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The Tech Forum – the tech importance behind ebooks

Canada is a country that is in constant search of ways for making accessibility to knowledge and specialization a possibility within every citizen’s hands.

Proof of such comes with the fact that the country has a big variety of conferences throughout the year. The industry that we will be focusing on with this article is tech publishing, or a more familiar term: ebooks.

What does a tech forum have to do with ebooks?

There is a major annual conference which takes place in Toronto called Tech Forum. This conference is held targeting the ebook production community. One of the fundamental purposes of the Tech Forum is to be a source of strategic information, helpful for everyone involved in ebook development.

When ebooks first began to become popular, a commonly used term to define it was digital book. Today, this industry is much more than just a traditional book made digital. It has turned out to be a whole new industry.

There are hundreds of professionals developing strategies, data, analysis, technological progress and networks in order to advance in this industry. It is no longer just about digitalizing a book. It has evolved to be more complex than that, and therefore it now needs more in depth-specialized and technical formation.

The Tech Forum coordinates and gathers precisely all the above. The conference has another conference within, the ebookcraft, which was programmed to be held on March 21st and 22nd 2018, one being a workshop day and the other displaying the main conference.

 To get a broader idea of what the Tech Forum has to offer in the ebook world, we can analyze some interesting and insightful details about the speakers that attended in 2017:

Saadia Muzaffar. Founder of TechGirls, a space for Canadian women working in math, science, engineering and technology. She focuses on tech leadership, entrepreneurship and business strategies.

She has featured in some of the most outstanding and influential magazines like CNN Money and Fortune Magazine, just to name a couple. She is an advocate for diversity in business and has spoken and written about it. Her last book project is titled: Change Together: A diversity guidebook for startups and scaleups.

 

Jiminy Panoz. This freelancer has been dedicated to working with French authors, and helping them make the transition to the ebook world. For this mission, he has developed special tools; he designs audits and interactive activities to support the learning and understanding of the digital world to these traditional authors. He also created and is working in his open source website called chapalpanoz.com.

Scaahi Koul. She is currently a senior writer at the famous platform, Buzzfeed, which has many followers through social media thanks to their innovative and informational posts.

Before Buzzfeed, Koul worked for The Huffington Post Canada, Maclean’s and Hazlitt as a professional writer. She also wrote many of her articles for other important publications through freelancing work.

Steve Murgaski. He is completely blind, and he’s also an extremely enthusiast reader. Murgaski works in this industry towards making it more accessible each day.

His work and experience consists of testing different types of websites to ensure accessibility. One of his areas of interest is supporting the creation of texts that contain graphs and mathematical symbols, and making that specific information understandable for people who are blind, with the use of braille.

He has recently partnered with the National Network for Equitable Library Service. The NNELS is an establishment owned and sustained in majority by Canadian public libraries. What they do is that along with authors, publishers and international partners, they take an original book and transform it into an accessible copied format for people who have certain print disabilities.

These types of disabilities fall under three big categories:

  • Severe or total impairment of sight or hearing or the inability to focus or move one’s eyes,
  • The inability to hold or manipulate a book, or
  • An impairment relating to comprehension.

As we all know, there is a big number of areas and genres when it comes to books. You can be a person developing in business, art, music, history, technology, leadership, social sciences, physics, languages, etc., and as long as you become an author of a book regarding your area of specialty, you will want to gain knowledge in ebook technology.

Today, technology is a magical source that can be used in favor of all those amazing authors that wish to transmit knowledge to the world. The annual Tech Forum in Canada is a definite enforcing step towards achieving that goal.

What is HTML, CSS and Javascript and why we need them?

In today’s world, where we are all related to a non-stop offer of technology-based platforms, such as games, apps, specialized and technical software, we all are capable of understanding the term website.

Many people access websites an outstanding amount of time throughout a single casual day.

For example, do you have an idea of how many times you open Google to make a quick search? Or, how many times a month do you browse through an online store of any kind looking for something you need (or just want) to buy? Or, how often do you access a social media platform and check photos, news, messages, etc.?

Either if it’s for work, for socializing or for academic purposes, everyone has at least basic knowledge on how to use different types of platforms.

We are familiarized with how to browse an online store, search for a specific item, put it in our shopping cart or wish list, and proceed to specify shipping information and payment methods, right?

And, we also know how to login to our favorite social media platforms, browse through the news, update our status, change our profile photo, send an emoji and accept a friend request, correct?

Well, we may all know how to use these types of platforms and websites, because they are usually super user-friendly. What this essentially means, is that the entire work behind the making of these platforms is focused on making everything as easy, simple and identifiable as possible.

People dedicated to web design and web engineering have an amazing knowledge in how to make a website as simple, graphic and descriptive as possible; this turns out to be their main goal actually.

So, behind the fact that you know how to upload your latest selfie, was a web designer that chose exactly what colors, font, size and text to put on that favorite button of yours that reads: “change my profile picture”.

And while you as a user can see that command in the form of a cute button, the web designer programmed it all with specific codes and languages.

This is where we talk about HTML, CSS and Javascript.

HTML:

 

When it comes to webs, we refer to a world that has its own language. It is all about specific coding. HTML is the very first ingredient of the website recipe. HTML is the basic language; with the use of HTML it is possible to define the structure and all the text that shall appear on the desired website, platform, application, etc.

Has your internet suddenly collapsed or half frozen to the point where you are trying to access a certain website but all you can see is a bunch of strange alphanumerical combinations on a white screen looking something like this:

an example of how to use html

Well, that’s the HTML coding “behind the scenes” of the usual screen that you view as a user.

Now, the HTML language is very raw and has no design to it, it’s just plain text. In order to design the webpage and make it attractive and colorful, we need the help of the CSS language.

CSS:

CSS is the language in charge of giving the layout; a good looking design to your platforms: colors, font types and sizes, images, background textures, etc.; to finally have a pretty interface.

But nowadays, most of the platforms we visit and user are also interactive. That’s thanks to the third language; Javascript.

Javascript:

Javascript basically has the power of bringing things defined by HTML and CSS to life through movement. Videogames, interactive buttons, the use of videos, audios, etc.

Therefore if we make a recap of this article’s information, we have that the first ingredient for web designing is the HTML language, which duty is to set the basis and the foundation of the platform itself: it declares all the information that shall appear, in text only.

CSS is the second ingredient; it adds the “flavor”, color and presentation to the recipe.

And finally we have Javascript, the third great ingredient. The one that gives life to the final dish: the platform. Javascript allows interaction, accessibility and movement to the platform.

As you can see they are all interconnected and they all need the other in order to be useful and helpful.

Now you have a small insight of the huge amount of effort and coding language the web experts need to conquer before being able to give you a fun, productive and user-friendly platform.

How Cambridge Analytica used millions of Facebook profiles data

Cristopher Wylie, an ex employee of Cambridge Analytica gave one of the most controversial interviews ever, where he declared that the company that he used to work for, Cambridge Analytica, obtained personal data of around 50 million Facebook users without their knowledge or consent, with the firm intention of creating micro targeting towards political ideologies in the United States.

But, first of all what is Cambridge Analytica?

Cambridge Analytica is a data analytic and propaganda company which was founded by Alexander Nix with the help of Cristopher Wylie. The idea of creating Cambridge Analytica came from Nix’s first company, SCL Group that specialized in influencing elections.

Wylie said in his interview that Nix wanted to create a more trustworthy company, one that could grasp onto more important and influencing people. Thus, Cambridge Analytica was born.

They named it after the prestigious university’s name with this objective of being viewed as more academic and intellectual towards Steve Bannon, an important client at the time. This is essentially the basis of the company; modifying the perception of people towards something or someone for political or commercial purposes.

Wylie stated that Steve Bannon’s ideology was “in order to change politics, we need to change culture”. From there they began plotting the plan to do so using the whole country of the United States. T

The steps they believed in were: “we need to change the units of culture, which are people, in order to change culture, in order to change politics.”

The essence of their plan was the creation of a cultural weapon, purposed to fight in a political war. The money they needed to be able to carry on with their mischief, was provided by a New York billionaire; Robert Mercer, who invested 15 million dollars into Cambridge Analytica.

The strategy they had decided to follow at this point was to recollect personal data of potential American voters and combine it with a psychological profile. Once this would be done, Cambridge Analytica would be in charge of analyzing that data and applying micro targeting propaganda.

Micro targeting propaganda consists of the creation of individualized propaganda according to what each person thinks, likes and believes, with the same goal at end. This means that even though they could target me based on my own psychological profile, and then target you with a different one of your own, the final result would be targeted towards the same obtained result; make us change our culture and ideology on a certain subject, person or political party.

Now, the question was: how is Cambridge Analytica planning to obtain all that personal data at a country level?

Wylie expressed that he spoke to Aleksandr Kogan, who worked with Facebook apps that were developed for user personality tests.

The tricky part with these apps was that once a user joined it, the app automatically had access not only to that user’s Facebook profile, but also to every single one of their friends’ profiles.

What this means is that if you signed into the app and you had 2.850 friends, the app now had unlimited access to 2,851 Facebook profiles; yours and your entire friend network, instantly. Their data pulling included “status updates, likes, and even private messages in some cases” states Wylie.

In a period of two to three months, Cambridge Analytica possessed personal information from 50 to 60 million Facebook users.

The company started to work with those user profiles; they studied them to the point of knowing what type of messaging a person is susceptible to: the tone, their frequented platforms and websites, the content, etc.

From there, Cambridge Analytica just had to organize their team of photographers, videographers, designers, psychologists and data scientists, amongst others, to lead them in making fake websites, news and blogs, and sourcing them to the corresponding type of person.

This action had the objective of gradually changing what a person might think of something.

“This was the weapon that Steve Bannon wanted to fight his cultural war” said Wylie.

Cambridge Analytica has rejected all allegations put against them and Dr. Krogan has stated that all the work he did with and through Facebook was done legally.

Meanwhile Facebook lost around a 7% of value in the stock market on Monday, as soon as the news was out.

Mark Zuckerberg declared through his Facebook page that they are carrying a thorough and meticulous investigation to find out what truly happened and to take the needed actions in order to safeguard people’s personal information, as that is the heart of Facebook as a company: protecting the community.