Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cracking the Mystery of Life

If you look at evolution, it’s just a big puzzle. Nothing really makes sense but in a way, it does. Time after time, the bible has told us that God created the heaven and the earth. This one line tells us everything. You don’t have to be a big science expert to understand it. It just is. But why?

Ever since the dinosaur bones were discovered, humans have always wondered about the origin of life. How did it begin? How did we get here? If dinosaurs lived for over one hundred million years, then how come they all died? Does life have a beginning? And does it have an end?

Say that the earth is divided into three sections: the outer layer, the inner layer and the core. Now imagine cutting an onion. You have the outer layer, the inner layer and yes, the core. Isn’t this what life is all about? You have the universe, the planets and the sun. Or on a smaller scale, the body, the skeleton and the heart. This can only mean one thing. The centre is the essence of life.

If this doesn’t make any sense to you, consider this.

Life is not something that just happened. It didn’t occur from nothing. There must have been an existence before life could exist. Now just close your mind for a second. What do you see? Nothing. This is exactly how life started. There was nothing but pitch black. But wait, then how come it’s not completely dark when you close your eyes? How come you still see matter? That’s because there’s still life inside your brain. It’s only when you completely shut your brain off that you see nothing. Pure nothing.

For the longest time, scientists have believed that atoms and galaxies made up the universe. This is still true to this day. Atoms formed into particles which turned into matter. Then, something magical happened known as The Big Bang Theory. Could this be the beginning of life?

Whether or not God exists or if there’s even a heaven out there shall always remain a mystery to us. But do you have to see it to believe it? Or can your imagination take you there?

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Stuck between life and time

When I was little, I’ve always wondered why I was here. I remember sitting on my uncle’s lap when I was nearly two years old. That was my first memory of life. I didn’t know how I got here, but I knew I was here. To this day, I still don’t understand why I remember this memory. But it haunts me like a flash of lightning.

I’ve never been the supernatural type. I don’t believe in ghosts, or fairies, or angels for that matter. However, I do believe in God. Is it strange for someone to believe in something that they know nothing about? I’ve never been a Sunday girl or even a Saturday girl. I don’t go to church and I don’t own a bible. In fact, I’ve never even read it, except for the first few lines:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without for, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Sprit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

(Genesis 1:1)

What does this all mean?

To me, it simply means that in the beginning there was nothing. No life, no substance. Then all of a sudden, a flash of light appeared and that is God. He is the creator and therefore, he created the heavens and the earth. One life is eternal and the other is not. The only thing that’s for sure is that time lasts forever and God was always here.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Self Publishing

If I had the time, the self-publishing venture I'd take on would be an online, non-profit volunteer publishing site. The freelance news site I'd start would be open to the public, have no copyright laws, offer a diversity of information and news, and give people the opportunity to express themselves with liberation. My user-generated news website would give space for people to voice their opinions on politics, arts and entertainment. Other bits of news-worthy information floating around in the local community can also be submitted to the site, such as late-breaking events, health relevations and personal-interest stories. I would make my section on the web worthwhile and let it become a place for people to seek free speech.

With the convenience of the Internet nowadays, it is very simple to start a website publishing business, even if it is private. As long as you take the initiative to begin this innovative task, you can work wonders. I believe in the importance of personal opinion, and moreover free speech. If somebody has something to say, why should they silence themselves? I think that those with controversial or startling views on the structural order of society should speak their minds. Everyone has something to say. Nobody's opinion should be discounted. I want to organize a free news outlet for anybody who've never gotten the chance to get their opinions heard or published. It would have three primary sections -- politics, arts and entertainment -- and two additional sections -- one for editorials and one for feedback. I want to start simple and work my way up on this site.

I'd start running my site on my own and as I receive more traffic, I'll ask three of my friends to be editors of all the content generated on my site from day to day. I will never censor people's work unless they violate the terms and conditions of free press. Although spelling and grammar is important, I think it's better to leave a writer's rough work what it is so you can get a sense of their character. Besides allocating space for free speech, I'd create a separate section on the news site for audio speech. I could compile a live, online audio conference program that people can communicate by instantly and freely. This service will provide an outlet for people who have a hard time putting their thoughts together on paper, to speak out.

The types of news stories I'd allow on my site would steer clear from mainstream culture and focus on the more normal, less flashy side of life. These stories can be about people's own personal experiences, secret relevations and (but not limited to) independently witnessed incidents around the city. If my site grows huge in traffic hit, I may consider hosting Google advertisements or endorsing in affiliate marketing to increase my site's popularity globally. Through two different types of communication, audio and print, I'd try to push my innovative strategy a little further and develop streaming videos of rare news footage not reported anywhere else.

My goal in creating this open news source is to have people make their points of view known without being conflicted about their political correctedness. I will open comment sections under each news article so the rest of the public can post their thoughts about a particular story. Everyone can share their ideas and nobody has to be afraid of the power of speech.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Google as a Research Tool

Google' s mission statement is to organize the World's information. But the cyber world is too large to organize. Even if Google has succeeded in becoming the world's largest search engine, it has limitations as to how much information it can provide. Some data is copyrighted and not allowed to be publicly distributed. And with information always expanding, it's difficult for Google's database to stay up-to-date.

I personally find that Google is a good research tool for average citizens who just want a basic understanding of a topic. It provides numerous sources, some not as reliable as others, on a whole variety of issues in life. However, as many different references as it offers, there cannot be enough resources on any one topic. And the "knowledge" it links to may or may not be trustworthy. It is certainly not by any means a useful source for academic research at the university or graduate level.

With Google's high popularity as a result of globalization, there's no doubt that it has some positive factors attached to it or else it wouldn't be such a hot commodity. But with its advantages comes disadvantages. For example, Google cannot list its information in every international language. This means that some foreign people cannot use it as a research tool. Also, its search results are not fact-checked for the possibility of error like academic search engines such as Factivia or Proquest. On top of that, Google organizes its information by default based on popularity and not by relevance. Thus, one who's not internet saavy must do a lot of scrolling before they can find a source that fits their query.

No matter how Google organizes its information, though, it almost always lists something on every topic imaginable. Whether it has value is another question, but one can expect to find at least one result on whatever they type in the search box. And even if Google hasn't been able to dominate the World Wide Web by being the Internet's biggest information provider, it is still growing as a research tool and only time will tell how much it can grow.

Since I've already seen Google bring innovations like advanced search engines and interactive learning tools, I will use it to collect a little bit of research for my online feature. I will use Google to gather some basic facts on my topic about degradable product packaging. In addition to that, I will consult primary sources like the presidents of food companies (i.e. Danone Yogurt) to ask them about the reasons they've implemented degradable methods of packaging. I can also ask the people in charge of packaging food about the process behind degradable packaging. To make my research more complete, I will interview buyers of biodegradable foods to find out how degradable packaging has changed their lives. And finally, I will use credible secondary sources like Lexis/Nexis or Gale Products to gather information on the popularity of degradable product packaging and how it can help the environment.

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Citizen Journalist

Newspapers aren't reflective of real life.

- Virginia Wolf

In today's time, the world is changing into a more democratic and diverse society. As more points of view are shaped through the public, the more inclined people are to share their knowledge or opinions with the rest of the world. Although it's most common to attain news through the media, ordinary citizens are now emerging into news reporters as well. They might not be professional journalists who've been trained in the field of journalism study, but they have the same ability to share information with the rest of the world and more.

Since the outroar of September 11th, people who have witnessed the event became so called, "citizen journalists," who are basically defined as people who report news based on their own first-hand experiences. Some of the people who were at the scene of the 9/11 event, for example, shared their emotional experiences of the tragedy. They heard and saw the disaster occur in front of their eyes. What makes these people's reports any different from those of professionally-trained journalists?

The answer is citizen journalists' stories reflect more personal matters and bring out a human touch to different news-worthy events. They are different from professional journalists in that they can offer a more community-based approach to situations and an alternative perspective about the world. They can raise the probability of error in published news articles and can share their first-hand experiences rather than researched material. They can bring up hidden issues of race, class and gender, making their stories richer and wider in scope. And above all, they have varying opinions and reactions to tell in opposition to the mainstream culture.

Although citizen journalists bring a lot to the table of news reporting, they still cannot put their knowledge in context and shape their views in well-structured ways. That is the job of the journalist, or a person who's hired and specifically works for news branch. These people are the ones to check the facts and have wider access to information. But at the same time, their news reports are strictly news-oriented and one-sided. Citizen journalists can offer a fuller, rounder view on society. They have the chance to open up and voice their true opinions, while journalists can only voice the facts. They write based on "the truth" as opposed to the underlying message. Citizen journalists can relate their articles to the real world and cause controversy instead of stating what is politically correct. And unlike professional journalists, they have the ability to criticize ideologies and state how they feel.

At the end of the day, the journalist who works at the news branch is still doing a job. But the citizen journalist is not only doing the job of informing others, but they are also doing the favour of unmasking the world from a less rigid, politically-angled standpoint. They bring their news closer to home and give a common person's approach to things. Moreover, they challenge preset ideas and contribute information that may be filtered out by the media. Also, they have the power to get readers to relate to their stories and uncover hidden truths in society that news companies usually like to keep under wraps in fear of backlash. And not only are they more honest in reporting news but they have the freedom to say whatever they want because they don't have to keep a certain image up to please the general public.

It doesn't matter if these citizen journalists don't have a professional degree in journalism. They can still be journalists. The only difference is they're not paid for the work they do. But that doesn't mean their information is not as valuable as that of professional journalists, if not more.

Eventually, however, the term "citizen journalist" is going to threaten many professional journalists or aspiring journalists because the label of the journalist is given to someone who didn't earn the necessary credentials to deem themself that professional term. But that's beside the point, right?

For information about citizen journalism, go to MediaShift.

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