My Super Smart Toothbrush – [DIGC202]

Ever wondered if there would come a day when your toothbrush contained GPS and Wi-Fi? To those who grew up with just your standard Oral-B or Colgate toothbrush, the idea of such gadgetry in a day-to-day product sounds completely absurd. Well with thanks to some genius activity at the MIT Lab in 1999 and a descriptive definition and label by Kevin Ashton in 2009, the term ‘The Internet of Things’ was born.

In layman’s terms the definition of the ‘The Internet of Things’ is the connection of physical objects to the Internet. The way in which this technology becomes increasingly complex is by introducing a sociability aspect to the system.

In its early stages of development the use of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) was seen as prerequisite for all objects connected to the Internet. Zheng (2011, pg.30) describes these connections as “facilitators of fast-paced interactions among the objects themselves, as well as the objects and persons in any place and at any time.” These physical objects not only serve a material and practical purpose, they take on the roll of information portals. As mentioned above with the extreme toothbrush example, the use of GPS and Wi-Fi ultimately spells the end of lying to your dentist about your dental regime. He will now know be able to connect your toothbrush to his system and check your full dental routine since your last check-up.

Sounds a touch invasive doesn’t it? With the power of RFID not only does the object gain a networking address (allowing the object to be uniquely identifiable) it also gains a sensory capacity, allowing it to dynamically register change within its environment. To explain the complexities around the systems of IoT would require more than just a 500-word blog post. Already we are seeing the power of the IoT in use both privately (in our homes and businesses) monitoring our power usage through the use of RFID, and also publically by creating monitoring systems that allow for advanced warning in the event of a crisis.

Inevitably with any new technology the issue of privacy is always at the forefront of users minds. Atzori (2010, pg.2802) believes that these concerns about privacy are indeed well justified. In fact, the ways in which data collection, mining, and provisioning will be accomplished in the IoT are completely different from those that we now know and there will be an amazing number of occasions for personal data to be collected. Therefore, for human individuals it will be impossible to personally control the disclosure of their personal information.

Again society is faced with another social and ethical dilemma on its hands. Do the advantages of IoT far out way the negative aspects such as the demand of data and privacy issue? In a report issued by General Electric (one of the worlds largest publically listed companies) they estimated that with the aid of IoT and smarter technologies they could see a reduction of.

  •  $30 billion worth of jet fuel for the airline industry
  •  $63 billion in global health care savings with more optimised treatments, patient  flows, and equipment use in hospitals.
  •  $66 billion savings in fuel consumption for the global gas-fired power plant  fleet.

Jeff Immelt, GE’s CEO himself stated “By connecting intelligent machines to each other and ultimately to people, and by combining software and big data analytics, we can push the boundaries of physical and material sciences to change the way the world works”.

And here I was thinking that the Internet was illegal downloads; funny cat memes and images of girls in bikinis that need to each a whole lot more.

The Internet is a truly amazing beast. As a society we are in the early stages in the creation of an Internet of Things and the above examples provide just a glimpse into what is possible when you combine sensors, actuators, and networked intelligence.

Luke Macdonald
2nd Year Media & Communication & Commerce Student @UOW
Majoring in Digital Communication & Marketing

References

Atzori L, Lera A, Morabito G (2010). The Internet of Things: A survey, Computer Networks, Vol 54, No 15, pp 2787-2805, accessed 23 October, Science Direct Database, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1389128610001568

Zheng J, Simplot-Ryl, D.; Bisdikian, C.; Mouftah, H.T (2011). The internet of things [Guest Editorial],” Communications Magazine, Vol.49, No.11, pp.30,31, accessed 23 October 2013, Accessed Summons Database, http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?tp=&arnumber=6069706&isnumber=6069696

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iAddict – [DIGC202]

I am a smart phone user. I love the freedoms it allows me to have as a citizen in a technology driven society. I, like many others have had both phones that run on the two main phone operating systems (Android & iOS). For years I was sold on the ideals of the Android’s open design. With Freedoms to access the core content within the mobile device, its productive features and an applications market, in which all content is considered equal which can be found easily through the one market portal (Google Play) the Android system appealed highly to the inner geek in me. Butler (2011) describes the Android system as a platform that embraces the old replace-and- reuse philosophy, which effectively lets users customise the phone. It is this model of customisation, coupled with a reduced price in acquisition that has the Android phone out selling the iPhone almost 4:1.

After revisiting my mobile phone history it is safe to say that I have had or used pretty much every type and design that has ever graced this Earth. From flip-phones to the ever popular slide models; mobile technology has been a part of my social life for the last 15 years. Fast-forward to July 2012 and this is roughly the date where my love affair for the little green robot came to disastrous and abrupt end.

After learning of a new software update for my Android device I was excited to see the new layout and features it claimed to offer. To my delight the install was a success and the phone not only looked better than ever, it was quicker and smarter. That afternoon of the update my phone started to act strange. It was lagging and I felt something was wrong. After the phone failed to turn on for 2 days (with a full battery) I had had enough. I was angry and wanted answers. After scouring the Internet for information on my device, most reports basically labeled the new system a dud and recommended a switch to the almighty iPhone. For years I fought against the idea of conforming to the iPhone generation.

Why would I want a closed operating system with little to no room for customisation with boundaries on creativity? After a quick Facebook poll the decision was made and I set off to buy my first iPhone. Fast forward another year and I am still a very happy iOS user. As an Android user I always felt this sense of empowerment because I could change the system if I wanted to. However, I never did, nor had any plans to change the system. Changing file structures, re-routing access information and manipulating the core features on the device were simply unobtainable for a regular phone user such as myself.

I am happy to be freed from confusing file systems, convoluted install processes, and other legacies of traditional computing. Although I do not judge those who are grateful for these options and features. Inevitably, what appears to be a loss to some will be more than a massive offset by a massive gain to many.
As I sit in busy study section of the student study area I can see a large cross section of both iPhone and Android devices. Ultimately the choice comes down to the user. I like many other iPhone users I have talked to consider the level of security the App Store offers as a key selling point of the iOS system. Users feel safe when purchasing content, which still remains a risk for those acquiring content through the Google Play store. What ever your choice, always remember to key lock your phone to prevent invasions (Frapes = Facebook Rapes)  from those closest to you 🙂

 

Luke Macdonald
2nd Year Media & Communication & Commerce Student @UOW
Majoring in Digital Communication & Marketing

Social Media & Activism – [DIGC202]

There has been much discussion of late regarding social media and the role that it has in facilitating change. Recently I attended the leadership conference S4S in which the key topic throughout the 2 day event was the concept of change. After speaking to a number of inspiring individuals, as most of us were ‘technology savvy’ young adults we were asked to determine the key principles in why we believed social media has changed the role of activism.

A key factor in the success of social media and the role it has in generating social activism is that it utilises group structures and collective action. A prime example of this collective action is the striking of Egyptian workers on the 6th April 2008. Israa Abdel Fattah, a young Egyptian girl (also know as ‘Facebook Girl’) called for all Egyptians to boycott work as a sign of solidarity against the oppression and corruption in her country. By using social media and word of mouth she had created the largest strike in recent history creating an eerie emptiness of the normally teeming streets of Cairo. Akin believes that the success of social media and its role in creating social activism stems from the “fluidity of leadership” (2012, p98). Individuals are able to connect with one another to contribute, propose, provide and create greater visibility as a collective pre, during and post social activism movements (Akin 2012, p98). This can be attributed to the ability of social media to greater organise activists and decrease the need of hierarchical structures. Which, in-turn recognises that social activism on social media creates a more dynamic and participatory nature of web activism.

Despite social media’s ability to effectively organise social activists, a lack of formal leadership and control within a social movement leads to a social ignorance from both activists and users of social media. Tatarchevskiy, argues that although the crowded public sphere (social media) allows activists an avenue to “whereby messages cost little or nothing, establishing their legitimacy becomes an ever important task” (2010, p308). Social media as mentioned previously in my argument is a cheap and ubiquitous form of communication. Thusly Tatarchevskiy believes that in the context of messages delivered by social activists through social media, “It is not the message that manifests authenticity, but the medium through which it was sent” (2010, p308).

If I log on to my social media portals on a hourly basis I am constantly viewing content from social activists. It is these ease in which activists can organise and mobilise their efforts that enforces the argument that social media has reinvented the way in which we approach social activism. From saving the whales to the destructive nature of governments and their oppressive regimes, social media has now changed the way in which we approach social activism for the greater good.

Lasting impact aside, social media greatest attributes in the efforts of social activism still is and always will be the ability to communicate, increase transparency and its organisational qualities in mobilising for collective action. Whilst most still do not participate, they are changed by the fact that they can (Charles, 2010). Whether it be through simply changing a profile picture to support marriage equality or re-posting a link in support of any form of social activism, users of social media are reinventing the forms of activism we have witnessed throughout the course of time. User empowerment and a greater understanding of social media has led to the rebirth of social activism and a brighter future for generations to come.

References

Akin, A, Encina, C, Restivo, M, Schwartz, M & Tyagi, J 2012, ‘Old Wine in a New Cask? Protest Cycles in the Age of the New Social Media’, The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy of International Relations, vol 13, no 1, pp 89-103.

Charles 2010, The People formally known as the audience = The Community, accessed October 10 2013, http://yousaiditblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/23/the-people-formerly-known-as-the-audience-the-community/.

Tatarchevskiy T, ‘The popular culture of internet activism’, New Media & Society, Vol 13, No 2, pp 297-313.

Luke Macdonald
2nd Year Media & Communication & Commerce Student @UOW
Majoring in Digital Communication & Marketing

The Power of Free Press – [DIGC202]

When I think of the word “hacker” I am automatically reminded of a group of youths at my local high school that used to claim they had infiltrated government and private websites. “I hacked the Pentagon” one used to say. Now after almost two years of tertiary education learning about digital networks and privacy, if these so called “hackers” had achieved what they broadcasted throughout the school, I think these boys would have been visited by some heavy handed Government officials during our Information Technology classes.
To me this just sounded like fun and games. A couple of teenage kids with some source code, ‘trying’ (I think they were more into playing Counterstrike to be honest) to access government information. Little did I know that there was a movement going on at the time that would reveal documents that expose the world to some of the greatest injustices by governments in recent history.

Wikileaks Timeline of Events

For those of you who haven’t heard of Wikileaks essentially it is non-for profit media organisation that brings important news to the public. Essentially creating greater transparency between governments and those who are governed. Julian Assange the mastermind behind Wikileaks and what many media and technology theorists call the ‘Fifth Estate’, which essentially means that now instead of the older ‘Estate’ models, the production of news according to Jay Rosen has become a combination of professional and amateur content.
Since Wikileaks inception in 2006 the site has been responsible for uncovering some of the largest news stories in recent history. From war, killings, torture and detention to government and public corruption the aim and efforts of Wikileaks and its small diverse team of likeminded individuals continues to push the boundaries between delivering the truth and causing mass disruption and unrest between warring nations.

It is interesting to note that of late, Wikileaks has been remarkably quiet, some would argue almost too quiet for an organisation that was established to continuously question the truth. In the direct words of Wikileaks “Better scrutiny leads to reduced corruption and stronger democracies in all society’s institutions, including government, corporations and other organisations.
Julian Assange himself has also come under intense inspection; accused of the sexual assault of two women in Sweden and releasing classified US military documents, he is no hauled up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, fearing that Swedish officials and the United States government will arrest him over each issue.

To talk about the Wikileaks story in-depth I would almost need to start another blog on the topic. There have been far too many subplots and twists and turns throughout the life of Wikileaks to cover in one 500-word posting. However, the key concept from the Wikileaks story is the notion of free press and our democratic right to know the truth on matters that concern not only us, but also our fellow man/woman around the world.

At the start of my tertiary education I was a sceptic of the Wikileaks phenomena. I, like many others was afraid that the information being leaked could be used for greater evil if it made its way into the hands of the wrong groups or individuals. I was brainwashed by mainstream media into believing that there was an injustice against governments with this information being leaked. I have since radically changed my opinion. Fenster believes that “Publishing [leaked material] improves transparency, and this transparency creates a better society for all people. A healthy, vibrant and inquisitive journalistic media plays a vital role in achieving these goals. I now have to agree. With the current media landscape the way it is at the moment. We need institutions like Wikileaks in light of a better term “to keep the bastards honest”.

Luke Macdonald
2nd Year Media & Communication & Commerce Student @UOW
Majoring in Digital Communication & Marketing

The True Success of Twitter – [DIGC202]

040713_1501_TheEconomic1

As an avid lover of the social media platform Twitter my fascination stems from the social nature of the media platform. For those of you who unaware or blatantly ignoring the social media, Twitter is an online social media platform that allows users to aggregate, discuss and share news/entertainment and basically any content through a user name identity, using 140 characters or less. From posting tweets about your thoughts on your latest album purchase, to discovering vital information and statistics about the recent government elections, Twitter has all bases covered.
The success of the platform lies in how content is aggregated and filtered by the actions of its audience. Although each separate tweet may seem irrelevant to the discussion, Johnson (Time, 2009) believes that Injecting Twitter into the conversation fundamentally changed the rules of engagement. Users are given the power of social networks, live searching and link sharing which enables the processing of information and ideas at a much faster rate than that of Google’s searching abilities. As technologies continue to push the boundaries of social interaction, the question raised by convergence experts is “Will Twitter Survive?”

With the company set to become a public offering in the near future, many are asking how much growth and space does the platform have to offer? Looking back at the history of the platform may just provide the answer to this question.

From the early onset of the birth of Twitter users have been shaping and redefining the platforms role in society. From creating conversations by using the ‘@’ symbol throughout tweets, to aggregating discussion by using hash-tags (#) user involvement and creativity has spawned the dynamic platform we all use today.
Industry experts believe that the future success of Twitter lies within the advertising revenue it can produce as it moves from a niche to mainstream media outlet. With over 250 million active users, Twitter has fast become one of the world’s leading data collectors. Using the social media business model (you’re not the customer, you’re the product) the platform has essentially turned the art of socialising online into a multi billion dollar advertising aggregation machine.

As with many social media platforms the success of the product isn’t measured by the opportunities of social interaction, it measured on power, wealth and greed.
As powerful as social media platforms are in destabilising corrupt governments and changing political landscapes it seems as though the only true measure of the success and future of social media lies within how much information they can extract from our day-to-day conversations. An interesting thought to reflect on next time you are browsing your Twitter feed.

Images

References

Johnson, S. (2009). How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live, Moodle Database, accessed 18th September 2013, https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/94787/mod_resource/content/1/Johnson%20-%20How%20twitter%20will%20change.pdf

Luke Macdonald
2nd Year Media & Communication & Commerce Student @UOW
Majoring in Digital Communication & Marketing

 

The Long Tail to Success – [DIGC202]

long-tail

The emergence of digital retail networks has seen a structural change in the distribution markets for cultural goods (Benghozi, pg.43). As the music industry comes to terms with this movement, many bands/artists are revelling in the social/entertainment aspect of their craft. As mentioned in previous posts the goals and motivations of real musician’s aren’t stardom or notoriety. They are simply learning, practicing and sharing their passion for the art.
Whilst many of the major record labels ‘scratch their head’ at the distribution methods of independent artists, it seems as though the independent labels are beginning to understand the value between abundance and scarcity economics.

As music as digital product enjoys an almost zero cost of production and distribution, many artists are profiting through live performance. Various artists and bands are seeing the value of creating scarcity in their products. By giving away their music and content, many fans are repaying the generosity through record numbers at live shows and festivals globally.

By realizing the scarcity of live performances versus the abundant nature of digital downloads, many artists and bands are not only fulfilling their dreams and aspirations on a weekly basis, they are profiting from the new structured business model.
As a music lover, my biggest monthly outlay for music content is the purchasing of concert or festival tickets. As a consumer I am always grateful for the kindness of artists who wish to share their tracks at little to no cost. Anderson states “ In an era when digital products are commodities, there’s a premium on experience”. It is through this experience that scarcity is born.

A survey conducted by Tourfilter (an application for iPhone and Android that notifies you of artists/bands touring in your area) highlights the true extent of the ‘long tail’ of the music industry. For those unacquainted with Chris Anderson’s theory here is basic info-graphic to explain his philosophy.


The study concluded that only 22 of the 13,000+ bands were tracked by 1% of the user database. The acts included the likes of The Arcade Fire, Sigur Ros and Radiohead. The survey concluded by stating Most of the people out seeing music on any given night in America were seeing long tail bands.

As content continues to be delivered online the need for aggregation has become vital for the success of both amateur and professional artists alike.
Bandcamp is a company that offers artists the ability to manage social media profiles and structure the pricing of their content based on their own values rather than the highly priced iTunes-scaling model. At present, most of the content is valued at ‘nominate your own price’. It is this new model which allows artists the ability to organise their own recordings, promote them on Twitter, Facebook and SoundCloud, sell them via Bandcamp, and generally take care of the promotional aspects, once reserved for band managers and music labels. It is this disintermediation that allows artists full control of their own works.

References

Benghozi, PJ, Françoise, B. (2010). The long tail: myth or reality?.International Journal of Arts Management. 12 (3), 43-53.

Images

 http://crossoverhealth.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/long-tail1.png

Here is a plug to one of my favourite artists using Bandcamp at the moment.

Luke Macdonald
2nd Year Media & Communication & Commerce Student @UOW
Majoring in Digital Communication & Marketing

Trouble In Harlem – [DIGC202]

It is undoubtedly one of the most popular songs of 2013. Its catchy hook and verse had everybody shaking their bodies in a cataclysmic state. Constructed in the grimy bedroom of a young music producer from New York City, the track has gone on to claim top 10 successes in over 25 countries and even won the prestigious ‘Dance Track of the Year’ at the 2013 Billboard Music Awards. Any guesses? If you said the Harlem Shake give yourself a pat on the back or some ‘Free Internets’.

The young upstart that combined hypnotic bass music with the vocals of an old reggaeton vocal sample goes by the name of Baauer.

As it stands the track was released by the Mad Decent label on the 22nd of May 2012 but wouldn’t receive extreme notoriety until late February 2013 when it started its viral global rampage. I am sure you can all remember the hilarious scenarios that the song was used as the backdrop for. There wasn’t a day through the whole of March where my Facebook news feed was cluttered with people’s attempts to create the craziest dance moves ever.

It is interesting to note that as it stands Baauer is currently being sued by two parties who both claim that he used unlicensed sample to create his no 1 smash hit. What is even more interesting is that the parasites gentlemen are suing for a sample used that is less than 3 seconds in length. According to the New York Times “reggaeton-artist-turned-evangelical-preacher Hector Delgado and Philadelphia rapper Jayson Musson both claim that the song samples their vocals without permission and they are now seeking compensation. “It’s almost like they came on my land and built a house.”
As a young music producer I find these comments are incredibly unjustified. These two musicians are well within their rights to sue for damages and royalties. My question to them is would they have sued if the song had remained an underground trap anthem and not reached the viral popularity that the track created? The answer to this question is a resounding No! The cruel nature of music copyright legislation deems this use of unlicensed sampling as a breach of intellectual property rights.

Legislation such as SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) inhibit the natural evolution of learning. To understand and develop your craft you must use the content of others to appreciate and construct your own ideas, strengths and weaknesses. As for the Harlem Shake case study Baauer has openly said himself that he never imagined to success the song would actually have.
Baauer is 24 years of age. He, much like myself has grown up in a technology driven economy whereby the Internet has given us the every opportunity to unlock our creative potential. We can edit tracks, post them on SoundCloud, receive real time advice and suggestions from those alike, stream new music content, cut, paste and sample to our hearts content. The only catch is if you create a global dance floor destroyer make sure you keep it to yourself.

Sounds incredibly senseless doesn’t it?

Images 

Luke Macdonald
2nd Year Media & Communication & Commerce Student @UOW
Majoring in Digital Communication & Marketing