourself is just not my style. I have never understood the purpose of Twitter. Maybe it’s because I’m too wordy and have never even accepted the Facebook status, but I just don’t care where people are and what they’re doing at every moment. That being said, it was surprising that Twitter led to one of my favorite nights at Vanderbilt thus far.

I was sitting in the Gillette lobby working on homework with friends one night last October. That weekend, my friend Madeline and I were going to an Avett Brother’s concert, and we were way too excited. Honestly, it’s the only thing we talked about at the time. We suspected they were already in Nashville since their concert was coming up, so we decided to try to figure out where exactly in Nashville they would be. After Facebook stalking, and having no luck, Twitter came up. We went to their Twitter page without any clues on their whereabouts. And while I do love the actually brothers of the band, Scott and Seth, there is another person who tours with them that I really appreciate- Joe Kwon. He is lesser known, and not technically a part of the band, but he is the cellist who tours and plays with them that I absolutely adore. I then found his Twitter page that said, “Jakob Dylan about to hit the stage. Exciting. Belly full of good Indian food and coffee. I’m ready.” Luckily for me, Joe can see the beauty of constantly updating people on his where he is.

We looked up where in Nashville Jakob Dylan was playing, and were pleased to find that it was at the Exit Inn. Madeline and I then, for some reason suddenly rushed for time, put away our stuff, didn’t change out of our extremely casual outfits, and rushed over there.  We started running at first, but then we luckily saw a Vandy Van! We hopped on, and got off at the closest exit. We then hurried over. In our haste, I hadn’t even thought to get an ID, and at an 18 and up concert. Luckily, Madeline had hers, so she quickly paid and went inside as I waited right inside the front door. She would constantly update me as she circled the venue, and my phone was slowly dying. It’s at a time like this when technology is extremely frustrating. Eventually, with minimal battery left, I got a text that said, “I see a well dressed Asian with long hair! Score!” It was only a matter of time before I saw the two of them walking over to me, and we all got a picture together on Madeline’s cell phone. It’s a time like that when technology is extremely beneficial.Technology has its ups and downs. I was aggravated as my phone was dying and the complexities of cyberspace often create unnecessary problems. But the pros generally outweigh the cons. We got to talk to one of our favorite musicians, got there quickly and even got a picture with him thanks to the benefits of technology. It is somewhat creepy to me how much we can quickly learn about each other through the Internet. But what is sometimes creepy and too invasive can also be my key to meeting an acclaimed musician.

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