A Man Walks Into A Bar…. I’m Not Allowed To Say The Rest

The old gossip in me wants to bring up the old tale of Ryan Giggs’ affair with Imogen Thomas.  Also pointing out that Imogen Thomas was not so happy about it claiming that she was not able to afford a super injunction. This created much debate on the controversy on the super injunction and what the media can hide from us.


One of many front pages stories about this tale.

For instance, Jo Moore brings up the theory of burying bad news, in that the press chooses suitable days to release bad press onto the public. For instance on September 11th during the terrorists attack, it was revealed about councillor’s expenses.

Chomsky et. al. expresses how dubious they are of the media, claiming that we should question the integrity of the press and how it is biased (1995). Similarly, Monck wants us to consider demanding the media for stories “we need as citizens” (2008:2).


Noam Chomsky

Antonio Gramsci describes the hegemony; the domination of the ruling class of course creating ideologies and beliefs. Telling us that we do not actually have the power to think for ourselves; creating a hypodermic needle effect (Branston et. al. 2006).

Although my previous blog posts have questioned how valuable information on the internet is (ironic I know), perhaps I should highlight the impact and use of good the internet has brought us, arguably creating a more democratic environment (Bell, 2001).

For instance the London Riots could not have been a more organised without the use of Blackberry messenger, with The Guardian claiming that police were looking on Facebook and Twitter for details of the perpetrators, when really they should have been looking on Blackberry messenger. Similarly, Biswas et. al. investigates the important role blogging has con concerning freedom of expression (2008).

Maybe it is debatable that these acts of liberating riots would have happened regardless, without the use of technology as a tool, although it is arguable that these were successful acts due to ubiquitous computing making communication that much quicker (Greenfield, 2006). Although it is not possible to filter out content on the internet to make it democratically as Keen would like (2007), perhaps if we sourced our information from independent blogs we are able to form our own opinions and question what we read that is shoved in front of us as Chomsky suggests.


Bell, David (2001). An Introduction To Cybercultures. London: Routledge.

Biswas, Masudul et Porter, Lance. (2008). States of Emergency – “Limited” Press Freedom and the Role of Blogs – A Bangledesh Context.. Journal of New Communications Research. 3 (1), p25-40.

Branston, G et Stafford, Roy (2006 ). The Media Student’s Book. 4th ed. London: Routledge.

Cadwalladr, Carol. (2011). Imogen Thomas: ‘What I did was wrong. But I was treated horribly’. Available: http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2011/dec/18/imogen-thomas-faces-2011-giggs. Last accessed 11 Dec 2013.

Chomsky, Noam et Herman, Edward (1995). Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. USA: Vintage Press.

Greenfield, Adam (2006). Everyware : the dawning age of ubiquitous computing . California: New Riders.

Halliday, Josh. (2011). London riots: how BlackBerry Messenger played a key role. Available: http://www.theguardian.com/media/2011/aug/08/london-riots-facebook-twitter-blackberry. Last accessed 11 Dec 2013

Keen, A (2007). The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet Is Killing Our Culture. London: Currency

Monck, Adrian (2008). Can You Trust the Media?. London: Icon Books

Sparrow, Andrew. (2001). Sept 11: ‘a good day to bury bad news’.Available: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1358985/Sept-11-a-good-day-to-bury-bad-news.html. Last accessed 11 Dec 2013.

The Telegraph. (2012). Ryan Giggs finally gives up anonymity over Imogen Thomas ‘affair’. Available: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/9095826/Ryan-Giggs-finally-gives-up-anonymity-over-Imogen-Thomas-affair.html. Last accessed 11 Dec 2013

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Is this Real Life or a Computer Game?

It is no surprise that like with many of new technologies, computers and gaming have developed through time (Jenkins, 2006). The very early video games have expanded from A.S Doglas and his adaption of OXO

Which then caught onto the MIT’s computer enthusiasts who created Spacewar! To then the mass produced computer game Computer Space of 1971. In 1972 The Magnavox Odyssey became the first home console, which then later added a peripheral such as the Light Gun.

Where the competitive competition started was in the 1980s to 90s, where Sega not only created their Sega Mega Drive console, but a mascot. Likewise, Nintendo debuted Mario, another family friendly mascot whereby the consumer can then identify the game console with this cartoon character.

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Mario Vs Sonic

With the competition not only progressing with more game console companies and avatars, it became more soaked in with out culture, with coverage on the battle between the consoles as if they were sport matches. Terry Flew investigates video game culture and the rise of Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMPORG) and believes that the escapism aspect of being able to identify and live through an avatar vicariously is what appeals to the audience (2005).

To live vicariously is certainly evident in the game America’s Army, a free downloadable computer game. America’s Army was subject to criticism that felt that the game exploited young gamers whereby it glamorised joining the army; a propaganda. Zhan Li claims that America’s Army forces militant views on society with little respect on the moral side of war, acting as a hypodermic needle to encourage young gamers to join the army (2004).

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America’s Army

Perhaps this is something to consider, as we perhaps take for granted how much we rely on games. Johan Huizinga describes how significant games culture is in that “Play is older than culture” and that to understand play is important as it is not only instinctive to understand our society through this but it can also provide a need for relaxation (2002). Similarly, Scott Bukatman claims that “the spatio-temporal malleability of the computer world can seem to cross over to the physical world, replacing the fixed rhythms of real life” (2000:154). So, with gaming being a fundamental process of growing up and becoming more culturally aware, perhaps we should be more considerate on what it is that we are playing and how much with identify with our avatars to pave our own reality? Tim Jordan believes so, concurring that “virtual societies mean the reinvention of all that is familiar” (1999:2).

Perhaps Marshall McLuhan will best sum up the answer to this question with “Men at once become fascinated by any extension of themselves” (1995:41).


Bukatman, Scott. (2000). Fun in Cyberspace. In: Bell, David et Kennedy, Barbara The Cybercultures Reader. London: Routledge. 149 – 175.

Edwards, Benji. (2011). Computer Space and the Dawn of the Arcade Video Game. Available: http://technologizer.com/2011/12/11/computer-space-and-the-dawn-of-the-arcade-video-game/. Last accessed 11 Dec 2013.

Flews, Terry (2005). Games: Technology, Industry, Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Jenkins, Henry (2006). Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: New York University Press

Jordan, Tim (1999). Cyberpower: The Culture and Politics of Cyberspace and The Internet. London: Routledge.

Kamen, Matt et Webber, Jordan. (2013). PlayStation 4 vs Xbox One: The next-gen consoles compared. Available: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/dec/01/xbox-one-versus-playstation-4-review. Last accessed 11 Dec 2013.

Huizinga, Johan (2002). Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play. Italy: Einaudi.

Li, Zhan. (2004). The Potential of America’s Army the Video Game as Civilian-Military Public Sphere . The MIT Press.

McLuhan, Marshall (1995). Understanding Media: The Extension of Man. 3rd ed. USA: MIT Press.

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Is Art Changing Or Are We Just Throwing A Few Pixels In The Mix?

Following on from intellectual property, and the notion of creative texts being online easier to access. I will move onto art. Dadaism is known as art against art, with Marcel Duchamp at the front line who claimed that the “creative act is not performed by the artist alone and the the viewer also brings something to the art.” For instance the clip below of John Cage’s famous 4 minutes 33, exudes this example perfectly where there is not much to look at as such, but evokes discussion and comprises many elements into an art form.

This characteristic can be compared to various other forms of art such as the fluxus movement where it pushed boundaries of what art can be. What I find interesting is how similar some of the examples of fluxus movements are to internet technology of today. For example with Mail Art allows people to join in with ease.

Picture 2

 Example of Mail Art

Additionally another movement that holds similar trait to these is the computer art, where Lopes describes the movement as very engaging, the use of interactivity and even claims that “Without a doubt, computers have changed art and the practice of art” (2010:xiii). Below is an example whereby it pushes the definition of what is art (Lopes, 2010).

So where does that leave us now? As art is constantly developing and thriving, and with the new development of Web 2.0, there is now the explosion of internet memes, whereby the dictionary defines it as…

Picture 1

 This explosion of the new aesthetic is described as “participatory culture” (Jenkins, 1992) whereby the success of a meme (as described) depends on how viral it can spread.

Picture 5

Picture 6

Example of popular memes (such as Almost Politically Correct Red Neck as shown here) are shown on the website Know Your Meme who also include a chart showing how popular and how viral a meme has spread.

This of course invites cynics who do not consider internet memes as the new art form, and perhaps with the birth of technology, we have become less creative and rely on computers to become creative for us.

 However, perhaps this is too cynical, and the new aesthetic is far more creative than we give credit to. Internet memes are comparable to the Mail Art movement as demonstrated previously. Jenkins describes participatory culture to having “relatively low barriers to artistic expression (…), strong support for creating and sharing creations with others (…), members who believe that their contributions matter and members who feel the same degree of social connection with one another” (2009:5). This is clearly seen with Mail Art , whereby people can take on a different position within this art form (creating and viewing) showing their appreciation of this art development. Mail Art promotes people joining in as the art goes viral to places. But…Is this not seen with Internet Memes? Perhaps, they are not that different? Especially as they are very easy to create now with certain websites. Burges points out that due to the internet, creativity can be far more “DIY, free-for-all” (2009:95). If we were to turn our nose up on Internet Memes we should question previous art movements and evaluate if they are really all too different.

With glitches also taking over reminding us that we are in a technology soaked culture where by we can immediately recognize these effects, Russell Davies describes this as “culturally agnostic”. So perhaps this is an art form in itself, whereby it defines our culture and we can relate to it. Or as Sterling, who compares the Internet Memes to the dada movement, describes the New Aesthetic as a positive movement to encourage collective intelligence.


Artlyst. (2009). Dada; A movement of artists against art.. Available: http://www.artlyst.com/member-articles/dada-a-movement-of-artists-against-art. Last accessed 11 Dec 2013.

Burgess, Jean (2009). YouTube : online video and participatory culture. Cambridge: Polity.

Jackson, Robert. (2012). The Banality of The New Aesthetic. Available: http://www.furtherfield.org/features/reviews/banality-new-aesthetic. Last accessed 11 Dec 2013.

Jenkins, Henry (2009). Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. USA: The MIT Press.

Jenkins, Henry (2013). Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture (Postmillennial Pop). New York: New York University Press .

Lopes, Dominic (2009). A Philosophy of Computer Art. London: Routledge.

Paik, Nam June. (2013). Fluxus, Performance, Participation. Available: http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/exhibition/nam-june-paik/nam-june-paik-room-guide/nam-june-paik-section-2. Last accessed 11 Dec 2013.

Davies quoted by Rhizome. (2012). RECOMMENDED READING: An Essay on the New Aesthetic. Available: http://rhizome.org/editorial/2012/apr/4/recommended-reading-essay-new-aesthetic/. Last accessed 11 Dec 2013.

Rocola, Robert . (2004). Spark John Held Jr.. Available: http://www.kqed.org/arts/programs/spark/profile.jsp?essid=4489. Last accessed 11 Dec 2013.

Sorrel, Charlie. (2013). Forget Fake Film Effects: Glitché Adds Fake Digital Glitches To Your iPhoneography. Available: http://www.cultofmac.com/239613/forget-fake-film-effects-glitche-adds-fake-digital-glitches-to-your-iphoneography/. Last accessed 11 Dec 2013.

Sterling, Bruce. (2012). An Essay on the New Aesthetic. Available: http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2012/04/an-essay-on-the-new-aesthetic. Last accessed 11 Dec 2013.

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When The Cosumer Becomes The Consumed

Maybe I take back that previous blog title that the internet is the new hip place to be at. Maybe it’s actually a bit uncool, and business like, as Stallabrass calls it the “online clash of culture and commerce” (2003).

As you can arguably find anything online (Bell, 2001) the internet has provided a platform for e-commerce, pop up adverts and spam. The commercialization of the internet, is described well by this post in that “The commercialization of the Internet turns this instrument into the greatest publishing machine and the greatest book store in the world.

Perhaps that is exactly the problem, anyone who is anyone can contribute to the great knowledge of the web with almost free reign. Keen describes the death of the internet, whereby blogs are getting churned out so regularly, the over population will then end up confusing popular opinion “about everything from politics, to commerce, to arts and culture.”(2007) due to the problem that people are so easily able to become the writer aswell as the reader of material on the internet (Keen, 2007) .

Bolter investigates the problem of the internet being a platform for all voices to be heard, in that “the publication in this medium is both easy and almost restricted. The transition from reader to writer is completely natural” (1991:29). What this demonstrates is that the messages and replies can blur and that there is little concern for the original message.

Bolter further discusses that pre-internet times, when we receive a letter, we can physically hold it in our hands, where as stealing information through it being passed seems to loose its touch (2009). Reminding me of what Geraint Williams (2013) had once described that when somebody steals music online they see this……


Mumbo Jumbo Data Talk

and not this…..


The Physical CD Itself

But perhaps they should not identify with the second image as Lawrence Lessig suggests. Whereby Lessig’s definition of piracy is that downloading material is not theft as it does not directly takes away the hard copy, it merely just replicates it. The concept of copyright is far more blurred as, Araya suggests, where by “each individual naturally creates from previous creations” (2011:101). For instance, let us look at The Grey Album Gate, whereby the DJ and creator of the album could not get rights for The Beatles samples used for the album; despite The Beatles allowing DJ Danger Mouse to their music. Arguably, this is stifling creativity.

This is where Creative Commons steps in, whereby it gives authors the right for their intellectual content to be copied, distributed and create more art with some of the rights reserved, enabling “individuals in the digital culture scenario not only consume information but also produce it”.

An explanation of Creative Commons.

So is this the problem to a commercialized internet stifling creativity? Perhaps not, as Gordon – Murnane lists the fundamental problems surrounding Creative Commons that is worth addressing and people should be aware of. Similarly, Bobbi Newman describes the problem she encountered, whereby it was almost too easy to change the license.

Perhaps there is no easy solution? Perhaps the clash, Stallarman describes, of culture and commerce cannot both reside together. Key figure on this subject William Patry, sees the friction and blurred boundaries of the copyright laws too. When Patry asks us to redefine what copy means, he also concludes by saying “There is no hope for the future if it is merely a continuation of a failed past.”


Araya, Elizabeth Roxana Mass. (2011). Creative commons: A convergence model between the ideal of commons and the possibilities of creation in contemporary times, opposed to copyright impediments. . Information Services & Use. 31 (3/4), 101-109.

Bolter, David Jay (1991). Writing Space: The Computer, Hypertext and the History. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates: Oxford.

Gordon- Murnane, Laura . (2010). Creative Commons: Copyright Tools for the 21st Century. Available: http://www.infotoday.com/online/jan10/Gordon-Murnane.shtml. Last accessed 11 Dec 2013.

Keen, A (2007). The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet Is Killing Our Culture. London: Currency

Lessig, Lawrence . (2013). Free Culture. Available: http://www.authorama.com/free-culture-8.html. Last accessed 11 Dec 2013.

Newman, Bobbi. (2013). The Danger of Using Creative Commons Flickr Photos in Presentations. Available: http://librarianbyday.net/2013/01/27/the-danger-of-using-creative-commons-flickr-photos-in-presentations/. Last accessed 11 Dec 2013.

Patry, William. (2012). We need to redefine what ‘copy’ means.Available: http://www.theguardian.com/law/2012/mar/13/how-to-fix-copyright-extract. Last accessed 11 Dec 2013.

Stallabrass, J (2003). Internet Art : The Online Clash of Culture and Commerce. Tate Publishing: London.

Umstätter, Walter . (1996). The commercialisation of the Internet.Available: http://www.ib.hu-berlin.de/~wumsta/pub95.html. Last accessed 11 Dec 2013.

Walker, Robert. (2004). The Grey Album. Available: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/21/magazine/21CONSUMED.html. Last accessed 11 Dec 2013.

Williams, Geraint (2013). Ethical Hacking. Presentation at The University of Bedfordshire. 20th November, 2013

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The Internet! The New Hip Place To Be At.

So, it maybe pretty evident from my previous posts, or from current news stories that get told everyday, but incase you have been living under a rock (or shall we say, on the other side of the digital divide…) there is always a debate on how scary the internet is. O’hara et al. investigates this, but also the case of substituting people for their online presence, drawing on the quote “the disappearance of the body” (2008:1). Similarly, Garfinkel warns us on the trial of our lives we may leave online without realising (2000).

However, it is not all negative. Bell et al. informs us that leaving fragments of our lives online is a positive aspect in that when using the internet, we “will be able to summon up everything you have ever seen, heard, or done. And you will be in total control” (2009:3). As after all, it takes up virtually no time nor money to upload our “2012 Christmas memories” or “Ibiza with the girls” picture album onto Facebook, nor the messages we can keep of gossiping, heart to hearts or amusing conversations. As “soon you will be able to record your entire life digitally. It’s possible, affordable, and beneficial” (Bell, 2009:3).


Or your conversations can be up for everyone to remember also!

However, this is of course assuming everyone has the internet. And perhaps we take this far too much in vain. We ask people “Are you on Facebook?” with the same act of casualness and expectancy of “Do you drink?” or “Do you have a mobile phone?” or “Do you have friends?” If someone says no to any of the above, we look confused and wonder, why not? I’ve even heard conversations where someone admitted they didn’t have a Facebook profile and the reply was “What have you got to hide?”

Well… what if that person doesn’t have anything to hide? They just weren’t connected to the global village? This is when the new binary opposition sets in: those who are connected to the internet, and those who are not. The Digital Divide. Flew describes that the reason for this divide can “arise from the broader social inequalities based upon social class and income, occupation, gender, race and ethnicity” (2003:71). So perhaps maybe the digital divide is not so much about choice, but income to have this luxury, or seeing the need for it in their lives. As “the most extreme digital divide is between the so-called “First World” economics (…) and the “Third World” (ibid). More so, Bauerlein describes the population of people who do not have broadband as the “digital immigrants” whereby they have to learn a whole new world; the digital world (2011).


A 2008 Chart

Flew tells us that the USA used to be ahead of the league as the nation with the most internet activity, but now it is falling behind to other countries. While, I’d imagine this may seem positive to some people that we are not all relying on the world wide web to function (Neil Postman). It is terrifying to many, as the below excerpt tells us that there is so much that we need to do to function in society relies on our access to the internet.

Likewise, Obama expressed his fear and promised that Every Child will be Online, as he believes this will help the economy and help children develop skills and find employment online.

Todd Sparks, summarises it well, that when we are using the internet, we are “leaving many behind, even with the greatest intentions of our government, nationally and locally.” It seems that when we ask people if they are on Facebook, we are taking it for granted they have access. While it seems frightening that we rely on the internet so much for information, interactivity and for social security, perhaps it is more frightening that it seems to be broadening the class divide more so, as Flew suggests.

Who knows maybe in the next generation I won’t be telling my children to finish their brussell sprouts, instead I’ll be commanding “Spend another half an hour on Wikipedia! There are starving digital children all over the world”.


Bauerlien, Mark (2011) The Digital Divide: Arguments for and Against Facebook, Google, Texting, and the Age of Social Networking. USA: Tarcher Publishing

Bell, Gordon et Gemmell, Jim (2009) Total Recall: How the E – Memory Revolution Will Change Everything. Boston: E P Dutton & Co

Flew, Terry (2003)New Media: An Introduction 2nd Edition.  Oxford: Oxford University Press

Garfinkel, Simson (2000) Database Nation: The Death of Privacy in the 21st Century. MA: O’Reilley Media

O’Hara, Kieron et Shadbolt, Nigel (2008) The Spy in the Coffee Machine: The End of Privacy As We Know It. London: Oneworld Publications.

Sparks, Todd. (2011). Digital Divide Versus Digital Inequality . Available: http://bsucalu.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/digital-divide-versus-digital-inequality/. Last accessed 18 Nov 2013.

Williams, Martyn. (2008). Obama Outlines Plan to Put Every Child Online. Available: http://www.pcworld.com/article/155103/obama_tech_plan.html. Last accessed 11 Dec 2013.

Wylie, Alice. (2013). The Digital Divide . Available: http://smileywylie95digitaldivide.blogspot.co.uk/. Last accessed 11 Dec 2013.

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Augmented People The Cyborgs Part 2

The strengthening relationship between humans and technologies (Bell, 2001) reminds me of my previous blog post on Augmented People.

Hayles claims that “the prospect of becoming post human both evokes terror and excites pleasure” (1999:283). Maybe it is seen as a positive due some functions such as the pace maker, hearing aids, artificial limbs etc whereby it gives the illusion that the human body can last longer (eternity?) providing we replace the organics that are failing. Furthermore Moravec claims that humans can either deteriorate or embrace these new technologies (1998).

Estes comments on how becoming post human is almost inevitable, in that “The dream of the cyborg is becoming true at an exhilarating rate.” Additionally that as humans are developing their knowledge more on machines, they are also developing as humans once they are equipped with these new technologies (2013).

This is all seemingly to be quite positive; so when does it get too threatening? When do we say stop? And how life like can it be?  Kevin Warwick warns that artificial intelligence is “no longer merely copying human intelligence – now it could be intelligent in its own way” (2002:1). Are we as humans scared of creating something beyond our control? This seems eerily comparable to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein novel, whereby Victor creates a monster beyond his control resulting in the demise of both the creator and the monster… should we take note of this?


Perhaps us soon?

Stelarc thinks not and directly tells us that we should abandon the “Frankenstein fear of tampering with bodies” (quoted by Bell 2000: 556). Moreover Stelarc gives the view that the more mechanical we are the better, in that “hollowing out the body means (…) getting rid of all the primitive bad programming – emotions, subjectivity, humanness” (Bell, 2001:144). Giving the opinion that we should let this new technology flourish and not fear of it. As Stelarc is such an advocate of post-humanism and promotes the post human manifesto (Bell, 2000).

Brooks speaks of the robot revolution as that “Our relationships with these machines will be different from all previous machines. The coming robotics revolution will change the fundamental nature of our society” (2003) So although as you can see there are many positive examples on the post human manifesto, what are the disadvantages of allowing ourselves become robots?

I cannot fathom the thought of a machine complying with what Warwick envisions in that artificial intelligence can mimic the thought process of a human being is perhaps because I am over complicating it. I believe that the human mind is constantly in flux, and due to cultural upbringing having an effect, it is too complicated to replicate. However, Marvin Minksy claims that actually people already think and behave in the way a machine does, in that we both behave in a logical systematic way (2007).

Perhaps this is why I feel so reserved to jump onto the post-human bandwagon, as although I feel positive towards creating machines to replace the squishy failing human parts as Stelarc suggests, I wonder who will ultimately control our mechanical brains and thoughts? This is something Mark Dery queries and claims that “post humanism begins to look like eternal torment rather than Edenic digital immortality” (Bell et. al. 2000:559), which rings true to Frankenstein far too similarly for my liking!


Bell, David (2001) An Introduction to Cyberculture. London: Routledge

Bell, David et Kennedy, Barbara (2000). The Cybercultures Reader. London: Routledge

Brooks, R (2003) Flesh and Machines: How Robots Will Change Us. London: Vintage Press

Estes, Adam. (2013). How close are we to full-fledged cyborgs?. Available: http://www.stuff.co.nz/technology/gadgets/9308422/How-close-are-we-to-full-fledged-cyborgs. Last accessed 11 Dec 2013.

Hayles, N K (1999) How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics. USA: University of Chicago Press

Minksy, M (2007)The Emotion Machine: Commonsense Thinking, Artificial Intelligence, and the Future of the Human Mind. London: Simon & Schuster

Moravec, H (1998) Robot: Mere Machine to Transcendent Mind. USA: Oxford University Press

Pepperell, Robert. (2013). The Posthuman Manifesto. Available: http://www.robertpepperell.com/Posthum/gener.htm. Last accessed 11 Dec 2013.

Warwick, K (2002) Artificial Intelligence: The Basics. London: Routledge

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The World White Web

It is evident that technology is everywhere, “in different contexts and take a wide variety of forms, but it will affect every one of us, whether we’re aware of it or not” (Greenfield 2006:9) due its ubiquity nature.

As technology is so saturated in today’s civilization we do not even realise we leave traces of our shopping habits when using loyalty cards, our date of birth on social networking sites and shopping habits when we peruse the internet. Marketers use our online data to send suitable offers (Solove, 2004). Garfinkel concurs stating that “it is no longer remarkable that such detailed profile of a person could be constructed from publicly available sources” (2000:87). This inevitably means that we are being patrolled, as when we are using these technologies we are leaving fragments of our lives (Staples, 2000). Lyon brings up that if in the 1970s we would not have believed we would be monitored to the extent of ensuring we were not loitering however, we have now evolved into an age where by this level of casual surveillance becomes natural (2007).

Due to using these ubiquitous technology, we have become too familiarised and not even recognise it as technology anymore (Greenfield, 2006). This constant stream of surveillance, where no matter what we do we will be watched, eerily mimics George Orwell’s novel 1984 (1949). Brin acknowledges this, questioning if we have “entered an Orwellian nightmare?” (1999:4).

Foucault describes in Discipline and Punish (1977) the idea of the panopticon, whereby “a state of conscious and permanent visibility assures the automatic functioning of power” (1977:201). What Foucault describes here is a mechanism of discipline to ensure order. However, Solove claims that the idea of the pantopicon in society is that people obey, not because they are being watched, but the fear of it (2004).

To discuss George Orwell’s novel 1984’s (1949) impact on society it only seems relevant to include the television series Big Brother, which was based on the Big Brother state Orwell imagined. Big Brother displays a “synoptican form of totalitarianism” (Al-Hakim 2007:106). Jade Goody, a contestant on Celebrity Big Brother 5, became under scrutiny as the public witnessed Goody refer Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetley as “Shilpa Popadom”. From the public watching Jade’s every action her blight of ignorance did not become unnoticed and she quickly became a hated figure.


Jade not so Goody

However, Jade Goody’s case is not unusual, especially with the aid of technology allowing us to send and receive information quicker than before (Bell 2001). People of the public who were not willing to be watched constantly on a game show like Jade Goody, can also be victims. An incident occurred on a subway in Korea where a girl refused to clean up her toy dog’s excrement. Due to our technology soaked culture, people were able to broadcast her actions and she quickly became, like Jade Goody, a hated figure. Additionally, she was charmingly dubbed as (and more known as than her actual name) “Dog Shit Girl”. Greenfield argues that if “technology had not been in place to record her face and present it for all the world to see (and judge), she would have escaped accountability for her actions” (2006:241). The act of control is not something for government agencies or polices. It can now be ordinary people who can control and possible change your life. We are mimicking the power of the police. (Lyon 2007).

Like “Dog Shit Girl”, “My Tram Experience Lady” went viral on Facebook. Since then it is thought “My Tram Experience Lady” has been arrested thanks to the aid of public policing and surveillance.

There are many more examples of citizens mimicking the power of the police, especially online. For instance, now on Facebook we can flag content as “inappropriate” whereby the user will then have to remove the content under Facebook’s review. Additionally, there is the Facebook group Spotted:Luton, whereby people are able to post sights that have offended them in Luton. Trotteir investigates policing social media and claims that “any single act of surveillance is amplified in its scope” (2012:414).

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Typical Example of a Spotted:Luton post

Here, arguably, are good examples of where constant surveillance has helped put right people’s obnoxious, racist actions to rest with justice. So where can it go wrong? Lyon discusses the boom of “nannycams”, in that worried mothers are likely to hide webcams to surviell and ensure their hired nannies are providing the sufficient aid for their children (2007). Likewise, neighbourhoods are now more likely to install CCTVs to keep their areas safe. It will be naive of us to assume that we do not live in a racist classicist world, and therefore these acts of surveillance can strengthen the classicist/race divide. It will, mostly be rich women inspecting their lower class help, or white neighbourhood’s ears pricking up if they see a non white figure in their area. This mirrors the death of Trayvon Martin too well. Whereby an innocent African American boy who was shot dead by a man conducting a neighbourhood watch on a predominantly white gated community.

To discuss the power of ordinary people operating surveillance is fair to say it is mainly powerful for the ones that are lesser oppressed (such as the upper/middle class) who can utilize these technologies to their best advantage. As Castell claims that technology can indeed by a tool of freedom “but it can make the powerful free to oppress the uninformed” (Morozov 2011:255).

To conclude on my own experience, the company Whitbread, who owns the brand Premier Inn (budget hotels), will survey their brand’s Facebook page and TripAdvisor. If they spot negative feedback they will contact the guest (and of course they will have all their information through their guest history data…) to offer compensation for the guest, in return for them to retract their statement on the social networking site. Although this seems ideal for the guest to receive a complimentary gift, it gives the notion that the company assume the public are that easily bought, and therefore, the bigger organisation wins. So although we may feel we have the power that we managed to receive a “cool freebie”, did Whitbread not just mimic Orwell’s “Thought Police” and survey our own opinions?


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