Moving water with the sun

Felicia Cruz, Hanna el Debbar, Jodel Fernandez, Daenne Gomez, Mark Tan, Benny Tañedo, and Chad Yee

Scientists are always on the go; there is a constant demand for coming up with fresh takes on environment-friendly technologies. Our resources, after all, can only last for so long. As of late, there have been avenues sprouting with new and “green” ideas, though among them, the use of solar cells is perhaps one of the most common today.

Harnessing energy from the sun isn’t a new concept to us. Solar panels are present in many places today, even in the Philippines. We can see them on posts along highways and in schools, on the roofs of houses and of some institutions. They’re used to power cellphone chargers, cars, and even planes.

Aside from the examples mentioned, solar energy is also used to address irrigation problems and increase water access in certain areas through the use of solar-powered pumps.

Pump anatomy

A solar pump usually has three main components: The solar panels, the wiring, and a pump.

As you may know, the solar panels are there to collect energy from sunlight. When rays strike the panels, their electrons dislodge and—to put it simply—they go crazy. This allows for the production of direct-current electricity.

Silicon and other semiconductors coImageating the panels enable electron movement and electricity production. The electricity flows through the wiring until it finally reaches the pump. The pump is then powered and is used for the circulation of water.

Because the pump is reliant on solar energy, you may be thinking, what if there are thick clouds blocking the sun? What if there’s just really not enough sunlight? Does that mean people would have to go back to walking long distances just to fetch water?

Not necessarily. First of all, having some clouds won’t completely stop solar panels from collecting energy. However, electricity production (and energy collection, of course) may be diminished by at least 50 percent. Quite a reduction, huh? But hey, at least it still does its job! And besides, when weather conditions get really bad, one can always use the solar pump’s batteries.

No, not the everyday lithium ion batteries, but “water batteries.” These are simply storage tanks that are “charged up” or filled up with water so that in case the solar pump can’t be powered, water would still be readily available.

Walking on sunshine

The solar pump system has its beneficial effects on several levels: In economics, in agriculture, and in its manufacturing and maintenance costs.

Due to the improvements and innovations in manufacturing technology, the cost of photovoltaic cells or PVs (more commonly known as solar cells) has fallen dramatically by a whopping 90 percent since the 1970s. Plus, these PVs last from 20 to 25 years with life expectancies beyond 30 years.

Some manufacturers even opt to add mirror concentrators for extra sunlight plus more energy output at a lower production cost. This enables the invention to cast a wider net of consumers and market.

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The impact of solar panels has generally been good, but some governments that subsidize solar pump systems have raised questions concerning the depths to which water can be drawn from, the time of day where maximum input is achieved, and proper storage of this collected water.

The positive side of the use of solar pumps, however, is quite admirable as seen in the application of drip irrigation for higher quantities of water collection and a better system for optimizing the water flow from the water supply to the irrigated crops. Because solar energy is clean, it takes away the issue of polluting groundwater; it is even practical in flat terrains and cuts down on the amount of waste produced.

Even if certain dams are closed, farmers are still able to water their crops because of this reservoir of water, thus eliminating the gruesome task of carrying liters and liters of water to and from the farmer’s crops. Here in the Philippines, the Pangasinan State University (PSU) has reported an increase in palay harvest with the use of solar pumps that water up to 1 ½ hectares of PSU planted palay.

In terms of its efficiency, just ten sunny hours of solar panels bathing under the sun can get you 900 gallons of water pumped! Moving the solar pumps around isn’t a problem since most of them are mobile. The key then to its efficiency and long-term economic benefits is the low labor and maintenance costs; it pretty much does it all for you.

Here comes the sun

There have been recent improvements in the solar pump and solar panel technology. Flexible solar panels are currently being manufactured, and a solar tracker has even been invented to facilitate their movement in accordance to the movement of the sun. This has increased energy gain by at least 40 percent.

Inventors have also utilized the use of a helical screw in order to ensure performance under low sunlight. With the addition of this helical screw to the positive displacement pumps, the solar pumps bring the water into a chamber and is forced out using the screw. Although this may slow the process, it only ensures consistent performance in longer distances and vertical rises.

Given all these advancements, one could say that the effectiveness of solar pumps and solar panels are on a skyward path; things are only getting better. Perhaps, if we even give this enough time and development, then the slow processing outside of sunlight peak hours and the limitations brought about by cold weather may be lessened and even eventually eliminated.

Sources (MLA)

Alave, Kristine L. “Philippine Farmers among Least Mechanized in Southeast Asia.” Inquirer Global Nation. Philippine Daily Inquirer, 28 June 2012. Web. 31 Aug. 2013.

Borham, Ray. “Do Solar Panels Work When It’s Cloudy.” EzineArticles. SparkNET, 3 May 2010. Web. 31 Aug. 2013.

“Conergy Solar Water Pump Guide.” Kalale Solar Electrification Project. Stanford University, n.d. Web. 31 Aug. 2013. <http://www.stanford.edu/group/solarbenin/data/General%20Solar%20Water%20Pumping%20Info%20from%20Conergy/SolarWaterPumps-SF-US-0711-small.pdf&gt;.

Polak, Paul, and Kendall Storaci. “SunWater: Affordable Solar Powered Pumps for Poor Farmers.” Indiegogo. Indiegogo, 6 May 2013. Web. 31 Aug. 2013.

“When to Choose a Solar Powered Water Pump.” Everything Ponds. Everything Ponds, n.d. Web. 31 Aug. 2013.

Sources for photos (in order)

http://www.global-greenhouse-warming.com/solar-water-pumps.html

http://peda.gov.in/eng/prom_SolarWaterPumping.html

(Edited) http://www.lowimpact.org/main_images_for_topic/philosophy.jpg

http://fc01.deviantart.net/fs71/f/2012/165/6/2/praise_the_sun_banner_by_mrwallas79-d53gonb.png

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The Story of Life through a Straw

by Angela Abaño, Mari Chiong, Spencer Galit, Ysa Gohh, Cody Ipapo, and Rajah Padaen

          This is a story of change, a story of science and innovation, of life, and of hope; and it all begins with a straw.

       Once upon a time, the Vestergaard Frandsen company, together with the Carter Foundation, focused on eradicating the Guinea worm in Africa; so they made a “simple cloth fiber” that would remove the eggs. Since they noticed that most of the people drank water in the field, at school, while traveling and not just at home, they invented a “mobile unit in the form of a drinking straw with the filter cloth inside.” When they distributed more than 20 million of these straw filters, “the company had the idea to further develop the straw into a filter that removes not only worm eggs but all pathogens, and the idea of LifeStraw was born” (Heierli 2008, p.80).

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          As its name implies, the LifeStraw resembles a straw, albeit much bigger. It retains a regular straw’s cylindrical shape but measures 9.25 inches long with an inch long circumference and is made out of durable plastic. For the sake of portability, a string connected to the LifeStraw allows users to wear it around their necks. To use the LifeStraw, users just drink water as they would with any regular straw and the device automatically purifies the liquid passing through (Barksdale and Kershner n.d.).

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          How does the LifeStraw achieve this instant purification? Previously, it used iodine to kill bacteria but the latest versions now filter water mechanically. Within its cylindrical shape, the LifeStraw uses the microscopic pores contained in hollow fibers to trap impurities such as dirt while allowing clean water to pass through, making it a microfiltration device. These fibers are capable of filtering 99.9999 percent of sediments, bacteria and parasites from water measuring 0.2 microns and bigger. However, people should not expect the LifeStraw to treat water laced with heavy chemicals or salt. After usage, air simply needs to be blown out to clear the filter. Remarkably, the device makes no use of any electricity or power throughout this entire process (Barksdale and Kershner n.d.).

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          In terms of usage, one LifeStraw unit is capable of purifying 1,000 liters of water in its lifespan. This means that people can drink 2.7 liters of water a day (which approximates the recommended daily intake for water) for a year before needing to replace their LifeStraws (Barksdale and Kershner n.d.).

       lifestraw-family-350While a normal LifeStraw unit is already useful, a larger unit called the Lifestraw Family was developed to purify greater amounts of water intended for several people at once. The LifeStraw Family can purify eighteen times the capacity of the original at 18,000 liters and can ideally service a family of five for three years. Despite being much bulkier with a blue bucket, prefilter, longer plastic tube and filter cartridge, it still makes use of the original technology, using a series of hollow fiber filters to purify water. These fibers have even smaller holes than the ones featured in the original, making it an ultrafiltration device capable of removing viruses the original cannot. Although its greater ability to purify water implies that it is harder to clean and maintain, the LifeStraw Family requires minimal wiping of its prefilter and releasing collected residue on a regular basis (Barksdale and Kershner n.d.).

    LifeStrawCommunityinuseimage   Following the personal LifeStraw and the family filter LifeStraw Family, an even larger-scale filtration system called LifeStraw Community has been developed. This filter is designed for the community, educational, and institutional settings. It uses the same filtration system as the LifeStraw and LifeStraw Family, and can filter 100,000 liters of water in its lifetime. It also has a built-in storage container for 25 liters as well as 4 taps to dispense water, making access to clean water convenient (CELF n.d.).

          The distribution of LifeStraws is executed through Vestergaard Frandsen company’s partnership with nonprofit agencies, faith-based agencies, government, corporations, Ministries of Health, and other aid agencies. In the year 2011, the company donated more than a million LifeStraw Family to Kenya and was able to make it 500lifestrawavailable to 4.5 million Kenyans through the help of its local Ministry of Health (Barksdale and Kershner n.d.). Several units were also given away after major natural disasters such as the Pakistani floods of 2011 and 2012, the Haitian earthquake of 2010, the Japanese earthquake of 2012. (Hult Social Entrepreneurship 2013).

The Spark for Change

          Because of the continuous depletion of drinkable fresh water, about 780 million people especially in poor and less developing countries are needing supplies of clean water as of 2012. Waterborne diseases also kill 3.4 million people a year, in which the majority of diseases are caused by fecal matter (Water.org n.d.). An additional 1.5 million deaths each year are due to diarrhea caused by drinking contaminated water. (Vestergaard Frandsen n.d.)

          Hence, the advent china_water_pollution_019of the LifeStraw and the various distribution projects related to it have dramatically reduced mortalities caused by the lack of safe drinking water, especially for women, children, and those with compromised immune systems who easily fall victim to water-related illnesses (Saatchi & Saatchi n.d.).

For the more than one billion people who lack access to safe drinking water, LifeStraw® could mean the difference between life and death (Saatchi & Saatchi n.d.).

       Indeed, the LifeStraw is an effective and extremely beneficial innovation, for it provides an answer to the needs of millions of people. Since it is a portable and point-of-use item, children who go to school, adults who go to work, and even travellers and hikers can be sure to have safe drinking water almost anywhere that there is water. This is especially relevant in developing countries where clean water is difficult to obtain. Moreolifestraw-hikingver, the fact that it does not use chemicals to filter ensures that the filtered water contains no additional chemicals or unnatural taste (unlike the first model of the LifeStraw that left iodine after filtering). As it also does not need electrical power, batteries, or replacement parts, the invention is surely energy-saving, environment-friendly, and efficiently easy to use.

“LifeStraw® is a wonderful, simple and elegant solution to a problem that kills millions of people, especially kids, every year. I hope it gets out into the world in huge numbers very fast.” —Saatchi & Saatchi Judge Peter Gabriel (qtd. in Saatchi & Saatchi n.d.)

What Lies Beyond

          The LifeStraw has changed quite a bit since its initial launch in 2005 in order to better address the problem of the lack of clean drinking water. One problem the first version of the LifeStraw encountered was that it took too long to filter large amounts of water because of the way its filter system worked. Water passed through a pre-filter, filter, iodine chamber, and activated carbon chamber. This made for a slow rate of filtration, and if sipping through a LifeStraw were your main means of drinking clean water, one would have to spend a lot of time sipping each day as opposed to drinking from a cup.

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          The LifeStraw is currently in its third version, and this iteration makes use of a hollow fiber membrane, which improves its rate of filtration opposed to the many-chambered version. It also removes any iodine taste the water might have due to the removal of the iodine chamber. The product line has also been expanded by its company, and now larger filter systems named the LifeStraw Family and the LifeStraw Community, as previously mentioned, can now conveniently store larger volumes of unfiltered water and dispense clean water on demand in homes, as well as schools.

        Furthermore, the LifeStraw can effectively filter out pathogens and other particulates through membrane size exclusion, but unfortunately it cannot purify polluted water of industrial wastes, nor can it reduce the salinity of salt water. The product works well in rural areas where bodies of freshwater tend to be unpolluted by things the LifeStraw cannot filter, but what about a more urban setting? Perhaps, with the continuing advancements in nanotechnology, the possibility of commercially available and more exclusive (in terms of filtration) filters is higher. Instead of simply a microfilter, the LifeStraw may evolve into a nanofilter that removes more things that the current LifeStraw cannot (i.e. industrial chemicals and salt).

What If?

         Philippines_flood_dThe Philippines is no stranger to flooding during the rainy season, and one of the major problems afflicted Filipinos have during a flood is, ironically, the lack of clean drinking water. This is why bottled water donations are a common sight in relief operations. Can LifeStraw technology help alleviate that? Can we drink the flood away? It is a possibility, but first we have to know what harmful things have to be filtered out of floodwater, and whether the LifeStraw is capable of dealing with them. We know that there are tons of pathogens in floodwater, which is why wading through it is a bad idea, but what about harmful chemicals? It isn’t far fetched if floodwater brings with it chemicals we aren’t supposed to consume from nearby polluted bodies of water. Further evaluation and testing is needed to determine whether or not the LifeStraw can be a part of the solution to this problem in our country.

The Bigger Picture

         Coastal pollutionLooking at the bigger picture, the LifeStraw may solve the problem of the lack of clean drinking water, but it does not solve the larger problem of water pollution. Seeing as the LifeStraw products have transformed from a personal straw (LifeStraw) to a family filtering system (LifeStraw Family) and even a community-oriented system (LifeStraw Community), this trend of growth may expand even further. Larger quantities of water are being filtered by these latter systems, making the possibility of filtering even bigger bodies of water grow closer and closer.

          Imagine the potential of using the LifeStraw’s filterwater-pollutioning method for sewage systems. Its capabilities of filtering E. coli and other bacteria in fecal matter and urine ensures safe disposal of sewage waste that will not contaminate our bodies of water. However, evaluation and comparison with the current sewage treatment system has to be done on many levels (economic, effectiveness, etc.) before the systems are changed. Since the LifeStraw filtration method is not everlasting and needs eventual replacement, perhaps it may serve as an additional process to the sewage system instead of a complete replacement.

          Ultimately, the LifeStraw along with other current water treatment systems show us that it is not too late to reverse water pollution. We are currently at the stage of purifying water at the point of drinking, thus allowing millions of people access to safe drinking water that they could not obtain otherwise, and henceforth improving their health lifestyles and preventing fatal waterborne diseases. Through science and effective innovation however, we may hope to completely undo the contamination that we have inflicted upon our bodies of water. Technology is constantly evolving, and this lets us hope to see the day that a complete reversal of pollution may take place.

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References

The photographs are linked to their respective sources. (Click the pictures.) Photos without direct links were made by the authors.

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Project Loon: Appropriate or Full of Hot Air?

by Miguel Benavides, Rowie Chua, Katherine Khoo, Alexandra Martin, Juana Montelibano, Laura Que, Maegan Santos

On October 16, 2012, the people of Kentucky spotted something in the sky and it was nothing like they have ever seen before. It was described as “a glimmering, tubelike shape hovering ominously high above” by Allen Epling, an amateur astronomer who observed this object for hours. Some UFO-fanatics even speculated that it could be continuing visits from the Galactic Federation fleet. While everyone was in confusion of what it could be, Rich DeVaul and his Google Team knew the answer for they were the ones who were responsible for the unidentifiable flying object. They were testing out their new project, Project Loon (Levy.)   loon5        

What is Project Loon?

            Aiming to provide wireless internet connection to rural and remote areas across the globe, Project Loon is Google’s latest experiment that involves solar-powered balloons that are sent to the stratosphere at an altitude of about 20 km and are controlled by the winds towards the desired direction (“Introducing Project Loon”). According to Google’s official video, two out of three do not have the luxury of easily access to the Internet. Google’s Project Loon could be one step closer to the solution.

Initiated less than two years ago, Project Loon was formulated in Google’s high-risk research arm, Google X. Rich DeVaul, an expert in wearable technology whose MIT dissertation involved “Memory Glasses”, was tasked to become a “rapid evaluator”. His primary duty was to consider almost impossible ideas that just might turn out to work, and point out the reasons why it wouldn’t. “Our goal at Google X is to kill a project as fast as we can,” says Astro Teller, who runs the lab with Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

Project Loon seemed like one of the projects that were likely to be rejected. There are a lot of obvious reasons why it would not work. One of the main reasons was how ballooning works because its limits involved centuries-old mysteries that seemed to be unsolvable. Another is manpower to maintain navigation and power for the long-duration flights that Google would need. DeVaul, though, had an idea – steering the balloons by adjusting the altitude to find wind currents towards the right direction. Google, which is good in computing things, could grab government data available to control wind currents in the stratosphere. DeVaul was confident enough to pursue the project since his task to spot the flaw is unsuccessful.

In August 2011, DeVaul started its trials in California’s Central Valley. He and some colleagues would launch a hand-made balloon with a Linux computer and some antennas on board, then drive his Subaru Forester to follow the balloons around. Most flights failed yet none of the balloon terminations, however, gave DeVaul a reason to lose hope and terminate the project, no matter how hard he tried. “It was really impressive how long he carried that goal of killing the idea,” says Astro Teller.

The project was then officially announced as a Google project on June 14, 2013. Succeeding the official announcement on June 14, Google commenced the pilot experiment in New Zealand where they blasted 30 balloons in coordination with the Civil Aviation Authority. Much to their surprise, the team found out that the project somehow worked and local users around Christchurch and the Canterbury Region benefited from balloon-powered Internet. The trial run in Tekapo was undoubtedly successful.

Project Loon, still in its experimental stage, is way too far from being a dead-end. The mere concept of it entails a global solution to those the majority who have minimal or no connectivity at all. Google now plans to launch these balloons around the globe for a philanthropic cause- to help us connect.

How does it work?

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            The Project Loon balloons are designed to have three main parts – the balloon envelope, the solar panels, and the small box. The inflatable part of the balloon is called the balloon envelope. They are “made from sheets of polyethylene plastic and stand fifteen meters wide by twelve meters tall when fully inflated.” (http://www.google.com/loon/how/) They are uniquely made for use in superpressure balloons, which last longer than weather balloons because they can endure higher pressure from the air inside when the balloons reach the minimum altitude where it is able to float. Gas is released from the envelope to bring the balloon down in a controlled descent when a balloon is ready to be taken out of service. In the small chance that a balloon drops too fast, the parachute that is connected to the envelope is deployed. The solar panels that power each balloon’s electronics are found in between the envelope and the small box. These solar panels can produce 100 Watts of power which is sufficient to keep the unit going while also charging a battery for use at night when the balloon is under full sun. Project Loon is self-sufficient using only renewable energy sources because its movement is wind dependent and its energy is sun dependent. Lastly, the small box that hangs below the envelope acts like the basket of a hot air balloon. It contains circuit boards as the control panel of the system, radio antennas for communication with other balloons and the Internet antennas on the ground, and batteries for solar power storage so the balloons can operate during the night.

Project Loon balloons are high-altitude balloons that travel around 20 km in the stratosphere. Winds in this part of the atmosphere are mostly constant and slow-moving from 5-20 mph. Two things to observe in each layer of the winds in the stratosphere are direction and magnitude. Software algorithms are used by Project Loon to determine where the position of its balloons need to be, then moves each one into a layer of wind blowing in the right direction. By being able to place the balloons properly in the stratosphere, the balloons can be arranged to form one large communications network. The Project Loon balloons acquire power from solar panels that are card table in size that dangle just below and gather enough electricity in four hours to power the internet signal to the ground stations for a day. There are ground stations far below with Internet capabilities about 100 kilometers apart that bounce signals up to the balloons. The signals would jump forward, from one balloon to the next, along a backbone of up to five balloons. This makes anyone in the world who has a Project Loon antenna and is within range to a balloon, easily have access to the internet.

What social problems does it intend to address?

            The Internet has a lot of advantages to offer to its wide array of users. Some of these advantages are its global presence, easy accessibility and wide-scale communication (“The Importance of the Internet”.) Its presence can be found in almost all parts of the world, and you can easily have access to it. In fact, when some of us consider what restaurant to eat in or what hotel to check in, we would first check if they provide free wifi connection. Through the Internet, wide-scale communication was made possible and easier. Keeping in touch with family members across the globe can easily be done with different applications for that purpose such as apps like Facetime and Skype. Another powerful thing that the Internet offers us is information. Information about everything is available on the Internet and this is easily accessible to almost everyone. With such readily available information, it has become easier for people to work and study. This is a factor to a faster development and improvement of a society. The Internet has really become a vital aspect of our lives and some, including I, cannot live without it anymore. But for something that is considered to be so important, why is it not available for everyone?

It is said that everyone has free access to the Internet. This is true, but it remains to be only for those who have the means to be able to pay for access to it and this is something not everyone has. In fact, among the current seven billion population of the Earth today, only 2.7 billion are online. The other 4.3 billion are in underdeveloped areas that cannot afford to connect to the Internet (Levy.) But when you think about it, those who do not have access to it are the people who need it the most. The things that the Internet are able to offer to its consumers are things that can help with the development of a nation. For example, those who are unable to attend school can learn things from the Internet and even download educational books that can help with further studies. Farmers who are experiencing difficulties with their crops can get information and knowledge share by others in the Internet for better harvest. In cases of calamities, they can be immediately informed through the Internet of the current conditions of their area and could respond accordingly. Thus, avoiding avoidable accidents and disasters. These are just a few situational examples on how the Internet can help the financially unstable. Through this, those people will be able improve their living conditions because they are now better informed and educated.

This is what Google is trying to address through Project Loon. They are trying to make the Internet accessible to everyone, and when they say everyone, they really mean everyone, all seven billion inhabitants of our world. Thus, everyone can enjoy the benefits that the Internet has to offer.  

What barriers does the project need to overcome?

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Project Loon is attempting to give everyone Internet access by floating a plethora of balloons that can provide internet connection across the globe. Although conceptually sound, it however becomes difficult when it becomes grounded in reality, where governments strictly control their air space, with some countries going so far as banning transits into theirs (Talbot). If Google intends to fly its balloons over a country’s territory, they will have to get permission from the country’s government first. This is a difficult obstacle to overcome given that there are countries that don’t perceive the United States of America in a friendly manner (Fitchard); it doesn’t help the fact that Google is an American company (Villasenor). So what will happen if a country doesn’t want Google’s balloons in its territory? The only thing that can be done is for the balloons to follow a predetermined path across the world that avoids said countries; however, the balloons aren’t tuned that way just yet. All that Google can control is the altitude the balloons are in, from there the balloons are dependent on the movement of the air currents on that specific altitude. With recent strains in international relations, Google may not be so audacious in stepping over aviation bounds to further implement their plans. Another difficulty in providing everyone with internet access using the balloons is the fact that not everyone has the means to even own hardware that can connect to the internet (Talbot). Groups of people who barely have enough to eat three times a day, will most likely not have the means to even connect to the internet provided by these balloons, rendering the balloons almost useless in such areas.

Can we consider it as ‘appropriate technology’?

As it is designed to bring the Internet to those who do not have ready-to-access Internet connections in their areas, Project Loon can be regarded as an appropriate technology because it caters to a need that is relevant in a world like ours today. Since most of us have been relying on the Internet for almost everything we do, Project Loon allows networks to be built among the entire global community. This innovative design is powered by renewable energy sources such as the wind and sun. Even the materials used for the balloon are economical. Sheets of polyethylene plastic, a chemically resistant, durable, inexpensive plastic material, are used to create the balloon envelope.

Future Direction of this technology

            Google’s ambitious project is still in its infancy, and it will take many years of testing and marketing for it to be accepted by the global community. Its potential, however, is quite imaginably ludicrous and philanthropic at the same time. To set up a global network that would cover nearly every area of the world, thereby connecting nearly every single human being on the planet, is a grand, noble undertaking, which doubles as a marketing strategy to invite other nations or corporations to support the project. It is possible that its philanthropic vision will garner much support from the international community as the technology proves itself over time. Such support would hinge on the current trend of the economy’s growing dependence on technological infrastructure. If the developed nations can expand network coverage everywhere, their capitalistic influence would be greater. These areas that would then have access to the Internet would in turn become members of a global community that furthermore engages in the online market. As an economic and business venture, Project Loon shows great potential to become both lucrative and philanthropic.

Its ethical and socio-political implications deserve some discussion. What need is there for people afflicted with malaria in a remote part of Africa to be able to connect to the internet? This is precisely the point raised by Bill Gates in his criticism of the project. Yet, we believe this is the wrong kind of question to ask. The project has no intention of becoming a cure to deadly diseases or a panacea to all the world’s evils; instead, it serves to connect people and allow the seamless transfer and collection of information. This information could, one may imagine, be in the form of a local map showing data streams of the areas affected by, say, a recent flood, or perhaps the number of people afflicted with a certain disease. The project grants the potential for other initiatives to seamlessly and efficiently implement their own philanthropic ventures. For example, consider an initiative to provide underserved areas a drug that treats an infectious virus. If Project Loon’s technology were in place, then it would mean this new company can gather live data about each area’s state of health along other data metrics that may be useful, such as the exact location of the affected and the population density. The real advantage would be real-time tracking, which in turn, grants those taking the initiative to gather live feedback that can be used to calculate effectively the optimal way of distributing the drug.

Furthermore, the aforementioned criticism of the lack of actual hardware devices to connect to the Internet does pose a serious problem. In underdeveloped areas, such technology is not even available. What then does the future hold for Project Loon for these unconnectable places? One could notice the ever present trend of computer chips getting cheaper and cheaper since we continue to make more and more of them. The cost then to manufacture equipment that can connect to the Internet consequently decreases, so other initiatives that perhaps would like to implement a tracking system can do so by cheaply providing these equipment and training locals in using them.

Project Loon’s future is, as of the moment, quite uncertain, but given the recent trends in political and technological progress, it is possible for the project to succeed, if not exceed its initial or surface value as a mere business venture. Its potential benefit for humanity may not be direct, but it can serve as an important instrument for other initiatives that do have a direct impact in helping human society.

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Conclusion

Project Loon is far from being a dead-end. Still in its experimental stage, this project by Google pushes the envelope in terms of what is innovative and essential in the twenty-first century. The mere concept of it entails a global solution to the majority who have minimal or no connectivity at all. Google now plans to launch these balloons around the globe for a philanthropic cause- to help us connect. And while there are several issues raised about its feasibility and its purpose in the global community, Google sees a greater cause in this venture of theirs. By providing access to information available online, more things are possible with just a click of a button. For Google to achieve this in a few years’ time would be a marvelous feat because then, even the unreachable would be reached and more opportunities would be opened for all whether it be in education, health, business and trade, and government policy.

For now, Google has to keep on developing Project Loon in order for it to be successful. What they have accomplished so far is already quite remarkable and the future seems promising for the project. Whether or not Project Loon truly takes off in the future (pun intended), one thing is certain: it is a great example of appropriate technology.

References:

Brodkin, Jon. “Google’s “Project Loon” flying Internet coming to homes in California.” Ars Technica. N.p., 21 Aug 2013. Web. 1 Sep 2013. <http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2013/08/googles-project-loon-flying-internet-coming-to-homes-in-california/&gt;.

Fitchard, Kevin. “Project Loon: Google’s Biggest Obstacle Isn’t Technology. It’s Politics — Tech News and Analysis.” GigaOM. N.p., 21 June 2013. Web. 01 Sept. 2013. <http://gigaom.com/2013/06/21/project-loon-googles-biggest-obstacle-isnt-technology-its-politics/>.

Levy, Steven. N.p.. Web. September 1, 2013. <http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/?p=160141>.

“The Importance of the Internet.” netinternals. N.p.. Web. 31 Aug 2013. <http://www.netinternals.com/network-solutions/index.asp?trade=the-importance-of-the-internet>.

Villasenor, John. “Can Google Fly Its Internet Balloons Wherever It Wants?” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 16 June 2013. Web. 01 Sept. 2013. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnvillasenor/2013/06/16/can-google-fly-its-internet-balloons-wherever-it-wants/&gt;.

Levy, Stephen. “How Google Will Use High-Flying Balloons to Deliver Internet to the         Hinterlands.”Exclusive. N.p., 14 06 2013. Web. 31 Aug 2013. <http://www.wired.com/business/2013/06/google_internet_balloons/all/google.com/loon>.

“Introducing Project Loon: Balloon-powered Internet access.” Blogspot. Google, 14 Jun 2013. Web. 1 Sep 2013. <http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2013/06/introducing-project-loon.html>.

Talbot, David. “African Entrepreneurs Deflate Google’s Internet Balloon Idea.” MIT Technology Review. N.p., 20 June 2013. Web. 01 Sept. 2013. <http://www.technologyreview.com/news/516186/african-entrepreneurs-deflate-googles-internet-balloon-idea/>.

Perry, Nick, and Martha Mendoza. “GOOGLE LAUNCHES INTERNET-BEAMING BALLOONS.” The Big Story. Associated Press, 15 June 2013. Web. 01 Sept. 2013. <http://bigstory.ap.org/article/google-begins-launching-internet-beaming-balloons >

“Project Loon: How Loon Works.” Project Loon. Google, n.d. Web. 01 Sept. 2013. <“Project Loon: How Loon Works.” Project Loon. Google, n.d. Web. 01 Sept. 2013.>

 

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XO: Three in One Learning

Asuncion, Calanog, Maleval, Tabuena, Sison, Tan, Tiambeng

In a world of continuous innovation and discovery, technology is slowly integrating itself into humanity to the point that its absence is unacceptable and it disenfranchises the dignity and quality of human life. We will have to admit though that the kinds of modern technology that supplement life are expensive and generally inaccessible to a great number of people, especially those living in developing nations who constantly get left behind. It isn’t feasible, however, to simply provide everybody computers, cellphones, and Wi-Fi stations. That would be too expensive and most members of impoverished communities don’t even know how to utilize technology to empower themselves. What then must be done?

This is where appropriate technology comes in. Azelvandre defines appropriate technology as “technology that is tailored to fit the psychosocial and biophysical context prevailing in a particular location and period.” Appropriate technology is the sustainable way for third world countries so that they may be able to get back on track. In order for something to be classified as an appropriate technology, Azelvandre provides us with four criterion.

The first criterion is that it must be cheap. Since the focus of appropriate technology is the third world countries, people who will be using the technology must be able to buy the stuff that they need or else who will be able to use the appropriate technology?

The second criterion that Azelvandre presented is that it must be accessible. Materials that will be used in making/building the appropriate technology must be found easily in the target country/place. If the required materials are found outside the area of scope, then it will be difficult for the people to buy and replace the materials that they need since they have to travel in order to be able to buy the specific material.

The third criterion that Azelvandre presented is that there should be a room for creativity. The appropriate technology must be flexible so that when certain problems arise, people may be able to change a part of the technology to be able to sustain their needs.

The last criterion that Azelvandre presented is that it must be small scaled. It must be simple enough because the people onlylittle knowledge about technology or appropriate technology.

Here’s an Example:

ImageThe One Laptop Per Child Association (OLPC) tries to bridge the gap of difference by providing low-power, low-cost, and portable computers, called XO Laptops, to children in countries like Uruguay, Rwanda, and Afghanistan. It was created for those who do not have sufficient educational resources to use.

With the XO, children can be connected to the internet, and learn with easy-to-use software equipped with lessons, exercises and games. It is designed to be durableImageagainst harsh environments such as high temperatures and humidity and also has support for local languages. The XO laptop was made with the real world in mind to make sure that the laptop would bedurable, energy efficient and fun as well.

 “Most of the more than one billion children in the emerging world don’t have access to adequate education. The XO laptop is our answer to this crisis—and after nearly two years, we know it’s working. Almost everywhere the XO goes, school attendance increases dramatically as the children begin to open their minds and explore their own potential. One by one, a new generation is emerging with the power to change the world.”

The laptop is around the size of a textbook and lighter than a lunchbox. In addition to that, the computer has no hazardous parts.

OPLC- XO Laptop

“XO is fully compliant with the European Union’s RoHS Directive. It contains no hazardous materials. Its LiFePO4 or NiMH batteries contain no toxic heavy metals, plus it features enhanced battery management for an extended recharge-cycle lifetime. It will also tolerate alternate power-charging sources, such as car batteries. Children may also have a second battery for group charging at school while they are using their laptop in class.” 

It’s also quite amazing that OLCP was able to make a computer that adapted to the harsh realities of developing countries. It’s energy-efficient and durable.

With regards to the execution of the project,the OLPC’s original plan is to be able to build 150 million laptops for the kids by the end of 2008. Negroponte and his team was not able to consider all factors on support requirements. Clearly, Negroponte’s idea on XO laptop is very smart but it he must also consider other factors like time and budget. Kids having laptops is a great idea but it’s better if the teachers can have training on how to use the technology. In the case of Nigeria, they prefered Intel’s Classmate PC over the XO laptop even though it is cheaper because Intel provides support. Also, Negroponte demands other companies to stop producing laptops that are similar to the XO laptop. It may not be personally gratifying for him not to offer his idea to other companies but if his goal is to help the kids, then he should be willing to be able to accept the options offered to him.

Image

Mongolia

        As members of a privileged class of citizens, it is easy for us to overlook the problems and difficulties that could be addressed by this appropriate technology because it is also easy for us to overlook the technological benefits we experience on a daily basis. If you think about it, is it fair that children similar to us aren’t experiencing the benefits we experience just because of the lottery of birth? Computers, applications, and the internet make life so much easier to live. Information can be compressed and accessed with the click of a button. Learning becomes more enriching with images and user interaction. Fun is no longer something that has to be put on hold. These laptops connect children to an outside world, showing them that their lives weren’t so small after all.

This kind of technology is far from perfect, however. OPLC is an ambitious idea but it does not fully answer the educational problems that countries have. The XO laptop teaches basics, therefore only addressing education at a young and tender age. Moreover, XO is no longer made for the “real world” as it has become more centered around the western society. The software in the tablets and laptops mainly relate to western needs and less on the different poor environments they were supposedly made for. This just means though, that there are many other opportunities to better the product.

Technology has become such an important part of human life that it no longer acts as a privilege, but as a necessity. In the future, we can expect other similar forms of technology.

Sources:

http://www.uow.edu.au/~sharonb/STS300/technology/appropriate/artapprop.html

http://laptop.org/en/laptop/index.shtml

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Light of the World

Cruz, Discar, Ng, Parlan, Tabafunda, Trinidad

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     In developing countries such as ours, one of the most devastating realities is the fact that a huge percentage of the population is struck by poverty. Situations of extreme poverty deprive the people of their basic needs. One such basic need that is being deprived of to the community, especially in the world of today, is the source of electrical energy. Even on daytime, people in the poor settlements experience darkness in their homes.

      The rise of the Appropriate Technologies – technologies that uplift the standard living of the developing world, gave the poor communities a chance to get back on their feet, one step at a time. An innovation that proved to be of significant value in solving the problem of light deprivation among the dark areas of the communities is this simple technology that takes advantage of the ability of water to refract light. In 2002, Alfred Moser was able to recreate the coming of the Light – the ‘Artificial Light of the World’, the Moser Lamp, or more popularly known as the Solar-powered light bulb. And it doesn’t cost people anything! Indeed, salvation has been shared to the people, especially towards the poor, where this appropriate technology is directed.

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“It’s a divine light. God gave the sun to everyone, and light is for everyone. Whoever wants it saves money. You can’t get an electric shock from it, and it doesn’t cost a penny.”
– Alfred Moser

HOW IT WORKS

     The technology of the Solar Bottle Bulb consists of a clear plastic bottle, usually a 1 liter soda bottle, filled up with a solution of purified water and bleach. The bottles are placed in roofs with half of it inside the house while the other half outside. A sheet of iron is placed in the middle of the bottle so that when placed in a roof (with a hole), the bottle would not fall/drop.

     The water inside the bottle is filled with bleach to “poison” the water so that the molds would not grow, keeping the water clear for years to come. Then by the fact that water disperses light through refraction, houses now have an alternative for a light bulb that equals a 60-Watt bulb without even costing for electricity and the bulb itself. Talk about energy-efficient and environmentally friendly.

 

EFFECTIVENESS

     The good thing about the technology of the Solar Light Bulb is that it can actually be created by people in the community from scratch. The materials used are cheap and are already readily available, thus the people living in the poor settlements can use them effectively. Because it doesn’t use any form of electricity, using this technology reduces the danger of faulty electrical wiring that causes fires. What’s more, the bulb does not produce and harmful pollutants. However, the simple innovation is not perfect. Obviously this technology wouldn’t work at night since it only gets its light from the sun.

 

IMPACT

     From the concept of this simple and innovative piece of technology, it is already clear how greatly this could impact societies, especially those living in impoverished areas.

Image

“Alfredo Moser’s cheap and environmentally friendly invention is picking up steam in developing nations around the world. The ‘Moser lamp’ was picked up by the Liter of Light campaign and is now brightening 140,000 homes in the Philippines.”
– Carol Kuruvilla, New York Daily News

 

     It’s a light source that can be easily made by anyone from a used plastic bottle and a solution that can be attainable and created anywhere.  Aside from being an easily accessible technology, it also is a means of recycling those plastic bottles that are always being produced because people love buying their drinks in large portions.  We all know plastic isn’t exactly a renewable resource, so when there’s a good, efficient way to reuse it, like reusing plastic bags from groceries for trash bags, then it does us and the rest of the world some good.

     And that’s the first impact it has on society so far.  In the Philippines alone, when this project started, it was used to brighten over 140,000 homes in squatter areas.  It gives even the poor a source of light.  Sure, it doesn’t work at night, but the initial alternative was that they had no light at all times anyway, and if at night they then have to resort to the usual means of lighting with the use of electricity, these bottle light bulbs are still helpful in the sense that it cuts down electrical usage to half a day.  It’s also capable of being used widely over several areas throughout the world because of its simplicity and accessibility.  After the use of the bulbs in the Philippines, it even began to spread to other impoverished areas in countries such as India and Colombia.

     The solution of bleach and water however, as previously mentioned, only lasts five years, but then again that’s not exactly a downside.  Everything runs out eventually and needs to be renewed or replaced.  The fact that it can last five years is actually pretty impressive if you consider the alternative electric light bulb.  The ones in my own condominium sometimes pop or die out in less time than that.  And it costs electricity which costs money.  These mixtures are easily replaceable and don’t have as bad effects as our current electrical means do.  And again, it’s useful to everyone.  Now it’s not just the people with jobs and money that can afford to live in the light.

Image

     To sum it up, this is a great innovation.  Despite minor, almost insignificant issues with these bottle lights, it’s one of the easiest, cheapest, ways to have access to light.  It saves on electricity, using our sun as a natural source for light.  It saves on waste as creating one requires reusing old plastic drink bottles and it helps cut down electric light usage down to half or even to none if you can tolerate the night time.  And again, the biggest impact it could have, with all its efficiency and usefulness, is how widespread and accessible it is.  With it, every single home on the planet could have one with just these simple materials and ingredients.

     With that said, government assistance would be welcome in furthering this process. The government could help fund this project to spread this innovation more quickly and farther around, helping even more people.

 

 

 

FUTURE DIRECTION

     At its current state, the Solar Bottle Bulb is serving its function. It provides an electricity-free light source to enter the home. The product is cheap to make and the usage can last for up to five years. It probably won’t evolve into something more advanced in the near future, save for the possible renewal for the future material to be used.Image

     The improvement of the product is very difficult as the materials used are quite simple. Perhaps a safer replacement for bleach can be used, or if unable to produce any, reduce the amount used, as bleach is very dangerous. Further improvements can be made through the strengthening of the outer materials such as the iron and bottle. Though improving of the product is possible, it may be very hard to be able to make this product work at night due to the lack of daylight.

     There is future innovation for this. There are a lot of possibilities that may happen because of this project. It may be the cause for inspiration to some scientists trying to create an energy source that is cheaper and more environmentally-friendly. It might also cause an increase of simplified technology for those in need. The future is very vague and unsure, but there is one thing that we’re sure of: Because of the Solar Bottle Bulb, The future is BRIGHT.

     Then Moser (not Moses) said: “Let there be light.” And there was light… for everyone… And it was good.

 ————–

Sources:

How to Build a Solar Bottle Bulb Solar Bottle Bulb. Rep. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Aug. 2013. <http://aliteroflight.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Liter_Of_Light-How_to_build_a_Solar_Bottle_Bulb-English.pdf&gt;.

 

A Liter Of Light *Official Version*. Playwiththejunglegym, 24 Aug. 2011. Web. 31 Aug. 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-Fpsw_yYPg&gt;.

 

Buzz Skyline. “Solar Bottle Superhero.” Web log post. Physics Central. N.p., 15 Sept. 2011. Web. 31 Aug. 2013. <http://physicsbuzz.physicscentral.com/2011/09/solar-bottle-superhero.html&gt;.

 

Kuruvilla, Carol. “Brazillian Mechanic Creates Light Bulb Using Water, Bleach, and a Bottle.” NY Daily News. NY Daily News, 14 Aug. 2013. Web. 31 Aug. 2013. <http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/brazilian-mechanic-creates-light-bulb-water-bleach-bottle-article-1.1427011&gt;.

 

Ambani, Pritie. “An Innovative and Cheap ‘Solar Bottle Bulb’ Solution Lights Homes in Manila.” Weblog post. Ecopreneurist. Ecopreneurist, n.d. Web. 31 Aug. 2013. <http://ecopreneurist.com/2011/09/14/an-innovative-and-cheap-solar-light-bulb-lights-homes-in-manila/&gt;.

 

“Solar Bottle Lamps: Water + Bleach= 10,000 Liters of Light.” Dornob. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Aug. 2013. <http://dornob.com/solar-bottle-lamps-water-bleach-10000-liters-of-light/#ixzz2dW4hJaAL&gt;.

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The Price of Technology

Asuncion, Calanog, Maleval, Sison, Tabuena, Tan, Tiambeng

Does anybody remember what it was like to actually play with toys that was in our hands? To have that grand dollhouse displayed in front of the store or that Hotwheels race car that we always see on commercials? If you know what playing with these toys felt like, then you’re lucky. It’s scary how things has changed over the span of a few years. Everywhere you go, kids are carrying iPads or iPhones playing the same things we used to play, only virtually. Having an iPad went from being a luxury into being a necessity for kids.

What happened to good ol’ hopscotch or playing tag with your neighbors or the kids at school? The kids today are much too dependent on technology that they rely too heavily on these gadgets. The emphasis on the need for these children to go out and experience life is stressed. They need to be able to go through what we went through: to play in parks, playgrounds and to be able to interact with other kids.

Eventually these kids will grow up and when they do they’ll discover Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all those other social networking sites. These social networking sites are actually great for keeping in touch with friends who’re out of the country or those you haven’t seen in a while but don’t forget that social networking could cause harm to a child’s attitude and personality. The internet is something very very wide and once something is posted online, it can never be fully erased.

Take twitter for example. They say it’s for freedom of expression, which is true but keep in mind that twitter can be read by the general public unless your account is private but even then, sometimes people have a way of stalking and finding out whatever you’ve been tweeting. just a constant reminder to all those people who go on twitter and saying everything at the top of their heads, please be mindful of your actions.

The idea of online responsibility should be raised here as to educate internet users of the power that they have and of course, the responsibility that comes with it. They can’t just go around bad mouthing people and destroying other people’s images without consequences. There has been a lot of cases of fights and misunderstandings that happen online, not even in person. Some social networks though, prove to be very useful in our daily lives.

Facebook Groups for Schools already had file sharing
Facebook. Facebook helps people connect with each other easily and at the same time presents itself in a way that most people will not be able to survive without it. Such features of facebook includes chat, groups and pages that actually help students as they can post, share and comment on groupworks or homeworks.

Technology isn’t all that bad. Think of how easier life has been since technology came to life. We no longer have to deal with telephones that take forever to dial, just one press of a button and we’re calling our friends for coffee. No need for postal mail which will arrive a few weeks when a text message could be sent and received within a minute. No doubt technology has made our lives easier and more convenient. Can you imagine a world without smartphones? Without text messaging? How will the youth survive.

Love Emoticons

The youth seems to survive with just text messaging. Emoticons convey how they’re feeling and our hands are never without our cell phones. It’s funny how the world has come to this. Parents will always be telling us about how it was back in their day when they would have to meet the person in order to communicate with them while we stay at home fingers busy tapping away on whatever message we want them to receive. text messages are actually quite the chatterbox if you think about it and of course, one of the most widely used technologies ever.

Technology has brought great convenience to the world. From the way we communicate to the way we do the simplest tasks like writing, rathe, typing this blog, technology has paved the way for an easier life for all of us. We just rely too much on it that we forget about what matters most which is spending time with real people, not just through technology but personally. After all, nothing beats a face to face conversation with those who really matter.

Technology is so much fun but we can drown in our technology. The fog of information can drive out knowledge.
Read more at 

Technology is so much fun but we can drown in our technology. The fog of information can drive out knowledge.

-Daniel J. Boorstin

We can’t live without technology. Not now. It makes everything more convenient and advanced and it has become part of our lives. Even in schools they use technology for the students to learn better and faster. The issue isn’t about stopping technology because we become loners in a room communicating through cyber space, the issue is to be aware that technology is supposed to help us in our daily lives. If it starts to control your life, then something is wrong.

Picture Sources:
www.celebritybabies.people.com
http://www.cbsnews.com/
news.softpedia.com/
www.quickonlinetips.com

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Stop, think, click!

Felicia Cruz, Hanna el Debbar, Daenne Gomez, Jodel Fernandez, Mark Tan, Benny Tanedo, and Chad Yee proudly present…

A Science 10 Blog-slash-melting point of philosophy majors' perspectives

A Science 10 Blog-slash-Melting Point of philosophy majors’ varied perspectives.

These days, people can hardly go a day or two without social networking. The global phenomenon has tightly intertwined themselves with our day-to-day needs: Communication, self-expression, work. Let’s be honest here, since when have you gone a few days without Facebook?

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I don’t know either.

Generations Y to Z are already so familiar with these sites: Instagram for a picturesque view of the world, Twitter to capture opinions in 140 characters or less, and Facebook for pretty much everything else. With 1.15 billion Facebook users , 130 million Instagram users, and 200 million active Twitter users, there really is no doubt that this is the age of social networking.

Throughout this global boom though, it’s been apparent that most of these sites require personal information in order to tailor their services to user-specific needs. You know, name, age, sexual preference; hell, even your address. Here comes the problem then: What about privacy? How is that ensured?

According to good ol’ Merriam, privacy is the quality or state of being apart from company or observation –a kind of seclusion, in a way. How is this taken into account then if social networking sites pretty much know a lot of stuff about you? Maybe this is exactly where privacy protection goes in, swooping down so gallantly from its lofty cloud of human rights. But then, again, how certain is the quality of its implementation? Are we even safe?

2

The questions just keep coming, don’t they?

Where’s the trust?

It’s not like these concerns are unfounded though; they have their grounding in real-life situations that have put to question the delicate trust between millions of users and some large social networking sites. The following are just to point out a few; the in-depth stories could be viewed in the sources below.

Quite recently, cases were filed against Google and Facebook for the misuse of user information. Various users have claimed that a number of apps on Facebook have sent personal information to advertisers and internet tracking companies while Google, through Google Buzz, has shared personal information to its other users.

Also, there was a study which showed that 87% of Americans are highly concerned with their safety on the web, while 61% of adult Americans are highly concerned. This apprehension stems mostly from the idea of third-party sharing: Whether users can check how their information is being used, whether sites they use are totally reliable, and whether or not users can remove their personal information.

Furthermore, a current study by the UK Watchdog has found that 71% of web users don’t really know what the actual policies are for privacy protection, nor read them at that. This illustrates precisely how myriad users click the “okay” or “agree” button without reading the terms – even when there’s sensitive information on the line.

Perhaps these claims and figures are but a small part of the bigger picture—of the true state of privacy when it comes to social networking sites—but there is value, still, to be taken here. Maybe after reading these, you should ask yourself, are you secure with the information that you hand out? And did you actually read the user terms?

“You mean to say, I have rights?

Personal strokes

If you’re terrified with the thought that personal information is being misused by big, multimillion dollar sites, then please do also think again. It’s no longer even about other people invading your privacy or misusing information obtained from social networking sites. Sometimes, it’s the user him/herself who agrees to disclose personal data: Whereabouts, photos, videos, sexual preferences… The list can go on, and in turn, online stalking becomes easier.

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Please refrain from both.

What’s even worse is that there really is no way to check for what is happening to a photo or video. Even with the control granted by user votes and reports, an administrator can only do so much – and even then, the damage would already have been done.

For example, if a humiliating photo was taken at a party and is posted online without its subject’s consent, then his/her reputation could be severely damaged; and he/she would probably not find out about it until it has already been exposed to an enormous audience and had already damaged his/her image badly.

In this case, it wouldn’t even matter whether you yourself have an account, so long as the perpetrator does. In most cases, the persons posting such things online don’t always have ruthless intentions – it’s usually society’s everyday viewers who are lightning-quick in judging what they see. Classic example? The “amalayer” episode. And of course, who could forget Christopher Lao?

5

“Good thing I unfriended my parents…”

Subtle shifts

This issue of privacy is pressing, relevant, and consequential to the realm of social networking. Apparently, transgressions have been made by both sites and users alike – the main question then isn’t so much as to whose fault it is, as much as it is in precisely what steps we, collectively as a human race, are willing to take in response to these issues.

Perhaps, from the point of view of the user, much can still be done about this. For one, the world really doesn’t need to know what you’re doing, minute by minute. Seriously. And then there’s the mindfulness that should come with handling sensitive information – especially with details that could compromise well-being. You wouldn’t tell a stranger on the street of your personal details, would you?

Perhaps, these both boil down to education. It’s really just a matter of getting these into countless people’s heads before they learn (the wrong way) otherwise. Like they say, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks – let’s teach the new dogs then, shall we?

It’s perfectly understandable, how the internet and its vibrant selection of social networking sites didn’t come with a user’s manual or a golden code of conduct to follow. This is still a completely new thing, anyway. Not to say that one should be established in the near future though—that would be actually very lovely—but realistically speaking, the values should begin with us. MJ would be proud.

Questions, more questions

Social networking sites have done us a wonderful thing. They provide an avenue for chatting, for blogging, for group works, for file sharing, for media – the list goes on and it doesn’t seem to approach a limit to its utility. For as long as the internet will live, so will Facebook and Twitter, among other big-time sites.

We are in the age of information – the building blocks to knowledge, which eventually integrates and coalesces into understanding. The more we understand our world and ourselves then, the deeper we could appreciate the sublime blueprints of reality.

Nothing’s ever that simple though. Our world is riddled with complexity, with grey areas and with postmodernity; there is no clear-cut right or wrong action to take, especially given the weight of our contemporary dilemmas.

There is no one way to solve the issue of privacy with these sites, though the truly human thing to do wouldn’t be to give up on this; the more human choice would be to reckon with these, to reconsider, and to ponder on the questions worth asking.

And as said before, it always starts with the self: Do I even value my own privacy? And if so, to what extents will I take this?

Sources (in MLA format):

Cha, Jiyoung. “Information Privacy: A Comprehensive Analysis Of Information Request

And Privacy Policies Of Most-Visited Web Sites.” Asian Journal Of Communication 21.6 (2011): 613-631. Communication & Mass Media Complete. Web. 2 Aug. 2013.

Hong, Weiyin, and James Y. L. Thong. “Internet Privacy Concerns: An Integrated

Conceptualization And Four Empirical Studies.” MIS Quarterly 37.1 (2013): 275-298. Business Source Complete. Web. 2 Aug. 2013.

O’ Bien, Deirdre, and Ann M. Torres. “Social Networking And Online Privacy: Facebook

Users’ Perceptions.” Irish Journal Of Management 31.2 (2012): 63-97. Business Source Complete. Web. 2 Aug. 2013.

Rallapalli, Murthy, and Dinesh Verma. “Privacy Negotiation In Socio-Technical Systems.”

Technology & Investment 3.1 (2012): 13-17. Business Source Complete. Web. 2 Aug. 2013.

Smith, Craig. “(June 2013) By The Numbers: 12 Interesting Instagram Stats.”

Expandedramblings.com. Digital Marketing Ramblings, 23 June 2013. Web. 05 Aug. 2013.

Smith, Craig. “(July 2013) By The Numbers: 20 Amazing Twitter Stats.”

Expandedramblings.com. Digital Marketing Ramblings, 21 July 2013. Web. 05 Aug. 2013.

Smith, Craig. “(August 2013) By The Numbers: 39 Amazing Facebook Stats.”

Expandedramblings.com. Digital Marketing Ramblings, 4 August 2013. Web. 05 Aug. 2013.

Sipior, Janice C., Burke T. Ward, and Ruben A. Mendoza. “Online Privacy Concerns

Associated With Cookies, Flash Cookies, And Web Beacons.” Journal Of Internet Commerce 10.1 (2011): 1-16. Business Source Complete. Web. 2 Aug. 2013.

Thierer, Adam. “The Pursuit Of Privacy In A World Where Information Control Is Failing.”

Harvard Journal Of Law & Public Policy 36.2 (2013): 409-455. Academic Search Complete. Web. 2 Aug. 2013.

Photos (In order of appearance):

<http://www.meetingwomensecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/CLueless-Guy.jpg

<http://screencrave.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/Alice-in-Wonderland-Alice-Looks-Down-The-Rabbit-Hole-24-2-10-kc.jpg

<http://i128.photobucket.com/albums/p180/mattyb5458/confused_zpsccc0e9d0.jpg&gt;

<http://www.societiesmirror.com/image/funny-pictures/small/1103/-funny-pictures-1301006675.jpg

<http://toxictopix.webs.com/topix%20forums%20cyber%20bullying%20hurt%20kids.jpg

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