DIGITAL AMERICA

Author Archives: Shirley

The more I learn…

// Posted by Shirley on 06/11/2015 (1:40 PM)

I always wondered why, with the technology available today, we do not have tires made out of material that last more than a few thousand miles or that were puncture proof.  Now I know – deliberate and planned obsolescence inRead more

I always wondered why, with the technology available today, we do not have tires made out of material that last more than a few thousand miles or that were puncture proof.  Now I know – deliberate and planned obsolescence in the forms of psychological (fashion or convenience driven) and technological (must have the latest and the greatest).  I return to the “being dragged around like drunken soldiers” analogy for effect. Why can’t bankers, advertisers, business analyst, communication theorists, economist, etc. use their powers for good?  

Customer demand is the driver and wherever we spend our money is what the new focus becomes.  Like in the story “The Death of Ivan Ilych” by Leo Tolstoy our priorities are focused in the wrong place and it is slowing killing us.  I always understood that we are a wasteful country, especially when it comes to food and I am guilty of that myself.  I drive past a country store that closed months ago.  It has a huge fence around it, with big locks to keep people out.  When you look in the window, the shelves are still full of food!  With all the starving people in Richmond, this should not be happening. 

We are being controlled by companies with elaborate marketing organizations who build products that are not intended to last and these products have a ‘single use’ purpose.  The packaging is changed to entice children and adults to buy specific products but originally they focused on specific segments of the population.  As I move through the article which does a great job describing the issues, I can visualize how American’s got into this mess. 

Facts documented in the article that is very eye opening is that the amount of waste we produce.  The fact that consumers buy the next best thing even though what they have is still working.  Seems only a small amount of the electronic waste in the form of computers, TV’s, or cell phones is being recycled.  Also, the biological toxicity mentioned of the above the ground waste is very disturbing, and for some of the items listed I have no idea what it is doing to our culture.  The more advanced Silicon Valley becomes, the more e-waste is produced.  They need to come up with a solution and quickly.   It is interesting that the preventative measures taken by European Union have been more successful than those taken by United States NEPSI. The really sad thing is that we are really leaving a ginormous mess for future generations to have to deal with. 

The few ‘go green’ steps that we as consumers take like bringing reusable totes to stores instead of using paper or plastic bags being offered, or shopping at big box stores who do not offer bags or refilling water bottles versus buying bottled water is just a drop in the bucket.  I can only hope that the fact that this article is dated back in 2006 that we have made great advancements since its creation.   And that we, as a country, have come up with a more long lasting solution than shipping this waste to countries like “China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and other economically desperate countries or reducing the toxicity of the waste” which is probably much more dangerous than being reported (P. 3).  Our inefficiencies are spilling over into other cultures and this makes the problem global.

We need to stop ‘wasting’ time blaming each other and get on with a real solution.  

 


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Group C Prompts

// Posted by Shirley on 06/05/2015 (4:47 PM)

I think there are those who are depending on the rest of us not to worry but those pennies add up quickly especially with millions of transactions being performed. 

Based on the fact that the computer is more accurateRead more

I think there are those who are depending on the rest of us not to worry but those pennies add up quickly especially with millions of transactions being performed. 

Based on the fact that the computer is more accurate than humans when it comes to gathering data and performing repeat actions and, therefore, can make decisions a gazillion times faster than I can, I would say yes but I doubt I am in the majority.  If I lose money, I can blame something else beside myself.

The readings spoke about how high frequency trading will digitize and democratize society allowing everyone access to more information and much faster.  From the human aspect, the more we are exposed to the smarter we become at handling transactions.  The faster decisions are made, the faster the mistakes and the recovery.  Taking total control from the hands of a few and spreading it to most of the population even across countries opens the doors for the average person to participate in decisions and add to the babble.  

I think that the average person will have a place.  There will always be non-conformity because not every trusts computers, government regulations nor do they have the desire.  Heck, I heard the other day that there are people in the world who still do not put their money in banks.  I do believe that ignorance is not bliss when it comes to any knowledge.  However, as long as these non-confirmers  have access to a millennium or a grandchild, they will survive.   

http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000384689


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Faster and More Widely Circulate…

// Posted by Shirley on 06/04/2015 (7:00 PM)

I fear losing money on the stock market as many have over the years.  So reading about a faster digital way to trade that is a computerized tool seems a logic progression for investors who understand what they are doingRead more

I fear losing money on the stock market as many have over the years.  So reading about a faster digital way to trade that is a computerized tool seems a logic progression for investors who understand what they are doing and have need for the power and speed of trading.  As I read on I was curious how the author would tie in democratization. So, now I understand that the concept is that it provides more power and gives more control to the people.  Information is flowing more freely and openly than ever between individuals and countries.  This flow of information requires the efforts of more than a few to accomplish as Sassan wrote.  Agreeing politically can cause a shift in the way people trade and where money goes. This transformation of how trading is done will open it up to many which means more can participate and this can redistribute the wealth. 

Golumbia indicates that “First, as we have seen, is the idea that the internet dissolves concentrations of power; second, that it flattens or eliminates hierarchies; third, that it creates transparency, making impossible the reliance on proprietary or hidden information, in part because such reliance inherently makes this information available to outside observers” (P. 7).  I like how the author’s posits that his thesis is to be challenged.   

There are many things impacting stock prices and what I gather from the article an attempt was made to try to trade faster than the negative impact could catch up.  It is very hard to predict what actions a “for profit” company makes that will cause fluctuations and to what degree. Someone should have remembered that speed kills!   I find it as mind boggling as the author, Adler, that a company can lose so much money in a week.   This puts it in perspective how people resort to killing themselves behind mistakes that should have been challenged.  How do you recover?  

New word for the vocabulary – quants or “A quantitative analyst or, in financial jargon, a quant is a person who specializes in the application of mathematical and statistical methods” (Wikipedia). 

Other points worth noting:

Computerization may or may not cause democratization.  The internet will not totally replace other forms of media.  Individuals will retain as much power as corporations on the internet. Small sites will not be overrun by larger ones. The internet is not so distributed when most information comes through only a few engines. Since it has been proven that computerized trading is more reliable, I may give it a try.  HFT trade in the direction of price changes and the chance of loss is reduced.


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It’s Bugging Me

// Posted by Shirley on 05/30/2015 (9:30 PM)

We can have access to anything we want for free all while it is marketed as being faster, easier and more interestingly than ever before.  Ah, but is it for free?  Businesses promise discounts and lots of free stuff weRead more

We can have access to anything we want for free all while it is marketed as being faster, easier and more interestingly than ever before.  Ah, but is it for free?  Businesses promise discounts and lots of free stuff we think we cannot live without to lure us into its spidery web only to snatch our valuable person information, use it as they see fit and then share it with whoever pays the highest price.   

Now we learn that governments are doing the same thing under the cloak of protecting us.  If it is questioned then new legislation it introduced.  No wonder people like Assange, Snowden and Portnoy are fired up and ready to fight back at the cost of living on the run and in hiding.    

The most we citizens can hope for are secure firewalls and spyware which really doesn’t fully protect us and after a breach has occurred companies with Anti-virus/Anti-Malware Programs can be helpful. It is difficult to believe that users hook on online anything will give it up without a fight.  It is just too convenient.

Things to do to help reduce the change of vulnerabilities:

1. Watch out for Phishing Websites

2. Use an Anti-virus/Anti-Malware Program

3. Use OpenDNS

4. Unique Passwords for Every Website

5. Shop Only at Reputable Websites

6. Don’t Divulge Too Much Personal Information via Social Media

7. Monitor Your Credit Profile

8. Secure Your Wireless Network

9. Only Download Software from Reputable Sources

I almost forgot… A friend recently planned a trip to Kitty Hawk, NC because we both love the beach and we are both very cheap.  She hunted for weeks for the best deal and finally found a condo right on the beach and the photos on the website were excellent.  In such short notice it was too good to be true, right?  She wired $700.00 being advised that she would get half back at the end of our stay and keys would be waiting for us at the check-in.  We packed up the SUV and headed toward sea breezes.  We arrived and the condos were beautiful but still under construction.  The men in hard hats tried not to laugh in our faces when we ask where we were to check in.  He pointed across the street to the police station.  SHE HAD BEEN SCAMMED and had no clue.  She has done everything including contacting the FBI… such a drama queen.  She has yet to get any of her money back though the bank has made promises to split the cost.

It is so difficult to know who to trust because of the anonymity the internet provides.

 


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Using powers for good and not evil…second attempt

// Posted by Shirley on 05/29/2015 (7:19 AM)

I have learned from all the readings but one of my favorites is The Code War or a new Cold War.  Could someone as intelligent as Aaron Portnoy have found a legal way to enhance his knowledge other than hackingRead more

I have learned from all the readings but one of my favorites is The Code War or a new Cold War.  Could someone as intelligent as Aaron Portnoy have found a legal way to enhance his knowledge other than hacking computers?  He must have been drawn to the thrill of getting caught.   Finding flaws in code that you didn’t create has to be very difficult and with some luck involved, for instance, the students who willingly gave up passwords.  I like how he is now using his powers for good as cofounder in Exodus Intelligence.  The people creating the code could learn from him.

I truly have mixed emotions.  On the one hand, I think that personal data should be protected and only disclosed after full agreement has been reached by all parties as to how much will be gather and by whom.  But then, on the other hand, if secret surveillance was not allowed would we be able to effectively identify and prevent the bad guys?   I think I was better off not knowing about what governments are doing to each other, seems like flexing muscles to me.  Fortunately, some good, other than worry, has come from expanding my awareness, it has enforced that I must be much more cautiously and cross my fingers it helps investing in good spyware.  

A few months ago my company was victimized by a cyberattack.  Never in a million years would I have guessed that a company as large as Anthem would become vulnerable.  We have very good security because a lot of people depend on us to handle their PHI.   It took months to uncover and millions of dollars of restitution to gain back the trust of employees and our Policyholders.  We outside a lot of our technical work to the Philippines and India so naturally the rumors started flying.  The FBI has been investigating this for months and still no word as to who or why.  I guess years from now someone will stumble upon the culprit like Murchu did Stuxnet.   Nothing is private anymore.

Disclaimer:  I don’t know what happened to my post from yesterday but when I view the content after trying to upload pictures it was missing, poof!  I had hoped it was a nightmare and when I checked it this morning it would have magically reappeared.  Guess not…


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Using powers for good and not evil

// Posted by Shirley on 05/28/2015 (8:23 PM)

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Mass Survellience

// Posted by Shirley on 05/26/2015 (10:32 PM)

Former government employees, hackers and journalist are educating American citizens who have a false since of security regarding government activities and their personal data.  Similarly to how Brand and Brilliant provided The Whole Earth Catalog and the WELL, an… Read more

Former government employees, hackers and journalist are educating American citizens who have a false since of security regarding government activities and their personal data.  Similarly to how Brand and Brilliant provided The Whole Earth Catalog and the WELL, an online meeting place for their followers (hackers, journalist and other professionals), people could log onto WikiLeaks.org and obtain classified government information unattainable elsewhere.  The activities being uncovered include illegal, immoral and murderous practices, and are costing tax payers billions of dollars.

As written in the article, The NSA is building the country’s biggest spy center, billions are dollars being spent on secret facilities such as Bluffdale (a facility that will be five times the size of the US Capitol) filled with servers, computer intelligence experts, and armed guards. The author indicates “Its purpose to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the WORLD’s communication obtained from satellites, underground and over the ground wiring”.  Not just pertinent information needed for national security but all information.

Oddly enough, these informants work unaccompanied or in small groups which brings to mind the biblical story of David and Goliath with Goliath representing the bureaucracy.  Captured from the article, Edward Snowden: the whistleblower behind the NSA surveillance revelations Edward Snowden believed that the public deserved to know about the “threat to democracy” occurring with hidden government actions which included a “federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers” that exist in a “world that I love” even though he has now become a fugitive from this world. I think he felt if he did not act quickly the abuse of power would have continued its downward spiral.

Snowden understood that he will be ridiculed by the media and punished including put to death by government in the event he is caught but this martyr seems to put the good of others first when he states that “The only thing I fear is the harmful effects on my family, who I won’t be able to help any more”.  His fears were justified as he lives in isolation, fearful for his life and of his loved ones.  I have always been more of a follower than a leader and doubt I would have the same courage to antagonize a hunger lion as Snowden.  The hunger lion referenced would be the sometimes embarrassed, overly incompetent and overly zealous NSA who seemed to stand idly by during 9-11, World Trade Center and other terrorist attacks successfully executed.

United States government employees and agencies are participating in unwarranted, secretive, and illegal activity against its citizens and citizens of other countries via the internet and phone conversations which are being uncovered and share with a very naïve public under the guise of our own safety.  In the article, No Secrets Julian Assange’s mission for total transparency, Assange “shared confidential information and publish it on a Web site called WikiLeaks.org and in a manner that it could not be erased”.  These illegal activities are not limited to the USA but others have threatened legal actions include unscrupulous Kenyan politicians, the Swiss banks, Russian offshore stem-cell centers, former African kleptocrats, or the Pentagon.”

Do the ends justify the means?  I think it does when the purpose is as noble and self-less as has been documented in these articles.  Especially when the end result brings about the kind of enlightenment that both Snowden and Assange’s have shared.  In the article, How digital detectives deciphered stuxnet, the most menacing malware in history the reader is introduced to how the zero-day code can infect thousands of computers in high usage countries and extracting confidential information and return this information to multiple locations.  The data stored by the worm used to track down the source and can be fixed or sold.

I get the sense that few are truly against US surveillance when it is properly regulated and those who abuse the power are quickly punished.  I am grateful to reports like Glen Greenwald who work to uncover the truth exposing the antagonist and the protagonist, all while being unafraid of the blowback. I think this type of work encourages the leaders to take positive action regardless of the cost.

Interesting links

http://us.macmillan.com/static/holt/greenwald/NoPlaceToHide-Documents-Compressed.pdf

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2014/05/12/311619780/glenn-greenwald-nsa-believes-it-should-be-able-to-monitor-all-communication <http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2014/05/12/311619780/glenn-greenwald-nsa-believes-it-should-be-able-to-monitor-all-communication>

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/11/19/irrelevance-u-s-congress-stopping-nsas-mass-surveillance/ <https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/11/19/irrelevance-u-s-congress-stopping-nsas-mass-surveillance/>

 

 

 


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Group 1′s Discussion of Chapter 5

// Posted by Shirley on 05/23/2015 (9:53 PM)

The WELL (located in the San Francisco Bay area) is an unexpected consequence for Stewart Brand who created the Whole Earth Catalog, and I think that Fred Turner did a good job explaining that where one stopped the other pick… Read more

The WELL (located in the San Francisco Bay area) is an unexpected consequence for Stewart Brand who created the Whole Earth Catalog, and I think that Fred Turner did a good job explaining that where one stopped the other pick up the digital connection and spread it to a wider audience.  Larry Brilliant wanted to use the already established network that the catalog provided.  Like an over protective father, Brand was selective in what he would allow Brilliant to have.  Turner indicates that “…nearly twenty years after it served the back-to-the-land movement the Whole Earth Catalog became a model for one of the most influential computer networks to date…”  I like the name WELL as it conjures up images of a meeting place in biblical times.  Singular energy… close to God.  Stewart Brand and Larry Brilliant started the WELL which was a teleconferencing system within which subscribers (according to Kevin Kelly’s list -for a membership charge and specific rules of engagement) could hold conversations amongst peers and other computer savvy individuals.  This group of people (community) held likeminded interests as Brand and Brilliant but also included experts in the technological field such as hackers and journalists/editors who were associated with well-known publications such as New York Times and Rolling Stone.  The participants could communicate from multiple locations, real time or whenever time permitted.  The WELL was dug deeper as the celebrity interest grew.

According to Turner, one of the benefits of the WELL included a rise in a social network that built economic organization and in freelance patterns of employment.  Their employment depended on these connections and this textual forum became a place for business and community.  Turner uses words like “virtual community and electronic frontier” to describe the WELL. Turner attributes this to the expertise on Howard Rheingold and John Perry Barlow.  In an attempt to escape mainstream bureaucracy and it changes through the years, this virtual community was enticing.

Some similarities that the WELL has to modern day social media are the “McLuhan Equation” which indicates that the medium is the message.  The medium refers to mass forms of communication such as radio, television, the press, the Internet. And the message is the actual information.  They both started small and grew rapidly.  Information can be obtained, shared or disputed.  There is instant gratification when things go well and you get multiply tries as being “liked”.  They both have some form of governance, and they each have cost.  Once you put the information out there be it correct or incorrect… it is out there for all eyes.  However, the WELL seemed to solicit the attention of a specific audience where social media does not.

I have friends that post every minute of their day online “as if”.  Anyone that has this kind of time needs a real life.  Personally, some people become too self-absorbed and seem addicted.  Not only do they post but the expect you to respond timely and become offended when you do not. Some users will say or show almost anything to get your attention.  This being said…  I think parents, churches and schools have control over the actions of the next generation.  There should be limits placed on what social media usage.  Even the WELL had rules.   I think that one day users are going to wake up to realize that too much of their personal lives have been shared.  Especially as it starts to bring negative impact such as not being selected for jobs or promotions, difficulty running for office,  future mother-in-law knows a little too much about you.

 

 


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The WELL

// Posted by Shirley on 05/21/2015 (6:58 PM)

Get into The WELL

According to Turner, this computer network, using the Whole Earth Catalog as its model, was created in 1985 by Stewart Brand and Larry Brilliant. Brilliant was looking for a ready-made user community.  Brand, who envisioned… Read more

Get into The WELL

According to Turner, this computer network, using the Whole Earth Catalog as its model, was created in 1985 by Stewart Brand and Larry Brilliant. Brilliant was looking for a ready-made user community.  Brand, who envisioned putting some of the Whole Earth Catalog online allowing viewers to be create, brought together counter culturists, hackers (that according to our lecture did not have negative connotations), and journalists.  This group had been shaped by Communalist and cybernetic ideas (Turner P. 2102).  At first, the users were made up of technologist, staff writers, editor from established magazines and numerous freelance writers.  This caused multiple communities to come together as the Whole Earth Catalog had previously done.

The virtual bulletin board system (BBS) community had several design goals according to Kevin Kelly which included Free or as cheap as it could be, it should be profitable, self-governing, self-designing in that it would co-evolve, it would be a community, and Business user would fund it.  User contributions would be marketed back to the user.  It was a new medium to deliver information.  Turner explains that the WELL became not simply a computer conferencing system but a way to recreate the countercultural ideal of a shared consciousness in a new virtual world” (Turner P. 2102).  It was grouped into the following categories- Arts and Letters and Entertainment, and its themes were books, cooking, computing and the Grateful Dead (Turner P.2138).  Turner explains that this techno centric form of management brought a New Communalist preference for nonhierarchical forms of social organization with a cybernetic vision of control.

Its members could dial up and communicate with each other either asynchronous or real-time. Public and private communication co-existed and it has been referred to as a ‘hang-out’.   This network contained the “privileges of membership, and its governance were a set of ideals, management strategies, and interpersonal networks first formulated in and around the Whole Earth Catalog” (Turner P. 2102).  In other words, it is a virtual community that is open to almost anyone and requires a paid membership. For the service, users were charged an eight dollar subscription fee and two dollars per hour to log in.  Why was The WELL so popular?   According the Wikipedia, you know who you’re talking too because The WELL is non-anonymous. You held quality conversation with smart people engaging in a wide range of topics. There is no data-mining. There is no advertising. No pop-ups?  It’s a real community. One member recently called it, “A small town all over the world.” “The most influential online community in the world.” — WIRED Magazine.

Instead of capitalism being so contained The Well allowed for open communication and many contributed to its success.  Many also benefited.  As times changed so did the material posted.  It was a place where humans and technology lived in harmony.  It was a place where communal living was carried over and existed online. 

Fred Turner, From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism

                (2006) University of Chicago Press ISBN 0-226-81741-5

The WELL. (2015, March 21). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 21:55, May 21, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=The_WELL&oldid=652907006

 

Interesting pics:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_community#/media/File:Ad-tech_London_2010_(5).JPG


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Week One- My perceptions of the internet

// Posted by Shirley on 05/14/2015 (10:38 PM)

Call me old school but I have always been very leery of the internet. I apologize upfront for so many questions but I just had to get it all out!  I very recently started to shop online and that was afterRead more

Call me old school but I have always been very leery of the internet. I apologize upfront for so many questions but I just had to get it all out!  I very recently started to shop online and that was after someone in another class said “it doesn’t matter how careful you are, your information is not totally protected”.  You may be online displaying your personal information to “grabbers” without even knowing it.  Who are these grabbers and what are they doing with all the information they capture?  Where is it store?  Are people in third world countries checking the sites that I visit?  Why is China afraid of Google? 

Other than for my works “intranet” (we have our own very secure servers that were victims of a cyber-attack a few months ago), I would rarely log onto the internet for personal reasons.  Like Kaitlyn, I use Google and occasionally MapQuest.   I do not use Facebook or other social media regularly.  I only created a Facebook account under pressure from friends but then they wanted to know why I didn’t post pictures and ‘like’ them.  So I just ignore it.  I used to get a lot of emails from my Facebook account alerting me when someone I knew added a post or new photos.  I guess it got tired of me ignoring the emails and it stopped but how did they know I hadn’t been signing in?  When I text, access Google or respond to email (ok, mostly delete email) who is responsible for capturing my movement and who gave them permission?

I think that the person(s) who has the most data has the most control!  We are being dragged around like a drunken sailor by marketing ploys, pop-ups and suggestive emails but should we care? Do the benefits out way the negatives? 

In class, the question was asked “is the internet a physical place?”  It is a physical place and I don’t think the place is Silicon Valley.  It is a real place where so much data is being captured, stored, analyzed and predicting our next move.  It is a place where we communicate and where we can choose cannot be connected.  It is creating historical data flows and timelines.  

Rules of engagement- Please do not put multiple due dates for information as that can become a overwhelming and I am a slow reader.  100 to 300 words is a good word count.  I like Discussion Board but Blog is also a good way to communicate.

  


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