Open Source Warfare

The ideas behind how Open Source patterns are being applied to areas outside the realms of software, as Clay Shirky discusses, that “…my initial optimism about simple application of Open Source methods to other endeavors turned out to be wildly overoptimistic” (p. 484, 2005). Personally, I find this as an intriguing statement because at that time, a group the world knows as “Anonymous”, a collective of activist and hackers all over the world had existed for at least 2 years using the Open Source pattern to function as an organization. The only problem here was they were not in the public eye by any means as they had yet to really show the level of Open Source operation they would eventually develop. A similar group, formed in 1999 has garnered similar status in its use of this format and currently is effecting citizens around the world is the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Both use the same pattern of operation to great effect and both of them fall into the category of extremist groups, something I am sure Shirky would never have wanted to see as so successful.

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Social Media to Social Life: It’s All About Signals

Social media has been working its way into our everyday lives for over a decade and as the years have gone by more and more of our personal data is now online. Years of buildup on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram are now proving viable sources for marketing. The information gathered from sites such as Facebook according to Kosinski, et al. (2012) state “…relatively basic digital records of human behavior can be used to automatically and accurately estimate a wide range of personal attributes that people would typically assume to be private,” (2012). The study conducted by Kosinski, et al. used the rudimentary Facebook Likes to predict various pieces of personal information about an individual Facebook user.

What was found from this study was that many of the more personal questions they had posed were easily answered by users own likes through Facebook, with many certain likes correlating to how the personal information was determined. This means that anytime anyone posts or likes something on social media they are beginning to create a definable profile about themselves. Whether they want certain aspects of their lives known or not does not mean they cannot give that information away by how their behavior can be tracked online.

After reading through this article, it had me thinking about how much of a goldmine this is for modern marketers and organizations. Consumers are willingly putting all this information about their interest, personality, family etc. online in the form of social media and are far more accepting of the ensuing marketing/advertising blitz they are receiving so long as it fits their needs or desires. As a society we keep wanting technology that has smart functionality, we want to have products that know us better than we know ourselves and therefore make our lives easier. This is where a recent article on the site Gizmodo caught my attention about a new, affordable development with smartwatch technology.

The article by Andrew Liszewski discusses how almost all electrical devices put out varying types of frequencies that make them distinguishable from one another. Now a research team comprised of some top-level minds including those from Carnegie Mellon University and Disney Research has developed a way to detect those signals using a modified smartwatch radio. What the team has done is adjust a low cost smartwatch radio to detect these emitted signals from objects and then designed a specific program that can identify what object is making what frequency noise. This means the software theoretically can tell when you are opening the fridge door, checking your phone or opening the microwave. The modified smartwatch device is called EM-Sense and is something that can prove another extension to how our personal, private life can be identified by the smart technology we use.

Let us say like other social media or smart tools such as Facebook and Google Now that like to access our photos, web searches and location data to provide us useful information this new EM-Sense does the same thing. This means it could learn your routine schedule by what you interact with every day from what you do at work and providing you at work providing a task list or when, where and how long you like to take a run on Saturday mornings. Beyond this, it has other interesting applications such as for the blind or physical therapy where the data can help those individuals become more independent in their daily lives.

What are your thoughts on this new technologies potential? What do you think are the positive and negative implications this can have it becomes as prevalent as smartphones are today? Or is this a technology that has no practical use?

Politics Daft Over Social Media

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I will not pretend to act as if I am very aware of what is currently happening in the political landscape leading up to the 2016 presidential election. I rarely hear about it in my own personal circle of news sources online or otherwise, but after reading “Did Twitter Kill the Boys on the Bus? Searching for a better way to cover a campaign” by Peter Hamby (2013) I at least felt more informed on why. Why has this undoubtedly important event been passing me by as we are closing in on the pinnacle of the election running? Maybe it is the fact I do not use social media to any real extent, specifically I do not use Twitter.

Hamby brings into the forefront how much the political sphere has changed just form the 2008 to 2012 presidential elections. The advent of social media and smart technology into everyday lives of America has forced political candidates into one of two phases, either complete transparency that all of their character can be on public display or to hole themselves up becoming almost robotic in spouting their campaign as if it were the bible. What Hamby focuses on that drives this idea home is the use of Twitter and how it has essentially destroyed traditional journalism and how a presidential campaign is followed and reported on to the public. This had me interested in what is shaping the current presidential election and an article from Time seems to reciprocate many of the sentiments that Hamby found when interviewing various journalist for his discussion paper.

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One of the most prominent aspects that Time touches upon is this elections rise of outside candidates, “This year we’re blessed with four: Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina and Bernie Sanders” (October 8, 2015). Compared to one prominent outside candidate, this is a severe jump in potential candidates and with the ever-changing opinions of what the public wants in a candidate it is ever more alarming. These outside candidates, just like the primary candidates are mastering the use of social media to garner public attention. If they do not, you can bet they will fail in this present era. As Hamby stated about the 2012 electoral campaign “Everyone in politics, it seemed, was on Twitter: journalists, editors, pundits, campaign managers, television producers, bureau chiefs, flacks, pollsters, activists, lobbyists, donors, wives of donors, daughters of donors, hacky operatives, buffoonish down-ballot candidates, cousins of direct mail specialists, interns desperate for re-tweets” (p. 24, 2013)

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Twitter became the focal point of news for politics, where tidbits and quips were published 24-hours a day. This is in part to the new crop of journalist, known as embeds in Hamby’s article, are constantly using their smartphones to be the first to cover any possible news on the campaigns. Whether this news had any true substance or context was merely an afterthought as the race to be first in a social media driven environment takes priority. Time eludes to the same symptoms occurring again as now we have seen a massive increase in who is on social media from a generational standpoint. “In August 2006, about 5 percent of 50-64 year olds logged on to social media, as did just 1 percent of people over 65. By September 2013, those figures had jumped to 65 percent and 46 percent, respectively” (Time, October 8, 2015).

We are now seeing a majority of American citizens involved in social media to some extent, and much like the last election it is doubtful that the majority of political news will not circulate through social media such as Twitter. My concern is whether the lack of substance found in many social media articles and quips will still command audience attention or are we now going to see a return to more professional publications? Will Twitter remain the dominant political battleground or will a new social media format takeover? What trends will we see in this coming election as things begin to get heated up? On the other hand, how many of you are dreading having your social media sites overtaken by political jargon?

OnePlus: Taking on the Linux Model

When we think of some of the biggest technology industries that are, crucially affecting our everyday lives, immediately what comes to mind is smartphones. Now almost everyone able to read this blog will possess their own smartphone, probably from one of the main manufacturers such as Apple, Samsung, LG or even Motorola. These are all top-tier companies we are all very familiar with and they make some of the top flagship phones that consumers demand. Now many of you reading this blog have them but something that is happening in the smartphone market is we are becoming aware of the real price of the phones we have.  Just look at the newest iPhone 6S by Apple, it retails at a whopping $650, much more than the paltry $200 someone probably paid through their carrier on contract not long ago. With the realization of such high-prices a new wave of companies hailing from China are beginning to make a splash in the marketplace and one such company, OnePlus, is leading the charge.

The story of OnePlus is a very new one, as the company started up operations only in winter of 2013 they have already launched two successful products and as of today announced their third. What makes them so unique is how they mimic the similarities of Linus Torvalds and the creation of the Linux operating system. As Clay Shirky says it, “The number of people who are willing to start something is smaller, much smaller, than the number of people who are willing to contribute once someone else starts something” (p. 239, 2008). A collective group decided to launch their own smartphone company in the desire to make a simple, better phone at an affordable price, therefore created OnePlus.

What makes OnePlus unique in the same sense of what makes Linux a unique platform is in the way it relies on a much wider community to influence those that make the dedicated changes within the company. Once the company formed the few individuals who would put most the effort into creating a product, now that it has been created an influx of users began to go to the forums of OnePlus and contribute their thoughts and ideas into what would make a great smartphone. Taking regards of interest in mind they launched their first smartphone, the OnePlus One, in April of 2014 using an invite only system to help lessen costs that come with overproduction. Luckily, for OnePlus, their initial product took off as the media was raving about the product and consumers were flooding their website and social media accounts wanting the One Plus One that led to sales that far exceed their expectations.

With a recent announcement today of their new OnePlus X, the third product entry from the company many major manufacturers are taking notice on what is making this small Chinese startup so successful. The use of community engagement and the creation of the company from a like-minded group allow them to lead the charge in the new trend in smartphones. As consumers can see the full price of their smartphones they are wanting a similar product at a lesser price, this is where companies like OnePlus are making strides and we are sure to see many other companies follow suit in entering the American and global markets. Do you know of any other companies or products that operate like OnePlus and Linux? If so what are they doing that is similar or different?

Back to the Future Day…Wait, What!?

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Well it is finally that time, where the mighty Delorean will descend from the heavens and give unto us the one and only Marty McFly! Well, maybe not entirely like that, but today does mark the exact day that Marty McFly came to the future in the 1989 classic “Back to the Future II” that meant to provide the populace with an idea of what the world would be like in 2015. This movie, along with the other two in the trilogy, has quite the following of fans in communities based found in all corners of the internet.

While the film itself may have been popular upon its release, it has been 26 years since then so why it is the movie has such prevalence in culture to this day? It all has to do with ability of the individual to become their own writer and publisher, as many web blogs, forums and community sites gave them such power on the internet. Now people were able to easily write about their interests and create whole communities around them, something that quickly happened with “Back to the Future II” over time.

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“Computer Show” and the Evolution of Technology

The evolution of the technium is a fascinating piece, something that we as human being often take for granted whether if it is animate or inanimate in nature. Great examples come in the way we take advantage of our smartphones, tablets and the internet. How often do we habitually use these three things throughout our day without much consideration for the opportunities they provide us? This brought me upon a very interesting YouTube channel that appeared today simply titled “Computer Show”, a spoof on the PBS show “Computer Chronicles” which ran from 1983 until 2002. The “Computer Chronicles” essentially followed the changing landscape of personal computers and their capabilities, with each episode dedicated to a specific segment or product.

Where Kevin Kelly discusses the evolution of the technium, he mentions how the initial purpose of many manmade technium often are created for one purpose but end up finding a purpose in more minor roles. Viewing the “Computer Show” the satire aims at bringing ideas of the past (as the show is portrayed as being made in 1983) into contact with modern entrepreneurs in the field of computer technology and internet services.

The relevance of the show to Kevin Kelly’s idea of our evolving technology the naivety of people at the dawn of the computer and internet area to understand how it will evolve. The host (and guest host) are presented with the modern entrepreneurs such as Alexis Ohanian, cofounder of Reddit and struggle to grasp the basic concepts he discusses. They do not understand how the idea of internet communities can exist, let alone the breadth of topics and individuals that take part in them.

The show also represents how far we have come in choice, where it conveys the availability of choice and opportunity that these technologies develop in the future. As such, these are also not entirely predictable, as Kevin Kelly explains that many of the images of the future we see from different eras often have drastically different ideas of what the future will appear as. However, they often touch base on the general ideas, or possibilities, of what the future may hold just not how they will look or function. Much as in “Computer Show”, the hosts are bewildered at the technologies even though they display a general concept that these are likely future functions.

Looking back at “Computer Chronicles”, it was designed to follow the evolution of the computer and the related technologies that cropped up around it. Bringing in representatives from all areas of the technology market to educate the at-home viewers of what new products and services are on the rise, how they function and what is on the horizon. The show is available through the internet archive and a great compilation tribute to the show can be found at stquantum that make much (if not all) of the show available.

If anything, both shows are great representations of the ever-changing landscape and functions of technology, specifically the computer and internet. We can see what we adopt and still use in the present as well as what falls to the wayside, maybe certain technologies that did not hold much promise then have renewed ways of being relevant as the technium evolves. Do you know of any modern YouTube or Television shows that play on the past in a similar fashion? Do you think a serious version of such a show as the “Computer Chronicles” would be relevant today? What if Kevin Kelly were the director and host of the show?

Death is a Two-step Program

Technology is something we are all too familiar with, it surrounds us in every facet of our lives and at this rate, it is only so long until the floodgates spill and we drown in technology. This is a common conception by the present global society that technology is inherently manmade, that it requires the human mind to think of the innovations and ideas that makeup a technology. Kevin Kelly (2010) on the other hand, is much more open minded to what technology is and therefore came up with the term technium that covers all aspects in the known and unknown universe. An aspect that grabbed my attention was the detail of cellular evolution in all forms of life, in just how many possibilities exist and whether evolution truly is accomplished through random processes. This brings me to a very recent article by Gizmodo originating from Quanta Magazine that discusses how closely related the black plague, or Yersinia pestis, is to a mild stomach virus Yersinia pseudotuberculosis.

A fascinating bit of information from this article is that there are still cases of people actually catching the plague in the western United States! A fact as I as well of probably most of you are quite unaware that the disease persists on in a minute way. What this brings us to is that research still continues into the black plague, or black death of Yersinia pestis that revealed the evolution of the disease involves an altered protein and mutated gene from the stomach virus Yersinia pseudotuberculosis.

The fact that a specific protein (known as unrease) that makes up the bacterium’s shell ever occurred in an evolutionary process is astounding. As Kelly put is “The total number of possible proteins that evolution could generate (or discover) is 〖100〗^20 or〖 10〗^129. This means that there are more possible proteins than there are stars in the universe” (p. 108). It is in this statement that is easy to understand the improbabilities against this protein making its way to being a part of the bacterium’s makeup. Along with this change, a mutation occurred in the protein called pla that allows the disease to stop the body’s ability to create blood clots, a major defensive mechanism against injury, illness and disease.

Fun Fact: The Black Death was thought to be caused by evil in the air, so these beaked masks were worn stuffed with different herbs to help purify the air as it was breathed in.

The improbabilities are just one factor, but this means with newly discovered history on the origins of the deadly disease is how few of steps in evolution it took to find this specific protein. Whereas most steps of evolution as Kelly discusses involve jumping from “star to star” which is from protein to protein. How did the bacterium Yersinia pseudotuberculosis find this one protein so quickly? Does this mean there are a significant amount of other potential proteins or mutagens like pla that can cause a new strain of a deadly disease equal to or worse than the plague?

These are questions are reminders of just how easily evolution can come upon just a few, exacting pieces that can completely alter its original form. Something Kelly illustrated in the evolution of the homo sapiens as their brains internally developed it drastically changed how they functioned. How they were able to begin making tools and creating language. What do you think of this new history on the bacterium known as the black death? Can you see any similar evolutions within Kelly’s technium that are close? What about any predictions of similar evolutionary possibilities to come?

References

Arnold, C. (2015, October 6). The Mutant Genes Behind the Black Death | Quanta Magazine. Retrieved October 7, 2015.

Kelly, K. (2010). What technology Wants. New York: Viking.

Ouellette, J. (2015, October 7). A Few Mutant Genes Can Turn a Stomach Bug into the Black Death. Retrieved October 7, 2015.