The Internet of Things.

The Internet of Things. I’m currently undecided as to whether this phenomenon impresses me or scares me. Hopefully by the end of this post I’ll have a better idea about how I feel!

It’s predicted that by the year 2020, each person on average will have 6 devices connected to the internet – meaning a total of 50 billion objects will be online and reactive to our every move. Its an overwhelming topic, one that makes me excited for the future but also gives me a chill thinking about what new developments will mean for peoples privacy.

Like the above video points out, theoretically our refrigerator will be able to decide what we’ll be having for dinner, before we even begin to feel hungry. On one hand this is a huge step forwards in terms of efficiency and time management, but on the other it poses a very real threat to the laziness of our society and the priorities that technology deems appropriate.

It seems as though the world’s current ideas are in turmoil. Again using the refrigerator example, what will that mean for franchises like television cooking or advertising? If our refrigerator is making all the important decisions, who will advertising be targeting? It surely wont be me if there are no choices to make!

This idea that everything will be controlled by sensors hooked up to the internet for quick and easy information access is a great one in theory. It’s a step in the right direction for sure, but to what extent do we need this kind of technology in our lives? I think that the above video depicts a world null of decisions and spontaneity; a world where choices are made on your behalf based on previous behavioural algorithms.

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that I was undecided as to the success of ‘The Internet of Things’… well I’ve reached my verdict. Theoretically this is a fantastic idea and one that, in moderation, will definitely make life easier for many people, specifically those with a disability for example. However, I can’t help but feel as though the essence of life is being dragged away by online servers and real-life sensors. I guess in 2020 we’ll have some real answers!

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ily Apple <3

Whatever it is…the streamlined design, user-friendly layout or the superior social status it provides, owning anything apple just makes me feel good.

Apple products are sheik and perhaps the most user-friendly devices in the world. This has always made me feel uneasy about Android owners… why wouldn’t they want to be a pat of this beautiful community called Apple? I know a few people who own androids and I usually come to the same conclusion about each person – they don’t have an apple purely out of principle. From experience, the only types of people who don’t want an apple are the ones who have been hurt by iOS in the past.

It comes down to personal preference and experience with a device but I personally find it a very real struggle to even play music from my friend’s Android mobile (Samsung Galaxy SIII for those curious George’s out there). This is in stark contrast to the ease and familiarity I feel when navigating my iPhone, a phone that can be explored with ease by almost anyone (except my mum).

Despite being briefly educated on the amazing technology that is Android, I feel hesitant to say that I myself would veer from my comfortable Apple bubble and purchase something of such daunting capabilities. After all, the abilities that seem to be such a huge selling point for Android devices are ones that the everyday user would struggle to understand let alone utilize daily. Cadie Thompson, of CNBC, has some tips for those iPhone lovers looking to make the switch.

It’s the overwhelming possibility of non-apple devices that provides me some solace, feeling as though the security and ease of my trusty iPhone is enough to keep me happy… at least until something mind blowing comes along.

I recognize that the Android movement is hot on our heels, in fact it’s so hot that our heels are sizzling! Here is a discussion of  the pro’s and cons of each operating system (iOS vs. Android), revealing that globally, Android greatly outsells iOS is smartphone sales.

[Say Whaaaaat?! http://techland.time.com/2013/04/16/ios-vs-android/%5D

They’re impressive statistics but I don’t feel as though the technology Android provides is necessary to the everyday person like myself, with my gleaming iPhone screen keeping me more than occupied.

#Revolutionary

I’m of the opinion that social media is a wonderful and often underrated tool, capable of maintaining the stability and organisation of various groups. This can be seen particularly in the case of the Arab Spring, with revolutionaries numbering the hundreds of thousands, seen specifically in the mass protesters that assembled at Tahrir Square in Egypt, 2011.

It is here that the conflicting opinions lie – was social media the cause of the Arab Spring or was it merely a catalyst in assisting the already surging revolution?

Often referred to by scholars and journalists as the ‘Twitter Revolution’, the Arab Spring is unique due to its strong dependence on social media to facilitate meetings and assemble the revolutionaries involved in the uprising. A report composed by scholars from Harvard University and George Washington University “analyses… the impact of new media on political movements”. It concludes, “Where Twitter and other new media clearly did matter is how they conveyed information about the protests to the outside world. Traditional media were at a disadvantage in covering events inside Iran because of restrictions placed on journalists, and thus ended up relying on new media for content.” (Aday, S et. al, 2010). This clearly establishes the roles of the citizens directly involved in the revolution and those on the outside world, revealing the importance of social media for both citizens and reporters alike. This example sees social media depicted as an infrastructure for citizens to communicate their revolutionary work, rather than a place to start the revolution itself.

Saleem Kasim, in his article “Twitter revolution: How the Arab Spring was Helped by Social Media”, outlines the usefulness of social media and how its presence during the revolution helped many people to cope and find support, “Through social networking sites, Arab Spring activists have not only gained the power to overthrow powerful dictatorship, but also helped Arab civilians become aware of the underground communities that exist and are made up of their brothers, and others willing to listen to their stories” (Kasim, S 2012).

Kalim also adds that during the revolution, users were able to share “an immense amount of uncensored and accurate information throughout social networking sites”. This is perhaps one of the most important points to make about the role of social media: It’s easy, quick and free! An activist in Cairo during the rebellion tweeted, “We use Facebook to schedule the protests, Twitter to coordinate, and YouTube to tell the world”.

A Tweet takes mere seconds to write and upload and is done so on a very public platform, providing outsiders with a candid view of the situation from people who are actually there in real time. Social media offered citizens the opportunity to get their thoughts and stories into the public sphere freely via social media, effectively bypassing government censorship. I am of the firm belief that without social media, the uprisings in Egypt etc. would have still gone ahead, however it is clear that platforms such as twitter, YouTube and Facebook played numerous roles in assisting citizens and journalists alike at the time.

Wiki-what?

The words ‘Hacker’ and ‘Wikileaks’ are two that immediately shift my focus elsewhere. The mere thought of the Wikileaks phenomenon is enough to bore me to tears. However, that’s the beauty of University – forcing uninterested little punks like me to discover new things and form an informed opinion. I’d like to add that I’m glad to have researched this topic… here’s just some of my new found thoughts about online activism.

Wikileaks emerged as a non-profit organisation that aims to broadcast information to the public. Using a complex string of untraceable websites (and other cool internet stuff), the organisation aims to anonymously reveal wrong doings that appeal to the public’s interest.

Officially launched in 2007, Wikileaks made headlines globally, with it’s founder and publicly recognised figure-head, Julian Assange at the forefront of the publicity. So what made the Wikileaks debacle so newsworthy?

In 2010, Wikileaks published a video (amongst various other revelations) that showed the crew of a United States helicopter laughing as they killed a dozen people in Baghdad. The video was accessed, downloaded and passed onto Wikileaks by then US military Private, Bradley Manning. 25-years old at the time, Manning saw the wrong doings of his own colleagues and countrymen as newsworthy and deemed the horrific actions to be in the public’s best interest.

I am of the firm belief that the men in the video deserve the appropriate punishment. Not only were they allegedly [I can’t speak definitively as the video has been removed by ‘The Guardian’] laughing as they killed unarmed citizens, but were also heard saying “Oh yeah, look at those dead bastards” and “hahah. I hit ‘em”.

So, were private Manning’s actions justified? Understandable even? I think yes – but the court thinks no. On one hand, the men featured in the video deserved to be publicly shamed but on the other, Manning illegally accessed restricted government material.

Unfortunately the courts did not share my opinion and Manning has been sentenced to jail for 35 years – Private Bradley Manning’s story serves as a harsh deterrent for any future whistle blowers who might strive to somehow make a difference.

So it seems that Wikileaks isn’t quite as complicated and shady as I previously assumed. It’s work to try and uncover wrong doings within large corporations and government sector’s is bringing many important issues to the public’s attention. The example of Manning demonstrates the unfortunate reality that is now facing someone purely for displaying honesty and integrity.