I approached this unit with trepidation, pre conceived ideas about the internet and more than a little concern about requirements. I don’t do technology, no smart phone, no apps and no mobile internet. My views come from a keen interest in Human Rights and a love of films like Transcendence. The internet holds untold power that it pays to be wary of. Whilst I do enjoy chatting to my son on Facebook and following news through Al Jazeera and Amnesty International the account is held by my dog. My stick insect enjoys browsing fashion images via Instagram but “selfies” are not a part of our vocabulary and my posts extend to the sharing of political campaigns and raising awareness of issues I hold dear. Not family updates and personal information.
I hold grave concerns for metadata in Australia and the world. I do not support the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Act 2015 and believe in future years we will be playing catch up to claw back the human rights we seemingly gave up with minimal fight. I support Edward Snowden and believe Citizen Four should be mandatory viewing if only to awaken citizens to question. To think about meta data, rights and control on the internet.
My fears were soon relieved and the assessment was challenging yet very enjoyable and to play with technology and explore its benefits was a good experience. I learnt more than I expected and whilst my concerns have only increased. I have also discovered a keen desire to stay abreast of emerging technologies, to deepen my understanding and continue the learning we began. No I have not suddenly jumped on the app band wagon, but feel the issues of equality, privacy and Human Rights are grave and to understand the issues we must keep abreast of the newest technologies. The 3 main issues I have garnered from this unit are those of inequality and access, the internet of things and the issues of privacy and meta data retention that arises and the more positive benefits that arise out of citizen science and activism and whether this new found connectivity could actually lead to global solutions.
Manuel Castell’s Information Capitalism is an intriguing concept and something which I intend to explore further. The idea of networks and the power inequalities created by access to information are increasingly valid. For those who have neither the money nor ability to access and decipher information will surely be left behind. Further disadvantaging the most vulnerable members of our global community. The internet is the creator of vast wealth and yet global inequality is rising to new heights. The haves and have not’s of the digital world are very real and as is commonly demonstrated its not just the access but the ability to decipher the information available that is critical.
We are living in a world that is increasingly connected, our leisure will soon utilise virtual reality allowing fully immersive viewing and our houses of the very near future will be able to connect themselves to the internet. Gartners predictions suggest as early as 2018 6 billion connected things will be requesting support, which means an deluge of meta data to be stored and controlled. Digital vandalism will occur in our homes, with endless possibilities for controlling our homes environment and security. The notion of meta data control either arouses passive acceptance or passionate resistance. The fact remains that through our use of smart phones, ready adoption of social media and many quantifying apps we are willingly handing business and government a plethora of facts about our geographical locations, relationships, buying preferences, leisure habits and jobs. By connecting to google on our smart phones we are allowing the internet giant to record our geographical location every 45 seconds. For many in western nations that is simply the price of convenience. However for any that have suffered or studied the suffering that can be inflicted, by those in power over stepping their authority, the existence of such data is chilling.
One of the most inspiring weeks was the exploration of the gamification of our modern world and whilst at first I was left reeling by the more insidious use of gamification processes as the latest in consumer control. Its use to awaken and inform the general population in real world issues was very positive. The haunting Clouds Over Sidra moved me to tears and the idea of utilising gamification to promote, raise awareness and even combat the worlds most serious issues was a “light bulb” moment. The what ifs…. it produced have prompted me to see the power of the internet in a whole new way and for the first time it may not be as bleak as I first imagined.
The internet is a tool above all else and thus at the whims of whomever chooses to control it. I have newly discovered sites such as Tumblr and the more insidious side of the micro blogging world as a zone for some of the more vulnerable members of our youth to promote #thinspo and #pro ana, ideals that exploit and encourage eating disorders and other mental illness. The sharing of images of self harm are so haunting the feeling of revulsion is absolute. Have you ever Googled ‘suicide’?, the proliferation of how to sites demonstrates the very darkest part of the human psyche.
And yet the idea of a world changed by the disenfranchised gamer; problem solver extraordinaire and deep thinker painted by Jane McGonigal has me viewing emerging technologies in a far more positive light. A world in which the interconnectivity of the internet can be harnessed to allow individuals to influence global outcomes. Sites such as Fold-It and its citizen Science approach to critical research, sees individuals contributing to positive research outcomes. In my spare time I can sort and categorise items in Digivol -an Australian Museum contribution that allows citizen scientist to assist in the digitisation of its collections. Thus broadening their accessability and preserving them for future generations. The future possibilities for technology are endless whether or not they will be a positive influence on our world remains to be seen. One things for sure is they are here to stay and I am now more than ever curious about what the emerging future may hold.