Facebook Turns 13 – WIF Facts and Figures

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Facts About

Facebook

Facebook was launched on February 4, 2004 as TheFacebook.com by Mark Zuckerberg, who was studying psychology at Harvard at the time. 24 hours later,1,200 students at Harvard had registered and then within a month, over half of the undergraduate students were signed up.

 From there, Facebook expanded to other universities throughout the United States and in August 2005, they became Facebook.com, after purchasing the domain for $200,000.

In September 2005, high school students in the United States could sign up, and then it moved overseas to universities in the United Kingdom in October. After originally only being available to people with a “.edu” email account, Facebook finally started to allow anyone with any email address to sign up in September 2006. Since then, it’s grown to be an indelible part of world culture, to the point where the point where rumors persist that Zuckerberg may eventually run for president. Yes, of the United States.

Of course, things didn’t exactly go smoothly for Zuckerberg and Facebook, but there is a whole movie dedicated to their problems. These are 10 facts about Facebook that you won’t find in The Social Network.

10. Crazy Language Settings

If someone leaves their Facebook open and you want to prank them, don’t pose as them and post something stupid on their wall, because that could lead to some unintended problems. Instead, we recommend changing their language settings.

For people who speak English, there are two fun options that allows the person to use Facebook as normal, but things will seem a bit… off.

The first is the Pirate setting, which it changes things around to be more of a pirate theme. Duh. For example, your wall is called the Captain’s Log, the post box asks “What’s troublin’ ye?” and the smiley emoji says “Yo ho ho,” while the shocked face is “Shiver Me Timbers.”

However, if that prank is a bit too lighthearted and you really want to mess with someone, there is another language setting that turns all the text upside down. We tried it, and it can make you dizzy.

To change the languages, go to Settings, Language, and then “What language do you want to use Facebook in?” And you’re all set.

9. The Most Popular People on Facebook

The most popular person on Facebook is Cristiano Ronaldo, who is the star player of Real Madrid. But since he’s so popular, we figure you already knew that.

Ronaldo also became the first athlete to break 100 million likes, and he is currently at 119.57 million likes. In second place is Colombian pop singer Shakira, who has 104.49 likes, then in third it’s the bald headed star of The Fast and the Furious series. Oh wait, you say that nearly all the male stars of The Fast and the Furious are bald? Well, it’s Vin Diesel. He has 101.22 million likes.

8. Someone Will Always Have More Friends Than You

Do you ever get the feeling that your Facebook friends have more friends than you? Well, according to statistics, nearly everybody has a friend who has more friends than themselves.

The reason everyone has a friend who has more friends is because of a strange thing that happens in statistics called the Friendship Paradox. How it works: let’s say you have a small amount of Facebook friends. You’re bound to have at least one friend who is popular, because people with lots of friends are more likely to be your friend. Secondly, popular people are misrepresented when it comes to averages. By being popular, they spread themselves out when it comes to averages, and this effects probability.

While this concept might be a little hard to wrap your head around, you can check it yourself by seeing if any of your Facebook friends have more friends than you. Except you, Larry. We both know it’d be a waste of your time to check, because we already know the answer, don’t we.

7. The Yellow Facebook

One thing that made Facebook different from MySpace and other social media sites at the time was its uniformity. Everyone’s Facebook page layout was similar, and you couldn’t change the coding on it to add media, like music or pictures, which you could on MySpace. That uniformity is still prevalent today and everyone has very similar looking Facebook layouts. Well, nearly everyone.

The employees of Facebook have a more advanced version of the application that has a yellow icon instead of Facebook’s famous blue color. Mark Zuckerberg gave people a glimpse at the employee version in 2016, when he announced that live video streaming was heading to Facebook. In the video, Zuckerberg shows some features that have yet to be added, like being able to post slideshows and music from their music service. However, Zuckerberg said that some of the features on the yellow Facebook may never be made public.

Besides that video, not a whole lot is known about the yellow Facebook, but it is thought that it’s used by the upper echelon of Facebook to test new features.

6. Facebook Friends

According to a study from Oxford University, the average amount of friends a Facebook user has is 155. The same study, which looked at a group of 3,300 students, also found that they only had four real friends.

Why people have so many Facebook friends, but very few real, close friends, is explained by Dr. Robin Dunbar, who authored the study. He said:

“Social media certainly helps to slow down the natural rate of decay in relationship quality that would set in once we cannot readily meet friends face-to-face but no amount of social media will prevent a friend eventually becoming ‘just another acquaintance’ if you don’t meet face-to-face from time to time.”

These findings are consistent with other studies on close friendships, like an American study from 2011 that found that people, on average, only have two close friends. Another study from Dunbar found that, on average, people know up to 150 people, but they are only intimate with 15, and only five of those 15 are trustworthy.

5. It Can Wreak Havoc on Your Romantic Relationship

Saying that things that happen on Facebook can wreak havoc on your real life shouldn’t be a surprise. Perhaps you’ve experienced it yourself, or you may have witnessed it happen to one of your friends on your news feed. If you haven’t, humor websites have massive collections of them.

Besides anecdotal evidence, there are studies that show that Facebook can add more stress to a romantic relationship. One study that was conducted on 2,000 married people in Britain found that one-in-seven had thought about divorcebecause of something that happened on Facebook. In another British study, a quarter of the people surveyed said Facebook led to a fight once a week with their romantic partner, and 17 percent said a fight happened every day because of Facebook.

Meanwhile, between 2005 and 2010, divorce courts in the United States saw a dramatic increase in Facebook being used as evidence. Finally, a study from the Loyola University Health System found that 20 percent of all cases cited problems stemming from Facebook as part of the reason for divorce.

4. MySpace Had Two Chances to Buy Facebook

In the mid 2000s, the monster of social media was MySpace. Facebook was started essentially as an imitator; it was just better organized and more uniform, and at the time, it was more exclusive because you needed to have a university email address to get an account. These two aspects proved to be popular and Facebook started to gain a lot of traction. As they started to amass users, MySpace had the opportunity to buy Facebook… twice.

In the spring of 2005, MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe visited Zuckerberg and company. At the meeting, Zuckerberg offered to sell him Facebook for $75 million and DeWolfe turned him down. They met again later in 2005, and this time Zuckerberg wanted 10 times his original offer, $750 million. DeWolfe turned Zuckerberg down again.

Just two years later, Microsoft purchased 1.6% of Facebook for $240 million, giving Facebook a $15 billion valuation. By 2009, Facebook was getting twice as many visitors as MySpace. Today, well, Facebook is the thing that everyone uses and MySpace is something you have to Google to see if it’s still online (it is).

At the time of this posting, Facebook market capitalization is over $400 billion and some people think it could grow to be worth a trillion dollars in the next few years.

3. What Happens to Your Facebook When You Die?

Before 2015, when someone died, their family could contact Facebook with proof, like a death certificate, and request that the deceased’s Facebook profile be memorialized.

Memorializing the profile removed the deceased from public searches and notifications, like for their birthdays. Their memorialized profile could also only be viewed by people who were Facebook friends with the deceased before it was memorialized. Nothing else could be done with the account and some people found this upsetting. A notable example was Hollie Gazzard, who lived in Gloucester, United Kingdom. She was stabbed to death by her boyfriend Asher Maslin in February 2014. Her family had her Facebook memorialized and this included memorializing pictures of Gazzard and her murderer. Obviously, the family was upset by this and repeatedly asked Facebook to remove the pictures. For months, Facebook refused to take the pictures down and finally only removed them because of copyright infringements.

This type of dilemma prompted Facebook to allow users to pick a “legacy contact.” The legacy contact is able to pin a notice to your wall with information like funeral services. It also allows the contact to respond to new friend requests, change your cover and profile photos, and archive your Facebook posts and photos. The one thing that the legacy contact will not be able to do is read your private messages. So don’t worry about your loved ones finding Facebook messages expressing your profound love for Nickelback after you pass away.

To add a legacy contact, go to your security settings and it should be there. When you set the legacy contact, it will send a message, which you can edit, to the friend with information about the policy.

2. Every Minute Facebook Goes Down Costs Them $52,583

One of Facebook’s best qualities is that it is reliable. When was the last time you remember Facebook not being available when you tried logging on? It’s so rare that when Facebook went down in 2014, people called 9-1-1.

When it did go down in 2014, The Atlantic figured out how much money Facebook lost per minute by looking at their profits. They concluded that every minute the site was down, it cost them $24,420. This is over $1.4 million an hour and over $35.1 million a day.

But that was three years ago. Since then, Facebook’s revenues have gone up and in 2016, they made $27.638 billion. If the crash were to happen in early 2017, it would cost them $52,583 a minute, which is $3.1 million an hour and $75 million a day.

1. Everyone is Connected by 3.57 People

The theory of six degrees of separation was put forth in 1929 by Hungarian writer Frigyes Karinthy, in his 1929 short story “Chains.” In the story, the characters came up with a game, where:

“We should select any person from the 1.5 billion inhabitants of the Earth – anyone, anywhere at all. He bet us that, using no more than five individuals, one of whom is a personal acquaintance, he could contact the selected individual using nothing except the network of personal acquaintances.”

There have been several attempts to prove the theory over the years, including one by famed psychologist Stanley Milgram, and all the tests have resulted in varying degrees of success. The jury is still out on whether or not we’re connected to Kevin Bacon, as well.

In 2016, on its 12th anniversary, Facebook released some data that shows that everyone on Facebook is separated by 3.57 degrees. This, however, does not pertain to the real world, and it is just the world of Facebook. That being said, even if someone doesn’t use Facebook, they just have to know a Facebook user to be connected with the rest of the world. And really, there are good odds nearly everyone on the planet knows someone who uses Facebook. As of April 2017, Facebook has 1.86 billion monthly active users; that is almost a quarter of the entire population of the world.


Facebook Turns 13

– WIF Facts and Figures

Double Takes – WIF Photography

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Photographs

That’ll Make

You Look Twice

You know the famous idiom, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” For the most part, it’s true. But those thousand words we make up for ourselves can be completely off if we don’t have the right backstory or any context in which that photo was taken. So, with that in mind, we’re going to show you some photos here that are pieces of history in their own right, and we’ll also give you the circumstances in which they were taken. The rest you’ll have to fill in for yourselves… but only within a thousand words, right?

 10. Arnold Schwarzenegger Walking Down a Munich Street – 1967

This particular photo was taken back in 1967 in downtown Munich, Germany. Nothing out of the ordinary in this particular description so far, but as we can all see here, Arnold was wearing only a Speedo, and nothing else. And by the look of those people in the background and the ladies wearing scarves around him, this wasn’t a common sight in Munich back 1967. Heck, it probably isn’t one today, either. He was 20 years old when this photo was taken, and given his physique, nobody was really complaining even back then.

By this time, he already won several bodybuilding contests and titles, including the Mr. Universe. He was the youngest participant ever to do so. During his time in Munich in 1967, he was training six hours per day, attending business school, and promoting his own gym he acquired that same year. In fact, this was exactly what he was doing here in this photo – promoting his gym and the benefits of bodybuilding.

9. Marilyn Monroe’s White Dress – 1954

This photo will definitely make you look twice, regardless of whether you know the whole story behind it or not. But even if that’s the case, let’s, nevertheless, talk a bit about it. This iconic moment in cinematic history was captured back in 1954, during the filming of the Seven Year Itch, a movie that came out one year later. The scene was filmed and photographed at 1:00 a.m. in New York City at the corner of Lexington Ave and 52nd Street and took 14 takes and about three hours to finish. But because of the 100 photographers and roughly 4,000 onlookers who were, let’s say, reacting every time her dress was lifted by the soft, upward breeze, they had to re-shoot it in California. But to be fair, she prepared herself accordingly by wearing two pairs of white underwear.

Nevertheless, this scene almost certainly cost Monroe her marriage to baseball star Joe DiMaggio, who viewed it as an “exhibitionist” scene. Two weeks later, and following a fight at their hotel room after the filming, Marilyn filed for divorce on the grounds of mental cruelty. The late Debbie Reynolds, a fellow actress, singer, and businesswoman (not to mention Carrie Fisher’s mother), bought the dress for $200back in 1971. In 2011, she sold it for a whopping $4.6 million.

8. The Guatemala City Sinkhole – 2010

The sudden appearance of this gaping hole in the middle of a street in Guatemala City is still largely a mystery. Its almost perfect cylindrical shape does make it seem to be man-made, and done intentionally no less, but it isn’t, even though human causes may have contributed here. Sam Bonis, a geologist at Dartmouth College who is living in Guatemala City, does have a theory about what happened. The 60 feet (18 meters) wide and 300 feet (100 meters) deep hole was caused, it seems, by leaking pipes. Yes, this is true. This is what happens if you leave the water running, apparently. Bonis believes that the city’s poor infrastructure and leaking pipelines have eroded the soil underneath over an extended period of time and in 2010, with the arrival of the severe tropical storm Agatha, the ground finally gave in and collapsed, forming that huge chasm.

But before you start calling a plumber to come and investigate your pipes, you should also know that the ground’s composition also had something to do with what happened here. As it turns out, Guatemala City is located in a somewhat volcanic region and the soil underneath is made out of pumice – a very porous and light volcanic material. Normally, over long periods of time, this pumice is turned into hard stone. But this time, however, the city was built before this was allowed to happen and the soil beneath is quite brittle. Combined with seeping water, over time one such sinkhole can happen. What’s funny about this is that this exact phenomenon doesn’t really have a name of its own. Since it’s partly man-made, Bonis says it should actually be called a piping feature and not a sinkhole, per se. This is because a sinkhole is entirely natural, and this one is not.

7. China’s Rainbow Mountains

The Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park is China’s equivalent of the Grand Canyon. And even though it isn’t as huge, it definitely has its charm – as can be seen in this photo. It’s a geologic marvel, to say the least, and a jewel given to us by Mother Nature. The layer upon layer of color tells the history of Planet Earth in the most amazing way possible. The story behind this colorful mountain range goes back for many millions of years. Over time, layer upon layer of stone and minerals were deposited, but then, some 50 million years ago, India slammed into Asia. Pushing ever further at a speed of 27 feet per century, it was able to form the mighty Himalayas, as well as these mountains. Each differently-colored layer speaks to another period in Earth’s history.

Interestingly enough, these rainbow mountains weren’t always as popular as they are now. They were first mapped back in the 1930s, and only after the area became a UNESCO World Heritage Site did more people began to learn about its existence. There are some other somewhat similar places in other parts of the world, like the United States or Peru. But none of those are so striking as these rainbow mountains in China.

6. Picture, or Painting? – 2011

It’s not so easy to tell whether this is a photograph or a painting, right? Now, it does resemble a somewhat alien and surreal painting, with the trees looking almost like silhouettes and the color contrasts faintly resembling something by Edvard Munch. But no, it’s a real picture taken by photographer Frans Lanting while on an assignment by National Geographic to Namibia. The photo was taken in the early morning, just as the sun was rising over the horizon and flooding the orange sand dune in the backdrop. The barren ground in front is still under the partial cover of darkness, having a slightly bluish tint, reflecting the sky above.

Back in 2011, Lanting was in the Namib-Naukluft National Park, in a region called Sossusvlei. This is the largest conservation area in Africa and Namibia’s most sensational landmark. The sand dune in the background is known as Big Daddy, so yes, and it’s the largest in the area, measuring 1,066 feet (325 meters) in height. Though not the largest in the Namib Desert, it nevertheless dominates the surrounding area.

5. Two (or More) Heads are Better Than One – 1895

Severed human heads always have the capacity of drawing people’s attention, right? Here we have a huge collection of mokomokai, or tattooed Maori heads, and the man sitting with them is Major-General Horatio Gordon Robley. He was a British officer who was stationed in New Zealand during the New Zealand Wars, during the second half of the 19th century. As an artist and as an antiques collector, he became fascinated with Maori tattoos and these mokomokai. After the wars, the art and tradition of these tattooed heads disappeared among the Maori people of the islands, but before the arrival of the Europeans, these denoted a high social status. Now, even though predominantly males wore these tattoos on their entire faces,women of prominence had them on their lips and chin. These symbolized the wearer’s connection with the ancestors.

General Robley was also an illustrator and wrote a book called Maori Tattooing, published one year after this photo was taken. During his stay in New Zealand, he collected these mokomokai. Later, he decided to sell them back to New Zealand for £1,000, but he was refused. He later sold them to the Natural History Museum in New York for 250 pounds more. The heads themselves went through an entire process of boiling, steaming, smoking, drying, and embalming before they were preserved. They were usually kept by the families and brought out during sacred ceremonies. The mokomokai belonging to enemy chiefs were also taken as spoils of war. After a peace was brokered between two tribes, these heads were exchanged as a sign of good will.

4. The Kiss – 1979

We could’ve gone with the kiss scene from Gone with the Wind, the sailor and nurse in Times Square, or even the kiss between Britney Spears and Madonna, but no –we chose this one. It’s not every day you see two old ‘geezers’ kissing, let alone two Soviet-era leaders from the Cold War period. The man on the left is Leonid Brezhnev, the leader of the Soviet Union, while the man on the right is President Erich Honecker of East Germany. The photo was taken in 1979, during the 30th anniversary of the Soviet German Republic. Now, in its proper context, the kiss itself is not so out of the ordinary. Known as the socialist fraternal kiss this was a customary greeting between socialist leaders from the former soviet bloc. It stemmed from the old East European tradition of cheek kissing between family and friends, which itself can be associated with the East Orthodox Easter Kiss.

So, the kiss wasn’t so shocking in and of itself. What was shocking, however, was the enthusiasm shown between the two the moment they locked lips. The photo was taken by Regis Bossu and when it was published it quickly made it around the world. In 1989, when the Berlin Wall went down, former Soviet artist, Dmitri Vrubel, decided to paint it. The painting still exists in Berlin as part of the East Side Gallery. The caption running underneath it says: “My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love.”

3. The Eyes of Madness – 1916

Whoever says that war is cool or glorious obviously has no idea what they’re talking about. This photograph was taken back in 1916, during WWI, and this man’s look is the living embodiment of war and what it actually stands for. That is the look of one’s reality made nightmare. This British soldier was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), or shell shock, as it was called back then. Massive artillery fire was introduced during this time – weapons so powerful and devastating that they denied any chance of courage, heroism, or skill in battle, bringing only constant pummeling and misery. This was no longer an adversary one could see or even face head on – it was perpetual death raining from the sky, and there was absolutely nothing one could do about it. As writer and lecturer Adam Hochschild describes it:“Simply put, after even the most obedient soldier had enough shells rain down on him, without any means of fighting back, he often lost all self-control.”

Shell shock presented itself with a wide variety of symptoms like crippling fatigue, confusion, uncontrollable tremors, constant nightmares, impaired vision and hearing, hysterical paralysis, as well as the inability to reason, among others. But for the better part of the war, this horrific mental disorder went unrecognized and countless shell shock sufferers were convicted of cowardice or desertion and then executed. Only after officially recognizing it as an actual disease did the British government pardon those who were put to death.

2. The Guardian Angels of NYC – 1980

The New York subway scene was not pretty during the late ’70s and early ’80s. Acts of vandalism, robberies, and even shootings became widespread, and taking the underground became a serious risk for daily commuters. This came at a time when the NYPD was completely overwhelmed and some citizens took it upon themselves to make their lives and the lives of their fellow New Yorkers a little bit safer. This is civic duty in action, and it’s never more beautiful or powerful than in periods of hardship. Led by Curtis Sliwa, the Guardian Angels, as they came to be known, were a group of young men who had to deal with the crime-related problems in their own neighborhoods, and who were now looking to make the city a safer place to live.

Over 500 members joined, all wearing their emblematic red berets, leather jackets, or white t-shirts with the Guardian Angels logo on them. Though their numbers weren’t nearly enough to successfully tackle the rampant crimes happening in New York at the time, they were, nevertheless, a comforting presence for any late night subway commuter. Bruce Davidson, the man who took this photo, describes his feelings and general atmosphere of taking the city’s subway in the early ’80s:

“As I went down the subway stairs, through the turnstile, and on to the darkened station platform, a sense of fear gripped me. I grew alert, and looked around to see who might be standing by, waiting to attack. The subway was dangerous at any time of the day or night … Passengers on the platform looked at me, with my expensive camera around my neck, in a way that made me feel like a tourist – or a deranged person.”

1. The Rockefeller Salute – 1976

This is Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, flipping off a group of protesters back in 1976. When this photo was taken, Rockefeller was on a campaign tour through upstate New York, alongside Senator Bob Dole, President Gerald Ford’s running mate for that election. So, after a group of SUNY students from Binghamton showed him the finger, he responded in kind. That’s Dole in the background there, smiling at the exchange. As you can imagine, this gesture of “political maturity” was not received kindly by the media and the country’s citizens, who then started referring to it as The Rockefeller Salute. When confronted about his outburst, Rockefeller refused to apologize by cleverly avoiding the point that his apology was actually meant for the general public, and not just the students themselves.

As governor of New York, Rockefeller was constantly attacked throughout his political career. His fellow Republicans saw him as too liberal, while the Democrats viewed him simply as a Republican. In fact, during this time, all liberal Republicans were called “Rockefeller Republicans.”


Double Takes

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– WIF Photography

Internet Crazes – At Your Own Risk

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10 Terrible (and Dangerous)

Internet Crazes

The internet is a force for both good and evil. On the one hand, it’s given us moreawesome top ten sites and videos of cats falling over than you can shake a proverbial stick at. On the other, it’s sparked endless crazes that run the whole gamut of awful from “really stupid” to “probably deadly.” Here we round up the top 10 worst internet fads of all-time, from dumbass dances, to stupid poses, to shoving condoms up your noses (yeah, really)…

10. Pokémon Go

Landmines and Accidents

pokemongo

At time of writing, Pokémon Go is the biggest thing happening on the entire internet. It’s so big, in fact, that reptilian creatures living on Mars can see it with the naked eye. An‘augmented’ reality game that allows players to track Pokémon across locations in the real world, it has been responsible for players getting more exercise, for Americans learning the metric system…and for endless horrific accidents and acts of obnoxiousness.

First, the accidents. Because Pokémon Go requires players to stare at their phones as they walk around places they’ve never been to before, the game has led to many people wandering into situations they really shouldn’t be in. In America, for example, armed robbers have used the game’s Pokestop feature to lure people into darkened alleyways. If you’re talking about other places, it’s even worse. In Bosnia, players have been lured out into the middle of active minefields.

Then there’s the obnoxious side. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum recently had to beg people not to come onto their premises to catch Pokemon. That’s right: some players are so dead inside that they will actually go looking for Pikachu inside a memorial to the Jewish victims of Nazi genocide. If that doesn’t prove we’re living in an idiocracy, we don’t know what will.

9. #YOLO – Car Crashes and Spoiled Rich Kids

yolo

If a week is a long time in politics, in internet terms it’s probably closer to ice ages. The #YOLO craze only struck in 2012, but already it feels like it happened in another lifetime. An acronym for You Only Live Once, it was something people tweeted, usually with a selfie, just before doing something slightly odd or dangerous.

That’s not hyperbole. People really were doing some stupid stuff in the name of YOLO. A 21-year old wannabee rapper named Ervin McKinness tweeted a shot of himself drunk driving at 120 MPH with the caption #YOLO. In his case, he probably should’ve taken the acronym’s meaning to heart. His dumb stunt caused him to lose control of the car and die in a fiery crash that killed four other people. The moron.

Even when YOLO wasn’t dramatically shortening peoples’ only lifespans, it was still annoying. Nearly everyone who tweeted it was an annoying rich kid on the verge of doing some annoying rich kid thing, like bungee jumping, or sky diving, or (hopefully) sticking their stupid rich faces into a whirring fan.

8. Owling –

The Poor Man’s Planking

owling

Planking was a short-lived craze from the UK, which involved people taking pictures of themselves lying flat (like a plank of wood) in bizarre locations. Sure, it annoyed some people, but we didn’t really have a problem with it. It was what came next that made us slowly lose faith in the idea of a loving God. The creation of Owling.

Owling involved people squatting hunched-over on their feet, staring into the distance. Yes, like an owl. Gangs of smug twenty-somethings would get together and do it in groups, post the photos to the internet, and a new craze was born.

Or not, which is exactly why we hate it so much. Planking came out of people’s natural desire to do something silly and put it online. Owling came out of peoples’ natural desire to get mildly-famous for starting an internet trend. It was just a bunch of hipsters riding the coattails of a genuine, bottom-up craze. Pro tip: when you have to title your first video ‘the new planking!’ you don’t have the new planking. You have Owling. And nobody wants Owling.

7. The Duct Tape Challenge – Terrifying Head Injuries

duct tape

Man. In our day, tying someone up with duct tape and daring them to escape used to be called ‘kidnapping’. Now apparently it’s a ‘challenge’. Semantics aside, the duct tape challenge blew up in early 2016 on YouTube. To play, you just get your friends to wind as much duct tape around you as possible. Then you try to escape. Simple, right?

Sure. Unless things happen to go badly wrong, leaving you with horrific brain injuries.

14-year old Skylar Fish was the unlucky recipient of these injuries. Whilst doing the challenge, he slipped and fell. Since his arms were duct taped to his side, he couldn’t break his fall. The sharp corner of a window ledge did it for him.

Skylar’s eye socket was crushed, blinding him in one eye. The teenager also suffered a brain aneurysm and required over 40 metal staples to be shot into his skull to (essentially) keep his brain from falling out. We’d make a joke about how duct tape could hold head together as well, but that’d probably be crass.

6. Gallon Smashing – Industrial-grade Obnoxiousness and Arrests

Listen: we know that teenage boys are natural troublemakers. We didn’t spend our teenage years trying to build planet-destroying superweapons without picking stuff like that up. But Gallon Smashing took troublemaking to Everest-like heights of obnoxiousness. A short-lived fad in 2013, it basically involved going to your local store, grabbing a container of milk, and smashing it on the floor.

 That was it. Sometimes, you might throw it into other produce and try to smash that as well. Others, you might fall down into the smashed remnants of your dignity and beg passers-by to help you up (the ‘prank’ element). But, really, basically, you were just smashing stuff up and posting videos to the internet, like a drunken redneck at a NASCAR rally.

The craze quickly petered out when everyone realized The Man really isn’t cool with you smashing other peoples’ property up. A bunch of teenage boys got arrested and charged with misdemeanors, and the world gave a collective ‘meh.’

5. Cone-ing – The Prank that Isn’t a Prank

We’re going to have to go right back into the Dark Ages for this one. Cone-ing (or coning, whatevs) is an internet craze from the prehistoric era of 2011. We know, right? It’s also one of the dumbest ‘pranks’ in history. Not because its harmful. If anything, it’s pleasingly restrained. No, cone-ing was absurd because it was a prank that managed to not have any element of pranking to it whatsoever.

The idea was pretty simple. You’d order an ice cream from a drive-thru place. When you got to the window and the bored guy behind the counter handed it over, you’d grab the ice cream and not the cone. At which point… literally nothing would happen. Not one thing. You’d take the cone the incorrect way and drive off. The guy would shrug and go ‘huh, that was an odd way to hold an ice cream’ and go back to work. We can’t stress enough howliterally not a single other thing would happen.

That isn’t a prank. It isn’t even a joke. It isn’t even a vaguely-humorous thought. It’s holding an ice cream cone the incorrect way. And yet it got so popular that even Justin Bieber was doing it.

4. The Kylie Jenner Challenge – Unavoidable Grossness

kylie jenner

Imagine, for a second, that you are an imbecile. You see a picture of Kylie Jenner’s brand new, puffy lips (circa 2015) and decide it’d be fun to temporarily give yourself a look like that. So you get a glass, put it over your lips and create a vacuum by sucking all the air out. What do you think happens next?

If you answered ‘unbridled horror,’ congratulations, you’re cleverer than all the lunatics who climbed onboard this out-of-control bandwagon.

Artificially puffing up your lips using dubious methods turns out to be very bad for your lips and looks in general. The luckiest got away with having horrendous big, swollen, painful lips that made them look like monsters for a short period of time. The unluckiest had blood vessels explode, their lips tear open, blood spray out, and an avoidable trip to the plastic surgeon. Ironically, opting to go straight for surgery would’ve allowed them to get Kylie Jenner-lips with half the pain, half the cost, and only 90 percent of the self-loathing involved.

3. The Harlem Shake – A Manufactured Viral Hit

In 2012, Gangnam Style became the biggest thing in the history of the internet. Psy’s silly dance caught on to such a degree that the official video racked up 2.6 billion views on YouTube. You could literally make a video, upload it to YouTube, and force every single person in China to watch it twice at gunpoint and still have fewer views than Gangnam Style.

Fast forward a year, and the world was looking for the ‘next Gangnam Style‘. Only there was nothing out there. So a bunch of PR guys got together and decided to cynically manufacture a viral hit that would make them rich. Like fools, everyone fell for it. The name of that faux-viral hit? The Harlem Shake.

In 2013, Quartz magazine published a damning analysis of how corporations manufactured the viral spread of the Harlem Shake to make money. It’s a little complicated, but it basically involves a Warner Bros subsidiary, Maker Studios, ‘borrowing’ somebody’s idea and using their PR machine to get everyone on Earth watching it. Feeling cynical yet? If you could see the size of Maker Studio’s bank balance immediately after everyone started doing the Harlem Shake you would be.

2. The Condom Challenge(s) – Repeated Risk of Suffocation

There are two ‘condom challenges’ that became internet sensations, incredibly. We say ‘incredibly’ because not only should the very words ‘condom challenge’ make all right-thinking people start running as fast as they can in the other direction, but also because both involved a serious risk of suffocation.

The first iteration was probably the worst. In the hazy, halcyon days of 2013, some teens decided to outdo all previous challenges by daring one another to snort a condom. You read that right. Against everything Mother Nature had ever intended for us to experience, those who did the challenge sniffed a condom up one nostril and pulled the long, horrible bit of rubbery grossness out of their mouths. That no-one suffocated is kinda amazing.

The second iteration was also crazy. At its most-basic, it involved filling a condom with water and then putting it over your head and filming the results as you nearly drowned inside a device designed to go on men’s wieners. Although rumors of a teen suffocating surfaced in December 2015, these were only rumors and it’s thought no one actually died from the challenge. Some people claimed this was evidence the game was safe, which is kinda like miraculously surviving a multiple car pile-up and deciding you’re therefore invincible to automobiles.

1. Twerking – Cultural Appropriation and Way Too Much Miley Cyrus

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Twerking is a move born in the dance halls of Jamaica and the cities of West Africa. It’s a highly-sexualized dance with a complex history and a whole load of cultural baggage. People have been arguing for decades whether it’s sexy, misogynistic, empowering, disgusting, or just plain fun. Then 2013 rolled around, and suddenly all anyone could discuss was Miley Cyrus’s backside and Robin Thicke’s stupid song.

Twerking became an internet-powered craze after Cyrus rubbed her rump against Thicke’s stump during a TV performance of Blurred Lines. Aside from giving every single person on Earth who saw it lasting nightmares that will never cease to haunt the darkest regions of their psyches, it instantly robbed twerking of any semblance of cool and made it the least hip thing you could possibly do (with the possible exception of using ‘hip’ in a sentence). A whole history of alternative culture was wiped out in a single second by Miley’s nightmarish thrusting.

Luckily, this was one of the few times everybody seemed to unanimously agree an Internet Thing was awful. The BBC even named it their most-annoying word of the year.


Internet Crazes

– At Your Own Risk

The Internet – There is a 1st for Everything

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Internet Firsts That

Changed Everything

The Internet has made the world a smaller place, with a far reaching influence that’s altered the way we view cats and laugh at kids whacked out on drugs after a trip to the dentist. But apart from giving us easier ways to cackle at dumb things, it’s also put more information at our fingertips than any invention in the history of mankind.

It’s had a profound effect on the lives of people around the world in many different ways, yet everything we’ve come to take for granted online came from humble beginnings. Who knows, the next big thing may have already happened in a garage or a basement somewhere and we’re just waiting for it to change the world.

10. First Picture

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The very first picture ever uploaded to the World Wide Web was a picture of the all-girl comedy group Les Horrible Cernettes. The group was made up of administrative assistants and partners of researchers at The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). Silvano de Gennaro, the group’s manager, took the picture backstage at a music festival that was hosted annually by CERN. He Photoshopped it and saved it as a .gif file.

How this particular picture, instead of something artistic or science-based, came to be the first ever picture uploaded to the Web stemmed from the fact that de Gennaro worked at CERN near Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web. When it came time to choose a picture to upload, Berners-Lee used the picture of the band because he wanted to show the heads at CERN that rather than just being a way for scientists to communicate, the Internet could also be fun. He uploaded the picture on July 18, 1992, forever immortalizing a badly photoshopped picture of a comedy band that sang jokes about science.

9. First Email

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Email got its start in the early 1960s, when researchers would leave messages in a mailbox for their colleagues, who could only access the notes on the same terminal. Computer-to-computer email got its start in 1968, when Bolt Beranek and Newman (BBN) was hired by the United States Defense Department to work on ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet. A BNN employee named Ray Tomlinson started working on an experimental file transfer protocol called CYPNET and noticed that it could be used in conjunction with SNDMSG, the program designed to leave electronic messages. In doing so, he discovered he could send a message from one computer to another.

Tomlinson realized that in order to do this, he needed to have an identifier that basically equated to a mailing address. That’s when he came up with one of the most innovative, yet simple ideas of the 20th century: he chose the “@” symbol to connect the user and network, simply because it made the most sense to him. It would include the user’s name and the host where it should be sent.

In July of 1971 Tomlinson sent the first email to the computer next to his, which read, “QWERTYIOP”. After figuring out how to send messages from computer to computer, the idea flourished into the staple of everyday life that we know now.

8. First YouTube Video

The world’s third most popular website got its start in early 2005 when it was created by PayPal employees Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim. The popular story, which Karim now disputes, is that Hurley and Chen were at a dinner party and were struggling to show videos, and those difficulties planted the seed that grew into YouTube.

They first registered the domain on February 14, 2005, and worked on YouTube out of a garage for a few months. On April 23, 2005, at 8:27 p.m. they posted the first video called Me at the zoo. The 19-second video features Karim standing in front of elephants at the San Diego Zoo, talking about his interest in “really, really, really long trunks.”

Since its launch, YouTube has become the dominant video streaming site and is synonymous with online videos. Only Facebook and Google are more popular websites, with YouTube receiving three billion visitors every day.

7. First Domain Name

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Symbolics Inc. registered the first domain name, Symbolics.com, on March 15, 1985. Symbolics Inc. grew out of MIT’s Artificial Intelligence lab, and was the first company to make workstation computers. They were actually so far ahead of the game that “workstation computer” wasn’t even a term at that point. The company went bankrupt in the late 1980s, but the owner of the domain kept paying the dues on the website until August of 2009, when it was sold to XF.com Investments for an undisclosed price. The website is now a museum of sorts, where you can visit and learn random facts about the Internet.

6. First Website

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While Symbolics was the first domain registered, it wasn’t the first website. After all, the internet and the World Wide Web are actually two different things. In the simplest terms, the Internet is what you connect to and the Web is how you view it.

You may remember CERN from the Les Horrible Cernettes photo or maybe the Large Hadron Collider, but they also launched very first website on August 6, 1991. It was a simple page, similar to a Word document with black lettering on a white background with blue hyperlinks. It briefly described project W3, better known now as the World Wide Web.

On April 30, 2013 – the 20th anniversary of the announcement of the World Wide Web – CERN announced they would re-launch the website. They found a copy that dated back to 1992, with the hopes of digging even deeper into the archives for the earliest possible version.

5. First Live Music Stream

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A major difference between the advent of the World Wide Web and other mediums like the radio and television is that the Web didn’t rely on live feeds of sound or video. Instead, the Web was essentially an update of the printing press. At first it was just text, and as technology became more sophisticated the possibility for live video arose in 1993. So what music superstar of 1993 played the first online concert? Bjork? Counting Crows? Celine Dion?

Actually, it was a little-known band called Severe Tire Damage, who played live on the Internet for the first time on June 24, 1993. STD was a rock band made up of computer technologists from Digital Equipment Corp., Xerox, Apple, and Sun, giving them inside knowledge of a technology called Multicast Backbone (M-bone). M-bone utilized voice and video and was used by the Internet Engineering Task Force.

At the time, not many people saw the concert and they may not have received any recognition for their breakthrough, had it not been for The Rolling Stones. On November 22, 1994, the Stones were going to stream 20 minutes from their concert in Dallas utilizing M-bone, and the record label was promoting it as the first rock band in cyberspace. Already well versed in M-bone, STD jumped on the same stream and played before and after the Rolling Stones, a move that garnered them recognition as the first band to play live online.

4. First Item Sold on eBay

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The “story” of eBay has become legendary, with its creation supposedly stemming from a programmer named Pierre Omidyar wanting to give his wifea platform to trade her Pez dispensers. Naturally, the legend is more interesting than the actual story.

In 1995, Omidyar was thinking that the web might make for a great marketplace, specifically utilizing an auction format for fair pricing on items. He launched the website AuctionWeb on September 3, 1995. The first item to sell was a broken laser pointer, which went for $14.83. Confused by someone paying for that much for a defective item, Omidyar discovered the buyer collected broken laser pointers.

Where Pez comes into the story is that, at the time Omidyar launched AuctionWeb, his future wife was big into Pez and traded a lot on AuctionWeb. Omidyar thought it was interesting that collectors were so passionate about ordinary items, obviously not realizing he was about to create a billion dollar empire on that very notion.

3. First Book Sold on Amazon

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Amazon.com got its start in 1995 when founder Jeff Bezos left his position as a vice president of a Wall Street firm. He moved to Seattle and began working on his website, which he originally called Cadabra. Bezos eventually changed it to Amazon in part because Cadabra sounded too much like cadaver, but more importantly because it started with an A, meaning it would be high up on lists ordered alphabetically.

Amazon originally launched as an online book retailer, and the first book sold in July of 1995 was Fluid Concepts And Creative Analogies: Computer Models Of The Fundamental Mechanisms Of Thought, by Douglas Hofstadter. A computer scientist named John Wainwright purchased the book, and to thank him for his business, Amazon named a building on their campus after him. Man, all they ever do for us is offer lousy recommendations on bad movies.

2. First Downloadable Music

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It’s hard to say definitively what the first song on the Internet was, since no one really knew what relationship the web would have with music in the early 1990s. However, it’s widely believed that the first people to put a song online were two guys named Jeff Patterson and Rob Lord. Sometime in early 1993, they uploaded some .MP2 audio files by a punk band that Lord played in called The Ugly Mugs to a file transfer protocol (FTP) portal.

The Ugly Mugs mostly played in Santa Cruz, but wanted to find a wider audience. Soon after getting their own music online, they started uploading other local bands, effectively creating the Internet Underground Music Archive (IUMA). Eventually, they had over 25,000 bands and artists, and over 680,000 songs.

The first Internet single released by a major label happened a little later in 1993, when Geffen Records released the single “Head First” by Aerosmith on the Internet in .WAV format.

1. First Banner Ad

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They may be the bane of your online existence, but banner ads are essential in keeping the Internet humming along, providing revenue streams for all of those free websites you scramble to delete from your browser history.

The origin of this basic staple of the Internet and e-commerce dates back to October 27, 1994. Joe McCambley, who ran a small digital advertising company, created the first banner ad for AT&T. The all-text ad – which said “Have you ever clicked your mouse here?” – appeared on Hotwired.com, the first digital magazine. When the user clicked on it, the link took them to a site where they could do a virtual tour of seven of the world’s top museums. The idea was to show that AT&T could take you anywhere on the Internet.

It’s hard to believe now, but people actually loved it. Amazingly, 44 percent of Hotwired’s visitors clicked the ad, and some even shared it with friends. Compare that to today, when only about 0.0004 percent of website visitors click on banner ads, and sending one to your friends is a good way to lose those friends. McCambley believes his ad was successful because it was part of a marketing strategy, it was fun, and it wasn’t made with bad intentions. Unlike those “discreet encounters” today’s banner ads keep urging you to explore.

The Internet

– There is a 1st for Everything

Improving Education in the United States

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WIF Grammar 101-001

10 Major Changes Our

Schools Should Make

There haven’t been many major changes to the structure of school systems in the past century. We’ve learned so much more about how people learn, yet schools have pretty much stayed the same. And that’s unfortunate, because a few changes could make school better for students, teachers and society as a whole.

10. Healthier Environment

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With obesity rates rising, we’ve all heard calls to make the school environment healthier. This can be done by making physical activity mandatory and serving healthier food, which has been shown to improve grades and teach students healthy habits.

While gym class may not teach anything academic, it keeps students active. Studies have found that physical work is important and helps students learn. Gym is just as important as math, science and other academic classes because schools should take a healthy body and healthy mind approach to education.

Getting students active is only half the battle — it’s also important for them to eat nutritious food. Most schools don’t serve healthy food, simply because unhealthy food is cheaper. So while money would have to be spent to upgrade school lunches, it would be a smart investment because there’s a correlationbetween healthy meals and improved grades. Also, with better nutrition students tend to be in a better mood, making classes run smoother.

9. More Life Skills Classes

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If a person graduates at age 18 with a high school diploma, they’re probably versed in history, math, science and literature. But does this mean they’re ready for all the trappings of adulthood? Most simply aren’t. Experience and training in life skills like budgeting, time management, nutrition and even some social skills can be sorely lacking. For example, how many students coming out of high school know exactly how credit and credit cards work? Not enough of them, as many young people get into trouble with their first credit card. In fact, credit card companies are aware of their ignorance and prey on them. If time was taken to teach students important life skills, it could be one of the most useful things they learn.

The counter-argument is that parents should be teaching their children these things. While that’s true, not all parents will or even can. If life lessons were taught in class, it would ensure that everyone learned the basics of surviving in the real world.

8. Tenure Reform

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There are wonderful teachers that touch the lives of countless students. There are also teachers who haunt your dreams well into adulthood. These horrible teachers keep their jobs for decades, tormenting class after class. If they acted that way in other jobs, chances are they would have been fired. But because they’re teachers, they get to keep their jobs.

Bad teachers can also affect taxpayers. In New York City, there were facilities for teachers accused of misconduct called reassignment centers. There were about 600 teachers in 13 centers around the city, and they were paid to sit in a room and do nothing. They would sit there for months, or even years. It was estimated that in 2012 it cost $22 million to pay teachers to sit and do nothing. Some of the teachers had been accused of sexual harassment, yet were still paid.

While the reassessment centers have been shut down, they show a fundamental problem with teachers’ unions. Getting rid of poor and sadistic teachers is an incredibly hard thing to do, which is awful because a bad teacher could change the direction of a student’s life in profound ways. Teachers’ unions are important, but there has to be an easier way to get rid of the bad apples.

7. No Homework Over the Weekend or Holidays

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This may sound like coddling students, but why do people who work deserve a break on weekends and holidays more than students do? The truth is that everyone needs a break. People are more productive when they have them. Also, weekends off would give students time to be involved in extracurricular activities without their work suffering because they’re forced to rush through it. Instead, it would be better to have dedicated time for work and then free time to unwind and recharge.

6. Mandatory Study Hall

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It’s understandable that teachers would want to maximize their teaching time and then have students do their work at home. And studies have found that a reasonable amount of homework is correlated with higher achievement in school. But while homework is important, research has found that giving students a mandatory study period can be incredibly effective, simply because it’s a dedicated time to ensure some work gets done. When homework is done at home, students have to find the motivation to do the work. They may rush through it, get distracted or simply won’t attempt it. Mandatory study hall in place of one class guarantees them time to do homework, which leads to better test results.

5. Stop Standardized Testing

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In theory, standardized testing makes sense. It’s a quantifiable way to see if a student knows the material. But there are just too many problems with it. Standardized tests tend to be biased against people of lower income, as well as African-Americans and Latinos. In fact, the gap is so big that some school boards have a target percentage for each race. In Virginia, 46% of black students had to pass standardized math tests, while 68% of white students and 82% of Asian students had to pass. No one is sure why the gap exists, as studies have been inconclusive. It’s also important to note that standardized testing has prejudiced roots. According to Columbia University Professor Nicholas Lemann, standardized testing was developed in the 1940s as a way to keep Jewish students out of Ivy League schools.

Another problem is that the tests are created by companies who have little knowledge about the school system they’re testing. The tests are rigid and don’t take many factors into consideration…standardized testing programs often aim to judge students against measures that have little or nothing to do with what the classroom teacher has taught or is expected to teach.

Standardized testing is also expensive, with millions of dollars paid to companies to create and mark the tests. It’s an incredible amount of money that could be spent on more effective tools, like healthier food. Yet schools continue to use this biased and expensive system to measure the worth of their students.

4. Merit Pay for Teachers

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A fundamental aspect of capitalism is paying a person a competitive rate for their performance. In some lines of work, bonuses are also paid out for reaching certain quotas. But teachers aren’t paid this way — a good teacher and a poor teacher who have worked the same number of years are usually paid the same. That’s unfair to taxpayers, good teachers and students. And that’s why some people, including President Obama, think that merit pay is a better method. Merit pay would mean that teachers are given a salary based on their performance, and then given bonuses for meeting certain quotas.

There are two main roadblocks to merit pay. The first is that people are concerned that teachers may just focus on getting the bonus and manipulate the situation by giving students the answers rather than do real teaching. Unionsalso continuously block the idea, because it goes against their fair pay rules. But despite the criticism, studies have shown that merit pay does help students get better grades.

3. Pay Students

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Student motivation is a serious problem. How do you explain to a 14 year old that they need to do well on their math test so they can get into college and then get a good job? The human mind simply doesn’t work that way — the time spanbetween the task and the reward is too vast. However, if students were paid bonuses for doing well, then there’s a more immediate and tangible reward for completing the task. Paying students, even just to attend class and do their homework, has been found to help students in troubled areas. In schools that have paid students, grades improved, attendance increased and the percentage of people graduating went up.

2. Later Start Time for High Schools

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In the United States, the average starting time for high schools is 7:59 am. Schools start that early to save money on bussing, as bus drivers tend to do two different routes. First they pick up and drop off middle and high school students, and then handle grade school children.

While earlier start times may save money, it isn’t ideal for teenagers. It comes down to biology. At about the age of 14, circadian rhythms shift and teenager start to stay up and wake up later. Their brains don’t even release melatonin, a hormone that induces sleep, until after 11:00 pm. Also, teenagers need about nine hours of sleep to function at their best. To wake them up earlier interrupts their natural sleep cycle and makes them less productive students. In a study of 9000 schools, researchers found that grades in all classes got better if the classes started after 8:30. They also found that there was a decrease in the amount of car accidents involving teenagers, because they were much more alert.

1. Year Round Schooling

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School schedules aren’t very productive. Students spend nine months of the year building their knowledge and skills, and are then released for three months. Then in September they’re either expected to suddenly recall everything from the previous year, or spend the first few weeks reviewing and relearning.

The reason we have summer breaks is that before the early 20th century, many cities had different school schedules. The schedule then standardized across the country to make it easier to do standardized testing and distribute textbooks. Prior to summer vacations, cities had their students go to class for about the same amount of time as contemporary students, but their breaks were spread throughout the year. Studies have routinely shown that having students attend school all year round would be more productive and effective. There would be less review, and students would have continuous practice. But the idea of summer vacation is so ingrained in our cultural consciousness that change is difficult.

Improving Education in the United States

2014 – WIF Year in Review

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WIF 1-001

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys

prepared a 2014 annual report for my blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 19,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Can you believe 144 different countries?

Click here to see the complete report.

“Thank you each & every one!”

2014 – WIF Year in Review

The Internet New & Old – WIF Non sequitur

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10 Things On The Internet

That Are Surprisingly Old

The Internet plays such an important role in our everyday life that it’s easy to forget it only become widespread in the last 15 years. Before then the Internet was used by a select few and far less often than it is now. Yet it may surprise you to know that there are things on the Internet that are far older than they initially seem to be. In some cases, the Internet is simply taking advantage of technology that’s decades old.

 

10. The “@” Symbol

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The “@” symbol has become one of the most easily recognizable and most used characters on a keyboard. Its importance in the use of emails, and now in social media, makes it seem like something that came along with the Internet. The truth though is that the symbol has had a much longer life, dating back at least 500 years.

There are numerous theories about who invented the symbol and what exactly it’s been used for in its long history. These include the proposition that it may have come evolved from other words, such as the Latin ‘ad’ and the French á, or that that it may have been a way for scribes to be more efficient in their writing.

The most widely accepted explanation is that it was used by merchants as useful shorthand for “at the rate of,” with the first documented use coming from aFlorentine merchant in 1536. Merchants used the symbol in this manner for a long period, but it eventually fell into obscurity until Ray Tomlinson decided to use the symbol to separate usernames from the computers that they were used on.

9. Email

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Since the early 2000s, the number of email accounts has grown significantly,with a 32% rise in the number of users between 2009 and 2013. People had largely been content with text messages and phone calls as their primary communication method before then.

However, that doesn’t mean that email wasn’t still around before. Hotmail, now known at Outlook, began life in 1996 and had over eight million subscribers by 1997. Email goes back even further than that — the system began as a way to send messages directly to another person’s file directory and was first used by MIT in 1965, although users could only send these messages to others on the same computer network. The first actual email that was sent over a network rather than a single computer system came in 1971 thanks to Ray Tomlinson, with the system soon becoming widespread in academic and military institutions.

8. Emoticons

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Emoticons are used in almost all forms of Internet communication, from message boards to emails to instant messages, but they have humble beginnings in Morse code. Early documents show that operators would useparticular numbers to express emotions and feelings as shorthand, something of a precursor to what emoticons would become. Then, in 1881, satirical magazine Puck published some typographical emoticons, though not with the same intention that they’re used today.

Graphical symbols used to express emotion became more mainstream thanks to the smiley face from Harvey Ball that inspired the creation of other graphics. The first use of emoticons from text used to express feelings came from Scott Fahlman on a message board in 1982. The use then spread across the webthrough other message boards and eventually evolved into what we use today.

7. Text Speak

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The fact that text speak came to the mainstream through SMS messaging means that it would have been moderately popular before most people were using the Internet regularly. SMS became standard in mobile phones from around 1999, even though it was first introduced in 1992.

The practice of using shorthand words and acronyms in messages has now become commonplace not just on smartphones but also in emails, instant messaging and chatrooms. The first time such a system was commonly used was with telegrams, where operators would often charge per character. This forced customers into being economical with their words, with coded expressions and agreed upon abbreviations used. But text speak goes back even further than telegrams — a collection held by the British Library shows documents from the 19th century using such abbreviations, while a letter from 1917 to Winston Churchill has an “OMG” contained in it, with the writer even explaining the term.

6. Electronic Spam

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Junk mail and spam isn’t new. Mass-market printing allowed companies to send junk mail advertising their products or services through the mail, filling up people’s homes with paper that in nearly half of cases is thrown away unread.

The practice has now spread to the digital realm. In addition to physical paper filling up your mailbox, Internet users have the joy of having their inboxes bombarded by spam every single day. Having unwanted electronic advertisements sent directly to users is nothing new though — it’s over 150 years old.

In 1864, a dental surgery sent a large number of unsolicited telegrams to various people in London informing them of their new services. Predictably, most of the recipients were less than welcoming to what was the first instance of electronic spam. Other businesses soon followed that example and spam has been with us ever since.

5. Selfies

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The craze of people taking “selfies” has grown to such an extent that smartphones now come with front facing cameras to allow them to be taken much more easily. Whether it’s at a club, a concert or a tourist destination, you’ll probably see someone taking a photo of themselves on a fairly regular basis. Heck, even monkeys are getting in on the act.

And that’s nothing new. A letter from the Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna speaks of a photograph that she took of herself in the mirror, much like the type of photos you see on Facebook. Similar photos from the same time exist, showing that the process was at least somewhat widespread. The first selfie is widely believed to be a photograph taken by Robert Cornelius. The American photographer created the portrait in 1839, making the selfie at least 175 years old.

4. Online Gaming

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Xbox Live, PlayStation Network and other platforms like Steam and Origin have made online gaming incredibly popular. They allow people to connect with others from all around the world to play a multitude of games. Online multiplayer has evolved to be one of the most important aspects of gaming, with developers spending as much time creating them as single player experiences.

While consoles like the Xbox have helped make online multiplayer mainstreamsince 2002, gamers have been able to play with others through the Internet for far longer. Doom was released in 1993 and became one of the most famous shooters of all time, thanks in part to its online deathmatch mode. Sega meanwhile introduced an online service in 1990 known as Meganet.

However, the first fully online game came out more than 40 years ago. John Daleske and Silas Warner created Empire in 1973, allowing players to control a spaceship and battle with up to 30 players at a time.

3. 419 Scams

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One of the most common types of spam that people receive today are 419 scams. These try to trick people into handing over their bank details so that a businessman or royal can smuggle money out of their country. In exchange for allowing your bank account to transfer the funds, they promise to pay the victim a share of the wealth.

Even before email was widespread, fraudsters commonly used the same con but with the assistance of snail mail. It was a popular scam at least 20 years ago in Nigeria, with criminals sending letters to victims through the postal system. And the basic outline of the con has been going since the 16th century — then it was known as the “Spanish Prisoner” scam and involved an apparent prisoner who needed someone to pay his bail so he could be released from jail. In exchange, the prisoner would give the victim a share of some treasure or savings.

2. Denial-of-service Attacks

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DoS attacks are actions designed to make a website, network or computer system unavailable. The attackers do this by flooding the target with requests so that it can’t communicate with legitimate users, effectively taking the target offline. The most common occurrence of DoS attacks happen when hackers try to take websites offline.

DoS attacks are far from the first time that a technique has been used to prevent technology from operating in its usual way. Black faxes were a common way for pranksters and disgruntled recipients of fax spam to get their revenge on companies. Essentially, the attackers would send a fax machine multiple pages filled entirely with black tone. This served a number of purposes. It forced the fax machine to use huge amounts of ink, which was expensive, and it forced the machine to shut down. The attack also stopped others from communicating through fax, potentially forcing the recipient from being able to conduct any of their business.

1. The Internet

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What most people think of as the Internet officially went live in 1991. But the World Wide Web, a way of searching the Internet using specific characters, was invented by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989. The CERN employee made the software for the World Wide Web available freely, which helped in getting users to adopt it and eventually made it widespread.

The Internet had humble beginnings in the 1960s thanks to networks such asARPANET. This allowed universities to communicate with each other over a closed system. Networks from that time weren’t compatible with others, preventing communication across separate networks. Later systems such asBITNET and USENET allowed users to access messages from different servers, yet there was still no real unifying system to connect all of the networks together until Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web.

WIF Non sequitur

WIF Production-001

– The Internet New & Old