We hear the term “memes” get tossed around all over the internet. But what are they actually?


On March 12, the World Wide Web turns 25.

It’s come a long way since then. In 1995, just 14% of U.S. adults used the internet. 42% had never even heard of the internet, and an additional 21% were vague on the concept—”it has something to do with computers, right?”

Now: 87% of adults use the internet. 81% have a computer, 90% have a cell phone, and 46% say it would be very hard to give up the internet.

We’ve got a new report out today that looks at 15+ years of data showing the rapid growth/overall impact of the internet, in honor of the upcoming 25th anniversary of the web.

Could you imagine your life without the internet? What do you think it’d be like?

(via upworthy)

Go. Play. Now. 

Warning: You could lose hours to this delightful distraction!


Why Men Love Reddit

If Reddit users are 74 percent male, what is it about the aggregator’s architecture of the aggregator that appeals to the masculine masses? Two words: up vote.


Is the Internet Gaining Consciousness?

Spike Jonze’s movie “Her” deals with a man who falls in love with an intelligent computer operating system. But could we ever create completely self-aware artificial intelligence? Maybe we already have!

Still curious? The audio team explores a famous thought experiment, The Chinese Room, that seeks to debunk the idea that a computer could ever become intelligent.


Tween Girls Ask The Internet If They’re Pretty or Ugly

Am I Pretty or Ugly” is a social media phenomenon where tween girls post YouTube videos of themselves and ask viewers to tell them if they’re pretty or ugly. All of the videos have more or less the same “script;” the girls will say that some people tell them they’re pretty, and some people tell them they’re ugly, but they just want to know “the truth.” They then request that people leave a comment with their opinion on whether or not they’re attractive.

A global study conducted for Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign revealed that 90 percent of 15-to 17-year-old girls are dissatisfied with their physical appearance. 13 percent of them admit to having an eating disorder and nearly a quarter of them would consider plastic surgery.

So the fact that adolescent girls don’t like their bodies and they’re straight up asking the Internet whether or not they’re attractive is unfortunate — but not shocking. 

In 1997, adolescent girls identified the mass media as their primary source for health and body image information — and that was before the Internet really took off.

Now in 2013, social media is becoming the preferred source of body image information for young girls, and they’re trusting Internet users to give them “the truth” about their appearance. This so-called “truth” is hurting them — with 68 percent of girls saying they’ve had negative experiences on social networking sites and 53 percent of them becoming unhappy with their bodies by age 13

Tumblr blogs like “Fuck Yeah Thigh Gap” and  “Bikini Bridge” urge women to look bony and frighteningly thin in order to be hot. And we can’t forget Thinspiration — where girls encourage each other to be anorexic or bulimic for the sake of “attractiveness.” 

FJP: The ironic thing about girls turning to social media to determine whether or not they’re attractive is that most adolescent girls present false images of themselves on the Internet.

Seventy-four percent of girls agree that most girls their age use social media sites to make themselves look “cooler” than they are in real life, and forty-one percent of them admit that this describes them, according to a 2010 study by Girl Scouts. 

If you take away the Instagram filters, Photoshop, creative camera angles, and the sweet Tumblr layouts, what do you have left? Normal tween girls with zits and cellulite, most likely. 

If these girls are looking at Photoshopped images of one another all day long, their ideas of what’s physically achievable is going to be tragically skewed. Actresses and models still seem larger than life to a lot of young girls. But when tweens see their own friends looking impossibly good in their photos, the pressure to be pretty is far more intense. The “Am I Pretty or Ugly” YouTube videos are a clear indicator that the body image pressure levels for tween girls are officially in the danger zone. — Krissy


The Map That Puts China’s Incredible Internet Demographics in Context

More people in the country go online than in all of Africa—but the percentage of the population who uses the Internet is still small.

Full Story: The Atlantic


The Map That Puts China’s Incredible Internet Demographics in Context

More people in the country go online than in all of Africa—but the percentage of the population who uses the Internet is still small.
Full Story: The Atlantic


Boing Boing’s Xeni Jardin, speaking truth on trolls like Pax Dickinson.


No webpage is an island.

Every time you click a link on the internet, you set off a cascading series of events. Some are the ones you would expect: the site needs to talk to a server to download images, for example, which takes some time. Others are less obvious. These are the obscure URLs that flash by at the bottom of your browser, and slow the whole process down.

Those little URLs are just the tip of the iceberg, and Ghostery is a free browser extension that lets you see the whole thing. For example, here’s what Ghostery, which sits in the background while you browse, tells us about those invisible parts of this IMDB page:

To see the IMDB page for Pacific Rim, my browser talked to nearly 30 sites outside of IMDB (disclosure: BuzzFeed racks up about 15, and the NSA’s official website counts just one: Google Analytics).

They’re a mixture of advertising sites, tracking software, analytics tools and social plugins — tweet buttons, Facebook buttons and the like. A lot of the names in the lists will be familiar: Google, Amazon, etc. For the ones that aren’t, Ghostery gives you a summary of what they do. Usually the weirder ones are ad products; sometimes, they’re pleasant surprises:

The Most Important Piece Of Software You’ve Never Heard Of

(via wilwheaton)


In his 2012 TEDxEuston talk, “Why fear is stopping the African Internet revolution,” Nigerian Internet entrepreneur Jason Njoku asks, Why aren’t there more African Internet companies? and proposes an answer — Fear of failure and lack of support. From his talk:

People fear failure — but what they really fear is … shame. The shame from their peers; the expectations of their parents. The expectations of what their peers are doing at any particular time: be it promotions, be it mortgages, be it getting married, be it whatever … There’s some sort of expectation that you’re not meeting up with your peers

…No matter how much you package it, no matter how much you hide it, failure is failure is failure. The more we embrace it, the more we are honest with ourselves, the more easily we can move on…

There’s a revolution waiting to happen in Africa. If someone like me can achieve what I’ve done in such a short period of time, think of what would happen if you actual smart people … go out and do something.

And like all good ideas worth spreading, Njoku and his business partner Bastian Gotter, have transformed this talk into an action worth doing: SPARK, a Lagos, Nigeria-based company designed to help developing African Internet and tech companies launch and thrive.

"In Africa, we’re witnessing an exciting metamorphosis, from a tech ‘scene’ to a tech ‘revolution,’" he told Bella Naija in an interview about SPARK. “…Lagos is very much the gateway for the entire continent. The creativity, talent, the spirit of entrepreneurship is here but Nigeria’s business eco system isn’t set up to adequately support start-ups in their earliest days. Our intention with SPARK is to act as the catalyst to a period of aggressive and exciting growth in Africa’s Internet sector.”

So far, SPARK has supported a wide variety of African tech start-ups, from a web app for house renting to an online dating site, and more are certainly to come. For all you techies out there, watch Jason’s talk for some inspiration on building a company of your own, or check out what SPARK is up to here.

(Above: Jason Njoku at TEDxEuston and the SPARK team in Lagos via Bella Naija)


An older episode of ours but one worth re-visiting! Here’s Julie’s blog post on the topic for more info. And here’s the podcast episode page.