Darren and I got up early and opened presents. Then opened the champagne.
As Christmas Day should be spent; doing very little with the most important people in your life.
That’s what we did, and it was lovely.
Darren and I got up early and opened presents. Then opened the champagne.
As Christmas Day should be spent; doing very little with the most important people in your life.
That’s what we did, and it was lovely.
We have our Christmas stockings out.
Spending Christmas in Dublin I took in the seasonal spirit and general atmosphere in the city centre on the eve of the day of Christmas: Monday 24th December 2012. Grafton Street was crazy, the shopping centres were terribly busy, Henry Street was filled with shoppers. Generally, it was brilliant. Having all the time in the world and all we had to purchase were champagne flutes, strawberries, vegetables, tortilla crisps, beer and wine.
I had a fantastic Christmas Eve. Dublin Does it well. The weather was a little weird though. Blue skies and just a little chilly. This time two years ago it was 26°C colder than this year!
Christmas Tree at Smithfield
Powerscourt Shopping Centre
Powerscourt Shopping Centre
Darren in Powerscourt Shopping Centre
Darren on Grafton Street
Sexy Sax Guy, he is not
Instagram have now fully reverted to their original terms and are scrapping the possible advertising plans. In a statement Kevin Systrom, Instagram co-founder, said:
The concerns we heard about from you the most focused on advertising, and what our changes might mean for you and your photos. There was confusion and real concern about what our possible advertising products could look like and how they would work.
Because of the feedback we have heard from you, we are reverting this advertising section to the original version that has been in effect since we launched the service in October 2010. You can see the updated terms here.
He also made it very clear that “We don’t own your photos – you do.”
As predicted, Instagram have clarified their modification to the Terms of Service that sent the internet into a flurry yesterday. By “clarified” what they really did was admit that they made a mistake and attempt to bring back the users who were thinking of leaving.
Kevin Systrom said in an update:
I’m writing this today to let you know we’re listening and to commit to you that we will be doing more to answer your questions, fix any mistakes, and eliminate the confusion. As we review your feedback and stories in the press, we’re going to modify specific parts of the terms to make it more clear what will happen with your photos.
Some day, someone in social network companies other than lawyers will read over new terms of service before publishing them.
— Stuart Gibson (@stuartgibson) December 18, 2012
To put it simply, Instagram thought of a way of making money by allowing advertisers to use the data and images uploaded in order to create ads. No, not ugly banner ads, but something that might actually be useful. This is what we want! Gone are the days where men would be inflicted with ads for panty liners or tampons, instead we receive advertising based on the things which are actually suited to us, based on the stuff we like, the stuff we look at etc.
This is what Facebook does. But as MG Siegler says, many people have issue with Facebook for this very reason. I don’t understand it either:
That’s the thing: why was the default thought here to assume that Instagram was out to do something nefarious? Because Facebook now owns the company? Why is it the default thinking that Facebook is out to do something nefarious?
I’m currently being fed ads for Walkers’ Sensations Crisps — which I’m currently</> munching! — something from Tesco, a photography forum — I do like photography, Starbucks — I do enjoy coffee, a “gift for him” from Boots and items from a Jewellers — because I’m in a relationship? This is stuff I may have a use for. This is why cookies are good. This is why personalised advertising is a good idea. Google is no different. Gmail also trawls your emails for clues as to what advertisements to serve you!
However, this was not clearly spelled out by Instagram, nor their lawyers, and this is where they went wrong:
The language we proposed also raised question about whether your photos can be part of an advertisement. We do not have plans for anything like this and because of that we’re going to remove the language that raised the question. Our main goal is to avoid things like advertising banners you see in other apps that would hurt the Instagram user experience. Instead, we want to create meaningful ways to help you discover new and interesting accounts and content while building a self-sustaining business at the same time.
Nilay Patel explains what the new language means in terms we can understand:
The new terms actually make things clearer and — importantly — more limited. That “on, about, or in conjunction” with language is dead and gone. Now you’re only agreeing that someone else can pay Instagram to display your photos and other information only in connection with paid or sponsored content. These phrases have very specific meanings — Instagram can’t sell your photos to anyone, for example. It simply doesn’t have permission. And Budweiser isn’t allowed to crop your photo of a bar, slap a logo on it, and run it as an ad on Instagram — that would go well beyond “display” and into modification, which Instagram doesn’t have a license to do. (In fact, the old Instagram terms allowed for modification, but the new ones don’t — they actually got better for users in that regard.) In technical legal terms, Instagram doesn’t have the right to create a “derivative work” under 17 USC §106. The company can’t sell your photos, and it can’t take your photos and change them in any meaningful way.
So what can Instagram do? Well, an advertiser can pay Instagram to display your photos in a way that doesn’t create anything new — so Budweiser can put up a box in the timeline that says “our favorite Instagram photos of this bar!” and put user photos in there, but it can’t take those photos and modify them, or combine them with other content to create a new thing. Putting a logo on your photo would definitely break the rules. But putting a logo somewhere near your photos? That would probably be okay.
Some, like Mat Honan of Wired Magazine, did quit Instagram yesterday. I wonder if he regrets it today? He has updated his post adding “Without a clear commitment on its end, I’m not making a clear commitment either: In short, I still want options.” So… he hasn’t committed to quitting or has he? And what of the others who jumped ship? I believe they jumped the gun.
On the issue of copyright, Sam Biddle of Gizmodo has it very wrong. Whether or not these images are “throwaway” or “dumb” that is a bad and completely irrelevant argument. The issue is whether companies can make money of our data and content. Our intellectual property. There is a lot more to be discussed about the value of the content we put online, and more importantly, who owns it. Bottom line is: if you don’t want your content used by products and services online don’t upload your content to the websites of free products and serices. Or at least read the terms before you do so. Fine with all that? Then carry on.
I will be staying put for now.
It’s been revealed that Facebook wants to be able to make money from the photos shared on Instagram, the company it paid almost $700m for in September (after a bid of $1bn in April 2012). Naturally, in order to do that all they have to do is add a few lines to the Terms of Service, which no one reads, stating that they can now sell your images with advertisers:
“We may share User Content and your information (including but not limited to, information from cookies, log files, device identifiers, location data, and usage data) with businesses that are legally part of the same group of companies that Instagram is part of, or that become part of that group (“Affiliates”). Affiliates may use this information to help provide, understand, and improve the Service (including by providing analytics) and Affiliates’ own services (including by providing you with better and more relevant experiences). But these Affiliates will honor the choices you make about who can see your photos.”
There are a number of points to be made about this, some cynical, and some to be taken seriously.
Really? Tell me you didnt suspect that all those free sites with limited revenue ideas weren’t going to steal something from you.
— jon levy – Foto8 (@foto8) December 18, 2012
On the cynical, half-truth, note: we all (100 million of us) signed up to a free service and willingly gave them our content. Our content. Our content And what did we expect them to do with the content? After all, they are in the business of making money, and believe it or not, the internet is becoming less “free” every day. That which is “free” is paid for by reams of advertisements, or indeed by you. If you want something, you must pay for it. You are the product etc.
Too many people are “scared” of the internet; the big social networks, search engines, services etc. But it’s really very simple: if you don’t want someone to know something, don’t put it on the internet. Or, find an alternative. Want a search engine without personalised search and tracking? Try DuckDuckGo. Fed up with Facebook? Why not migrate to Diaspora? Or maybe the revamped Myspace? But you don’t jump ship, you stay where your friends are, and you learn to accept that it isn’t a free for all, it isn’t a democracy, and if you want something to be private don’t put it on the Internet. Sure you can lock down your account — go private. But how “private” do you really believe that is? And what value do you get from it? Operate a covert operation of mouthing off to a select few people of whom you don’t know and will never have a real connection with. But then you could get a pen and paper and begin with “Dear Diary…”
For those truly interested Terms of Service; Didn’t read has rated a number of free online web services by the way in which they handle the terms and privacy policies. As is stated, before the recent update, Instagram’s terms included the right for Instagram to distribute through any media, whereas now this right is also transferred to Facebook.
Sure it’s not very nice of Instagram/Facebook to sell your pictures to advertisers, however this is nothing new. Twitpic made a similar move in May 2011 to prevent users from selling or distributing their own images which had been uploaded to the service. This was then changed and everyone was happy. But few are aware that most photo sharing service have similar clauses: they own your data. While it is often in the best interests of the company to ask for and get the rights they can in order to display and reproduce content, many will abuse this right.
I will, however, leave Instagram unless they alter these terms before they come into effect on January 16 2013. I was reluctant to join to begin with and it was fun while it lasted. I care about my public image and my data and I’m willing to pay for a service which will not claim my work as theirs, without comment or credit. As I do, and will continue to. While I understand that in order to be a part of the social web today some sacrifices must be made, but this crosses the line. My images are not “throwaway”, each one tells a story. Part of my story. And I don’t give them away for free. Believe it or not, there are a lot more interesting and useful images than pictures of lattes, cats and sunsets for Facebook to make money from.
Here are just a few of my own favourite images taken with Instagram:
I think I aptly covered all relevant clichés.
Another protest in Belfast — how very Northern Irish. Whether it’s a protest against government cuts, fighting for abortion legislation, the killing of a police officer, we do love a good protest — but despite what some say, such gatherings are vital. Sure, creating hashtags on Twitter, shouting about how awful it is on Facebook, and creating memes are a large part of what it is to show disapproval, physically rallying in the centre of town shows that the people are serious about taking a stand. Armchair activism is vital for getting movements off the ground, but it needs to be taken to the streets.
Today I am proud to be from Belfast. Over 1,000 people gathered at the City Hall for an hour. Then at 11.55 whistles, horns and drums came out. Screams could be heard all around and the clapping was contagious. The atmosphere was electric. There was no tension in the air. Everyone was happy to be out. If anything, it made us simply feel better about the people who live here. As one placard said: “It’s a piece of land, and we all have to live on it.”
This was a non-political event. Organised on the ground by a very small number of individuals, which rapidly spread over the course of just a few days, this is the way in which our society will continue to move forward. This is about more than a flag, this is about informing the small, violent, minorities that we do not want violence. The very fact that many did not turn up today due to fears for their (and their childrens’) safety from a counter-protest, is a sad fact in itself. However, today was peaceful, and we can only hope that tomorrow will be peaceful.
The next step is ensuring that the positive attitude that everyone went away with can be shown in the party policies, that our government leaders can lead us away from violence. That the fight for peace can resonate in the minds of those who continue to disrupt the peace. Whatever the outcome, we came together and showed our support. For peace. For no violence.
I won’t apologise. I will constantly tweet about #BelfastPeaceRally. I don’t my kids growing up with the shit I did. Sunday 11am City Hall
— Karen O’Rawe (@classygenes) December 15, 2012
Very heartwarming to see all the photos and videos of todays #BelfastPeaceRally. Wish I could have been there!There in spirit from work lol
— Emma Lyttle (@EmJLyttle) December 16, 2012
Very proud of my friends and others who made a brave and dignified stand for progress – no trouble here #belfastpeacerally
— Laura Kelly (@laurakaykelly) December 16, 2012
The 2011 Census data released today continued the growing trend of religiosity losing its majority populace throughout the UK. In Northern Ireland 16.86% of the population responded as having “no religion” or “did not state religion” whereas the response for “persons with no religion or religion not stated” in the 2001 census was 13.88% — this marks a small increase of an increase of 2.98%.
In England and Wales the number of people selecting “no religion” increased from 15% in 2001 to 25% in 2011.
The NI data reveals 48% of the resident population are either Protestant or brought up Protestant, a drop of 5% from the 2001 census.
However, the numbers show that 45% of the resident population are either Catholic or brought up Catholic, yet only 41% Catholic on census day.
Putting this with the figures for national identity — the first time this question has been asked — the overall statistics become much more interesting as well bringing a better understanding of the politics of people in Northern Ireland. Just 25% regard themselves as Irish only. This just shows there is not a definable correlation between religion and national identity/voting pattern.
According to the BBC
7% say they either belong to another religion or none
And the UTV reported this as
Just over 5% of people in Northern Ireland said they do not belong to any religion
Each news outlet is taking different data to be the correct response.
The BBC are giving the number of 6.75% of those who “who did not state religion” for Question 17 which asked “What religion, religious denomination or body do you belong to?”. While UTV gave the number of those 5.59% of those who answered “none” to Question 18 which asked “What religion, religious denomination or body were you brought up in?”.
Neither of these take into consideration the 10.11% of people who answered “No Religion” under the same Question 17.
This inaccuracy of the data reporting is extremely important, and it’s a shame to see the media portray the numbers incorrectly. The numbers of those who have no religion are
Jill Farquhar states why this is important:
As politicians use the census statistics to form policy and allocate resources this type of misrepresentation is extremely significant. The use of data conflating religion with religious background produces an image of Northern Ireland which is significantly more religious and significantly less diverse than is actually the case. This reinforces the Catholic/Protestant binary and justifies the continued intrusion of religion into lawmaking in NI (see the restrictive abortion legislation for example).
More broadly, the conflation of ‘religion’ with ‘religious background’ perpetuates the idea that the religion of our parents defines our own religious identity and produces religion as something essential to the individual rather than something which can be changed, challenged and/or rejected.
For the purposes of the NI census, it seems, atheists really are ‘catholic atheists’ or ‘protestant atheists’.
Based on the data in English and Wales, the British Humanist Association (BHA) has calculated that if the change in Christianity shown between 2001 and 2011 continues, then Christians would be recorded as being in the minority from September 2018.
This is highly significant data as we watch rationality become the norm, yet there are still continued efforts to be done in education, particularly in Northern Ireland, which has seen a rise in Atheism and secularism, and indeed a growing progressive liberal community, however this has been much smaller than elsewhere in the UK.
Below is the data comparing the 2011 census data with that from 2001:
an interesting thing,
in that it becomes an
entirely different event
when done with someone
alone, it is routine,
a mindless necessity,
like using the bathroom, or
starting your car.
you lay there and try to get
comfortable, and drift off,
and eventually, wake up and
continue on with your life.
but with a lover, it is all
daily life becomes this void,
this dully, disappointing filler
between the hours in which
you can lay together again,
curled up in
you take a slow,
deep breath, and gaze
upon your lover’s eyelids,
trying to imagine everything
that could be happening
until you part ways
and reunite in a dream.
My last day of primary school was certainly one of the happiest of my childhood. My mother’s response was, “Don’t say that. You’ll look back on these days fondly. You don’t want to leave. You’ll think of these as the best days.”
“No I won’t.”
“Yes you will.”
I didn’t. And I still haven’t.
They are still my least favourite days.
I was bullied all through school. I didn’t have friends. And the few that I did have were dicks. It was only much later (say, in the last 5 years) that I have become completely confident in myself and my abilities. I have learned to stand up for myself, to be proud of the person I am and whether that is just about becoming an adult, or that I am no longer in school, dependent on the acceptance of peer-groups, but today there are very few people who’s opinions really matter to me, whose words, deeds and thoughts will bring me down. It took a very long time to get to this place.
And while there have been opportunities for me to face bullying today, I consider myself lucky that I don’t face any such issues. I have learned to live by the motto “Those that matter don’t mind, and those that mind don’t matter.” It’s amazing how much you can lose respect for someone who refuses to accept you, or who refers to you as “an embarrassment”, but it is these minorities who teach us who is important to us. And what is important. I’m lucky to have great people around me who I can call on for support and friendship. I didn’t have that growing up.
I was heavily bullied throughout primary school, on a couple of occasions I reported it and one or two people were brought to the headmaster. But that didn’t stop much: in fact, I got mocked for the very fact that I reported them. I wasn’t confident it was ever going to make a difference, which is why it took so long to do. After all, they weren’t going to suddenly be my friend. The summer between primary and secondary schools, more so than any other, I was determined I would start afresh. New school. New people. But it doesn’t always work out that way. Certainly not when you’re a shy, introverted, 12-year-old. Secondary school was much the same.
I didn’t have many friends throughout school, and those who I did call my friends were assholes. I just hung out with them rather than be on my own. That or sit in the library. Sometimes I actually read books — if I couldn’t use the computers. In primary school (before computers) I would wander the perimeter of the playground and chat with my granny, who was a dinner-lady and playground supervisor.
Today marks the end of Anti-Bullying Week, an initiative established by the Anti-Bullying Alliance in 2006. The theme this year is We’re better without bullying, which “focuses on bullying as a barrier to achievement. We were already aware that bullying leads to children dropping out of school and therefore limits life choices, but we have been shocked by the reach of the problem in our classrooms.”
According to Anti-Bullying Alliance
Almost half of children and hong people (49.5%) have played down a talent for fear of being bullied, rising to 53% among girls. One in 10 (12%) said they had played down their ability in science and almost one in five girls (18.8%) and more than one in 10 boys (11.4%) are deliberately underachieving in maths – to evade bullying.
I would say that if I wasn’t bullied in school I would be in a much better place, I would have been better equipped to use my potential and better excel academically, instead, I fell behind quite significantly in school. I enjoyed learning, but very little of my learning was done in school.
I didn’t look cool, I didn’t act cool. I was very uncool. I was bullied for my perceived sexuality, for being bad at sport, for being quiet, for not being one of the lads, for knowing nothing about football, for not getting with girls. School was a horrible place. I did not want to be there. While I tried every day to start anew, kids don’t become liked overnight. No new shoes, branded Adidas button-up pants or spiked haircut will do that: Anything but be myself. There was the constant name-calling, generally never being included in things, and forever the butt of the jokes. While I say I got used to it, I’m not sure I ever really did. I have no doubt I’d be much better had I not been bullied. After school I would change out of my uniform and not think about the day for at least a few hours. But no matter how long you sit in a room listening to Marilyn Manson lyrics, it’s very difficult to project that confidence in a place you feel so small.
I was never (rarely) physically harmed; but it certainly left its mark. There were many times I thought of killing myself. It could all be over. I wouldn’t have to continue living this hell. But then I had the foresight to understand that it wouldn’t last forever. That it would change. And it would get better. When I had nothing else, I had music. And the internet.
Anti-Bullying Week is just one of many anti-bullying initiatives, and while it is still a problem for young people, it’s great to see that it is becoming so much less of a problem.
It took quite a few years after leaving school to rid myself of the feeling that I’d be attacked again. It was a long time before I used my own name online — for fear of being bullied about my own thoughts. I put up many walls. It has taken a lot for those to be knocked down. Today, I am not afraid to stand up for what I believe, to say what’s on my mind. I have thoughts which go against the grain. Not to be swayed by peer-pressure. To enjoy things that others don’t, to not enjoy things others do. I am proud of my nerdiness, I enjoy no music I am ashamed of. No guilty pleasures, just pleasures.
In some ways, I’m glad I’m not a teenager today surrounded by social networking: the need to friend everyone at school, everyone you meet. Furthering the desire — “need” — to keep up with the next narcissistic peer. However, it does provide greater support networks, and those are important to anyone being bullied. “Cyber bullying” is a big issue today, despite many people and organisations working to irradiate this. From my own experience of bullying, creating a welcoming environment for children is important, to emphasise differences, to promote minority talents and skills and enable children to be confident in themselves. Adults and parents need also be aware of the impact the home environment, bullying can also take place at home.
Homophobic bullying also needs to be tackled in Northern Ireland; whether it’s the attack of perceived sexual orientation or actual sexual orientation. A report conducted by the Rainbow Project in 2011 titled ‘Left out of the Equation’ (updated May 2012) found that “Homophobic bullying is rife in schools across Northern Ireland and it continues, unchallenged, because school staff lack the capacity, confidence or will to tackle it.” While there is greater acceptance today of gay people, it is still an issue which needs to be dealt with. The Rainbow Project provide assistance and guidance on homophobic bullying, including a guide for teachers [pdf].
“There is currently no requirement that schools should include homophobic bullying in their behaviour or anti-bullying policies. As schools are not required to take any proactive steps to prevent homophobic bullying, teachers and other school staff are not trained to recognise homophobic bullying and language and deal with it accordingly”
In conclusion, I bullying is a terrible thing for any child to go through, and far too often it results in suicide — a particular issue in Northern Ireland. Greater emphasis must be put on stamping out bullying of all forms. Every child should be made to feel accepted, whether it is being made to feel welcome at school, or called “an embarrassment” by their parents.
Today is Thanksgiving: in my mind, a pre-Christmas excuse for a party/dinner — A practice-Christmas, if you will. The holiday appears to only have very loose religious connections, while also having non-religious beginnings. Thanksgiving, for me, is a pure, unadulterated, celebration of thanks — whilst still being the “ultimate privilege-checking holiday“.
Mano Singham writes about how it hasn’t been commercialised, that it’s core idea of reflection still remains:
I mainly like the fact that the holiday has managed to avoid being commercialized and merchandized to death. There are no gifts and cards associated with it. There are no ritualized ceremonies, religious or otherwise, that one has to attend. There are no decorations. Dressing up is not required. Although the holiday’s roots lie in giving thanks to god at the end of the harvest season for bounties received, that thin veneer of religiosity can be easily discarded and it is now essentially a secular holiday so no one need feel excluded. The thanks that are offered need not be overtly religious but are just for the good fortune of being with family and friends.
It is a holiday filled with clichés, most of which have been covered in American movies: turkey (and the President’s pardon, dinner, family, parade (with massive helium balloons… I dunno what else really. My impression is that it’s a time to travel long distances to see family and have a massive dinner, and that’s all well and good, but it isn’t celebrated in that way outside North America. In fact, it isn’t even strictly American.
However, the idea of being thankful for stuff is universal. And so, I have compiled a small, non-exhaustive, list of things that I am thankful for at this particular time in my life. This list does not concern itself with clichés, otherwise there would likely not be a list.
There are a number of reasons why Darren gets pride of place at the top of my list: beyond being smart, thoughtful, handsome, nerdy, funny… Darren has put up with a lot over the past few months, and he has been there for me. Almost more so than I could have expected: he has kept me grounded, listened to my troubles and given advice. But mostly, he has just been there, and for that I am extremely thankful.
Almost something I didn’t have a couple of months ago, and it’s still a touch and go situation, but I’m extremely thankful to have a bed, shelter from the wind and rain and central heating.
It still feels like a new thing, and it is a fairly recent thing, but I love having people I can call my friends. People around me, people I can call on, people I can drink with, rant at, share moments with, who accept me, who have been there for me, and I know will be there again. I have great people around me who have been there for just these reasons in recent months, and for them I am extremely grateful!
Social Media and Social Networking have been very good to me. I say this every so often, but I’m thankful for them. Social Networking has enabled me to meet many people, to make many friends, and to keep in touch with people that I’ve known for a long time, don’t see very often, or connect with people I’d like to meet. The way I see it, there is little reason why I won’t meet many of these people. The connections online have been a big part of my life over the past number of years: in growing my own confidence as well as giving me greater knowledge and scope to deal with the world.
Despite everything, I am healthy. I thought I was getting a cold a few of weeks ago, but a couple of mugs of Lemsip sorted that out. I’m in good health. I’ve quit smoking (long may it last) and appreciate my body.
Overall, I’m thankful for my life. For being alive. In this time and this place. Despite everything, I keep going. I am motivated by everything.
Ze Frank broke down the feeling of being thankful. I agree with so much of this.