Using the Internet till the cows come home

Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 11.51.12 pmThe above image, taken from this prezi by Teodor Mitew, is something that really surprised me when I first read it – “the number of things connected to the Internet exceeded the number of people on earth.” Perhaps when I think about it more, it makes perfect sense for the number of connections to the Internet to supersede the number of humans, but I suppose it is just a little bit frightening to truly realise how inferior we are to the power of the Internet.
This concept is known as the Internet of Things (IoT) – put simply, any object connected to the Internet. But in a more complex, conceptual form, it is an environment where objects transcend their materiality, becoming sociable, self-disclosing data streams. When I say ‘any object connected to the Internet’, I really mean this. Not just computers or technology, but animals, cars, clothing, fridges … you name it. Most interestingly, I’ve found that the Internet, or more specifically, wireless sensors, can now allow cows to communicate with humans. Well almost. The sensors are able to notify farmers when cows are either sick or pregnant, making it a lot easier to take care of cattle and saving a lot of time and money. Each cow transmits about 200mb of data each year. The meme below explores this data sharing, highlighting the way the Internet has bridged a connection between so many networks.

MEME

It is incredible to see how far the Internet of Things has come so far and we are only just getting started. I personally can’t wait to be able to speak to animals.

Or are the preconceptions true?

This post follows on from my previous post which spoke of the positives of hacktivism and the power it can have in our society. However, this post focuses on the negative aspects that may come with hacktivisim and what happens when groups use the power of hacking to do harm. LulzSec is an offshoot group from Anonymous and rose to power in 2011 – the five members were Hector Xavier Monsegur, Ryan Clearly, Ryan Ackroyd, Jake Davis and Mustafa Al-Bassam. They were infamous for causing havoc online and laughing at security – hence, the fitting title. It wasn’t until the leader of the team, Monsegur, was forced to turn on his group as an informant that each member was discovered and arrested and the group disjoined. For an in-depth insight into LulzSec and their actions, click here. But I have put a few points into the infographic below to lay down the basics of the negatives aspects of hacktivism as opposed to the positives that we have already seen.

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Hacking the preconceptions

Hacktivism is the subversive use of computers and computer networks to promote a political agenda. With roots in hacker culture and hacker ethics, its ends are often related to the free speech, human rights, or freedom of information. Hacktivism has been, and still is, under intense debate as to whether or not it causes more good than harm. Whilst most hacktivism is non-violent and has been seen to have positive impacts on our political issues, it is still considered illegal, and ‘hacking’ still has the negative stigma of being wrong, intrusive, childish and selfish attached to it.

An example of a strong and well-known group of hacktivists are ‘Anonymous’. Anonymous have been seen to be involved with many social and political issues throughout the past few years and have successfully hacked into certain organisations and had powerful impacts. One example is when the group successfully took down more than 40 illegal child pornography websites. The hackers specifically targeted Lolita City, a file-sharing site used by pedophiles, and leaked the names of the site’s 1,589 active members to the public. This is just one of many examples where hacking is used for positive reasons. The meme below explores how hacking still has that negative preconception attached to it, a conception that needs to be changed when it comes to examples like ‘Anonymous’.

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Social media in a cape

It is clear that in an online environment, โ€œparticipation is addictive.โ€ It is much easier and less intimidating to be involved with a movement online than it is in other environments due to the fact that we are all so used to being behind a screen. Online activism is fast making a name for itself thanks to the chance for fast mobilisation and mass involvement. Anyone who has access to the Internet has the opportunity to be part of the social network revolution. With over 3.2 billion users constantly connected to this network of peripheries on a worldwide scale, you would think online activism would be quite successful, and this is the case in many examples, 2 of which detailed below. However, online activism has sometimes been coined slacktivism due to the fact that it requires very minimal effort for the individuals involved. Look through the infographic below to learn more about online activism and if you’re feeling inspired, check out this awesome programย  http://www.doitinadress.com/ which would greatly benefit from your becoming involved online ๐Ÿ™‚

social network revolutions

The tail/tale of Netflix

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Chris Anderson states that โ€œthe future of entertainment is in the millions of niche markets at the shallow end of the bitstream.โ€ This is a fact that Netflix is well aware of and has utilised successfully within its company to appeal to a wide range of audiences and gain worldwide success.

The concept of the Long Tail is based around the knowledge that “our culture and economy is increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of “hits” (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail”

Click through this prezi to explore deeper into the subscription video on demand (SVOD) service that is Netflix and gain an understanding on how the long tail effect has been intrinsic to Netflix’s success.

Citizen Journalism: getting the whole story

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Image watching the news back in the 1970s. Imagine how difficult it would’ve been to receive the full story, fast, when we were all so disconnected from each other around the world. I can imagine how the only stories that were covered in-depth with on-scene footage and first-hand interviews would’ve been the stories that happened within a close proximity to the television station. The only opinion or perspective you would see would be that of the news editor and the only footage we would see would be that captured by the designated cameraman. Now fast-forward to today and think about the type of news broadcasts we see everyday. Just within one single news story we may hear from 4 different perspectives, we would get the opinions of people all around the world, we would see a minimum of 2 different camera shots of the one scene and we would most likely have some form of viewer-submission in there too. Just within one minute. Now combine this with the breaking news exposure we receive as a result of social media and it is overwhelming to think about how much more we learn than the news-watchers 40 years ago.
One phenomenon that has surfaced as a direct result of technological advances is citizen journalism. The concept of citizen journalism is based upon public citizens “playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing, and disseminating news and information.” Any ordinary person can pull out their smart phone in the street and film the breaking news that is happening before them and then share it to the world through social media. This has obviously led to a huge influx in the perspectives and opinions we see surrounding a particular story and we are at high risk of receiving incorrect or ill-informed information. However this is where the concept of bridges made of pebbles comes into importance. Yes, one pebble (social media post) will not have the strength to act as a bridge and tell a complete story, but when you have thousands of pebbles all in the one place (social media platform) it is clear which pebbles are repeated and can build a bridge that holds the entire weight of a story.
The meme above explores how anyone can be a citizen journalist and how technology has changed traditional news media forever.

Who do you choose?

The long fought battle. iOS vs. Android. But why has the battle been fought for so long? Why are people always so strictly and firmly either team Apple or team Android, what is it about the two that makes them worthy of backing?

It is because the two are so completely different. If the two softwares were similar, people wouldn’t be so fussed on which phone to use since they act in similar ways. But this is not the case when it comes to iOS and Android: to change from one team to the other, you have to entirely change the person you are. I am proud to say that I am, and will always be (I think. We’ll see.) on Team Apple, and I say that with some authority because I have owned Androids in the past. For me, I enjoy having a simple phone that I can tailor to myself a tiny bit – I do not need to be able to modify every aspect of my phone like other people do. And for me to become team Android, I would have to gain an intense interest in spending hours modifying the phone exactly how I want it, and then a few more hours so the perfectionist in me is satisfied. The below infographic, created with Jayden Cross, delves deeper into this burning battle and highlights aspects of the systems that make a person either Team iOS or Team Android.

iOS vs. Android

Between four walls

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Medieval times, most believe, saw the Lord have total control of the land you owned – you pretty much needed permission for anything to do with the land, even though you were the owner. These medieval ways have followed us into the 21st century in the form of digital feudalism. Many platforms attempt to, and succeed in, keep users within their walled garden that is their product. An example of this is Apple, which keeps users tied to their platforms by restricting transferring across different brand platforms; for example, if you purchase an app on your iPhone, it can only be transferred to other Apple products. In this way, Apple has total control and keeps users attached to their products. Within these walled gardens, information flow can be used for surveillance if the data is within a walled garden. Facebook is an example of this; it uses cookies of browsing history to examine your likes, social connections and what you talk about. This data can then be used for strategic target marketing such as a targeted advertisement down the side of your newsfeed.

The above infographic explores the concept and transition of medieval feudalism to modern digital feudalism in slightly more details and allows us to see the control a walled garden creates.

Blurred lines between labour and leisure

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As a direct result of the ever-evolving technological world we find ourselves immersed in, old perceptions about work are undergoing a complete reconstruct. Gregg has coined the term, “presence bleed”, which “arises when the workplace and the home are seen as interchangeable locations for work that fluctuate in degrees of attractiveness depending on the nature of the competing tasks to be completed.” This is a growing phenomenon — people are increasingly enjoying, and are capable of, flexible working conditions which allow them to work from home occasionally. This infographic looks at the quantitative data that has been collected on the liquid labour phenomenon and also explores the ways in which it has altered old perceptions about work.

Those who choose to work from home are however struggling to distinguish what actually counts as work due to the fact that the boundaries between labour and leisure, work and home have blurred to such an extent (Gregg). This is what is known as liquid labour, when labour and leisure pour into each other. This has proven to surface several consequences such as those discussed in the infographic as well as “difficulty maintaining family relationships, using days off to catch up on unfinished tasks, as well as regular interruptions to sleep patterns and other physical ailments” (Gregg).

References:

Gregg, M. ‘Function Creep: Communication technologies and anticipatory labour in the information workplace’

http://www.forbes.com/sites/laurashin/2014/01/17/work-from-home-the-top-100-companies-offering-flexible-jobs-in-2014/

http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/australian-bureau-of-statistics-says-1-in-12-people-work-more-at-home-but-new-research-shows-it-can-leave-you-a-little-bit-lonely/story-fneszs56-1226675067941

http://www.smh.com.au/it-pro/business-it/working-from-home-growing-in-popularity-20130225-2f23e.html

When the network turns on you – online anonymity and cyberbullying

http://www.outsourcing-pharma.com/Clinical-Development/Parexel-expands-its-clinical-trial-site-network-to-speed-drug-development

We talk of cyberspace as a libertarian utopia with each individual node in the network having the ability to broadcast to the entire network. Cyber-libertarian tropes are all for privacy, the end of regulation, the end of authority and for decision making to reside solely with the ends (nodes). But with this notion of cyber-libertarianism comes the right for people to choose anonymity online. It is this anonymity that poses real threats to network users. When users subject themselves to network vulnerability and open themselves up to a public network of randomised anonymity and hate, what can be the outcome?

This Prezi delves into the idea of anonymity and the frightening risks it poses to cyberspace inhabitants.

https://prezi.com/oyil5bxuftrn/the-downside-to-anonymity/#

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featured image source: http://www.outsourcing-pharma.com/Clinical-Development/Parexel-expands-its-clinical-trial-site-network-to-speed-drug-development