Giving life to inanimate objects (The Internet of Things) Week 12

Last year I watched a presentation by Dr. Michio Kaku at the Museum of Science (Boston) in March of 2011. The presentation was titled Physics of the future, which interested me because I have always been baffled by the time we spend studying the past, while the future is always considered to be a mystery. Dr. Kaku’s life involved travelling the globe and studying current and future technological projects, having interviewed 300 of the world’s top scientists. From science to technology, the combination of the two is already laying out the path for our future as a species.

Dr. Kaku starts out by reminding us that predicting the future is extremely difficult, but I would like to include that the Internet also reminds us that our future that has been made possible by the Internet includes almost anything we can imagine.

Dr. Kaku talks about a future of 20 to 50 to 100 years into the future, a future where inanimate objects including buildings, walls, household appliances and cars are connected to the Internet. But what exactly does being connected to the Internet change about these inanimate objects? Imagine a world where you’re car communicates with you much like a person would when they are feeling ill. Imagine you’re car being able to send you a text message when someone it breaking into it, or it sending you a live video feed to your smartphone because someone has just crashed into it while it was parked curbside outside your apartment.

Imagine a world where your house can be locked from your smartphone

The idea of the future is that inanimate objects will be able to communicate with us much like any other human being. And the possibilities are endless as computer chips begin to become cheaper and cheaper. A world lies ahead where computer chips will be so cheap that they will be almost disposable. 


Following current trends, storage data is getting cheaper and cheaper every day.

The future of the Internet of things is almost anything we can imagine, because if it is possible to imagine, why ISN’T it possible to achieve? The thing that amazed me the most is this possibility of intelligent


Apple’s marketing share (Android VS Apple) Week 11

If I told you that Android has a commanding lead over Apple in the smartphone market would you believe me? If I told you that commanding lead was around 75%, would you bother to listen to anything else I had to say?

Android doesn’t have crowded stores that average over 8400 square feet, Android doesn’t break records every time it releases a new phone. The average person thinks, and believes that Apple’s share of the smartphone market is larger than it actually is because Apple spends a lot of money convincing people so. The age old “everyone has one, so I need one too” is Apple’s biggest marketing power. But the fact is, Apple is in the minority. Maybe it is the market we live in, Apple is marketed towards a demographic much like the one in Australia. High wages, etc. etc.

Wireless Internet access through mobile devices has quickly become the most common way people use the Internet.

There is also an enormous amount of negativity geared towards Steve Jobs use of a “Walled Garden”. While the strategy obviously fails, as Android has an enormous market share, Apple is in a different market. When the truth is, Google is giving us a walled garden too.

Mobile devices are still relatively new, Apple product are designed in a way that is easily usable and accessible to a generation that is being introduced to new technology daily. Not everyone is technically savvy enough to. Apple took a different approach, they wanted to make products that looked nice, that worked well, and introduced people to things in a way that was easily accessible

If you look at the market share, Apple has already lost, and they were never in contention to begin with. Then why is there so much hate against them, there are options, Apple’s walled garden is on option, and Android’s open source is another. Are people angry that they can’t do what they want with apples devices like Androids? Well fine, use and Android.

Androids 75% domination of the smartphone market is surprising, when Apple’s content, accessories and accessories business generates more revenues than any other mobile phone vendor other than Samsung. Apple only needs a 14% share to still dominate profits in the smartphone industry.

The “Open Source” no questions asked is also a bit of a front. Google holds its customers hostage to use it’s software in the same way as Apple of face being shut out forever. This article explains the true nature of Androids “Iron grip of Open Source” very well. I went to Reddit to see what their community response would be and the consensus was that Google is not a charity. It seems that on one hand people are happy to praise Google for their “Open Source” software, but when the reality is that it’s not really open at all, Google is just doing what they have to do to compete with Apple. Android accounts for 75% of the smartphone market, but Apple’s profits from the iPhone are second only to Samsung. While it’s all well and good praising Android, the truth is Google is only trying to backdoor its way into Apple’s domination as a singular company.

Social media is our loudest voice Week 10

Social media’s rising popularity has correlated with many recent political and world events. The Internet has long been considered the biggest opportunity we’ve ever had to spread democracy, so it is no surprise that people are starting to stand up and be heard in places like the Middle East in ways that would never have been possible before the Internet- Most notably, the revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests known as the Arab Spring that began in December of 2010. Social Media has always been intended to connect people, and in poverty stricken nations, those connections may not be just an easy way to organise a party or a meetup down at the local skate park. Social Media’s contributions in the Arab Spring must not be overstated, but Social Media is an amazing tool, and without it, the protests would very likely have been extremely less organised.

arab spring

As I looked to the infamous Wikipedia for a broad outline on the Arab Spring, I noticed that most of the details surrounding the Arab Spring left out the involvement of Social Media. Of course it was mentioned, at the end of the wikipedia article, but the article specifically focused on the demonstrations and protests throughout the many nations including Jordan, Morocco, Iraq, Egypt, and many others.

A Google search of “Arab Spring” didn’t lead to a mention of Social Media’s Involvement in the uprising until the 4th page, so while the debate on whether or not Social Media’s involvement had been overstated is quite valid, evidence suggests that Social Media did play a big role- as use of Social Media more than doubled in Arab countries during the protests. My opinion is that the ability of Social media to contribute to the uprising was substantial enough to warrant discussion of the new era of political protests that had been ushered in thanks to Social Media’s ability to connect people. Social Media’s contributions should be embraced, not debated. Social Media provided a platform for the people participating in the riots to organise and rally other supporters.

There was also debate that support from Western Countries like the United States was mainly restricted to Social Media. People from all around the world were helping to spread the message and encourage uprising through Twitter and Facebook. And while these people didn’t leave their homes, and contributed only through a computer screen, it is hell of a lot more of a contribution that what would have occurred in the past- before the Internet and Social Media.

Why should we discredit people from all around the world that were helping spread the message even further? Even if it was from the comfort of their own homes, why should we discourage them just because they didn’t jump on a plane to participate in the uprising with the people in Egypt or Iraq? Social Media has given us the opportunity the hear about these events from the actual people who are involved, and not through the filter of a Western media. Social media has given us the opportunity to reach out to these people, to connect to these people in the only way we know how.

Social Media is the loudest voice we currently have, and it is a lot more than we have ever had before, so why discredit that when we can embrace it?


KONY 2012 May Be Flawed, But Slacktivism Isn’t the Enemy. 2013. KONY 2012 May Be Flawed, But Slacktivism Isn’t the Enemy. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 9 October 2013].

John Conway: Notes on Slacktivism. 2013. John Conway: Notes on Slacktivism. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 8 October 2013].

Arab Spring – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 2013. Arab Spring – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 8 October 2013].

 The Australian. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 14 October 2013]. 

Twitter Revolution: How the Arab Spring Was Helped By Social Media – PolicyMic. 2013. Twitter Revolution: How the Arab Spring Was Helped By Social Media – PolicyMic. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 9 October 2013].

What the Arab Spring Tells Us About the Future of Social Media in Revolutionary Movements | Small Wars Journal. 2013. What the Arab Spring Tells Us About the Future of Social Media in Revolutionary Movements | Small Wars Journal. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 9 October 2013].



Citizen Journalism is keeping the mainstream media honest

Last week, CNN reported (live) during a police car chase involving a mentally ill woman in Washington DC claiming that the woman had crashed into a police car causing significant damage to the vehicle. An hour or so later, a witness uploaded a video of the incident (seen above). The video shows a police car (chasing noone) crashing into an automatic crash barrier, immobilising the police car immediately. CNN have since removed the video claiming that the woman caused the accident, but would this have happened had the footage of what really happened had not surfaced?

There is a lot of controversy surrounding the incident that briefly put the US capitol on lockdown. While the woman was shot dead before she caused any major trouble, police are being scrutinized over the use of deadly force in such a situation. While the law states that deadly force may only be used if the accused poses an immediate threat to the lives of those around them, it is being claimed that the women did not cause, or was not in immediate threat, to the lives of anyone around her.

Citizen Journalism is almost any instance when members of the public do what professional reporters. While the Internet didn’t create citizen journalism, it did make the ability to reach a widespread audience, with ease, possible. First hand accounts of the news and current events are the most reliable, while the information is raw, the truth is the only agenda.

People want to be apart of our culture, and reporting on live events is one of the easiest ways to do so. Social media platforms like Twitter make reaching a widespread audience possible. The ability to send text messages to thousands of people in a way that is accessible and nondisruptive is what encourages this spread of information.

We often fail to remember that mainstream media is big business, and it is in their best interests (financially) to run with whatever story is capable of drawing a bigger audience- News is nothing more than a product that they are selling to their audience.

It is a pretty widely accepted view that Professional journalism brought to us in the form of television media stations like Fox News are corrupt, biased corporations who manipulate the news to suit their agenda. In an age where professional journalism is having to compete with amatuer and citizen journalism, its not hard to understand why their credibility is deteriorating. News corporations act as gatekeepers of news that they think is most important to their audience. Does that ever include things that negatively portray their investors and owners? Citizen journalism is the only thing keeping mainstream media honest, and without it, our views of the world will only be more and more fabricated.

Mind your Media: ‘Citizen journalists should tap into what media overlooks’ – The Express Tribune. 2013. Mind your Media: ‘Citizen journalists should tap into what media overlooks’ – The Express Tribune. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 7 October 2013].

Citizen Journalism – What Is Citizen Journalism?. 2013. Citizen Journalism – What Is Citizen Journalism?. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 8 October 2013].

Raw DC Police Car Slams Into Automatic Barriers At Capitol Hill !! – YouTube. 2013. Raw DC Police Car Slams Into Automatic Barriers At Capitol Hill !! – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 7 October 2013].

Is online anonymity good or bad? (And is hacking immoral)

If you haven’t heard of it, Tor is an anonymous network that allows users to browse the Internet with anonymity. By redirecting traffic through relays Tor acts as a barrier between the users computer and the rest of the web. Tor was created with the sponsorship of the US Navy and 80% of Tor’s current yearly budget is still covered by the US Government. The US Government and its subsidiaries including its armed forces use Tor for such things as (From its website)

Militaries use Tor

  • Field agents: It is not difficult for insurgents to monitor Internet traffic and discover all the hotels and other locations from which people are connecting to known military servers. Military field agents deployed away from home use Tor to mask the sites they are visiting, protecting military interests and operations, as well as protecting themselves from physical harm.
  • Hidden services: When the Internet was designed by DARPA, its primary purpose was to be able to facilitate distributed, robust communications in case of local strikes. However, some functions must be centralized, such as command and control sites. It’s the nature of the Internet protocols to reveal the geographic location of any server that is reachable online. Tor’s hidden services capacity allows military command and control to be physically secure from discovery and takedown.
  • Intelligence gathering: Military personnel need to use electronic resources run and monitored by insurgents. They do not want the webserver logs on an insurgent website to record a military address, thereby revealing the surveillance.

While the US Military does itself use Tor for Military operations, as itself knows just how insecure the World Wide Web is, it is becoming widely accepted that the US is also using Tor to spy on people who access it and attempt to use it anonymously.

Earlier this month the FBI admitted to hacking the Tor network for the purpose of finding incriminating evidence on Freedom Hosting operator Eric Eoin Marques for his involvement in a child pornography operation. So the question is, if the FBI has the resources to hack in to Tor, why is the Military so open about using the service itself?

Tor has become a breeding ground for illegal activity because of its ability to allow anonymous connectivity and communication among its users. And as to the question of why the Military would fund a service that allows for bi-directional communication over the Internet where the source and destination cannot be determined by a mid-point is simple, the Internet is not secure. And who needs a secure and anonymous connection over the Internet more than the Military. Of course there was to be some unavoidable uses for the technology, but one of the original creators of Tor Michael Reed claims that those uses were likely to give more cover traffic to better hide what the Military wanted to use the network for.

So why then is the FBI now revealing that there are ways for Tor to be traced in certain circumstances? And if the FBI can hack into the network, can the “enemy” also track into the Military’s activity?

How media convergence is affected by capitalism

The Good

Media convergence will continue to grow as we achieve more and more technological advances, and from a realistic point of view, these advances will continue to amaze and enrich our lives. Which brings me to transmedia entertainment. The most interesting part of transmedia entertainment is transmedia story telling. Henry Jenkins wrote in September of 2013 that a concept known as ‘world building’ is increasingly foundational to discussions of transmedia storytelling. Transmedia storytelling and the concept of world building has become a foundation for almost all parts of our current media landscape. Our technology has become our world, and companies like Apple are building worlds around their products that exist parallel to our lives. It is a form of culture that is becoming more than just an extension of our lives, and we feel connected in a way that is almost life like.

World building is an amazing concept because it is accompanying almost all forms of entertainment. From music to film, cross platform integration gives it a sense of reality in a way that could never have been acheived without the convergence of many media platforms. And because of the increasing intergration with our lives and these platforms, world building feel as real as ever.

The Bad

So what exactly drives media convergence? I’d like to think that it’s our desire to have the latest technology, to further the development of our existence, and make our lives more enjoyable, but it seems more likely that the desire to sell more and more products in our consumer driven economy is the real driving force.

Take Apple for example, Apple’s business model is to release a new phone every 12 months, with just enough new technology added to entice its existing customers to upgrade. Which begs me to question what they are leaving out of the newest iPhone 5c in preparation for the next upgrade in 12 months time? Every time a new technology is discovered or released, it is a new opportunity for companies to make more money, and that drives the development, but are we buying into a never ending cycle?