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Digital Journal announces Photo Essay Contest for December

Nov 29, 2012   //   by admin   //   Blog  //  389 Comments

by Digital Journal Staff

Contributors to Digital Journal have a chance to win cash prizes in a new photo contest available in December.

The Photo Essay Contest invites any Digital Journal member to submit blogs and articles featuring at least three original photos on any topic.

Running from Dec. 1 to Dec. 31 inclusive, this contest is open to any member of challenge? Compile a photo essay with at least 3 photos showcasing an interesting moment in your community or during your travels. You can photograph Christmas preparations in a busy neighbourhood; a visit from a celebrity; a breaking news event; sports games or parades; arts festivals or concerts; and much much more!

Your photography can relate to any subject, from sports to business to entertainment and everything in between.

HOW TO ENTER: Your photos must be included in an article (if you’re a paid Digital Journalist) or within a blog post (if you’re just a blogger contributor), and you must include in the headline “Photo Essay.” That’s it. You don’t need to email the entries to editors.There is no limit to how many times you can enter the contest. You can contribute as many photo essays as you like. All photos must be shot by the author of the article or blog post. Verification of authenticity may be required. You are required to include at least three original photos but note there is no limit to the maximum amount of photos to include in each entry.

ELIGIBILITY: Any member of may enter this contest. Your account cannot be inactive or closed to be eligible for the contest. Digital Journal staff and relatives of staff are ineligible to enter the contest.All photo essays must be original work and never published before, including previously posted on DigitalJournal.comDEADLINE: The entries must be published on between 12:01 a.m. (Eastern) Dec. 1, 2012 and 11:59 p.m. (Eastern) on Dec. 31, 2012.

PRIZES: The first place winner will receive $100, and a second and third place winners will take home $50. All prizes will be awarded within 30 days of Contest judging via PayPal to those addresses provided by Contest winners on their Member Registration Form. Prizes are subject to substitution by products of equal or greater value without notice.The winning entries will also be promoted on and via our social media channels, such as our Facebook and Twitter feeds.

JUDGING: Entries will be judged by the sole discretion of staff members of, and a winner will be announced in January 2013. Entries will be judged on journalistic value, composition, clarity, realism, photographic skill, timeliness, and a flair for the unexpected. You may use your camera of choice, or a cellphone, for your photo essay.It should be noted Digital Journal encourages “liking” the blogs and articles you believe should win the contest, as Judges will take the popularity of a photo essay into consideration, although the criteria mentioned above will take priority over an entry’s amount of Likes.Winners will be notified of their win by email within 30 days of the contest deadline

PUBLICATION: Owner of copyright retains all copyright on any photo submitted to the Contest. Digital Journal, Inc. reserves publication rights of winning photo essays and photographs in electronic medias, as well as for possible use in future promotional material of the Contest. All photos, wherever promoted or displayed, will be credited to the photographer.

CLAIM OF OWNERSHIP AND MODEL RELEASES: Contestants must own all rights to the works submitted and are solely responsible for obtaining mode releases, when applicable. As such, Contestants hold the publisher and Contest sponsors harmless from any breech of copyright in Canada, The United States and elsewhere and from consequential litigation.

RESPONSIBILITY: Digital Journal, Inc. cannot be held liable for any failure of the Web site during the Contest. Digital Journal, Inc. is not responsible for loss, damage, technical problems or delays that may occur during digital transfer of images.

ACCEPTANCE OF RULES: Participation in the Contest indicates complete acceptance of the Contest rules set forth herein.

Additional Info:
• All entries are subject to Digital Journal’s Terms of Use.
• Rules subject to change without notice. Digital Journal reserves the right to update this page at any time.
• The contest is open to citizens of any country in which PayPal operates (see list).
• Decisions of the contest judges are final.
• By entering this contest or claiming the prize, entrants authorize the use, without additional compensation of his or her name and/or likeness and/or voice/photograph and/or news article and/or blog and/or photographs and municipality of residence for promotion and/or advertising purposes, related to this contest, in any manner and in any medium (including without limitation, radio broadcasts, newspapers and other publications and in television or film releases, slides, videotape, distribution over the Internet and picture data storage) which Digital Journal, Inc. may deem appropriate.
• By entering this contest, or accepting the prize, the winner acknowledges that Digital Journal, Inc. will not be held liable for any loss, damages or injury associated with entering this contest, accepting or using this prize(s).
• This contest is subject to all federal, provincial and municipal laws.
• By entering this contest, you agree Digital Journal, Inc. is not responsible or liable in the event of lost, removed, or missing entries.
• Digital Journal reserves the rights to delete any entry without explanation.
• Each entrant is responsible for maintaining a copy of their entry/submission.

Photo via Flickr user Johannes_wl

Student expelled for refusing to wear RFID tracking chip badge

Nov 22, 2012   //   by admin   //   Media blog  //  2 Comments

by Leigh Goessl (Guest contributor/Digital Journalist)

A student who had protested a pilot program initiated in her school for students to carry IDs with RFID tracking chips embedded was expelled from her school. However, a judge later blocked the suspension pending further hearings.

Andrea Hernandez, a sophomore at the John Jay High School in San Antonio, Tex., did not like the idea of her school tracking her every move, and with the support of her parents, protested the idea over the summer. Digital Journal reported on the issue after the Texas schools initially decided to implement tracking chips in its school IDs.

The ID card, integrated with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology that enabled schools to track a student’s movement through school property, was to be worn around a student’s neck at all times until they left the property. Embedded in the chips is personal data, which reportedly also includes Social Security numbers.

The school cites safety and accountability issues, and is, in essence, a simplified way of taking attendance without physically having an adult take manual attendance.

Hernandez, with a small group of others, protested the district’s “Smart ID” pilot program and refused to carry the new ID card. The school had allegedly offered her the opportunity to wear the ID card without the RFID chip, however it would still have had a barcode, and Hernandez refused. Additionally, it is alleged the school told the family they would have to publicly support the program.

When Hernandez, and her family, refused, the school decision makers said they would expel the 10th grader.

According to ZDNet, Hernandez was later expelled from her high school because of her refusal to carry the ID. Her attorneys are currently moving to stop the expulsion, citing a violation of the Texas’ Religious Freedom Act and the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

Wired reported this afternoon that a local Texas judge tentatively halted Hernandez’ suspension from school. The Rutherford Institute said a hearing will be held next week.

“What we’re teaching kids is that they live in a total surveillance state and if they do not comply, they will be punished,” John Whitehead, Rutherford Institute told Infowars (via ZDNet). “There has to be a point at which schools have to show valid reasons why they’re doing this.”

In addition to the shaping of society issue, there are also the motives claimed to be behind the program, all of which are believe to be rooted in money.

“There is something fundamentally disturbing about this school district’s insistence on steamrolling students into complying with programs that have nothing whatsoever to do with academic priorities and everything to do with fattening school coffers,” said Whitehead, reported Wired.

For several years now, schools have either been blatantly or quietly trying to integrate student tracking in various forms. This is an issue that is not going away and will likely increase as technology becomes more assimilated into administrative processes, which leads to the ethical question of whether or not schools should monitor students with ‘spychips’?

This article originally appeared on Digital Journal [Link]

Opinion: Is facial recognition tech cool or creepy? Consider the issues

Nov 13, 2012   //   by admin   //   Media blog  //  No Comments

by Leigh Goessl (Guest contributor/Digital Journalist)

Over the past several years, facial recognition technology has sparked some controversy leading many to question whether or not the technology is “cool” or “creepy”.

Perhaps it’s a bit of both.

Facial recognition is a rapidly growing technology. As this innovation progresses, the capabilities have significantly expanded over the past several years. The capacity of what it can accomplish is pretty amazing when you think about it.

For instance, earlier this year it was announced Hitachi Kokusai Electric had developed a security camera that could process a whopping 36 million faces in one second. Facebook has integrated the technology in its network to automatically suggest who the identity of the photo is and suggest a tag.

Surveillance in general has become a way of life, but facial recognition isn’t necessarily inclusive. At least, not yet. Currently facial recognition is being used, or at least considered, in various ways including social media, law enforcement and commercial business. The possibilities sound pretty fascinating, however, digging deeper into these possibilities illuminates some issues.

Facial recognition in the commercial sphere

As with most technologies that have become widely available in the last two decades, facial recognition technology is rapidly entering the commercial realm, both in-person and online.NEC, a Japanese company, has recently developed a new facial recognition system that is designed for retailers. 

Gizmodo reported the software has capability to “determine the age and gender of shoppers, and tracks how long and how often they visit a given store. The collected data can be used by a retailer to analyze trends in who exactly is visiting its stores, and what they can do to encourage repeat visits.”

Not to mention, while Facebook is currently only using the technology for photo tagging, the question begs asking, could this change in the future and its uses be expanded? It is important to note, Facebook has not said it would, but realistically, Facebook or any other social network could consider it down the road now that the door has been opened.

Over time the personal information of consumers has become a commodity, it is not hard to imagine the value biometric data could generate for commercial purposes.Security issuesCompanies buy and sell consumer information on a routine basis, and, as a result, mass quantities of data have been compiled. This has become an attractive target for criminals as data breaches are an ongoing and growing problem. As such, security is a huge concern, and many experts feel not enough companies pay due care to it.

As biometric data on consumers is compiled, physical attributes have high potential to also become a commodity, and perhaps also put personal identity at further risk. Imagine the damage criminals can inflict once they get their hands on this information?

Last year a team of researchers conducted a study which concluded identities and personal information, including Social Security numbers, could be traced by using facial recognition software and social media profiles.”

A person’s face is the veritable link between her offline and online identities,” Alessandro Acquisti, a researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, and associate professor of information technology and public policy at the Heinz College, had said in 2011. “When we share tagged photos of ourselves online, it becomes possible for others to link our face to our names in situations where we would normally expect anonymity.”

Privacy issues

As with other technologies, facial recognition creates issues with privacy. The Internet was once widely anonymous, as was walking down a busy city street, however these days, not so much.While discounts and other deals may be enticing, essentially privacy is given up in exchange. If the aforementioned NEC product becomes widely used in commercialism, consumers will be giving up a wealth of information to businesses. It is not clear yet whether or not this will be with or without consumer consent.

The technology is moving so fast that last month the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a set of “Best Practices” guidelines for companies using or planning to use facial recognition technologies. This list addresses both security and privacy concerns, and appears to be proactive in considering ways facial recognition might be used in the future.”

First, they should obtain consent before using consumers’ images or any biometric data in a different way than they represented when they collected the data,” the FTC wrote in its report [PDF]. ”

Second, companies should not use facial recognition to identify anonymous images of a consumer to someone who could not otherwise identify him or her, without obtaining the consumer’s affirmative consent first.”

What about creepy?

In many ways, big brother has long arrived, but widespread use of facial recognition kicks it up several notches. While businesses can potentially offer benefits to consumers through tracking of biometrics and shopping behaviors, it’s hard to say it’s not creepy.

Consider government tracking and public surveillance; factor in extensive consumer tracking, this pretty much will capture a full profile of one’s lifestyle and decision making process made throughout the course of the day.This, of course, would become valuable data in both the government and commercial sense.

Is it really worth the tradeoffs?

Technology moves at a much faster pace than any laws that address privacy and/or security. Unfortunately, many organizations and businesses run with fantastic visions, focusing on the “cool” factor without looking at the full picture of how their decisions may have a long-term impact on the broader society.

Chances are the technology will be widely implemented in time either way, but if businesses consider the wider impact, perhaps some of the aforementioned issues can be mitigated with proactive planning.“

Fortunately, the commercial use of facial recognition technologies is still young. This creates a unique opportunity to ensure that as this industry grows, it does so in a way that respects the privacy interests of consumers while preserving the beneficial uses the technology has to offer,” the FTC staff report had said.

If any of these new innovations are employed in the near future, Big Brother will have arrived in a big way. However one feels about facial recognition technology, a question everyone, both consumers and organizational decision makers, should perhaps be asking themselves is whether or not the tradeoffs are worth the benefits?

With limited use and consideration of the bigger picture, perhaps some aspects of facial recognition could be beneficial, however should definitely not be a free for all and consumer consent should be a consideration.

What do you think? “Creepy” direction or “cool” possibilities?

This article originally appeared in Digital Journal [Link]

Facebook testing project that gives shoppers free Wi-Fi

Nov 9, 2012   //   by admin   //   Media blog  //  No Comments

by Leigh Goessl (Guest contributor/Digital Journalist)

Facebook is currently testing a new project that would give shoppers free wireless Internet access. If successful, it might not be long before Facebook Wi-Fi comes to a store near you.

Los Angeles Times reported that a Facebook spokesperson told the paper the free Wi-Fi test is being run in retail stores and coffee shops in Menlo Park, where the social network giant is based.

According to Inside Facebook, developer Tom Waddington noticed the new service, which is currently being called “Facebook Wi-Fi”.

Waddington was the first person to notice Facebook’s “want” button was being designed.Inside Facebook reports:

Developer Tom Waddington, who also discovered Facebook testing the Want button plugin and possibly promoted messages, first tipped us off to this when he found a new entry called “social wifi” in the “Like sources” section of the Insights API. The explanation for the entry is “People who liked your page after checking in via Facebook Wi-Fi.

Facebook confirmed the new project in a statement to Inside Facebook that indicated the social network is “currently running a small test with a few local businesses of a Wi-Fi router that is designed to offer a quick and easy way to access free Wi-Fi after checking in on Facebook.”

How Facebook’s Wi-Fi service works is that the social network is providing businesses with the router and the companies pay for the Internet service. Members that use Facebook’s “Check In” are redirected to the business’ Facebook page (users do have the option to set the Check In to “only me” if they do not want their location publicly disclosed).

Stores may offer the individual a deal or special, Facebook told CNET. After visiting the business’ Facebook page, users can then access the Internet.Additionally, people that do not want to check in and be tracked, or those who do not have a Facebook account, can ask the business for a special passcode to still access the Web.

The concept was created at one of Facebook’s hackathon events.

This project comes at a time when Facebook stock continues to struggle. Since the company went public in May 2012, the stock has not had a strong performance. Yesterday, the stock’s worth still hovered around $20 as the market closed.

Reuters reported, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook Chief Operating Officer, has already sold millions of dollars of stock and Forbes reported she continues to sell.

Next week will be telling as the next IPO lockup period expires on Nov. 14, many additional shareholders will be permitted to sell stock, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg. However, Zuckerberg has said he won’t sell any of his shares before Sept. 2013.

This article originally appeared in Digital Journal [Link]

Toronto Star to introduce paywall in early 2013

Oct 29, 2012   //   by admin   //   Media blog  //  1 Comment

by Andrew Moran (Guest contributor/Digital Journalist)

Toronto Star publisher John Cruickshank announced Monday plans to introduce a paywall structure in 2013. Complete details of the proposed plan have not been released, but it is in line with other Toronto outlets, such as the Globe and Mail.

What other news organization in Toronto is going to enforce a paywall? That is the question on the mind of many Torontonians, who have been used to reading the news on the Internet for free for many, many years.

Readers who headed on over to the on Monday morning may have been surprised (or not surprised depending on your aptitude on the business of media) to learn that the Toronto Star is going to implement a paywall, a measure that offers its visitors a paid-subscription for full access to its content.

“This move will provide a new source of revenue for the Star that will help support our ability to provide readers of both our print and online editions with the best and most comprehensive package of news and information in Canada,” wrote Cruickshank in the announcement. “Under the plan, most print subscribers to the Toronto Star will receive free full access to’s content, wherever and however they want.”

Full aspects of the subscription have yet to be released, including the costs, how to register and what features readers can access.The purpose of the subscription is to generate another tool of revenues, while also providing more news stories, video content and podcasts of news from across the Greater Toronto Area and elsewhere in Canada and around the world.

“These additional revenues will strengthen our ability to invest in quality journalism, both in print and online, and provide the high quality of news, information and opinion that our readers throughout the Greater Toronto Area and across Canada have come to expect from the Star,” added Cruickshank. “They will also allow the Star to bolster its long-standing focus on delivering accurate local, national and international news that matters to our readers.”

The Toronto Star joins the likes of the Globe and Mail and National Post of Toronto outlets adding a paywall. In the United States, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times have performed the same thing. If the Star is looking to make extra revenue, the New York Times posted its third quarter numbers, which include an 85 percent drop in profits.

Some of its readers have already commented that they will not pay for something that they can receive for free elsewhere. Google News offers hundreds of news agencies that provide the news of the day at no cost, such as the Associated Press and Reuters.

This article originally appeared on Digital Journal [Link]