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It is clear that one of the positive aspects of the internet is how easily accessible and the vast source of information is stored on the web (Turkle, 2011). To look previously how information was captivated before the birth of the internet, we can look to Vannevar Bush’s Memex, which was an invention to access stored information with speed, which holds similar traits to the internet.

memex

Vannevar Bush’s Memex

More recently, Stewart Brand published the Whole Earth Catalog in 1968, which consisted of information and products for sale. Founding father of Apple, Steve Jobs compared the Whole Earth Catalog’s vast amount of knowledge to Google, claiming that “It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.”

Stewart Brand on his creation

The evolution of the internet can be described as “a history of ideas and how things are developed” (Cailliau et al. 2000:309). Although Tim Bernes Lee envisioned the World Wide Web to be used as a communication tool rather than the passive medium it is today; where it is so crowded with information it is hard to distinguish what is valuable. (Wise et. al. 1999).

With the World Wide Web becoming more readily available as “household names” (Cailliau et al. 2000:306). This act of decentralisation and empowerment allows for everyone’s opinion to be heard; no matter on the subculture nature of the views (Zickmund, 2000). This entails for anyone to participate in online communities despite not holding much technical know how (Postigo, 2012). Even more so, with the ability to access a wide source of information with ease, it perhaps strengthens McLuhan’s notion of the Global Village, whereby we are all connected through this medium (1989).

Wise discusses the development of network media and pays particular attention to radical hackers who “became entrepreneurs, and the market developed, established capitalist media corporations were drawn in” (1999:43). The decentralisation of power and allowing more information to be free echoes hacker’s ethos that there should be a “freedom of information” (Taylor, 1999:93).

However, with everyone able to voice their opinions there maybe some drawbacks. Postman informs us that within technology it usually mimics our culture (1987). This is seen in Morovos’s analysis of the internet in that “the regular folk don’t read sites like Global Voices (…); instead they are much more likely to use the internet to rediscover their own culture – and, dare I say it, their own bigotry” (2011:247). Similarly, Keen airs his concerns, believing that the emergence of Web 2.0 has just expanded narcissism and confused knowledge with unreliable user generated content (2007).

To highlight Morovo’s and Keen’s point, it may be worthwhile to highlight the Daily Mail Comments Section, whereby it has gained attention for the comments from the public to be extremely discriminative and narrow-minded; even now having their own Twitter account whereby the moderator tweets “A selection of the bizarre and terrifying comments found in the Daily Mail comment section.” Youtube comments can also be viewed as racist, as Madden et. al. reviews the comments that could be found on Youtube videos (2013). Similarly Zickmund delves into subcultures online, whereby White Supremacists are able to congregate online and abuse message boards (2000).

fz

Example of Politically Incorrect Facebook Status

Noted hacker, Richard Stallman recently declared that particular social networking sites were ethically immoral for using data that will be used incorrectly. Claiming that “We are not Facebook users, but Facebook Used.” Contradicting the hacker’s ethos in that the diversity of opinions is what could be powerful with Web 2.0 sites, and that perhaps not everyone who is able to express their opinion, should.

However, it may not be how Web 2.o is watering down our culture (Keen, 2007) but how our culture is not using the internet productively and realizing that, Sturgeon’s Law (ninety percent of everything is crap) also applies to the internet.  Rather than questioning how much information the internet can hold, perhaps we should question how valuable the information is presented to us, and how it can enrich us.

Bibliography

Boran, Marie. (2013). Public not Facebook users but ‘Facebook used’. Available: http://www.irishtimes.com/business/sectors/technology/public-not-facebook-users-but-facebook-used-stallman-1.1579637. Last accessed 11 Dec 2013.

Cailliau, Robert et Gillies, James (2000). How the Web was Born: The Story of the World Wide Web. USA: Oxford University Press.

Hervada-Sala, Francesc . (2012). As We May Think . Available: http://u-tx.net/ccritics/as-we-may-think.html. Last accessed 11 Dec 2013.

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

Madden, Amy et Ruthven, Ian et McMenemy, David. (2013). A classification scheme for content analyses of YouTube video comments. Journal of Documentation. 69 (5), p693-714.

Morozov, Evgeny (2011). The Net Delusion: How Not to Liberate the World. London: Penguin Group.

McLuhan, Marshall et Powers, Bruce (1989). The global village : transformations in world life and media in the 21st century. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Postigo, Hector (2012). The Digital Rights Movement: The Role of Technology in Subverting Digital Copyright (The Information Society Series). USA: The MIT Press.

Stanford News. (2005). ‘You’ve got to find what you love,’ Jobs says. Available: http://news.stanford.edu/news/2005/june15/jobs-061505.html. Last accessed 11 Dec 2013.

Taylor, Paul (1999). Hackers : crime and the digital sublime. London: Routledge.

Turkle, Sherry (2011). Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other. New York: Basic Books.

Wise, Richard et Steemers, Jeanette (1999). Multimedia : a critical introduction. London: Routledge.

Zickmund, Susan. (2000). Approaching the Radical Other: The Discursive Culture of Cyberhate. In: Bell, David et Kennedy Barbara. The Cybercultures Reader. London: Routledge. 237-254.

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Augmented Reality  People

The ever changing and ever evolving media is seen through the development of mobile media (Fidler, 1997). As technology changes inevitably so does society. As Bell discusses “technological determination” where by technology impact society as driving the development and social cultural value, as for example the word “text addict” developed through the use of mobile phones and the SMS function (Bell, 2007).
people20texting

A common example of “Thumb Culture”

 The wide spread impact of new mobile technology is evident in the case of corrupt Kenyan police officers who would demand their bribes to be paid by mobile banking than cash out of convenience (Morozov, 2011). This exemplifies that for any tool needed is covered just as long as you are equipped with one working smart phone… with of course the relevant downloaded apps!

 This story is also a prime example of technological convergence, where Fidler explains that for a new technology to be successful it needs to be familiar (1997). To investigate, a mobile phone replaces many old, familiar devices. With a mobile phone you no longer need a television, stereo, map or in the example previously explained; money. For technology to be constantly evolving it seems there is a need to be implementing more and more appliances into one device (Fidler, 1997). However, what will happen once we have exhausted all routes on what other appliances we can implement?  What if one of the new appliances they will include was… us? After all, what is more familiar than ourselves and our own reality?

 Augmented Reality (AR), in which the user’s real environment is altered by technology and adding new images, sound or video (Economic Review, 2013), ultimately adding new layers to our real environment. An example of AR are the “Google Glasses” which is predicted to be a success in 2014 (Hyman, 2013). Despite this, Kipper is cynical of the development claiming that it is limited in that it is only advantageous if the user can use it swiftly and it would be more convenient to obtain information manually (Kipper, 2012).

 One of the uses of “Google Glasses” is for tourists to access information on the location they situated in (Hyman, 2013). If the user is looking for a near by restaurant, they are able to access through their glasses the closest restaurant. This shows how the user will adopt the augmented reality of accessing information, rather than adopting their own real environment and exploring to find a nearby restaurant without aid. What this shows is that if a restaurant is not evident and exists on Google, it does not exist in the user’s reality. As Buchanen- Oliver suggests this can cause friction between “control and freedom” (2009:368), this is shown here whereby the user is controlled to explore only what is visible on Google. 

 Additionally, Hyman proposes that soon the “Google Glasses” will soon be passé and the clunky visibly seen technology will soon be developed into contact lenses (Hyman, 2013). The disguised technology naturalises the implement and gives the illusion it is embodied with us. This, I believe, gives the impression that the technology is innate.

Negroponte challenges that all technologies comply of three industries: Broadcast and Motion Picture Industry, Print and Publishing Industry and Computer Industry (quoted by Fidler, 1999). As previously illustrated before, media and thus for society is forever changing, resulting in perhaps there is a fourth element that three industries will now be complied into- humans.

first_industrial_convergence

Negroponte’s diagram of convergence

This is arguably evident with contact lenses that allows the individual to access information seamlessly. Blurring the boundaries between humans and computers in which Pepperell describes as “Post Human” and insinuates the human itself without technology is made redundant (1995:180). By blurring the boundaries, we are not falling into a binary opposition of “Human” and “Machine”, which Hayles argues reinforces the divide between “us” and them” (Hayles quoted by Buchanen- Oliver, 1999). So it raises the question, will we soon be discriminated on how natural, and human we are and instead strive to be as augmented and processed as possible? Is this the new race war?

UPDATE! Please check out blog post Cyborgs Part 2, where I investigate “post-humans” in more depth!

Bibliography

Bell, David (2007). Cyberculture Theorists: Manuel Castells and Donna Haraway. London: Routledge.

Buchanan-Oliver, Margo. (2009). The Body and Technology: Discourses Shaping Consumer Experience and Marketing Communications of Technological Products and Services. . Advances in Consumer Research. 36 (5), p367-371.

Economic Review. (2013). Augmented Reality – Making Existence Larger than Life. Available: http://www.economic-review.com.pk/may-2013/augmented-reality-making-existence-larger-than-life. Last accessed 9th Dec 2013.

Fidler, Roger (1997). Mediamorphosis: Understanding New Media. California: Pine Forge Press.

Kipper, Gregory (2013). Augmented Reality: An Emerging Technologies Guide to AR. USA: Syngress.

Hyman, Paul. (2013). Augmented-Reality Glasses Bring Cloud Security Into Sharp Focus. Communications of the ACM. 56 (6), 18-20.

 Morozov, Evgeny (2011). The Net Delusion: How Not To Liberate The World. London: Penguin Group.

Pepperell, Robert (1995). The Post-human Condition. Bristol: Intellect LTD.

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