Analysis

How the Internet Works in 5 Minutes

This was a very informative and artistically graphic video that explains the internet’s functionality. Essentially, the internet is a wire in which two computers can connect. When you communicate to another computer, such as sending a photo to a friend through email, it goes from your individual unique IP address to a router. As it travels across computers, the information is broken down and reassembled into identical wrapping as a packet, which is then sent through a server and finally reaches its destinations so that there is no conflict between computers or that it is sent to the wrong IP. It seems to be very precise and accurate way of communication, especially since it depends on IP addresses that are differentiated and internet service providers. I think this was important to watch because today, nearly everyone uses the internet, yet not many people know exactly how it works, even though it is a huge source of communication that makes other forms of communication, such as letters and mailboxes seem outdated. I think it’s important to know how the internet functions on a basic level of understanding because it has become a necessity in terms of communication, research, and networking, and that there is a lot more precision in terms of information transmission than I previously thought. Knowing how the internet works will improve my own communication online, both personally and professionally.

Timeline of Computer History

The early days of computer history, specifically software languages, have much to do with creating computer programming, coding, and algorithms in order to transmit information. In the first thirty years, different coding languages and information transmission was being innovated by many academics and experts. The goal of the early years seemed to aim towards completely tasks much more efficiently and quickly than human ability alone, such as the ERMA (Electronic Record Machine, Accounting), in which the article says, “in just one hour, ERMA could process the number of accounts that would have taken a well-trained banker nearly 17 workdays to complete.” During the 1980s, software developers began creating word processors, databases, and spreadsheets, while programming languages and operating systems were being developed and improved as well. Over time, the different coding languages, programming tools, and software became more niche, such as Mathematica, a programming language for those in the scientific and engineering fields, being created, or Photoshop, a well-known photo editing software being created for photographers and students. In the 2000s and 2010s, social media rises, which has been a major global influence, while Windows XP and Apple products continue to innovate each year to be more accessible, long-lasting, and updated.

I thought that this timeline was interesting because it gave an educational and detailed analysis of how computers developed from basic algorithms for information processing and transmission to being a cultural staple of networking, fast communication, social media and the subsequent effects on global society (i.e. how it fueled the Arab Spring protests), and information-gathering. Everything seems to be transmitted to online – such as Apple Pay, the mobile banking system, that reduces the need for cash and in my opinion, makes cash seem almost archaic in our increasingly technologically-advanced and technologically-focused and technologically-reliant society that seems to continue progressing in terms of computers and programming.

In terms of networking and the web, the early days of communication started off as military messaging through telegraphy. A major breakthrough was in 1949, in which the modem was created so that computers could communicate with one another through voice phone lines, which greatly improved coverage. Networks begin to develop over time, such a timesharing (first online communities), multiplexers (multiple connections on the same line), and ARPAnet (connects more than one computer together). Most significantly, the internet was born in 1973 and commercial networks continue to boom as well as its communication among them (such as the creation of the email). As time goes on, the internet commercializes and globalizes, which led to the development of online services and Wifi, and eventually the mobile market becomes mainstream. The development of networking and the web is interesting because it began very simply through telegraphs and had a military/political use, but now has expanded and become more accessible and arguably necessary for communication today.

Computational Thinking Part 1 and 2

The first part explores the idea of technology, programming, and web development in the context of journalism. The author communicates that through explaining computational thinking, which is a technological and analytical approach to problem-solving and understanding human behavior though computing. As a journalist, this author is interested in the relationship between journalism and computational thinking, and what shapes someone’s thinking. With the prominence of the internet in our individual lives (in many countries, governments consider the internet an actual necessity for standards of living, rather than an optional amenity for those who can afford it), there is so much information being pushed onto us, so does that mean our mindset is shaped by the internet and accessibility of the web and to what extent? As journalism continues to cross over more into web and less on print, what skills should journalists know, how can they better engage with audiences and reach and maintain audiences through the web, and how can computational thinking propel journalists in today’s industry? How necessary is it for journalists to have the knowledge and skillset of coding, programming, and other computational and analytical skills and experiences?

The second part delves deeper into applying computation to journalism in order to improve its efficiency and effectiveness. The author quotes, “A new way of doing journalism requires new technology to support and foster that innovation. That technology should reach right into the core of our journalistic endeavors, not just touch the periphery.” I agree with this statement in the sense that journalists should familiarize themselves with programming in order to better communicate with audiences. Without web development knowledge, even at the basic level, it reduces the capability for journalists to grow within their industries, as journalism crosses over into web. It is not that print is dying, but that more and more people rely on their mobile devices, particularly apps such as news organization apps, or they subscribe to news alerts on their phones. I believe this indicates that journalists should increase their skillset as this transition continues to grow and evolve over the years.

WordPress software philosophy

The main goal of WordPress’ philosophy is functionality and accessibility for all. It is clean and simple, geared towards the average person and not an advanced computer programmer familiar with computer science and technology. WordPress is committed to deadlines and expansion of the voice of users, even those who are not explicitly vocal with concerns. They value the freedom of distributions and are community-oriented. I think it is important that WordPress aims to be user-friendly, accessible, and simple, without compromising its functionality and quality, and as I previously mentioned, it is meant for everyone, including the technologically-inept and the technologically-savvy. I think it is also important that freedom is a core part of WordPress philosophy, and after reading this article, I have a better understanding of WordPress’ mission and why it is one of the most popular blog platforms for internet users across the world.

GNU free software philosophy

Free software is an important freedom for the internet community. According to this page, free software means that “users have the freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change, and improve the software.” I think that the freedoms this page mentions, such as running the program for a user purpose and not a developer’s purpose, contributes to basic principles of liberty that allows for free reign, open communication, and both commercial and noncommercial development, while towing the line that crosses into piracy. I think that it is important that the article mentions freedom with the analogy of free speech as opposed to free beer, and provides and moral and ethical guideline for users that protects their individual liberties on the internet, while still being effective, accessible, distributable, and flexible.

Unix philosophy

Unix philosophy is a design-focused philosophy that emphasizes efficiency, conservable, effectiveness, simplicity, speed, and easiness to understand and rebuild or reconstruct if necessary. It’s about designing operating systems and writing programs that are clear, clean, transparent, robust and teachable that does not infringe upon a programmer’s time and energy. Similar to the free software and WordPress philosophies, simplicity is key so user-friendliness is important for its utilization and effectiveness. I think that this is important because the simplicity and accessibility allows for users to gain the maximum amount of benefit from using software programs, and helps me understand the way programmers think in terms of their approach to software development. As a journalist, it is important to know the programmers’ side of information and technology, so that I can better understand how I can communicate.

The Zen of Python

The Zen of Python breaks down the Python software’s guiding philosophy which also emphasizes simplicity, readability, immediacy, accuracy, practicality, sparseness, and explicitness. I think it’s important to be open, user-friendly, integrative, and communicative as a programming language, which not many people can easily grasp. Python’s goal is to push forward “immediate gains in productivity and lower maintenance costs,” which also contributes to the simplification that is in its mission. If software was overly complicated, I do not think that there would be much room for innovation or not many people would utilize it, such as journalists (many of which do not have much knowledge of programming). Journalism shares some of its values, such as immediacy, simplicity, explicitness, and accuracy, which I think would make it more adaptable and understandable to journalists who intend to educate themselves on software development.

The Pragmatic Programmer Quick Reference Guide

This reference guide provides tips to software development. Cleanliness is also an important part of this mission, such as fixing bad code and improving quality. The article focuses on problem-solving and rational fixes for debugging, code control, and abstractions. I think that this guide, which is also user-friendly, admits certain emotions that could arise from unreliable code, broken programs, and extreme focus in details, and how to properly handle them with actual concrete solutions, such as the tip to use a project glossary. For me, programming has always seemed to be a mathematical, straight-line, one-way approach of thinking and problem-solving, so I found it interesting that this guide mentions “don’t be a slave to formal methods – don’t blindly adopt to any technique without putting it into the context of your development practices and capabilities,” particularly because it seems to allow for more creativity, out-of-the-box critical thinking, and flexibility than I previously thought.

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