TIME Social Media

This Is What Getting Cancer Looks Like on Social Media

If our virtual footprints are a window into even a little piece of the person we truly are, then this is the virtual story of my cancer

This story was originally published at the The Kernel, the Daily Dot’s Sunday magazine.

No one expects to get cancer. Sure, you might have the “what if” moments, but you never actually think it’s going to happen. Until it does.

I was diagnosed with testicular cancer on Aug. 8, 2012. Two days later, I had surgery to remove the tumor; less than month after that, I started chemo. I had just turned 30 years old.

So much of our lives are shared on the Internet. Mine is no different. Even before I was diagnosed, I shared my work, mundane details about my life, dating—the essentials for a man in his 20s living in New York at the time. So when cancer showed its fugly face, I had to document it.

I’ve written a lot about my cancer, but I’ve never actually showed it. If our virtual footprints are a window into even a little piece of the person we truly are, then this is the virtual story of my cancer.

Pre-diagnosis

I’ve never been one to care about age. Turning 30 was just another birthday. If anything, it marked a change in a decade and reflected the direction I wanted my life to go in, more professional—hopefully personally fulfilling.

The pain started at the end of July, shortly after my birthday. Having just arrived in Los Angeles from New York, I didn’t have a doctor. I went to my friend’s doctor, which led to another doctor, and then another. The entire time I was cracking jokes. I wasn’t taking it seriously, yet deep down I knew something wasn’t right.

I still got it! And by "it," I mean a weight problem.

A photo posted by H. Alan Scott (@halanscott) on

 

Read the rest of the story at The Kernel.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: March 31

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Is the sharing economy opening the door for big business to abuse contract workers?

By Jon Evans in TechCrunch

2. With fins off many menus, scientists see a glimmer of hope for sharks.

By Ted Williams in Yale Environment 360

3. The Houthi rebels in Yemen are following the ISIS playbook and crowdfunding their revolt online.

By Vladi Vovchuk in Vocativ

4. It might be possible to create a non-meat burger that helps the environment and improves your health. But will it taste good enough to win over the masses?

By Corby Kummer in MIT Technology Review

5. Medicaid may not be a slam dunk for physical health, but it yields huge returns in quality of life.

By the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: March 30

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Blue-collar jobs are coming back, and pay well. But women are missing out.

By Mitchell Hartman in Marketplace

2. Ikea is known for affordable, flat-pack furniture. Now they’re selling the U.N. flat-pack refugee housing.

By Amar Toor in the Verge

3. With an eye on the White House, politicians won’t admit it, but the ethanol mandate is terrible policy.

By Josiah Neeley in the American Conservative

4. With billions in profits, tech giants must lead the charge against inequality in Silicon Valley.

By John D. Sutter in CNN

5. Can better customer service make primary medical care affordable and sustainable?

By Margot Sanger-Katz in the Upshot

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Gadgets

Here’s How Rich People Will Buy the Apple Watch

There's VIP treatment for those interested in the 18-karat gold watch

Apple’s most expensive Apple Watch starts at $10,000 — but the high-rollers among us can start getting their money’s worth before they even drop the cash.

Shoppers interested in the 18-karat gold Apple Watch Edition will be given no-wait access to an Apple Store Expert, who will create a personalized “journey” for the customer’s in-store experience, 9to5Mac reported Sunday, citing sources briefed on launch plans. Meanwhile, shoppers interested in the Apple Watch Sport (starting $349) and Apple Watch (starting $549) will have to wait in line or book an appointment.

Apple Watch Edition will reportedly have a separate try-on area, with up to 30 minutes for simply trying on Apple’s priciest gadget. That’s double the five-to-15 minute appointments for the other two devices.

Once a customer decides to buy the Apple Watch Edition, Apple will reportedly offer an in-store briefing process or the option to conduct the session via video conference from home. The customer will also get two years of access to an exclusive Apple Watch Edition phone line for 24/7 technical support.

Apple Watch will launch on April 24 in the U.S. and several other countries. A preview and presale period beings April 10.

Read next: This Could Be Apple’s Secret Apple Watch Strategy

[9to5Mac]

TIME Innovation

When Technology Helps Us Become More Human

robot-boy-shaking-hands
Corbis

The human desire to help combined with new technological tools could create solutions to some of the world's biggest problems

It was Tuesday January 12, 2010, and the Haitian capital had just been hit with a massive earthquake.

Far away in Boston, Fletcher School PhD candidate Patrick Meier was faced with a wrenching problem: his wife, also a Fletcher student, was in Port-au-Prince, and he couldn’t get in touch with her. “The anxiety was nearly paralyzing,” he said at a recent event at New America. “I needed to focus, to do something – anything.”

A specialist in so-called “liberation technologies,” Meier realized there was one thing he could do: create a crisis map of the disaster, mapping everything from CNN reports to Tweets. The job of finding and geo-referencing news reports and social media postings soon became too big for him, and Meier reached out to friends at Fletcher and beyond to assist him.

By the following Saturday, Meier found himself commanding a nerve center of fellow volunteers—some there in person, others in touch via Internet—from his dorm room. Together, they were sorting and tagging Tweets using the Ushahidi mapping platform. They were also using Google Maps to support search and rescue efforts on the ground. Eventually, their efforts led to working with a Haitian telecom provider to launch a SMS help line service that could send messages directly into the group’s inbox.

Because many of the volunteers hailed from the Haitian diaspora abroad, Meier’s group was able to use high resolution satellite imagery to update the woefully out-of-date maps of Port-au-Prince on Open Street Maps.

The work that Meier and his group did accomplished more than helping him focus on “something else” while he waited to hear word from his wife (who was thankfully unharmed). They connected missing people with relief efforts on the ground. The US Marine Corps commended them, with one contact claiming their crisis map was “saving lives every day.”

But after Haiti, the nerve center they had created was still active and wondering: what was next? With the assistance of the Internet and social media, volunteers in their own homes — dubbed by Meier as “Digital Jedis” — now appeared to have an important place in international disaster response. With this in mind, Meier founded the Digital Humanitarian Network, which serves as a middle-man between volunteer and technical networks, and the digital networks of volunteers who can assist them when disaster strikes.

These digital humanitarians who have joined the network, and the basic human altruism that animates them, have inspired Meier’s new book: Digital Humanitarians: How Big Data is Changing the Face of Humanitarian Response. Meier is Director of Social Innovation at the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) where he wrote the book, which highlights many of the cutting edge humanitarian technologies developed by QCRI. To Meier, there are two common threads in the examples of digital humanitarianism in the new publication: technology and hope. What matters is combining these two essential elements to create projects that truly work – combining the human desire to help with new technological tools that can enhance human abilities.

One major problem with data-driven disaster response is volume: for example, the volunteers in Haiti worked tirelessly, but they were only able to categorize so much data themselves. An essential problem with tech-savvy disaster response, Meier argues, is that we have collectively moved from a period where responders had too little data to one where they often have entirely too much.

“Humanitarian organizations are in no way prepared to deal with a flood of information from disasters,” Meier explains, likening their task to finding the proverbial needle in the haystack — identifying one Tweet or SMS that will help lead to a missing person. “The overflow of information can be just as paralyzing as the lack thereof for humanitarian responders.”

Data overload isn’t the only problem with technology-driven disaster response: there’s also the matter of verification. 2012’s Hurricane Sandy saw the Internet flooded with cleverly Photoshopped images of a waterlogged New York City, images which many took to be the real thing. The resulting confusion obfuscated the real story, and it’s a problem that digital humanitarians, per Meier, need to avoid.

The good news, says Meier, is that in our digital world, we’ve far outstripped the degrees of connection Kevin Bacon enjoys – “We’re all about 1 or 2 hops from an eyewitness,” he argues. This connectivity inspired the experimental Verily “time-critical crowdsourcing” service, which asks volunteers to answer simple “Yes, because” or “No, because” questions about certain disaster data.

“We’re looking to crowdsource critical thinking,” says Meier of the service. “Part of the Verily mandate is to educate and create a more skilled online sphere.” Verily is a QCRI-led initiative.

In his book, Meier also looks at the importance of aerial imagery, and how collecting this data has been made more accessible by recent advances in UAV (drone) technology. It can take 64 hours for satellites to collect data that can be used for disaster response, a long turn-around time when lives are on the line. Camera-bearing UAVs flown by a trained team can collect aerial imagery in hours, allowing rescue teams both on the ground and on the Internet to respond quickly. QCRI’s UAViators group currently hosts a crowdsourced crisis map of drone imagery and footage, allowing pilots from around the world to upload in real time from the scene of a crisis.

Digital humanitarianism, Meier stresses, isn’t just a matter of technological expertise. “It’s easy to just see dots on a map doing while we’re doing crisis mapping, Meier says. “It’s important to remind ourselves this is more than just technical exercise. It’s because people care that these crisis maps exist – it’s a story about humanity and what it means to be human.”

Faine Greenwood is a Field Analyst in the International Security Program at New America. This piece was originally published in New America’s digital magazine, The Weekly Wonk. Sign up to get it delivered to your inbox each Thursday here, and follow @New America on Twitter.

More from New America Foundation:

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: March 27

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Why did Saudi Arabia lead airstrikes on the rebels who’ve seized Yemen? The answer isn’t as clear as it seems.

By Frederic Wehrey at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

2. Three black swimmers swept the 100-yard freestyle at the NCAA swim championships — and swept away a long-standing stereotype.

By Kavitha Davidson in Bloomberg View

3. Could a Facebook deal to host news content make news brands obsolete?

By Felix Salmon in Fusion

4. A new satellite study reveals the rapid breakdown of Antarctic ice. Low-lying nations should be worried.

By Robert McSweeney in the Carbon Brief

5. Here’s how reproductive health rights for women can help end poverty.

By Valerie Moyer in the Aspen Idea

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Now 3D-Printed Guns Can Fire Even Bigger Bullets

The AR-15's bigger, badder brother comes hot off the presses of a $500 printer

3-D printing hobbyists have managed to print up a functioning Colt CM901 assault rifle, what’s said to be the heaviest caliber rifle to ever roll off the presses of a 3-D printer.

Hobbyists at PrintedFirearm.com posted an animated GIF of the 3-D printed rifle firing off several rounds at a shooting range, according to military blog War Is Boring.

The CM901 fires 7.62 mm rounds, a heavier caliber bullet than that of the AR-15. The gun also recoils with greater force, requiring gunsmiths to print up sturdier plastic parts that can withstand the stresses of multiple rounds. After a period of trial and error, the team claims the CM901 can fire off several rounds “with little to no issues.”

And the most unsettling part: the rifle can be printed using a $500 Da Vinci 3-D printer. That’s a bargain compared with the first 3-D printed firearm, which first rolled off of an $8,000 printer in 2013.

In other words, hobbyists in the 3-D printed arms race, for better or worse, are getting more bang for their buck.

TIME Security

Former NTSB Chairman: ‘We Need Cameras in the Cockpit’

A helicopter flies overhead as rescue workers work at the crash site of Germanwings passenger plane near Seyne-les-Alpes, France, on March 26, 2015.
Laurent Cipriani–AP A helicopter flies overhead as rescue workers work at the crash site of Germanwings passenger plane near Seyne-les-Alpes, France, on March 26, 2015.

Jim Hall is a former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board.

We need cameras in the cockpit—and two crew members at all times

The tragic crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 has left the world in mourning. The 150 victims hailed from 18 different countries, including the United States. Right now, the families of the deceased and those investigating the accident are urgently trying to figure out what went wrong. One portion of the crucial black boxes, the cockpit voice recorder, though badly damaged, has been recovered and apparently reveals that the co-pilot was responsible for intentionally crashing the aircraft.

Due to the rugged and inaccessible terrain of the crash site and the high speed of impact, investigators are having a difficult time finding the flight data recorder. Unlike crashes over water, when an aircraft crashes over land, the pingers attached to the black box do not assist in locating the device. These black boxes will have to be recovered by rummaging through the wreckage on site.

When investigators do find the flight data recorder, essential details of Germanwings 9525 descent will be available, and a full picture of the crash will be drawn. But because this appears to be an intentional act, we will never truly understand the motive of the co-pilot. There is no black box for the mind.

During my time as chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, I led multiple investigations into commercial airliners being intentionally flown into the ground. This history of pilots committing suicide by crashing their planes dates back to the Japanese kamikaze pilots in World War II and continues to this day with the crashes of Mozambique Airlines Flight 470 in 2013, EgyptAir Flight 990 in 1999, and SilkAir Flight 185 in 1997. While checking on the emotional state of pilots is imperfect, it does occur. Pilots are screened during the hiring process: The Transportation Security Administration checks applicants’ backgrounds against terror watch-lists. Pilots are asked to disclose suicide attempts or any other psychological problems during their Federal Aviation Administration-mandated yearly physical exams. The FAA also asks doctors to form a general impression of the pilots’ emotional states. But it can be difficult to diagnose and identify emotional problems, especially if a pilot is not forthcoming.

There are two simple solutions to the problem of unstable pilots. The first is a recommendation made by the NTSB 15 years ago and renewed in January: Require cameras in the cockpit. Currently, the cockpit voice recorder allows investigators to listen to the cockpit. But without video, they cannot fully understand the actions of the pilots or make safety enhancements to prevent similar events from occurring in the future.

The second solution is to require at least two crew members in the cockpit at all times. During the crashes of the Mozambique Airlines, EgyptAir, and SilkAir flight, co-pilots compromised the aircraft while their partners left the cockpit, deliberately crashing the aircrafts and leaving hundreds dead. We still do not know what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, and an intentional crash is possible in that case, as well. In the U.S., standard policy is that a flight attendant enters the cockpit if a pilot steps out. If two members of the flight crew were present in the cockpit, it is possible these tragedies, as well as Germanwings Flight 9525, could have been prevented.

Flying is an extraordinarily safe form of transportation. The United States government and the aviation community have done an extraordinary job of ensuring the safety of the flying public. But the safety of flying is constantly evolving and can always be improved. The Germanwings tragedy manifests a loophole in safety procedures and must be rectified by requiring cameras and two members of the flight crew in the cockpit.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Germanwings Plane Crash: We Could Be Doing Much More To Prevent Pilot Suicide

Robert Goyer is the editor-in-chief of Flying magazine.

Hopefully the tragedy of Germanwings 9525 will get the message across that we need to act and act now.

We pilots are passionate about our most important duty: to deliver our precious cargo safely home to their loved ones. That a pilot would instead use the airplane he is flying as a weapon of mass murder defies understanding. Sadly, though, this is not the first time it has happened.

After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, regulators in the United States quickly mandated more secure cockpits. At the time I was critical of the move for one reason only: I feared that it would allow pilots to more easily take over flights and use the airplane to kill all aboard, as famously happened with EgyptAir Flight 990 from New York to Cairo in 1999.

In the last two decades, there have been a handful of airliner catastrophes that are known or suspected to be the result of pilot suicide. Just last year there was a close call. On Feb. 17, 2014, an Ethiopian Airlines copilot, Hailemedhin Abera Tegegn, locked the pilot out of the cockpit after he went to use the restroom — just as apparently happened on Germanwings 9525. The copilot in the Ethiopian Airlines incident kept flying the airplane. It had been on its way from Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, to Rome. The copilot eventually made a safe landing in Geneva (though the 767 was very low on fuel by then), asking for political asylum. All 202 people aboard, the co-pilot included, survived the terrifying ordeal. Tegegn was convicted in absentia just last week by the high court in Addis Ababa for hijacking his own plane.

Secure cockpit doors are here to stay. And since 9/11, there has not been a known successful breach of the cockpit of an airliner. Now that we have the terrorists at bay, we need to figure out how to prevent rogue pilots from taking over airliners.

One tactic that overseas airlines can employ beginning right now, which would bring them into line with U.S. practices, is to require two crewmembers to be in the cockpit at all times — which usually means a flight attendant entering the cockpit when a pilot uses the restroom. Norwegian Air Shuttle, easyJet, Air Canada, and Air Transat today announced such policies. It won’t be the sure answer to the hazard of a rogue pilot, but it’s a great start.

Another measure would be instituting psychological screening of pilots to try to find ones with sociopathic tendencies. It might not always work. Sometimes the first sign of mental illness is the last violent act of the perpetrator. But better that we at least try.

Lastly, we could encourage the development of flight computer systems that would prevent a pilot from doing something that made no sense, like programming a descent that would take the airplane into the side of a mountain. Modern flight decks have access to worldwide terrain databases. Even the small four-seat airplane I fly has one.

Can we lock a pilot out of the ability to do damage to an airplane? Probably not entirely, but we can go a long way toward that goal. It would cost money — but it would go a long way toward ending these horrifying mass killings by airliner. The warning airline executives and aviation regulators got from Ethiopian Airlines Flight 702 went unheeded. Hopefully the tragedy of Germanwings 9525 will get the message across that we need to act and act now.

Read next: Why We May Never Be Certain the Germanwings Crash Was Deliberate

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: March 26

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Al Qaeda and ISIS are locked in an ideological war, and for once, it’s good to be their mutual enemy.

By Daniel Byman and Jennifer Williams in Lawfare

2. For the millions left behind by America’s new economy, disability claims — legitimate or otherwise — are skyrocketing.

By Chana Joffe-Walt in Planet Money by National Public Radio

3. Maybe universities shouldn’t measure prestige by the number of applicants they turn away.

By Jon Marcus in the Hechinger Report

4. When younger women have heart attacks, they’re twice as likely to die as their male counterparts. Is medicine’s gender bias to blame?

By Maya Dusenbery in Pacific Standard

5. Can the triumph and tragedy of soccer help Harvard students appreciate the humanities?

By Colleen Walsh in the Harvard Gazette

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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