Headlines

We are what the seekers
called ‘Connected’!

JP/Will Wiriawan

It seems like ages ago now — those days when I got my story of the day from a newsroom manned by a troop of journalists.

I was an employee of hope and a laborer of the system — more precisely, a slave to technology and a victim to the promise that tomorrow would bring a better deal and company S.O.P. Like any good employee, I pretended I was busy but occasionally dropped in on my colleagues at the nearby newsroom.

There, a dozen writers, editors, data analysts and programmers worked every day, 9 to 5, to share an IT-spirited workspace with their business-savvy counterparts like me.

The small space had an array of cubicles with hundreds of magazines, newspapers and stained coffee mugs. Also visible were newspaper cutouts, dirty keyboards and lo-res computer displays showing Windows 95 desktop-cum-family photo frame. Outdated anti-virus warnings often appeared and asked to be clicked away, and, of course, each PC had Winamp playing MP3 songs of questionable legality.

The News Group — as it was internally codenamed — was tasked with sorting out headlines, data points, indicators and the latest index highs and lows. These fine patriots would publish articles on an obscure website nobody read and compile a Daily News Brief. At 10 every morning, a secretary would prepare the News Brief, which, courtesy of an ailing fax machine, would wing its way to various subscribers. The service had no name, but it was valuable enough that a confidential list of corporate and private members paid handsomely for it.

Surprisingly, I outlasted the newsroom. By the time I resigned from the company, the newsroom was just an oversized kitchen pantry. There were hundreds of old magazines and newspapers to browse over my morning coffee but not a single soul remained, the only trace of their past existence the coffee stains on the table.

A few days after the film Inception opened in Jakarta, someone had tweeted something with promising content; I found myself immediately following the link and found the tweet to be interesting indeed.

Unlike the Daily News Brief, “that thing” has a name. Unlike the news group, this new fascination is powered by a software algorithm, and unlike the newspaper, this piece of computer engineering is paperless and has a different look every time you open it.

It’s called Flipboard. Welcome to the future, ladies and gentlemen.

The story of how one random passage transmits good news, and ends up in one’s range of visibility, poking the mind with a finger of interest that leads to an exciting discovery — this is what I call the “web of trust”. It’s the latest trend in the digital society of the World Wide Web today.

As ancient scrolls and medieval texts attest, the development of humankind eventually leads to a greater sense, to higher knowledge. What is known in spiritual terms as “enlightenment” is simple fact; it alludes merely to a state of being hyper-connected in a technological sense. Telepathy, intuition and the power to play with someone’s mind are merely 140 characters away in Twitter, a status update in Facebook and one letter of complaint to the President in a national newspaper, all without any need for being actually, physically, connected.

We are what the seekers called “Connected”!

Flipboard is both an app and a service. An AI-capable software gathers hypertext data including those from Facebook and Twitter on its parent server, populates a data source as an entrée and transmit those curated data to your iPad as a touchable digital magazine that populates itself with a feature-rich content.

Without proper understanding, succumbing to a new discovery such as this is like handing your life button to a stranger: push the button and what-you-wish-to-inflict will happen. But be warned: Without effective filtration, any piece of news is nothing more than rubbish. Without a pristine sense of purpose, Flipboard would just be offering more News Of The Day. But the idea comes from a former Apple engineer (Apple’s reputation for hiring and creating great employees is legendary), who knows how to choose wisely.

His choices and priorities led him to the sensational launch of Flipboard; luckily, my selection in whom I trust on Twitter and elsewhere has certainly paid off. Once I discovered Flipboard, I entered that future where we are supposed to flip through pages of news, edited and curated by some of the brightest minds of the web — in style.

Our advancement as a human race was once measured by masterpieces of art; today, our measurement of how advanced our society has become is recognized through technological innovation fueled by commercial endeavor. Such recognition is less often based on the state of the mind of the benefactors of these achievements — in short, each and every one of us.

If we believe that technology is the art of a modern society, we have a great deal of catching up to do mentally. The world isn’t rolling along on flat tires; rather, it’s buoyed up on wheels of ideas, innovation, social sharing and knowledge distribution. So let us avoid allowing our minds to become the nails that pierce and deflate those wheels; let us ensure our efforts do not pass without purpose. No matter how small those efforts are, I believe we are all together in this “web of trust”.


The writer, often taken for the young Jaya Suprana or his identical twin, is a photographer, educator and an architecture dropout. He is a vegetarian who loves exceptional coffee. Get connected with him via Twitter: @w1ll.

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