Archive for November, 2011

Doctor Internet

Posted: November 24, 2011 in New Media

What has caught my attention recently is the emergence of the use of the Internet as a tool for medical advice. How many times have you Googled about a specific or general question pertaining to health-related information? How many times have you typed in questions such as, ‘What are the symptoms of a flu?’ or ‘Home remedies for pimples’ I know I have. But what does this mean? Does this mean we can rely and trust the Internet for sound medical advice?

When I came across a report from Statistics Canada which says that diseases are the leading cause of death, it drew my attention to an issue that has probably not been studied enough. In 2008 alone, cancer and heart disease were reported as the leading causes of half of the 238,617 deaths recorded in the country. Cancer accounted for 30% of all deaths in 2008, followed by heart disease (21%) and stroke (6); a total of 57%. Ranked in order, the other seven leading causes of death were chronic lower respiratory diseases, accidents (unintentional injuries), diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease and suicide. This discovery stimulated my interest in health care system in Canada and I decided to read more about it.

Further readings revealed to me that even though the majority of Canadians can afford the quality health care provided in the country, accessibility seems to be an inherent problem. The Health Council of Canada in its November 2010 bulletin posted a survey on how Canadians rate the health care system. In their findings, 65% of Canadians appear to have more difficulty, compared to other countries, in accessing heath care in the evenings, on weekends, and on holidays, without going to the emergency departments.  Of these, 47% say that their condition could have been treated by staff at their usual place of health care had they been available. About one out of every five Canadian (21%) reported waiting a long time (several weeks, sometimes months) to get diagnosis for a medical problem they were concerned about. In some cases specialists could not even be located within vicinities.

What baffles my mind, however, is do people really wait that long in line or travel long miles just to see a physician for diagnosis and subsequent health care? Maybe, maybe not. In this modern day and age of web 2.0 people may be doing better than just waiting to get an appointment with the physician. People may be consulting the Internet for health information among others. The Internet provides the following health related information functions: a) gathering medical news; b) looking for information about medical services; c) searching for information about drugs and medication; d) gathering disease-specific information; e) searching for information about healthy lifestyle; and f) for looking, and participating in discussion groups. If the Internet can provide such useful health aide, then how dependent could Canadians be on it as a supplement to quality health care?

There is no doubt that the advent of the Internet, communication has been revolutionized and human relationships have been broadened, intensified, and challenged. Opportunities now exist for socially shy, isolated, or physically challenged individuals to reach out for connectedness or support: they can use the Web to seek information, companionship, positive or negative means of “acting out”, and increasingly to find advice or professional mental health services such as counselling or psychotherapy. Online mental health practitioners serve also as a bridge to referrals in the face-to-face community. These findings clearly suggest that health information on the Internet can help save our lives.

Yet for all the promise that health information on the Internet offers, there also are perils. There is a lot of bad information floating around-everything from information that is just plain wrong to fraudulent claims by quacks, hucksters, and con artists. What might be the case is that when you are seeking health information on the Internet, you are particularly vulnerable because in many cases you are doing so in response to a medical crisis involving yourself or someone you love.  You may jump on the Internet desperately looking for Information and, most importantly, looking for a cure that will make the medical crisis disappear. Under these circumstances, you may be tempted to suspend your normal good judgement and latch onto anything that promises hope, no matter how ludicrous it may seem.

Obviously, these are the two sides of the coin that are possible when people use the Internet to search for health issues. A point worth noting is, to what extent is health-related information able to reach out to the general public to affect positively or even negatively? How popular is Internet health in Canada? If these questions could be answered with further research, it could suggest better ways in which heath related materials on the Internet can be developed in order to make them easily accessible and comprehensible. That way, E-health will be able to have full impact onto society.


Internet Pirates

Posted: November 10, 2011 in New Media

I am certain most of you have illegally downloaded a movie, music, files etc off the Internet. If you have done so, you have committed what is legally called a copyright infringement, but most of us are more familiar with the term, Piracy. But what is copyright infringement? It is defined as, the unauthorized or prohibited use of works under copyright, infringing the copyright holder’s exclusive right, such as the right to reproduce or perform the copyrighted work, or to make derivative works. Basically, you’re stealing/downloading stuff off the web that you haven’t or aren’t paying for, whether you are downloading that new Justin Bieber album or the film Avatar. Many media corporations frown upon this and put their money and effort to stop this act. And I believe the entertainment industry are the ones in front  to subvert this because they are the ones taking the harshest toll from piracy. Who wants to buy a song/album when you can go on torrent sites? As such, many media organizations are scheming up with plans to either stop the illegal downloading for good or shift the attitudes of Internet users that attack their conscious about the effects of illegal downloading it has on entertainment artists. Their efforts do not go without praise, but to no avail. So turning this matter into a legal issue, many entertainment organizations that have been affected by the piracy threat turn to governments to solve this matter. You may notice the FBI Warnings on all DVDs or Blu-Rays that state the penalty of 5 years in prison as well as a $250,000 fine. There have been many cases where illegal-Internet-content downloaders have been either sued or fined by entertainment companies and sentenced to jail. Surely, with all the warnings and legal cases you think Internet users would stop or slow down on the illegal downloading right? The reality strongly answers: No. Why do you think that is? Why do they insist on illegally downloading content off the Internet knowing the consequences? My justification towards this question is simply because they don’t care or that they are certain they won’t be caught by the FBI. And there’s a good reason to suppose this too. There are millions and millions of people everyday pirating, and it seems implausible to think that the FBI is onto every single one of them. There might be some unlucky ones that eventually do get caught but if the FBI was trying to arrest all Internet Pirates, they are going to run out of jails. The entertainment industry should accept that piracy will not go away but instead get stronger. My suggestion to them is to market their products free while promoting their artists so that they’ll be widely known across the web for either having good music or film. Otherwise to do so is just wasting their money, effort and time.

America: A country or THE country

Posted: November 4, 2011 in New Media

Hello blogger! So I finished reading the first book in my course titled, “New Media: An Introduction” by Terry Flew and Richard Smith. Overall, it was a solid book, it gave me lots of insights and new perspectives about the Web 2.0 and the surge of online activities and interaction. And now, I am starting on a new book called, ‘The Empire of Mind: Digital Piracy and the Anti-Capitalist Movement” by none other than Michael Strangelove (my Prof). While I was reading the introduction and the first chapter, I came across a section very interesting to me. It was the notion that America was like a super-capitalistic nation dominating the globe. With this idea in mind, I just wanted to explore this concept a bit more in my own distinct thought. But since online interactivity is such a fad nowadays, I will give you a chance to think about this for a minute. Do you think America is really prevalent everywhere? Can you agree that America is really the homeland free? Promising moral ethics to every citizen and bringing peace like it promises to? If you were to ask me, and you agreed with the prior questions stated, I am afraid I would have to disagree with you. My argument for this particular judgment is because American stands as an epitome for capitalism. If you are walking down the street, chances are you will either see a Burger King, McDonalds, Starbucks or any of the American global franchise market you can think of. It may be of old news, but even Canadian brand stores such as Canadian Tire or Zeller has become American. The prevalence of the American way isn’t just restricted to chain stores, think about the movies or films you watch. When’s the last time you ever seen or heard of a Canadian film becoming a box office hit? While American films such as Avatar or Dark Knight gross over a billion dollars, many foreign films do not even dream of even achieving a feat like that. How can they do that you ask? It is because they are American. This country has done a superb job to globalize itself to every nation that I can honestly without fear say that we have a little bit of America in us: the American culture itself runs through our veins.

With this argument in mind, I want to bring into light the next question that America is the homeland free and how it promises to bring peace and justice as it promised. My answer is: uncertainty. The reason is because although America can be argued as being the most hated country because of its violence, I still have to give them credit for bringing some form of justice and equality among their citizens and its constant renewal of laws and bills to somewhat benefit their people more. Some of it might be seen as unfair or biased, but at least the Supreme Court is getting the job done to do what’s best (in their opinion) for their fellow Americans. However, with the positive comes the side order of the negative. If America is striving to do what’s right, why are they constantly waging war? Controversial decision to go to war with Iraq by the Bush administration brought nothing but bloodshed on both sides. There was so much hatred against the Bush administration in particular that there were even preposterous theories such as the 9/11 conspiracy. I believe America is still trying to do what’s right for their people, but in their own capitalistic ways. I mean if their people become poor and end up with nothing to buy or spend, how else would the American corporations or powerhouses make money domestically? Maybe I am being a bit optimistic, or giving more credit than they deserve, but still, I still see some hope for America.

With this virtually said, I am about to go to a UN conference in New York, maybe I’ll actually see some stuff get done there.