The Real Privacy Implications of Google Glass

Tech

Over the last few weeks, Google has steadily been building hype around Google Glass. The search giant revealed tech specs, explained how the software works, and has even let some of the tech press get their hands on the “Explorer Edition” of the device, an early version that costs a cool $1,500.

One thing Google hasn’t done is talk about the privacy implications of Glass, which has a built-in camera that can sneakily take photos and video at any time. It seems the company would rather let the debate play out on its own.

I think this is a mistake on Google’s part, but I also think much of the fearful prognosticating over Google Glass is misplaced. The real concern with Google Glass and privacy doesn’t have to do with surveillance or collection of personal data, but with the way it will make us behave in the real…

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[Week 8 Tute Preparation] Transparency – All things bright and beautiful?

In his article ‘Against transparency’, Lessig (2009) defines the ‘naked transparency movement’ as a new TRANSVERSALLY way to ‘liberate data’, under a government’s point of view, hopefully that citizens may understand political decisions ‘better, or at least differently’. Also regarding government actions, Styles (2009) suggests a ‘citizen collaboration’ model, in which the people have their voices towards public issues. It is almost a new way to govern, where decision making processes are influenced directly by the publics via the new media. Citizens have access to ‘government data’ (Lessig 2009). However, the question here is that is it the best change? Not really.

WikiLeaks is an example. In 2010, the footage of the 2007 Irag shooting video was released and caused enormous public concerns (Fishel 2010). One of the concerns is the credibility of video. Fishel (2010) quoted Capt. Jack Hanzlik’s words about the limited perspective viewers may have after watching the video.

‘It gives you a limited perspective… The video only tells you a portion of the activity that was happening that day. Just from watching that video, people cannot understand the complex battles that occurred. You are seeing only a very narrow picture of the events.’

(Hanzlik 2010 in Fishel 2010)

Here we are not arguing about rotten morality, but transparency and framing issues. WikiLeaks gave the publics data transparency, but it simultaneously framed our minds. By naming the video ‘Collateral murder’, WikiLeaks (un)deliberately shaped a negative approach towards the footage. What’s good in causing crisis among the public?

Taking a less political approach, what about the people’s privacy? Is it all right to publish all of our medical records, for instance? Will it limit the opportunities of people with disadvantages when it comes to job application? People always have their judgements. With overwhelming amount of data (which is made transparent), ‘no one has time to understand, let alone analyze’ (Lessig 2009). Moreover, keep in mind that we are being framed unconsciously, always, by the media and people around us. Because of that, data can be manipulated easily, just as simple as the way we stereotype others. Advertising and propaganda are classic examples of spin doctor as Mason says: ‘Therefore truth moves faster than lies, and propaganda becomes flammable’ (2011). There is too much data to process, so people will only pay attention to what is highlighted. Here, what is the point of transparency if we are going to be manipulated eventually?

In conclusion, it would be stirring that we are governed the way we want, where we all have a voice and everything is honest. It is true that the new media has somewhat redefined media event (Usher 2011) from something only happens on television or newspaper to something real, something that we can actually ‘participate’ with a little push from communication tools:

‘The situation is now in the real world and not in the virtual world. That’s where the developments are.’

(Usher 2011)

Yet, this is also a threat to privacy and social order. What will happen when everyone knows everything about you? Or when everyone has a voice in one matter? Which is the right place to invest our attention?

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Fishel, J. 2010, ‘Military Raises Questions About Credibility of Leaked Iraq Shooting Video’, Fox News, 7 April, accessed on 2 May 2013, < http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/04/07/military-raises-questions-credibility-leaked-iraq-shooting-video/ >.

Lessig, L. 2010, ‘Against Transparency: The perils of openness in government.’, New Republic, 9 October, accessed on 2 May 2013, < http://www.tnr.com/article/books-and-arts/against-transparency?page=0,0 >.

Mason, P. 2011, ‘Twenty reasons why it’s kicking off everywhere’, Idle Scrawls BBC, 5 February, accessed on 2 May 2013, < http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/paulmason/2011/02/twenty_reasons_why_its_kicking.html >.

Styles, C. 2009, ‘A Government 2.0 idea – first, make all the functions visible’, mking Manifest, 28 June, accessed on 2 May 2013, < http://catherinestyles.com/2009/06/28/a-government-2-0-idea/ >.

Usher, N. 2011, ‘How Egypt’s uprising is helping redefine the idea of a “media event”’, The Nieman Lab, 8 February, accessed on 2 May 2013, < http://www.niemanlab.org/2011/02/how-egypts-uprising-is-helping-redefine-the-idea-of-a-media-event/ >.

[Week 7 Tute Preparation] Legal or not legal, that is the question.

How to own music 101 – Lesson in just a mindmap. (Click for full-size)

How to own music 101 – Lesson in just a mindmap. (Click for full-size)

I have 3,881 songs in my iTunes library. It will take me 10.5 days to listen to them all and they take up about 24.07Gb of my laptop capacity. And you probably don’t want to know how many movies I have. I’d be the first to admit, not all of my music are legally mine (I do purchase music, don’t get me wrong). Because honestly, I cannot afford them all. But the Internet and technologies have always been a good friend. Just like the mind map above illustrates, there are many ways people can gather DATA, legally and illegally.

Media theories may help to explain this case. The reason our way of consuming music has changed so dramatically is because we have many different ways to own music. It is a transversal systems of different structures that come together to make life easier. For example, people can buy music in iTunes store. You don’t need a CD to rip music into your computer. But this is not the perfect world, people take advantage of such tools, the Internet and technologies, to get music. But we are governed by higher authorities. PIPA/SOPA, copyright, patent protections, etc. exist to stop us from breaking ‘the laws’. Our minds are framed, made–believe that not paying money for music is wrong. People are fined by illegally getting music from BitTorrent (Strecker 2013). But do those written laws speak the truth, that the music makers aren’t getting any profits when people don’t buy their musics? Research reveals ‘online music piracy doesn’t hurt sales‘, it improves sales even (Ernesto 2013). Legal or not legal, that is the question.

As Stengers notes about the ecology of this particular case, our music consumption habits have been modified based on our knowledge about technologies and how our minds are shaped by the environment we are living in (in Murphie 2013), for example, you know using BitTorrent is bad, but everyone is using it, so… why not?! But this habit also acts as the reminder of how music has changed and developed in every way, in genres (from traditional folks to electric), in the way of producing/composing music (from playing real instruments to using computer generated sounds), and so forth. Also, in such ‘environment’ , we have other ways of getting music (regarding the mind map above). Online streaming music platforms act as a legal reassurance factor within people’s consciousness about owning music. Perhaps when we pay (a certain amount of money) for the music we listen to, we feel less guilty to get them illegally. In the end of the day, people still want to possess things, which are not just music.

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Reference list (including sources of the information in the mind map)

Ernesto 2013, ‘Online Music Piracy Doesn’t Hurt Sales, European Commission Finds’, Torrent Freak, 13 March, accessed on 25 April 2013, < https://torrentfreak.com/online-piracy-is-not-hurting-music-revenues-european-commission-finds-130318/ >.

Murphie, A.K. 2013, Framing and Transversality, lecture notes distributed in lecture session at The University of New South Wales, 24 April 2013.

Strecker, T.P. 2013, ‘Parents forced to pay for kids’ illegal music downloads’, Stuff.co.nz, 24 April, accessed on 25 April 2013, < http://www.stuff.co.nz/technology/digital-living/8588378/Parents-to-pay-for-kids-illegal-music-downloads >.

Titlow, J.P. 2012, ‘SoundCloud’s Massive Refresh Is A Big Deal For Web Audio’, Read Write, 4 December, accessed on 25 April 2013, < http://readwrite.com/2012/12/04/soundclouds-massive-refresh-is-a-big-deal-for-web-audio?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+readwriteweb+(ReadWriteWeb) >.

[Week 5 Tute preparation] Owl City: ‘Reality is a lovely place, but I wouldn’t wanna live there.’

This week concept of reality and its related ideas about Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) raise lots of questions that could possibly rework our beliefs about the real world we are living in. I want to focus this entry on the AR – the ‘mediated reality’, and the current world we perceive. With a ‘small’ touch of technologies and theoretical concepts such as Baudrillard’s notion of simulacra – ‘a model for behaviour, perceptions, knowledge of the world, sense of self, reality itself’ (pp. 15 – 16); and the ‘hyperreal condition’ (pp. 16) (cited in Murphie & Potts 2003), we can see the confusion between the observable reality and its so-called alternate universe.

One of the debatable topics withdrawing from the guideline is the positioning of the media in the virtual world. It is argued that whether the media facilitates the making of such world or just simply a means to access the already-available-yet-inaccessible-until-now world. Classic examples about the changes in technology can be found mostly in science fiction movies. Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report in 2002, whose setting is in 2054, presents the exciting augmented reality with technologies such as multi-touch interface; retina scanners or just simple personal advertising by using existing customer database. At that time people might predict that those things were something unachievable, yet it is only 2013 and we have all of those under our control.

Going back to Baudrillard’s notion of simulacra, it is clearly seen that the augmented reality portrayed in the movie had the massive ‘Star Trek effect‘, which facilitates the make-believe dreams to become the reality:

‘If you show off imaginary cool technology in a film or TV series, then kids, teenagers and enthusiastic technologists of all ages will try their damnedest to make it come true… That’s the future I want to live in.’

(Arthur 2010)

Linking to the ‘hyperreal condition’ – ‘the presentation of the real comes before the real, so that it becomes the real’ (Baudrillard, cited in Murphie & Potts 2003, pp. 16), Minority Report has made the statement: ‘The future is here’ (Steven Spielberg, quoted in Arthur 2010). This implies the needs of knowledge and technologies at the same time. Those two elements help us to get to the year 2054 over 30 years sooner.

It is obvious that the making of virtual world and the key to access to the virtual world happen at the same time. On one hand, the media acts as a medium for people to experience modern ways of living just by simulating, visualising and so forth. One the other hand, it creates motivation to make the hyperreal real by exposing ideas to its audiences.

In the end of the day, we are still living in our own reality world, but we continuously move forward, modify our future.

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Anon. n/a, ‘Augmented Reality’, Wikipedia, accessed on 8 April 2013, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augmented_reality>.

Arthur, C. 2010, ‘Why Minority Report was spot on’, The Guardian, 16 June, accessed on 8 April 2013, <http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/jun/16/minority-report-technology-comes-true>.

Murphie, A. & Potts, J. 2003, ‘Theoretical Frameworks’, Culture and Technology, London: Palgrave Macmillan: pp. 11 – 38.

[Week 4 Tute Preparation] Sherlock Holmes: ‘A man should keep his little brain attic stocked with all the furniture that he is likely to use, and the rest he can put away in the lumber-room of his library, where he can get it if he wants it.’

This week topic of ‘The extended mind thesis’ (EMT) (is truly an interesting concept and it links to various notions in both of this course, ARTS3091, and ARTS2090 (Publics and Publishing).

Firstly, the idea behind the EMT is not complex. EMT’s main argument revolves around the relation between human’s brain ability to memorise things by itself and other assisting tools to enhance its capacity. Chalmers (2009) argues that the technology we are using today, the tools, can all be considered as the repertoire of the mind (active externalism) and the cognitive process does not necessarily happen all in the head, which he calls the ‘extended consciousness’. That means the elements involve in the process of memorising things has now expanded beyond the human skin and corresponded with various environmental factors to reinforce the human memories.

This idea surprisingly relates to our daily life. ‘Can’t you remember that time when we memorised all of our friends phone numbers’, I asked one of my friends. ‘Oh that’s so 1990s,’ she replied. Then I thought she was not exactly precise about the time. People do not necessarily rely on phones or electronic devices to memorise things. Basically Sherlock Holmes was right about how the brain could not really ‘stuff’ everything in so he ‘filtered’ his the information he received and only ‘stored’ what was worthwhile to remember. We do the same. Writing is also a form of aiding the brain. We write phone numbers down to address book so we do not have to remember it. We can also revisit the physical book to look up the numbers alphabetically. There are various metacommunication tools available to aid the recall process such as technological devices – i.e. tablets, smart phones,

But there is also a downside of such dependence on such mnemotechniques. Stiegler points out that such dependency may cause us to lose the large part of our knowledge, and even our own ability to remember things:

[T]hese technological forms of knowledge, objectified in the form of equipment and apparatuses, also and especially engender a loss of knowledge at the very moment one begins speaking of “knowledge societies” and “knowledge industries” and “cognitive” or “cultural” capitalism.

This quote brings me back to the notion of ‘archive fever’ in ARTS2090 about which Jacques Derrida describe the violence of ‘archives’ towards the idea of how cultural practice is stored in memories of the people belong to that culture and how they reconfigure it by ‘publishing’ new things and ‘rewriting’ them over the ‘old things’. Additionally, searching engines like Google or Bing are designed for the huge amount of archives available online and offline. It is a way of controlling the enormous archives/memories. However, imagine how ‘large’ your own archive is and what would happen if there was no search engine? The question here is: ‘Can all data be controlled, or it controls over our life?’

Chalmers, D. 2009, ‘The Extended Mind Revisited [1/5], at Hong Kong, 2009’, online video, accessed on 28 March 2013 < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8S149IVHhmc >.

‘Course Outline and Week by Week Schedule’, Publics And Publishing In Transition, wiki article, June 2012, accessed on 5 June 2012, < http://www.andrewmurphie.org/2090/?page_id=89 >.

Stiegler, B. n/a, ‘Anamnesis and Hypomnesis: Plato as the first thinker of the proletarianisation’, Ars Industrialis, accessed on 28 March 2013, < http://arsindustrialis.org/anamnesis-and-hypomnesis >.

‘The extended mind’, Wikipedia, accessed on 28 March 2013, < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extended_Mind >.

[Week 3 Tute Preparation] Everything is not what it seems.

Everything is not what it seems.

No, that is not the theme song of that Disney show you can’t help but watch, but it is about the infrastructure of everyday life that links closely with technology. There is no doubt that technologies have been facilitating the way in which we act ‘so naturally’ (or at least we believe so). However, as Marshall McLuhan stated, ‘the medium is the message’ (Murphie & Potts 2003, pp. 13), the obvious such as routines or regulations are just simply the results of an extensive and complex process of development. And it is the process that matters. ‘Facts’ or ‘rules’ do not form by itself. Something became a fact only after it is accepted by the society. Therefore, it is worth looking at the elements within the ‘process’ and their interrelations to see how things are formed.

Scholars also look at the media that way. There is no singularity in the media sphere, everything is a ‘machinic assemblage’, or ‘machinic ecology’ as Deleuze and Guattari defined. The term is used to illustrate such factors like material, culture, individual and technology are all connected at a certain degree and together they facilitate the process of embedding knowledge into our minds (Murphie 2013 & Fuller 2005, pp. 5). To be more specific, they instruct the way we consume the media. Such techniques offer some degree of explanation of what is happening in the media today.

One issue that interests me for a long time is how identities are constructed in the media. Let’s take Google as an example. People can’t really use fake name on Google any longer. The Internet has allowed people too much freedom and there was not really control over identities for the past decades. However, as social media develops, cyber bully also became an issue. The issue is called ‘cyber bully’, but what are the causes? People do not just log on to the Internet and become a cyber troll.

Cyber bully

–       Means/location (?): The Internet

–       Technology: Communication devices, i.e. phones, tablets, laptops, etc.

–       Human factors: Anonymous/Pseudonymous/Cyber trolls vs. Victims

–       Culture: (1) The belief of hiding behind the computer screens might protect the bullies from the threats of their true identities being revealed;  (2) Democracy practices, i.e. people have the right to access and distribute information equally.

–       Knowledge: The ability to use the Internet without leaving traces, possibly with other assisting software (link back to technology).

Indeed, identities and cyber bully are complex issues and could not be explained or resolved using just the idea of ‘machinic ecology’, yet such notion offers a basis, somewhat over simplified, ‘blueprint’ of what is involved in the problems.

Fuller, M. 2005, ‘Introduction: Media Ecologies’, Media Ecologies: Materialist Energies in Art and Technoculture, Cambridge, MA, MIT Press, pp. 1 – 12.

Katse, M. 2011,  ‘Who Are You, Really? Activists Fight For Pseudonyms’, NPR, 28 September, accessed 4 April 2013, <http://www.npr.org/2011/09/28/140879480/who-are-you-really-activists-fight-for-pseudonyms>.

Murphie, A. & Potts, J. 2003, ‘Theoretical Frameworks’, Culture and Technology, London: Palgrave Macmillan: pp. 11 – 38.

— End of blog —

(I’m not sure if it’s a correct example to use, so I just post it here)

Let’s take a look at one specific example: the publishing industry. It is an industry, but nobody put it there as it is right now. We cannot take the whole industry for granted. The publishing industry has undergone various transformations to reach to its current ‘position’ in our life. The industry is made up by different sub–industries, which are illustrated in the brief mind map below.

(Click to enlarge)Different modes of publishing and their relationships with each other.

(Click to enlarge)
Different modes of publishing and their relationships with each other.

As we can see, those sub–categories do not stand alone, they are connected to each other. With the support of technologies, human knowledge and cultural practices, modern forms of publishing are born. They act with traditional forms to produce the media we consume in various formats. It is a network, in which the ways information flows across various channel that represent the development of an industry, not the final result.

[Week 2 Tut Preparation] The Global Village.

Mind-map extracted from ‘Demysifying McLuhan – Video: Global Village‘.

'Global Village' Mind-map (Click to enlarge)

‘Global Village’ Mind-map
(Click to enlarge)

Miller, D. 1995, Collective identities, tutorial notes distributed in the tutorial session at The University of New South Wales, New South Wales on 20 April, 2012.

Murphie, A. & Potts, J. 2003, ‘Theoretical Frameworks’, Culture and Technology, London: Palgrave Macmillan: pp. 11 – 38.