Is the internet redefining human identity?
Social networks such as Facebook and on-line gaming are changing people's view of who they are and their place in the world, according to a report for the government's chief scientist.
The report, published by Prof Sir John Beddington, says that traditional ideas of identity will be less meaningful.
One consequence could be communities becoming less cohesive.
This change could be harnessed to bring positive changes or if ignored could fuel social exclusion, says the study.
"This can be a positive force, exemplified by the solidarity seen in the London 2012 Olympics or a destructive force, for example the 2011 riots," says the report.
"Due to the development of smart phones, social networks and the trend towards (greater) connectivity disparate groups can be more easily mobilised where their interests temporarily coincide."
"For example," it says, "a 'flash mob' can be mobilised between people who have not previously met".
The report, entitled "Future Identities," says that near continuous access to the internet, termed "hyper-connectivity", will drive profound changes to society over the next 10 years.
Prof Beddington commissioned the study as part of the Government Office for Science's Foresight programme - the influential Foresight reports look ahead to highlight emerging trends in science and technology with a view to informing policies across government departments.
"The most dynamic trend (in determining identity) is hyper-connectivity," Prof Beddington told BBC News.
"The collection and use of data by government and the private sector, the balancing of individual rights and liberties against privacy and security and the issue of how to tackle social exclusion, will be affected by these trends," he said. "I hope the evidence in today's report will contribute to the policy making process."
This latest report on identity undertook 20 separate reviews in which leading UK and international experts assessed research in computer science, criminology and social sciences.
It states that the changing nature of identities will have substantial implications for what is meant by communities and by social integration. The study shows that traditional elements that shape a person's identity, such as their religion, ethnicity, job and age are less important than they once were.
Instead, particularly among younger people, their view of themselves is shaped increasingly by on-line interactions of social networks and on online role playing games.
The study found that far from creating superficial or fantasy identities that some critics suggest, in many cases it allowed people to escape the preconceptions of those immediately around them and find their "true" identity. This is especially true of disabled people who told researchers that online gaming enabled them to socialise on an equal footing with others.
"The internet can allow many people to realise their identities more fully, " the authors write. "Some people who have been shy or lonely or feel less attractive discover they can socialise more successfully and express themselves more freely online".
The report points out that in 2011, 60% of internet users were members of a social network site, a huge surge in usage, up 43% from 2007. Consequently, it says that there may greater political activism using these networks as was seen in the revolution in Tunisia and the mobilisation of dissent in Egypt and Libya.
There will also be a blurring of work and social identities as photos and details of people's personal lives become increasingly public on social networking sites. The report cites a hypothetical example of how a young person was denied promotion because her employer found drunken photos of her from her university days.
The report says that as the distinction between online and real world identities diminishes criminals are likely to try and exploit the many new forms of interlinked data relating people's identities and from social media and professional and financial websites in order to steal identities. - BBC
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Man hurls girlfriend out window to escape wife
A Moroccan man who was with his girlfriend at home in the North African Arab country had two choices when his wife knocked at the door — either to be brave and face her or throw his lover down from the first floor. He decided that he was not brave enough.
“He threw her through the window after his wife came back and knocked at the door,” newspapers said, quoting a police official in the western Atlantic port of Casablanca.
“The girl, 17, was not hurt as she landed on a pile of plastic bags on the pavement, but as she ran away, she banged into a wall as she was apparently in a shock. She hurt her head and was taken to hospital with some injuries.”
The papers said police interrogated the man but did not make clear if he still escaped his wife. - Emirates247
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New Yeti resort to be opened in Siberia (I predicted this would happen)
The development is in an area of the world that claims to have one of the highest number of sightings of a legendary creature also known as Bigfoot.
Igor Idimeshev, 48: 'We are building the Yeti Park now, and of course there will be a chance for people who come here to see creature. For me having Yetis here means something much more than the tourist attraction'.
The new Yeti Park will be constructed at Sheregesh ski resort, in the stunning Shoria Mountain area of Kemerovo region in southern Siberia. The development comes with a pledge by the region's governor Aman Tuleyev to offer a one million rouble ($33,000) reward to anyone who can catch a Yeti and prove its existence.
'I'll pay a million to anyone who will find the Yeti and bring it to see the me. I'll sit down with him, chat and have a cup of tea', he promised.
Critics see the Yeti Park - with a hotel and a themed children's playground - as a crude attempt to bring in both Russian and foreign tourists.
'We can see how Scotland exploits the Loch Ness Monster, who why can't we do the same with the Yeti?' admitted one official. 'We hope people will come from all over the world.'
Recent tours to remote caves in the region have found samples of Yeti hair, though various promises of definitive DNA research on them have somehow failed to materialise.
Despite this, local officials insist the Yeti is real, even if Igor Idimeshev, 48, deputy head of the local administration in Sheregesh, and the man behind the new park, has a novel explanation for its existence.
'I've seen this creature several times', he said. 'I think it is most likely of the extraterrestrial origin, not from this world. The Yeti might suddenly disappear and re-materialise. Another extraordinary thing is that Yeti's hair is luminous at night, and also that the Yeti can walk on water.'
Later in an interview with The Siberian Times, he elaborated on his close encounters with the Yeti, despite admitting his mother told him not to tell people because they would not believe him.
'I've met these creatures several times here in Tashtagol district and also in the area where I was born in the village of Toz close to Zelenaya Mountain.
'I saw it several times before I moved here to Sheregesh. Each time I was on my own, I was hunting. The only person I ever told everything in detail to was my mother - and she taught me to keep it to myself.
'People will simply think you've made it up', she told me.
'We people of Shoria do not use the name 'Yeti', instead we call these creatures Big Men. Every man round here sees him when he hunts. It's all right to mention the fact of meeting - but we don't go into the details of it, like where exactly it was, what he did do, or your luck will be gone forever.
'The feeling is one of fear. It is a fear that you cannot explain rationally. You feel yourself very scared and tense at the same time. One of the closest comparisons is the feeling of looking into a wolf's eyes. If you've ever seen them - I mean a wild wolf, not a caged animal - you remember a feeling of them being something very unusual, alien.
'Like with a wolf, you can see a Yeti's eyes from a distance of some 100-150 metres. They are quite hypnotising. And when I saw the Yeti's eyes my only thought was that they are not from Earth - they are clearly of an extraterrestrial nature.
'To me, the Yeti is an extraterrestrial creature. I believe that it is like a controller to look over things here on Earth.
I can understand why people do not notice creations like this. We were designed and created to live in a very smart way to protect our minds from information that can damage them. Put it simply - we ignore things that we can't explain, which is very wise, people otherwise would go insane.
On more mundane aspects of the Yeti, he said: 'I would not be able to give an estimate of the Yeti's size.
'It certainly looked big. Bigger than a human. I didn't go to have a look at his footprints, or check for any other material proof of his existence. Believe me, this is not what you want to do right after seeing it. You feel scared.
'We are building the Yeti Park now, and of course there will be a chance for people who come here to see creature. For me having Yetis here means something much more than the simple tourist attraction'.
He stressed: 'We will have a dedicated plot of land for Yeti park, where anyone can see it. We will organise a museum, exhibiting all Yeti-related objects, like the trees they make into arches, and many other things. This location will be used for all future conferences and seminars devoted to the Yeti'.
The Yeti theme is 'important for the region', he said.
Last year Professor Valentin Sapunov claimed a population of 200 Yeti exist in the Kemerovo, Khakassia and Altai regions of Siberia. Sapunov is a doctor of Biological Sciences and Chief Fellow of Russian State HydroMeteorological University.
But his claims on tests of hair found in a cave in this region, which suggested they belonged to an unknown mammal, were strongly disputed by Professor Oleg Pugachev, Director of the Zoological Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences.
In September last year, three separate sightings of Yeti were reported in southern Siberia. - Siberian Times
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“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and consciencious stupidity” — Martin Luther King