EVOLUTION BRINGS NEW TYPE OF RELATIONSHIP?- COMPUTER LOVE

The notion of ‘the internet of things’ or otherwise known as IOT has allowed me to understand humanity’s relationship with technology. Funded in 1999, with the work of two Massachusetts Institute of Technology [MIT] research labs: the Auto-ID Center and the MIT Media Lab the term defines the way objects are gaining a connection with humans. When I say connection, I mean it in the most literal sense.

It’s the one you spend time with with more than any other and has intensified even more over the years that you’ve grown together. When you’ve had a bad day it’s the one you turn to. You take your anger out on it but you’re willing to spend as much time trying to fix things. They’re there for you morning, noon and night. They’re your computers, your internet, your phones, your technological devices.

The question is … how serious can this relationship be?

Robert Weiss, sex and relationship expert says a man really can fall in love with a computer and have a healthy relationship. Personally, I don’t reject this idea entirely. As he argues this IS ‘evolution’ and the more we rely on our devices the more comfortable and happy we become.

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However, from the perspective of our devices love is more than likely not on the cards. How could it be? When all we are to them is a data stream. Yes, they aggregate the information WE give them. Essentially all this means is that the device is a good listener (if only all significant others worked this way) and has a continuous collection of who we are where we are and what is happening.

What does IOT mean for the future of human social interaction and experience of place? As Weiss (2014) argues relationships mean different things to different people. I am a true believer of an open mind and if this ‘evolution’ brings a new type of relationship along with Generation Z’s labels of Gen WII and iGeneration then I am willing to support this.

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No matter how big or small, OPM or Bieber

The idea of ‘hacking’ in cyberspace where content is constantly accumulating our online identities is one scary thought. Put it this way, how do you legislate a hacker who is essentially one step ahead of you in terms of technological advancement? According to Apple’s senior vice president Jeffery Williams distributed network control over the ‘bad guys’- hackers is a ‘faulty assumption’.

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We are living in 2015 where scandals that data is leaked online are happening everyday. This idea highlights what Ted (2015) argues is an ‘unpredicted situation’, when nodes are in control and broadcasting to an entire network. We don’t know which direction it can take us, therefore cybersecurity and government control is essentially… meaningless. Take the recent OPM breach that resulted in millions of people having their personal information exposed or there’s the attack on Sony’s PlayStation Network where 24.6 million customers’ private data was stolen, or compare those with Justin Bieber’s recent nude photo scandal. They all pose similar concerns. The right to privacy no longer exists and I believe this is because there just isn’t enough focus on the attacker themselves. In saying that, the online security sector so far this year has said to have raised more than $2.3 billion. However, the real question is why do the majority of us feel so safe when in fact the large volume of data that makes up our online identity is at risk?

I like idea of our new community being the metaphor of the electronic frontier. Where the people populating cyberspace are the cowboys. There is something legendary about being in the midst of a new frontier. We are experiencing a space where anything and everything is possible and that often means crime is involved. Cybercrime to be exact.

Something I strongly believe government’s need to put into place is a transparent model of the internet. Whereby, hackers are so purposefully exposed that the term no longer exists. Nonetheless, no matter how big or small, OPM or Bieber, negative or positive the hacking world is one that simply throws our distributed network into a spin and it’s something only the new frontier can bring.

This video brings together both the good and bad of hacking that I have addressed in my last two blogs and as a result uses the statement ‘hacker rehab’! Have a look !

HACKING A HACKER’S MIND

When we think of hacking, we have an instant negative reaction. You’d be forgiven for thinking this, as society deems the word ‘hack’ as bad. However, hacktivism is being carried out as a way to claim back the distributed network. With the digital era continually advancing there is evidence of limited control in the hacking world. The question is whether or not it is being used by the right people.

An example showing both a negative use of hacking and a positive is an article by renowned hactivists, Anonymous that claims ‘Edward Snowden Says One Text Can Hack Smartphones’. The post shows Snowden’s knowledge of the Government’s alleged techniques to spy on citizens.  It is evident in this blog that the hacker subculture can be used in different forms- control/ power, anarchism, resistance, playfulness and activism. In Snowden’s case he uses it as a response of political activism vs. Government control/ power.

However, this is not to say that playful forms of hacking don’t have negative responses. This year the world saw the infamous Avid Life Media’s website Ashley Madison, hacked. This resulted in personal account information like e-mail addresses from 32 million of the site’s members being revealed online. These attackers are the whistle-blowers of the public sphere, bringing moral resistance to the forefront. They claimed they had two motivations behind the hacking scandal, first criticizing ‘Ashley Madison’s core mission of arranging affairs between married individuals. Second, they’ve attacked Ashley Madison’s business practices, in particular its requirement that users pay $19 for the privilege of deleting all their data from the site (but, as it turns out, not all data was scrubbed).’

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Both these examples are evidence of the power that new technological advancement is threatening censorship and online regulation. When we compare the two forms of hacking what do we see? We see new networking models being developed. Benkler (2011) says these examples force us to ‘ask us how comfortable we are with the actual shape of democratization created by the Internet.’

This is true, hactivists are showing a new form of political resistance. They are contributing to a world where internet censorship could be non-existent. The thought of this world is scary, yet thrilling and the more it exposed the greater the support from the community it will receive.

Resources:

Benkler, Y. (2011) ‘A free irresponsible press: Wikileaks and the battle over the soul of the networked fourth estate’, [pp. 1-33]

PARTICIPATING IN PERSUADING PROTEST

In Australia we believe we are living in a comfortable, democratic society and find it hard to comprehend otherwise. It is easy for us to use connectivity to broadcast our own thoughts and messages through social media in a way that is considered activism. Just by looking back on recent hashtags such as #refugeeswelcome, #lovewins and #Ferguson we see how social media power can enhance organisation and control of revolutionary movements.  However, some argue that ‘today’s cyber-utopians need to log off their Facebook accounts and try a little harder.’

One example of someone who has proven to do this is ‘Syrian Girl’, a Youtube activist who isn’t afraid to speak her mind and argues ‘we think we are living in a Democracy but we really aren’t.’ She says the reason why she created the Youtube channel was because ‘at the beginning of the Arab Spring everybody thought it was pro democracy uprising and it was going to be great. But in reality I knew that protesters, a lot of them had Muslim brotherhood backgrounds in politics which means there was great potential for extremism. There was a lot of Syrian people that were opposed to what was going on in Syria and I found that wasn’t really being portrayed in the media.’

Despite being extremely convincing, this is an individual opinion of which can be proven difficult to persuade entire government decisions. For example, The first Bersih rally held in 2007 was no where near as successful compared to the previous campaigns mentioned. This is because the legacy media stopped anything from being posted about the rally as the government didn’t agree with it.

As Ted (2015) argues ‘participation is addictive’. Social media is considered a place to reflect what we believe and we well and truly believe this. The importance of the internet is that it gives the opportunity for each and every node to broadcast to mass audiences. The openness of this network gives those with a political opinion a platform to voice events or for those who can not broadcast messages critical of the government.

Overall, the use of social media hashtags and activism is used to raise awareness. Whether it be positive or negative the trending movements threaten legacy media in the way that they expose uncensored and personalised information.

SCALE UP OR STEP DOWN: TRADITIONAL VS DISTRIBUTED MEDIA

Picture this, an overseas event happens and within minutes of it occurring there are thousands of blogs, videos, photos and a hashtag stemming from this same event all with different points of views.  This is all before a Newspaper can even come close to a day before printing. These are the effects of distributed long tail content that are threatening legacy journalism and media because they simply can not cater for the space and time involved in the physical scalability.

As Teodor (2015) states that in a free content environment curators and aggregators are the valued product. WE are ordinary people with our devices filming, starting the conversation and hashtags and utilizing the platforms. In relation to citizen journalism in the new distributed media network the flow of information is far more disperse compared to traditional media. Bruns (2009) argues ‘the conventional models of media production, distribution, and consumption are no longer relevant’. This is evident in the way citizens curate content in the form of a ‘public record’ on platforms such as Twitter (Johnson S, 2009). Citizen journalism and the flow of information is distributed. We are embracing a technologically advanced information distribution that allows us to explore the evolving nature of the internet. This limitless nature is shown in the article ‘how can journalists use virtual reality to tell stories?’ Which explains new ways for journalists to utilise head mounted displays to communicate information.

This distributed media network has never been seen before in the whole of humanity. It is a new way of consuming media that conventional forms of media have no way of competing with. Not only in terms of scaling up but in the way it opposes the gatekeeping model; whereby industrial media filters ‘all news that is fit to print’ (NYT). Johnson (2009) states the new model achieves ‘news diversity and polarization at the same time: your networked front page will be more eclectic than any traditional-newspaper front page, but political partisans looking to enhance their own private echo chamber will be able to tune out opposing viewpoints more easily’. This is evident in the success of the 2015 hashtag #lovewins that started with this simple Tweet by Obama.

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Following this one Tweet there were 35,000 tweets sent per minute and if that doesn’t put the power of the long tail effect into perspective, I don’t know what will.

If you’re interested in putting the power of new media into perspective watch this video. ‘You’re able to have these multidirectional conversations, you’re not just broadcasting, you’re there in the middle of it’.

Founders of Twitter on the power of social media

References: 

Johnson, S. (2009). How Twitter Will Change The Way We Live. TimeFile

Bruns, A. (2009) ‘News Blogs and Citizen Journalism: New Directions for e-Journalism’File

IPHONE GEN Z, Y, X and BABY BOOMERS

An open source is the fundamental way in which the internet flows in the eyes of most users, but in fact this isn’t always the case. You’d be surprised to note that most of the platforms we use every day are CLOSED platforms (walled gardens or closed ecosystems), meaning the service provider is in control of restricting users and content. Okay so maybe you’re not so surprised after my last blog post labelling the government as ‘Lords’ over our content. Nonetheless, my point is that freedom in both open and closed technology structures mean different things to different users and developers.

Society’s ever expanding knowledge about technology has created this tension between both sectors and it is crucial to address the two ‘Lords’ in each of these developing sectors being ANDRIOD (OS) VS. APPLE (IPHONE IOS). I have been a user of both open and closed ecosystems in this technologically connected world and I have previously been caught up in the worldwide debate of which is the better platform. The thing is these are evolving sectors and both have expanded in scope and influence.  The real question is where do these platforms take US, the future generations of users and developers? Like these versatile phones we come in generations and it is up to the developers to create spaces that accommodate our knowledge.

I mention generations because I believe these platforms reflect society’s generations. Starting with baby boomers and gen X we see similar traits to an Apple system.iphone-1st-gen Slower in terms of being less technologically advanced, lived a more simple life, closed in not wanting to maintain one identity through the years and set in their ways. Not wishing to incorporate features like swapping out one dialer or SMS app for another, supports home screen widgets and even lets you install alternative launchers like the Android. At the other end of the spectrum I see similarities with gen Y and Z in the way Android operates. Like these generations it is an OPEN spirit in terms of new ideas and different technological opportunities. It is a free, OPEN source mobile platform that any coder could write for and any handset maker could install. 

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So which generation wins when it comes to the future of the internet? With an obviously trusted brand Apple is a competitive source in itself with it’s CLOSED feature being attractive to users. Whereas Android brings an open aspect to the way we customise our use of the technology. I am an avid Iphone user and have been since my 3rd phone onwards (my first two were Android) but if I had to place a bet my bet is on OPEN sources; today’s generations don’t like restriction, limitation nor being told what to do.

Peasants of the 21st C

Picture this, we are the peasants of the 21st century slaving away beneath the watchful eyes of our internet lords. Who are these mysterious internet lords? For starters, there’s the government, the most powerful in all the lands. The government combined with those who produce paradigms such as Youtube are in allegiance with us peasants to generate content. This relationship is otherwise known as feudalism.

In our Australian society we are able to walk freely and talk freely. Online, this notion of feudalism or ‘ifeudal’ as a notion is where this freedom is limited via the lords. This means the intellectual property that is rightfully ours is owned by the ‘lords’ due to their control over content in the networked information economy. One recent example is the implementation of data retention and the end to Australian’s digital privacy.

“Intelligence and law enforcement agencies will have immediate, warrantless and accumulating access to all telephone and internet metadata required by law, with a $2 million penalty for telcos and ISPs that don’t comply.”

YES, this really is the type of thing that happens in our digital society. This specific example is due to government restraints on issues such as geo-political tension, jihadi recruitment and the war on terror. However, it is effecting EVERYONE. All us nodes contributing to the network paradigm are strictly being watched by the government. Surely they can’t see much, right? Well this is EXACTLY what they CAN see:

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We aren’t all suspected terrorists, so is this type of control excessive for the entire community to be under watch? It was heightened from the 9th to the 15th centuries and is still practiced today, feudalism. Similar to the feudalism in the middle ages we too are the peasants working the land that can’t leave without the permission of the lord. EVEN WHEN the peasant is normally free.

References:

Dempster, Quentin. ‘Data Retention And The End Of Australians’ Digital Privacy’.The Sydney Morning Herald. N.p., 2015. Web. 9 Sept. 2015.