Tag Archives: Internet

Dumping and the Internet

Dumping is a big problem—and not just Joe Schmo junking an old water heater in the ditch by the side of the road. Dumping is a practice that some international firms engage in to destroy competition. Say, you have a widget company in Peru that makes the SuperWidget3000, which retails for $400. Then a big Korean company comes in to Peru with a product that does basically the same thing as the SuperWidget3000, but they sell it for $20. They import gazillions of their clone product, undercut you on price by 95% and, of course, drive you out of business. Then after your company is dead and gone, the Korean company can jack the price up to $600, making more money per item than you ever did, but you’re not around anymore to cause any headaches for them. It’s an effective, but ruthless, practice. Now there are many laws and international agreements to prevent dumping.

The same kind of phenomenon can happen when big-hearted, rich countries decide to send “free” food to a third-world country to alleviate hunger. The main problem with this practice is that it destroys the agrarian economy in the country it is seeking to aid. Most third world places look more like the United States did 100 years ago, where the vast majority of people make their living farming. If you swoop in with free food, you might temporarily alleviate some folks, but you ruin their economic interaction with one another. After their farms and ranches fail, being undercut by Big Free Food from Mr. Nice Guy, what will happen? Food prices can skyrocket and no one has a good working farm to supply the need, or the people can become dependent on Big Free. It’s the same as a big company “dumping” their cheap product to drive somebody out of business, albeit without the malicious intent.

So what about the Internet?

To me, the Internet has become a “dumping” ground for the good hearted. It must stem from the same impulse that leads to dumping free food in a poor country. What exactly do I mean? Well, the most obvious examples are in the public domain arena, where kind-hearted people have uploaded billions of pages of public domain information for all our eyeballs to consume—Google Books, Archive.org, Hathi Trust Digital Library. There are also free, public domain, audiobooks at Librivox.org and free art in the Wikimedia Commons. There is free music and free video at YouTube. The Internet is full of free everything. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy and use this content just as much (if not more) as the next guy.

But…I worry. I worry that writers, editors, artists, voice actors, and other people involved in producing this kind of content are losing their jobs left and right. Publishers and bookstores are closing, consolidating, and filing for bankruptcy (Harcourt, Cengage, Borders, etc.). Amazon is underpricing the ebook and book market. People who used to be able to make a living producing books, music, and other media for us to enjoy are finding themselves undercut by Big Free. Right now is the good part of the cycle, where the Consumer gets to enjoy cheap and free with no consequences. But what happens when Google decides that after 10 years of losing money, YouTube is no longer worth it and they just shut it down, erasing millions upon millions of videos? What happens, when the Internet Archive folds for financial reasons, but your local library has jettisoned all of its old, public domain books, in favor of new computer consoles where anybody can access that information for free? What about when Google decides to charge a monthly fee for access to Google Books?

I like a dynamic market. I like change. But I am concerned that the Internet has become a dumping ground, in the bad sense. The world of Big Free might not be free after all. Centralization of information means that information can be controlled, manipulated, or even deleted, permanently. The decentralized care of information, in thousands of libraries, homes, schools, bookstores, seems a better path to me, one not so easily destroyed by the decision of an executive or the economic pressures of the day. Perhaps there is a way to decentralize the Internet and its world of Free. Maybe that’s how all of our out-of-work writers and editors could find their way. It’s a thought.

Online Chapels

This has to be the weirdest thing I have seen all week. I came across an institution touting its “online chapel.” I thought to myself–what the heck is that?! Isn’t a chapel a place to pray and worship. How on earth could such a place exist in the cyberspace environement?

So then, following the path of any avid internet user (and yes, I do mean that with all the negative connotations), I Googled “online chapel.” And as could be expected, I found many online chapels. Most of them seem to be only lists of prayers or Bible readings. But rather than advertising their prayer lists as prayer lists, these websites label themselves “online chapels.” Some of them have icon pictures and what not. A few are blogs.

So, I must ask, what is a chapel?

A chapel is a building for prayer. The architecture of a chapel is designed (under good circumstances) not only to provide covering but to actually elevate worshippers hearts to God in prayer. It is a place characterized by silence, beauty, stillness and peace. It is a place where the senses can be quieted to listen for the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit.

A chapel is not an LCD screen with prayers listed on it.

Bonaventure’s Complete Works Online

You may know from viewing the persons in my blog’s sidebar that I am a fan of the Seraphic Doctor, St. Bonaventure. You may not know that his complete works (his opera omnia, if you will) has been scanned by Google and placed online in Google books and on the new Hathi Trust Digital Library where you can download PDF’s of the full non-critical Quaracchi Latin edition of his works. These books are very expensive and hard to find and it is an absolute joy to me that they are now online and freely available to all. Of course, if you don’t read Latin, you’ll still have to buy a translation, but perhaps, Google translate will come out with a Latin-English function. 🙂 We can all hope.

Bonaventure published several commentaries on Scripture. Recently, the very diligent friars at St. Bonaventure College in Pennsylvania, the Franciscan Institute of St. Bonaventure University have been translating Bonaventure’s scripture commentaries and his other works into English. They are up to 14 volumes now!

[Updated 9/1/14]

Christian Instant Messaging

Well, I’ve been using various instant messaging programs for a few years, but I just realized something I never thought of: We have no Christian instant messaging greetings. At least, there are no standard, traditional ones that go back a long ways because well, instant messaging has only been out there for very short time.

Perhaps however, a few traditional Christian greetings can be modified for the IM world. I mean, we like to say things like “God bless you!” or “Godspeed!” (archaic, I know) or even “He is risen!” In writing letters and now emails, Christians often use a complimentary close like “Yours in Christ,” or even “Faithfully Yours.”

But how are you supposed to convey God’s blessing to a fellow Christian through instant messaging of all things? Perhaps there is a way. If you figure it out, let me know.

I suppose we could borrow from speech and letter writing, but it seems a little odd to end an IM session with “Faithfully Yours.”

World Youth Day TV coverage online

The World Youth Day events are going strong this week. They opened on Monday with Mass with Cardinal Pell of the Sydney Archdiocese on Tuesday, July 15. They close with the finale events: vigil with Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday and mass with him on Sunday. But if you’re thousands of miles away from Australia and would like to see some of the action, there’s a few places to view the television coverage.

First, take a look at:
The Official World Youth Day Video Site
You can find video of all the major events with little or no commentary (a relief), but it’s not live.

Then, see
the EWTN coverage.
EWTN has live coverage of the major events.

Third, see
the Vatican Radio website for live TV coverage.

I’m sure that there are other sites broadcasting video in other languages. If I find them I’ll let you know. Of course, you can get video snippets from the major news sources like the AP and Reuters, but they’re not going to be bringing huge amounts of coverage.

Also, take a look at the Pope’s first address to the youth today where he speaks about the evils of modern culture. You can find the text of all the Pope’s WYD speeches here.

UPDATE: You can get the audio of the Pope’s speeches at World Youth Day through one of the podcasts I mentioned below: http://www.radiovaticana.org/rss/rss.xml

Thanks to a reader’s comment, you can also find TV coverage of World Youth Day at popeinaustralia.com.