The Internet of Things: things are not going to rebel, aren’t they ?

This week we came up with a really interesting topic of the ‘Internet of things’ which can be defined as “a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction”, according to Internet of Things Agenda.

Personally, I consider it is the notion of how people apply sensors to stuffs around us and we have not only smartphones, but ‘smartthings’. The examples range from bracelets helping us to know our bodies’ status to smart toothbrushes recognizing teeth’s problem or even a smart house. The advantage of this transition is far more than we can imagine such as smart cement monitoring stresses, cracks, and warpages, which is installed after the bridge collapse in Minnesota in 2007.

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Despite all those benefits, there are concerns such as lack of privacy or security. Personally, I have another concern. As we have already known, smart devices actually operate based on our habits, which can be understood as following structured actions. So what if one day, they will not follow the same pattern anymore, and do something else ? Or worse, rebel ? Okay, they are just machines, but they are ‘smart’. Recently one of the smartest human-like robots also said that she would ‘destroy human’ so anything can happen.

Tell me guys, they are not going to rebel, aren’t they ?

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Cybercrime: go how you f*cking clowns.

Online hacktivism can be considered positive in the way that white-hat hacktivists reveal hidden crimes that are harmful or put pressure on organizations to fight for people’s right. They are the digital Robin Hood, about which I have one blog post which you can check out here.

However, as cyberspace is a world, and just like other worlds, it has both sides. And the other, darker side I want to mention in this post is black-hat hackers. Due to the fact that the information system still contains many gaps that are too hard to be fulfilled as the system is too complicated, several people exploit it and make profit for themselves. Since not a huge proportion of population have understanding in this field, the ones who have gain so much power. And once they have such significant power, it is understandable that their purposes changed from raising people’s voice like Julian Assange or Edward Snowden, to stealing people’s credit card, like LulzSec.

This reminds me of a recent phenomena which is the Clown Prank. Clowns are supposed to bring joy to people, and now just because of some idiots pushing the game to far, they become people’s fear and anger. The purpose changes from right and pure, to wrong and dirt. White now turns into black.

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Nonetheless, I still believe that there is a need for the existence of such bad sides, as every society needs them to reflect the good sides, and be a motivation for the good to keep being good, and outplay the bad. Julian Assange or Edward Snowden have so much power, but they choose to be the white-hat, and they will still be.

The black-hat hackers will be hunted by the cyberspace community, just like how the creepy clowns have to defend themselves against Aussie’s anger.

Online hacktivist: the digital Robin Hood

Once upon a time in ancient England, there was a young, handsome (I don’t believe this), brave, and chilvarious man named Robin Hood. He was famous for his great personality of helping people, fighting against criminals and stealing from the rich to give the poor.

How sweet he is.

It does not matter whether Robin Hood actually existed or he was an imaginative product, but his image did create a belief f0r social equality. Personally, I do not advocate the idea that there should be no rich and no poor, because the differentiation between classes is the base for social development.However, this week topic brought me to a place where I think there is a huge need for Robin Hood, and undoubtedly, it is the digital world.

“Robin Hood is a man who tends to give to others what he CAN claim as his own. He steals right? So he can claim all stolen to be his’, but no, he did not. He stuck to the idea of giving it the poor because that is what really the reason why he did it.”

– Anonymous – (actually anonymous, not the hackers’ team).

According to our lecturer Ted in this week lecture, hacker ethics include ‘sharing, information freedom, no secrets’. Julian Assange, Wikileak’s founder, once said: “Don’t damage the computer system you break into, don’t change the information in those systems, and share information”.

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Finally, the image of Robin Hood makes sense to me.

We are in the ‘attention economy’, where our attention becomes valuable. We are bombarded with massive amount of information everyday, so our attention should be spent on precious information. Therefore, we have the right to approach information that we are supposed to approach, which leads to a free flow of information. Subsequently, there is a need for white-hat hacktivists, who break the barriers and allow cyberspace citizens to get rid of control and regulation, and enjoy the digital equality.

 

Social media: gives voice to those not heard.

It is obvious that thanks to the Internet and distributed control, many barriers have been eradicated. One important benefit of this transition is how people are able to communicate their own opinions to those sharing the same thoughts without being blocked by mainstream media. Thanks to social media, communication is now easier than ever.

This huge improvement has fueled revolutions from all over the world where people are restrained by governments which put heavy control and regulation on mainstream media. In places where “free speech” is something impractical, social media appears to be a pain reliever. Such phenomenon as the #ArabSpring or #EuroMaidan can be successful due to the communication network that people created based on online social platform such as Twitter or Facebook. Social media brings about connectivity, which was essential because ‘connectivity is power’, said our lecturer Ted.

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In this post I want to mention another recent phenomena which fit in this context: Hong Kong’s 2014 protests, so called the “Umbrella revolution”. As we have already known, Chinese government has put extreme regulation on Hong Kong, which used to be politically independent from its mother country. Therefore, it was nearly impossible for Hong Kong people to raise their voice through mainstream media. However, the revolution in 2014 was significantly successful thanks to the use of social media, where tweets and posts from students were spreaded out and led to the participation of thousands of citizens who were not students. People also used social media to update about the process, the same as other protests in Tunisia or Ukraine. One of the leaders of the protest was Joshua Wong, who was only 17 at the time, empowered by social media and now elected to Hong Kong’s legislative council.

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Therefore, I can conclude that social media has turned zero to hero, empowered who are not empowered, and given voice to those are not heard.

From Vines to Twitter: capturing the ‘now’.

Vines create a massive trend throughout the world in just 6 seconds. Only 6 seconds. There are many reasons for this duration. Some can explain that because human attention span has been reduced to no more than 8 seconds so vines can settle down within that amount while others argue that such a short duration is easy to make and people are not hesitant to watch.

Twitter becomes one of the most dominant social networks with a words limit of 140 characters. Just 140. Back to 2006 when it was founded, Twitter was designed to be used via wireless carriers’ text-messaging services with 160-character limit. Therefore, Twitter’s creators took out 20 characters for the user name and there we have the magic number.

Fair enough.

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But both of them developed significantly out of expectation and the above arguments. The reason lies in the nature of their usage: capturing the ‘now’. In order to be instant, you don’t need much. You don’t need to many visuals as well as too many words. Therefore, the success of Twitter comes from its origin: text messages. With just 140 characters, you are able to capture your ‘now’ and let people know. Moreover, others are not hesitant to be able to know your ‘now’ by reading a 140-character tweets, just the same as the text message from you replying their text. And with a whole social site with networks of hundreds or thousands followers, you are able to capture the ‘now’ of the whole world.

Apple vs Android: permanently permanent beta.

This week we discussed about the difference between Apple and Android, the two most dominant mobile operating systems. These two reflect a huge difference between the open and closed nature.

Apple, is a closed-source system. It is an example of what is called ‘the walled garden’ where users are allowed to facilitated what is permitted by the owners, Apple. No apps which are unavailable on the AppStore and no changes can be applied to the system. It seems like it is inconvenient but it has its own advantages as the users are protected from potential threats from outside. It also maintains a consistency for the whole ecosystem of Apple including the iPhone, iPad, iPod, Macbook and other devices, according to Jonathan Zittrain. Due to the fact that the source is closed, it is understandable that users are finding way to break the wall to have more control, to jailbreak.

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Android, on the other hand, is open. Google shares and empowers users to freely discover and apply changes to the system as beside Google Play, the official appstore, other third-party app markets are also made available. In this way, Google makes money by selling support to the system, stated by Daniel Roth. It seems like Android fits perfectly in the new paradigm of distributed control or free flow of information. However, we should question why users still want to climb over that wall even it seems to be no wall ? It is reality that people still ‘root‘ Android devices to acquire more and more control over the system as they can ‘customize everything’.

Therefore, we can come to a conclusion that it is never enough for people as such a free system like Android cannot satisfy them. This fits perfectly with the notion of permanent beta, as it creates permanently permanent beta.

 

‘Like’ for a living

It is obvious that the digital world is transitioning into a new paradigm where communication is free as more and more barriers are being destroyed. Therefore, it is essential not to let monopoly exists in this new world as it will hold back all the development, as stated by Boldrin and Levine in this week reading.

However, this seems to be not easy at all since giant digital empires, aka ‘the stacks’, are emerging to form a new notion called ‘iFeudalism’. These ‘stacks’ function in the same way as the ‘manor’ in the feudalism where people are gathered into a close space with its own rules, according to our lecturer Ted. Besides all the similarities between these walled gardens and the manors, I noticed one point that have not been mentioned that is in the manors, people worked on the farms to make a living so is there the same case in the iManors ?

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Therefore, I personally think of an assumption is that the virtual life is becoming an essential part of people’s lives that it gives them motivation to live, to work and control their emotions as well. For example, a Facebook user may start a day enthusiastically if he receives positive comments on his profile picture and vice versa. In this way, I assume that all the activities people do online are to make their ‘virtual’ living. They tweet, retweet, share, comment, and like, for a living.