Google headlining the Internet of Things

HAL-9000

The Internet of Things (IoT) is an exciting, and perhaps at first a little worrying concept. I am a big cinephile. Admittedly, when someone tried to explain to me what exactly the ‘Internet of Things’ is – the first thing that comes to mind is the terrifying Hal 9000 of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

However, I think it is a bit better summed up in the following video.

As stated within the video, with the current internet protocol IPv6, it is possible to “…live in a world filled with sensors, with data reacting to us, changing every moment dependent on our needs” (FW: Thinking 2013). So essentially, the Internet of Things is a concept of technologically advancing our previous ‘analog’ items to an unimaginable level. Not only is that idea not far off, it may have already arrived.

Some of these seemingly unrealistic ideas or products might appear optimistic to skeptics, particularly since we are still waiting for a working Hoverboard. However, technology mastermind Google is already in the works of revolutionising the IoT. Just this year, Google bought Nest, a thermostat company, for over US$3 billion (Clark 2014). This move is Google’s first step to market the ‘connected home’. As Miners states, by taking control of Nest, Google is able “to link heating systems, lighting and appliances to the Internet, so they can be made more efficient and be controlled from afar.” (2014).

Than, in June this year, Google’s Nest bought DropCam for US$555 million (Barr & Winkler 2014). DropCam is a “internet-connected video-monitoring service” (Barr & Winkler 2014), that when combined with the Nest hub, will further produce services and products to interconnect the household via the internet.

It is evident that IoT is becoming a very viable market, and Google’s interest in developing and marketing products is, as Kovach states, “…just the beginning of the ‘Internet of Things'” (2014). And if you believe you own a few too many devices now, according to Business Insider Intelligence, that number is expected to grow exponentially with the IoT to become the dominant internet devices in the near future (as depicted in the graph below).

GRAPH: Business Insider Intelligence's projected Global Internet Device installations.

GRAPH: Business Insider Intelligence’s projected Global Internet Device installations.

Sources:

2001: A Space Odyssey 1968, DVD, MGM, Shepperton UK, dir. Stanley Kubrick.

Barr, A & Winkler, R 2014, ‘Google’s Nest to Buy Dropcam for $555 Million; Deal for Video-Monitoring Security Startup Is a Push to Dominate Connected Home Devices’, Wall Street Journal, 20 June, viewed 24 October 2014.

Business Insider Intelligence 2014, ‘Global Internet Device Installed Base Forecast’, Graph, viewed 24 October 2014, <http://static.businessinsider.com/image/52d46f41eab8ea664bb245af/image.jpg&gt;.

Clark, E 2014, ‘Media companies must prepare for the “Internet of Things” with Big Data’, INMA, 26 January, viewed 24 October 2014, <http://www.inma.org/blogs/value-content/post.cfm/media-companies-must-prepare-for-the-internet-of-things-with-big-data&gt;.

FW: Thinking 2013, ‘What is the Internet of Things?’, YouTube clip, 1 March, viewed 24 October, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVlT4sX6uVs&feature=youtu.be&gt;

Kovach, S 2014, ‘Google’s Multibillion Purchase Of Nest Is Just The Beginning Of ‘The Internet Of Things’, Business Insider, 14 January, viewed 24 October, <http://www.businessinsider.com.au/internet-of-things-billions-of-connected-devices-2014-1&gt;.

Miners, Z 2014, ‘Why Google wants to sell Thermostats’, ComputerWorld, vol. 48, no. 2, p. 2.

The Darknet: Just Name Your Poison

A little while back, I discussed the idea of Niche Markets, and their very successful performance on the internet. Well, another very popular Niche market until recently was, of course, the Silk Road.

The only difference between your regular niche markets and the Silk road is that, firstly, the Silk Road is located on the Deep Web, and secondly, Anything was available on the Silk Road.

As discussed by Neal, the majority of internet users frequent the Surface Web (basically anything accessible through search engines such as Google), whereas a small percentage of users can be found on the Deep Web (2013). The Deep Web, as Neal states, is “content hidden from these indexes… meaning they could be accessed only via Tor(2013). Located on this Deep Web was the notorious Silk Road.

So what exactly was available on the Silk Road?

PHOTO: Screenshot of Silk Road on the Deep Web.

PHOTO: Screenshot of Silk Road on the Deep Web.

Of the 10,000 or so items that were readily available on the Silk Road, more than 7,000 were illegal drugs (ranging from MDMA, Marijuana, Cocaine, Heroin ect.). Dubbed the ‘Amazon.com of drugs’ (NPR 2011), the site also sold various items from high-powered weapons and armor, to tutorials on hacking ATMs, counterfeit goods, child pornography and even hitman contracts (Ball 2013).

How were goods bought and sold?

Items available on the Silk Road were tradable with the very controversial Bitcoin, a internet-based currency.

As revealed in the video above, Bitcoin is essentially the world’s first global currency. It is stateless and therefore uncontrolled. Although the use and ownership of Bitcoins is legal, as the currency of choice by Deep Web users, it has concerned many government and law enforcing agencies globally. However the use of Bitcoins is not only restricted to the Deep Web. In fact, sites including WordPress, Reddit and Wikileaks all trade in Bitcoins (Ball 2014).

Despite the Silk Road shutting down last year, DarkNet markets are still a booming business. There are subreddits dedicated to providing subscribers the latest Deep Web site to buy certain goods and items, such as DarkNetMarkets. As well as Explain Like I am 5 (ELI5)  posts that detail how to get on the Deep Web in less than 10 minutesFurthermore, the arguable news site, DeepDotWeb provides the latest news regarding DarkNet Markets, as well as various tutorials and guides informing internet users about the Deep Web.

With a global consumer market, sellers/dealers located globally, as well as a global and uncontrollable currency, I don’t see the FBI shutting down the Dark Network anytime soon. Particularly when the hackers the FBI hope to hire would benefit from the Dark Net Market.

Sources:

Ball, J 2013, ‘Silk Road: the online drug marketplace that officials seem powerless to stop’, 23 March, The Guardian, viewed 24 October 2014, <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/mar/22/silk-road-online-drug-marketplace>.

Ball, J 2013, ‘Silk Road 009’, Image, The Guardian, viewed 24 October 2014, <http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2013/3/22/1363967178098/Silk-Road-009.jpg&gt;.

Estes, AC 2014, ‘The FBI Is Struggling to Hire Hackers Who Don’t Smoke Weed (Updated)’, 20 May, Gismodo, viewed 24 October 2014, <http://gizmodo.com/the-fbi-is-struggling-to-hire-hackers-who-dont-smoke-we-1579183208>.

Neal, RW. 2013, ‘What Is Silk Road? 4 Things You Need To Know About Underground Black Market Shut Down By FBI’, 2 October, International Business Times, viewed 24 October 2014, <http://www.ibtimes.com/what-silk-road-4-things-you-need-know-about-underground-black-market-shut-down-fbi-1414042>.

NPR 2011, ‘Silk Road: Not Your Father’s Amazon.com’, NPR, 12 June, viewed 24 October 2014, <http://www.npr.org/2011/06/12/137138008/silk-road-not-your-fathers-amazon-com>.

Swearingen, J 2014, ‘A Year After the Death of Silk Road, Darknet Markets Are Booming’, The Atlantic, 2 October, viewed 24 October 2014, <http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/10/a-year-after-death-of-silk-road-darknet-markets-are-booming/380996/2/>.

How to take down a Government using 140 characters

5295422-3x2-700x467

PHOTO: Ellen’s Oscar selfie. Most retweeted photo of all time, and elaborate Samsung advertisement.

In the Western world, Twitter and Facebook might have a uninspiring reputation. This isn’t hard to believe when the daily top trends often include Ariana Grande. Or that the most retweeted photo of all time was a selfie of Ellen and several others actors at the Oscars in an obvious Samsung advertisement. But to many other people around the globe, especially those in politically contentious regions, social media is revolutionary.

Citizens of nations involved in the Arab Spring actually used social media sites such as Twitter to mass organise protests and upload politically contentious content. In fact, social media has played a large role in nearly all protests since the Arab Spring. As Howard et al. states, “After analysing over 3 million tweets, gigabytes of YouTube content and thousands of blog posts… social media played a central role in shaping political debates in the Arab Spring.” (Howard et al. 2011).

This is similarly addressed in the video below.

As Cohen states, social media “allowed citizens to fill a gap that was left by mainstream media, where mainstream media was late to arrive” (ForaTv 2011). As such, the unprecedented level of immediacy in communicating information across international borders, whether it be images such as of Mohammed Bouazizi in the Arab Spring protests in Tunisia (ForaTv 2011), or videos of the riots in Turkey during #OccupyGezi.

The extent of the impact social media has had on these recent political revolutions is arguable. Obviously the real work is taken to the streets, but the immediacy of social media has given protesters a tool to organise and aggregate attention to their cause. And the effectiveness is obviously significant, so much so that governments of these protesting regions have tried to ban social media sites such as twitter. For instance, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan labelled Twitter a “menace” and an “extreme version of lying” (BBC 2013). Then, during the upcoming election in March 2014, Turkey banned both Twitter and YouTube (Ozbilgin & Coskun 2014). It is evident that the Arab Spring (and the many protests consequent) are a phenomena of social revolution, whereby social media has become as essential to a protester as a picketing sign and a microphone.

 Sources:

BBC 2013, ‘Turkey protests: Third day of anti-government unrest’, BBC, 2 June, viewed 28 September 2014, <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-22744728&gt;.

Howard, P.N., Duffy, A., Freelon, D., Hussain, M., Mari, W. & Mazaid, M. 2011, ‘Opening Closed Regimes: What Was the Role of Social Media During the Arab Spring?’, viewed 28 September 2014, <http://ictlogy.net/bibliography/reports/projects.php?idp=2170&gt;.

Ozbilgen, O & Coskun, O 2014, ‘Turkey lifts twitter ban after court ruling’, Reuters, 3 April, viewed 28 September 2014, <http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/03/us-turkey-twitter-idUSBREA320E120140403&gt;.

Ellen DeGeneres, 2014, Image, Twitter, 2 March, viewed 28 September 2014, <https://twitter.com/TheEllenShow/status/440322224407314432&gt;.

Technology’s Role in the Arab Spring Protests 2011, video, ForaTv, July 8, viewed 28 September 2014, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZwNb11n9zk&gt;.

Journalism 2.0

What we consider as journalism is currently in a state of convergence. The history of journalism is constantly adapting and shaping to new communication technologies. However, in the past few years an internet phenomena has occurred where everyday citizens are reporting their own news. This is addressed by Brian Conley in the Ted Talk below:

As Conley states, the emergence of the internet and Web 2.0 worldwide has essentially “leveled the playing field” (Conley 2013). Now sites such as Twitter and YouTube offer citizen journalists a platform to aggregate, participate and publish. With such sites, now all a citizen needs to become a journalist is a story and a camera.

But how do citizen journalists differentiate with regular, plain-clothed journalists? There are many concerns regarding citizen journalism, the main issue being credibility. As Morley Safer stated, “I would trust citizen journalism as much as I would trust citizen surgery,” (Krinsky 2009). Issues regarding credibility isn’t new to the public, considering how the News of the World Phone Hacking Scandal impacted on Murdoch media. Rather, the arguments regarding credibility, publishing and immediacy are all blurring as citizen journalism and traditional journalism are shaped and interchanged. As addressed in the Economist, citizen journalists, and in particular foreign correspondents, are pairing up with news branches by selling or providing their stories, photographs and videos (2013).  One such example is the Boston Globe during the Boston bombings of April last year. The Boston Globe used tweets and photographs from local tweeters to report on the event as it happened.

Throughout the day, citizens would communicate with reporters of the Globe through twitter to report current news. This level of immediacy is historically unheard of. Due to the efforts of the Boston globe and citizen journalists, hundreds of thousands of people were provided updates live from the scene (Twitter Media 2014).

So where does this leave the future of journalism? Although citizen journalism may be a groundbreaking source for information, many people are still looking towards news corporations for their source of news. Therefore, if the two work together (as many currently are), our news will not only be even more immediate, but perhaps more authentic too.

Sources:

Conley, B 2012, Citizen Journalism is Reshaping the World: Brian Conley at TEDxMidAtlantic, Tedx Talks, 17 December, viewed 20 September 2014, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kY-l9UQpf0Y&gt;.

Economist 2013, ‘Foreign Correspondents; Citizen Journalism’, The Economist, vol. 407, no. 8838, p. 62.

Krinsky, A 2009, ‘Morley Safer: “I Would Trust Citizen Journalism As Much As I Would Trust Citizen Surgery’, TV Newser, 21 May, viewed 20 September 2014, <http://www.mediabistro.com/tvnewser/morley-safer-i-would-trust-citizen-journalism-as-much-as-i-would-trust-citizen-surgery_b28441&gt;.

Twitter Media, 2014, ‘The Boston Globe uses Twitter during a crisis’, Twitter Media, viewed 21 September, <https://media.twitter.com/success/bostonglobe-uses-twitter-to-source-news-and-keep-the-public-informed-during-the-boston&gt;.

Apples and Oranges

filepicker-sgEhQPYIS5eJCUX7ynid_Apples-and-Oranges

In life, it appears that there will always only be two choices. Left or Right. Holden or Ford. Playstation or Xbox. Capulet or Montague. Capitalism or Communism. But the greatest, most life-changing is iOS or Android.

To many, they are just a type of phone/tablet/computer and now even a watch.

Both systems boast sexy and sleek electronics. And the differences between the two is almost like comparing apples and oranges. But to the dedicated many, it is a way of life.

iOS can be considered as closed or proprietary software. The decision to limit Apple’s products under this style of software was made with the release of the iPhone. As Zittrain (2010) states, after 30 years of products with open-source software, the iPhone dropped this feature, not allowing outside programming. This means that modifying, redistributing and sharing the software is exclusive to the copyright holder.

Android, in comparison, can be considered as open-source software. Android, which was founded by Andy Rubin in cooperation with Google, lays its primary foundations in open-source software principles. As Roth claims, Rubin interpreted Android as “a free, open source mobile platform that any coder could write for and any handset maker could install” (2008).

The two styles have their individual benefits. Raymond compares the differences between closed and open source software to a Cathedral and a Bazaar (2001). Raymond likened the closed software to a cathedral “carefully crafted by individual wizards or small bands of mages working in splendid isolation” (2001, pp. 2). Although the overall design may be great, it has difficulty in becoming improved or developed outside of that ‘small band’. Whereas open-source software, such as android, is similar to “a great babbling bazaar of differing agendas and approaches” (Raymond 2001, pp. 2). Each user, likewise to a seller at a bazaar, is a co-developer.

Interestingly, in China, Google isn’t the primary app store on Android mobiles. I came to this shocking realisation after touching down in Shanghai. As Google is banned by the Great Firewall of China, this made accessing the app store, maps or even my Gmail impossible. In China there is over  700 million smartphone owners, of whom the majority use android devices such as Samsung and Xiaomi. As Google is blocked, the Android open-source software allows the use of several other systems, such as the Chinese google-equivalent, Baidu. The Baidu app store is the most accessed alternative for android users in China (Millward, 2014).

Sources:

Bischoff, P 2014, ‘What you need to know about China’s 700 million smartphones and tablets’, Tech In Asia, viewed 14 September, <https://www.techinasia.com/chinas-700-million-smart-devices-umeng/&gt;.

Millward, S 2014, ’10 alternative Android app stores in China’, Tech in Asia, 3 June, viewed 14 September 2014, <https://www.techinasia.com/10-android-app-stores-china-2014-edition/&gt;.

Raymond, E 2001, ‘The Cathedral and the Bazzar’, O’Reilly Media, viewed 14 September.

Roth, D 2008, ‘Google’s Open Source Android OS Will Free the Wireless Web’, Wired Magazine, 26 June, viewed 13 September 2014, <http://archive.wired.com/techbiz/media/magazine/16-07/ff_android?currentPage=all&gt;.

Screen Genius, Image, Apples to Oranges, viewed 14 September 2014, <http://s3.amazonaws.com/rapgenius/filepicker%2FsgEhQPYIS5eJCUX7ynid_Apples-and-Oranges.png&gt;.

Zittrain, J 2010, ‘A fight over freedom at Apple’s core’, Financial Times, 3 February, viewed 14 September 2014, <http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/fcabc720-10fb-11df-9a9e-00144feab49a.html#axzz3DICiCqL5&gt;.

Copyright Law: Enforcer of Big Businesses.

This week, Disney decided to sue one of the world’s leading DJs, Deadmau5, as the electronic producer’s signature performance head-piece, known as the ‘mau5head’, resembled Disney’s Mickey MouseDeadmau5′ iconic head piece has been used thoroughly throughout his career, which began in the mid-1990s.

(PHOTO): Disney's Mickey Mouse on the left, Deadmau5 on the right.

(PHOTO): Disney’s Mickey Mouse on the left, Deadmau5 on the right.

The current copyright laws are recognised practically worldwide under the Berne Convention in 1886. Over 150 countries signed the convention, which requires the signatory countries to recognise author’s works from other signatory countries. Although the US did not sign into the convention until the late 1950s, copyright and subsequent copyright laws were nonetheless governed.

Disney is well known for their near-extortionate use of Copyright law to eliminate any type or form of creativity that borrows any Disney element. It is therefore a little contradictory considering many of Disney’s successful films could be considered as copyright infringement. In 1928, Disney released the iconic Steamboat Willie; one of the first cartoons that depict the infamous Mickey Mouse.

However, as Lessig claims, the whole idea of the cartoon was based on the 1928 silent film, Steamboat Bill, Jr. by Buster Keaton (2004). Lessig continues, stating at the time such an act, what is considered now a blatant and extreme example of copyright infringement, was perfectly legal (2004). During the 1920s of America, copyright law only extended to 30 years before being released to the public domain. This essentially allowed any works of creativity that were older than this period able to be modified, adapted or recreated without paying royalties to the author. Even though Disney’s Steamboat Willie and Keaton’s Steamboat Bill, Jr. were released in the same year, this practice was normal at the time (Lessig 2014). The same is extended to many of Disney’s feature films, such as Aladdin, Pocahontas and The Little Mermaid, which have their origins based in tales from various cultures and traditions.

Since this period, the laws regarding copyright law and infringement have become far stricter and, as a result, restricting the creative access of artists and authors. Currently, the laws in the US restrict any works from entering the public domain until 70 years after the death of the author. These laws, which are solely protecting many of the big labels and producers such as Disney whose works are slowly finding there way towards the public domain on their copyright timeline.

Sources:

Lessig, L 2004, Creators. In Free Culture: How Big Media uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Strangle Creativity, viewed 6 September, <http://www.authorama.com/free-culture-4.html>.

Michaelson, J 2014, ‘Mickey Mouse takes Deadmau5 to court’, The Daily Beast, viewed 6 September, <http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/09/03/battle-of-the-mouses-mickey-mouse-v-deadmau5.html>

Michaelson, K 2014, Two Logos, Image, viewed 6 September, <http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/09/03/battle-of-the-mouses-mickey-mouse-v-deadmau5.html>

Copyright Service 2011, ‘International Copyright Law: The Berne Convention’, viewed 6 September, <http://www.copyrightservice.co.uk/copyright/p08_berne_convention&gt;.

U.S Copyright Office, ‘Copyright Basics’, PFD, viewed 6 September, pp. 5 – 6, <http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf&gt;.