Rando Man


The photo below does not inspire much, I imagine. It is in many respects quite depressing. A dry and slightly burnt piece of toast, a cold strip of streaky bacon, and the end of a rather watery looking class of orange juice, all wrapped around a white circular border. It is, other than the leftovers from my breakfast, a pitifully ordinary scene worth no moment of fame in any media. It is not artistic, so don’t go thinking it is. The loose crumb is only a loose crumb, the juice was as I left it, as was the toast and bacon. Just to the right was a eggy plate and a mug with a thin brown layer of leftover coffee. The photo was entirely random. So why bother?

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Regulars to this blog are probably familiar with my use of instagram and flickr, and even on this blog itself my photographs can take up a large amount of many posts, although not all. I use an iphone 4, which by today’s standards is quite a simple piece of phone tech, but it does have a camera on it, which I have with me always and which is very easy to operate and relatively decent quality pics. I also use a Sony DSC-H9 and a Nikon D5100 of course, but my phone is undoubtedly my main camera.

As well as being addicted to taking pictures, I’m also quite interested in new apps and phone related tech, including of course new phones which I cannot afford, or indeed apps that I don’t want to pay for because I’m cheap. It’s quite a dynamic area of the tech market now, and unless an app is successful you can see many being replaced by something similar within a short period of time. For example, I’ve lost count of the amount of different apps I’ve downloaded to help arrange my time, for want of a better description, and I have deleted all of them, prefering to use my regular phone calendar and Evernote. The thing is if you visit the Apple App Store you will always find some new fangled app lauded as app of the week or something which promises to be the next best thing in productive time saving organisational technology.

I’m ranting. I should stop before I lose control.

The point I’ve been getting to is there are always loads of apps which always seem to have some greater purpose, some means for making your life better, or for making your smart technology experience smarter and more wholesome. This takes all apps, from photograph taking, games, organisers, and social networks, to spirit levels and voice recorders, into consideration. But with this little camera app which took the photograph above, there seems to be absolutely no real significant purpose whatsoever. And that’s why it’s worth talking about.

Now don’t take this the wrong way. I’m not selling out, not that I was every sold in or anything. The app is free, or comes at no cost to you, Mr or Mrs/Ms Downloader. I, like every other single person on this planet, am a consumer, and I, like every other consumer on the planet, like to flaunt my consumed goods. So please allow me this moment.

I want to look at what the app actually does, and how what it does fits in with how I often look at how the world exists with so many people in it. I think it does something kind of special, something which we don’t look at enough in the realms of technology and even in terms of human existence. I’m getting pretty deep here, so let me take a couple of steps back and explain what the hell is going on.

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The name of the app is Rando, and it’s a camera app. It functions by simply taking a photograph of something within a white circular border, such as some of the images in the examples above. There is no title, there is no ability to like or share, there is no way to edit, stylise, or even upload a particular photograph. All you know is that there was a photograph taken and more often than not, you can find out where it was taken. It is then sent to the great cloud in the sky where it is randomly sent (although I’m sure there’s some algorithm at play) to another user somewhere in the world. In return you recieve another users photograph. There is no way you can tell who sent or received the photograph. You may or may not find where this user is. It’s as complicated as that.

So says social media addicted world, what’s in it for me? Nothing whatsoever. And that’s what is so great about it.

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It’s no secret that the internet has been inundated with egotism since social media took off. And the greater its influence grows the more we see the egos expand, myself included. One word which is constantly bandied about with social media which is generally not used in the correct context is the word ‘share’. We see it all the time, and particular websites use this term to insinuate that they are providing a fantastic opportunity for you to provide your loved ones and friends with snippets of your life. Of course, this is the idealistic perspective, because anyone who uses social media knows that it is rarely used as a place for sharing, more as a means of displaying.

What this particular app does is different. It is not in any way social, it is more voyeuristic, but not in the sense that you actually know what you are looking at. It sends a picture of nothing, really, other than something which is happening or exists in another place which you cannot see. There’s no liking or sharing of this photo, there’s no applause or means of advertising, there is simply a picture within a white round border. It’s simple but it is effective in its own little way.

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This little app has a fair amount going for it in terms of how we interpret the world. Take exactly where you are sitting or standing at this very moment. Look around you, and while you’re looking make sure to closely examine some fairly rudimentary objects in your proximity. I’m writing at my desk in work so obviously I’ve my computer with a printer just to the side left of it, and too the right I’ve a phone and pen holder, a jar with a dried flower, some paper clips, a stress ball (never used), some throat sweets, photographs, and other nondescript objects which on their own are unnoticable and insignificant. But they are there, sitting, minding their own businness and waiting to be interacted with, much like everything else in the world.

How we choose to interact with much of the world is our own decision. It is unfortunate that humans have chosen that our interaction is mostly on the phyisical and destructive level, rather than a visual one, where we just accept and appreciate each individual element. With Rando though we are seeing tiny scraps of originality, perspectives of this huge planet shared indiscriminately for the purpose of … well I’d like to say enlightenment but I’ve a feeling it’s a lot simpler than that.

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If you think of it in the way that it is simply just informing you or whoever views the photograph that this part of the world exists, and that someone is here, doing something similar to you. We get that impression that the world is not that small, and that we are all less unique. Despite how much we like to think about it people everywhere share the same gripes and concerns, and they see the same things, granted they may be in different shapes.

To conclude, if you could imagine yourself flying on a transcontinental flight as I have done many times, flying over the massive Eurasian continent, and somewhere over Kazakhstan or the Ural Mountains, you look at the flightshow and all you see is a green expanse of country with a few rivets here and there to imply terrain. You stretch your head into the window as much as possible to try and glance down at the land below. There is nothing you can see but you know without a doubt that something is happening there, and someone is there living away and not trying to fly with you. If you thought for a minute what they are doing you would not find a recognisable image, or anything remotely familiar.

I don’t think that this phone app really bridges any gaps here, as it’s completely random, but it does allow you the simple moment, like flying 20,000 metres above or even just driving by fast in a car, where we can catch a closeup of another part of the world. For a minute, we are given the opportunity to consider it. That is all. And then let the world continue to rotate again, until you take another picture that is.

You can download Rando here if you want.

This blog post is not intended as a review and I don’t get any money or kudos from the company who made the app. It was just something that struck me as being worth talking about.

P.S. It seems there’s an incredible amount of Korean pictures coming through. What’s up with that?

Somebody Like Me, Please!


I recently set up a page on Facebook for If I Had A Minute To Spare. If you’re inclined that way, why not follow this link right over to Facebook and click on the Like button (or you can just click ‘Like’ in the new fancy box in the sidebar). I suppose then you’ll be instantly connected to blog posts, some photographs, and perhaps a wee bit of link sharing and other bits and pieces.

I’m of the opinion that this is quare egotistical and probably unnecessary but I’ve seen plenty of other blogs do it so I thought to myself, “why not?”. Perhaps it will make me a bit more interactive with my audience.  I’m also not a fan of the whole Facebook institution but I’ve found it easier, for want of a better word, to stay in touch with friends and family back in Ireland and around the world, which is more relevant now with so many friends from Korea spread out far and wide.
Oh yeah while I’m on that subject, if you’re a twitterer please follow me also.

The Internet: How Much Time is Too Much Time?


This is kind of an old argument…

If someone told you that you spend too much time on the internet, how would you respond?

Maybe I would say that don’t spend that much time on the actual internet, but I do spend a lot of time using various social network services or websites. I think I wouldn’t say I spend too much time, but I would admit that I am an avid addict of the world of knowing someone else’s business whilst trying to make my own business look, well, fascinating.

Let’s take a little look at where I am:

– Blog (you’re reading it)
Tumblr – reading and posting instagram photographs.
Twitter – reading and sharing, as well as commenting on, well, everything…
Flickr – photographs!
– Instagram – more photographs
Youtube – for videos and slideshows I make…
Linkedin – networking…for work…and looking important…
– Facebook – believe it or not, mostly just for keeping in touch with friends and family – after the big ordeal of getting off Facebook a few years ago, I just said ‘fuck it’ and signed back on. +1 kind of influenced this, but also the fact that I missed what little communication I had with many people I knew. Sad, I know.
– Meetup – Mostly for IAK stuff but can be useful for other events.
– Pinterest – yeah, apparently it’s a bit girly and I’m not sure why I joined it, but we’ll see what happens.

There might be one or two that I’m forgetting (I deleted bebo and haven’t looked at Myspace for at least a year, but if it gets you wet you can read some really old blog posts of mine there)

And I’ve profiles on a whole host of other websites which I comment on or receive daily or weekly updates on in my email, and I read these emails most of the time (I don’t necessarily always click the links).

So I make myself busy on the internet.

I thought that I’d ask this question after a comment from my old man on my last post, ‘Letter From Korea, August 2012’, telling me that if I turned off some of my internet distractions I’d probably get more work done. He’s probably right, but then again he’s probably wrong. You see despite the fact that I have a lot of activity on the internet, it’s worth asking how much of a distraction it really is, because I honestly think that I would be distracted even if I was chained up in a fucking desert.

Despite this notion, there’s been a fair amount of discussion on the viability and destructive nature that social media has on traditional media and the way we find information. I would be of the opinion that if you’re going to sit back and complain about something it will have overtaken you by the time you think you have people listening to you – and perhaps this is how I feel about Facebook. Perhaps.

How much time does it take to read a facebook status update? Or a tweet? And how long does it take to write one? While that’s a short amount of time, if it’s a link to a news or blog post (depending on the site) that is where the benefit comes from. It’s about content. That’s what keeps pulling me back to the internet. You see, when I started using twitter it was, I think, to get a regular feed of different links from whoever was tweeting them out. I’ve never been that interested in reading the links of individual people and their mannerisms (there are exceptions of course). I like to think now that I know more about stuff I never knew before. Things like this make finding this information out a lot easier, and they benefit the suppliers too because it’s easier to be found.

There are more questions that I should ask. I hope that I can answer them. Here I go.

Is it worthwhile being on a social network? Well, yes and no. It all depends on what you’re trying to do and what you’re looking to achieve from it. A lot of people initially start out using these because everyone else is there, and this is especially the case with facebook. Other people start out using them because they are looking to use some of the services for publicity or sharing, such as photographs on flickr. Twitter was destined to be a constant stream of neurotic teenagers tweeting in text language until journalists and the media got onto it, making it more valuable. A bit like much in life, it all boils down to finding out what’s the point of using these things? Knowing your, options, alternatives, and goals can probably help you to know this answer easily. There are many of us who don’t actually need to use social networks or the media.

I’ll give you an example of what social networks can do for someone who is living and working in a place like Korea. They definitely operate as a network where you can connect and hear about events, new restaurants, and news (I suppose), where before you would have had to visit different websites individually, now you can source all your information on one. In Korea, Facebook is definitely the most useful website to use as practically any event that takes place is publicised through facebook, at least in the foreign community here. When I initially deleted my facebook account I found that I had automatically lost my source for event postings and get-togethers (and also it has to be said, a pile of useless and irrelevant stuff). Could I have survived without much of it? Yes. Did I? Yes. Will I continue you to? Surely.

But still I am here and there (and some would say everywhere) online. I have to say that I enjoy it. I do spend quite a lot of time online, perhaps an hour or two every day, but to be honest I know when I spend too much time on social networks – it actually feels like it has been too much time. Sometimes I get a headache, but usually I know when I’ve had enough. I could blame it for distracting me from getting work done, but as I read from an interview from Margaret Atwood recently, essentially it doesn’t matter who are and what you do, you will find distractions when work has to be done and you don’t have a boss beating down on you.

Of course there has been an increase in arguments about why the internet is tearing apart social structures and prescribed practices (esepecially the traditional media), but at the end of the day the internet and all its follicles are here to stay. There are obvious conflicts with common sense, especially when you see how much money is spent on developing internet products and websites. I reckon people who complain about that kind of stuff are just jealous they couldn’t have thought of something as simple.

The amount of benefits can struggle to counter the obvious ridiculous and negative aspects. But like any game it all depends how you play it. I’d like to think that I can utilise it and not turn it into an enemy, and that I can learn to use it to my own benefit – whatever that may be.

So in answer to my initial question, do I spend too much time on the internet. Yes I do. What can you do?

 

After posting this I found this article in my #twitter stream. Very worthwhile read and one the more balanced and well supported arguments. As I said though, what can you do?

The Nate Hacking Scandal Hasn’t Gone Away…


Remember during the summer there was the uproar after Nate was hacked and the personal details of millions of Koreans were stolen?

Well, recently Nate were fined millions, or I should say billions of won for this serious discrepancy. Proper order.

Anyway, if you’re thinking that this was the end of it, think again.

Allow me to add an anecdote to this situation which may be based on coincidence but contains so much coincidence that it is likely to be a result of an account being hacked.

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