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In Cryptography We Trust?

// Posted by Sarah on 04/20/2014 (8:46 PM)

 

This month’s Wired issue was the first time I’ve ever heard of this online currency called bitcoin.  It is definitely a hard concept to wrap my head around.  It is taking our concept of currency and doing a… Read more

 

This month’s Wired issue was the first time I’ve ever heard of this online currency called bitcoin.  It is definitely a hard concept to wrap my head around.  It is taking our concept of currency and doing a full 360.  Everything is virtual, your currency and your wallet and then there are no banks or countries tied to your money.  It allows you to make purchases anonymously and across country borders with no problems.  This currency is not tied to a government or any rules.  It’s motto is: ”Libertas, Aequitas, Veritas” or in English: Trust, Justice, Freedom.  It is a libertarian’s ideal, unregulated currency.  There is no government or regulatory body scrutinizing your purchases or charging fees for your usage.  However that is on the very idealist side of the idea. The problem stems from this idea of anonymity and from the lack of any type of insurance on this type of money.

What I immediately thought of when reading about bitcoin was Poster’s ideas of the netizen and the movement away from countries and certain cultures to a global culture.  This idea of bitcoin as a currency goes along perfectly with Poster’s thoughts.  The fact that this acts as a currency with no national regulation where users of this currency have no boundaries between countries is exactly on par with the idea of the netizen.  The Internet is maybe slowly allowing this world to become less divided.

The thing is as there were problems with the netizen and regulatiosn were imposed on many country’s internet usage these same problems exist with bitcoin.  Many people refrain from using bitcoin because of it’s lack of protection on the money a user holds in their cyber-wallet.  A simple virus or hacker could easily erase everything invested in this currency.  Along with this is the idea that bitcoin attracts illegal activity through it’s anonymity.   As discussed in Wired a solution proposed is Coinbase wallets that would hope to prove that bitcoin is willing to impose rules and strict controls to keep out money launderers.  It also links your bitcoins to your bank account to allow for easier purchase of bitcoins.

This idea of bitcoin could be revolutionary.  While bitcoin is currently only used by a small amount of people—it is growing.  Start ups are flocking toward bitcoin and it’s revolutionary potential.  It is also a selling point for many companies—accepting bitcoin can be a marketing tool and attract different customers.  The reality of the situation is different though.  I have never heard of this currency before the other day and it doesn’t seem as though the public is jumping on board.  It feels a bit sketchy and risky at the same time.  While it definitely holds potential there is much to be done.  Will it one day grow to universal size?  It’s libertarian idealism is appealing to many but will regulations one day squash this idealism?  There seems to be a thin line with this idea and whether it will have commercial success rides on many factors.


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Copyright in electronic dance music

// Posted by Sarah on 03/09/2014 (4:29 PM)

Throughout our discussion on Tuesday about copyright I couldn’t help but think about how copyright affects electronic dance music artists today.  Like Girl Talk, most EDM artists have used samples and pre-recorded sounds from other artists in their songs.… Read more

Throughout our discussion on Tuesday about copyright I couldn’t help but think about how copyright affects electronic dance music artists today.  Like Girl Talk, most EDM artists have used samples and pre-recorded sounds from other artists in their songs.  Not only this, but they also play each other’s and other artist’s songs at their shows.  This industry filled me with many questions regarding copyright.  How do they go about producing a new song?  Do they get permission with each track?  What about when they play songs at their shows?  With EDM becoming a major music industry now, I can’t imagine every artist taking their chances like Girl Talk did by not getting the rights to each song.  So, how is copyright affecting this industry?

 

After searching for different articles, I came to the consensus that the artists will for the most part pay to clear the track they want to use and then in the future a certain percentage for royalties.  Artists may also buy a “sample library” which provides them with a collection of sounds and the licenses to these sounds.  This is easy for an established artist to cover as expenses however for many up and coming artists in the industry these payments may deter them and they often choose to release tracks without the clearance for those tracks.  This is what Girl Talk seemed to do in the video we watched–release songs with different samples and hope nothing would come from it.  Scott MacDonald outlines in his article that fair use does not apply very much to cases with sampling and remixing, although it is the only defense for a up and coming producer.  A producer could claim that they are not using a sampling for commercial use and that they distorted the sample enough to make it a new sound.  As for playing songs at a show, clubs often will have a blanket licensing payment which makes DJs able to play whatever songs they want.  This then allows DJs to be more creative with their samples at clubs because they won’t have to worry about copyright.

 

With electronic dance music on the rise these copyright laws are definitely being violated more and more by new artists who can’t afford to pay to clear a song.  Although this is risky we saw how with Girl Talk he was never punished for doing so.  The biggest DJ names out there clearly have the funds to pay for copyright for all their hits that come from sampling other’s work, however it leaves little opportunity for new artists trying to make a name for themselves.  This genre also creates a fuzzy line with artists remixing each others work everyday and making music that is very similar.

 

Just recently there was a case between two DJs in which Deadmau5 claimed that Wildstylez sampled the Deadmau5 song ‘Some Chords” in his new track.  Using the same chords across the two different genres of each artist, Deadmau5 proved to be correct and the other DJ took down his work.  There was a similar case where will.i.am and chris brown collaborated on a song that they ripped from two relatively unknown producers.   This is happening more and more in the electronic dance culture  due to the nature of the industry.  I’m just wondering if anything will be done within the industry to make these gray areas clearer, or licensing easier or cheaper with royalties growing once a song is profitable.


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Response to “National Security vs Freedom of Speech”

// Posted by Sarah on 02/21/2014 (3:06 PM)

By Sarah Crawford

 

By Sarah Crawford

 


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Evil Bert and the Hackers

// Posted by Sarah on 02/03/2014 (11:34 PM)

 

After reading the first chapter of Information Please I found it easy to make a connection between what Mark Poster was discussing about the spread of information and author’s control of their work to the ideals of the… Read more

 

After reading the first chapter of Information Please I found it easy to make a connection between what Mark Poster was discussing about the spread of information and author’s control of their work to the ideals of the hackers in the early stages of computers.  Their claim was that information should be free for everyone and as we have discussed in class previously this is controversial.  The planners obviously viewed computer information differently and wanted some form of order and payment for their contributions.   The other problem with this “free information” was that of authors and people using work that isn’t their own.

 

As Poster discusses the effects of technological globalization and American pop culture he comes to this controversy of “Evil Bert”.  This concept seemed comical at first: a man claiming Bert from Sesame Street was evil, however it escalated quickly and soon Evil Bert became linked to terrorism in the Middle East.  Soon enough Ignacio was seen in a bad light for creating this character that was displayed at the controversial Middle Eastern protests against the West.

 

This goes to show that anything posted on the Internet is fair game to the entire world.  It also shows that this flow of free information can be dangerous.  However, my question is what should be done about this?  The Internet is a place with little to no rules, where people from across the world are connecting and sharing and receiving insight from people they would never otherwise meet.  While things such as our Westernized pop culture can pose threats in Middle Eastern countries and create controversies, are such controversies worth regulating the Internet for?

 

There was a report from 2011 from the UN that urges governments to allow the free flow of information.  The speaker, La Rue, stated “the Internet has often played a key role in such movements by enabling people to connect and exchange information instantly and by creating a sense of solidarity.” This goes back to the ideas of the counterculture and their hopes for what the computer will provide for the world.

 

Moments such as the Evil Bert occur more often today because of the Internet and that is undeniable, feuding countries will have more fuel than ever against each other.  However, I believe that it would be going against human rights to censor the Internet to a larger degree than it already is.  The hackers were right, free information is better.  While people such as Ignacio, and those contributing their information to the free Internet, may be getting scammed they know what they are getting into.  The Internet allows for widespread amounts of knowledge and communication that is precious to us and to many others in countries around the world that may not be as fortunate.


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The Other Side of a Non-Bureaucratic Internet

// Posted by Sarah on 01/28/2014 (1:10 PM)

A common thread throughout “From Counterculture to Cyberculture” is the idea of technology and the Internet creating a world in which bureaucracy can be overthrown and social order is based on the users.  While the upsides of this are clear—the… Read more

A common thread throughout “From Counterculture to Cyberculture” is the idea of technology and the Internet creating a world in which bureaucracy can be overthrown and social order is based on the users.  While the upsides of this are clear—the ability to communicate with people across the world through different chat rooms with no restrictions, an endless supply of information at your disposal at all times and even more, there are also other aspects we should consider.

With this idea of social order being based on us users we can look at the different implications this has had.  Nowadays as we surf the web—shopping, researching different topics, reading articles, whatever it is we do, we have cookies tracing our every move.  What we do on the Internet is being watched by someone, somewhere and often being used for others’ advantage.  Any website you access having your information and the ability to capitalize on it can be a scary thought to many of us but should something be done?

There is a dilemma created here because of our view of the Internet as a free market.  Advertisers and cookie users alike defend themselves by claiming that putting restrictions on such behavior on the web would eliminate this monumental idea of the bureaucracy-free Internet.  The Internet is said to be a place of self-regulation, a place always expanding where regulations would be minimally helpful in a world dominated by hackers and technological geniuses.

The real debate here is whether we are willing to let these companies capitalize on our habits and interests.  It seems harmless to a lot of us, these companies are just using this to tailor to our interests.  So what if an ad for a retail store trying to sell me dresses pops up right after I was previously looking for exactly that?  Honestly, it’s convenient a lot of the time.  I personally don’t see much harm in the process but this whole lack of security may be troubling to others.

With this problem and more and more store’s records being hacked for credit card and identity information the Internet seems to becoming less safe by the day.  So while this social order encompassing all users and lacking effective regulation may not provide for the ideal Internet as describe by so many of the New Communalists and progressive technological thinkers.

 

You can read more about the debate of advertisement tracking here:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/02/im-being-followed-how-google-151-and-104-other-companies-151-are-tracking-me-on-the-web/253758/


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