John D Radcliff, Specializing in Interactive Technology & Education!

A Wallet-Free Future?

        "Code will be a central tool in this analysis.  It will present the greatest threat to both liberal and libertarian ideals, as well as their greatest promise.  We can build, or architect, or code cyberspace to allow those values to disappear.  Code is never found; it is only ever made, and only ever made by us.  How such programming regulates human interactions…depends on the choices made (Code 2.o, Lawrence Lessig, p. 4)."  If we look at the above quote we can see how this applies to the digital code in mobile phones for Contactless Payment systems and how our desire for convenience controls the code that we make to achieve this.

        How has the code affected the way we perform transactions?  Instead of having to interact with a person with our payment, we can wave our phone across a terminal and pay for services or items. For example, Visa has a payWave wireless payment system trial setup to pay for Subways and Taxis in New York.  You need an Iphone or Android phone, an SD Micro card for the Android phone and a case addon for the Iphone.  This allows people to walk by the subway terminal and scan their phone to pay the subway fare.  The issue with this is that it takes the same amount of time to pull out a credit card and swipe it as it does to access the app on the phone and scan it. 


        People are wanting  technology to provide convenience and have security handled at the same time.  In Japan, people can walk by a coke machine and scan their cell phones across a wireless reader which instantly allows them to purchase their item.  The issues of security are not that big of a concern since Japan has very sophisticated security measures on their mobile phones.  This is why the contactless payment system has been such a big success in Japan.  Click here to find out more about Japan's mobile phone security.  This kind of technology has created the issue of people wanting convenience and sacrificing their personal information as a result.  Just read the comments at the end of the "Visa rolling out payWave mobile phone payments in NY subway and taxis," article which has alot of people question the security in contactless payment systems for mobile phones. 

        As far as the government developing a set of rules or rights for contactless payment systems will probably not be in the works for a long time.  From doing research on this topic, I have found that credit card companies want to gain consumer confidence in using their wireless credit card payment system.  As with all payment devices, contactless cards have a number of security features. Contactless runs over the same chip and PIN network as normal credit and debit card transactions, there is a payment limit on single transactions and contactless cards can only be used a certain number of times before customers are asked for their PIN.  Contactless debit and credit transactions are protected by the same fraud guarantee as standard transactions. 

        Under fraud guarantee standards US banks claim to be liable for any fraudulent transactions charged to the contactless cards. However, banks are not liable for the identity theft that the RFID card can encourage.  This still presents a big concern for the consumer using their cell phone to pay for products using the contactless payment system.   So for now it is the corporations who are managing the security of these devices and not the government.  So if your identity is stolen or an illegal transaction was made while using your phone to conduct the transaction, then you have to contact your bank or credit card company to resolve the issue.  There is no government agency that can help consumers with this issue.  So how do we deal with the identity theft issue that this new technology creates?

        To give us security and peace of mind when using contactless payment systems, companies like Visa are using hardware and software to develop more code to secure consumer confidence so that people will continue to use their contactless payment system.  According to  Visa's website they have several security features offered to protect consumers.  Realtime Fraud protection, Transaction Protection, and Zero Liability, are some of the features Visa offers to protect the transaction but not the identity of the person.  So if someone gets a persons name, address, phone number and credit card number, the credit card company will take care of the compromised credit card number but not the issue of personal information being stolen.  Their are a few organizations that can help consumers with this issue.  Life lock and Identity Theft Shield offered by Pre-Paid Legal are the two services that I know of which help track and prevent identity theft for consumers.  Until legislation is passed or a government entity is formed specifically to handle this issue, then this is what consumers have to protect their personal identity.

        Also, instead of going to the bank, we can now take a picture of our check using an application which is downloaded on our smart phone and send it to our bank which is instantly deposited in our bank account.  We can transfer money between accounts or check account balances on the go with our mobile phones by using an app which can be downloaded off of a bank's website. 


        Calling into a phone system to check balances or transfer money can now be done on the go by using our mobile phones.  Our lives have become very automated removing the need for human to human interaction.  Instead, 1 and 0's have taken the place of having any real contact with human beings when it comes to electronic transactions.  So how else has the mobile phone affected or changed our lives?

        Creating a wallet-free future where credit card and banking information will be stored in our cell phones.  Then instead of pulling out a credit card to pay for a purchase, people will pay with their cell phone.  Instead of going to the bank, people will use their phones.  So once companies can make sure financial transactions on mobile phones are completely secure and educate people on how to properly use these new payment or financial systems, then people will be ready for a wallet-free future!

Is it safe to download free apps on your cell phone?

        "To begin with, many of us at some stage in our lives will have taped a CD or TV program, photocopied a book or made use of copied software.  For most of us, there is a world of difference between this kind of activity and crimes like rape, murder or the supply of illicit drugs.  Intellectual property piracy is just not an issue in the way that safe streets and better policing are issues in the public mind (p. 25 Information Feudalism)." 

        Pirated software could cause your personal information on your phone to be compromised.  According to Matthew J. Schwartz with Information Week, "More than 1 million cell phone users in China has been infected with a virus that automatically sends text messages, and the attack is costing users a combined 2 million yuan ($300,000 U.S.) per day."  According to Shanghai Daily, "the 'zombie' virus, hidden in a bogus antivirus application, can send the phone user's SIM card information to hackers, who then remotely control the phone to send URL links."

        Some of the sent text messages contain links to more viruses and if you click the link, your phone could likewise be infected.  Then other text messages get automatically dispatched to premium-rate phone numbers, generating profits for the attackers while draining subscriber's accounts.  According to Zhou Yonglin, an official with China's National Computer Network Emergency Response Team, "about 1 million cell phones had been infected since the beginning of September, and mobile operators were having difficulty eradicating the malicious application, owing to the breakneck pace of new variations appearing."

        Also, some people will download a pirated phone app thinking that they will save money by doing so.  Instead, they download Android.Walkinwat which is a trojan that not only steals a person's information, it also sends a text message to everyone on the user's cellphone list, telling everyone about the piracy.  According to PCWorld, the "Android.Walkinwat adds public humiliation by sending an SMS text message to all of the contacts on the smartphone with the text, ‘Hey, just downloaded a pirate App of the Internet, Walk and Text for Android. Im stupid and cheap, it costed only 1 buck. Don’t steal it like I did!”


        It is hard to tell how many people are using pirated apps that may be compromising the security of their cell phones.  Estimates of people who are using an app they did not pay for are as high as 97.4% in Asia, 70.1% in Europe, and 43% in North America.  So why do people download free apps if it compromises their privacy and is against the law?  Probably because to most people software piracy is not a big issue.  If you can get something for free then what is the harm?  The immediate harm is that a person's private information can be compromised.  These viruses can be easily transmitted by being downloaded as normal games, ringtones, phone alerts and updates, then once downloaded these cell phone viruses can do big damage. 

Cell phone keyboard key

        For most people, software piracy is not a big crime like committing murder or illicitly selling drugs.  Also, if the software is free and very popular then it is one of those "everybody is doing it" attitudes.  Pirated games exist because people get a thrill out of cracking games — and because there will always be people who want something for nothing.  It is the same thing that happened with the music industry.  When music CD's were $20 for a music album, people were gladly downloading their favorite songs for free on sites like Napster and BearShare.  Now that people can download their favorite songs for .99$, the desire for illegally downloading music has dramatically decreased. 
        The same rule holds true for computer software: as long as software designers keep their computer software at a certain price,  people will gladly continue to download pirated copies.  If the software developers had their products priced at $.99 a download or charged a monthly fee to have access to a particular software program, then software piracy would dramatically decrease. 

What happens if your cell phone or cell phone password gets stolen?

        When reading the book, "Here Comes Everybody, by Clay Sharky", the first chapter starts off with the story of a Stolen Sidekick cell phone.  A woman, Ivanna, lost her phone and a girl by the name of Sasha found the phone and started to use the phone for her own personal use.  When Ivanna bought a new phone, all of the information from the lost phone was transferred to her new phone since her cell phone company stored all of her information on their servers.  This included all of the recent phone calls made, e-mails sent and pictures taken by Sasha with the stolen Sidekick cell phone. 

        Ivanna was able to get Sasha's contact information from an e-mail that was sent by Sasha from the stolen phone.  When Ivanna contacted Sasha about returning the stolen phone, Sasha refused to return it.  Eventually, Ivanna got her stolen cell phone back from Sasha which involved help from a friend and the authorities.  The details of how the phone was returned is not important.  The question to ask is what if Ivanna had sensitive information on her stolen phone like credit card numbers?  Or what if Sasha used Ivanna's phone to prank call or spam the people on her cell phone's contact list?  What if Sasha stole Ivanna's identity?


        If Ivanna had a password on her phone and immediately had her cell phone provider turn off the service on her stolen phone, then Sasha could not have used the phone which means that Ivanna would have never been able to get her stolen phone back.  The benefit to this would be that Sasha would not have access to Ivanna's contact list, pictures, e-mails or any other sensitive information on Ivanna's phone.

        Another Example of a cell phone getting compromised is Paris Hilton, who could of had the information on her cell phone stolen in several different ways.  According to, a hacker by the name of Jacobsen, hacked a T-mobile server and was able to access Paris Hilton including other celebrities cell phone contacts and e-mails.  Some of these e-mails contained pictures of different celebrities which Paris took using her built in camera on her Sidekick mobile phone.  He then posted all of this information on the internet until authorities finally caught him and had the information removed.
 The other way her information could of been compromised, according to T-mobile, was the weak password question and answers she used for recovering her password.  When you reset or recover a password on a T-mobile phone, you have to enter in your cell phone number, username and answer the security question that was created.  Then T-mobile allows you to reset your password.  The issue here is that if this information is stolen or compromised then resetting the password is way too easy.  If the forgotten password or reset link was e-mailed, then this would add another layer of security and possibly stop an account from being exploited.    The connection to make between these two stories is the concern of having personal information stored on a cell phone and on a cellular provider's server.  The question is how vulnerable is our cellular information and is it safe to store it on a cellular providers server?

Forgotten your password  
        T-mobile offers a service called MobileLife which will store all of your contacts information which includes names, addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, photos, etc.  This information is then accessible through T-mobile's website or the account holder's cell phone.  So when Ivanna received her new cell phone, the pictures and contacts were loaded back onto the new phone because of the MobileLife service.  The danger of this is that having this information online can easily be compromised if a person's password or cell phone is stolen.  Is it safe to trust services like MobileLife, if the security measures in place can easily be compromised?  Is it safe or secure to have a cell phone company store a person's private information on their servers?

        So are cell phones secure or do they allow for people's privacy to be compromised?
If several different layers of security are used, then gaining access to a person's information on their cell phone is very hard to do.  Using strong passwords, reporting a lost or stolen phone, and not giving out your passwords, are just a few of the ways a person can keep their cell phone information secure (Information Services and Technology, IST, has some great tips on how to keep a cell phone secure).  As long as basic security measures or practices are put in place, then this will insure a greater chance of a person's personal information being secured on their cell phone.

How secure are cell phones?

        "In internet governance, the term security now encompasses a host of problems, perhaps too many to fit properly under one word.  It includes the fight against spam, viruses, and phishing.  It refers to bugs in protocols and operating systems on computers, mobile phones, and other devices that create opportunities for exploitation by clever programmers (p 159-160, Networks and States)."
        With the increased rise and wide use of the cell phone, the risk of information being stolen from these devices raise several questions.  For example, "what is the risk of having our private information stolen from our cell phones?"  Is it safe to perform private transactions, such as online banking or contactless credit card purchases on a cell phone?" 

        According to the "Is it safe to bank by cell phone?" article on MSN money, "Mobile browsers are theoretically susceptible to the same kind of security risks as a home or office computer. In reality, they are probably somewhat safer at the moment because creators of password-pilfering viruses and Trojan horses haven't yet fully focused on the mobile market. Of course, mobile Web users are as susceptible as anyone else to the phishing scams and spoofed Web sites that try to trick users into disclosing passwords and other personal data." 


        The same rules apply with desktop computers as they do with cell phones, which is to use the same level of precaution when accessing online information.  These variants cause the following once the phone is infected: leakage of private data, excessive battery drainage, and the spread or replication by using bluetooth.  The key to being safe from these variants is to avoid fake e-mails which look like they have come from reputable sources and being cautious of what websites are visited.     

        Also, the best solution when performing mobile bank transactions is to use proprietary apps that are designed to work with a bank's security algorithm that are resistant and safer then using a mobile web browser which can be susceptible to phishing scams.  The big downside to this is these programs can store sensitive information on the phone itself.  This can be dangerous if the phone is lost and then ends up in the wrong hands so disabling certain features that this app can offer is essential to maintaining optimal privacy of personal information.

        Another issue with using cell phones for financial transactions is the ability of using a cell phone as a credit/debit card.  This technology is currently being used in Japan and is now being used by select retailers in the United States.  All a person has to do is wave their cell phone in front of the credit card terminal and the cell phone terminal picks up the credit card information from the phone which then processes the payment.  Even though this is a quick way to pay and may be the demise of the wallet, there are some key issues with this new technology.

        Privacy, security, and dispute rights are the main concerns with this new technology as mentioned by a coalition of consumer rights advocates.
The issue of privacy with this technology is that a person's location and profile can be transmitted through this contactless payment card system.  Marketers can use this information for marketing and profiling purposes without the consent of the consumer.  The consumer groups say people using contactless devices should be given clear notice of the potential for privacy intrusion.  According to, "consumers should be able to make contactless payments without having their activities tracked except for payment processing and record keeping if that is their desire," the statement says (Contactless payment cards raise security, privacy concerns, consumer groups say, Connie Prater, June 23, 2008).   


        The issue with security is that if someone has an RFID reader, they can intercept the signal and steal the credit card information being transmitted to the payment terminal.  The other concern is the same as mentioned earlier which is the sensitive banking and credit card information stored on the phone.

        Dispute rights are the final issue with these contactless payment systems.  The concern with this is the accuracy and the ability to dispute charges made using this system.  These consumer groups suggest putting a safeguard in place which would allow a daily dollar cap on the amount of transactions processed on these contactless devices. 

       The more mobile our world becomes the issues of privacy and securing of information will still be a big concern.  Using this type of technology comes with great convenience and risks at the same time.  Eventually we may see a new era of mobile devices which will solve all of our needs and be safe at the same time.  Until then, we must be aware of what advantages and disadvantages this new technology brings.

What is considered private?

        Is there privacy for people today or are we always in the public eye?  Are we always connected or being watched even when we think we are not?  The rise and use of cell phones has had an astounding effect on our privacy especially now since all cell phones come standard with a built in camera. 


        So is there any privacy rights or laws for people if a person captures another person in an embarrassing or compromising situation then posts it to the internet?  For example, lets say person A captures person B in an embarrassing or compromising situation.  Then person A uploads the video to You tube and it goes viral.  Now person A is out in the public eye and did not consent to having themselves broadcasted online.  Is this an invasion of privacy? 

        Lets take for example the shocking story of Danya Kempson who lost control of her car and died after colliding into some trees.  A first respondent fire fighter captured her death on video using his personal cell phone.  The fire fighter later shared this video with other fire fighters, then an unknown firefighter took the video to a bar and texted it to other patrons.  After that, the video went viral.  Then months after her death, the parents received a copy of the video via e-mail from an ex-brother-in-law. 

        According to the iNews article, "The parents are outraged, and are pleading for the video to be taken out of circulation, and that the firefighter in question be punished. The firefighter has been suspended, until the legality has been established."

There are two questions being asked from this incident:
1. Was it illegal for the video to be taken in the first place and shared with other firefighters?
2. Other videos have been taken out in the field by first-responders of all kinds.  So is this more of a moral then a legal issue?

        The Spalding County Sheriff’s office is looking into whether this violated any internal rules since the taking and distribution of the video did not violate any laws.  The family in this incident believe there should be a law in place to prevent this kind of footage from being taken.  Currently, there are no laws in place in the U.S. to prevent the taking and distribution of video.  There are laws and policies that prevent the distribution of video without a persons consent and most public or private establishments prohibit the taking of video.  Since the firefighter has not been questioned into why he took the video another question arises from this example.  The question is, what if this video was taken by a person passing by and then spread anonymously?  Also, what would drive someone to capture and share a tragic video of another person's death? 
        Morally I think the firefighter should have thought twice before sharing the video.  He could have taken it and then thought about it for a couple of days then deleted the video or ask his superiors if it would be appropriate to share.  I think most people react in the moment and want to share events or information with people in their close social circles.  Maybe this is just like the example in the book Connected, were in Rockdale County, Georgia, "a norm among the teenagers that sex – and sex of a particular kind, involving multiple partners – was acceptable," (p. 96).  So since other first respondent people on the scene of accidents have taken videos of accident victims in the past, then it was socially acceptable for this fire fighter to take a video of this young girl who died in a car accident and share it with other fire fighters.


        This now goes back to the other question being asked, "is this an invasion of privacy?"  The answer to this is it depends on the society and what people in the society deem as socially acceptable.  If  there are rules or signs in place which state "no video taping allowed" then it is very clear that taping a video of something or someone is prohibited.  If it is out in public, like an auto accident, a crime, or brutality against someone, then in most social circles this can be acceptable and controversial at the same time.   Once again the right to the freedom of speech and expression comes into play.  It may be o.k. and a person's right to use a cell phone to video tape an auto accident of two cars colliding as evidence of who was at fault, but it maybe controversial to film a dead person who has died in a car accident. 

        When it comes to privacy, the social network for that particular culture, region or society has to determine if the kind of information being distributed is socially acceptable or an invasion of privacy.

Do we have freedom of speech on the internet?

        My question from all of the readings this week (Habermas on the public sphere, Mark Poster, “Cyberdemocracy”, and Pieter Boeder, “Habermas Heritage: the future of the Public Sphere in the Networked Society”) is do we really have freedom of speech or are we always being watched, judged and assessed?

        People can say what they want and freely express themselves online, but there can be consequences to a person's actions.  Alexandra Wallace, a UCLA student, posted a vblog on YouTube which gained national attention.  Her video gained over 30 thousand views, a corresponding video commenting on her video gained over 2 million views, and the story was covered by Fox News.

        The interesting thing about this video is how a comment on the original posted video gained more views and comments then the original video that was posted.  Interesting how David So, a stand up comedian, used Alexandra's video, which went viral, to gain over 2 million views on his vblog comment.  Even though our discussion is not about how this other individual capitalized on another persons controversial video, it is worth taking note that this comedian used this other person's video to gain viewer ship and popularity as a comedian. 


        The UCLA Chancellor Gene D. Block said "Like many of you, I recoil when someone invokes the right of free expression to demean other individuals or groups," he wrote in a statement posted on the university's website.  Earlier Friday (March 18th, 2011), university officials said they would not discipline Wallace because her video was an exercise of free speech, not hate speech, and it didn't violate the student code of conduct.

        From this incident, she has withdrawn from school due to harassment from her peers.  She wrote "The video has led to the harassment of my family, the publishing of my personal information, death threats and being ostracized from an entire community. Accordingly, for personal safety reasons, I have chosen to no longer attend classes at UCLA. I was trying to produce a humorous YouTube video, but instead offended the UCLA community and the entire Asian culture." 

        This looks like cyberdemocracy at work which by definition is "the use of information technologies and communication technologies and strategies in political and governance processes."  Alexandra has administered a form of self governance and discipline on herself in this situation by withdrawing herself from school.  The other is facing ridicule and embarrasement from online and offline communities.  Even though the Chancelor of the school was looking at wheter her actions violated the school conduct code, and later the school found that her actions were not a violation, the video had spread all over the internet which caused her to be black balled and harrased.

        Lets use a quote from Poster in this situtation at UCLA, "To ask then about the relation of the Internet to democracy is to challenge or to risk challenging our existing theoretical approaches and concepts as they concern these questions" (Poster, 1995).  So lets take the definition of democracy which is a "form of political organization in which all people, through consensus (consensus democracy), direct referendum (direct democracy), or elected representatives (representative democracy) exercise equal control over the matters which affect their interests." 

        The matter that affected our interest in this example was the issue of racism in Alexandra's video which looking at people's comments online a majority of the people found offensive.  With the issue of racism in question, certain actions has stated above were taken by the Chancelor of the school making a public comment and looking into the violation of school code.  The other part of this is the negative publicity she gained and probably embarrassment.  Some of the online bloggers think that this was not enough and others think that this girl has been harrased enough.  I think she has learned her lesson unless she enjoys all of the negative publicity. 

        Everyone has freedom of speech when it comes to the internet and yet out of this girl freely expressing herself online she received backlash from her comments.  So do we really have freedom of speech online or do we have to watch what we say and does this stifle our freedom of speech?  You have the right to say whatever you want as long as it does not cause harm or offend the public.  For example, you are not allowed to shout "fire" in a crowded movie theater since this will cause people to panic and possibly trample each other when trying to get out of the theater. 

        Yet we have the freedom to say anything else which leads me to my point about the freedom of speech arguement as in the example of this UCLA video.  You have the right or free will to say what you want and this right is given freely, except when it offends or possibly could bring harm to other people.  Did she receive just punishment by having to withdraw from school and receiving death threats?  I think democracy or cyberdemocracy fairly decided the verdict for her in this case so far without the cause for legal ramification. 

How state governing bodies police people using a car

        The panopticon controls what we do in the form of parking permits, tolltags, road signs, etc.  Why do we obey and how does this influence us?  An example of this is how the apartment complex my girlfriend and myself are living at now require parking permits with no reason behind why this is necessary except that if the sticker is not applied to the window of our cars, they will be towed.  So of course we obey, fill out the paper work and apply the sticker's to our car windows so that they will not be towed.  I question this as far as will this be inforced or is this just a sticker trying to police people illegally parking in our apartment complex?  It is the fear of someone watching the parking lot and towing people who do not have parking stickers. 


        Does this exist in reality or is it just an example of the panopticon philosphy at work?  I think it is a way of controlling people who illegally park in a certain place and whether or not this new rule will be controlled or monitored is questionable.  The same exists at colleges with tickets being issued if parking tags are not on vehicles.  Another example is RFID enabled devices, like tolltags, which charge people's cars based on what toll booths they pass through.  Accounts that are expired, overdrawn, or cars with no tags, are either mailed or e-mailed an invoice and charged for their usage.  When cars are towed or fines are issued, then we can see the reality of not obeying the laws of the state governing body and the penality for not doing so. 

        “The division of labour inside a nation leads at first to the separation of industrial and commercial from agricultural labour, and hence to the separation of town and country and to the conflict of their interests (Marx/Engels Internet Archive, Chapter I: A Critique of The German Ideology).”  Each state body or government entity has different functions to perform and rules/regulations which govern each state body differently.  Each body must learn how to interact with each other and each body interacts with each other based on their own interests. 

        Just as an apartment complex, toll tag authority, or a college informs people that their car will be towed or a fine assessed based on not having a parking sticker is a way in which separation of state governing powers exist.  Each governing body is enforcing their authoritative powers from different governing bodies (local, state, federal, etc.).  From Marx's quote, we can see that governing bodies have different interests from the town (local government) and country (federal government).  Using parking or driving on certain roads as an example, we see that even though different governing bodies are operating on different levels they still are enforcing the same thing which is governing transient vehicles. 

        The thing Marx did not see was how even though conflict of interests arise between state governing bodies, there is a common ground that can be reached between these governing states. 
The U.S. constitution addressed this issue with Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 which states "[The Congress shall have Power] To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes; ".  This is an example of how the U.S. established acts of commerce between governing states which was applied from the federal, to the state, and down to local governing bodies.  This applies to the way people are charged for toll road or parking tag charges and establishes a common agreement which disolves self interests of state governing bodies. 


        We can find the same principles used in road signs which inform and direct ways in which people drive on roads.  If there is a detour sign, then people are given a choice of either using the detour route or another route.  The same thing applies to signs that state "speed zone" or "radar enforced by aircraft"

Speed limit enforced by aircraft

which gives drivers an impression that they are being watched and that they had better obey the speed limit.  Once again this is the imaginary or real big brother watching people and having people feel guilty or pay the consequences if they do not obey certain signs on the road. 

        So the question is since the roadways or parking lots are subject to being policed by certain visual signs and regulations, do we have a say in this or are we constantly looking out for the next visual object that will direct us on how to drive or park?  It is hard to say since Marx's philosphy on governing state bodies is that the state is looking out for the welfare of the people.  This is true until the governing state body exercises too much control or power over the people.  A balance between more or less government or state control is constantly in flux and always changing.  As long as the decisions made are for the greater good of the people and changes can be made to the way people are governed, then this creates a fair and balanced society.


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.

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.

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.