Does the title No Internet Week absolutely terrify you? How often do you check your social media updates on your smartphone? I think I check my iPhone at least once every fifteen minutes, just by force of habit; I’m not usually expecting any particular messages, I just turn the screen on and off. It seems as though everyone I know is constantly connected to their devices—I suppose if that weren’t true, products like the Cellphone Jail wouldn’t exist. But since that’s a thing, I think it’s safe to say that we have a serious addiction to technology. But what if someone told you that for five whole days, you couldn’t use any technology. No iPhone, no Facebook, no Google, nothing. That’s exactly what’s happening to five internet addicts during this year’s Internet Week Europe.
What is Internet Week?
Internet Week is basically any tech-lover’s dream—it’s a festival that brings together technology, business, and culture, giving people from all industries an opportunity to share and learn from one another. Internet Week New York started in 2008, and has been running strong, growing larger and larger every year. The next festival will be held from May 19-25, 2014, and is expected to have over 45,000 Internet professionals in attendance. It will feature over 250 IWNY-run events, and over 150 additional events being run by IWNY partners. New York couldn’t keep all the goods for itself, though, and now Internet Week has spread all the way across the pond.
What’s it Like at Internet Week?
I attended the IWNY 2013 festival, and can’t even begin to explain the extent to which my mind was blown over the course of the week. For starters, the keynote presentations, panel discussions, workshops, and tutorials were all incredible and informative, and I walked away having learned so much. But on top of that, one of the most awesome aspects of the experience was simply the open forum for people to connect. One thing I love about the internet is the opportunity to speak with people with whom you may not have the chance to engage in real life. These are the people who are so far beyond your social circle (read: celebrities, scientists, authors, etc.) that without the internet, there’s no way you’d ever get their attention. At IWNY, the same rules applied as on Twitter, and you could walk up to someone and ask them a question in a safe environment, where everyone treated one another as though we were all on the same level. I think that kind of broad expression of respect is unfortunately hard to come by most of the time.
Internet Week Takes Europe
Anyway, this week, November 11-15, is Internet Week Europe, which is curating events all throughout London. Creative agency Mother London has introduced an interesting documentary subject, which addresses something very real to people across the world, of all ages and professions—internet addiction. Running concurrent with IWE, Mother London is depriving five internet addicts, replacing their smartphones with ‘brick’ phones and changing their social media passwords, and filming their experience as a documentary called “No Internet Week.” The documentary is being posted to nointernetweek.co, and the first two days are already up. The participants include: James Brown, an editor from Sabotage Times; Emily Hare, managing editor of Contagious; Katie MacKay, advertising executive and founder of whatkatiewore.com; Maria Pizzeria, fashion blogger; and Sophie, a 13-year-old. The participants are going to be monitored by professional psychotherapist Sarah Hirigoyen throughout the duration of No Internet Week.
Do You Think They’ll Survive No Internet Week?
We’re interested to see how this plays out, and will be watching the documentary as it unfolds. As for what we’re expecting? We’re hung up on Brown’s closing statement of the documentary teaser, “I’m f***ed, basically.”
Late last week, YouTube announced that they have integrated Google+ into their commenting system. YouTube voiced their interest in making this shift in late September, when they explained that by implementing the social network sign-in, they would be able to filter relevant comments by reputable sources to appear first. This would push spammy YouTube comments to the depths of comment limbo, never to be seen, which I’m sure plenty of users would appreciate. Google+ integration would allow users to view “Top Comments” by default, which would show comments posted by the video’s creator, comments that receive the most thumbs up, comments from influential figures, and the user’s friends and other Google+ circle members. With the new YouTube comments integration, users will be alerted to the change the next time they try to leave a comment on a video.
New YouTube Comments Sorting Options
This interface change would mirror the Facebook News Feed to a degree, by allowing users to choose between “Top Comments” or “Most Recent Comments.” The default, however, will always be “Top Comments,” so every time a user views a new video, the comments will be reset to display the highest-rated comments. The change will also provide video creators with a new set of tools to moderate the comments on their videos. These tools including giving creators the option of reviewing YouTube comments before they’re published, or pre-approving comments from specific YouTube (/Google+) users. Additionally, they’ll be able to block specific words, which is particularly useful for G-rated content, so that inappropriate language can be filtered out. YouTube’s hope is that by connecting commenters with their Google+ profiles, those kinds of inappropriate comments will be less frequent because of the loss of anonymity.
New Implementation is Looking Quite like Facebook
Similarly to Facebook as well, users will now be able to tag their friends to bring their attention to videos, by tagging their Google+ handle. Users will also be able to share their YouTube activity straight to their Google+ feed, or keep their YouTube comment activity private.
Google+ Integration May Out Cyber Bullies
The integration process has been built into the YouTube framework by prompting users to connect their YouTube accounts with their Google+ profiles. This integration has been met with adversity from many users. Some of these users may be against this integration because they have previously left negative or abusive YouTube comments, and are concerned that their once-anonymous commentary will now be labeled with their identities. With the frequency of future employers performing online searches on job candidates, this could be a liability for many who would open up their YouTube history to publicly display their online bullying, or other embarrassing commenting activity.
Not Everyone is Thrilled About Linking Social Network Accounts
Many users are turned off by the idea of putting a face to their name when it comes to their YouTube accounts, because anonymity is one of the aspects of online communities to which they’re most attached. This new integration opens up the conversation about Internet user activity being tracked across a variety of networks, driving people to ask a number of questions. Precisely who has access to this information? Who will ultimately be profiting from it? What purpose can this information serve? What other ways will users be affected by the change? Those who are already concerned with the heightened monitoring that we’ve faced in the last several years look to this new system as one more way to tighten corporate/government surveillance on user activity, which is not being taken lightly.
What do you think of this new implementation for YouTube comments? Tweet to us @FatGuyMedia or comment on our Facebook to let us know how you feel!