Sci-fi and The Internet of Things

Today the internet connects everything. Almost all technological devices and an increasing number of objects are now networked online.  It’s not too hard to imagine the world depicted in “Surrogates” where humans live in isolation and only interact through their robots. The Internet of Things is the term used to conceptualise how physical objects have been networked into the digital age occupying both physical space AND a position in the virtual world. Essentially these objects are ‘things’ which were once quite passive now have an active role in the overall online community.

‘Blogject’ is a term coined by Bleecker used to highlight the fact that objects are now recording information onto the internet and in a sense keep a ‘blog’. Not a literal one- but the broadcasting of information, the collation of data and the interpretation of fact, taking place within the internet.

These objects are not just recording information and posting it online – they have the ability to interact with that information as well. Live traffic websites automatically monitor traffic flow, accidents and traffic patterns. GPS systems now have in built capabilities to access this information and adjust suggested routes accordingly. But consider Die Hard 4.0 where hackers manipulate that data (Stage 1 of the Fire Sale) causing changed traffic conditions, and inability for the network to effectively distribute the traffic flow causing accidents, congestion and confusion.

Previously water, electricity, internet and gas systems monitored usage so cost could be allocated. Now the grid uses that data to monitor and track patterns of usage and in the event of a surge or malfunction it has the ability to react and redistribute resources independently. For example, in the event of a water main rupture, the system has the capabilities to identify the problem and alert the necessary respondents. It can then redirect water flow to minimise both the affected area and ensure surrounding areas remain unaffected.

There are smaller, more personal applications as well. The ability to turn your home lights off from anywhere using a smart phone, a drink bottle that makes sure you stay hydrated by monitoring your exercise, drinking and local weather conditions, or a smart teddy bear which can communicate message from family members to children through internet and mobile networks.

Science fiction uses these concepts, our imagination of the extensive possibilities but also our fear of the unknown to enhance the potential negative impacts of The Internet of Things. The examples are numerous; Terminator, The Matrix, 1984… all of these present the risks of this extensive interconnected network. There are real life applications which can be beneficial in the short and long term, however we need legal understanding and policy to keep up with the fast rate of growth of these ‘blogjects’ to prevent the creation of the sci-fi dystopia.

More of the Apple/Android Debate

There are so many aspects to this debate, and so many differing opinions. People attempt to compare features to ‘prove’ one is better than the other. Open system vs closed system; simple user-face vs customisable; quantity vs quality.

This video highlights so many aspects of this debate beyond the actual debate. It looks at the way the debate is now framed from both arguing sides. For example its portrayal of the iPhone/Apple users characterised as the ‘iSheep‘; following the brand name to newest toy, buying whatever is released regardless of price and features. This also satirically captures the pro-android discussion, which often is just listing the multiple phones available and their associated features. It shows the issues with the technologies and counters many of the arguments established to defend both sides. It targets the concept of the open market and app store that Android promotes, saying that quality is sacrificed and that many Android users brag about the ‘open source’ and yet don’t know what that is.

Essentially this hilarious YouTube video shows the flaws of the debate that are established because this is no longer a debate about technology. The Apple/Android is now a philosophical dichotomy perpetuated by users, marketing and media. Everyone has an opinion in this debate and here is mine: The point of phones is to use them, to network and connect. Pick the phone that allows you personally to achieve that. Consider the functionality of both systems but avoid getting caught within this worldwide war. It’s easy to accept that it is all about personal preference.

I have problems with the term ‘Twitter Revolution’

If I tweet about a revolution does that make me a revolutionary?

The internet is always abuzz with the next big social media revolution. People are idealising the role technology has in the revolution, condemning it’s role and status, or claiming it as a mere tool of revolutionaries. But the main point is, it *is* being discussed.

In my opinion, using terms like “Twitter Revolution” or “Facebook Revolution” are actually making revolutions seem lesser. The actual definition is

Google Define
According to Google Define

There are people who risk their lives daily to revolt against what they deem to be unfit conditions, and then there are people on Facebook who share a photo with their social network.

There are genuine cases where social media has been instrumental in the start, progression or distribution of a revolution. Malala’s Blog and story has actually been ‘revolutionary’ in the international fight for women’s rights. Twitter spread information and aided in the planning of the Arab Spring demonstrations. Facebook and other social platforms accelerated the international awareness and involvement in the Egyptian uprisings.  

But the problem is people are using ‘revolution’ too easily, too simply. People are using the term revolution for internet ‘karma’ on Reddit, to get likes on Facebook or get retweeted on Twitter. Social media is promoting how great social media is. I guess I am just a cyber-realist. I can see how it can help, but far too many of my Google search results for ‘revolution’ were not revolutionary by my standards.

Attributing the term ‘revolution’ to things that are not revolutionary de-values those that genuinely are.

Hacktivism

‘Hacktivist’ or ‘Hacktivism’ is a term coined in 1996 by Omega (a member of Cult of the Dead Cow). They are people who ‘hack’ computers and can access all the information and data BUT they do it with the moral justification of the greater or public good. They claim their actions are those of activists.

Hacktivists always justify their actions with the belief that information should be free or that honesty is in the public interest, but I am so glad you highlighted the other important aspect: secrecy and information are crucial for national security. It’s not in the public interest to have that information leaked and public security threatened.

The government isn’t always right but it is their job to decide what is and isn’t in public interest. In their stance for the decentralization of information they are revealing information that is deliberately hidden by governments. Surely the governments’ reasons for not-disclosing the information should be considered as much as the hackers reasons behind revealing it.

There are the cases of good; where hacktivism has revealed governmental, corporation or individual corruption and scandal. There are events that get hidden out of greed or gain or guilt, there are secrets in all facets of life not just political. But every time information is ‘hacked’ our overall security and privacy are put at risk too. There are hackers who truly believe in freedom of information and justify their actions as through the pursuit of their ideals but those ‘hacktivists’ (like Anonymous and Assange) have become symbols or martyrs for the term. While they have succeeded in doing good they have allowed public perception to warp in their favour. They use the few benefits to justify the great risks they put on individual privacy, national security and international relations.

There are people who ignore laws; people who use their knowledge and skills to interrupt or corrupt the system; people who think themselves above the system don’t live outside the system. They deserve to be punished within the bounds of the law.

To me, I can’t see the justification of their cause. Anyone who threatens the nation’s security and national information is a terrorist. They are a terrorist regardless of how they try to justify their actions. They have to expect to be prosecuted one.

Twitter and Journalism – Potential coexistence?

The debate about whether Twitter and blogging are taking over traditional news sources is all over the blogosphere. The implications of new media on the news industry have remained prevalent in discussion and caused a divide in opinion. However in the dichotomy that this debate has created, it seems that many people are overlooking the other features these platform offer to the news industry.

Microblogging may be increasing citizen journalism, but professional journalists use twitter equally effectively. Journalists are able to use Twitter and other networks to crowd source ideas and stories; they use it to gain an audience and a following and to promote their published works; they use it to network, to find and connect with sources.

The Twitter Debate is so busy arguing efficiency vs. reliability it overlooks a potential value in coexistence. Traditional media is known. It is dependable. If you need a reliable emergency news update you listen to the ABC the “emergency broadcaster”. People are still willing to pay for what they consider to be valuable content. Johnson states that the compilation of news sources accumulated by shared links in your social network feed “will lead to more news diversity and polarization at the same time”. People are still wary of the reliability of the information accessible through non-traditional sources. Rightly so, the cases of incorrect information being sourced from Twitter are numerous and widely known: mistakes, hoaxes, misinformation.

The media process is a ‘process’; now more than ever. It doesn’t allow for a completed story. It relies on updates, it provides more information, it allows a sharing of links and ideas, and facilitates informed conversation. The technology allows information, facts, updates, pictures to be shared widely. Professional and citizen journalists, and the audience benefit from the coexistence of the reliability and ethical standard of legacy media and the quick sharing and conversation of new media like Twitter. A survey by PEW Research Centre shows that “Facebook and Twitter are now pathways to news” rather than sources of news.

While Twitter allows a huge following of people to gain headline knowledge of a variety of news updates, its 140 characters don’t leave much space for an investigative exposé.

The Content Commodity – Worth and Value of Information

What is the difference between value and worth? The worth of a commodity has always been socially constructed, so it stands to reason that in our Age of Information and Information Economy the most valued commodity is content.

However, what effects the worth of the information and content?

Everyone has the ability to create content, that is the result of open media platforms and our ‘prosumer‘ environment [My blog on Prosumers here]. However, does this mean that content is worthless because the information is always available elsewhere?

With the wealth of knowledge available, and everything accessible via the internet why are some sources worth more than others?

Charlieissocoollike is a British vlogger who has 2,181,940 subscribers to his main YouTube Channel as of 13/09/2013. Now, obviously more then 2 million people have decided to value what this particular individual has to say (it is also aided by the fact he says it all in an adorable English accent). However, this particular “Content Creator” says that 

“A large amount of video bloggers do seem to make just ‘content’.
They will make videos about vapid topics that don’t feel like they have any worth”

The above video has Charlie discussing an issue that clearly have prevalence in the Information Economy. What is content worth?

Charlie says that traditionally worth should be found in the short film he created “The Tea Chronicles” which consumed a lot of time, money and effort. However, Charlie highlights the key point: How is the content he created deemed worthwhile? By the amount time he spends on it? Its monetary value? The number of views it receives? The like-to-dislike ratio?

Today, content and information is deemed to have worth by the number of times the information is accessed. HOWEVER! without the perceived value of a specific source the information would not be accessed from this creator, which lowers the worth of the content.

YouTube pays per view, so it stands to reason that the video worth the most is the one with the most views. But Charlie says that his most successful video [I’m Scared] is “the one that allowed me to make the strongest connection with the people who did watch it”. 

It’s the difference between value and worth.

Fan Fiction in Convergent Culture.

We all live in an internet culture. The whole world may not yet, but if you are on my blog reading this, then you are a part of it. We live in a digital world. And that world has changed the traditional roles in the creation and distribution of information and content. The lines between those who were creators and producers and those who were the consumers have been blurred; thus the term ‘prosumer’.

A prosumer is someone who participates in all aspects of content creation and distribution. They are no longer passive consumers but also participants, collaborators, users and producers. There are plenty of examples but as a FanGirl I am going to use fan-fiction to explain.

There are honestly hundreds of thousands of videos that I could use as an introduction to the idea of ‘prosumers’, and hundreds that I know I want to use. I decided to let Geeks and Sundry explain fan-fictions and its role in the changing media sector.

As Nika Harper explains there is actually a lot of negative connotation surrounding fan fictions because of its potential to have poor quality. This is a natural side effect of the possibility of internet creating ‘prosumers’ and enabling everyone to interact with the original content. There is no possibility for quality control.

Quality or not, the effect still stands; people who were once only able to watch their favourite TV now have the ability to facilitate an interactive role with the existing content. Harper explained the benefits and possibilities for written ‘fanfic’. The [socially dreaded] example of 50 Shades of Grey is the hyperbolic success story for written fanfic- it started out as an A.U for Twilight and turned into a million dollar pay check.

However there are other types of content creation which is facilitated by ‘Convergent Culture’ [Henry Jenkins]. All different types of fan videos exist in the plethora of fan content on YouTube. Deviant Art is an example of a platform which hosts images, and it holds pages and pages of fan-art. There are pinterests tags specially dedicated to fan-craft and food. And there is, of course, Tumblr which seems to exists purely for the sharing of gifs, images and discussions between fans [and other purposes but fangirls seem to dominate it].

Fandoms can only exist with such effervescence because of ‘prosumers’ and convergent culture. Everyone who adds to them leaves something else for someone else. I will leave you with a wonderful fan-created video for my favourite TV show, Castle.

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If you want a more comprehensive understanding of the different aspects of the convergent culture that has arisen then I did a series of blogs for BCM112 (I cannot guarantee quality – they were my first attempts at blogging)

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My group project for uni this session is actually the creation of a ‘fandom’ page. We are collating Fan opinions and interesting Fan-created content. We are bringing likeminded prosumers together. Visit ID-TV.net !