week 8

Today was all about surveillance. Dataveillance was a new term introduced to me which from what I understand essentially means the tracking and surveillance of yours or anyone else’s online data, be it public or private. In the seminar we were asked a question, how many cameras do we think there are total in the Cockroft library, pretty much everyone said a number around the low to mid 100s which really stuck me but my instincts told me that could not be possible so I said 50 and ended up being right and winning a doughnut. This made me think though, about how watched people feel, and how paranoid people must be if they really believe there are so many cameras everywhere.

Another interesting thing brought to my attention today was the concept of surveillance society, essentially meaning that with out forms of ID such as birth certificate, passport, driving licence, bank statements and so on we technically don’t exist in our society. The term data quantification was also introduced to me for the first time today also, this means the act of putting a value on an individual by using all the data that was collected through their cookies, internet searches, the use of loyalty cars for stores and so on. This bit kind of shocked me, I do not think that people should be valued based on details like those, but rather actual information about them and their knowledge/ education.

week 7

Today was the first seminar lead by students that I attended and it was our group that presented it. We spent a lot of time organising it and doing bits before the seminar so we had to unfortunately miss the lecture.

The topics at hand were digital privacy, privacy and identity theft. We spoke extensively about each one and then had the other students in the seminar essentially “stalk” Maria to see what kind of information they can find in the space of 5 minutes and compare it to all the information we found over the past couple weeks. This is where it got interesting, one of the students just closed her laptop as she felt uncomfortable doing this task which was a prime example of the point we are trying to make, there is so much information about each of us on the internet that has built up over time that anybody can more or less find out our whole life story if they tried.

We then went on to discuss to whom privacy online is more important, an individual or an organisation, people had different views but we all ended up coming to the general agreement that since organisations have many people behind the scenes they benefit more as a whole since they protect not only data of the company but data of the employees. Another point made was that an individuals privacy in that respect is also as important depending on their social capital and following, the more eyes you have on you the more you would want to keep details of your life private.

week 6

Today was interesting, very thought provoking. In the seminar we were already discussing the topics before Maria even came in to ask us questions. I even notices that we were all so passionate about this topic that we ended up not letting Maria have a word, we would just all chain together our points and bounce off each other, it was probably my favourite seminar this semester.

The main topics we discussed were about the opportunities the internet has provided people with to connect and create a community. We watched a video from the late 20th century when the first online chats were created and how people after chatting online met up in person and were having a great time at a gathering, they were all praising the invention and saying how it is such a great step forward for the world.

In the seminar we spoke about how sitting at home on your computer or phone and participating in a Facebook group or a forum with people who have similar interests to you does not automatically make you a part of a community, that only happens when you go outside and actually meet those people face to face. I personally don’t agree with that idea in its entirety but I do think its important for people to come out of their bedrooms and actually socialise.

Tying into this, there was a discussion about how at the same time as connecting people to people the internet has also managed to disconnect and isolate people from the real world. It is extremely easy and “free” to look at celebrities’ lives and think “oh wow look at how perfect their life is, my life is horrible”, where as before the internet and social media you had to actually go out of your way to buy magazines and other media sources to follow celebrities’ lives and you still would not get the amount of information you do today from simply following their instagram.

week 5

This weeks lecture was a little bit on the confusing side, but a lot of interesting concepts were introduced to me. Manuel Castells’ work was the main focus of the lecture. He wrote about the internet  and the connectivity it provides and will provide in the future in the 1990s and basically managed to predict how the world is today. The concept of network society was introduced and from what I understood it is the way we, the public, reinvent and innovate on already existing services and incorporate the use of online network. For example the Boris bikes in London, there are many stations around the city and an app that allows you to see if there are enough bikes or parking spaces at the destination you are going to to help you be connected with the whole scheme. However, network society only works when the network works (i.e. if there is a mechanical/ technical failure the whole thing cannot operate).

The next idea I was introduced to academically was the idea that all this connectivity completely rules out the relevance of time and space as an obstacle. Before the internet you had to plan a business trip to go across the globe to meet with business associates, that trip would take time and you would have travel across space to reach destination, but now all you need to do is open your laptop and call them on Skype. This is how the network society manages to eliminate the analogue concepts of time and space.

week 3

I missed last week’s class so jumping straight into it this week. In the seminar we had a wonderful discussion about approaching and understating new media in a binary way (i.e. good vs bad for the users). We were divided into two large groups and told to come up with arguments for the “good” and the “bad” sides of media in terms of enabling participation, expression and accessing information.

Our group was arguing the “bad” side and the first hings we came up with was how there is never going to be equality in the social capital as there are many people online who have a larger following than others meaning their posts and participation gets more views and they have more chance to influence whoever is reading or viewing their content. We also spoke about how there are areas in the world with restricted access to online media like North Korea and China where web users legally cannot access specific websites and are constantly under surveillance and must be careful about what they post online.

The opposition argued that the internet allows movements such as the #metoo campaign to gain popularity and for peoples stories to be herd and in turn hopefully help resolve and get rid of such issues in the future. But it was also said that some web users simply join in these hashtags as a trend and don’t really know what they are about or support the movement at all.

This brings me to the final point which we all agreed to, at the end of the day its not just about what you post or where or when and by who or how many people its read or viewed, but rather how it is interpreted and what it provokes in another persons mind.