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  (The Associated Press)

 

(The Associated Press)

Year in Review

Porn firewalls and self-driving cars: How tech invaded culture in 2013 Add to ...

On the QuickSort blog we try to find and explain those strange intersections of technology and society that are likely to change our culture. Some of this year's most-read stories fit that mission perfectly, others are just good reading on the subject of technology. Enjoy!

Why Britain’s anti-porn mega-filter is great (no, really)

Major, developed countries successfully banning online porn would almost certainly lead to innovation and the mainstreaming of privacy tools that could keep our governments from illegally spying on us.
A successful filter, if only it were possible, would result in some of the more arcane privacy tools that are currently the domain of the more tech-savvy – Internet protocol spoofing, domain name system changing, virtual private networks – becoming cheaper and more user-friendly. Such tools are already emerging in the form of apps such as Hotspot Shield, or Toronto-based SurfEasy, but the more the general public learns about and adopts encryption of their online activity, the better they’ll be able to keep the NSA and other government snoopers out of their business.
 

Inside a new Facebook search – the good, the bad and the creepy

Part of the problem is that there is nothing like Facebook’s Graph Search. When you ask Google a question, it searches the entirety of the Internet and comes back with the mathematically perfect answer to your query. This is entirely different – I’m not asking the world for an answer with Facebook search, I’m asking my jerk friends.

Which brings up a key point – the search is only as good as the information users share, and those worried about privacy can make themselves unsearchable. At one point Facebook recommends I search my best friend’s history to determine his political affiliation. When I agree, it tells me he doesn’t have one.

 

Keep reading here...

Self-driving cars will set off an economic and cultural earthquake

From the romance of the road trip to the feeling of getting your driver’s license, the car has always conjured images of freedom and control. Those time-worn ideals, however, may soon be a relic of the past.
As easy as it is to conceive of a future much like the present, only with highways full of autonomous cars, the reality is quite different. If cars can drive themselves, the place of the automobile in our culture will start to change radically – and how it does so will have enormous ramifications for cities, for commuters and for our lives.
If cars can move themselves around, why, for example, should they lie in a parking lot all day or night? Instead, as others have suggested, it might make far more sense to have a car simply drop you off at work, and either keep itself elsewhere or transport someone else, thereby saving the increasingly valuable real estate in cities for other things. The inefficiency of a vehicle that goes unused for most of the day may start to seem quite wasteful.
 

Time to make 'revenge-porn' sharing a criminal act in Canada

“A friend sends you a naked picture of a girl he knows. Is it a big deal to share it with others?” asks one scenario from Draw the Line, a campaign targeting youth that challenges problematic behaviours and ideas, especially regarding sexual harassment and violence against women.
This “big deal” is happening – a lot. There is limited data (mostly anecdotal and from the U.S.), but one online survey found that 20 per cent of teens and 33 per cent of young adults polled had sent nude pictures of themselves via text or e-mail. Another recent study at a private high school found that nearly 20 per cent of students had sent a sexually explicit image of themselves, and that 25 per cent admitted to forwarding similar images to others.
 

iPhone ubiquity makes iOS 7's radical design overhaul possible

In the lead-up to the iOS 7 announcement, everyone expected Apple to ditch skeuomorphism – and, with some exceptions, the company appears to be doing just that. The reason Apple’s designers could leave that mode of thinking behind is because smartphones are no longer new or exotic. People know how the devices work. In much of the Western world, nobody even calls them smartphones any more – they’re just phones.
With iOS 7, Apple has come up with a new (and controversial) design that recognizes smartphones are no longer exotic gadgets that need to be explained with real-world metaphors. It has ditched its version of the absurd “horsepower” metric. Now the company’s customers will have to wait a few more months to find out whether Apple is willing to take equally big risks with the design of its hardware.

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