Internet of Things

This week my eyes have been opened up to the internet of things. I did not realise that such a world existed!  found: a water saving shower clip, a t-shirt that connects to the internet, a baby monitoring sock and a doorbell with an inbuilt camera. I also discovered that I love the internet of things. I believe it may be the key to finding something for the more difficult people on my Christmas shopping list.

But beyond being something that could potentially make gift buying easier and more fun, the internet of things has the ability to drastically change the way we live. When all of our objects connect to the internet we are able to communicate with them from far away and they are able to communicate with each other. It is this communication with each other than particularly excited me. It completely changes our perception of objects from something that we manipulate and use to something that works with us and for us via communication to improve our lives.

The internet of things is more than just a gimmick. The internet of things moves to an area that the internet of social media has not yet. It is the ability to develop relationships with things. This will ultimately change our sense of self and alter how we view relationships with each other and with objects. Only time will tell exactly how though.

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Apple?

I’m just going to casually admit that my family seems to be an ‘Apple family’. You name it we seem to have it- iPhone, iPad, iPod, iMac, MacBook Pro… We have a few Apple devices. It all started with me and my desire for a hot pink iPod nano (2nd gen) way back when. And now it has turned into a monster that has over taken my family.

My little brother has always been one step behind me with the ‘Apple coolness’. Anything I have gotten from Apple he instantly decides he wants it too. This was then followed by my mother and then by my father. And Apple devices have been great. They are sleek, easy to use and all sync with each other. It’s not like we are all massive Apple advocates, we just like the simplicity and ease of it all.

But lately I am beginning to question our commitment to Apple. Apple sure is comfortable to use, but it is so restricting, so lacking in the freedom found in Android devices.

Android devices run under Google’s Open Handset Alliance. The idea is that the software is able to be built upon by anyone, no questions asked. There is so much freedom of creation for the Android device. It is an open platform that anyone can build on.

There are many benefits to both devices. The main question is that of freedom or comfort. More and more I am beginning to question my decision towards comfort. I did not know that this was the decision I was making when I made it because I never knew about the differences between Android and Apple till now. I think I will have to evaluate much more carefully next time I buy a phone.

 

Social Media and Revolution

I don’t particularly know how to feel about social media’s role in the revolutions of today. I think that this is mainly because I don’t have experience of being part of a revolution. When people argue that social media is or isn’t crucial in bringing about a revolution in today’s world I really can’t say who I agree with. I’ve read both the previous linked articles and found myself being convinced by both of them, even though they come from two completely different view points – and idealist view point and a critical view point.

I have taken away from both these highly emotive arguments that maybe, rather than there being one set way,  both are applicable depending on the individual and depending on the circumstance. So rather than being that ‘social media is what inspires revolution’ or ‘social media only gives the tool to organise revolutions where as the inspiration comes from real life’, the case is that for some social media did inspire them to act and for others it merely is a tool for organisation.

Here we have an example in which social media was able to be used as a tool for protest in Columbia, a country who previously has not traditionally had protests. In the region of Columbia, it was able to mobilise people who had the same view point against the FARC. On an international scale it was able to educate people of the problems in Columbia and motivated their own viewpoints to be those that supported the protests in Columbia with mirror protests of their own. This example shows that both the idealists and the realists can be taken as right.

So there you go. I have no idea which view point to side with but I think they both have applicable points.

Individual vs. Institution

As long as there have been institutions there have been individuals that work against them. Their relationship has always been complex.

Leonard George Casley took on the government of Australia and created the micro nation of The Principality of Hutt River. Hillary Clinton unsuccessfully took on the U.S Congress to change the health care system of the U.S.A.  Julian Assange used Wikileaks to take on anyone who did not disclose information he believed the public should have access to.

Assange was able to do this through hacktivism. Assange and his Wikileaks team have gathered information from countless databases motivated by the political belief that knowledge should be freely accessed by the public. Assange was able to do this because of his enormous knowledge of computer code and clever use of the global connections that the internet fosters.

Assange is not a traditional hacktivist though. He says this “Don’t damage computer systems you break into (including crashing them); don’t change the information in those systems (except for altering logs to cover your tracks); and share information.” Rather than defacing websites to make a political statement, he uploads raw documents to the internet and allows the public to determine what is to be thought about these organisations.

Assange is the ultimate example of an individual (or group of individuals) successfully taking on institutions.

Collaboration between mainstream media and citizen journalism

Most of us come from a world in which reporting has been a one way street. The printed and broadcasted media has told us what is going on in the world and that is the only place we could find it. If we were lucky our letter to the editor was selected for publication and our own view got out there, or we were able to read a limited range viewpoints from others.

Citizen journalism has changed this world dramatically. We are now able to communicate with our news sources as well as with each other. Facebook and Twitter have allowed us to report our own stories, to link to other articles with statements of our view points and to post publicly exactly what we think about a particular mainstream media source.

Some think this new world of citizen journalism will result in mainstream media being made redundant. I tend to disagree. At this point in time I believe the best possible outcome in the rise of citizen journalism is a partnership with the mainstream media. This is currently occurring in some places. Many papers, like the Guardian are engaging in a collaborative approach with citizen journalists. Mainstream journalists are using their own investigative skills to sift through evidence collected from citizen journalists to form a whole picture. Citizen journalists also work with the media by keeping them accountable, communicating with them and spreading their stories to others through platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

There are benefits that come from both sides that works to build a complete picture of what is going on. Best for them to work in partnership than try to make each other redundant.

The Long Tail and Chinese TV series

I love watching TV series. They are quite possibly my favourite type of entertainment. I really like some of the popular shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Survivor and Game of Thrones. I also really like some less popular (but still relatively well know) shows like Revolution, Once Upon a Time and The Blacklist. At the moment, most of these can be watched on my local television networks. But there are other shows I like that cannot be. They are on the long tail.

These shows are not popular enough within my geographical region to be deemed worthy of airtime. This is because they are not in the local language but in Chinese. When I was in high school  I lived in China. There I had continual access to Chinese soaps; there were channel after channel of them on TV and DVD stores on every corner that sold them. I used to watch them to help with my listening skills but now I watch them for fun. When we moved back I stocked up on the DVDs but alas, I soon ran out. It then and there that I discovered the long tail end of the market- the niche section of the market that is only readily available on the internet, where there is endless space and endless copies of pretty much everything that has ever been created.

I started off at Amazon. It is somewhat hard to navigate to find Chinese TV series so I had to search further into the niche market. Thanks to Google I stumbled across Yes Asia, SPCNet and Az Drama. All these sites enabled me to either find out about new shows/episodes, watch them or order hard copies of them.
There is quite a sizeable niche market for Chinese TV series beyond the borders of China, just as there is for many other niches. I plan on letting people know about these sites on my own digital artefact Shanghai Lights so that others demanding similar sorts of things may find them too. Although the website is designed for people going to Shanghai, it is also a place than enables people who have been there to communicate with each other. This way they won’t feel the same ‘starvation’ that I did when I came back.

The long tail is quite a marvellous place.

Australia and Media Convergence

Media convergence is an ongoing process that indicates an increasing flow of content across many different platforms with increasing cooperation between media industries. Media convergence also causes increased migratory behaviour of audiences.

As the media expands by increasing media flows and moving into new markets consumers’ power increases too. Consumers are constantly fighting to be able to participate in their own culture, to control the flow of media coming to them and to communicate their demands to the mass market.

Often this increase in power of the consumer is embraced by conglomerates because it allows them to more fully participate in the many faucets of the market they have entered into but this is frequently not the case.

In 2010 Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited owned 70% of Australia’s newspapers, a significant proportion of sports broadcasters, as well as half of the NRL, with controlling interests in the Melbourne Storm.

At the same time a players in the Melbourne Storm were being payed above the salary cap set by the NRL. Fox Sports, also owned half owned by Murdoch, was also paying Storm players extra money in addition to their contracts. Locations in which this was investigated and reported on by the media all had papers that were all owned by News Limited. The man blamed for the scandal by all News Limited papers was Brian Waldron, the former chairman of the Storm. This raises questions about whether the salary cap being exceeded was a deliberate oversight on behalf of News Limited and whether or not Waldron was a scapegoat for the upper board members of News Limited.

Due to the convergence of New Limited in both news reporting and sport entertainment, consumers will never know for sure. Here we see an attempt to return to the older ways in which consumers were silent observers, not being able to fully participate in the flow of media.

Media conglomerates are often quite contradictory, sometimes embracing increasing consumer participation while other times trying to squash it by advantageously using their expansion to remain in control of media flows.

Sources

Henry Jenkins, Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, p.2.

Jenkins, H. (2004) The Cultural Logic of Media Convergence, International Journal of Cultural Studies, 7/1, 33-43.

An Argument for Free Culture from Music

The increasing dominance of intellectual property laws has seen a large decrease in the freedom of culture. Creators are finding it much harder to expand upon and alter the culture surrounding them as creativity is being restricted by the increased ownership of ideas. This is a great shame.

Borrowing from the creativity of others has always had an important role in the development of culture. Long before intellectual property there lived a man named Johann Sebastian Bach, now deemed to be the best and most influential composer of the Baroque period. This esteemed composer was known to have borrowed from other composers e.g. Telemann, Frescobaldi and Albinoni. Bach himself has also had his own creativity drawn upon and then combined with the creativities of others. The most notable person to have borrowed from Bach is Mozart, who converted many of Bach’s sonatas into concertos. Beethoven, Debussy, Wagner and Schoenberg are all also well known composers who have built upon each other’s music and influenced plenty of composers as well.

Music has changed much and many times since the Baroque period in the 1600s due to the borrowing of one composer from another, as this article clearly shows. The complexity seen in music today of both art music and popular music would not have been possible without borrowing and a lack of intellectual property. 

Intellectual property may have brought these composers much wealth were it in play during their lifetimes, stopping some like Mozart and Vivaldi from dying poor. However, it would have drastically slowed down cultural growth and possibly even restricted the genius of the music created by each one of these composers. Music would not be where it is today if not for the free culture that has surrounded it.

Rest becoming redundant?

At present we live in the Age of Knowledge. This means that many of us work or will work in the knowledge sector. Knowledge flows never stop moving but does this mean we should be the same?

Liquid life is the new way in which the Knowledge Age deems we live. It indicates a life which is ruled by work in every facet with constant uncertainty in job security playing a large role.

We no longer work to live. We live to work. There are no longer boundaries set in place between ‘home life’ and ‘work life’. Smart phones in particular have made it very easy to constantly be checking emails, replying to tweets and doing work outside of the office. This desire to keep on top of work is fuelled by the changing nature of job security. The changing nature being that it doesn’t seem to exist anymore. Employees are no longer serving out their whole careers in one company. Rather, they work towards a short term goal with the company and then move on, hence the insecurity for the long term.

But is living to work ok? I am very reluctant to say yes.

My first reason for this comes from the Bible, whose message I wholeheartedly believe. We see in Genesis, which describes God’s creation of the world, that God broke up the day and night, as well as the week, with work and rest. Six days (not nights) of the week He worked. On the seventh He rested.

“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.”

It does not say that He rested because He was tired. He sees rest as something good, something so good that the time we spend resting from our hard work is considered holy.

This is reason enough for me personally to cling on to the value of resting from work and make the effort to do so.

The effects of not resting on family and community are also important too. We cannot develop deep relationships when our attention is constantly being diverted by work.  We can also stop paying attention to our health and even shorten our life span. Yikes.

We need rest from work. We cannot live in the way that the Knowledge Age demands. We are people and we are behind this age. Time for it to conform to what we need, not the other way around

Living between the Ages….

We live in two worlds. We are the last generation of the Industrial Age and the first of the Knowledge Age.

And sometimes this can be beyond confusing.

Everything we know from our industrial past is being redefined by the new importance of knowledge in our lives. Let’s take property for example. In the past I would have owned a physical product. Nowadays I own what is created by my mind. Ownership has moved from the physical to the intellectual. Intellectual property (IP) has caused knowledge to move from being a public good to a private good. IP has created new laws and methods of property protection. This change in our world has been very difficult for many to adapt to.

The other change that is difficult to adapt to is the transformation of community. We are moving away from mass culture into smaller online niches. The byproduct in this change is increased levels of depression and loneliness. As those who are more familiar with the Industrial Age realise this breakdown of the society they can often find it difficult to find their sense of belonging as they venture outside into a community that has moved online.

Many, however, have found the Knowledge Age has created a safe haven for them. Not all people fit into mass culture. Lonely people that were once outcasted by the dominant industrial age culture are turning to cyberspace more and more to find connection.

Slowly, we are adapting to the new age. Although confusing at first, it provides so many opportunities that people are hungry to grab onto.