An Infinite Regression

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Internet Politics and You – How the internet can be used for political reasons

This weeks lecture actives revolve using the internet for political reasons. Whether it’s Anonymous hacktivists, signing an e-petition or wikileaks; the internet can be used very effectively to spread a political message.

The first activity was to sign an e-petition about something that was somewhat political related. Luckily for me I’ve actually already done this many months ago when our internet freedom was placed under threat by the SOPA/CISPA/PIPA bills that were going looking to be passed through US Congress. Essentially they gave the US Government a lot of free reign with copyright infringement that could potentially cause a lot of legitimate websites to be shut down and a large majority of innocent users to be wrongfully imprisoned under these new US laws. The petition that I signed (Link) is hosted by Avaaz and as of this post currently holds 803,913 signatures. (Avaaz 2012) Also Google hosted their own petition about PIPA which, according to them, has over 4.5 million signatures (Link). (Google 2012)

The second activity asks us to respond to a professional blogger at a major news site. I’ve chosen to respond to the blog post from the Guradian (Link) about Julian Assange and his recent speech at the Ecuadorean embassy that occurred recently. This campaign against Assange has turned into nothing but an attempt to smear Assange’s name in order to discredit Wikileaks and any documents that may appear on there. The US Government are afraid of their secret documents getting out to the public via Wikileaks and are doing everything in their power to silence him for good.

The third activity was to find out what Barack Obama was doing today. Coincidentally for me today Barack Obama was doing an IAmA (basically an interview) on Reddit (Link). Here I would be able to ask Barack Obama about his stance of freedom on the internet. Sadly I only found it when it was over. However another user did ask essentially this exact question. Obama’s response was:

Internet freedom is something I know you all care passionately about; I do too. We will fight hard to make sure that the internet remains the open forum for everybody – from those who are expressing an idea to those to want to start a business. And although there will be occasional disagreements on the details of various legislative proposals, I won’t stray from that principle – and it will be reflected in the platform. (Reddit 2012)

Our fourth activity is to find out what the Australian Government’s plans are in relation to internet censorship. The Austrian Government has announced that it is planning on introducing “mandatory ISP-level filtering of Refused Classification (RC) rated content.” Which essentially means that the government plans of blocking thousands of webpages and placing them on a black list. The filter itself will not filter inappropriate content from children, not will it prevent criminals from accessing and distributing sexual abuse material. (OpenInternet 2012)

For our fifth activity we are required to discuss what place censorship has in a democracy. I guess this is all a matter of a opinion and is definitely swayed by which way you lean politically (left or right, conservative or liberal). As for myself I believe that censorship in democracy should be non-existent. Free of speech should always be available to everyone. Implementing censorship is a slippery slope that can easily be abused by those in power (look at China for example).

Our sixth activity is too look into the National Broadband Network (NBN) that is being rolled out throughout Australia. The NBN will reach my house in 2015 and should hopefully bring significantly faster internet speeds to my area as well as throughout the nation, which will be good considering that Australia has terribly slow internet in comparison to the rest of the world. (NCNCo 2012)

The seventh activity was to find out who our local, state and federal representatives were and to send one a message. Mine are as follows:

Local: Steven Huang
State: Mark Stewart
Federal: Graham Perrett

The eight activity was to find out when our local member last made a speech in parliament via the online Hansard. I actually found the Hansard really difficult to use; although I did find some speeches from Mark Stewart, although it did not specify where the speeches were done (Link). I was able to send Mark Stewart a message via his Facebook account about his last speech; which also covers the last activity.

Sources

Avaaz 2012, Viewed 27 August 2012, <https://secure.avaaz.org/en/stop_cispa/>

Ben Quinn 2012, ‘Julian Assange statement at Ecuadorean embassy – as it happened’, The Guardian, 19 August, Viewed 27 August 2012, <http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/blog/2012/aug/19/julian-assange-statement-ecuadorean-embassy-live>

Brisbane City Council 2012, MacGregor Ward, Viewed 30 August 2012, <http://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/about-council/governance-strategy/councillors-wards/macgregor-ward/index.htm>

Google 2012, End Piracy, Not Liberty, Viewed 27 August 2012 <http://www.google.com/takeaction/images/sopa-012112-v12.jpg>

Google 2012, Viewed 27 August 2012, <http://www.google.com/takeaction/past-actions/>

Queensland Parliament, Mr Mark Stewart, Viewed 30 August 2012, <http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/members/current/list/bio?member=Stewart+Mark>

NCNCo 2012, About NON Co, Viewed 30 August 2012, <http://www.nbnco.com.au/about-us/index.html>

NCNCo 2012, NBN rollout map, Viewed 30 August 2012, <http://www.nbnco.com.au/rollout/rollout-map.html>

OpenInternet 2012, Learn More, Viewed 30 August 2012, <http://openinternet.com.au/learn_more/>

Parliament of Australia, Mr Graham Perrett MP, Viewed 30 August 2012, <http://www.aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members/Parliamentarian?MPID=HVP>

Reddit 2012, I am Barack Obama, President of the United States, Viewed 30 August 2012, <http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/z1c9z/i_am_barack_obama_president_of_the_united_states/>


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Should your parents be able to follow you online? – Week Five Lecture Work

An interesting point someone made in last weeks lecture was the concept of cyber parenting; your parents following your online activities. The internet is a place that the parents of our generation (generation Y) never grew up with and can be a little skeptical and unsure of how it works and the people who frequent it. It is not uncommon for parents of children to have their home computer in a common room in their house such as a lounge or media room. Some parents may even use the services of many “nanny programs” that track online history and flag or block certain sites that may be deemed detrimental to their child. These sites are usually the general pornographic and illegal material but can also be extended to social networking sites or online games that are played with other people (i.e. Runescape, EVE, etc).

However there is a great video of what’s been termed ‘Facebook Parenting’ which is mainly when parents will add their child as a friend on Facebook in order to keep up with their lives. The video (Link) shows a father of a teenage girl who has complained about her parents on Facebook, however they catch wind and in return her father makes a video about it and posts it on her Facebook. It’s a little bit more exciting than that but I’ll let you see that in the video. It’s also interesting to see the response of teenagers on this topic as well (Link).

The idea of your parents being able to follow your movements via Facebook is a touchy subject with a lot of youths, however they can only see what the user decide to show them.

It’s a bit of a touchy subject with a lot of fine lines and thin ice surrounding it. But the issue is mostly up for argument within family circles, as each family is different in how they police their child’s online usage.


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Internet Relay Chat (or IRC)

IRC was at, one point, one of that largest and most used ‘parts’ of the internet, mainly during the 90’s. Simply defined, IRC is  chatroom; a very primitive one at that. Basically you would type messages and send them into the main chatroom, or ‘channel’, and communicate with others.

In the early days of IRC you would have to download an IRC client in order to access an IRC channel. However now days, at least in Google Chrome, the browser has a client built into it making a third party client largely redundant. Anybody with access to the internet could hop onto one of these IRC channels and talk to anyone of the people connected to it. This allowed people from across the globe to communicate with one another without ever actually meeting.

Although IRC was initially invented in 1988 it never really exploded until 1991 when users were suing the IRC channels to get up-to-date information about the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq. The IRC channel that was linked into the country stayed active up to a week after the television and radio broadcast networks were taken down. An archived copy of the IRC chat can be found here.

Now days IRC is not used as much anymore due to the rise of other, more user friendly, instant messaging services; most notably MSN Messenger (now known as Windows Live messenger), Yahoo Messenger and AOL Messenger. IRC now is mostly seen as a low tech way of communicating but is still widely used in some online communities.

One notable mention should be the use of IRC by hacker groups as well as the hacktivist group, Anonymous. IRC channels are widely favoured by these groups for their ability to handle large groups of people as well as giving the users the option to appear anonymously. Anonymous especially used IRC channels to organise wide spread DDOS attacks in 2010.

IRC channels lead the way for modern instant messaging programs. It could be argued that without the existence of IRC channels; MSN, Yahoo, AOL Messenger and the like would not have come to fruition. IRC allowed the sharing of information in real time to people all over the world.

 

Sources:

Internet relay chat (IRC) history 1996, viewed 6 August 2012
<http://www.livinginternet.com/r/ri_irc.htm>

Stenberg, D 2011. History of IRC (Internet relay chat), viewed 6 August 2012
<http://daniel.haxx.se/irchistory.html>

Correll, S 2010. ‘Tis the season of DDOS – wikileaks edition, viewed 6 August 2012
<http://pandalabs.pandasecurity.com/tis-the-season-of-ddos-wikileaks-editio/>


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Lecture 2 ramblings

Terribly late on this one, but I have been a bit busy (lazy) this week.

What I felt like discussing in this post is not something that was directly covered in the lecture, but more of an elaboration on what someone said in the lecture. We were talking about how different things communicate with one another (i.e. animals, humans, plants, etc) and the lecturer posed the question, do animals communicate with one another?

A girl at the back seemed confused at how animals could communicate with each other without having a language. But that raised another question, does language have to be spoken/written?

I would say, no. Sign language is a widely accepted language that consists of nothing but non-verbal gestures. Even though it is not audible or legible does not not make it a language. To me, a language is merely a way of communicating between two or more people (or parties) used a predetermined series of commands. There is only one rule to this definition; repetition. You cannot have language without repetition.

If we bring it back to the girl in the lecture, somebody mentioned to her that bees can communicate with each other non-verbally through dance. Yes, dance. Bees have a system of communicating with each other by moving in what looks like a series of dance steps.

So that really answers the question of whether animals can communicate with each other even though they do not have a verbal/written language, but how about the communication between systems in our own bodies?

Our brain sends messages to different parts of our body constantly, mostly sub-consciously, which determines how our body moves as well as other things such as pain and temperature. I am sure it is significantly more technical and scientific than that, but that is just my basic understanding of it.

I guess what I am trying to get at here is that communication is universal. It is not just something that was invented by man, but exists on many different plains of life.