DIGITAL AMERICA

Monthly Archives: May 2015

NSA Surveillance- Best by 5/31/15

// Posted by Kindall on 05/31/2015 (8:23 PM)

As we have been talking about the NSA and surveillance, the nation has been anxiously awaiting a decision on whether or not to renew parts of the Patriot Act. The senate held a rare Sunday session to discuss parts of… Read more

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As we have been talking about the NSA and surveillance, the nation has been anxiously awaiting a decision on whether or not to renew parts of the Patriot Act. The senate held a rare Sunday session to discuss parts of the act that are set to expire.

With all eyes on the NSA and our government’s ability to overreach in the name of “security”, I was somewhat surprised to see and hear some of our points mimicked by litigators and politicians.

It seems that the people have spoken (maybe even largely thanks to Snowden- although I wouldn’t begin to cast him as some kind of hero). This piece from the Post sums it up nicely:

WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE


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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

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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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Internet Security: How to Avoid Being Phish Bait in the Digital Age

// Posted by SarahP on 05/30/2015 (4:06 PM)

 

The internet has become a hub for rapid international commerce, as well as an easy source for unprotected credit card data, as well as underlying information that is tantamount for the hacking of personal accounts. It’s not uncommon… Read more

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The internet has become a hub for rapid international commerce, as well as an easy source for unprotected credit card data, as well as underlying information that is tantamount for the hacking of personal accounts. It’s not uncommon for people to use online banking, bill pay, as well as purchase goods and services such as through Amazon or Groupon. However, companies such as Target and Home Depot have experienced data breaches, allowing hackers access to their customers’ sensitive information.

In order to protect ourselves from being victimized in online scams and schemes, it would be within the user’s best interest to frequently change his or her password for major accounts. Also, using unique passwords for each count, while sometimes difficult to remember which password goes where, is a wise idea. These passwords, such as ones with combinations of letters, numbers, and special characters, are useful ways to thwart phishing and spambots.

Since so much information is put online when purchases are made, that it is difficult to maintain total privacy from the small possibility that some rogue employee in a call center, or a hidden piece of malware, could steal precious data.

I don’t generally use online bill pay, except for Care Credit (which is basically a medical payment system, usually used in emergency situations when ordinary payment is not immediately available), and don’t actually see the option for online billing that often. I would never stop emailing, texting, or using social media, as I don’t have anything that I am ashamed of, and thus I am not concerned with others seeing my interests online.

If I wrote something that was flagged by the NSA, I would save a copy for potential interrogation, remove the content if it is online, and alert the NSA that a mistake has likely been made. If I accidentally released a worm, I would contact an antivirus programmer, as well as the media (in order to get people aware of the problem), using a different device in order to safeguard others through social media.

Personally, I’ve been hit many times with malware and viruses, as I am TERRIBLE about remembering to update my antivirus software. Those little balloons pop up in the bottom right corner reminding me to run updates, but I do tend to dismiss them. My old desktop computer was bombarded with spyware/malware- the last time I ran antivirus software, there were over 400 items flagged! These include a difficult-to-remove adware file called “Aurora,” which slowed down the computer for over a year. As I mentioned in a previous post, the same computer was infected with a rootkit, masking a virus containing images considered “not safe for work,” which also required a lengthy removal process.

The Internet, while allowing for the fastest source of commerce in the world, even permitting the conclusion of international sales in seconds, is far from perfect in commercial security, and has had its vulnerabilities exposed many times. Internet users can use different complex passwords and stronger, frequently updated firewalls to maximize their protection from the latest cyber threats.


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There are limitations…

// Posted by Kindall on 05/30/2015 (12:19 PM)

Our fears of online privacy breaching is known across the board. There is even an organization in place that works to create operating rules and regulations for automated billing. It is known as the NACHA- The Electronic Payments Association, and… Read more

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Our fears of online privacy breaching is known across the board. There is even an organization in place that works to create operating rules and regulations for automated billing. It is known as the NACHA- The Electronic Payments Association, and it is a not-for-profit trade association.

The purpose of NACHA is to regulate and monitor electronic payments as a part of trade commerce. While there may be few limitations for e-billing, it puts my mind at ease some that an agency exists to create rules for corporations and companies online involvement.

With things like Bitcoin (digital currency), the world is changing around us. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been told I “should really enroll in Apple Pay”. No one controls Bitcoin, the currency is produced by individuals and businesses. I won’t pretend to understand exactly how it works, and all explanations I found where a little over my head… but the idea does seem revolutionary when you consider things like Blockchain which assigns a unique identity to a piece of data.

It is, essentially, the gold standard to the dollar… but for Bitcoin currency. It ensures secure communication where the data sent and received cannot be replicated or copied. The information is not retained so it cant be passed along to other companies or copied.

If you send someone a Bitcoin, they cannot retain it, and you receive confirmation and peace of mind knowing that your original message cannot be copied and kept.

While the internet may be a scary place for some people, technology can also be manipulated to protect your privacy and secure your personal information.

Are programs like this our future? Why aren’t they more mainstream now, considering how pioneering they are? Lego even capitalized on the idea… 


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Trading Privacy

// Posted by Jessie on 05/30/2015 (11:01 AM)

Everyday we make the choice to trade privacy for convenience; we swipe a finger and pay for a purchase, ask Siri for directions, and allow others to track us. We monitor our driving habits and compare the results with strangers… Read more

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Everyday we make the choice to trade privacy for convenience; we swipe a finger and pay for a purchase, ask Siri for directions, and allow others to track us. We monitor our driving habits and compare the results with strangers for lower insurance rates. The instant gratification, cost savings, and seamless experiences, leave behind a digital trail that reveals a lot about us. Thus, creating a massive public web of data to be extracted. These conveniences create a matrix that can and probably will be used against us; we just don’t know it yet.

It is easy to limit the data and information that we put out there but once that data is forfeited there is no taking it back. Daily American’s trade privacy for functionality and the actual cost of the trade is ambiguous. Right now there is no real impact with the trade, many people are fine with networks using their search habits and other information to tailor ads that are more relevant. This is the now but what about the tomorrow, the actual cost of trading could look very different in the future. I wonder how long will it be before a company thinks up a truly offensive way to use the information and when this happens I wonder if people will still feel that the trade was worth it. My guess is that until then, there will not be a big push for privacy protection. So the responsibility to keep our information private will be our own.

To keep information private while surfing the web many browsers have add-ons that identify the sites that track your activity and then transmit the data to third parties without your knowledge. Here are two that I found that allow you to opt out:

Adblock Plus – Free: blocks tracking, malware domains, banners, popups and video ads even on Facebook and YouTube. https://adblockplus.org/

Ghostery – Free: provides online transparency and control to individuals. https://www.ghostery.com/en/home

Know Privacy is also a great site that shows the current state of web privacy and information sharing. The key findings indicate that people are concerned about the data that is requested, how much data is required for the services that are wanted, and how that data is being used. Here is the link: http://knowprivacy.org/

In the end, knowing the cost of the trade is important and it is essential that people take control over the information they give up and know what information is being surrendered to public and private databases. I don’t necessarily think that privacy is a thing of the past, I just think that it now takes due diligence to maintain it.


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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

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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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Stuxnet

// Posted by BonnieG on 05/28/2015 (7:13 PM)

Unlike typical malware that pulls its data from computer’s hard drive, Stuxnet pulled the data from the memory, which virtually made if impossible to detect.  As the article “How Digital Detectives Deciphered Stuxnet, The Most Menacing Malware In History.” pointedRead more

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Unlike typical malware that pulls its data from computer’s hard drive, Stuxnet pulled the data from the memory, which virtually made if impossible to detect.  As the article “How Digital Detectives Deciphered Stuxnet, The Most Menacing Malware In History.” pointed out Stuxnet created a new “breed” of spyware. The malware was so malicious that it infected the software of several industrial sites in Iran, including a uranium plant. The worm spread from one computer to another through a LNK file of Windows Explorer. Unbeknownst, to the user, each time the USB stick was installed the worm installed an encrypted file onto the computer. This allowed the intruders to spy on Iran’s systems.

The worm caused cyber warfare, like battles played out in the military. First, the malware wreaked havoc on Microsoft Windows. Then it infected Siemens Step 7 software. The malware was so invasive that the worm would separate in many different directions. That made the detection even more difficult to discover. From what I gathered the malware flowed as such:

  1. First an infected USB sticks that contained the Stuxnet virus running Microsoft Windows is inserted.
  2. Then it targeted systems that ran Siemans.
  3. Stuxnet used the information on the network to filter information.

The malware was so unique and complicated that computer experts, and companies who spend millions of dollars, was unable to detect the virus, and after its detection was unable to immediately stop it. Therefore, if experts are unable to detect spyware using professional knowledge, and sophisticated software, what are the laymen like us to do? We install anti-virus and anti-spy software, hoping we are fully protected against viruses, and Trojan horses. We’re not. Certainly, it allows us some protection from malicious programmers, but it also gives us a false sense of security, as well. Because, in spite of continued warnings, about computer theft, we continue to put valuable information online; from pictures, and locations of our children, to personal account numbers.

It disturbs me, knowing if large companies that spend millions of dollars to detect, and stop malware, are unable to do so, where does that leave us?  Certainly, we aren’t going to stop using the computer, because it has now become an integral tool in our lives.  


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Skynet

// Posted by Ginger on 05/28/2015 (7:09 PM)

Is it just me or do these readings remind you of The Terminator  films?  Systems are crashing and the military has a program that will bring the systems back on line.   It is in Terminator 3 where Skynet takes over.  The… Read more

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Is it just me or do these readings remind you of The Terminator  films?  Systems are crashing and the military has a program that will bring the systems back on line.   It is in Terminator 3 where Skynet takes over.  The only thing between total world domination is one lone man,  the lone man that ends up pushing the button that unleashes the wrath of Skynet on us and makes Arnold Schwarzenegger a household name.   Here is the scene from the movie, Skynet takes over.

I mentioned it before and I will say it again, it is all about intentions.  What are the intentions of having such a system as Skynet, (fake, I know) and Stuxnet?  I am hoping that in a room somewhere below ground when the decision is made to unleash such a system onto the world that good is the intention.  It was a good thing that the Iranians were slowed down in their production of  nuclear weapons, right?  It was a covert method that slowed the process down.  I certainly hope this was the intention, but as the article, How Digital Detectives Deciphered Stuxnet, the Most Menacing Malware in History, pointed out, they will not be able to use this method again in the future.  The Iranians know now what to look for.  So do others for that matter.

Does it matter to you all if it was a good guy or a bad guy that caused this?  In the article it was Chien that said, “For us there’s no good guys or bad guys.”  He edited his statement, but what if this attack was aimed at a power plant in the United States or one of our allies?  I think we would have a different opinion of it, I know I would.  I can’t imagine working on this project and seeing the numbers of infected computers and the country of origin.  Those guys may have just walked away from the project, but they kept on.  Now all of the guys know, good and bad.

I had a strange virus on my computer earlier this year.  It corrupted every Word document and 1500 photos on my work computer.  I had some of the files back up on jump drives, but I lost every paper I have ever written for U of R.  I now have back up storage, I am such a goober!  I realize that my computer is not a computer in an Iranian nuclear power plant, but it is proof that malware can be very destructive.  My computer had to be re-imaged and caused quite a stir in the IT department at work.

 

 

 

 

 


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Hackers

// Posted by Kaitlyn on 05/28/2015 (5:56 PM)

This weeks reading was very eye opening for me. I am not one to watch the news every day but in the past few semester I have taken courses that require me to become more knowledgeable in what is going… Read more

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This weeks reading was very eye opening for me. I am not one to watch the news every day but in the past few semester I have taken courses that require me to become more knowledgeable in what is going on in the world around me. I guess growing up in this digital age I assumed that the technology had always been around and was not new to people. One mind-blowing fact I learned this week was that there are people being paid to hack into others computers to see what they are doing. While reading this week I went back and forth as to whether I agreed with the idea of Stuxnet and how it was hacked. It also made me go back and forth on my thoughts about Snowden as there are people from both situations that were thought of as trying to sabotage our nation.

The difference between Snowden and Stuxnet to me is that Snowden was trying to help our country and Stuxnet was a virus aimed to attack another country. As an American I agree with both because they are both helping to protect our country. Nuclear warfare is not a new fear for the United States. We have feared this type of attack for a long time. This is the reason why Stuxnet was created. The government was trying to protect our country against this type of attack. The reason that I went back and forth as to whether I agreed with hackers is because of the fact that they are paid to do try to hurt others work. I realize though that the creators of Stuxnet were also hackers so I guess I am still undecided if the idea is positive for the greater good or negative.

I can only imagine the scramble that the creators of Stuxnet were in when they realized that hackers had started to decode their system. It amazes me that there are people who are paid to hack these systems. Moreover it is crazy to me how much money people are paid when they do find a zero day in a system. I think that this is a good skill to have but only if it is used for the right reason.

I liked the idea of the Idefense that we read about. This was where hackers could turn in the information they had discovered about zerodays to a safe place. I think that there should be more incentive to have people do this because I am sure many people are selling to the black market just because they get the most money. As the world is changing and technology is advancing I think that more people should get involved in the information technology system as it seems that it is a career that will always have an opening.


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Stuxnet…video

// Posted by Lois on 05/28/2015 (4:40 PM)

I forgot to include this interesting YouTube video on Stuxnet as part of my post!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7g0pi4J8auQ

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I forgot to include this interesting YouTube video on Stuxnet as part of my post!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7g0pi4J8auQ


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Stuxnet – The Precision Weapon

// Posted by Lois on 05/28/2015 (4:36 PM)

“Stuxnet wasn’t just aimed at attacking a specific type of Siemens controller, it was a precision weapon bent on sabotaging a specific facility.” This is a direct quote from the article we read this week “How Digital Detectives Deciphered Stuxnet,… Read more

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“Stuxnet wasn’t just aimed at attacking a specific type of Siemens controller, it was a precision weapon bent on sabotaging a specific facility.” This is a direct quote from the article we read this week “How Digital Detectives Deciphered Stuxnet, The Most Menacing Malware In History.” Wow! The most menacing malware in history are strong words. But Stuxnet was a sophisticated and difficult to detect malicious malware program. One characteristic (there were many) that surprised the computer security experts was that the malware was not aimed at the U.S. but targeted foreign countries – Iran, Indonesia and India. We read that computer security has grown into a multibillion-dollar industry just due to keeping pace with the hackers, viruses and spyware programs that are constantly being created. Is this an example of negative digital progress? Yes! Along with progress that is good and propels the world forward in computer skills and abilities comes the negative aspect of hackers and those who are set on making money utilizing the very tools that are being developed. It’s a catch 22 – while we aim to steadily increase our digital knowledge to streamline and be more efficient, we are also up against hackers who’s goal is to take down what has been created and make money in the process.

Stuxnet was unique in that it used “zero-days” to spread the malware. Zero days, are the ”hacking world’s  most potent weapons: they exploit vulnerabilities in software that are yet unknown to the software maker or antivirus vendors.” With this method the virus can spread from computer to computer through a contaminated USB. Something as normal as inserting a flash drive was the catalyst for Stuxnet. The shear sophistication of this malware was a puzzle to be solved by computer experts. What was it, how did it come to be and how to fix it? All critical questions for computer experts. The term zero days is  new to me. It seems that if a computer virus can be initiated in vulnerabilities of software that a software maker isn’t even aware of, then how can the software maker protect their product? It’s definitely a difficult situation. I don’t think it’s going away either. Thought leaders are constantly developing new and improved hardware and software and criminals are constantly developing malicious viruses to hack in to computers and do damage or steal information.

I’ve had malware on my work office computer and my work laptop. It was a nightmare to fix! Hours of clean up time were spent to repair the damage. And, now we see the same thing happening with our tablets, iPads, and cell phones. After all, what is a cell phone but a small computer. How can we be careful that our personal information is not stolen and that our digital devices remain safe? As a consumer I trust the antiviral software that I use will protect me but I truly think you’re just lucky if you don’t experience a virus at some time with some piece of your digital world.

It’s scary to think that a company like Siemans can be targeted so specifically. Think of the money the company spends to detect the virus and fix the problem. I think most every business is vulnerable to such an attack. When I work from home I log in via a VPN (virtual private network) and I feel secure working from home, but am I? I often use my remote desktop connection and it’s as if I’m sitting in my office working and I feel protected by the Sophos software the University uses. I think it’s a false sense of security but I’ve got to trust it anyway. It seems like with big brother watching our every move and invasions of our private information and digital devices, one has to be so careful what one shares on the Internet or via digital communication. I would not share anything that I would not want exposed because you don’t know who is looking!

In reading about Stuxnet I imagined that there are many malware viruses created by our government for spying on other countries or for use in the military for the purpose of trying to prevent terrorism in the U.S. If this is actually true, I guess I don’t have a problem with what our government might be doing to “protect” us. But, on the other hand, how much data does our government have the right to have on us? It’s not an easy question to answer.


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The Cyberwar is Coming

// Posted by David on 05/28/2015 (4:20 PM)

 

I found the articles we read for this assignment to be particularly fascinating and thought-provoking. In all of my climate-related classes, research, and study, water and water resources are often cited as the likely catalysts for… Read more

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I found the articles we read for this assignment to be particularly fascinating and thought-provoking. In all of my climate-related classes, research, and study, water and water resources are often cited as the likely catalysts for the next great wars, and their arguments are all terribly logical and believable. The experts all say that we’re starting to see signs of this now. For example, “last summer, Isis accused the Turkish government in Ankara, headed by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, of deliberately holding back the Euphrates through a series of dams on its territory, lowering water levels in Lake Assad by a record six metres. Isis was apoplectic.”

However, after reading “How Digital Detectives Deciphered Stuxnet, the Most Menacing Malware in History,” I really started thinking that maybe wars over water will be undermined by directed malware wars. With Stuxnet, as noted in “The Code War,” the way it worked was “not unlike the enriched uranium the Iranians were working on, but in software form: expensive, highly refined munitions that formed the core of an extremely sophisticated weapons system.”

Attacks like these could very well lead to the next great wars. They are “unobtrusive, can be constant, and they’re invasive. “As the reading shows, these attacks have already started. If Iran had retaliated, or retaliates, what will it look like? Developers designed malware with the ability to tap into Iran’s nuclear centrifuges and alter the speed at which they work. What’s keeping someone or a government from exploiting that ability to an apocalyptic end? Why not? If we can, we should, right? If malware this mischievous can be created and unleashed it in the name of data gathering, sabotage, spying, whatever – and something goes wrong, what kind of collateral damage will there be? As we read, with Stuxnet, there were some friendly fire (assuming that there were some infections in the country(ies) responsible for the attack) accidents. Computers worldwide were infected – even some in the US. “The victims bleed personal data and intellectual property.”

What sectors in the US have unique vulnerabilities like the one exploited in Iran? Likely a lot! Everything is automated these days. Everything is a computer or has a computer. Even the business card dropped off by a bulk water sales rep today had a computer in it.

The image doesn’t do it justice, so here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BlayQjxDm0I&feature=youtu.be

Could Diamond Springs unleash malware into this guy’s business card and sabotage his operation? It has a USB port. This item likely has a variety of weaknesses.

Additionally, should the U.S. be using these methods for domestic data gathering? Whether or not they should be, they do. In the example laid out in “The Code War,” with Freedom Hosting, they acquired a warrant and implanted surveillance software.  In doing so, broke up a huge child pornography operation. This is good. However, if the FBI, CIA, NSA, ABCDEFG want to do the same to my computer because I visited a site of an organization critical of the American government, is that right? No. To answer my above question, no, just because we can doesn’t mean we should. These attacks aren’t going anywhere. In fact, Edward Snowden reveled that “the NSA budget included $25.1 million for “additional covert purchases of software vulnerabilities,” suggesting that they both buy zero-days and roll out their own internally.”


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WMDs (Worms of Mass Destruction)

// Posted by Kindall on 05/28/2015 (2:10 PM)

Admittedly, I knew nothing about computer viruses, worms, and trojans before the reading. Now, I still know very little but I have a better understanding of the large-scale damage these tech infestations can cause. Stuxnet was 500k bytes which I’ve… Read more

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Admittedly, I knew nothing about computer viruses, worms, and trojans before the reading. Now, I still know very little but I have a better understanding of the large-scale damage these tech infestations can cause. Stuxnet was 500k bytes which I’ve come to learn is 50 times larger than the average malware, and according to the experts, it was complex.

It was the first act of cyber warfare, and it set the bar very high. While the damage was catastrophic, this time it seems (to me) that we used our power for good rather than evil. I mean, who really wants Iran to play with nuclear weapons?… Not me. We fought weapons of mass destruction with worms of the same.

The big issue with Stuxnet is the fact that we could do it. We dreamed it up and created a monster. That means other nations and superpowers can too, and they are. What do we do when this type of 3 prong attack hits our government system?

Is it possible for an attack like this to not only compromise nuclear research but to cause cataclysmic damage? Imagine the Chernobyl disaster- because of a worm.  We have seen these viruses and tech-invaders destroy systems in films: System Failure. And many of us have experienced the work of a computer virus at home, but I cannot imagine the new scale of trauma that can be caused by codes, worms, link files, and rootkits. We are beyond Truman “pushing the red button”. We are talking about hackers and software savants inciting a third World War with the click of a mouse.

That may be grim and over-the-top, but it is possible and that is terrifying. Stuxnet may have crippled the work of a frenemy nation’s research, but the malware could have certainly been used to cause much more harm, rather than prevent it.

As we cross further and further into the electronic frontier, I wonder how the relationship of technology and weaponry will evolve or devolve. We could be headed back to a state of paranoia where a new Morse Code is constructed and people trust nothing more than horseback- delivered telegrams.

I guess we will see. I rest easy at night knowing that many bright minds in Silicon Valley are focused on creating new apps and improving our quality of life. And on that note, a funny clip to lighten the mood but support the point that our minds are perhaps more preoccupied with life hacks than warfare: Pivoting


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Cyberwarfare

// Posted by Jessie on 05/28/2015 (12:41 PM)

When I think about the culture that envisioned the Internet they essentially developed it as an information-sharing system and in essence devoted little thought to securing the network. Their focus was on functionality, reliability, and information transfer and not on… Read more

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When I think about the culture that envisioned the Internet they essentially developed it as an information-sharing system and in essence devoted little thought to securing the network. Their focus was on functionality, reliability, and information transfer and not on the potential misdeeds of criminals and terror organizations that might seize control of computers and direct them to nefarious purposes.

I have to admit that much of these articles were beyond my understanding of computer language and code talk. The phrase Cyberwarfare, is a new term for me. I am familiar with computer viruses and malware and their use to hijack computers and steal information. But the use of viruses to physically destroy something in the real world sounds like something out of a sci-fi thriller.

After reading about all the surveillance that is going on to garner knowledge about everything, it is really not that surprising that the information is being used in this way. I am curious to know if this was the intention of the surveillance or a side effect. It is astounding to think about the amount of work and information that was needed to create these digital weapons and the potential impact of this type of Cyberwarfare is shocking and a bit terrifying.

The capacity to assault important systems exists everywhere and could possibly cripple our whole society, as it is extremely reliant on cyber information.  A vicious cyber attack on the civilian population would certainly be devastating and could potentially include the corruption of data, supply chain corruption leading to shortages of food, water, and fuel. This could and most likely would cripple Americans and send us back into the dark ages where there is no electricity, money, communication, TV, Internet, or transportation. While this type of warfare means that no bombs will be going off, in terms of disrupting societies, the impact of this type of conflict does have the potential to be more devastating.

So with all the surveillance that is going on, should the government play some role in preventing cyber attacks? Should they help to prevent, trace, or repel the attacks? Should they take retaliatory measures? Or is this a private matter left up to the companies that are affected? When do the cyber attacks cross into the realm of diplomacy or national security?


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Worms: Not just in dirt anymore

// Posted by SarahP on 05/28/2015 (2:47 AM)

Computer viruses have long been the bane of the computer user’s digital existence. Ranging from minor nuisances to multi-billion dollar damages, these “bugs” have wreaked havoc on the global infrastructure, and are usually deployed with malicious intent. For example, the… Read more

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Computer viruses have long been the bane of the computer user’s digital existence. Ranging from minor nuisances to multi-billion dollar damages, these “bugs” have wreaked havoc on the global infrastructure, and are usually deployed with malicious intent. For example, the Stuxnet virus, which baffled programmers the world over, as it silently slipped through unnoticed. Stuxnet, according to Time, was utilized by the American and Israeli governments in order to thwart uranium enrichment at Iranian nuclear power plants, which have long been believed to harbor clandestine atomic weapon programs.

Computer scientists  O’Murchu, Chien, and Falliere, employed by Symantic, worked around the clock in an attempt to tap into and solve the Stuxnet puzzle. Worms such as Stuxnet, which are operated with zero-day technology, require the advanced specialist study of scientists such as O’Murchu. The Stuxnet program was larger than most malware, and did not rely on image files, unlike common phishing programs. Symantec believed that the Stuxnet malware could create serious repercussions for customers of banks and utilities worldwide if it fell into the wrong hands. Thus, the firm and its researchers continued the difficult research on the malware, which used two websites disguised as soccer sites as reporting bases for information on the newly-infected computers.

The Symantec researchers discovered that the overwhelming majority of the infections were located in Iran, with very few in the United States. The Stuxnet outbreak was the first to have its epicenter in the Middle East, as opposed to all previous ones centered around the United States or South Korea, where the majority of the world’s computing activity takes place. Thus, the Symantec team believed it was the work of a government conspiracy against Iran. Similar to Edward Snowden’s leak of the secret intelligence documents, the Symantec scientists felt a duty to global computer safety outweighed any patriotic activity by letting the malware remain intact. These researchers, however, are not considered to be abetting the enemy by attacking a virus targeted for Iran, despite the potential indirect benefit to Iran’s nuclear program.

My first personal encounter with a computer virus was on my grandmother’s old Gateway desktop computer. She opened an attachment from someone she thought she knew, only to be infected with the “Happy99” worm, which appeared to be a digital fireworks show, unfortunately resulting in the demise of her beloved processor. Ever since discovering that computers, like people, can become sick, I’ve been a stickler for using anti-virus software, as well as maintaining somewhat of a “stranger-danger” philosophy when it comes to email- if you don’t know who it is from or it looks strange, don’t open it!

In the years since the incident with the Happy99 virus, my newer desktop computer was infected with a rootkit virus, a more challenging one to remove. Rootkits imitate as normal files, secretly allowing malware into the system. A specialized, yet quite expensive, program was necessary to remove the rootkit system and its virus files in my computer. One of the viruses in the file hosted files that do not reflect my personal tastes in art or computing.

 

Computer viruses, in the most basic terminology, are a form of cyber terrorism. From their origins over the primitive ARPANET (such as the Creeper) to the early 2000s I Love You virus, even to government-sponsored programs such as Stuxnet, viruses and worms have long been used to hinder the performance of computers.


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What has become of this world??

// Posted by BonnieG on 05/27/2015 (9:13 PM)

 

First I would like to say, my blog reads from a different point to another discussion.

My thoughts regarding Snowden, and Greek mythology; I feel he used mythology as an educational source, and form of entertainment. He formattedRead more

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First I would like to say, my blog reads from a different point to another discussion.

My thoughts regarding Snowden, and Greek mythology; I feel he used mythology as an educational source, and form of entertainment. He formatted the information, and used it to remove himself from his own reality. Myths are about Gods, not mortals. Was life so off course that he had to use mythology as a relatable subject?  Did he somehow view himself as a mystical anomaly? Also, he has the text book personality of an introvert. They enjoy thinking, exploring, thoughts and feelings, in addition, to reading, being alone, and working alone. I’m not trying to convey that by associating himself with fables and being an introvert alone caused him to expose the government. I’m stating because of those personality traits, they could be used as some of the reasons why he felt the need to expose governmental secrets, leave friends, and family behind, and hold up in a hotel like a recluse.

 http://www.ancient.eu/Greek_Mythology/

http://psychology.about.com/od/trait-theories-personality/f/introversion.htm

 

Speaking of exposure, our United States government has always infringed on the civil liberties of people in the U.S. in regard to domestic spying. The method used was just more dated.  Remember, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, and his unauthorized phone wire taps, unlawful entries, and bugging rooms. During that period there was little oversight, and investigative reporting, and if there was, the public was either unconcerned, or the actions of the government were not questioned. However, due to someone leaking information to the press, his unlawful spying was exposed. So, as far as Snowden, exposing the NSA and their illegal tactics was of no surprise, for me.

 

See more history on wire taps

www.newsweek.com/whistleblower-who-exposed-warrantless-wiretaps-8

www.historycommons.org/context.jsp?item=a0569kissingerwiretap

 

Third point during a Constitutional law class, that I took many years ago, we discussed freedom of speech. My professor at the time pointed out, that most of the phones in the U.S, are bugged by our government. He didn’t show us proof, nor reveal his source. He matter- of- fact, stated the U.S government listens in, on our phone calls. He told us if we didn’t believe him, while speaking on the phone say “I’m going to kill the President of the United States”. He said your life as you know it will slowly change. During class discussion, most of the students, including myself believed him. Later that evening while talking on the phone I wanted so to say those words, but I was afraid.

 

In addition, the Federal government is not the only entity listening, and tracking our every move, we now have social media. They like the government collects data, targets people, records, and uses our information for matters we have no control over, and like the government they have the capabilities to do it without our knowledge.  So, I ask are the world’s biggest internet companies secretly in cohorts with the NSA? More importantly, can they be stopped?

Youtube Videos

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdZBXFVMqkw

FACEBOOK IS A CIA DOMESTIC SURVEILLANCE PROGRAM

Because of 911, added securities had to be added. I may not agree with the way Snowden handled the situation, however I do agree, with his belief that with added measures of security our civil liberties should not be taken away. For instance airport security, our 4th amendment right is being compromised by illegal search and seizures. Not doing anything at all innocent people are subjected to machine and body searchers in order to board a plane. Therefore, stating our freedoms are not absolute and that the government can enact restrictions on our rights based on actions of terrorism. However, I must ask when the risk it to protect the United States what are we willing to give up to protect given liberties?

Please see below my YouTube Video: Nude Awakening

https://youtu.be/NkR13S_PuvE

Nude Awakening.m4v

My mother would always say to me “if you have nothing to hide than it shouldn’t concern you if I look in your room. Well, it wasn’t that I was hiding something; I just didn’t want her looking through my things without asking. My mother used an early form of mass surveillance to prove “my house my rules” I get the feeling, that the way our government uses mass surveillance they are implying to us “my house my rules” Which isn’t right.

 


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The NSA Knew I Was Going to Write This Before I Did

// Posted by David on 05/26/2015 (11:13 PM)

 

The internet was created out of a sense of building community and sharing ideas – sharing, that important lesson our parents drill into our heads when we are little. When you consider this, Constitutionality aside,… Read more

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The internet was created out of a sense of building community and sharing ideas – sharing, that important lesson our parents drill into our heads when we are little. When you consider this, Constitutionality aside, there’s just something wrong and counter-intuitive about all of the secrecy, trespassing, and stealing involved in the government’s questionable acquisition of domestic data.

I think part of the problem is that the American people are constantly bombarded with newer, greater, smaller, and faster digital media that they are led to believe that they must have, must use, and must constantly be connected to. This new media offers the user fresh ways to enter information and communicate with each other. Which, based on the numbers, the American people love! By intentionally making more data available for the government to collect, the general public offers up more of who they are to the scrutiny of the professionals employed by the NSA. The Wired Magazine article, “The NSA is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)”, states that the NSA is “sifting through billions of emails and phone data.

We give them more information, and they spend more taxpayer money on server farms to collect our information. I was shocked, especially during a time of economic crisis, as to how much money the federal government was spending on facilities, servers, satellites, and upgrades solely devoted to capturing domestic communications and data.

$100 million on a renovation

$2 billion on the Bluffdale digital storage facility

$896 million on a new supercomputer center

Beyond the money, what really sticks with me is a question that John Oliver posed to Edward Snowden, “Is it a conversation that we have the capacity to have? Because it is so complicated that we don’t fundamentally understand.” Is this a conversation that the American people are capable of starting and sustaining? I don’t know. John Oliver’s man on the street videos certainly say, perhaps not.

If speed is the most desirable quality for these super computers and data processors, is it even possible for NSA professionals to separate data prior to deciding whether or not it needs to be addressed? Is it just a big jumble data that they are constantly trying to descramble or decrypt indiscriminately, and they don’t really concern themselves with what they end up with? I feel as if I am an informed citizen, especially more so now after reading these articles, but I still struggle to fully comprehend what is happening and to what degree. You can tell me all about yottabytes, but I can’t comprehend the meaning of that. I understand it’s a lot, but it doesn’t mean anything definitive to me.

Further, I fully agree with Snowden’s comment that, regardless of what the interview context may have been, we should send whatever data, information, or ummm…pictures we would otherwise send. We shouldn’t change our behaviors because our government is doing the wrong thing. Something else I don’t understand – why keep this all secret? We already know that it’s happening? Why not come out with it and be transparent?

Also, wasn’t our government intentionally developed with a built in system of checks and balances? Whose day was it to watch the NSA when they decided to roll out all of these secret programs?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YsZoqwRnKE

I think it’s hard to look at this situation objectively, with the exception of that whole Constitution thing. We need to maintain a watchful eye on those wishing to do harm to the United States, but, as noted in “The NSA is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)”, these people were listening into calls from anyone. Former NSA employee, Adrienne J. Kinne, said that she found the act of eavesdropping on innocent fellow citizens personally distressing. She likened it to coming upon someone’s diary and flipping through it.

As noted in the previous paragraph, this also brings up the question of the 4th Amendment and how it is interpreted. “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,[a] against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Given this, and our freedom of speech, I’d say that based on everything I’ve said, many of the NSA’s surveillance programs are unconstitutional — PRISM and FISA in particular. As many point out, how can you act on power such as this without abusing it? It must be very tempting.

Edward Snowden claims to have carried out his actions because “so that the American people can decide for themselves what kind of government they want to have.” My assumption is that he means one that spies on its own people, thus violating its citizens rights, or one that in entirely transparent and give its people the opportunity to say yes or no to proposed data collection and related expenditures. This is not at all what has happened in this case. Whether or not I think these programs should be in places, I do think that the people of the United States should have been given the opportunity to voice their opinions. As it stands, 46% of the American people favor government surveillance (Oliver). Does this means they think that they are safer, are they unaware that their privacy is also violated in the process, do the American people care?

I think back to all of the critical things I said about the second President Bush and the war in Iraq back in the early 2000s. I can’t imagine what kind of lists I’m on at this point. It’s not just the Republicans though, the Democrats aren’t any better.

“We all want perfect privacy and perfect security, but these two things cannot coexist (Oliver).” This is also a sentiment that President Obama echoes in the below YouTube video. I must say, he seems nervous doing so.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BmdovYztH8

This kind of surveillance is bipartisan!

Though, this does make the point that the Internet is not democratic. Both parties are going to do whatever they want when it comes to security, or what they feel is security, not want the people vote for. How does that make everyone feel?

No matter what each person believes on this issue, this is the country that we presently live in. Are we too far in to turn around or reevaluate? We might not be able to about face, but there is certainly room for perhaps heading in a different direction. However, per the Constitution, the people should have more of a say. Information such as the information shared by Edward Snowden should be public record — to an extent. I don’t think the general populace can wrap their brains around everything that the NSA is up to, I know I certainly can’t.


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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

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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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Edward Snowden and Mass Surveillance

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

Edward Snowden left a life of comfort seemingly due to his strong beliefs and opinions about government mass surveillance. Working for the NSA he was privy to confidential information and documents about the U.S. government and what it knows and… Read more

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Edward Snowden left a life of comfort seemingly due to his strong beliefs and opinions about government mass surveillance. Working for the NSA he was privy to confidential information and documents about the U.S. government and what it knows and about whom. From the many readings for this post I’ve come to see him not as a hero or a villain but rather as an intelligent young man with a sound basis and desire to do what he thinks is the right thing for all Americans. Notice I say what “he thinks” is right for us, but not necessarily what all Americans might agree is the right thing to do.

It’s obvious that the complexity of this issue is not easily summarized. There are technological pieces and parts that even Snowden said would be difficult for the average person without the high level training he has had to understand. Simply put, he wants us to know our government is spying on us without due cause. Snowden wants to release and disclose only those documents he feels are pertinent to domestic surveillance, not foreign. This causes me to consider how he distinguishes between right and wrong based on if the U.S. government is spying on domestic soil or foreign? He doesn’t seem to have an issue with foreign surveillance but definitely with domestic surveillance of unknowing citizens. Snowden made it clear in his interview with John Oliver that the average American does not understand just how complex the NSA is. This is a fair statement. I, for one, do not understand the intricacies of the NSA and why should I…if I trust by government. Herein lies the heart of this discussion.

After 9-11 and the Patriot Act was established, I don’t think many Americans were focusing on anything other than our government protecting us from foreign threats. We weren’t thinking of Patriot Act 215 which allows the government to ask businesses to handover any documents to prevent terrorism. After all, that seems reasonable in light of what had just occurred in our country and the number of deaths at the hands of terrorists. What Edward Snowden is focused on is educating the public on the breadth of intrusive, invasive surveillance that is occurring within the government. His mission is to enlighten the public in order to engage a conversation on the legitimacy of NSA actions.

Snowden’s plan seems well thought out and not a knee-jerk reaction to the knowledge he became aware of. He didn’t just one day think to himself…I’ll disclose government secrets to the world, flee the country and continue to keep feeding documents to journalist so the information will continue to be disclosed to the public. He was by all accounts a very smart man. I’m sure at one point, perhaps in the beginning of his recognition that what he was seeing or learning wasn’t what he personally felt big brother should be doing, he must have been scared just thinking about what he was going to do and formulating his plan. The actions he took aren’t one of a non-planning and systematically organized individual. He must have given a lot of thought as to how he would implement his plan to disclose the ills of the NSA.

Snowden tells us that the NSA knows all and that is pretty scary. Seriously, can the NSA store phone records of all Americans? Probably, yes. Can the NSA intercede and impede the fundamental rights of citizens? Snowden says absolutely they can and they do. He purports the information stored on servers is moved around from server to server and implicates Google, Facebook, Yahoo and others in his accusations. If what Snowden says and the documents he has leaked are true, then nothing we do is private because the government can access our online activities at any time. That would include phone calls, text, Skype, computer activity, etc. And it’s not just that Snowden viewed the invasion by the NSA as harmful to Americans, but also to foreign countries where the NSA had no purpose to collect information or monitor online activities.

If you’re looking at this from the point of view of the NSA they are of course going to substantiate any and all actions in the name of preventing terror attacks on the U.S. The last thing they want is a whistleblower like Snowden releasing the “secrets.” Snowden is a man on the run and hiding out from many people who are looking for him. It makes me wonder why if the NSA has the power to “know all” about anyone and anything, they can’t find Snowden…he has managed to evade those looking to bring him back to the U.S. for prosecution. Snowden presents the NSA’s actions as a blow to the fundamental concept of liberty for all Americans. He says the information is being used against us. He urges citizens to learn and understand the system so they have an opportunity to decide what kind of government they want to have. But, he also admits the technology is difficult to understand.

The way Snowden explains PRISM is a system run by the NSA that is used to gain access to private communications of users of the top nine Internet servers. I found myself asking, how does he know all of this information? Why has no one else come forward with him if the NSA’s surveillance is basically spying on citizens. Snowden couldn’t be the only person who knows this information. It’s too wide spread for him to be in this alone. I know he continues to pass information along to journalists so it can be communicated to the public but how did one man become the major whistleblower for such a large government agency as the NSA? I’m sure foreign countries would love to have Snowden’s knowledge. This makes him a marked man. How can he ever return to a normal life? He says he missed his family but his life’s mission is disclosing what the government is doing and the breadth and scope of information our government is collecting about us. I think Snowden is brave but I also think he has crossed a line in which he can never return. He will forever be on the fun from someone who wants his knowledge for good or for bad. He seems determined to stay the path no matter what the personal cost.

This brings up once again the age of digital America and is the Internet a good thing or a bad thing in the long run. What if Snowden had never come forward with any of this information? Would we be concerned about what we put online, text, or say on phone calls? Even now knowing who Snowden is and what he is trying to do (and has done), has it changed the average American’s life? Do we stop using the Internet, shut down our Facebook accounts and stop texting friends. No, we do not. I think at this point the government knows so much and has such a volume of information on everyone that is it almost incomprehensible and unimaginable to try and understand how it all works.

 


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Transparency All Around

// Posted by Kindall on 05/26/2015 (9:50 PM)

This week’s reading was so interesting. As Americans, and largely thanks to Snowden, we are paranoid that our every move may be watched and every call recorded. While I do not believe this is true, I do wonder- what is… Read more

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This week’s reading was so interesting. As Americans, and largely thanks to Snowden, we are paranoid that our every move may be watched and every call recorded. While I do not believe this is true, I do wonder- what is the real definition of transparency?

Snowden claims that “harming people isn’t my goal. Transparency is.”

I can understand that he felt a true injustice was going on. Everyone fears Big Brother and being oppressed by an overpowering government. However, do the American people also owe a certain level of transparency to our government? I am not sure what level of privacy we are “entitled” to. Especially when, as citizens, we all submit to a social contract of sorts. We trade in some civil liberties for protection. The hard part about this exposure and Wikileaks is determining where the line is when it comes to privacy and protection.

This is well described by Time as the article reports that “there’s a counterargument, which is that you have to strike a balance between public-spiritedly debugging the world’s software on the one hand, and defending the county on the other”.

Snowden believed the NSA and CIA had crossed that line and in return, he fought fire with fire. The bigger question to me is… would we be mad if we were made aware from the start? Is it the secretive nature of the government that upsets us?

Would Americans sign away their privacy if they were told they had a choice: You can either use the iphone OR have all of the privacy you want.

As important as my privacy is, it would be a hard choice to make. And I truly believe the majority of Americans would subject ourselves to surveillance in order to use the internet, be helped by the police, receive public education, get unemployment and disability benefits when needed, etc.

When the work of the NSA was exposed, people were shocked and outraged. But how easy would it be for the government to gain our permission? Service providers gain our acceptance constantly through service agreements.

Even though I know I should, I cannot remember the last time I truly read the terms and conditions agreements presented when downloading an app or program. If given the choice of losing our internet connection and ease-of-life provided by apps, would most people sign over their right to privacy? Would they even notice they were doing it?

The biggest question, it turns out, is not the definition of “transparency” but what the price of it is. The link below hits my point perfectly:

Terms and Conditions

Is the NSA the problem, or are we? We seem to be more compliant than we like to admit. In regards to a terms and conditions agreement, “Not surprisingly, most of the 2500 users flew past this page.  The median time users spent on the license page was only 6 seconds! Generating a confidence interval around this sample tells us that we can be 95% sure at least 70% of users spend less than 12 seconds on the license page… Assuming it takes a minimum of two minutes to read the License Agreement (which itself is fast) we can be 95% confident no more than 8% of users read the License Agreement in full.” (http://www.measuringu.com/blog/eula.php)

Perhaps Snowden wasn’t protecting us from the government. Maybe his leaks will, instead, inspire us to protect us from ourselves. (But I doubt the average American will choose to be excluded from Google, Facebook, or Apple software all in the name of “privacy”.)

After all, the “Leaky Geopolitics” article says it best: “Overreliance on the Internet can undermine other forms of political action”… such as the civil liberties revolution and campaign led by a former NSA and Booze Allen employee.


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Hope for the best, but plan for the worst!

// Posted by Ginger on 05/26/2015 (9:08 PM)

For the past few days I have given a lot of thought to having records of my personal emails and phone calls possibly being stored in a warehousing facility in Bluffdale, Utah.  It is troubling, very troubling.  I can somewhat… Read more

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For the past few days I have given a lot of thought to having records of my personal emails and phone calls possibly being stored in a warehousing facility in Bluffdale, Utah.  It is troubling, very troubling.  I can somewhat understand the idea behind such a place that according to the article in Wired, will be “…secretly capturing, storing, and analyzing vast quantities of words and images hurtling through the world’s telecommunications networks.”  It is for the greater good, right?  We should be okay with the NSA doing this as a way to protect us, shouldn’t we?  The issue I have is intent.  What is the intent of all of this data collection?  How will this information be used?  How could it possibly be used against me or someone I know?

When I was in 9th grade I had a world history teacher named Mr. Meyerholz.  He was different from any other teacher than I had ever had before.  He was different because he offered contrarian viewpoints to history.  Up until that point I had been taught that our government would take care of us and had our best interests at heart. (Over simplified for purposes of blog!) In class one day he said that many people did not mind having a dictator as they would not have to be bothered by making decisions about their own lives.  He would question us with what it would look like if we stopped paying attention and just let out leaders rule without opposition. Looking back it all makes sense.  Mr. Meyerholz was ahead of his time!

I have added a scene from the movie The American President. I think it is very appropriate in this situation.  It is the scene near the end of the movie where President Andrew Shepherd addresses some issues that his opponent has questioned him on.  I especially like his explanation of free speech and the way he explains how elections are won.  He doesn’t use the word apathy, but I will.  This seems to be a common theme to me in the articles, especially the Snowden and Assange articles.  Each of these men, in their own way, have brought information to the world and it is up to us to react or not.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OC2jhQ0KAAU

In the Wired interview Snowden made an excellent point regarding NSA fatigue comparing the mass surveillance leaks to the deaths of troops during a war.  We get used to hearing it and we stop paying attention to it.  It is not news anymore, it is the new normal.  I would argue that the average person does not care that the NSA is listening in on their phone conversations or reading their emails.  I would further argue that they do not believe it is going on in the first place.  Why would our government do this to us?  I live in Hometown, USA and I have nothing to do with terrorist plots so why would the NSA worry itself over what I am doing? Why, indeed.

I have also included a 60 Minutes interview regarding the Edward Snowden data breach.  It offers a different view of Mr. Snowden than the article in Wired.   I realize the NSA has to save face and I understand the badmouthing of Snowden, but it felt odd.  I felt as though they were talking someone I knew.  I had not really paid much attention to him until taking this class.  I just figured he was a traitor pure and simple.  The article about him made his explanation sound so plausible.  This 60 Minutes interview discusses the clean up after he left the NSA.  They had no idea what he had done or even taken.

http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/the-snowden-affair/

I couldn’t help but think of Mr. Meyerholz when I was reading the article about Julian Assange.  Mr. Meyerholz would say that we are allowing ourselves to be led around by our noses and that we need to question what is going on.  Julian Assange is trying to do this with WikiLeaks.   His life’s work is bringing information to the people and the people are not paying attention.  For example, he and his staff went to great lengths to edit and share the video Collateral Murder.  Once it was made public the military was able to explain its actions by saying that they had not violated any rules of engagement.

Again, I think it is difficult for the average person to think that the military would do something so criminal.  One point that Khatchadourian made in the article that I think is very important to remember is that, “Assange, despite his claims to scientific journalism, emphasized to me that his mission is to expose injustice, not to provide an even-handed record of events.”  This, I think, may cloud the information that he provides.  He may very well be putting lives in danger and there are those that do not understand that policy.

Any information can be manipulated and used for ill will.  I feel the lesson from the readings this week and Mr. Meyerholz is to question what is being done with the information.  The groundbreaking ceremony under a tent in Utah is a bit suspect!  On the other hand I also think it is funny that the article tells us where the top secret facility is!  I know I have just contradicted myself, but it is a very hard topic to form a solid opinion on.  So I will offer this.  I have heard it said before on more than one occasion that hope is not a strategy.  But I hope that the information that is being collected by the NSA is being used for good and not evil.  I hope the information gathered and leads to stopping future terrorist attacks and saves lives.  I hope, I hope, I hope.

UPDATE!

I just saw this and thought it was interesting.  I wonder if Aaron Portnoy helped Apple out?

Apple finds bug that causes iPhones to crash|Reuters

 

 

 

 


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Somebody’s Eyes Are Watching…

// Posted by SarahP on 05/26/2015 (8:48 PM)

Government surveillance has remained a controversial topic since the implementation of the USA PATRIOT Act shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The controversial act has allowed for the National Security Agency (hereafter referred to as NSA) to investigate and intercept… Read more

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Government surveillance has remained a controversial topic since the implementation of the USA PATRIOT Act shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The controversial act has allowed for the National Security Agency (hereafter referred to as NSA) to investigate and intercept potential terrorist activities by monitoring such activities as phone call and library checkout records. Despite Obama administration reassurance that actual content of calls is not being recorded, the act remains an overreaction to the attacks. While preventing terrorist activity (both foreign and domestic) is important, the government has taken an Orwellian approach in overreacting.

The government attempted to show it “knew best’ for the American public in ensuring that terrorist attacks with the magnitude of 9/11 would never happen again. Thus, the government overreacted to the violence and enacted the Patriot Act by wide margins in both houses of Congress.

Edward Snowden, a former computer contractor to the NSA, came into possession of top-secret government documents that discussed the NSA’s surveillance programs, including those that centered on government spying on of phone calls. His releasing of these sensitive documents to WikiLeaks is considered an act of high treason by some, and heroism by others. Snowden wants Americans to live in peace and freedom, but does not want the government to take secret operations against its own people. He told Wired that he did not want “…the law to become a political weapon or…to scare people from standing up for their rights…”

Snowden’s fears for the American people are coming true in a sparsely-populated part of Utah, where a large data collection center being used for code-breaking and analysis of call records is opening soon. This secret government facility is adjacent to a town that believes old Mormon tenets that were officially ended prior to Utah’s statehood in 1896.

Mass surveillance is important to protect America, its people, and interests from terrorism, as the nation has had a long reputation of a stable government, which it is trying to protect as well. Snowden wants an informed American public, one that questions the interference of the government in its daily lives, and that is prepared to take caution against threats both internal and external.

 

Glen Greenwald interview with Edward Snowden

Glen Greenwald interview with Edward Snowden

Snowden, in his interview with Greenwald, discussed that people are under constant danger of governmental interference due to the possibility of NSA agents being able to search long-lost Internet files in order to theoretically incriminate anyone.

The Internet has come a long way since the ARPANET and the beginning of the WELL and Usenet. The earliest versions of the Internet were used by major research universities and government entities to perform scientific and technological research and report the findings rapidly to each other.

The concept of an unseen entity spying on the masses brings to mind lyrics from the musical “Footloose“- “somebody’s eyes are watching,” as well as The Alan Parsons Project’s “I am the Eye in the Sky, looking at you. I can read your mind.” The idea of unauthorized surveillance has long been a threat to humanity and a tool for dictators, often using secret police agencies such as the Gestapo, KGB, or Stasi. The United States uses the NSA as an agency with the open mission to seek potential terrorists and bring them to justice, invoking images of Big Brother seeking “thought criminals” who have not yet performed misdeeds, but only have thought of them and committed their plans to words. Edward Snowden seems like an ordinary man on the surface, but is contempt on his mission to warn the American population of the dangers it faces from its own government in the guise of the government protecting the people from terrorists. In creating a fear state, the American government is able to will its people to stand in favor of its highly questionable security tactics, many of which are likely illegal but carried on in secret.

Somebody’s Eyes from the musical Footloose

Somebody’s Eyes from the musical Footloose

 

 

 


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My opinion on Snowden

// Posted by Kaitlyn on 05/26/2015 (8:26 PM)

Edward Snowden is referred to as a whistleblower. We all know why he is a whistleblower and have our own opinions as to whether what he did was right or wrong. In my personal opinion I believe what he did… Read more

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Edward Snowden is referred to as a whistleblower. We all know why he is a whistleblower and have our own opinions as to whether what he did was right or wrong. In my personal opinion I believe what he did was right. He did what he did in order to protect our country and not let the government take complete control over our lives. He has no benefit in his decision, he really lost everything he had in order to try to save our country.

What the NSA was doing is against the law. They are invading innocent people’s privacy without any type of legal ramifications. I feel that the NSA thought what they were doing was for the good of our country by trying to stay on top of terrorists but they took it too far. They were abusing their power as a government agency and by paying computer technicians hack into illegal territories. The NSA knew that they needed a warrant for wiretapping but they did not obtain a warrants before wiretapping. It seems that they just got carried away listening to everyone’s conversations and looking at everyone’s emails and text messages because they were not only looking into the United States citizens information, but at people from all over the world.

Working in the legal field makes this topic especially interesting to me, especially with the advancement in technology. Technology is ever changing and growing but unfortunately the law does not change as fast. The law takes time to catch up with technological advances but people should be able to use their own judgment as to whether or not something seems to be illegal. In this case wiretapping without a warrant was against the law.  Probable cause was needed in order for a search warrant to be issued for the government to wiretap and this was not happening. According to the article from Wired after Snowden released his information the government put a hold of warrantless wiretapping of cell phone and email records, it also states this is one thing that would never have happened if it were not for Snowden.

Many people may think that Snowden did this to destroy our country; some even consider him as a terrorist himself. People have considered him a terrorist because he told other countries what we were doing to them, which could have in turn, caused a way between the US and other countries or caused a lack of trust and relationship. I do not agree with these peoples opinion because I still think Snowden was acting in our best interest when he released this information. The other countries deserved to know that they were being watched because it was uncalled for by the US. If we trust these countries and have alliances with them than we should trust they would not turn on us. Like I said before Snowden was not gaining anything out of this other than hope that the government will change for the betterment of his family and friends he left behind in the US.

Another reason I believe that Snowden was not doing this for his own self is because he carefully chose when he released to the public. He took a lot of time and go through documents in order to see what needed to be released. He took into consideration information with people’s personal stuff and tried to protect individual’s identity. According to the Wired article Snowden also tried to leave a trail of what information he copied and what information he just touched in order to give the government a better understanding of what he had taken and what they needed to focus on.

Snowden held out for a couple of years before releasing the information hoping that change would come and there would be a stop to the corruption. All of the articles we have read talk about how he though the Obama administration would be different but it was not. His last straw was when he found out about a new storage center in Bluffdale, Utah. This was going to be a place that would store so much date and essential be like a cloud of all date taken for the NSA. This was going to take the invasion to a whole new level and Snowden was not happy about it. I believe that if Snowden had not have come clean that there would be a lot of damage that would have been done at this new storage facility. People are focusing on the negative effects that Snowden brought but imagine if he had not come clean and so much information was accumulated in Bluffdale that could be even more damaging when released by him or another whistleblower. There is a time and place for everything and I think that Snowden was ready to get the guilt off of his chest.

Throughout my readings on Snowden from this class and other classes it seems that the reporters and media outlets have really worked hard to get the answers we want to hear. I can’t imagine being one of the reporters that was given all of this information and trying to figure out what to do with it. It seems like for the most part it was handled in the best way possible considering nothing like this had happened before. I am sure that it was hard for the average person to believe some random person that the government was doing these bad things but thankfully it was given to someone who had the knowledge to decrypt the information and figure out that what Snowden was saying was true. Overall I stick to my opinion that what he did was right and we now know that we have no privacy.

 

PS- I had two pictures to add but I could not get them to upload, I kept getting an error message.


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Big Brother is Watching

// Posted by Jessie on 05/26/2015 (10:49 AM)

In high school, I read George Orwell’s 1984 and remember thinking how awful it would be to live in a world where the people were constantly under surveillance and the government told them what to think. The book still holds… Read more

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In high school, I read George Orwell’s 1984 and remember thinking how awful it would be to live in a world where the people were constantly under surveillance and the government told them what to think. The book still holds a lot of significance for people and society today as the term “Big Brother is watching you” would pop up as a synonym for governmental power abuses related to civil liberties and surveillance.

Here is a link to several clips from the movie 1984: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xrea7y_1984-clips_shortfilms

First published in 1949, 1984 was considered a futuristic novel that theorized what the world would be like in the years to come. Unfortunately, many of Orwell’s ideas, particularly those related to modern governments wanting to control citizens and curtail freedoms, seem to be coming true, Big Brother is watching and collecting your data and storing it. Today’s technological possibilities of data collection, storage, and surveillance surely resemble what Orwell imagined.

Orwell describes Oceania’s surveillance as operating out in the open, since total power removed the need for deception and hiding. In the very different world depicted by Orwell, it was a routine for the government to open all letters in transit. Snowden describes similar government activities as “ubiquitous surveillance” and the government’s intent to make “every conversation and every form of behavior in the world known to them”. However, in our world the government is doing this in secrecy, the permissions are granted by the government and there is no judicial or public oversight.

The surveillance of American’s has rapidly increased since the 9/11 terrorists attacks and the resulting Patriot Act in 2001. The Patriot Act vastly expanded the government’s authority to spy on its own citizens and simultaneously reduced the checks and balances, like judicial oversight and public accountability, all under the pretext of protection. The expansion of the surveillance justified under the Patriot Act and the overall lack of clarification of what constitutes a threat, left the government unchecked and the public open to clear violations of privacy and the possible breach of the 4th Amendment.

When Edward Snowden revealed the extent to which the NSA was collecting data from cell phones and spying on Americans it was really not a big surprise to have the confirmation. It seems like a safe assumption that even if a person is not having a controversial conversation, the notion that digital messages would remain forever private or that they would not be stored or saved is probably naïve. Sacrificing personal privacy in favor of ensuring safety and protecting lives is not a foreign concept. Any time an individual boards a plane, in order to pass through security, privacy is sacrificed. This is done to safeguard our own lives as well as those of fellow passengers.

Honestly, it is easy to see the difficult position the government is in. Terrorism essentially does not have a nationality or even a religion, giving the extensive surveillance some validity. But are invasive programs such as Prism truly necessary? Or is the government overreaching its mark and operating unconstitutionally. General John Stark, an American Revolutionary War hero, coined the phrase “Live Free or Die: Death is not the worst of evils”. I wonder if an unchecked government would fall under the “worst of evils”.

Are our only choices to live free or die? There has got to be a balance, the government cannot be given free reign to expand their limited powers and reduce the natural rights of the American people. It seems clear that unchecked the government surveillance programs will increase and one can only hope that we don’t wake up one day living in George Orwell’s 1984 world.


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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

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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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Community Feel

// Posted by Ginger on 05/23/2015 (8:27 PM)

I think anytime we can get together and discuss ideas and share knowledge it is a good thing.  I think about all of the sites that are availabe to us now that we can use to help us do things… Read more

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I think anytime we can get together and discuss ideas and share knowledge it is a good thing.  I think about all of the sites that are availabe to us now that we can use to help us do things such as change the color of our kitchens!  Pinterest sends me updates with decorating tips, Weather.Com sends me updates regarding potential weather issues, Food Lion sends me the sale items for the week, Target sends me Cartwheel updates, NBC 12 alerts me to news bulletins, and the list goes on.  It is hard to imagine a world without all of this community.  It is hard to imagine because we have gotten used to it, but it wasn’t that long ago that we had to wait until Walter Cronkite came on to let us know what happened that day.  Not that long ago at all.   For those of you that were not alive when he was on the news, it was like having your grandfather tell you about what went on in the world that day!   There are some that say the world was better off then, I don’t know if that is true, but I do know it is different.

Community used to be the commune for the members and then it morphed into the WELL.  Same people just a different medium.  Ideas and thoughts were still shared just differently and to a wider audience.  I really liked how Reve Basch described the WELL in this week’s reading when speaking of contacting experts, “I can contact any of them directly, through email, or post a plea for information in a public conference and more often than not, be deluged with insights and informed opinions” (154).  I think this is really nice and the way that things should be, but it is not.

True Story!  Yesterday I went to the quarry in Ruckersville to get samples of soil.  I decided to eat lunch in a restaurant in Orange that a friend of mine owns.  It is called the Dairy Corner.  They serve hamburgers, fries, and of course ice cream.  When I got there I noticed a sign on the door that they were going out of business and their last day was May 31.  I went in and ordered my food and while I was waiting I did what I do when I am alone eating I got out my phone and went to Facebook.  I looked up my friend’s page and found the note that she had posted about the Dairy Corner’s closing.  I read the posts that others had made expressing their sorrow and then I read one that was so mean I could not believe it.  I felt so sorry for my friend because I know she had to have seen it and then I felt sorry for the person that wrote it.  I doubt very seriously that she would come up to my friend and say it to her so why did she think it was okay to post it for everyone to see?  Why do we do that?


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Community connection via social media

// Posted by Jessie on 05/23/2015 (5:57 PM)

In the spring of 1985, the first online community, known as The Well, was born. The Well was a communal dwelling, an intimate gathering where nearly everyone held a stake in almost every discussion topic. It was a place of… Read more

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In the spring of 1985, the first online community, known as The Well, was born. The Well was a communal dwelling, an intimate gathering where nearly everyone held a stake in almost every discussion topic. It was a place of words, and semi-private interactions that mattered. In today’s fast-paced world, online communities are still being used by individuals to connect with like-minded people to share their thoughts on a never-ending array of topics. Many use social media to communicate with friends and strangers, sharing their thoughts, photos, links, and even facilitating social and political change. The protests in Tunisia, which spawned the Arab Spring, were fueled and organized by social media.

Social media has the potential to link individuals from different cultures together into one global village. Interactions happen within seconds of sending and receiving messages making it an attractive medium in our fast-paced world. Social media lets individuals establish and maintain relationships and promotes a sense of interconnectedness with our culturally diverse world. Today, social media has transformed into an almost daily need for many individuals that seem to struggle to achieve a sense of belonging to something larger than them. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the third need, after obtaining physiological and safety needs, is belonging. Maslow’s third need supports that individuals desire a sense of belonging through support from relationships with others. Essentially, social media provides this opportunity where individuals can communicate with others via virtual communities on the Internet.


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The WELL, Community, Social Media, and Yogi Berra

// Posted by David on 05/23/2015 (3:58 PM)

The WELL was an online space where like-minded people could go and discuss a variety of topics whether they agreed, disagreed, or just had a general interest, they could go there to connect and to share ideas without physically being… Read more

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The WELL was an online space where like-minded people could go and discuss a variety of topics whether they agreed, disagreed, or just had a general interest, they could go there to connect and to share ideas without physically being in the same space. While I know forums of this nature are still very much a part of digital culture today (the guy with the cubicle across from me almost always has some sort of gun discussion forum open), the communal nature of the WELL made me think about the groups I’m a part of on Facebook.

I’ve been provided an opportunity to be a part of a group discussion about a specific topic, in my case mostly craft beer, where we all have a similar interest, but we don’t all agree on everything. This leads to some lively discussion! Similar to the WELL, these groups have moderators, you can choose to not see posts from people if you don’t find value in what they are adding to the discussion, and the point of it all is to share ideas. I don’t know if it’s necessarily sharing ideas in a scholarly, Socratic sense, or like the prompt mentions “sharing” to score cool points, but it’s sharing nonetheless. Social media is a good example of this. I have managed to seek out others who share my interests on Facebook through Groups. I’ve certainly tried to use Facebook groups, or even just my “wall” as an outlet for scholarly debate, but it often just turns into a mess. Often it gets off topic, disrespectful, offensive, full of bots postings ads, or just plain old trolls. Not helpful.

I think that this ease that we connect with people is what gives the Internet the ability to make us feel united. You can see it in grassroots movements that need to raise awareness or gain support. You could see in in 2008 in President (the Senator) Obama’s election campaign and then after having such success he went in the same direction for reelection in 2012. I looked into this a little bit and I found some research done by The Pew Charitable Trusts that stated that while both candidate in 2012 utilized this method of communication to get their messages to their supporters, they didn’t really engage in the “social” part of social media.

http://www.journalism.org/2012/08/15/how-presidential-candidates-use-web-and-social-media/

I wonder why this is? I can only assume it’s because sifting through all of the comments and responses, finding which were legit and which were not, and then actually responding would have taken an amazing amount of time, money, and people.

We’ve also seen people unite internationally through social media. Twitter has been used to raise money for disaster relief. Social media was used last month to raise awareness of violent attacks on foreigners on South Africa.

http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/17/africa/south-africa-xenophobia-social-media/

 

I think we feel this unity because it social media offers an emotional outlet for whatever a situation might be — disaster, human rights, politics, whatever — and in doing so, leaves people feeling empathetic. The ability to understand another’s emotions will often lead to the desire to act, and sometimes even change.

I don’t think we “almost” need social media to feel like part of the world, but rather I think we absolutely need it. 90% of my news and information about what’s going on in the world comes from social media, not traditional news outlets. Granted, some of it comes from traditional outlets just via social media. TV news has commercials. Social media news is in real time, and users are provided more firsthand accounts. I don’t have TV, and, for me, I’d feel entirely disconnected without social media.

While this is normal for me, as with much cultural change, this could be entirely foreign and daunting to say my grandmother. While my grandmother is no longer with us, she got her news from The Washington Post twice a day and from Walter Cronkite in the evening. The 24 hour news cycle and the constant flow of information over social media would have likely terrified her. Further, if she wanted to talk to someone she would go to their house or vice versa. All the neighbors would get together and some would smoke cigars and drink scotch, some would gossip, and some would just talk. There is a tone of value in that, but with the rise of digital everything, a lot of that sense of physical community is gone.

Social media has likely led to a lot of what Robert D. Putnam discussed in his book Bowling Alone:

“In this alarming and important study, Putnam, a professor of sociology at Harvard, charts the grievous deterioration over the past two generations of the organized ways in which people relate to one another and partake in civil life in the U.S. For example, in 1960, 62.8% of Americans of voting age participated in the presidential election, whereas by 1996, the percentage had slipped to 48.9%. While most Americans still claim a serious “religious commitment,” church attendance is down roughly 25%-50% from the 1950s, and the number of Americans who attended public meetings of any kind dropped 40% between 1973 and 1994. Even the once stable norm of community life has shifted: one in five Americans moves once a year, while two in five expect to move in five years. Putnam claims that this has created a U.S. population that is increasingly isolated and less empathetic toward its fellow citizens, that is often angrier and less willing to unite in communities or as a nation. Marshaling a plentiful array of facts, figures, charts and survey results, Putnam delivers his message with verve and clarity.” 

-Publisher’s Weekly

Where with me, if I don’t know about something the moment it happens, it’s old news by the time I do find out. Just like in the YouTube video it’s fast. Information is fast, news is fast, baby pictures are fast and you have to keep up or you get lost…whether you think you are or not.

I bet this is not just me – when I’m at work and something big happens – someone famous dies, Boston Marathon bombing, royal baby has a name – it almost seems like a competition to be the first one to blurt it out to the office.

I’d like to end by saying that rambling was encouraged.

Not really, I’d like to end with a funny Yogi Berra quote that I found looking up some info on Bowling Alone (it’s been a while since I read it):

The Publisher’s Weekly reviewer who wrote the above stared his/her piece using the great Yogi Berra’s quote to “articulate the value of social networks.”

I’ll leave you with that.


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Why Wait To Be Connected?

// Posted by Lois on 05/22/2015 (2:42 PM)

I found this interesting video on internet connection to our phones in Wired magazine. Very cool!

http://brightcove.condenet.com/streams/1564549380/201504/151/1564549380_4194729411001_QULG0072H-EVERYTHINGS-CONNECTED-75-HD-NOSLATE.mp4

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I found this interesting video on internet connection to our phones in Wired magazine. Very cool!

http://brightcove.condenet.com/streams/1564549380/201504/151/1564549380_4194729411001_QULG0072H-EVERYTHINGS-CONNECTED-75-HD-NOSLATE.mp4


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Can Community Exist Without Physical Beings?

// Posted by David on 05/22/2015 (12:07 PM)

First, I want to apologize. I have violated one of the key discussion rules. I posted late. Not last minute, but late. I can assure you that this is a one-time occurrence and I will not make it a habit.… Read more

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First, I want to apologize. I have violated one of the key discussion rules. I posted late. Not last minute, but late. I can assure you that this is a one-time occurrence and I will not make it a habit. I ask you for forgiveness. I think I got so wrapped up in choosing the right alias to use in our chatroom experience that I simply got behind.

Now that this unpleasantness is behind us, my real post:

I found the quotes and ideas espoused by Howard Rheingold to be rather thought provoking. First, his idea of virtual community. This term, which I find to be simple and self-explanatory, is actually the basis for much of what was happening online in the 70s and 80s, as it is now. On then, as the book states, it was new. At that time, it was text only, but today anything goes – text, images, videos, anything. Does this deviation from text only diminish the community or does it strengthen it? I honestly don’t know.

Something the book notes is that the text-only approach lent itself to the ability to connect with others “without encountering body-based forms of prejudice.” While adding prejudice to the mix certainly detracts from the experience, isn’t it inevitable? It was already noted that at the time, the differences between how men and women interacted with the internet and with each other was different.

 Next, the debate Rheingold started about the authenticity of “online interpersonal communications,” is something that I often wonder about. For example, my Facebook “friends.” Maybe 10 people plus family do I ever encounter in person. Does that make the interactions I have with the 80 others any more or less valuable? Do I really care what the kid I was in 3rd grade with had for dinner on his vacation with his 3 kids and 3rd wife at Disney World? I don’t, but what if I did? If I engaged him in conversation about his experience and I found our conversation meaningful, is that communication/relationship and more or less valid than if we had it in person? I don’t know.

Another experience: I took the required SPCS (then SCS) Interpersonal Communication class online. I thought this was an odd concept from the time I saw it, but I went forth. We did a lot of reading and some discussing, but I still didn’t understand. This was an online class, an online community, and also as stated in the book this “computer-mediated communication” made it so that our “bodies…ceased to matter.” This made it even more difficult for me to comprehend this particular course existing online. Does anyone else see this as being paradoxical? Is it possible for effective interpersonal communication to exist online? Without qualifying it as “virtual” or “online” can you have a community with face to face, interpersonal, communication?

 

 


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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

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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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Link to Wikipedia – The Well

// Posted by Lois on 05/21/2015 (6:55 PM)

Here is the link to what Wikipedia says about the WELL http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_WELL

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Here is the link to what Wikipedia says about the WELL http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_WELL


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One big happy family!

// Posted by Ginger on 05/21/2015 (6:43 PM)

This chapter for me was about friends, collegues, and like-minded people sharing ideas.  The people are the same but the location are different.  Instead of a field or a bus the people are meeting and sharing ideas in a virtual community.    From… Read more

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This chapter for me was about friends, collegues, and like-minded people sharing ideas.  The people are the same but the location are different.  Instead of a field or a bus the people are meeting and sharing ideas in a virtual community.    From our text, “…individuals could connect to one another without encountering body-based forms of prejudice.  They could come together not in random interactions that characterized life in the material world, but by choice, around shared interests” (159-160).

Exchanging ideas and information what an interesting concept.  The WELL gave the contributors that opportunity.  Turner made this collaboration sound positive and beneficial for everyone that participated.  Is it just me, and it probably is, but it seems so different than online forums today.  There is always someone complaining or making fun of a posting or happening.  There does not seem to be the sense of community or goal towards a common good.  It may also  be, and I am sure it is the places that I visit online.  I would like to make a change and be a part of something positive.  I will share more on that later, probably in class because I am going to need all of y’all to help me!  Online now seems more for entertainment than a place to gain knowledge.  Again, I am sure it is because of the pages that I visit.

I also think it has something to do with my age.  I am more of a talk to someone in person type person to solve problems or share ideas.  Jessie brought up an excellent point Monday night in class.  The tone of an email or post can be misunderstood.   If this happens in person you can explain and you can also read the other person’s expressions.  What made the WELL so successful is that most of the people on there already knew each other.   They were already a part of a community, it just changed location!

It is also important to note what this sense of community and networking led to.  On page 150 of our book, Turner wrote about the differences in the earnings of Silicon Valley and that of the Route 128 area.

 


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Week 2: Virtuality and Community on the Well

// Posted by Lois on 05/21/2015 (6:39 PM)

This week’s reading is a lesson on the early start of the chat room experience. With The Whole Earth Catalog as a model for “one of the most influential computer networks to date – the Whole Earth Lectronic Link (or… Read more

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This week’s reading is a lesson on the early start of the chat room experience. With The Whole Earth Catalog as a model for “one of the most influential computer networks to date – the Whole Earth Lectronic Link (or Well)” as we read, Stewart Brand and Larry Brilliant began what would intrinsically link people from different cultures and backgrounds from around the world via communication on a central computer. Initially the WELL was a teleconferencing system where the subscribers dialed in to connect. They were able to type messages to others in what was a ‘real time’ environment. How amazing this must have been! Chatting with another person in real time. Exchanging ideas and thoughts bringing people together in a new and exciting way. We read that many different groups came together and it became a sort of communal environment with wide reaching geographic possibilities.

I envision the WELL as a social medium for the exchange of ideas both on the business level and non-business level. To be able to log in and talk in real time with others was a great technological advance. It was a way of bringing people together from all political and social settings. It was a way to converse with others with different political views or social views and build a sense of community even if there was disagreement. I see this as kin to today’s social media avenues like LinkedIn where you can email and send instant messages to others, Facebook which allows for immediate conversation back and forth and Twitter which is a constant live feed of information (sometimes too much!) The internet provided a method for instant gratification much like it does today. We ask a question and we immediately are provided an answer. I see friends asking questions on Facebook about recommendations for a restaurant and immediately people are responding with suggestions. The WELL was the beginning of much bigger things to come.

In the old style chat rooms (which I remember well), you could be anonymous or you could be yourself. Some chat rooms were private and required an invitation to join while others were open to the public. The chat room was preparing us for even faster and more technologically advanced social media systems like the ones we use today. The internet has always connected people with information but now people were connecting with other people. The WELL much like the chat room had categories of interest for the user to select from. It was almost like shopping online is today. We search for our individual interests. The connection of man with computer was further developed via the WELL and via chat rooms. The two forever linked in mutual benefit. The network has to be functional for the interpersonal communication to evolve and attract users. I can  personally recall being in a chat room with friends or family and the system going down. How frustrating! The link between the people and the machine was then broken. But, in the development of what was to eventually come, this was a first step of minor inconvenience to the user.

I think Turner’s take on the WELL is dynamic in that he examines every possible aspect of the communication cycle and who is communicating and what social norm could be affected. He talks about the public vs. private aspect of the WELL and how the lines could be blurred. As he said in the chapter, making the information available in the network the value of the information increased. I like the example he uses of the Librarian who used the WELL to get to know people better by just hanging out and conversing. I think that’s the overall goal of any chat room or social media site. We enjoy getting to know others and learning what they think about every day issues that we all face.


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WELL’S Management Strategies.

// Posted by BonnieG on 05/21/2015 (5:42 PM)

Although the WELL’S makeup of its hardware, and software did not differ from other computers in the way it computed, and transferred information, the company’s model was still nonetheless, an ingenious concept.  As the saying goes, “if it’s not brokeRead more

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Although the WELL’S makeup of its hardware, and software did not differ from other computers in the way it computed, and transferred information, the company’s model was still nonetheless, an ingenious concept.  As the saying goes, “if it’s not broke don’t fix it”. Brand relied on proven management strategies to build his empire by using a handful of former “counterculturalist, hackers, and journalist” (14); the same mind-set used when he helped to build the Whole Earth Software Catalog. For me, what separated WELL’s computer strategies from main-stream computer technology was that WELL’s, goal was to combine main-stream hierarchy, and counterculture into a new realm of digital communication. Thereby, creating a new form of communication for people, to come together, and discuss new and different ideas.

Another concept that stood out for me was some of the by-laws/standards of the company such as: “to be free, open-ended universe, self-governing, and the marketing to one sector of business users. In addition, to the concept of the Whole Earth brand being one with the universe. However, with those perceptions, I feel the WELL missed some important issues. First when people are involved comes with that is materialism, and as much as they tried to avoid a capitalist society, they couldn’t avoid capitalism.  Because they soon realized nothing is free, thus, the users were charged a nominal fee for the use of the WELL. Also, when it came to copyrights, they cautioned themselves, as well, by transferring the liability onto their users. As a rule people need controls, and operating a business on lightheartedly standards, would be challenging, if serious controls are not in place.  In addition, to that, a standard is established to provide rules, and guidelines for the characteristics of a company.  And lastly how can a business survive by having just one marginal niche. Even though, some of the design goals made no sense to me, the WELL developed something their users wanted and that was a virtual community, for people to come together.

In addition, to that the WELL also added a unique value to the virtual community, because they tried to remove the reality from virtual reality, and go beyond from just developing a personal computer. As well, they attempted to remove the bureaucracy caused by universities, and government, and build a system that empowered a neutral community of democratic conscious believers. Because of the WELL’s initial unorthodox foundation their thought processes, and leadership was not completely about big business, or personal financial success.

Bonnie


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Week 2

// Posted by Kaitlyn on 05/21/2015 (4:08 PM)

The part of chapter 5 that I found most interesting was the description of the women’s role on the WELL. I found it very interesting that there was even a group called Women of the Well (WOW). The WELL… Read more

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The part of chapter 5 that I found most interesting was the description of the women’s role on the WELL. I found it very interesting that there was even a group called Women of the Well (WOW). The WELL was a place for women to go and engage in discussions and establish their own conversations about new topics. This was a big deal for women during this time.

One reason that this was a big deal for women during this time is because according to the book women during this time were mostly confined to cooking, cleaning, and raising children. There was still a gender divide between men and women’s duties and responsibilities. The WELL gave women the opportunity to expand their knowledge and think about stuff other than household duties. There were not only women who were engaging in discussions but also women who were in leadership roles on the WELL which was a major accomplishment for that time. One female writer on the WELL described her experience as feeling like the WOW was like her extended family that she could talk and ask questions too.

The WELL/WOW was not only a place for these women to write for pleasure, some women were also finding employment through their writings on the WELL. There were many instances in the chapter that described how the WELL gave economic growth to people through writing and research. Freelance writers could use the WELL to find research to make their articles more interesting. Other writers were being discovered due to their writings on the WELL.

Although most of the women felt the WELL was a positive thing there was one women who did not. Susan Herring wrote a paper that was published on the WELL about how women were at a disadvantage online. The debate went on for about 2 years. Most women did not agree with her arguments and they continued to participate on the WELL.


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The WELL, Chatrooms, and Message Boards: The Birth of User-Generated Digital Media

// Posted by SarahP on 05/21/2015 (2:35 PM)

 

The internet as we know it today is a bustling metropolis of commerce and entertainment. It is a gathering point for like-minded individuals to convene and share their thoughts and opinions. While the internet was evolving, chat rooms and… Read more

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The internet as we know it today is a bustling metropolis of commerce and entertainment. It is a gathering point for like-minded individuals to convene and share their thoughts and opinions. While the internet was evolving, chat rooms and online forums have been an important part of the online culture, bringing people all over the world that would otherwise not have an opportunity to converse together

In chapter 5 of  From Counterculture to Cyberculture, Turner discusses at great length the evolution of the Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link, otherwise known as the WELL. The WELL evolved from the Whole Earth Catalogue (which someone in class likened to a primitive, paperback, non-digital form of Amazon) and served as a cyber-playground for anyone and everyone- from highly advance computer technicians to twenty-something year olds educating themselves in the ways of the hacker.

Chat rooms and forums have always been a vital part of the internet and its presence. I can recall (again, as mentioned in my previous post) using the America Online “Kid’s Only” server to converse with other youths about Sailor Moon, Lisa Frank Trapper Keepers, and, of course, Ty plush toys, all under the username of “BeanieBabe84” (the number 84 signifying how many Beanie Babies I owned at the time of creating my screen name. Yes, I am a child of the 90s!)

 

This is a screen cap of the Kids’ Only Section on AOL 4.0

It was after creating my first public profile on America Online that I realized the internet wasn’t as safe as I initially thought. On my profile, I listed my interests as “ballet, reading, and movies.” One evening, I received an email from a man saying it was the craziest thing he’d ever done, but wanted to know if I would go out on a date with him to see a local production of Swan Lake. My grandmother so very eloquently wrote back, informing him that he had requested a date with a 9 year old girl, and that while I was a mature 9 year old, I would respectfully be declining his offer. Needless to say, my profile was deleted that evening…
Online Forums have also been an integral part of bringing widespread internet users closer together. Topics from religion, to recipes, to politics, to kittens all house their own communities for gabbing. For example, there are many forums dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge, such as Straight Dope. Straight Dope works to correct common misconceptions in a public forum. Also, the influence of WELL on Reddit is present, as Reddit is an open site where anyone can post on any topic. People have serious intellectual conversations upon the electronic marketplace of ideas, while others share the latest viral video or pop music single.
I feel like Brant and Brilliant (what a wonderful name for an inventor, if I do say so myself!) created the WELL as a means of communication that would be simpler than having face-to-face meetings. It later expanded from a corporate feel to a home-y cyber environment, giving the user, to quote Reba Wiese, the “gift of an extended family.”


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Anonymous: The Modern Day Acid Phreak

// Posted by Kindall on 05/21/2015 (2:27 PM)

If you search the term “Anonymous” in a Google browser, the second link will take you to a Wikipedia page which describes the topic as “Anonymous (used as a mass noun) is a loosely associated international network… Read more

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If you search the term “Anonymous” in a Google browser, the second link will take you to a Wikipedia page which describes the topic as “Anonymous (used as a mass noun) is a loosely associated international network of activist and hacktivist entities. A website nominally associated with the group describes it as “an internet gathering” with “a very loose and decentralized command structure that operates on ideas rather than directives”.[2] The group became known for a series of well-publicized publicity stunts and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on government, religious, and corporate websites.”

The group reminds me of our beloved Acid Phreak from Chapter 5. He bluntly and boldly suggested that hacking is really meant to be “infectious” to institutions. Anonymous takes this digital adage to heart as they hack government and corporate sites at home and abroad. This group claims to fight for free speech and the “lowly middle man” by exposing the hypocrisy and wrong-doing of certain institutions.

Everywhere I turn, Anonymous is there telling me that they are fighting for me and my rights… by doing what is “right”, “ethical”, and “moral”. But if you examine what Acid Phreak said in the Hacking Forum where he debates Barlow and others, he claims that there “is no one hacker ethic.” So, like many before me, I ask: How does Anonymous decide what is ethical/right and wrong? Who makes that call in their own, hierarchical and structured organization? Do they have their own agenda?

Personally, I think they do. Even if their ideas are rooted in good intentions, have they fallen into the same patterns as the institutions they work so hard to bring down and expose? Just think about how easy it was for them to hack into the St. Louis law enforcement system and leak details of the racially charged murder of Eric Holder in Ferguson. They released the home address of the officer (Darren Wilson) in question during a time of dangerous unrest. Anonymous has the ability to hack into various systems and release this damaging information, daily. And yet, they only choose to act when an incident occurs that will place them at center stage as our “protectors”.

I find the group so interesting, and I admire their gumption. I just wonder what their true agenda is. Who pushes their buttons and pulls their strings? Is anyone really a “digital Robin Hood” for us common folk?

Brief CNN Video Coverage of Anonymous

 


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Utopia this way =>

// Posted by Jessie on 05/21/2015 (11:06 AM)

This weeks readings reflected on the transitions of The Whole Earth Catalog. The Whole Earth Catalog was envisioned as a way to bring about a ‘wholeness’ of the earth and all its systems. It resembles an old mail order catalogue,… Read more

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This weeks readings reflected on the transitions of The Whole Earth Catalog. The Whole Earth Catalog was envisioned as a way to bring about a ‘wholeness’ of the earth and all its systems. It resembles an old mail order catalogue, and contained information on how to maintain communes; the necessary tools that would be needed, and offered items such as potters’ wheels. The Catalog transitioned into the WELL, which is described as one of the first online communities. This shift marks a point in the separation of the utopian values from material practice.

Throughout the readings I felt myself rooting for the counterculture ideal of a shared consciousness, despite essentially knowing the anticipated outcome. In the back of my mind I kept thinking, if this ideal had triumphed how different would our lives have been? Would we have achieved utopia? I believe the potential was there. We can achieve so much as a group with a collaborative mindset; thinking about the sharing of knowledge that this counterculture was pursuing leaves me feeling like a great gift was just thrown aside.

The idea of alternative communities of kindred souls that could express themselves and develop and learn equivalent to a homeostat was profound. The belief that machine and man could coevolve to benefit each system, as a whole, was intense and inspiring.  As I was reading this, I was cheering them on and hopeful for their success. It was also interesting to read about the role of women on the WELL and the empowerment they felt as they glided across gender divides.

I don’t believe that the cyberculture revolution was completely unsuccessful in getting their ideal’s across as we do have the Internet. The Internet allows huge numbers of people from all over the planet to communicate and share knowledge. Relevant examples that come to mind are Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks. In these realms people seem eager to share what they know and not claim ownership.  This shows that many of the same values of sharing and free information within the online community managed to carry over, and this online utopia is very different from the material practices that inspired it.


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