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The Most Amusing Images from the SOPA Strike

On January 18th, websites across the internet went on strike to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the related Protect IP Act (PIPA). Some sites were completely blocked; others added censorship graphics to their banners, and some posted about the strike. The point was to make all internet users aware of the bills before Congress and to encourage reader participation. A few sites went above and beyond the call of duty and made the strike itself entertaining. If you didn't see them, I saved a few of the best.

Cheezburger Network

Ben Huh runs a large network of sites ranging from I Can Has Cheezburger to The Daily What. All of them were blocked. The splash page that ran instead featured this song that struck all LOLcats fans right where they live.

The Oatmeal

Cartoonist Matthew Inman at The Oatmeal has been a victim of copyright infringement a few times, but he is opposed to SOPA because it goes way too far in curbing the freedom of the internet. For the occasion, he created a wonderful animation to show instead of his site. I would have posted the whole thing here, but some parts may be considered NSFW.

The Joy of Tech

The geeks at The Joy of Tech could think of nothing to do when so many sites were down. Or maybe they could!

Kids on Facebook

Those of us who work on the internet have been well aware of these bills -and the strike- for some time now. However, my three teenage daughters had no clue until they saw the black banner of the Google logo this morning. The thought of not being able to access Wikipedia horrified them -but also made them a little more politically aware. Jimmy Wales warned them to do their homework early, but how many high school students follow the Wikipedia founder on Twitter? The anguish of the blackout was expressed by many teenagers all across Facebook.

Fark

Fark had a splash page that explained why you should support SOPA/PIPA:

Produced by Farker Joe the Peacock. Fark knew ahead of time that content would be thin on the 18th, so head Farker Drew Curtis said something that was translated to mean anything within reason would be approved and posted. The site ended up with a lot of discussion threads that didn't even have a linked story.

NewsHounds

The word SOPA itself lends itself to puns. Dee, PbD created this graphic for NewsHounds.

xkcd

On any other given day, Randall Munroe at xkcd has the funniest stuff on the internet. However, during the blackout, he became quite serious. This is one internet business we would hate to lose.

BizweekGraphics

Some people felt the loss of even one day of Wikipedia. I don't think I've even seen an Encarta CD since the mid-'90s! It didn't take long for Encarta to respond.

reddit

No list of amusing SOPA graphics would be complete without the little guy who led the charge. Known as so brave, he's the reddit alien dressed as William Wallace as portrayed by Mel Gibson in the movie Braveheart.

From Internet Users

And then there are the images that get passed around, telling a story in one picture. This one was featured on a string of Tumblr blogs. We get the message!

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The Great Yanny vs. Laurel Aural War of 2018, Explained
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It's rare for people to disagree on the internet, but no amount of civility could be spared when a "social media influencer" named Cloe Feldman posted a four-second sound clip on Twitter on May 15, 2018 and asked followers whether they heard a voice say "Yanny" or "Laurel."

Maybe you hear "Yanny." Maybe "Laurel." Proponents of either one recognize a very distinct word, which seems like some kind of aural magic trick. 

Popular Science asked several audiologists to help explain what’s going on. Brad Story, a professor of speech, language, and hearing sciences at the University of Arizona, performed a waveform analysis, which is already more effort directed at this than at the ransom calls for the Lindbergh baby. Story observed that the recording's waveform displays the acoustic features of the "l" and "r" sounds, offering reasonable proof that the voice is saying "Laurel." Whoever engineered the track seems to have layered a second, higher-frequency artifact over it—a frequency that sounds like "Yanny" to some people.

But why do listeners hear one name versus the other? We listen with our brains, and our brains tend to prioritize certain sounds over others. You might be focused on hearing your child talk, for example, over the din of a television. Because "Laurel" and "Yanny" are on different frequencies, some listeners are subconsciously favoring one over the other.

Audiologist Doug Johnson of Doug Johnson Productions provided further proof in his YouTube video analyzing the recording. By isolating each track, it's clear listeners can hear both "Yanny" and "Laurel."

A bigger mystery remains: Who conceived of this recording? It wasn't Feldman, who said she picked it up from a Reddit conversation. According to Wired, the answer is likely Georgia-based high school freshman Katie Hazel, who was looking up the word "laurel" on Vocabulary.com, had the site play it back, and was confused when she heard "Yanny" instead. She shared the discrepancy on Instagram, which was picked up by school senior Fernando Castro. From Castro's Instagram, it landed on Reddit. The original recording was performed for Vocabulary.com in 2007 by an unnamed opera singer and former cast member of the Broadway musical CATS.

Vocabulary.com isn't sure if the singer will come forward to claim their role in this fleeting internet sensation. In the meantime, the "Yanny" and "Laurel" camps continue to feud, mystified by the inability to hear what the other can. Musician Yanni is in the former group.

[h/t Popular Science]

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Why Browsing in Incognito Mode Isn’t as Private as You Think
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There are plenty of reasons to try to shield your web activity from prying eyes. You might not want your internet provider to know you’re illegally downloading Game of Thrones. You might not want your employer to see that you’re looking at job boards. Unfortunately, private browsing mode won't help you there, contrary to what many internet users think. Although what you do in private mode doesn’t save in your browser history, it isn't entirely hidden, either, and your activity can still be tracked, according to The Independent’s Indy100.

The site highlights research recently presented at a web privacy conference in Lyon, France, which shows that many people have significant misconceptions about what private browsing really means and how it can shield your information. The survey of 460 people, conducted by researchers from the University of Chicago and Germany’s Leibniz Universität Hannover, found that even when browsers warn users that all their data won’t be hidden when using private browsing mode, most people still come away with major misunderstandings about what will and won’t be hidden about their activity. According to the paper [PDF]:

"These misconceptions included beliefs that private browsing mode would prevent geolocation, advertisements, viruses, and tracking by both the websites visited and the network provider. Furthermore, participants who saw certain disclosures were more likely to have misconceptions about private browsing’s impact on targeted advertising, the persistence of lists of downloaded files and bookmarks, and tracking by ISPs, employers, and governments."

While incognito mode doesn’t store your browsing history, temporary files, or cookies from session to session, it can’t shield you from everything. Your internet service provider (ISP) can see your activity. If you’re logged into your company or school’s Wi-Fi, your boss or school administrators can still see what you’re doing on that network. And if you’re on a site that isn’t secure, incognito mode won’t keep other users on your network from tracking you, either.

According to Chrome developer Darin Fisher, Google tried to make this fairly clear from the outset with incognito mode. In 2017, Fisher told Thrillist that the Chrome team intentionally decided to steer clear of the word “private” so that people would understand that their activity wasn’t totally invisible to others.

Using a VPN along with incognito mode can help anonymize your browsing, but your ISP will still be able to tell when you connect and disconnect, and the VPN company may log some information on your activity, depending on its terms. Overall, it’s just very hard to hide your online activity completely.

Private browsing is useful if you’re using someone else’s computer and don’t want to deal with logging out of their email or social media accounts. It can help you shield your significant other from seeing all the engagement rings you’ve been browsing online. And yeah, sometimes—though we don’t condone this!—you can use it to get around a site’s paywall. But it’s never going to completely hide what you do online.

[h/t Indy100]

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