We are Anonymous; We are legion; We do not forgive, We don’t not forget; Expect us


(via MrConservative)

Hacktivism: Hacking and Activism

Some real next level word blending right there.

When you think of the term ‘hacktivist’, for me at least, there is one name that comes to mind; Anonymous.

If you’re unfamiliar with the movement and its efforts, then you may know them by their heavy use of Guy Fawkes’ image.  Guy Fawkes of the ‘Gunpowder plot’ fame, or more recently as the mask used in the film ‘V for Vendetta’.

Imagery aside, what do hacktivists actually do?  As Davis writes, hacktivism is “the use of computers and computer networks to promote political ends, chiefly free speech, human rights, and information ethics”

This is very much in line with the message the Anonymous collective promotes.  I say collective rather than group or organisation, because of their lack of centralisation. Anonymous is more of an idea perpetuated by what should be the free and open nature of the internet.  And this is where its power lies, in decentralised nodes united for the freedom of information and people.  Anyone can represent Anonymous.

Watching the video, you’re almost waiting for Dr. Evil to pop up and demand “One Million Dollars”.  But really, it speaks a lot about justice, truth and freedom, while still naming themselves a “terrorist organisation… for corporations” and “wicked infiltrators”.  This language kind of makes me wonder whether this hacktivism is good or bad.

Where do you guys sit on the Robin Hood-esque idea of ‘hacking the rich to give to the poor’ or just opening up information to the world?

We are Anonymous; We are legion; We do not forgive, We don’t not forget; Expect us.

Have a watch of this too if you’re after some more information.

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Prosuming and Our New Participatory Media Culture

underwater-museum-mexico-inertia-man-watching-tv-obese-fast-food-junk-fat-lazy-couch-potato-statue-sculpture-art
(Sculpture & Photo by Jason deCaires Taylor)

This week we took a look at how journalism has been shaped and changed by the introduction of social media.  While ‘traditional’ media sources were seen as being monologic, we can now participate in a meaningful back and forth with those who are creating and disseminating news content through outlets like twitter and facebook.

Here’s a video I made explaining a little more about this shift in journalism.

How to Initiate a Revolution; A Tale of Tweets and Twits

I know that whenever I see someone on my Facebook feed try to spark public interest or involvement through sharing photos and other things, all I can think is “Oh my good God, you are such a tosser… no one cares!”

I guess part of my distaste for these ‘social media activists’ or ‘slacktivists’, is that in many cases it’s for personal gain.  More likes, more followers… mo problems?

“LIKE THIS PICTURE IF YOU WANT TO HELP THEM” or “PEOPLE ARE DYING IN THE MIDDLE EAST, LET’S GET THIS PHOTO TO 1 MILLION LIKES” or the ever great “SHARE IF YOU LOVE JESUS, KEEP SCROLLING IF YOU WORSHIP SATAN”

Really? You can’t be serious.

But I suppose that is the reality for these people when they live in places where war and human rights atrocities aren’t issues for them.

In my eyes, social media has become one of humanity’s greatest assets.  We are globally connected at every moment of the day.  With this interconnectedness on a grand scale, we have seen social media utilised for activism that has brought about real change.  Real-time conversations are being had by like-minded people across the globe.  Those who were once on the periphery of social change can join the conversation, and be heard.  We saw this with the #ArabSpring, and #OccupyWallStreet movements being spread and organised at incredible speed across Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.

But I suppose the point I’m trying to make about this ‘social media activism’ is that it all means nothing without action.  It’s all very well for you to take interest, but without serious and substantial action, it does very little.

Meme via Me (http://imgur.com/xlcAW7v)

Open or Closed: The Choice is Yours


(via Tech Week Europe)

Haven’t I already made a post about this… anyway.

As you can imagine with using Apple (more specifically iOS) and Android systems as examples of open and closed sources, the debate often turns to which group thinks they’re the best.  As Ted mentioned in his lecture, this is such a great example because of the clarity and real world applications of these opposing ‘philosophies’.

Apple as you may already know operates its products in a closed system.  By closed we mean that there’s next to nothing that you can modify and tweak on their devices outside of this network.  This is unless you know how, of course.  But what it does mean is that Apple sees very high profit margins as they have no competition within their system.  For Apple the user experience for consumers is paramount, hence we see a lack of consumer driven innovation and flexibility.

However, Android devices operate in an open source system.  Users can experience near limitless customisability on their devices.  This open and free source model means that there are many Android compatible devices on the market, and at a variety of price points.  This large array also means that Android devices are subject to the ‘long-tail’, with some phones like Samsung’s S range being quite popular, while a large amount don’t experience such great sales.

In the end, the choice between platform types and functions is purely down to a user’s preferences.  What does a user want in their device/ product?  Uniformity and consistency across devices, or the freedom to make a device truly their own through flexible customisation.

I have always wondered whether our choice between the platforms says something more about our personalities, or who we are.  Are we just following trends we see within our own societies, or do our choices of these open/ closed sources carry deeper meanings.

Throwback: A Reflection on Media, Audience and Place

There is just something different about BCM subjects…

Completing a double degree with International Studies, I get to see a range of different students.  While INTS may still be in the same faculty, the way tutorial groups behave/ interact is still very different to those in BCM.  In BCM there’s an engagement with the content and with each other that I see on a whole other level.  And a part of me thinks this may be due to the blogging assignments.  Our interactions in the lectures and tutorials sparks discussions, not unlike other subjects, but this then leads to that weekly post where your discussions develop into something more.  Something that is publicly presented.

While writing for this blog, I have never done so with an audience in mind.  I tag the posts only with #BCM240, so unless someone is stumbling across that tag I would assume the only people seeing my posts would be those who are in this course.  Has this had an impact on how I write these posts?  Maybe.

I try to make my style of writing as conversational as possible, because although very academic and serious sounding pieces of writing can be wonderfully informative, I think they are boring as hell to read.  The kind of rule I tried to write by is ‘If I would hate reading it, other people would too’, and I don’t think I could rest easy knowing that I had subjected someone the something terribly boring. (Although, this could be/ probably is pretty boring to read, and I’ve just totally ruined everything :/ ).

While this approach may produce more engaging content for the weekly topics, I find that sometimes the disjointed nature with which I form ideas for my pieces is often visible in my published work (probably through my poor proof-reading).

Until this subject, I had never really invested a great deal of effort into the design and functionality of this blog.  I had seen it as a medium for which my assignments could be viewed and graded, and nothing more.  Having the blog itself as a marked component for this subject (for obvious reasons) I needed to change my outlook on the role it plays.  It has always been very easy to just writing something, press publish, and upload a link to Moodle on the due date (which I guess is exactly what this will be like…).  But I now have to look at this space as a place to engage readers, not just through the content I am producing, but through the overall experience that this site can offer someone who visits.
(I am still yet to settle on a format/ design that I feel satisfies my need to simplicity, while still being functional, but I sure I will find one soon.)

My favourite part of these blogging assessments is being able to read and engage with other people who in some cases are just as lost as I am.  The ability to view other people’s writings has definitely made me not only a better writer; both in my expression of ideas and the concepts that I explore, but has also made me more engaged in these topics.  The fact the there is a wide range of views being posted in the #BCM240 tag, has aided me in informing and crafting my own perspectives on the topics.

I think that our ability to praise or be critical of our peers work is wonderful tool, and makes the blogging experience so much more enriching than having to do the usual sending in a word document.

Engagement, engagement, engagement. In my eyes this has perhaps been the single greatest part of the BCM240 subject.  From both ends of the process, engagement is key.  You need to be engaged in the weekly topics, and this is something I have found incredibly easy to do.  Not only because the subjects that we are exploring are interesting, and very much applicable to our lives.  But also through the support in the tutorials both from other students and from a tutor who is totally invested in these topics herself (shout out to KB).

The other side of engagement comes from the very blogs that we are writing.  I would consider a successful blog post one that satisfies the reader, but leaves them wanting a little more *wink*.  So crafting something that will keep the reader engaged while still exploring the subjects effectively is of absolute importance.

While I have come to really enjoy this form of assessment, my greatest weakness/ the bane of my existence is my time management skills.  A regime of posting regularly at the start of the semester just fell apart as usual.  Unfortunately I think this may lend itself to more casual style that the blogging format affords.  As much as I tell myself it won’t happen in week 1, it is just inevitable.

So here’s to Audience, Media and Place, a subject that has made me explore and engage like no class before it.

Ethics are in the View-Finder of the Beholder

man on train taku

We are so preoccupied with whether or not we could, we didn’t stop to think if we should.  A somewhat bastardised version of Jeff Goldblum’s famous quote from Jurassic Park, but one that I think holds great meaning in the debate surrounding public photography.

I absolutely love street photography, seeing images of people captured while doing menial/ everyday tasks.  There is just something intriguing and weird about seeing strangers complete these activities (crossing the street, running for a bus, etc.).  But when you’re capturing people’s images should you let them know?  Ask beforehand, and you may ruin the authenticity of the shot, try and ask after and you may not get the chance.  Surely it must be an unrealistic expectation.

man on stairs taku

As we have evolved from using big bulky cameras to smartphones, the way we approach photography has also evolved.  It’s safe to say that everyone now holds the power to take a photo, and regardless of skill anyone can now be a photographer.  But because the ability to photograph is now so widely accessible, have the ethics surrounding taken people’s photos changed?

Whether we like it or not in public we are constantly under ‘surveillance’ from CCTV cameras in the streets or photos being taken by others around us.  So if we can happily enter public spaces with the knowledge that we are being photographed should we care if someone ‘actively’ captures our image?  What I mean by this is, should we enter public space with the knowledge that we will inevitably be photographed, whether that’s by a professional or someone snapchatting their coffee.

street taku

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
That should be the greatest take-away from this, and a perspective which should be applied to many activities not just public photography.  The law may be on your side when it comes to taking these photos, but like… don’t be a dick.  If someone expresses their displeasure with you snapping them, respect this and just don’t do it.

For me, one of the most fun things about working in the city is trying to ‘photo-bomb’ tourist’s snaps.  I can only imagine what they think when they look through their cameras later and see a 6’2” white guy standing behind them.  But for as many images that I try to get into, I wonder how many have been taken without my knowledge?  In that moment, no matter how insignificant my presence is in that image, we have a common connection.  Two people who may otherwise have shared nothing, now have something.

While there is no law regarding taking pictures of people in public, you should always be wary of your subject and surroundings.  Personally, I think that unless you are actively engaging or having a specific person or group as the subject/ focus of that image, you shouldn’t need to seek their permission.  But I don’t think that this is an ethical dilemma that will be easily resolved soon.

hong kong flats

For some other perspectives on this ethical debate please go and check out these guys:

And for some more of the beautiful examples of public photography featured in this article have a look at the work of Australia music producer, photography and all-round good dude Ta-ku via Instagram or his website.

An Acceptable Social Activity Where Being Actively Social Is Unacceptable.

(Generic cinema photo brought to you by EventConnect)

I would consider myself a bit of a ‘cinephile’, I absolutely love watching films whether it’s a critically-acclaimed masterpiece or something a little more left of centre.  When I was younger, going to “the movies” was an experience usually only reserved for the school holidays, and it was always a really big deal.  A whole day would be set aside to eat popcorn and sit in a darkroom with a bunch of strangers.  An acceptable social activity where being actively social is unacceptable.

But now, I rarely find myself going to see a film at places like Event or Hoyts anymore.  The fond memories of enjoying the cinema as a child have been replaced with a feeling of outrage for the amount that it costs to see a film, especially when you include the essentials like buttered cardboard bites and an ‘insta-diabetes’ sized soda.  And now with ‘torrenting’ and streaming services like Netflix being so widely accessible, it no longer seems like such an attractive social activity.

As with any undertaking any venture, there are many limitation that are considered.  In the late 1960’s the Swedish geographer Torsten Hagerstrand introduced the concept of ‘time geography’, an analysis of an individual’s movement through space and time (some reeeeeal sci-fi sounding shit right there).  Hagerstrand recognised three constraints that limit everyday activities:

Capability – The restrictions faced due to natural causes (eating, drinking, and sleeping in order to be able to function).

Coupling – Overcoming the limitations of human potential (using a car to get somewhere faster than could naturally be achieved).

Authority – The rules and regulations imposed on the individual (societal laws and protocols, like the trading hours of stores and venues).

This week’s task was to get to a cinema and see a film (I guess somewhat inherent in going to the cinema), although it was a goal that I couldn’t achieve due to a culmination of Hagerstrand’s constraints.   So I think I’d like to analyse my most recent cinema experience, Mad Max: Fury Road, while exploring both how Hagerstrand’s constraits impact actions, and talk a little about cinema/ movie-going behaviour… I think?

A couple of my mates and I had been talking about seeing the movie a few weeks before, and luckily we had settled on a night that suited each other’s agendas (Coupling).  I had a late work meeting in the city and was at the mercy of Sydney Trains (colloquially/formally known as Shitty Rail) as a means of making it back to Miranda in time to see the film (Coupling).  The scheduling/ making time part of taking a trip to the cinemas is definitely the hardest part.  You can’t exactly turn up at 2am and expect to see something (Authority).  So we had all made it on time, and luckily the tickets had been purchased online made sure that we were allowed to be there (Authority), not to mention that it was an MA15+ film and we didn’t even get asked for ID (also, Authority)… score!  But the looks of displeasure from the ‘non-online’ patrons were hilarious as we were called over to the counter before them.

The experience of seeing such a visual film as Mad Max in a cinema was not to be beaten.  The rumbling engines that vibrated the seats, the heavy metal blaring through the speaker (although, not too loud as turn ruin the viewing experience), and the vibrant colours were all things that made the $22 ticket worthwhile.  It’s one hell of an extreme movie, and I don’t think that you could feel the true intensity anywhere other than in a cinema seat.  I know this is off on a little bit of a tangent, but for me to test this theory I watched it again on my laptop while at home, and it just wasn’t the same.  The film lacked the ‘on-the-edge’ intensity I felt while at the movies.

So I guess you have to wonder what going to the cinema will be like in 10 years from now, or if it will still be such a popular social activity.  It’s an Australian past-time, but is it becoming too much of a luxury experience to be enjoy by all?  I’d definitely love to see movie theatres thriving, but I think there needs to be more work done to improve movie-going experiences while not breaking the bank.

The Short Tale of the Long-Tail

6a01156e42deab970c0168ebc50e45970c-800wi

(Image via TechnoLlama)

I guess that bigger really is better, or at least that’s what we’re seeing in the when we talk about the ‘long-tail’ effect.  The theory was first proposed by Chris Anderson in an article for Wired Magazine in 2004.  To compete in a market place like the entertainment industry, businesses who are offering larger amounts of niche information and products are in many instances coming out on top.  Bookstores are a wonderful example for this as we are seeing them slowly decline in relevancy and popularity.  ‘Brick and mortar’ bookstores only have a limited amount of shelf space, and to maximise sales they use a strategy of stocking and selling the most popular titles at that point in time.  However, due to their near limitless warehousing sites like Amazon are able to cater for the ‘long-tail’ market by aggregating and offering a massive amount of content that is more appealing to the interests of many niche groups.  The total amount of sales in these many niche markets will always be higher than that of the smaller group of ‘popular’ books.

For some futher information on the ‘long-tail’, Chirs kept a blog going more in depth about it all
http://longtail.typepad.com/the_long_tail/