Category Archives: Technology

Those who don’t understand algorithms…

Don’t be scared if you don’t know what an algorithm is. This article is for you, so please read on.

If you know what an algorithm is but mainly from a mathematical viewpoint, you may skip the following paragraph, but please read on below, too.

About algorithms… and human action

Picture ‘Lamp Flowchart’ by Wapcaplet, via Wikimedia Commons

In a nutshell, an algorithms is the standardized function by which an action is executed – the important word being “standardized“. Because: the action to be executed is defined very clearly, and the function must state unambiguously in what circumstances and under what conditions this action has to be executed (or not).

This may sound very theoretical, but we all have already been confronted with a multitude of algorithmic processes.

Retrieving money from a cash machine is a typical, rather simple example: the machine has a certain number of predefined “actions” it can do (ask for your PIN code, hand out a certain amount of money, show account balance, swallow your card etc.) and its actions depend on your input, which are “conditions” for the machine.

Of course every action that is computer-based is algorithmic, i.e. implemented within different “layers” of programming, all boiled down to the basic electronic signals 0 and 1.

But no need for computers: actually, every procedure guided by a flowchart is algorithmic, too. Everything that is standardized. Everything that is automated.

“Algorithm” means no room for interpretation. And no choice. Continue reading

“Adult” TLD .xxx is just the beginning

Do you watch internet pornography? Chances are you do: worldwide, there are 72 million visitors monthly to pornographic web sites, and 42.7% of internet users view adult entertainment.

Before you start arguing about statistics, their meaning, their biases, know this: I agree with being critical – but the point I’m trying to make doesn’t depend on the figures.

A lot of online adult entertainment is watched by a lot of people. That’s a fact. Just check out the most popular sites of your country, and you will probably find a couple of pornographic sites among the top 50. They occurr usually clustered, starting e.g. around position 40 for the US, position 30 for France and Great Britain, position 25 for Germany, and position 20 for Switzerland and Italy at the time of writing.

Another fact: The ICANN has authorized, a few months ago, the (sponsored) top-level domain .xxx – after a decade of debate. Continue reading