Week 12: The internet of Things and Stuff and Things

VHG41R2.png

You know the drill; the internet of things is wherein stuff is internetted.

More specifically, the IoT is a concept destined for mass application wherein networks of automated systems manipulate and interact with the physical world. At home this might take the form of a coffee machine knowing from the reduced weight on your bed that you’re getting up, signalling to it that it should make a coffee. Or an automated fridge monitoring its contents and sending you an alert on your phone next time you’re in the supermarket letting you know you’re almost out of beer milk. On a larger scale, the IoT will take the place of human administered logistical networks, traffic networks, delivery, photography, cooking – the possibilities are endless.

Of course, as I mentioned in my last post, there is the possibility of a danger to this network being compromised by criminals, terrorists or state actors determined to cause destruction and disruption on a systematic level. Would you ever network your entire life and take that risk for the sake of convenience?

I’m lazy af, so of course I would.

Week 11: World War 3.o

NdG57dG.png

 

So, we’re going to get a little conspiracy theory-y today.

As you may have heard, there was a train crash in NY late last month. Well, what if I told you (redpill.jpeg) that it might have not been an accident?

Some good people out there on the interwebs are theorising that the train crash was a deliberate hack that was predicted, or promised, when this message aired  hours before the incident:

This video seems pretty dodgy, hey? I know, but hey, it’s still spooky, especially the message,

Would you. Could You. On a train?

The American Federal Emergency Management Agency had a test broadcast scheduled to be sent to TV stations around the country which was not to be broadcast, yet this one NY news channel accidentally broadcast it. They acknowledged the fault and said there was no real threat, but this hasn’t stopped the conspiracy theory from spreading.

Now, the last thing. I haven’t seen anyone link these yet, but I’m sure it’s out there somewhere. In early August, a hacker collective claimed to have broken into the NSA and stolen a whole bunch of US cyber weapons that were designed to damage infrastructure, a la stuxnet, and were offering to auction them off to the highest bidder. This article by the Guardian outlines their plans and how samples given by the hackers seemed to be corroborated by data that was leaked by Snowden. Could this be at all related?

The Stuxnet example proves that cyber weapons exist and can inflict real world damage, but I’m not sure I necessarily believe this is the case here. True or not, this is a good demonstration of the possible ability of cyber war or cyber terrorism to disrupt and even kill.

What do you think? Cyber war? Coincidence? 2spooky4me?

Week 9: Social Media and What Not

18317642-Computer-support-engineer-Isolated-on-white-Stock-Photo-repair.jpg

I’m a big believer in democracy. I just want to say that now, because every time I have this discussion I come off sounding all authoritarian. Moving on…

The Arab Spring was a perfect example of how I think social media operates. It is fantastic for the organisation of people, the aggregation of opinions and, as demonstrated by it’s role in the arab spring, great for organizing large scale protests. That said, the Arab Spring didn’t turn out as great as we were all hoping. Why is that?

Well, dear reader, let me hypothesize at you. I believe it is because, though social media is excellent at organizing a mass of people to rebel or protest, it is no system of government. Moreover, when the protesters in Egypt were successful and the revolution was over, the social media movement failed to enforce structure. People were brought onto the streets to destroy a government, and social media was perfect to organise that, but social media could not build a new one.

I probably didn’t explain that right. Here’s a TED talk by one of the chaps that ran a facebook page at the center of the revolution who explains it way better than I ever could.

 

 

Week 10: Resistance and Expropriation

72470088.jpg

I stumbled onto some pretty interesting readings this week, but not where I expected to. For another class I was looking for references to support an argument about the enclosure of 15th century Britain and I stumbled across an article titled “Ubiquitous Computing and the Digital Enclosure Movement” by Mark Andrejevic.

Basically, all you need to know about the enclosure movement is that sections of land, previously known as ‘commons’, were slowly but surely enclosed and restricted by the wealthy to allow them to comodify land either through rent systems, grazing and the like. Now, unfortunately, this removed a whole bunch of peeps that lived via subsistence agriculture and, long story short, you have wage labour and a key tenet of capitalism. Not to give away the ending of the article, but Andrejevic links the enclosure or restriction of cyber space to a commodification of information.

Now, the thing about land enclosure was that not only was land already occupied, but if you want to get kinda Marxist, the enclosure of it was an expropriation of that which belonged to everybody. With this in mind, it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine a similar expropriation happening in the near future to our beloved internet. The internet is a public asset, and hopefully it will not be seized by those who wish to own it themselves.

 

Reference

Andrejevic, M 2007, ‘Ubiquitous Computing and the Digital Enclosure Movement’, Media International Australia, Incorporating Culture & Policy, vol. 125, pp. 106 – 117

Week 8: Bridges Made of Tweets. No, wait…

1bsf25.jpg

It’s a pretty confronting concept, the internet lynch mob. Especially when it’s a missile strike, not a lynching, and the mob is the chins. It becomes way, way more terrifying.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then check out this article. In summary, though, basically a dedicated network of 4chan users cross referenced screen shots, grabs and footage from Syrian militant propaganda with publicly available geographic and infrastructure data to (at least apparently) locate training camps and forward posts of active militants. This information, either by way of twitter or direct contact, was then passed onto Russian MoD and military intelligence. If everything is to be believed, missile strikes were then carried out based on that data. Spooky, no?

This demonstrates the darker side of what is a generally positive topic for the week. Through the aggregation and interpretation of thousands of tiny packets of information, a user can get an larger, more complete understanding of a situation. Just like one pixel is relatively useless, when thousands of them come together you start to get a clearer picture. In the examples we’ve studied before, this has led to us getting a better understanding of events unfolding on the ground where there was restricted or unreliable traditional media access; allowing individuals on the ground to contribute their data packet, tweet or metaphorical pixel to the larger picture.

This is the same process that allowed the notorious hacker known as 4chin to use thousands of users and independent data packets to create what was, essentially, a military intelligence dossier.

Scary stuff.

References

Steinblatt, J 2016, ‘How One 4Chan Board Is Trying To Fight ISIS In Syria’, Vocativ, June 6, viewed 1/10/16

BCM240 Reflection

giphy

I’m a notoriously harsh marker. Despite the fact that I’m not in any sort of authority position to mark anything, I’ve always enjoyed giving experiences, events, food and even friendships a quantified assessment (Dan, you’re a solid 86%).

There’s been a whole lot of BCM240 these past 10 or so weeks. There’s been plenty of theories, concepts, yelling, heated discussion and, for better or worse, many, many blogs. Now here I am, after ten or so weeks of ‘Media, Audience & Place’, reflecting on the whole process and what I have produced during the course. In keeping with my love of harsh marking, I’ll try to keep it as critical as possible.

First up, I’ve got to watch my speling more. Also, I tend to make way too many really bad jokes. Humour, as it should be obvious by now, is one of the constant themes in my BCM240 blog posts. Writing these blogs, I’ve tried to keep the mood light and the content humorous wherever possible while also attempting to impart or demonstrate a serious and in-depth knowledge of the course content matter. This isn’t an easy task and, if we’re to really assess this attempt, I’d say that the result is uncomfortable oscillation. Blog posts deviate wildly between an overly-obvious attempt to outline a concept and irreverent humour and this juxtaposition has the tendency to undercut both the insight and the humour that I am trying to present. Fruit is great on it’s own and so is cake, but no one likes fruit cake. Combining the two brings out the worst in both.

Why then do I keep making jokes? I’m realistic about the content of this course, and I’m especially realistic about the audience that these blog posts would attract. The course content is relatively abstract and unlikely to attract the attention of the general public. Instead those most likely to read these posts are fellow students of BCM240. To simply rehash the content of the week, even with my own twist, is unlikely to appeal to those already doing the readings, watching the lectures and taking the tutes on the same content. So, at least in my humble opinion, my best option for attracting and retaining readership is to make the posts entertaining.

Keeping readers is pretty irrelevant though if you don’t have any readers. Promotion, then, has to be pretty dang important. For the most part, promoting my blog took place outside of wordpress. Though I would of course carry the BCM240, UOW, BCM and media tags by default, most of my blog promotion and redirects were done on other social medias like Facebook and twitter. Whereas facebook was used more to coerce/pressure pre-existing networks (friends) to read, I used twitter to reach out to the BCM and BCM240 communities. Specifically, #bcm240 was especially useful and accounted for the majority of my twitter redirects. When promoting my blog or a specific post on twitter I would try to use the tips outlined in this article, such as quotes from the post or a question relating to the topic but these turned out to be the least effective tweets. Instead, tweets that featured an irreverent or humorous comment followed by a brief allusion or a simple suggestion to read the post as well as a link seemed to work the best. This is best exemplified by the tweet bellow:

 

This tweet was by far my most successful in the hours after publishing it I had 23 uniques on this blog post that had been redirected from twitter. It is worth noting that this tweet was published on the 3rd of October, just a day before the due date for this assessment, when the BCM240 hashtag was noticeably busier than ever before. It is very possible that the effectiveness of this tweet has nothing to do with the content or the format of the tweet itself, but rather that the greater redirect rate is simply a product of greater traffic on the hashtag.

Moving on, the class content, concepts and ideas discussed in the posts. I believe that I have adequately interacted with the concepts discussed in BCM240. The forever changing relationship between media, audiences and spaces was, at least in principle, an interesting one to discuss. I feel I have interacted with the core of these concepts well, but I’m not convinced that I have added anything new or significant to the conversation. Of course, it might seem a little outrageous for me to assume that I’d be able to shape or influence such academic and difficult concepts, but I’m still a little disappointed I wasn’t able to contribute to the research or theory of the topic in any significant way.

The feedback from part 1 was mostly positive but there was a fair warning about watching my grammar and punctuation. Though I’m reasonably confident in my writing style, I will admit that I have trouble in my editing. I’ve taken to a stricter edit and review process. Essentially, I simply reread everything twice and draft my friends into editing the longer pieces as well.

Overall, I have enjoyed the blogging aspect of BCM240. At first, the word counts required seemed a little long, but as the course and the topics expanded, the longer word counts for the posts encouraged me to explore the concepts more than I would have without it. Rather than simply meeting a smaller word count with a recital of the topic, I found myself using the blog posts to understand or expand upon the more complex aspects of a weeks topic. I’m happy with the way my BCM240 blog has grown, and I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading it.

Week 9: Re-Regulation

There’s two ways to approach this weeks topic. There’s the obvious one, talking about media regulations, legislation and restriction in a simple, rational sense and recounting how this dictates certain aspects of the media/space relationship; then there’s the weirder one where I ramble on about the philosophical and metaphysical implications of media restriction, the shifting relationship between media and mechanisms of control as media ceases to necessitate a physical form.

The word counts for this subject are weirdly long though, so I’m just gonna do both.

Attempt 1.gif

First, as old mate Gambino suggests in the .gif above, let’s talk about what is probably the most personally interesting development in the regulation of Australian media of late, the site-blocking potential of Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Act 2015 and the general cock up that was the Dallas Buyers Club (DBC) debacle. So, first up, the federal government pushed through an amendment to the 1968 Copyright act last year that would allow copyright holders (media companies like Time Warner, Village Roadshow, EMI, etc) to request that sites hosting or enabling the unlicensed distribution of copyrighted material be blocked. Specifically the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Act 2015 states that …

“the Federal Court of Australia may, on application by the owner of a copyright, grant an injunction referred to in subsection (2) if the Court is satisfied that:

                     (a)  a carriage service provider provides access to an online location outside Australia; and

                     (b)  the online location infringes, or facilitates an infringement of, the copyright; and

                     (c)  the primary purpose of the online location is to infringe, or to facilitate the infringement of, copyright (whether or not in Australia).”

Home made gifs and a legit legislation in one blog post. What will they think of next.

The DBC debacle basically involved DBC LLC lawyers attempting to legally get an ISP, specifically iiNet, to give up the names of the 4726 iiNet customers that illegally downloaded the film (Shepard, 2016). They failed and it was all pretty embarrassing.

So, there’s that. A real life example of someone trying to prevent me from accessing media. Not that I would pirate. The problem now is relating this to space, because this all exists in the ethereal. As much as I would love to quote Hagerstrand and the obvious capability and coupling constraints, all I’m left to discuss is the obvious authoritative constraint. An authority, specifically the government, has declared that I should not be able to access something in a particular space, that being the intrinsically intangible cyber space. It’s worth mentioning though that it’s, literally, the easiest thing in the world to bypass. Moving on…

This leads up to the great philosophical section of the discussion. As the split between media and physical space grows, those that previously regulated media have been caught trying to dominate the immaterial nature of modern media with a philosophy tied to physical media. Whereas in the past, to steal a movie meant to physically deprive someone else of their copy, the digitization of media allows for effectively limitless recreation without deprivation.As the media has outgrown the physical necessity,  legal regulators failed to understand the shift to the digital and still carry on like video piracy is theft. When it’s only, like, sorta theft.

And this, dear reader, is when we come to the crux of not only the topic, but this class. Media is no longer restricted to the cinema or the living room. Moreover, where once media would interact with the physical space and the humans within it, the internet has switched this and allowed for the creation of an intangible, ethereal media space that we interact with. Coming to grips with the new digital age is not simply a matter of understanding that movies aren’t on DVDs, but rather the very concept of space has forever changed.

I don’t know if that makes sense to you, but I was doing this whole Beautiful Mind thing so it sorta makes sense to me.

References

Campbell, S 2016, ‘Village Roadshow Using New Laws To Block Australian Pirate Sites’, Gizmodo, 18 February, viewed 1/10/16 http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2016/02/village-roadshow-goes-to-australian-court-to-block-solarmovie-piracy-website/

Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Act 2015

Shepard, F 2016, ‘The Dallas Buyers Club case has been abandoned but illegal downloaders may still face trouble’, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 12 February, viewed 1/10/16 http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-12/dallas-buyers-club-case-abandoned-illegal-dowloads-pirate/7162180