John D Radcliff, Specializing in Interactive Technology & Education!

What is technology?

        Heidegger says, “The essence of technology, as a destining of revealing, is the danger.“  “The rule of Enframing threatens man with the possibility that it could be denied to him to enter into a more original revealing and hence to experience the call of a more primal truth, (The Question Concerning Technology, p. 23)."  I take this as technology merely being the vehicle or catalyst that reveals human beings true primal nature.  He is not talking about lethal machines or software that is being created that will destroy mankind.  He is referring to the nature of man and how man’s primal instincts influence other worldly objects.  For example, he uses the example of “save” were it means "only to seize hold of a thing threatened by ruin, in order to secure it its former continuance, (The Question Concerning Technology, p. 28)."  So an example of this would be would be saving a document in Microsoft Word, which was designed by a human being with the pretence of, “I had better save this document because if I don’t, then I will lose it!”  Heidegger uses this as an example of man’s destructive primal nature being expressed in creation of an object, and in this example it was the design of the “save” option in the Word processing software. 


        I am not sure how we can apply this philosophy to an issue today in emerging media unless we look at it from not bad or good, but from the viewpoint of creating and using technology as a tool to do so.  If we look at Facebook, it is a superb example of a social media platform used to share and connect other moments in a person’s life.  Facebook is a great example of how technology can help to bring people closer together and connect with long lost friends or family members.  On the other hand, the issue of privacy comes up not in the sense that Facebook is a bad or prying piece of technology, it is the question of how man has developed a platform like Facebook to reveal private events in people’s lives.  So it is man’s desire to not be alone and wanting to connect with other people while sharing private matters with others. 
        What we can take away from this example is man’s basic primal need to be socially engaged with other people and that according to Heidegger “revealing that brings forth truth” is mankind’s ever lasting journey to explore and find out more about him or herself as a species.  Twitter is another great example of how technology emulates the primal desires of a person.  People will send Tweets about almost anything from “hey I am at the gym exercising” or “doing laundry” are a couple of examples.   A practical application for this was in Egypt when the government shutdown the internet and no one could communicate except for a couple of ways. 

        Google offered a solution called “call to tweet” were people in Egypt would call a number, then leave a voice message which was then converted into a Tweet.  This message was then broadcasted out to the world on the Twitter network where people could find out what was taking place inside of Egypt.  If we look at this situation from Heidegger’s philosophy it is not technology which is in question, but the desire for human beings to be free and have their voices be heard. Heidegger says “Quite to the contrary, when we once open ourselves expressly to the essence of technology, we find ourselves unexpectedly taken into a freeing claim” (The Question Concerning Technology, p. 26).  People create different tools so that they can embrace their own identities and express themselves.   I have used Facebook and Twitter as two prime examples of how Heidegger’s philosophy is used and expressed in modern day technology.             
        In conclusion, I would have never thought of looking at technology or modern day technology from Heidegger’s point of view.

What is the future of trying control and regulate digital media on the internet?

        According to Digital Media and Democracy, "In many ways these pressures to regulate the internet reflect the natural maturation process that previous media, such as print, radio, and television, all experienced as they evolved out of unrestrained and experimental to tightly controlled and regulated environments."  The internet use to be like the wild west with no rules or regulations a place where anything goes.  Since 9/11, there have been alot of regulations put in place to monitor and control the flow of information on the internet. 

        The Patriot Act, enables law enforcement officials to intercept the communications of computer trespassers and improves their ability to track computer trespasser activities.  The problem with this is the invasion of privacy by law enforcement officals and what do they deem as "trespasser activities"?  Then there is a group called ONI, (Open Net Initiative) who investigates and provides a comprehensive picture of internet content filtering in a particular country.  Oni then produces reports which it gives to different countries around the world.  This is a good and bad thing for censoring content online.  Good in that it can help control and stop the access of information on sexual exploitation of children or "extremist" Web sites.  Bad in that it can stifle or taint the flow of information. 

        Let's take for example the country Pakistan, who started by filtering access to websites containing imagery offensive to Islam and now targets content related to Balochistan independence.  Is this really right to censor this type of material?  People should have the right to have access to almost any type of material they want.  It should not matter if it is offensive to a certain religious groups (I think most countries should start practicing freedom of religion).  I do agree that any site exploiting children should be taken off of the net with the exception of "extremist" websites which should be monitored, not taken down or filtered out.  Each nation state have different views on what kind of content they find offensive and select what they want to filter out.  Once again, I think anything pro human rights should be allowed.


         Certain websites, like Youtube regulate themselves and only allow appropriate content.  They do not allow nudity or the uploading of bands music which violates copyright laws.  I don't agree with the uploading of music and if you want nude videos then people should go to a different website.  Since Youtube, which is owned by Google, has the right to filter content uploaded to their site since they are a private company.  I agree and disagree on the uploading of music videos from bands since it can be a copyright issue on the one hand, except if you are trying to do viral marketing for a band.  Since online marketing and promoting is going this direction I think an exception can be made for band's music videos. 

        "Perhaps of most concern are measures taken to protect intellectual property and copyright through technical means; In particular through the introduction of codes built into the software and hardware that structure permissible communications. (Digital Media and Democracy, p.142)"
In the realm of software, putting controls on software and profits have actually hurt different companies.  For example, let's take peer to peer network (P2P), like bear share or Bit Torrent.  People want software at a cheap price or for free.  Who wants to pay $200 to $1,000 dollars for the latest Photoshop or Microsoft Office software?  Look at the music industry who tried to shutdown Napster and in doing so created a whole new market which is costing them billions.  Now different websites will legally take music and have people download a song for a fraction of buying the physical album. 

        Companies have started to realize that making a big sale is not as profitable as making micro transactions every month.  The answer to this has been software as a service, were people pay a low monthly fee to use a companies software.  An example of this is Microsoft's Office 365 which allows a company or person to have access to Microsoft Office applications.  Then you take Google Docs which has free online office applications just like microsoft office.  People are less likely to steal a piece of software if you create a price point that is lower then the physical software disc you would buy at a store.  This is the shift companies have made when it comes to controlling or censoring what kind of software people can have access too.  Some companies are starting to embrace the free or low price model.  If more companies would embrace this model then the need to worry about restrictions or loss of profits through theft would be greatly reduced.

        So is censorship a form of control that governments and corporations impose on the internet as a response to create balance on the net?  This question is hard to answer considering free speech activists who say that any form of censorship or restrictive access online imposed from a government or corporation is a violation of a person's right to have free speech online.  Are companies and governments acting in the interest of protecting people's freedoms and rights online or are they wanting to gather data on what people are doing?  The free speech activists say that censorship is a form of ease dropping and a control mechanism to snoop on people's activities.  The corporations and governments say we are protecting your freedoms and companies state that they are protecting their profits.


        Companies, people, and governments each have a valid argument on controlling and regulating digital media on the internet.  The new innovations and technologies that are constantly being developed will ultimately determine how and why they are censored or regulated.

How do we protect digital or mechanical reproduced products from theft?

        The quote "The traces of the first can be revealed only by chemical or physical analyses which it is impossible to perform on a reproduction; changes of ownership are subject to a tradition which must be traced from the situtation of the original. (p. 220, Benjamin, Walter, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction)", shows how contemporary art had a way of making sure it was the original piece of art.  So how can someone insure that a digital piece of work (video or photography) has something in place to protect it from being randomly reproduced or stolen?  Also, how do we know which digital or mechanical reproduced product is truly the original?  According to Benjamin Walter "That which withers in the age of mechanical reproduction is the aura of the work of art (p. 221)."  Benjamin thinks that there is an essence to an original piece of artwork like a painting and he sees reproduction as "jeopardizing the authority of the object". 

        It is hard to determine what is the original and how to keep the authority of the object intact.  If you give credit to the original producer of a digital product then the authority or originality of the work remains intact.  A painting would be harder to duplicate since certain characteristics (like look, feel and an author's signature) exist on the painting to make it an original.  You can easily duplicate a digital picture or film and distribute it to the masses.  This is easily done by uploading a video or photograph to an online site, which opens up opportunities for people to watch, download or manipulate the digital product.  Most movies have credits or logos on the film to let people know who produced the movie.  It is hard to determine to whether or not a digital movie or picture is an original unless it can be time stamped or marked.  The main problem with reproducing things, especially digital media is the problem with people violating copyright infringment laws.

Digital camera

        There are many laws and techniques for protecting digital art.  Copyright laws are designed to prevent people from doing anything that will allow them to profit from a film that is not in the public domain.  Once the rights have expired or are forfeited, then the digital work is open free for use by the public.  The Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, championed by the late Sonny Bono, extended the length of time the copyright remains in force before it enters the public domain.  According to Bill Nichols "The Software Act began the erosion of a basic distinction between copyright and patent by suggesting that useful objects were eligible for copyright." 

        The Diamond v. Diehr case of 1981, had the court hold 'when a claim containing a mathematical formula implements or applies that formula in a structure or process which when considered as a whole, is performing a function which the patent laws were designed to protect.'  So if something is useful, then the digital work can be protected from infringement.  Also, it is interesting how a copyright is granted when a photo is taken, whether or not the photographer registers the photo with the Copyright Office.  The only catch is that a person cannot collect money for copyright infringement if the photograph is not registered.

        There are several ways in which digital media can be protected along with filing for a copyright or patent.  Watermarking, is where you place an overlay directly on the image. This usually impacts the quality of the image such that potential thieves don't want to steal it. This is a very effective way to protect your online images if you don't mind the text across the top of them.  Shrink Wrapping an image is a JavaScript technique where you display your image with another, transparent image overlaid on top. Then when the thief tries to download the image, they get something else instead – usually a blank image.  Another technique is enabling a "no right click script" which will disable the no right click options so someone cannot just right click on the image and download from a site.  Even with all of these techniques and laws there are still ways that people can still steal digital copyrighted or patented works.

How are phone services changing?

        The internet has developed new communication tools which has had a growing effect on the way we communicate.  For example, instead of people having a landline, now people have cell phones with them all the time.  People are not just making calls, they are now texting, using social media tools, blogging, VOIP applications, etc.  In the "grand narrative of modernity, the Internet is an efficient tool of communication, advancing the goals of its users, who are understood as preconstituted instrumental identities" (Poster 1997, 205-6). 

        This quote from the reading of HyperCyberDemocracy reveals how people are using the internet to communicate and express themselves in whatever way seems fit.  So how does this have an effect on charging for communications?   According to the Florida Public Service Commission, Verizon, AT&T and CenturyLink, the biggest telephone landline providers in Florida, lost approximately one million subscribers in 2009.  Many consumers in the Florida area cut spending in 2009 by curbing telecommunications services.  The PSC released its annual report on the Status of Communications in the Telecommunications Industry to the Florida Legislature today. It shows many consumers cut spending in 2009 by curbing telecommunications services. 


        Companies like Metro Cellular and Google who provide unlimited or free services are the catalysts behind this decline.  For example, Metro PCS, a cell phone service provider, gives people unlimited talk and text for only $49.99.  It would not make sense for someone to pay by the minute on a landline or through another cellular provider when you can get a better deal through Metro PCS.  Google has several free services when it comes to online communications. 

        Google  provides a free service called "Google Voice", which allows a person to get a free phone number, voicemail, text to e-mail, block/screen callers, establish conference calls, and much more! 
The question is how do you compete with unlimited usage or free services?

        The way most of these companies have adpated to this change is to embrace it.  All of the major carriers like AT&T and Verizon have been offering bundled digital media packages called the triple play.  The "triple play" consists of internet, television, and phone for one monthly price.  They are also competing in the cell phone market which has been growing by significantly.  The solution to this consumer driven market is to charge people for access, instead of charging for usage fees. 

        The ability for a person to communicate has become more then just talking, it is evolving into digital communications between devices with people expressing themselves in a whole new way.  This is the main cause of the shift in communications were people now have the tools to communicate in so many different forms that the consumer is changing the market, which is changing the phone companies service offerings. 


Can companies and governments control free?

        In the words of Marshall McLuhan "media effects are new environments as imperceptible as water to fish" (1969, 22).  If anything, technology is more like a country or an environment: it just is the space or medium we occupy.  Both of these quotes from Mark Poster's essay "Cyberdemocracy" point to how media and digital products are all around us blasting messages to us all the time. 

School of fish

        The internet is part of this example since it is the medium or network which is helping to keep people submerged and stimulated in this digital world.  It is allowing media and digital products to be distributed in our world just like Marshall McLuhan says, we are swimming in the digital world constantly.  Radio, cell phone and wifi are the invisible digital waves in which we now live and swim in.  It is just like the air we breath, invisible and occupying the space around us.  So why do we try to censor and control this new medium?  Should something that we occupy the same space with be free to access or use just like the air we breath?  Or will the air we breath soon be under the same regulations and control much like governments trying to control the digital world (watch the movie Total Recall)? 

        I have found several tools which challenge companies and governments who try to restrict something which is already free.  For example, there is a tool called "DownloadHelper" which is a Firefox browser plugin that allows a person to download any movie embeded in a web page.  The webpage states that "With some exceptions, downloaded videos must be kept on your disk for personal use and are not to be shown on other websites."  There is another tool called "Audio Hijack Pro" which can be used to copy streaming music from your computer.  So with both of these tools I can go to YouTube, search for my favorite band, and download a music video along with the song for free.  There is no need to buy a band's album along with the music video when it is already available online for free.  If everyone started doing this then think about the hit certain industries would take.


        According to, total revenue from U.S. music sales and licensing plunged to $6.3 billion in 2009, according to Forrester Research. In 1999, that revenue figure topped $14.6 billion.  It is difficult to Despite the great decline in sales, the Internet has exposed consumers to more music than ever before. But that accessibility has been difficult to monetize.  The music industry is starting to offer services to people by charging for access to music instead of having physical access to the digital product.  Still, it does not solve the issue of having free and open access to the digital stream which is flowing all around us.  There will always be tools and ways of copying media for free regardless of the rules and regulations that are put in place. 

Egpyt is free, who will lead this country?

        It is interesting how the state of Egypt is still up and running despite the military council taking over.  It is like the mechanisims of the nation state are in place and instilled in all of the people.  The people as a society know what to do when things are out of balance.  No matter who is in power, the human need for freedom and justice is instilled in every human being.  It is the Panopticon at work, were people are governing themselves without the need of the government to watch over the people. 
        The penoptigon philosphy is influencing the people to have the state of
egypt come back into balance and return the state back to normalicy.  Now the people are wanting the army to step down and return control of Egypt back over to a civilian led government.

         The military is in agreement with this and know there role.  They want to keep the nation state safe and secure at all costs while trying to avoid any casualties or other costly damages.  Also, the pressure from other world governments has Egypt under watch so it is hard for the army to exert any type of military dominance or perform any acts of violence towards the civilian populous.  This is another form of the Panopticon at work with nations watching other nations and though the philosphy of this theory states that the people in the prisons cannot tell if they are being watched, most nation states do what they want not considering being watched until outside pressures start to come influence the nation state that is under survelliance. 

        We can see this example in a dictatorship country were Hilter and Sadamm Hussein did what they want with other countries not doing anything until events occured that were intolerable.  The modern day nation states are designed to keep order in the world and with the advancement
of digital communications it is easier for everyone in a nation state or country to have a voice.  In the end, the need for nation states to share a common state of balance, freedom and peace is what everyone in the world is seeking.

I know this is only a small part of the whole issue that is going on in Egypt, so I am using this as an example of understanding what we have read in class along with understanding what is going on in th world.  Please post your comments or share your ideas!

Is digital media replacing the printing press?

           The advent of the printing press changed the way material was printed and published.   People called scribes use to reproduce manuscripts and books in a place called a monastic scriptorium which was a place for copying and writing books.  It was very laborious and took a very long time for these scribes to reproduce a written piece of work.   The printing press revolutionized this process which allowed for books and manuscripts to be printed in mass quantities.  

        With the invention of the printing press not only did the scribes have to change their role from scribing to printing, they had to since the printing press made printing text materials more efficient and less laborious then hand printing text.  According to the text book, "Thus it is not uncommon to find former priests among early printers of former abbots serving as editors and correctors.  Just how many scribes turned to printing is uncertain because of the "unsettled character" of terms used in the fifteenth-century tax rolls.  Some printers called themselves "scribes."  So we could look at how scribes were forced to transition their skill sets from writing to becoming more of an editor role with the introduction of this new technology called the printing press.  Some of these people even started their own printing press houses and others probably went into a different line of work.  This is similar to what is happening today in the information age since more and more of our printed material is going to an online digital format. 

        Newspaper readership has declined dramatically and more people are going online.  According to a Washington post online article, "The Dallas Morning News and Newark Star-Ledger each lost about 22 percent in readership of their newspapers."  This is not to mention the decrease in ad revenue, which according to the same article The Washington Post lost $143 million dollars in the first 6 months of 2009.  So trying to pay for the overhead on these mechanical printing presses is getting harder to do since these companies are losing money to online digital media. 

        I know of several people in the newspaper and journalism business who were laid off from this decline.  One friend of mine use to be a journalist for a newspaper in Mckinney Texas and now is an administrative assistant at another company.  This holds true to what happened with the scribes during early modern Europe and how some of them adapted and others simply did not.  One thing I recommended to my friend was becoming an online journalist or diversifying her skills within the field of journalism.  This did not seem of interest to her and with any change comes resistance.  The same thing happened with scribing, which according to Tritehmius the written word on parchment which would last one thousand years with the printed word on paper which would have a shorter life span.  We can now see how off he was and like my friend was resistant to change. 

        So, if people in today’s information age can get their news online and companies can advertise to a larger audience for a cheaper price then it makes sense why these newspaper companies  are struggling.  This is why some of these newspaper companies are starting to deliver their paper online and are charging a monthly membership fee for this service. 


        According to the New York Times, it has been the internet's most popular online newspaper site with an average of 21.5 million unique visitors per month.  Now newspapers are being replaced by digital text and ink which is gaining a lot of popularity.  We can take the Kindle 3 which is an e-book reader which uses digital ink.  This e-book reader has built in WIFI so a person can download a book off of the internet for half or a third of the price as opposed to its printed counterpart. 

        Now newspaper companies are charging a monthly fee through Amazon so that people can download their favorite newspaper onto their Kindle e-reader device.  So instead of lugging around multiple books or newspapers, a person can carry around a small electronic tablet shaped device where they can access all of their favorite printed material.  This is not to mention the advent of PDF and audio books, which can be downloaded then consumed on a portable electronic device.

       Even though printed material will still be around for some time, the advent of digital text is bringing a new medium to the market and once again like the printing press this new digital text technology is in favor of the reader.  The quote on page 24 summarizes this perfectly, “Within a generation the results of this review were being aimed in a new direction – away from the fidelity to scribal conventions and toward serving the convenience of the reader.”  So we can only wait and see what new surprises will be next in this new digital age of text.

Is augmented reality the new virtual reality?

        Virtual reality places a person in a simulated environment were as augmented reality is a part of a person's environment and enhances a person's current perception of reality.  If we look at the quote "But it is important to remember that virtual community originates in, and must return to, the physical forgetting about the body is an old Cartesian trick" (113).  VR up to this point has always been an act of putting on a helment and being thrusted into a computer generated world which takes us into a different world visually.


        I believe we are headed into a world of augmented reality and that virtual reality is a thing of the past.  You must have the body and mind be of one, separation of the two will never bring a true sense of reality in any environment.  I recently tried the new Kinect video game Fighters Uncaged.  The game play was not very desirable so you could only do moves that the game was designed to pickup (i.e. you can try to do an upper cut and your character will kick).  What I did like after playing the game was I was sweating and had a great workout.  I have seen this with the WII fit games which has you control characters on the T.V. in a fitness type program by using wireless bands strapped to your arms and legs.  This is the true merge of body and mind in the real world.  If we look at Virtual Reality in the same sense then we have to throw away the VR helment and go with an augmented reality. 

        The 3D T.V. is the trying the same concept by having the viewer put on a pair of 3D glasses to have images popup out of the T.V. screen to create a new viewing experience.  Here in lies the same problem as with the VR helments, after about 5 minutes or less of wearing these glasses your eyes will start to become strained and you get a really bad headache.  So trying to trick the body by visually fooling the mind does not work for long periods of time and only takes into account one of the five senses.  This is why augemented reality as seen from the WII and XBOX Kinect video game systems, is the better choice to date since it is interacting with a person in their environment instead of bringing someone into an alternate reality.  Now if you could combine the elements of Second Life with the controls of the WII or Kinect systems then this would be the next biggest evolution in online interactivity. 


        What is great about Second Life is how you can create your own fully customizable avatar, then build your own world, and interact with people from around the world.  Not only that but you can buy and sell realestate, start your own business, or work for someone all inside of the Second Life realm.  Now if you could be given the option of either controlling your avatar by using your body movements then we are getting closer to having a true full body interactive online experience.  The other part of this is the full submersive part were a person can experience themselves in an alternate reality which looks and feels like real life. 

        The book keeps referencing the movie Strange Days that has a device called "the wire" which has a person go into a dream hypnotic state when wearing this electronic device.  The person is able to feel, see and experience everything in this dream state world which resembles real life.  I believe this is another part of the evolution of augmented reality except with the person being fully awake.  The future of augumented reality will be the ability to experience a fully immersed digital world that will look like the real world.  The issues of wearing equipment on the eyes or "jacking" into a digital world by plugging an electronic device into your head, will not be necessary. 

        A person needs to be awake and have all of the senses stimulated, not just the nervous system.  Using a device that has a person go into a dream or alternate sleep state (Like in the Movie Strange Days or Surrogates) has the body become physically weak while the mind is "jacking into" an online digital world.  This is were a person is in an alternate world and has no sense of their real physical body since everything in this digital world feels very real.  People want to stay in this digital world forever while their body is withering away due to neglect of the physical.   As I mentioned earlier, a person needs to have balance of both physical and mental.  To achieve this state, a transparent interface would be necessary were a person no longer is aware of confronting a medium. 

        Interactivity then becomes a series of interacting with holograms or projected 3D images which encompass site, sound, taste, touch and smell.  Truly this is the issue we face in that how do we as a human beings emulate all of our sensory devices in a digital world?  The interactive environments or devices of the future will need to have a person experience the smell of a pine wood forest, feel the cool mist of the ocean, touch rough tree bark or even taste a piece of fruit.  Once this is accomplished, then people will be able to accept an augmented reality with very few limiations or liabilities.

Master Sepuka, The Movie


Created this project back in 2005 with Jason Fultz and Mike Brank.  Tremendous thanks goes out to the students at the Martial Arts Center of Plano who were Jay and Jason Autz, and Allisa Davis.  We used Maya 3D, Motion Builder, Sound Forge, Adobe Photoshop and the motion capture lab at the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) to create this project.

Are closed circuit cameras necessary or just unfair?

        Cameras are everywhere.  Look at the toll roads or stop lights.  People are constantly being monitored and policed on whether they are breaking the law.  For example, one agency or company that monitors a citizens driving is the NTTA.  The North Texas Toll Authority charges people to drive on their roads and if the person does not have a tolltag, then an invoice is sent to the person.  Then the person has about a month to pay and if a the statement is not paid, then a citation is issued to the person.  If the citation is not paid, then a warrnt of arrest is issued against this person. 

        Even if a statement is issued incorrectly to the wrong person or an error has occurred then good luck.  The customer service with NTTA is terrible.  Something that is not clear is how a private company like the NTTA can have so much control and power over people?  When a ticket is issued for running a red light, you have the ability to challenge the ticket if it is not correct.  Many state and local govenments have come under attack about the use of cameras to police or control traffic violations. 

Redlight camera

        Some say this is a way for a local government to make money, it is an invasion of privacy, or these devices are not accurate.  This should be a great way for a city to utilize their man power and have local police look for more serious violations or crimes instead of worrying about the small traffic violators.  These cameras might be a way for the legal system to make money not just for the state but also for the attorneys being hired to dismiss tickets from these optical devices.  If used right an invasion of privacy could still be an issue with these cameras.  You can see what the cameras are seeing in any city by going to certain websites which allow anyone to view these cameras.  Yet a person can go to Facebook and find all sorts of information on people who freely post their information to the public.  So were do we draw the line on privacy? 

        The exception to this is when these cameras have helped police stop a crime or catch criminals.  For example, when the Chicago Police Department (CPD) installed a Web-based surveillance program in February of 2006, the cameras helped police make 1,200 arrests in a year-and-a-half time period.  I think as long as a person has a right to contest and dismiss the citation from a traffic or toll camera, then these devices have a valid purpose.