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Tag Archives: Surveillance

New Media and The Digital Natives – Reading Summary

Born Digital – John Palfrey

If you have any interest in Digital Natives – this 1 hour talk is very informative about what a digital native is, and the godfather of this topic, John Palfrey goes into great detail on his definition and how this generation will change the nature of how we see the internet in the future. It is a population of young people who are will impact they we think, work, and function on a day to day basis.

The Digital Natives are a group of people who are comfortable with sharing their daily lives on the net (ie flick, twitter, facebook) and were exposed to these technologies at a very young age. This population is typically born after 1980, have never known life without a computer, TV without a remote control, and never dialed on a rotary phone (not true since I was born after 1980!).

Presentation by John Palfrey – “As part of the Google D.C. Talks series, and in partnership with Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Professor John Palfrey offers a sociological portrait of “digital natives” — children who were born into and raised in the digital world — with a particular focus on their conceptions of online privacy.”

There are a few points he clarifies in this video  -

  • This is a POPULATION, not a GENERATION
  • Born after 1980 – because this is when the advent of technology began
  • They have access to these technologies
  • 1 billion who have access (number is low due to digital divide)
  • This is not a DUMMY generation – they are very tech savvy.
  • Young people are INTERACTING, but in a different way – remixed, made in a different way.
  • We must teach digital media literacy

We are Digital Natives – Barrett Lyon

“A new class of person has emerged in the online world: Digital Natives. While living in San Francisco, I also live on the Internet. The Internet is now a place: a two dimensional world that has transcended the web; there is no government, and the citizens are Digital Natives.”

Lyon’s main point is that people are no longer citizens of the United States, or France, but also citizens of the internet. There are specialized groups within these digital natives such as game players, hackers, developers, and the social etiquette that is involved is much different than the physical reality we live in.

Some people choose to define themselves by the activities they take part in on the web – such as social online movements – ie Green Movement, Tea/Coffee Party, which are branches from physical political movements, but these started on the net.

“This scares the crap out of Governments all over the world, because they are ill prepared to deal with these situations. To government regimes that are comfortable asserting their control, this concept is terrifying. How do they counteract the changes online and the movements? Do they need to change their politics, defense, propaganda, and warfare?”

This statement displays that some of these online movements do have an affect on how governments think about the web. Many countries have harsh restrictions on what their citizens can view on the net, ie China, Iran, etc.

The Future of The Internet and How to Stop it – Jonathan Zittrain – Short Summary

This title is actually a book that JZ has wrote which is actually available on amazon if anyone would like to purchase. His main point is that collaboration is key in the survival of a productive internet and cites wikipedia as the main example. The first generation of products that have spear headed the internet have been Tivo, Ipods, and Xboxes, which are tethered appliances, meaning they are using net as their connection to their content/databases.

“The Internet’s current trajectory is one of lost opportunity. Its salvation, Zittrain argues, lies in the hands of its millions of users. Drawing on generative technologies like Wikipedia that have so far survived their own successes, this book shows how to develop new technologies and social structures that allow users to work creatively and collaboratively, participate in solutions, and become true ‘netizens.’

Surveillance Society & the Increasing Scarcity of Privacy

Below are some readings that dig into the increasing surveillance of today’s society. In many instances, these new surveillance methods are first being tested in Las Vegas & prisons, and then brought into every day life, most notably through companies searching for the next best way to track consumers.

Required Reading:

Recommended Reading:

Optional:

Weekly Summary: Networking, Notworking, and What to do Next?

Networks – The Science-Spanning Disciplines - Anna Nagurney

Dr. Anna Nagurney is a professor in the Department of Finance and Operations Management at the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is the Founding Director of the Virtual Center for Supernetworks. You can read more about her on her blog here.

In Nagurney’s presentation (from 2005), she enthusiastically discusses the pervasiveness of networks in people’s every day lives and how they’re essential to the functioning of societies and economies. She notes that networks are imperative parts of business, social systems, science, technology, and education by providing their very infrastructure.

Background of Networks

Transportation is one of the most essential forms of networks, and can also be one of the most complex. Nagurney uses the concept of the transportation network throughout her presentation to help explain a number of different points. This network is so important because transportation is used not only to facilitate face-to-face communication, but also to provide access to other networks. Anna notes in her speech that there are 3 basic network components:

  • Nodes
    • Ex. Transportation intersections, homes, work places
  • Links or Arcs
    • Could have direction or be bidirectional or just represent connections without any type of direction
    • Ex. Roads, railroad tracks
  • Flows
    • Means various things within different contexts and applications
    • Without these, (with just nodes and links), one is essentially talking about a graph
    • Ex. Cars, trains

The Study of Networks

From a scientific methodology standpoint, to her, the beauty of studying networks lies in finding problems where one might think no network exists. Much like we talked about last week concerning the sense that there’s a plethora of virtual interconnections taking place every day on the street that go unnoticed, Anna searches for these happenings and looks to study how they interact as a network. She explains that, “the study of networks is not limited to only physical networks, but also to abstract networks in which nodes do not coincide to locations in space.” More specifically, the study of networks involves:

  • Forming these applications as mathematical units
  • Studying these models from a qualitative perspective
  • Creating algorithms to solve the ensuing model

The studying of networks has elicited 3 classic problems:

  • The Shortest Path Problem
    • The search to move flows in the most efficient way from an origin to one or more destinations
    • Ex. Transportation; minimizing storage needed for books in a library
  • The Maximum Flow Problem
    • Figuring out the capacity of the network
    • Ex. Network reliability testing; Building evacuation
  • The Minimum Cost Flow Problem
    • The search to find the flow pattern that minimizes the total cost, without exceeding capacity
    • Ex. Warehousing & distribution; biology; finance- asset liability management

This scientific approach to studying networks seeks to determine patterns within networks, which can then aid in unifying a variety of applications.

Characteristics of Today’s Networks

In the past, congestion was not such a huge problem, but now it is becoming more and more so. This can even be considered when talking about social networks, with Nagurney explaining that with, “a push of a button, you can reach 10s of thousands of millions” of people.

The behavior of users is also an important characteristic to consider. Users, both on an individual and group level, can behave in a variety of ways within a network. This can even lead to alternative behaviors and paradoxes, such as the Braess Paradox. The paradox highlights the cost to society concerning user optimization vs. system optimization.

The Supernetwork

Nagurney postulates that it’s time for a new paradigm: that of the supernetwork. These supernetworks can be connected, multilevel, or even multi-criteria. It’s important to not only study individual decision-making, but “the effect of many competing, collaborating, cooperating.”

With these supernetworks, come new tools to study them, including game theory and optimization theory. She also lists a few common applications of these supernetworks, including knowledge networks, teleshopping decision-making, and electronic transactions.

Nagurney then explores how these supernetworks can integrate social networks, by looking at types of relationships. The value and strength of the relationships that are fostered become the “flows” in social networks. She explains that establishing relationships incurs costs, but with higher relationship levels comes a reduction in costs and risk and an increase in value. The belief in social responsibility of the users and the fact that social networks are dynamic and ever-changing are important factors to consider when studying these networks.

The Principle of Notworking - Geert Lovink

Dr. Geert Lovink is a Research Professor of Interactive Media at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam and an Associate Professor of New Media at the University of Amsterdam. His book The Principle of Notworking was published in 2005.

Throughout the first section (“Multitude, Network and Culture”) of Lovink’s book The Principle of Notworking, Lovink mainly quotes George Yudice, Antonio Negri, and Michael Hardt. (In 2003, Yudice wrote the book The Expediency of Culture: Uses of Culture in the Global Era, where he theorizes about the changing role of culture in a world that’s becoming more global-oriented. Negri and Hardt co-wrote the books Empire (2000) and Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of the Empire (2004). While Empire was about corporations and global institutions coming to the forefront, Multitude centered on the population of the ‘empire,’ explaining that this body is defined by its diversity.)

Lovink begins his book by explaining the importance of analyzing culture as a resource, rather than a commodity, which he argues is especially important when discussing Internet culture. He believes that the commercial efforts of the dotcom models during the late 1990s were “wrong.” He argues that the, “culturalization of the Internet is at hand,” and, like Nagurney, seeks to present the importance of the user over the system.

Much like Nagurney stated in her presentation, Lovink also recognizes that an important aspect of Internet culture is that it is in, “a permanent flux.” He explains that experts on the Internet are still having trouble comprehending this, though, mentioning that it is a “cultural turn.” He notes that those having trouble seeing the Internet as something constantly changing still see the Internet as a commodity and tend to hold theories of “religious nature.”

In accordance with his belief of the importance of the user over the system, he believes that more sufficient research is required on the subject and does not believe Nagurney’s scientific approach is adequate. With this, he thinks that new media needs a language of its own, which will be more inclusive of his idea of networks as “post-human.”

Lovink also explains the importance of having different communities come together (similar to a point Nagurney makes). He sees this happening with the outsourcing of IT, which allows for the chance of “cultural mingling.” But, while networks have the opportunity to foster creativity, cooperation, and a sense of liberation, they can also be used for the purpose of control. This is mentioned through his discussion of the ‘protocol’ theory and Gilles Deleuze’s ideas of ‘the control society.’

What Lovink believes defines today’s networks, he describes through the term “notworking.” It is elements that go awry within the make-up of the network from yesterday that help to shape the network of today. These examples of “notworking,” such as spam and viruses stem from the “frustrated mind” – those, “who breach the consensus culture,” and are pushed to the outer boundaries of the network.

Review of The Exploit: A Theory of Networks (2 Reviews + 1 Response)

The Exploit: A Theory of Networks is a book co-written by Alexander Galloway and Eugene Thacker, which was published in 2007. It is a theoretical book about how networks operate, their political implications, and how flaws in the system can lead to positive change. Galloway is an associate professor in the Department of Culture and Communication at New York University. Eugene Thacker is an associate professor of new media in the School of Literature, Communication, and Culture at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Review 1: Daniel Gilfillan

Daniel Gilfillan is Associate Professor of German Studies and Information Literacy, and Affiliate Faculty in Film and Media Studies and Jewish Studies at Arizona State University. Read more about him and his work on his Academic Portfolio site.

Gilfillan’s review of The Exploit mainly focuses on commending Galloway and Thacker for presenting a contemporary understanding of networks. Like Lovink, Gilfillan, Galloway, and Thacker recognize that networks are used for control purposes and consumerism (also referencing Deleuze and his “control societies” and “dataveillance” concepts).

What Gilfillan is mainly concerned with is the concept of pushing past this, “system of control,” by taking advantage of openings within it, which can lead to something new and progressive. Similar to Lovink’s point of what makes networking is the “notworking,” Gilfillan agrees with Galloway and Thacker that it is these “flaws” within networks that makes progressive change possible. In relation to this, Gilfillan discusses Galloway and Thacker’s belief that there is a new balance between networks- an “alliance between ‘control’ and ‘emergence.’” But, a new type of asymmetry must be found that takes advantage of inconstancies within a network; Galloway and Thacker call this need both the “antiweb” and “an exceptional topology.”

While networks need hierarchical systems of control, it is also important to have aspects of a decentralized system of distribution. This helps to allow for this asymmetry, and hence, flaws within the system. Gilfillan notes that it’s here that allows for the possibility for “counterprotocol practices,” making advancement possible: “it will be sculpted into something better, something in closer agreement with the real wants and desires of its users” (from Galloway & Thacker).

He gives the following definitions as a guide to the exploitation of these flaws:

  • Vector: The exploit requires a medium where an action or motion can take place
  • Flaw: The exploit needs weaknesses within the network, enabling the exposure of the vector
  • Transgression: The exploit then creates a change within the ontology of the network, making the “failure” of the network an alteration in its topology

Review 2: Nathaniel Tkacz

Nathaniel Tkacz is a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne, where he’s researching the, “political dynamic of Open Projects (projects influenced by the principles and production models of Free and of Open Source Software, but translated into different domains).” Read more about him and his work on his research site.

While protocol was a minor detail in the overall message presented by Gilfillian, this was the main topic of discussion for Tkacz. He explains, “protocol is a set of rules or codes that enables, modulates, and governs a specific network and also a general logic of governance for all networks.” It is a form of control and a way of, “directing flows of information,” which he equates to the Panopticon in Foucault’s disciplinary society.

But, this protocol allows for the exploitation of the flaws within it- it becomes the “target of resistance.” Rather than changing existing technologies to promote transformation, “protological struggles,” emerge that entail, “discovering holes in existing technologies and projecting potential change through these holes.” These “holes” are called “exploits” by hackers.

From here, Tkacz goes on to explain a number of ‘limitations” he feels the book has. Tkacz believes that the way the book was structured created some limitations in itself (the book was written as a ‘network,’ which Tkacz believed left things underdeveloped). Another problem that Tkacz sees is that the book relies too heavily on the “old centralized/decentralized dichotomy,” rather than holding firm to one of the main claims of their book: networks can take numerous forms. A third dilemma he had is that he found the idea behind the authors’ protocol/exploit argument less persuasive as it moved from the specific, more important details to the general points.

Author Response: Alexander R. Galloway and Eugene Thacker

The authors begin their response by noting that Gilfillan mentioned one of the key points of the book: “the uncannily anonymous, network tactics demonstrated by ‘pliant and vigorous nonhuman actors.’” They explain their interest in the view that networks are, “something beyond the human altogether.” While networks might have once originated from human means, in their functioning as a network, they have lost their most essential human qualities. Viruses on networks don’t thrive because the network is “down” and not working properly; rather, they excel because of the very fact that the networks are working just as they should be. This is similar to a point that Lovink makes of networks being “post-human.”

Looking at both Gilfillan’s and Tkacz’s mention of Foucault and Deleuze being used in The Exploit, Galloway and Thacker clear up their reasoning behind using Foucault’s ideas. The two authors were not looking at Foucault’s work concerning discipline-surveillance; rather, they looked to build upon his work in biopolitics and security. Similarly, the authors note that the influential aspects of Deleuze did not just lie in his essay on “control societies.” Rather, it was in connecting that concept to his interest in the notions of immanence and univocity (the belief, expanded upon from Spinoza, that there are no numerically separate substances).

The authors ultimately ask: what should be done concerning these networks? “Should we as humans learn to be more like nonhumans?” They explain that there have been a number of responses to their question throughout philosophy. But, there are three in particular that they deem important. The first being the “’master of the universe’ attitude.” This says that exploits, such as viruses, must be eliminated. The opposite of this viewpoint is that of the agnostic. Here, it is accepted that, “the world is lost in the hands of technology, dry and lifeless after the passage into modernity.” The third thought process is that within this “dry and lifeless” world, lies something new and emergent at the core.

The authors leave us with the question, “Can there be an ontology of networks?” Must there always be an outside mediator to the network? Can a network topology express itself from within?



How can somebody spy on your webcam?

The recent webcam spying scandal at a school in Pennsylvinia has caused worldwide uproar in the news, and proves that paranoiac scenarios are actually not so far stretched. In the era of Skype, ChatRoulette, and the ubiquitous use of security webcameras, this case raises serious questions about privacy and Internet security. As I will combine my introductory post and my question, here first some background information.

The spying scandal at Harriton High School

In mid-February, a high school in Pennsylvania got in the spotlight of the news- and now of the FBI- as it was revealed that school officials were spying on their students by secretly activating the webcameras of school-issued laptops, even when students were at home. The scandal unfolded when the assistant principal summoned a student to her office, and accused him of selling and taking drugs. She based her allegations on photos that were taken by the kid’s webcam showing him eating suspicious substances at home, or what later turned out to be Mike and Ikes candy. Shortly after, the student’s parents have filed a lawsuit against the school. As the scandal become public, various other students reported that they had been perplexed by the bizarre on- and off-going green lights of their laptops. The school denied that it invaded the students privacy, and explained that the software installed on the computers that allowed to remotely access the cameras was a monitoring and security device that allowed to locate laptops in case of theft.YouTube Preview Image

It is not unusual that schools monitor and spy on their students, as an documentary segments called „How Google saved a school“ indicates. However, Harriton school stands out as teachers accessed the webcameras of their students in their private homes, a reason why the FBI is now investigating the case.

The scandal poses general questions about the education system, authority, and where to draw the line between monitoring and spying. What is the legal basis or guideline? But first of all, I’d like to know how this is technologically possible. Considering that most laptops have built-in cameras and have become all purpose devices that we use 24/7, how big is the risk of such kind of surveillance?

How can somebody spy on your webcam?

A simple Twitter search for #spycam quickly leads me to what seems the ultimate information source about the technology behind the Harriton Hight School scandal. A blogger called Stryde Hax , a part-time hacker and consultant for an Internet security company called Intrepidus Group, has investigated the case and discussed it on his blog. Stryde Hax explains that the school installed a remote monitoring product named LANRev on their laptops. Even when computer were connected outside the school networks, the track-and-monitor feature reported back to the administrator, and allowed to activate the camera remotely and take secret pictures. As the remote control was invisible (except the brief moments when the camera lit up), and the victims were unaware about it, this software would qualify as spyware, defined as„a type of malware that is installed on computers and collects little bits information at a time about users without their knowledge.“

The market for spy camera software seems to be tremendous! On Google search, a multitude of companies sell this kind of product. For example, Power Spy 2010 proudly claims that it is „[p]erfect for catching cheaters, monitoring employees, children and spouse and even investigating crimes!“

For reasons to spy on your spouse and other healthy relationship advice, please click on the picture above.

The software allows you to monitor all computer and Internet activities, take screen snapshots like a surveillance camera, record usernames and passwords, but is „completely legal“ according to the company that sells it. However, there are also cheaper ways to turn your webcam into a spying tool, you could simply “use Skype as a covert snooper.“

Legal issues involved

Does this sort of spying violate wiretapping laws? In the case of Harriton High, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) believe that it constitutes an infringement, and filed an amicus brief in support of the victim. However, the matter is not that obvious. Kevin Bankston, an attorney for EFF, explains why:

“There is no federal statute that criminalizes or creates civil liability for such secret videotaping unless it involves sound, because then it is an intercept of a verbal communication. So no one can plant a bug in your house without violating wiretapping law, but they can still plant a camera without violating federal wiretapping laws.“

A Skype-camera spy-attack would therefore be illegal, but how about soundless spying with Power Spy 2010? For example, is it legal to use this software in an company or could you give your consent to spy? According to the EFF, „private schools or employers can ask you to sign away your right to privacy, but not a government entity like a public school.“ However, there is no juridical precedent, and is up to the court to give further indications. Collecting usernames and passwords without previous consent is certainly a violation of the Forth Amendment. Another troubling factor is that in Harriton High School,  only official (and monitored) computers were allowed, and “jailbreaking a school laptop in order to secure it or monitor it against intrusion was an offense which merited expulsion“ (source: Stryde Hax). How will this case be resolved?

Welcome to hacker culture!

Obviously, another central question is whether somebody can intrude your computer and gain control of your webcam by other means. As I am quite illiterate in technical issues, I turn to the wisdom of the crowd, and search the answer on Google, web forums, and even Yahoo Answer. I found out that all you need is trojan virus which can remotely access your webcam, and that a normal Windows firewall will not stop. Another option is to turn to social engeneering and to get crucial information (in-)voluntarily from the victim rather than breaking into its system. How easy/difficult is this?

Kevin Mitnick, worldwide hacker celebrity and now security consultant

To my surprise, the hacker community is very generous about sharing its tips and tricks: there are plenty of fun tutorials on Google on how to hack into your friends’ computers and spy trough their webcams. In addition, I learn that under the surface of anarchy, there are quite institutionalized platforms and various social norms. There even exists a Hacker Quarterly, and a related biennial hacker conference called HOPE (Hackers On Planet Earth), where the state of the art and future challenges are discussed. More basic, hacking isn’t only about hacking: different subcultures and -groups exist, like white hats (=ethical hackers, specialized in penetration testing), or black hats (=specialized in unauthorized penetration, seek personal profit). Is Stryde Hax therefore a white hat? Has he been a black hat before, like Kevin Mitnick? Who designs these categories? Plenty of questions to follow…

Concluding Post – How much *TIME SPENT ON*?

I began this journey by first analyzing the beginning of both Social Networking Websites.. At first I was skeptical as to where my topic would be bring me but now I realize how much of a big part of and time is spend on these sites.

So what REALLY led to the demise of MySpace. I believe that their was no demise and that MySpace and Facebook are two entirely different entities that cannot be compared. I don’t think that they serve the same purpose. MySpace has evolved from being a simple social networking site, to an atmosphere or creative sharing. Those who actually are MySpace users are a new generation of young people. Initially, Facebook was set up as a network for college students to contact each other easier. MySpace was the networking site people would go to catch on fun. MySpace as I stated before is a social hub for music, movies, marketing.

This is where my thought for the comparing/contrasting of the layout came about. Initially, the two layouts served the same common goal. You had a few friends, you left them comments, admired their photos and read about their info and who they “friended”.  The past few years this has changed dramatically.MySpace’s login page has a lot more options. You have the ability to see who is online without joining the community, surf through celebrity pages and catch up the latest music/movies. It is now used a marketing tool. Facebook as a different perception. They do have celebrity fan pages, but there is no media attached. The login page for facebook is simple and clean, and you MUST login to see most features.

I actually joined Foursquare this week and became more active on Twitter as well as a social experiment to myself. After hearing about Foursquare in class and at work, I got the itch to join. I haven’t used it much and figure it’s interesting if you want to boast onto your friends where you are or see if they are in the same place.

This week in my research:

I decided to put myself through a social experiment. Be active on all my accounts (minus MySpace) and see how much time I spent on these sites. On my twitter I “tweeted” about 50 times a day. Mostly all on Thursday due to Iran’s 31st anniversary of the Revolution. My Facebook account I had about 60 posts a day, and Foursquare I barely used only to check in to places so my Facebook friends could see. So you can a few hours were devoted to just updating information on my pages. Was I being paid for this – NO. Did I learn anything? NO – well I did learn that my ex’s mother has a facebook … I think MY IQ dropped a bit more..

Then I thought what purpose does this serve? Do people really give a damn what I think of what I’m doing?

There are those small few who do.. but by using my page as a news central did any message get across to these people.. Remarkably yes. In the past year I have received critiques, opinions, praises in the “PHYSICAL WORLD” through sms, calls and in person of how this information, had I not provided it to them, would have left them in the dark.

But those of us who don’t use these platforms as a broadcasting central.. What are they doing on there.
This is a great link to some information based on the time spent on these sites, it states

From April 2008 to April 2009, total minutes spent on Facebook increased from 1.7 billion minutes to 13.9 billion minutes – an annual growth rate of 700 percent. MySpace comes in second with 5 billion minutes in April 2009, roughly 2 billion minutes shy of time spent in April 2008.

So how much time do you spend on your social networking site? AND what are you doing on there? January 2009 – ages 25-50 spent an average of 3.5 hrs on FB.

An interesting find for the week – when search this topic in GOOGLE and you type “TIME SPENT ON” – see what is the first choice is ….SCARY!

Gawker Stalker map conclusion

So.   I have been digging and I will share with the class what I’ve found.  Thanks to archive.org, a site that basically archives the entire internet and lets you search in the “wayback” machine, I now know that the map was online from April 11, 2006 through July 31, 2008.

The Wayback Machine shows you archives of web pages.

Harris also told me that he asked someone he knows who works at Gawker about the map, and they flatly denied any existence of the map at all.  Hah!  I was also able to see what gawker.com/stalker USED to look like.  (These days it redirects to gawker.com/tag/stalker):

Please note that this image is from archive.org and the small image of the map and the red text was added by me in Photoshop.

As I mentioned in a previous post, George Clooney had a well publicized campaign against Gawker by encouraging people to post fake sightings and flooding their system.  Although I can’t find anything that specifically states where the map went, I would bet that legal action was taken against Gawker.  Clooney and other celebs clearly felt that it was an invasion of their privacy to have their locations broadcast against their own will.

What are the privacy implications of geotagging on Twitter?

What are the privacy implications of enabling geotagging on your Twitter account?

In November of 2009, Twitter added a feature which enabled users to selectively “geotag” their tweets with their exact location. They said the goal of this was to provide more of a context to users’ surroundings. It allowed users to tweet about places and add a context to their tweets, connect with users at a local level, and join in on local conversations. It was, and remains, an opt-in service, which meant that users had to enable the feature (it was off by default). While there are benefits (some of which are mentioned above) to enabling geotagging, Twitter asked its users to consider several issues including: geotagging uses your exact location, it is available to everyone (even if you delete it) and turning it off does not mean your old data will necessarily go away. It enables third-party applications to use this data, but can always be disabled at the user’s request. One advantage that came out of this decision was the ability of Twitter to track local trending topics in various cities or countries, rather than the summation of all trending topics worldwide. One of the primary disadvantages has to do with privacy – one can imagine a situation in which a user live tweets a protest in a country and an authoritative government uses the geo-tagged location to arrest them. One serious consideration for anyone enabling geotagging is that if you chose to remove your location history, you can do so on your settings page, but it can take up to 30 minutes. And, although you’ve deleted the information from Twitter, they cannot guarantee that the information will be removed from all 3rd party application copies. After enabling geotagging, Twitter updated its privacy policy (click here to read it). I noticed that in the policy “What you say on Twitter may be viewed all around the world instantly.” Clearly this is both an advantage and a disadvantage, but in what sense is adding your exact location to tweet aiding the amount of information that gets put out there. Is it in a good way? The issues remain, should one (namely in this case, me) enable geotagging on my tweets?

Standing at the Crossroads of New Media

Free Online/Offline Television, Movies, and Music Concerts with Hulu TV:

Hulu has changed the face of television and movies by offering streaming videos from a variety of major cable networks as well as flash videos for free.  It has recently released a beta-version which enables users to watch hulu on their desktop without being online.  Moreover, according to PC magazine in Dec. 2009, Hulu recently began to establish partnerships with record labels to host music videos and concert performances on the site, including EMI in November 2009.  Not only with mobile phones and perhaps even the recently released Ipad, but Hulu  is also looking to expand outside of the US and into the UK and Ireland in 2010.  Essentially, the certain cable networks and even Hollywood (DVD sales) are being threatened by this new form of new media.

  • I would like to investigate the impact it would continue to have on the television, movie, and music industries in greater detail.
  • Is this similar to the dilemma within the news industry competition between old and traditional journalism i.e. blogging vs. reporting?
  • What are the advantages/disadvantages of using Hulu vs. the televsion, dvds, etc?
  • Is Hulu a more integrated approach to viewing many different forms of media on a computer or Ipad?

Online music site to deliver new promotional music to DJs:

Serato’s online record pool called  ”whitelabel.net” has been a revolutionary outlet for quicker communication between record labels and DJs.  It has allowed DJs to circumvent the process of getting the promotional records through mail by allowing them, with the help of Rane’s ‘Serato Scratch Live’ technology, to download the songs to use with their Serato Itch, Video, or Scratch Live programs.  In turn, this allows the DJ to have faster access to new music and also be more efficient as a DJ :

Universal Music Group (UMG), the world’s leading music company, have commenced promotional music delivery to DJs using Whitelabel.net.  The Serato Whitelabel Delivery Network has successfully delivered 3 million tracks to over 40,000 DJs worldwide during over the past year. Working with UMG marks the first collaboration of its kind between a major recording company and a service specifically designed for DJs.  Using their Whitelabel.net service, we can reach the DJ directly and quickly with new music. Whitelabel.net is more efficient than sending vinyl records and more secure than delivering conventional audio files over the internet.

  • I would like to investigate further how this has impacted the DJ environment and more specifically the access to promotional music for anyone who has purchased this equipment?
  • How has not only whitelabel, but Rane’s technology of Serato influenced the DJ market since the birth of this new phenomenon?
  • Will DJing become relegated to DJing from computers, MIDI devices, and simply pushing buttons in the future?
  • Has this affected the overall experience with the club or party environment?

Cyber-spying China:

China has been garnering constant attention concerning its internet spying.  Privacy and even national security are vital matters regarding China utilizing the internet and even possibly Google to access top-secret/classified information.  Moreover, according to abcnews.net, “Google says at least 20 other large companies including finance, internet, media, technology, and chemical businesses were similarly attacked [by China].”  Additionally, there was even suspicion that US oil industries were hit by ‘cyberattacks‘ from China.  As China continues to strengthen its status as a world power contending with the US, this fear of ‘cyberwar’ could foreseeably mark a new era of digital spying and even a digital ‘Cold War’ of the 21st Century.

  • I would like to continue to investigate the significance and the scope of this type of dilemma with matters of privacy and international security.
  • How has the US responded to this threatening situation of international security and even national privacy?
  • What would happen if Google were to pull out of China?
  • What would this mean for US-China relations diplomatically apart from the economics?

Please help me to decide which one would be the most interesting to pursue.  Thank you.

Smile (or Not)- You Are Being Watched!

Do you think that you are an anonymous nobody, or do you secretly elaborate strategies to finally become famous and divert public attention on you? You are wrong! In fact, let me tell you that you are already all over the place! Especially since you have become a NYU student. There is no need to participate in Big Brother or other television reality shows; a slow stroll from Washington Square to the sports center is enough. My latest experiment will prove you why. Unfortunately (or fortunately for you), my project „Zero Camera“ has desperately failed.

Adam Curtis’ documentary has addressed a fundamental question I was asking myself for the last few weeks. What price has freedom? If we want to preserve and protect our so-called free and open society, is it inevitable that we will have to give up large parts of our privacy and personal rights? The failed terrorist bombing of the Northwest airplane on Christmas day has once again shown how vulnerable our society is. More important, it has made clear that fear has become the governing rationale of our living-together. I am shocked with was ease and speed civil liberties are revalued and curtailed in the name of national security. Although the efficiency and legitimacy of the draconian security measures adopted after the 9/11 events have been questioned by the public in the last few years, after Christmas, invasive „preventive“ actions have been taken without a blink. Full-body scanners will soon be installed in every airport. For now, this new measure still provokes outcry and is heatedly discussed, but within little time it will be largely accepted – as it occurred with the security/surveillance cameras systems in the past.

To make it clear, I don’t want to blame terrorism as the sole reason for this situation. In the last decades, there has been a unbreakable trend towards the „securization“ of our society. Private security companies have mushroomed everywhere on the globe, especially in industrialized countries, and became an integral part of our daily life. Today, it is completely normal- and even regarded as necessary- that surveillance cameras accompany us 24/7. But how true is this statement? Are video cameras really ubiquitous, at least in the cities? I asked myself when I was filmed in my daily life. Sure, I knew that banks and stores use video cameras, and in the subway I also had spotted several models. But around the university campus, it couldn’t be so bad, could it? Walking on University Place, I started to direct my look into the air, and suddenly realized that I was walking on a red carpet. On only eight blocks, I discovered ten cameras!

That is when I wanted to make an experiment. Could I get from Bobst Library to the Sports Center Palladium without being taped? With the help of i-See , a web-based application elaborated by the Institute for Applied Technology, I calculated my „Zero Camera“ route to trick the system, and find a way for not being taped on my way. The plan seemed simple: after some detours and small side-streets, I would arrive at my final destination on 14th street without being videotaped. With the city map in my hand, I left the library full excitement.

Half a bloc later, my first deception. Kimmel Center. Four cameras on one corner! Even worse, a quick inquiry with the security guard revealed that the building has approximately ten outdoor cameras. On Thompson street, the situation was similar. Clearly, i-See needed a huge update! Therefore, I changed my plan again, and decided to count all cameras on my „Zero Camera“ route. About twenty minutes later, and a nice walk in the East Village (by the way, the church at 10th street with 2nd Ave has a very nice garden!), the result was stunning: I discovered over 25 cameras. On practically every segment of my route my un-trained eye had found video cameras. The real number must be much higher, as a lot of cameras are hidden as lamps, and aren’t easy to detect.

According to a report published in 2006 by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) called “Who’s Watching? Video Camera Surveillance in New York City and the Need for Public Oversight,” the number of video sur-veillance cameras has skyrocketed in the last ten years. Whereas in 1998, over 2300 cameras were „visible from street level in Manhattan,“ in 2005 almost the same amount was counted in the area of Greenwich Village and SoHo only. Five years later, the current statistics must be even higher.

Of course, the purpose of video camera systems isn’t to turn common citizen into non-stop filmed celebrities. The proponents of video surveillance systems claim that the use of cameras deters crime, and enhances public safety. On the other hand, critics denounce that this technology undermines fundamental civil rights like the right to privacy, speech, expression and association. For example, the NYCLU has reported abuses of police monitoring powers in this regard, and raised awareness about the discriminating practice of racial profiling. The New York based performance collective called Surveillance Camera Players also protests against public video cameras, and makes a direct parallel to George Orwell’s surveillance society depicted in 1984.

The question is if these measures are effective and make us safer. But more important: Are the invasion of our privacy and the detriment of our personal rights the price of security? Do we have to be unfree in order to be free? In the end, it is a choice about what society we want. In my opinion, we are heading in the complete wrong direction.