Tech Religions

You’ve had the argument. If you are remotely interested or involved with computers and have friends who are, you’ve had the argument. Depending on which side of the fence you, depends on who you think started it all. I’m talking about the PC-Mac divide. It can be worse than listening to your Young Liberal friend argue economic policy with your Greens friend. For the sake of disclosure – I use a PC. Always have, but can’t say I always will. My netbook was a gift and I appreciate it and love it and love the fact that I can buy cheap parts to upgrade it. It also has a 10″ screen so I don’t feel like I will ever need an iPad. I do feel like a traitor when I see my friends’ shiny MacBook Pros, with their prettiness and sleek interface and the amazing media projects they produce. Then I remind myself that they paid about $800 just for the Apple symbol on the back and that Apple employees in China are exploited. Although I’m still not totally convinced I’ll never buy one.

This article makes me laugh, mainly because I haven’t jumped the PC ship yet. What we learn in Net Communications is not just about how we communicate with other people online, but how we communicate with the technology itself and with the new and different mediums that have been created. Obviously, the Mac/PC argument isn’t  new, it’s been around since the 1980s. A sign of how far it is going is the MRI scan’s findings that “When images of Apple products were displayed in front of him, his brain reacted the same way a religious follower’s brain reacts when they are shown imagery associated with their religion.”

Is Mac the new religion? Will we be seeing peace talks between Mac and PC users in fifty years time? Is Steve Jobs the latest cult leader? He kind of is already, seeing as his health weighs so heavily on Apple stock prices.

Is this a normal way to react with technology? Personally I hope this doesn’t become the norm. I question everything, even things I absoloutely without question love, I question. We need to question our technology too, otherwise it might do stuff we don’t like – think about all those times you sigh and go and change your Facebok privacy settings again because Mark Zuckerberg decided your saturday night pictures needed to run free to your grandparents and bosses… If we don’t question it, what will it do without us?

And on the Mac/PC note I decided some Youtube would be fun

Advertisements

Being dead online

It’s not something we usually like to think about – death. I know I generally avoid thinking about it, just like other things I don’t want to do any time soon, clean my room, apply for a real job, study for exams. But other people are thinking about death and thinking about what happens to their online selves after they die. It’s kind of heavy stuff, but of course someone has found a way to make money off it. Legacy Locker is a website that  promises to execute your online will. You can organise who gets the passwords to your Facebook, your Twitter, Flickr, Youtube channel, and probably even your WordPress blog as well. You can also leave a message so that person knows what to do with them, to close them down, remove photos, make them private, or broadcast your passing to your friends and followers.

I find it all a bit weird, this article here talks about people whose partners have tweeted or updated to let others know that they have passed away. To b honest, even though I found out Osama bin Laden died on Twitter I would prefer a phone call if it was a friend or loved one I was finding out about. In the past year, a teacher from my high school passed away really suddenly and my mum found out by a phone call. Even though I wanted to share how I felt with my friends, I knew it wasn’t right to put it on Facebook – I never know who is looking. Someone else didn’t think the same way I did and posted “RIP” and the teacher’s name. The comments were “What?!?!” basically over and over again. To me, it seemed a bit wrong that this person had no control over what people were saying about her.

It’s a bit different with the generations that grew up with this technology, a young person who passed away recently in my home town has a Facebook that seems like a fitting memorial now. In the first days since he died, his Facebook wall was full of messages of people expressing how much they missed him – many more than the death notices in the paper the next week. Now, a month later people are still using the page as a way to share their memories and tell their friend what’s going on.

These experiences are obviously not very individual and they will become more common as our generation grows up. Some people will worry about privacy and what should or shouldn’t be shared or made public. In a weird way, it’s good that creepy services such as Legacy Locker are available because it is something that more and more people in our generation will think about, as we are almost completely networked online and people who feel strongly enough about it need a way to have control. I think what this shows, is that we have moved on from the question of what should be put online and what should be published – because the way we interact with technology is moving at a pace that everything is moving past that question. The new questions are how should news like this be published and when? and who to?

legal labyrinths online

This post is about an example of how legislation and privacy are being dealt with in Australia. I’m talking about Fairfax journalist Ben Grubb and his arrest after posting this article online. He was covering AusCERT, a tech convention in Queensland where a security expert demonstrated how he could access photos with high security settings on Facebook. In front of an audience, Christian Heinrich showed how quickly and easily he could find the photos of the wife of Chris Gatford (another security expert, apparently the two are not friends).

Grubb was arrested, not for reporting on the event, but because he got Heinrich to send him the photos after the demonstration – according to Queensland police, this was accepting stolen goods, just like a stolen car. He reported on his experience here, talking about how scared he was. Wouldn’t we all be scared? Police let him go, and eventually gave him his iPad back too. They said that they were still learning how to react in the online world to security issues of this nature. This also ties into the Brocial Network that I have also blogged about.

This incident brings up many issues and questions.

-What is private and what is not? Will anything ever be private?

-The people making and enforcing legislation online don’t always understand what they are doing and are often falling behind the times.

-Anyone who publishes or re-publishes something needs to be ready for the legal implications.

This is a quick wrap up of the Australian laws pertaining to this issue:

Facebook’s Privacy Policy states that users can use the copy and paste functions to capture any information from Facebook. The men in the Brocial Network group may have infringed the privacy rights of the women whose photos they had appropriated, but the property was not unlawfully obtained. Presently, there is no right to privacy at common law or under legislation in Australia.

Companies like Facebook are subject to the Commonwealth Privacy Act 1988 which governs the use, disclosure, collection and storage of personal data of Australian residents by companies. The Privacy Act does not, however, apply to individuals, and there is also an exemption for the media (though there is a set of Privacy Standards which have been developed by the Australian Press Council which its member media organisations are committed to observe).

It comes from this article by Veronica Scott and Kate Ballis.

networked cultures – going brocial

So last week it was reported in The Age that there was a group on Facebook calling themselves “The Brocial Network.” The purpose of this all-male group was to share photos of their female Facebook friends in revealing clothing – sometimes without their knowledge. The group had about 8000 members, including some AFL players and possibly friends of mine, or yours. This group and the way in which it was published is relevant to many of the topics covered in Net Communications this semester. The issues of privacy online, of networked cultures and sharing online are all represented in this group. Also relevant, is that the journalist who broke the story is still studying at university and has her own blog. Kara Irving could have published her scoop on her blog by herself but know that she needed the backing of an elite media institution and its front page to get coverage.

The Brocial Network highlights that nothing is private on Facebook, or anywhere on the internet – even if we share our photos and information only with our friends we don’t know how far we can trust them – especially when some friends are only acquaintances. We can’t trust in the system to keep us safe either, the Brocial Network was pulled down by Facebook, not because of the sharing of the pictures but because they broke Facebook rules by some of the users using fake identities.

This is an example of a networked culture which share materials for a shared aim – it’s gross to think about but it’s true. Although networked cultures are often idealised and exulted in the media and academia, the same principles can be used for very sinister purposes.

Does anyone else feel that the Brocial Network sets a scary precedent in terms of privacy and sharing? Should Facebook be responsible for these types of groups?

Sharing or exposing information?

Mark Zuckerberg - Hero?

Some Rights reserved by blogpocket

Week 5.

Analyse critically the following statement by Mark Zuckerberg while comparing it to privacy issues raised by online social networking collaborative practices:

Mark Zuckerberg was extremely optimistic about the power of sharing our information in the video previously posted here, but my question is, who is empowered by the millions of people sharing their information online? Is it the people losing job opportunities because they have well-documented Saturday nights? Or is it the advertisers targeting every user because of their age and what they and their friends have “liked”?

The buzzwords of the video were sharing, privacy, information and control. Out of those buzzwords, privacy and control seem to be the most difficult to achieve. Danah Boyd’s work on the topic is interesting she says “When the default is hyper-public, individuals are not simply able to choose what they wish to expose – they have to choose what they wish to hide.” (2008:16). I’m an extremely private person on Facebook and agree with Boyd that we shouldn’t be made to feel unusual or wrong if we don’t want to tell our 400 “friends” the minute details of our lives – especially when those “friends” are increasingly including employers, professional contacts, parents, aunts and uncles and (in my case at least!) grandparents.

Education about privacy settings and what they mean is lacking. Most people don’t realise that the information they provide could be enough for someone to steal their identity and Mark Zuckerberg isn’t telling them. Boyd discusses exposure and invasion, two elements that are important in social convergence – basically what social networking online is. These elements are not mentioned at all in Zuckerberg’s video – he doesn’t want people thinking about their negative connotations.

Boyd makes a striking comparison in relation to Facebook and information “Facebook gives the ‘gift’ of infinite social information, but this can feel too much like the One Ring – precious upfront, but destructive long-term.” (2008:18) This is an interesting idea, that we could be destructed by sharing our information.

Increasingly, I’m wondering about information as a commodity. If anyone asked what commodity Mark Zuckerberg traded in, it would be information. He provides a massive service free worldwide (Except in China) which would be impossible without something in return. We give a bit of information, some more and some less, and he gives us a worldwide meeting place.

If we’re trading information with Mark Zuckerberg have we got what we bargained for? Are we empowered by sharing this information? My answer is, no. Are we any closer to solving the world’s problems or are we just buying Mark Zuckerberg’s next Pacific Island when we say something else an advertiser can use?? Well the world’s problems aren’t really going anywhere, and Zuckerberg might want to choose an island somewhere other than the Pacific, because Japan is dumping radioactive water there. Or maybe he thinks Facebook can fix that?

Bibliography.

Boyd, D. ‘Facebook’s Privacy Trainwreck: Exposure, Invasion and Social Convergence’, Convergence: The International Journal into New Media Technologies 14.4 (2008): 13-20

Journalism and Facebook

 

This links to the page about how Facebook helps Journalists which is interesting because it shows how collaborative practices can work in a practical sense. I find that ethically, this page may have issues for many writers. The idea of ownership and exclusivity is ultra important in the journalism industry which is massively competitive.  Open Source sites like IndyMedia and bloggers-as-journalists would like this but I can’t see this working for the average News Ltd paper. This idea is good but works against some of the most ingrained principles of old style journalism. Axel Bruns believes that a product produced by a large group of unqualified individuals can be better than something by a small group of professionals but in some cases we need the professionals!

How private is private?

Some rights reserved by Roebot

I thought this picture from an iPhone Facebook app was really interesting to contrast with the previous video I posted of Mark Zuckerberg talking about privacy and control because this shows that people don’t have full control over their information. I know lots people have iPhone Facebook apps and no one has asked me yet if I’m okay with Facebook having information about me…