DIGITAL AMERICA

Author Archives: Cameron

Islam in Christian Social Media

// Posted by Cameron on 04/14/2012 (9:59 PM)

4/24/2012 UPDATE: So my project has made some major shifts since I made this Phase 1 post, but I believe they were all for the better.  I studied the differences between Godtube, Islamictube, and YouTube,… Read more

4/24/2012 UPDATE: So my project has made some major shifts since I made this Phase 1 post, but I believe they were all for the better.  I studied the differences between Godtube, Islamictube, and YouTube, in relations to Islam/Christianity relations and what this indicates for American culture.  You can read my blog HERE.

 

In a small section of the social media world, are Christian social media sites.  These are sites that are committed to Christianity and its users commit to posting information and media that is family-friendly, uplifting, and of course, Christian.  For my project, I have been looking mostly thus far at Godtube, because I just recently had Faithbook approve my application to become a member and have not had time sufficient time to look around there yet.  I have looked through Godtube and watched many videos about Islam, looking at the messages that lie in them.  There are hundreds of videos on Godtube that fit within the search guidelines of Islam.  Of the ones that I have watched, the messages have been strongly negative, focusing on how Muslims are told in the Quran to murder Christians or any other non-believers.  These are often coupled with images of Middle Eastern looking people holding signs about killing Americans, Christians.  While the messages that are present are threatening, there is usually some reference to September 11, 2001, which makes it clear that the Americans may fear Muslims now more than ever because of the terrorist attacks.

I have listed the links to a couple of the strongest videos below (unfortunately I am unable to embed Godtube links into WordPress):

http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=JE01BMNU

http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=CFMCCNNU

Both of these videos, and many more like them, have strong messages about Islam being anti-Christianity and therefore, anti-American.  And the vast majority of the comments on these videos on Godtube are supportive of the messages in the videos.  What is difficult about this project is it can be boiled down to a he said, she said argument, and it is very difficult to tell which side is correct.

For my question to the group, I asked them to think about the big picture and see if there was anything that I was missing in my research, any other avenues they thought I should look down.  And then I asked them to poke around on Godtube and see what they found and to comment on anything interesting/unusual. (I did not ask them to go to Faithbook, because it would take too long for them to be approved by an administrator). Most of the responses that I received suggested that I look at the Muslim side of the issue, to look at Muslim social media sites and see if I can find anything similar.

This is a fairly large change in the project because instead of just looking at the one side of the issue, I am going to look at what the other side is saying too.  No longer is this project devoted to Christian rhetoric about Muslims, but not Muslim rhetoric about Christianity and a comparison of the two.  I hope that this will be a beneficial and fruitful change, but time will tell.

For the second half of the project, I plan to do just that.  As I continue to explore Godtube and start looking through Faithbook, I will look at Millat Facebook, which apparently is the Muslim Facebook and see if there are any posts, forums, or any other content about Christianity.  I will compare the messages that each sends with the way that they portray themselves and attempt to explain what this rhetoric says about American culture.


Categories: Discussion, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Anonymous = Weak

// Posted by Cameron on 04/02/2012 (5:55 PM)

Chris Poole, the inventor of 4chan, stated in a TED talk that anonymity allows people to “be themselves” online, but this is not at all what it actually does.  In actuality, it allows people to do whatever they want… Read more

Chris Poole, the inventor of 4chan, stated in a TED talk that anonymity allows people to “be themselves” online, but this is not at all what it actually does.  In actuality, it allows people to do whatever they want and to hide behind the wall of anonymity.  There are no repercussions, there are no limits, people can do whatever they want, but they are not actually themselves; they are anonymous.

Rather than being proud of themselves and owning up to their own opinions, they can hide behind the mask of anonymity.  Rather than standing up for themselves, they are weak and cannot put their name with their thoughts.  And this separation of their thoughts and their name, their identity, demonstrates that they are not themselves.

Mattathias Schwartz, a NY Times writer asked in an article, “Does free speech tend to move toward the truth or away from it?”  Of course free speech moves towards the truth; when people have the ability to say what they want, when they want, where they want, they are more likely to state what they believe to be true and pertinent.  Free speech moves towards the truth, until people have the mask of anonymity.   When there is no knowledge of the identity of the author, no authenticity of authorship; the writer can write whatever.  This ability is free speech, but it allows for the dissemination of lies without repercussions.

This topic was something I had thought about for a while, but it was not until learning about 4chan that I began to see what anonymity truly brings.  Maybe 4chan isn’t for me, maybe I should just stick with Facebook, which is all about identity and censorship, rather than the freedom to post anything anonymously.

Is there a benefit to anonymity or does it truly just give weak people a mask to hide behind?  Why don’t users of 4chan share their names with their posts?  I guess I would be ashamed of posting most of the things on that site too.


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

Stuxnet was just the beginning…

// Posted by Cameron on 03/18/2012 (8:42 PM)

I recently read an article from the Washington Post about the United States ramping up its efforts to create more cyberweapons. Not only does this give us an idea as to how the US values this type of… Read more

I recently read an article from the Washington Post about the United States ramping up its efforts to create more cyberweapons. Not only does this give us an idea as to how the US values this type of weapon and its efforts to grow this program, it also provides more insight into how long a weapon such as Stuxnet could take to develop.

The article mentioned that the government is working on how to attack computers that are not even connected to the Internet, which to me is difficult to imagine, but apparently quite possible.

Many military officials are not satisfied with the current status of cyberweaponry because of the lack of control and potential widespread effects, the current inability to wipe out an entire system instead of just disabling certain parts, and the potential for it to be altered and used to attack the United States.

Do you believe that cyberweaponry is something into which the US government should be investing? Or should we continue with more of the normal types of attacks, with physical weapons?


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

How secure are we?

// Posted by Cameron on 03/12/2012 (8:58 PM)

After doing some research on Stuxnet, I have begun to wonder how secure we really are. Now, I’m not talking about physical security, like the possibility of a nuclear war or getting mugged on the street, I am talking about… Read more

After doing some research on Stuxnet, I have begun to wonder how secure we really are. Now, I’m not talking about physical security, like the possibility of a nuclear war or getting mugged on the street, I am talking about security on cyberspace, cybersecurity. If hackers can spread a virus that can wreak havoc on nuclear reactors, they can also hack into thousands upon thousands of websites and steal information. As our world continues to increase in the amount of and dependence on technology, the amount of information about ourselves that is entrusted to corporations through the Internet or is stored in the cloud, is also increasing. And it all makes me wonder, how secure am I?

A recent opinion piece on Wired states that with the exponential increase in cyber attacks within the past few years, something must change. These attacks have grown to being much larger than simply stealing a person’s credit card number, but stealing the information of thousands of customers or hacking the power grid may be more realistic threats, depending on whom you ask.

In this video, there are clips of President Obama saying that these threats are serious and possible, yet Jim Harper from the CATO Institute, states that these are not serious threats because they are not probable and even if they did occur, they would not last too long.

Which leads me to the question, do you feel safe? When I think about cybersecurity, I am not too worried about my information. I try to be responsible about choosing which sites I give my information to and ensuring that they are reputable and secure. Some websites have my credit card number so that I can check out quicker and not have to put it down each time (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.), but am I naive to think that I am safe? Is there any way that we can truly be safe or are we all susceptible to an attack?


Categories: Assignments, Blog
Tags: , , , , , ,

Updates on Stuxnet

// Posted by Cameron on 02/28/2012 (3:26 PM)

Last week, we read a Wired article about Stuxnet and the havoc that it wreaked on Iran’s nuclear program. Although Stuxnet was found over a year ago and has since been removed from these computers, new information has come… Read more

Last week, we read a Wired article about Stuxnet and the havoc that it wreaked on Iran’s nuclear program. Although Stuxnet was found over a year ago and has since been removed from these computers, new information has come out about it within just the past couple weeks.

 

Here is a video demonstration on how Stuxnet works:

While many, including this article in Computerworld, called Stuxnet the best malware ever, new research has come out to say that this may not be the case for much longer. In a recent article in the Christian Science Monitor, recent research demonstrates that Stuxnet was just the beginning of a long line of malware that has specific targets and missions and can bypass all forms of detection. According to the article, there are going to be more examples of malware that have the possibility of being much more dangerous than Stuxnet was.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Fox News reported that Iran stated that 16,000 computers were attacked. Although it is unclear whether this was worldwide or just in Iran, either way, that is a large number of computers that were attacked and no one knew for a long time.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Stuxnet is awesome in the way that it is specifically targeted and can evade detection. It has been a break-through piece of malware that is incredible in its capabilities and ability to avoid detection and in the hands of people using it for good, it can be so beneficial. However, I can’t help but think what could happen if people start using this kind of attack for not-so-altruistic missions. A specific, pointed attack could be dangerous and cause serious harm to a number of vital industries in just the United States. An attack on the power grid, on air traffic controllers, or any number of other industries would not only be dangerous, but detrimental to our economy and our way of life. While I trust that these industries are protected as much as they can be (maybe I’m just being naive), I bet that the Iranians felt that their systems were secure. I believe it is the fact that I feel so defenseless against such an attack that makes me worried.

Are you worried about a possible attack on America? Do you think this is a possibility or am I just worried for nothing?


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

Hackathons

// Posted by Cameron on 02/27/2012 (9:46 PM)

In the March issue of Wired, I read an article about hackathons. If you’re like me, you had never heard of a hackathon until not, but these are competitions of just a few days when groups of individuals attempt… Read more

In the March issue of Wired, I read an article about hackathons. If you’re like me, you had never heard of a hackathon until not, but these are competitions of just a few days when groups of individuals attempt to create an app or software or something else and present it to the judges. The winning team can win anything from a trip to several thousands of dollars. Below is a short clip about a hackathon sponsored by Facebook in Madison, WI.

These are interesting events, because the people who have entered take an idea and bring it to fruition in anywhere from 12 hours to a few days, depending on the competition. Often they take code that someone else has written and work with it so that they may improve it or make major changes to it.

The whole idea of hacking is interesting to me. While in any other field you must cite your sources and there are strict rules about plagiarism and copying, this does not seem to be the case. It made me wonder, should there be some way that people can “publish” their code so that others may use it, but give them credit? Based on the answers given my many of the people entered into hackathons, it appears that they do not think so. Publishing software and apps is a race and the common belief is that whoever publishes first is the winner.

What do you think? Should it simply just be a race to see who can finish something first or should there be a way to protect your code from being copied without credit being given?

 


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Addicted to Facebook?

// Posted by Cameron on 02/20/2012 (6:19 PM)

I read this article earlier today and thought it was really interesting. I believe it was last week we talked about being addicted to social media and someone had brought up the possibility of going a day without technology.… Read more

I read this article earlier today and thought it was really interesting. I believe it was last week we talked about being addicted to social media and someone had brought up the possibility of going a day without technology. Honestly, I do not think this would be possible or feasible for many of us who have part-time jobs in addition to taking classes, have leadership roles on campus or off that require constant updates, or have long distance relationships and technology is the only way to stay in contact. That was one topic in this story that I thought was interesting, but it was not the main reason that I am writing.

The real reason that I wanted to post this link was the idea of rehab for those who are addicted to Facebook. What constitutes being addicted to Facebook? I don’t think I would consider myself addicted, though I do check it often.

So what constitutes a Facebook addict? Are you one?


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Anonymous

// Posted by Cameron on 02/13/2012 (8:05 PM)

For class last week, we read the first few chapters of Mark Poster’s book, Information Please. As he began, he wrote about how in online networks, the authors of information are anonymous. While he used to be able… Read more

For class last week, we read the first few chapters of Mark Poster’s book, Information Please. As he began, he wrote about how in online networks, the authors of information are anonymous. While he used to be able to know who was writing information; however, this is no longer the case with information on digital networks. As I was reading this, I began to think about a recent experience of mine.

A few weeks prior, as a part of one of my on campus jobs, I was charged with creating a Wiki page for the Office of the Chaplaincy. I had used Wikipedia hundreds of times to investigate a wide variety of topics, but had never created a page, or even edited one for that matter, so this was a new adventure.

As I began on this project, my boss told me that I was welcome to use the information on the Chaplaincy’s website; however, while copying this information was acceptable for my boss, it was not for the Wiki community. Before I knew it, someone known in that community as WildCowboy had flagged my post for violating Wikipedia’s copyright rules. As I continued to work on this issue, and eventually fixed it, I encountered a number of other characters within the Wikipedia community who amended parts of this page.

This time lapse video displays where edits of Wikipedia pages were made over an eight year span.

Through this experience, I learned much more about the community on Wikipedia and how it works, but I also learned more about what Poster was writing. Although you can search back through the history and see who made specific changes to any Wiki page, you cannot know their real identity. So while I know that WildCowboy has since made minor edits on my pages, I have no clue about his identity. This experience has taught me much about the digital community and how anonymous authors truly are.

Is the anonymity of authorship on the Internet a benefit or a liability? If it is a benefit, then should authors of information in non-digital realms be anonymous too or only those on the Internet? If it is a liability, can we fix it and require people to input their identity and hold them accountable?


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Iran: Even More of a Danger

// Posted by Cameron on 01/31/2012 (9:58 PM)

When we think of Iran being dangerous, most of us think of nuclear weapons, but according to a new article in Wired, we have more to be worried about. Iran, in addition to building their nuclear weapon program, is apparently… Read more

When we think of Iran being dangerous, most of us think of nuclear weapons, but according to a new article in Wired, we have more to be worried about. Iran, in addition to building their nuclear weapon program, is apparently now a new threat to the United States. While nuclear weapons are a clear danger to our infrastructure and our cities, an attack on our networks could arguably create even more damage. Many hackers have been attacking U.S. networks recently, but simply for fun; however, if a country attacked us to wreak havoc, the devastation is imaginable. You can read the whole article here.


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

For better or worse: Self-Driving Cars

// Posted by Cameron on 01/30/2012 (10:18 PM)

A couple weeks ago, I was headed out of town for the weekend. As I was driving on the 4-hour trip, I began to grow tired. It was at that point that I thought to myself how nice it would… Read more

A couple weeks ago, I was headed out of town for the weekend. As I was driving on the 4-hour trip, I began to grow tired. It was at that point that I thought to myself how nice it would be if the car could drive itself. I would only have to enter my destination and the car would take care of the rest, while I could sleep, do homework, or work on a project.

In an article in the February issue of Wired, there are two different cars that are talked about. The first is Google’s self-driving car, which has logged over 100,000 miles driving around California. There are humans in the car to ensure that the technology works correctly, but they do not have to do anything for the car to go. The other car is the S-Class Mercedes-Benz with Attention Assistance function, which works while humans are driving.

While I believe that Google’s car is the more interesting and definitely the more advanced one, the Attention Assistance function on Mercedes seems to become widespread in the nearer future. This function tracks more than 70 different elements while the human is driving and makes adjustments or gives warnings as deemed necessary. This function fits well with our discussion in class last week of post-human. The car and the human are working together in this circumstance and this relationship is meant to protect the human and to be safer. These two parties are giving and receiving information so seamlessly, it can be difficult to notice.

There are definitely benefits to self-driving cars: they are safer, quicker, and can allow humans to be more productive. These cars are safer because the drivers would not be distracted by cell phones, radios, GPSs, children, etc and it has been demonstrated by Google that self-driving cars are more perceptive to obstacles and other vehicles than are humans. At the busiest times, only five percent of the pavement has traffic, so one would assume that with self-driving cars, more traffic would be able to move smoothly. Finally, if those people sitting in the driver’s seat did not have to drive, they could use their time in other ways and potentially be more productive.

As I was reading this article, I grew excited, yet worried. While self-driving cars sound awesome and could be very beneficial, there were some worries that came into mind. Although I am sure that the companies working on these prototypes are working against these, what happens if the car malfunctions? These cars can not reboot in the middle of the highway going 75 mph like a computer can sitting on a desk, so there must be ways to prevent this from ever happening. Is there a potential that these cars could be hacked and end up driving somewhere that the passengers did not want to go? This could cause some major backups or even worse issues.

In response to the thought of whether all of these technologies are simply to allow humans to not be taken away from their technology, the author of this article, Tom Vanderbilt, wrote “Maybe the problem is not that texting and Facebook are distracting us from driving. Maybe the problem is that driving distracts us from our digital lives” (124). He brings up an interesting point and one that I am victim of myself. Self-driving cars will allow us to do safely what many of us already do (often illegally) which is talk on our phones and text while driving.

Are self-driving cars just one of the next steps in technology that will become the norm or are they something we need to protect ourselves from? Will self-driving cars be beneficial or are they potentially dangerous and/or detrimental to society? There is no doubt that these cars will change society, but will it be for the better?


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

Not just for sharing photos anymore

// Posted by Cameron on 01/16/2012 (7:52 PM)


When a person takes a picture with their mobile phone, they often want to share it with the world around them. There are dozens of ways to do this (Facebook, Twitter, email, print and send, carrier pigeon,… Read more


When a person takes a picture with their mobile phone, they often want to share it with the world around them. There are dozens of ways to do this (Facebook, Twitter, email, print and send, carrier pigeon, etc.), but one used by millions is called Instagram. The mobile phone app used by many has not only become a popular way to share photos, it has affected the way people take pictures.

The author of this article in the January edition of Wired, wrote that when scrolling through the site, there are the typical pictures that would be suspected: cats, pictures of oneself, etc., but what was surprising was what else had been posted. The app and its filters allow and encourage its users to become artsy. Users are not simply taking pictures for documentation purposes, but because with the filters, they can make something ordinary, extraordinary. What they are using their cameras for has changed as well as what they are taking pictures of.

One simple app, constructed by six people, has allowed millions to share photos online and has changed the way many of them take pictures and even the way they look at their world. This article makes one wonder what else apps can do. Sure, apps can make communication simpler, can be used for entertainment, and allow us to connect with the world around us, but how often do they change the way we view the world?

Personally, I’ve never used Instagram. I have looked at friend’s pictures that they have posted, but have never used it for myself. After reading this article, I was intrigued and am curious to see what I can do with it, to see what kind of photographer it makes me. Have you ever used it? Has it affected the way you use your cameraphone or more importantly, how you view the world? We are becoming increasingly attached to our technology and it interests me, but also makes me worry about the future. Will there be more apps such as Instagram that benefit society or will new apps simply draw us closer to technology.

For now, I leave you with a couple of pictures I found on their site of stairs, different viewpoints on ordinary stairs. It sure will make me look at the next staircase I ascend differently.


Categories: Blog
Tags: , , ,