The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things can be defined as a “computing concept that describes a future where everyday physical objects will be connected to the Internet and be able to identify themselves to other devices.” Consumers and developers find this simultaneously exciting and terrifying. This article discusses a survey that asks how Americans react to the Internet of things. Three in four respondents had not heard of the term but once they had it explained it to them, they were excited by the idea. The survey found that the most highly anticipated products are cars and smart home appliances.

This blog offers the idea that by 2015, 75 percent of the world’s population have access to the internet, as will around six billion devices.

A major factor about the Internet of Things is that it provides a large amount of useful data. Consumers can see how they utilise their products and creators and marketors can see the same and find ways of bettering this service.

There are some less positive implications, however. There is some worries that security and privacy are being treated as an afterthought. Admittedly I find it slightly concerning that my phone may know more about me than I do. But then again, it already knows more phone numbers than I ever could remember and knows maths and computing information that I never could. So is it all that different when it is holding more personal information? I certainly do not see humanity becoming overly attached to our technology, like this article where it is predicted that objects will become first class citizens.

The Damage of Hacking

There is a difference between putting out information about the government who have killed innocent people (eg Wikileaks and the Collateral Murder video) and putting out the information of innocent internet users.

LulzSec is an example of hacking that had the intention and success of embarrassing commercial enterprises by taking users’ information and publishing it online. It is an example of not considering the consequences or impact on everyday people. However, it was the very humanising actions of LulzSec member, Monsegur, which brought the end of the group.

LulzSec was a group of hackers from across the world who did not know each other outside of virtual life. They hacked numerous commercial companies, including X Factor, PBS and the Sony PlayStation network. In each case, the identities and private information of those who had interacted with the site. While Lulzec claimed that the security of the companies should be able to protect them, it was still an unfair and expensive attack to fix.

Monsegur, a member of LulzSec, was caught by the FBI and cooperated so as to remain the carer of his nieces. The hacking largely performed by LulzSec was portrayed as uncaring and inconsiderate to individual human desires for privacy, yet, when faced with the choice of getting the other members of LulzSec caught and caring for family, Monsegur chose the latter. This is interesting to me, as it shows the divide between what was considered harmless in the virtual world and what was physically and tangibly important – in this case, the welfare of family.

Hacking can be seen as an important whistle blowing exercise where exposing information is considered to be beneficial (Wikileaks) or it can be damaging to innocent people (LulzSec). Both can have negative consequences, but both aim to find information, where they differ is what they choose to do with it.

Digital Resistance: Hacktivists

This New Yorker article was vital to my understanding of Wiki Leaks, As a media student Wiki Leaks is something that has always been discussed but also something I have generally avoided when choosing topics for further research as it just seems to complicated and conspiracy theory like for me to get truly interested.

What astounded me was the efforts gone to keep the collateral murder video online once it was publicly known. The use of multiple servers across the world and mirror sites, all running off donations.

While hackers work anonymously and wiki leak largely works off this anonymity, the need to give the hackivism a face is quite important. Wiki leaks gained major attention with the release of the Collateral Murder video. And with that, Julian Assange became a household name.

“Under the studio lights, he can seem—with his spectral white hair, pallid skin, cool eyes, and expansive
forehead— like a rail-thin being who has rocketed to Earth to deliver humanity some hidden truth.
This impression is magnified by his rigid demeanor and his baritone voice, which he deploys slowly,
at low volume.”

This description from the New Yorker article shows how important image can be, even in hacktivism which is a totally online operation.

Whistle blowing and hactivism are illegal activities. However, it is certainly true that bringing things, like the collateral murder video to light is important and hugely beneficial in maintaining and developing a society of freedom and free speech.

Perspective is hugely important when it comes to issues of hacktivism. This cartoon sums up how little damage hackers see themselves as causing. In the real world, as opposed to the virtual world, taking something because you do not want to pay for it is illegal, and tangibly so. The lack of tangibility is, I think, what makes hacking seem so harmless.

The So Called Twitter Revolution

Revolutions have happened throughout history. They are reliant on the people who push for change, not the technologies available at the time. The technologies are, however, used as tools to gain awareness and organisation.

This is why so much emphasis is placed on twitter and Facebook as helping the revolution in Egypt and other areas of the Middle East.

This blog uses the Mexican Revolution as an example of why Cyber Utopians and their Twitter Revolution are not accurate representations of events and circumstances. The blog uses the example of a camera brand that was popular during the Mexican Revolution where photos where used to inform the public of events.

Twitter and other social media platforms are hugely popular. It cannot be disputed that they play a role in event such as the Arab Spring. However, as they are largely a tool for creating meetings and awareness, rather than initially spurring people into action, it cannot be forgotten that a huge amount of the content on social media is quite trivial.

This article sums up the most popular topics on twitter in 2013. There is no mention of a revolution. In fact, it I largely concerning celebrities and sport. This just shows that while social media can be incredibly helpful in encouraging communication, the types of communication are more often than not, earth shattering events but simple moments about royal babies and Christmas.