A sandbox is a shallow container filled with sand in which children may play.  It provides children with the space and materials to build different structures based on things of this world. If you have lived at all you must know what sandcastles are. This is but one of the many other things you can create  in a sandbox. And its just not limited to creating structures. You can also dig holes and bury your “hidden treasure”, or you can even bury yourself if it suits you fancy. You can even go all out and play pretend. You play the role of your favorite fictional character in your imaginary world within the sandbox and use the sand as props. Imagine a kid pretending to be a giant monster and destroying sand buildings for his own amusement. Looks fun doesn’t it?

Of course for the more mature audience, the sandbox may seem too childish and unappealing. There’s a huge difference between a 3-year old kid pretending to be Godzilla in a sandbox and a 30-year old person doing the same thing. Luckily technology always finds ways for us grown-ups to have fun without embarrassing ourselves in public. And yes  its much more sophisticated than building a sandbox inside your house.

Bill Gates was the previous CEO of the Microsoft corporation and is consistently ranked among the richest man in the world. He is one of the most well-known entrepreneurs for his contribution to the personal computer revolution. In his essay entitled “Shaping the Internet Age”, he explained how the Internet made the world smaller by establishing communication networks between people around the globe. How the Internet helps big companies simplify logistical barriers and so on and so forth.

What is a generally unresolved issue is how potentially dangerous the use of the Internet really is to the common people. This is mainly because of its uncanny resemblance to a sandbox. The only difference is this is no child’s play.

This sandbox is a game everyone plays but must never toy with.

1. A whole new level of Pretend

A game I’d never suggest anyone to play. Social networking sites enable us to meet other people through the internet. A social network generally utilizes a representation of the user (usually in the form of a profile) that other social network users view in order to get to know the person better and decide whether they want to connect to that person or not.

But who said you have to be yourself in the internet? Remember the kid pretending to be Godzilla? SSNs give you a more realistic experience of this. Go pretend to be your neighbor all you want. None can stop you. This is one of the pitfalls of social networking sites.

Gate’s essay says that in order to keep the Internet a safe place to do business, software companies have a responsibility to work together to ensure that their products always offer the highest levels of security.

This is not enough. Majority of the internet users are common people who are not familiar with internet security and are very vulnerable to identity thefts.

Some of you might think, “Those fake celebrity accounts will never fool me. I’m much smarter than those retards.”

Its much easier to pretend to be someone who’s not well-known and ruin that person’s life. It may seem absurd that someone has the audacity to do this but it does happen and people have killed themselves because of this. So don’t turn a blind eye to this issue. It can happen to you, me, to billions of other people.

Do not in any circumstances try this. Its a serious issue and this game is banned for all eternity.

2. Free stuff

Another game that shouldn’t be played. File-sharing has been one of the most convenient features of the internet. It allows people to share different files to every other people from all over the world at no cost at all. And by files, I also mean files that are not supposed to be free at all. You can make a  sand car in a sandbox but once you pullout a real car from a sandbox, legal actions must be taken.

According to Gate’s essay DMCA and SDMI are supposed to counteract piracy but this is not enough. Piracy is more rampant than ever and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop it.

Dissidia: Final Fantasy is a PSP game released by Square Enix.  SE managed to sell over a million copies of the game. However it became later known that the game was illegally downloaded five million times from the internet, costing up to a $200 million dollar loss for Square Enix.

Piracy is a topic people tend to avoid but we must face facts. Its the people who don’t make money from piracy that are the hardest to regulate and ma very well compose of the majority of the population of pirates.

Pirates are not just making imaginary boats and treasures from sand in a sandbox. They are making real treasures from absolutely nothing at the cost of other people’s gain. People should know better than do this.

3. Badlands

A sandbox in the playground belong to nobody. The same with the internet. The internet grants power to even the most pathetic person in the world. Anyone and everyone can insult you and since their physical bodies are not within the reach of your burning fist, they can happily throw insults at you without getting mugged for it. Unfortunately, this is too small of an issue for Gates to tackle but it does deserve some recognition.

According to wikipedia:

“In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into a desired emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

A troll is just an example of how common people can misuse the internet. They think that since they’re just having fun, they can insult people and stir up trouble in discussions that could have been sensible. I  hate trolls not because they are annoying but because they drag people who pay attention to them to their level.

This virtual sandbox called the internet enables people to make the internet a lawless land where everyone can act like a complete douche. I wonder if there is a way to do otherwise.

The internet can be your playground. And like any other playground, you must play nice with other kids even if you don’t know that person at all.

I hope people with influence over the development of the internet like Bill Gates will take the time to see things from the point of view of a regular citizen and not from the point of view gigantic financial corporations. The internet is a whole different game from a sandbox and we must make sure we are ready for the big guns as future draws near.

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4 Responses to www.UltimateSandbox.com/commoners

  1. galeaya says:

    Great post, Lem~! You had me applauding here, for bringing up those issues. I want to discuss all of them, but I’m sure the others will too, so I’m just going to focus on that last bit about trolling.

    It’s okay to get off topic (OT) sometimes. A lot of people, myself included, can’t help but do so, specially if they know the person they’re talking to. However, posting comments unrelated to the parent post – be it ads, OT links, vulgar and insulting words – is just annoying. Even more so when those comments are targeted to stir people into replying and starting a flame war.

    While it’s amusing to watch, it makes one think that there are people who have no lives outside the internet. Or lives outside grabbing attention from others. Or just plainly making others miserable. Just imagine someone interrupting your conversation with a friend by telling you to your face you suck. In the real world, you could just smack that person’s face and be done with it. In the internet, however, people can’t do that – since it’s all virtual, and you have no way of verifying exactly who you are talking to. And so, people resort to trading insults and bashing others with words – that could easily be countered by words, prompting a back and forth exchange from one camp to another. Amusing for some, yes, but definitely a waste of time and resources.

    You’re right. I, too, wish for ways to coexist in the internet without resorting things like that.

    • melem1 says:

      @erose: Thank you for the comment Erose. I also think that its okay to get off topic sometimes. Its necessary to add different perspectives in a discussion. What I don’t like are posts that do the following;

      1. Flame- As you said, trolls target people to reply flame for flame. In about three posts, you have yourself flame war that actually gets more stupid the more people join in. It proliferates stupidity in its very essence and even the wisest of us may sound like a mumbling idiot once caught in a flame war.

      2. Deceive- The less annoying type but potentially more dangerous kind of trolling. You know flames are nonsense. But once trolls use tactical maneuvers, it gets harder. Its so easy to make yourself sound smart in the internet these days.

      “Mr. X proved that aliens do exist and they’re planning to take over the earth right now. A recent hacked top-secret data from NASA gave Mr. X the necessary data to come up with such conclusion. If you don’t believe it, you fail”

      People can fall for these kind of tricks mainly because they sound smarter than your average troll.

      3. Nothing at all- Posts like “I love pancakes!” in a discussion about abortion is very annoying. They do not contribute to the discussion at all and can potentially stir other trolls to join in. I feel “I WUV PANCAKES 2!” coming soon.

      I could go on and on but my fingers wont be able to take it.
      Thanks for the comment again Erose. Congratulations on your blog 🙂

  2. hello lem! wow, this is my second comment :))
    great blog:)) very insightful (naks;) )
    i like the part on your post about file sharing. Actually, i am guilty of “file sharing” in the internet. I frequent file sharing sites like megaupload, filestube, sendspace and rapidshare for e-books, manga download etc. Oh well, as they say, the best things in life are free :))
    BUT- i know file sharing is a NONO!
    I believe there is a need for revisions on intellectual property rights and copyright rules in the internet, especially at present, were just anybody AND everybody can upload any file he/she wants to share.
    whatcha think?

    • melem1 says:

      @anne: Hehe naks! Thanks Anne 🙂

      File sharing in itself is not illegal. It was only in the advent of mp3 downloading that the proliferation of illegal file sharing started. Then came videos, games, manga, and everything else you can punch in your keyboard.

      There are millions who think like you Anne, me included (manga streaming). “Piracy is bad BUT _________ (fill in blank with reason)”

      What makes piracy so rampant is the sheer easiness of doing it. Anyone and everyone can download from the internet. The fact that its almost impossible for you to get caught greatly adds up to the incentives. But the grand master of all these reasons is none other than Piracy = Free stuff.

      About the actions of the Philippine government. The only people who get caught pirating are those who sell pirated DVDs and computer softwares in the streets. These empty accomplishments fail to address our problems on piracy. Its like trying to kill a man by cutting his hair.

      The “culprits” our government is trying to catch are those who sell the stuff downloaded by the real culprits. See the problem?

      But after all that I still can’t blame our government for failing to defeat piracy. No one in the world can. As long as the internet exist, file sharing will always be a part of our lives, and people will continue to exploit it.

      The government has considered banning file sharing in the Philippines but failed to do so. It would take a lot of work and by the time they miraculously accomplished this grueling task, some random team of uber hackers will have made countermeasures to their plans. Its BitTorrent all over again. The internet is incomprehensibly huge to regulate.

      Thanks for the comment Anne. Really appreciate it 🙂

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