Regulating the Internet of Things

The future of how we do things is changing dramatically as everything is becoming more digital. Even the way we shop is starting to change thanks to the new radio frequency identification tags which will allow products movement to be tracked right from production to purchasing. We will be able to simply load up our trolley/basket with whatever items we wish to purchase and walk out of the store without the hassle of waiting in line at the checkout. These tags have the potential to track everything that we do, the places we go and even our personal preferences. This is where the internet of things comes in, where everything around us is becoming “smart” technology, and the current predicament of exactly how it can be monitored and regulated.

The American Federal Trade Commission is now undertaking the task of how to tackle the regulation of internet of things. The task is so difficult because the idea of data collection is not associated with a real business model and so businesses want as much information as they can possibly get while consumers don’t necessarily know that they’re giving information away or what it is that businesses are learning about them. As silicon chips are getting smaller their uses are expanding so that data can be collected from almost anywhere in the world and at any point in time. The cost of this technology is also getting cheaper making it possible for companies and businesses to take on this new technology and collect more data about their products and consumers. The data that these businesses will be capable of collecting could be potentially sensitive and private for consumers, which has a lot of people worrying exactly what information could get out into the world that they would rather keep to themselves.  It will be interesting to see how the Federal Trade Commission handles their task and just how much longer we will have the privacy we once had.


Apple and Android

The war between Apple and Android is well known with the majority of people having either an iPhone or one of the many Android powered phones, with only a very small share going to other operating systems like Windows phones. With each phone released the market shares change between Android and Apple, creating an incredibly competitive market, specifically between Apple and Samsung.  Apple and Samsung have a long history of suing each other over designs, often getting quite petty with Apple suing over designs and production copyrights including rounded corner designs and Samsung paying debts in 5 cent coins. As both Apple and Samsung continue to dominate the world of mobile and computer technology, they continue to become more and more competitive. Their market share is constantly changing with one being stronger than the other during one quarter of the year then the next it will be the other way around, usually depending on who has released the latest phone.

When it comes down to the operating systems iOS and Android are becoming more alike, with many design features being used by both systems. With similarities there is also many differences between the two such as Android being much more customisable while Apple likes to maintain more control over what apps can be used and how much customisation can take place. This does give Apple more security advantages but then people with iPhones could miss out on better options. What one operating system lacks the other tends to have which is what makes the race to create more sales so close. During the first half of the year Android sales seem to be much stronger (during the release of the new Galaxy phones) while the second half of the year Apple sales picks up (when the latest iPhone is released).

In the end the choice between each operating choice comes down to the individual and what features they deem more important. 

Social Media and Revolutions

Social media has aided many social revolutions across the world from the Arab Spring which began in December 2010 to protest that have taken place across America demanding political changes among other things. But did Social media really start these revolutions? In short, no, these revolutions were started by individuals and their acts of defiance. Social media was merely a conduit which allowed for quick organisation that made it more difficult for authorities to discover plans before acts of defiance took place.

The beginning of the Arab Spring uprising started with Mohamed Bouazizi, who set himself on fire in front of a government building after fruit and vegetables he was trying to sell were confiscated by authorities. This act then sparked outrage in his community and so many people started to riot. Footage of the riots was posted onto Facebook, being visible to many people around the world which helped to spread mayhem across the Arab countries. This new way of spreading news has helped people across the globe get more information than they could before. Media blackouts no longer stop people from getting information about what is really happening from different points of view.

With the good, also comes the bad. The bad being the Facebook ‘like’ revolution, where many people show support for a campaign by ‘liking’ it, without giving any real help to the cause. An example of this is the Kony 2012 campaign. This campaign was to bring to light the treatment of young children by Ugandan warlord Kony. A revolution took place where millions of people across the world supported the cause by ‘liking’ it on Facebook, changing profile pictures and sharing tweets about it. This put Kony in the global spotlight, making him aware more people were after him and allowing him to go into hiding. Eventually the hype died down and the mob mentality moved on. There are so many things that Social media brings to light that people often get bored of one thing and move onto the next.  

Social media can be crucial to social revolutions now, but there is still the negatives that come with the positives. 


Hacktivism, the act of hacking into computer systems to gain information, has become a new method of activist endeavours against governments and other organisations. The biggest known group of hacktivists is Anonymous, which anyone can join (as long as they’re willing to go through the process of securing their own computer system and becoming completely anonymous within the online world). Anonymous have risen to fame through the Occupy movements, along with many other movements, and have become so influential and famous that they have even made it into TIME magazine’s top 100 most influential people in 2012.

Today governments are starting to gain tighter security and catching anonymous individuals in the act. Hacktivism has decreased in 2013 with many security breaches taking place being from a criminal element rather than the more ethically driven hacktivist groups.  This is not the case in the UAE, where cyber-attacks have risen in the last three years from 8,400 in 2010 to 530,000 in the first quarter of this year, with around 45% being claimed as hacktivism. Authorities in the UAE are contributing the rise to the wider use of social media and smartphones.

Some other influential hacktivists include:

Aaron Swartz, who campaigned for the public to have free information by releasing legal information through the system PACER.

The Jester, who helped to create the DoS software, XerXes. The Jester has also attacked WikiLeaks, homophobic sites, the president of Iran and Islamist sites.

Bradley Manning, who has helped WikiLeaks gain military information by tapping into the US military intranet and burning the information he found onto a CD. 

By the People, For the People; Citizen Journalism

Citizen journalism is becoming a more prominent means of gaining news stories. The idea is that average citizens who might not have any experience with journalism can create and add to news stories with their firsthand encounters or research. This is an important thing as more information from different angles can be added to help shape people’s opinions and give more than just one side to any story.

Chris Measures talks about how citizen journalism can be a great source of information in areas where journalists and other parts of the media have been banned from reporting certain situations such as the Arab Spring where media blackouts were enacted by the government in an attempt to minimise riots and public reactions.

Global Voices is an example of a website which utilises citizen journalism as it allows both professional and amateur people to add news stories which are then curated by Global Voices and then translated into 30 different languages. With over 700 authors stories can be found on issues that may never have come to light and it allows people to find stories from all over the world. An example of one of the authors on Global voices is Danica Radisic who is, “an online communications consultant, blogger, poet, native speaker of Serbian, English and Portuguese, old-school information junkie, all around Web addict and single mother of a (possibly evil) genius and his baby sister.” Danica reports on many different issues that arise in Serbia, Macedonia, Slovenia and Turkey, plus a few other countries on a wide range of topics.



The Long Tail of Music

In 2004 Chris Anderson wrote about his theory of “The Long Tail” in which people are able to go through a long discovery process through things like Amazon recommendations. When looking at different Amazon products people can see similar items that they might also list, on their personal accounts Amazon even compile a list of recommendations based on what users have purchased and viewed. This is used by many companies now so people will spend hours searching and discovering new things that they may never have thought to look for before. This is thought to be one way that new people in the music industry can gain attention and large audiences.

Helienne Lindvall shows that this theory has been disproved by a study which shows that the same bands and other performers are getting all the attention from listeners while the little known entertainers are remaining unknown to most.  There is now also an overwhelming supply of new musicians on the internet and Lindvall points out that the reason why The Long Tail theory doesn’t really work is because of this, we need to have the music filtered down by major record labels for any musical acts to become prominent. There is a PhD thesis written on the algorithms that are used by recommendations on music platforms which shows that these algorithms are still biased towards more popular music. This shows the flaw in the Long Tail theory, where it is more difficult to find new things if more popular music is being pushed at us more often.

Newspapers, Magazines and Books, Oh My.

Media is constantly changing and so does the sources we get it from. The days of newspapers being printed for consumers each day is coming to an end. Fairfax media is one of many news media sources that will end printing of their daily newspapers, including the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. The reason for this is the fact that sales of printed newspapers are dropping as more and more people go digital and use their computers, phones and tablets to gain access to news. Fairfax is predicted to save around $60 million by cutting out two of their biggest printed newspapers and leaving them as digital newspapers. Paywalls are becoming ever present for newspapers across the world, Fairfax will be charging between $15 and $44 a month for its content.

In comparison magazine and book sales aren’t falling as rapidly, magazines only going down around 2% and book sales generally going just as strong. Kindle and eBook readers were thought to take away from printed books but it seems that people are buying both hard and digital copies. There are also downsides to the new technology of eBooks and Kindle with many people finding that they tend to not pay as much attention when reading things in digital format as they don’t have to concentrate on moving physical pages. Many people also prefer the feel and smell of the book in their hands. That being said, the lower prices of kindle and eBooks as well as the transportability of them make them a better choice for many people. So even though old media is fading out there are still some forms that will remain for many years to come.