No Wi-Fi and No Beer Make Conor Go Something, Something…

theinternetiscool(image source)

I dare say that the internet connection in my home has become the most important bill to be paid each month.  Although, I do suppose the electricity to run the router/ devices is also kind of a necessity.  We are quite a digitally connected family, each with multiple devices constantly accessing the far reaches of the internet every day (apparently there are about 20 currently linked to our router).

However, the ways in which we use the internet are each very different.  I would say my mother’s internet habit are rather typical for someone of her generation in that its primary use is for connecting with her family overseas, keeping up with news, and looking at YouTube videos to try and remain ‘hip and cool’.

My younger sister is always either connected to social media through her phone, or is in bed binge watching TV shows like that goddamn ‘Pretty Little Liars’.  I’m actually staring to worry about her neck posture as her head is always tilted towards a screen.  But I would venture to guess her internet use would be comparable to anyone else her age.

For my father, probably the most knowledgeable about technology in the house, our internet connection functions as a means for both work and relaxing.  His study is home to the almighty router and is the central hub for all tech in our family.  Thanks to his interest in computers and the internet, we have been fortunate enough to not still be on terrible plans or dial-up like I’ve read in some other people’s posts.

Being the tech-wiz he is, all problems with the internet are directly straight at Dad.  The connection dropped out – “DAAAAAAAAAAD!”  The lights are flashing but there’s no signal – “DAAAAAAAAAAD!”  My computer is running slow – “DAAAAAAAAAAD!”  Now obviously these problem are in no way his fault, but it’s always nice to be able to throw them onto someone else.

He started his career in computing back in the early 80’s and has work closely with the industry since, so I thought it would be a good idea to see his take on how the internet and our interactions with it have changed over time.

He spoke about societies move from “once picking up the phone and having ‘dial-tone’, to the concept now being called ‘web-tone’.”  Just like it was expected for people to have a landline to be contacted on in their home, we are now expected to be contactable via the internet.

“Everyone now has the internet, everyone is expected to be on the internet.  If your modem goes out, it’s a massive drama.  You expect always to be connected when you pick up any of your devices, whether it’s a laptop or mobile phone or PlayStation.”

“We’ve gone beyond the phone now, beyond ‘dial-tone’ it’s not important anymore because everyone uses their mobile phone or they use the internet to communicate with each other.  So the landline phone is now becoming pretty well redundant.  The only thing you use the phone line for now is your ADSL-2 connection… to the internet.”

Dad was able to watch the internet from its very beginning, and he said that while we have seen some much expansion in terms of accessibility, there are still aspects that have changed very little.  The next phase for Australia is the National Broadband Network or NBN, and term that many should be familiar with, and definitely sick of hearing by now.

While it is promising a faster and more reliable internet service for Australians, the stories coming from current users are often mixed.  There are many users having troubles with high user levels around peak times.  So I checked my area (Menai) and it’s like we have been put in this no NBN wasteland.  According to the NBN site, there aren’t even any plans for when preparation will commence.  Now, we don’t typically experience any issues with our current internet service in terms of drop-outs or lagging connections, but the promise of faster speeds gives me such great hope for the future… Maybe.

Here are a few little statistics from the ABS about Australia’s internet usage if you’re feeling extra curious.

Advertisements

It’s Who You Know, Not What You Know

download
(source)

Networking is very much one of the most important aspects of work in many industries.  It’s as much about who you know as what you know.  As mentioned in Bradwell & Reeves’ book ‘Network Citizens’, the way in which people interact within these networks can have a profound impact on the formal structures that may already be in place.  Networking is most definitely not a new concept or activity as we are inherently social people and have created networks for thousands of years.  But the rise of networking in recent times with the invention of microelectronics and social communication services like LinkedIn, has meant we have been developing networks more efficiently and on a much larger scale.

With these networks comes a shifting dynamic in the workplace.  They are often self-organised and informal, which can have a great effect on many aspects of the business such as team building and morale.  However, they may also have a tendency to exclude and isolate individuals and groups, leading to the undermining and clashing with traditional hierarchical structures.

Working in different environments and with many different people has shown me that networking is a wonderful tool as it can aid in growing relationships and bringing groups of people closer. Although, I do agree that it can be used for more sinister purposes such as the exclusion of others or mutiny (if you’re Marlon Brando).

As we become further invested in social media and the barrier between work and home life becomes even more blurred due to technology, I can see networking playing a larger and larger role in how we interact within business settings, as well as in outside contexts.

Networkin’ it

gwcjw9y7-1364530391
(source)

It may only be the second topic that we have taken a dive into, but this week’s look at ‘The Network Society Paradigm’ has definitely had me intrigued.  Our communications have taken a great shift from the centralised telegraph office and telephone switchboard, to the more decentralised and distributed networks that we see on the internet.

Centralised networks see all information pass through a central (hence the name) hub before being directed to the intended recipient.  One of the greatest problems we see with this system is the inherent threat of censorship or watchdog behaviour by those who control the hub.

A good analogy was brought up in this week’s tutorial about a telegraph office.  If a group of people were communicating through telegraph, the operator has to read and then encode the message so that it can be transcribed on the receiving end by another telegraph operator.  This system works fine until there is something that the telegraph operator does not wish to send.  They have the power and ability to alter or not send the message at all to suit their needs.

Decentralised networks function in sort of the same way that centralised networks operate.  There are still hubs through which information flows, but on a much smaller and more divided scale.  The Second World War saw the German army employ decentralised networks to issue orders to their soldiers in the field of battle.  ‘Blitzkrieg’ meaning ‘lightning war’, was used to quickly manoeuvre and adapt military tactics as situations unfolded rather than waiting for high orders from central command.  This meant that smaller hubs could control smaller units of soldiers making it more efficient. (But I suppose this is an argument against Decentralised networks, because we all know how the war ended hmmmmmmmmmmmmm)

The greatest problem that can arise with these networks is the destabilisation caused by an outage in the hub.  If there is a problem in the central processing node, the system falls apart as the periphery nodes do not contact each other.

Distributed networks operate on the principle that all nodes are created equally and that the flow of information is even across all parts.  There is no central hub for the distribution of information, and all nodes in the network have the ability to connect with each other.  The advantage of this is that if one node goes out the system remains fully functional.  The only way to completely close the network would be to destroy every single component.  The Pirate Bay is an excellent example of this, authorities may try to close down the website, but due to the distributed nature of the network it can’t be completely destroyed.  Like a Hydra, for every head to cut off, two more appear.

I hope this has make these ideas a little clearer with the use of the graphic and examples.

Live In The Now

*

What a time to be alive, it’s amazing to think about how far human communication has come in the past 200 years or so.  From the then incredible 8 words per minute using the Telegraph in 1866 to the now instantaneous nature of our messaging over the internet our interactions have changed dramatically.  The critique of the telegraph claiming that it was “too fast for the truth” definitely mirrors the sentiments of modern messaging methods whereby you’re expected to reply as soon as you receive the message (a frustration that I’ve experienced on both sides).  Though it is interesting to consider the advancements that I have experienced in my life short lifetime.  From the massive PCs and brick phones Dad had brought home in my younger years, to now having the ability the access the world from my pocket.

*The Jospeh Ducreux meme is obviously not being used in the original context, but I do feel works with the caption.

The Times They Are A-Changin’

As a disclaimer, this blog post has absolutely nothing to do with Bob Dylan, but I do think that the quote is rather
relevant.

So, I imagine that everyone this week will be interviewing parents, grandparents and other older people whose first experience with television was in Australia.  So to find a different angle and perspective I decided to interview my very Irish mother.  My Dad, Sister and I constantly joke about how absolutely boring Irish television is whenever we are over there, so it was interesting to see what Mam thought about it as a child.

We’ve never really spoke about her television viewing as a child before, I guess it just wasn’t something that I thought held a great deal of influence over my own.  But the more we discussed about the media when she was growing up, the more I realised many of the parallels I could draw between the two.

Mam spent her childhood in Graiguenamanagh, Co. Kilkenny; a river-side town about two hours south of Dublin; and one of my favourite places in the world.  Growing up as the youngest in a family with seven siblings, TV was a more central part of her entertainment than that of her older brothers and sisters.

I think one of the most remarkable things about our exchange was the incredible detail she could recall about different elements of her experience.  The space in which the TV inhabited is now drastically different to where I’m familiar with it sitting in her childhood house.  So hearing her talk about how it used to be was really intriguing.

The main TV in the house was placed next to the record player in the “sitting room”.  Around the black and white set made by PYE was a photo of my Grandad in his younger years (a photo that sits in that room to this day), and a blue and white delft vase with white plastic chrysanthemums.

Television in Ireland wasn’t broadcasted during the day with children’s programs beginning at 4:55pm.  There was only a single television channel, RTE (Radio Telefis Eireann), with all programs being introduced by a “beautiful lady called Thelma Mansfield”.

It wouldn’t be Ireland if there wasn’t some heavy catholic presence, so at 6pm on the dot every night the bells rang out for the Angelus prayer.  This was followed by the news, in English then followed by Irish.  She laughed about how that if anyone were to speak during the news my Grandad would go “bonkers”, cupping his hand around his ear and shushing everyone so he could hear.  Broadcasting finished with a goodnight message in Irish from Thelma… “Oíche mhaith agus codladh sámh” (Goodnight and sleep peacefully) at 11:30pm, a phrase that she uses every night with my sister and I.

One thing that Mam spoke very fondly about was how when they were younger, she and her older brother Kieran would be “snuggled” into the armchair together and watch ‘The Wonderful World of Disney’ films at 6:30pm on a Sunday.  A funny coincidence as when my sister and I were younger, we too would share the experience of watching ‘Saturday Disney’ on a Saturday morning religiously.  But maybe that just goes to prove what a grip Disney has on the children’s entertainment market.

While we do share some similarities in how we view television, it’s also very apparent just how much is different.  The way we consume media has changed dramatically between our childhoods, so it will be interesting to observed the differences that occur between my early years and that of my offspring. .

Obligatory Introductory Post-ory ;)

Sooooooooo introductions, eh?

Although I have already written a welcome type post on this blog, it was a year and a half ago for BCM110.  So I do suppose that another wouldn’t hurt at all.  I’m Conor (I know right, what a shocker, the name of the blog wasn’t lying holy shit), and I’m a second year B Media & Communications/ B International Studies student majoring in Advertising, Marketing & PR.

My role in the ‘media space’ is that of a near addict.  I am constantly on my phone refreshing various social media platforms in fear that I’ll miss out on something if I look away.  However, most of the time it is usually like the fridge at home, in that you keep opening it but nothing ever changes. (Even now, trying to write this post has me checking back and forth through tabs of facebook and instagram.)

It’s funny to think that I’m part of the last group of people who will know what it’s like to grow up without the internet being a a major part of childhood.  Kind of like the last group to not have a device in their hand at birth.  All the time I see people uploading photos of a group of friends together, but they’re all on their phones.  Through the media we have become more and less connected than ever before, and that’s a scary thought for human interactions to come.

So without sounding like a middle-aged ‘mommy’ blogger posting inspirational quotes, let’s see what the future holds for my media space and presence.