John D Radcliff, Specializing in Interactive Technology & Education!

Controlling the Flow of Information in Libya

        “Control is not simply manipulation, but rather modulation.  One does not simply control a device, a situation, or a group of people; rather, “control” is what enables a relation to a device, a situation, or a group.  “People are lines,” Deluze suggests.  As lines, people thread together social, political, and cultural elements (The Exploit by Alexander Galloway and Eugene Thacker, p. 35)."

        The first part of this quote examines how control is not manipulation, rather it is modulation and that we do not directly control an object but rather the connection we make to a particular object.  We can look at how Ghadaffi, Libya's ruler, emulates this example of modulation.   The internet was shutdown in Libya to control the flow of information and cool the political temperature in Libya.  According to, "Gaddafi warned against the use of Facebook where groups have formed calling for economic and political reforms.  Gaddfai's security forces have arrested activists who've posted online about the revolution."  This is a perfect example of how the Libyan government is working on controlling the internet in Libya. 

        Yet despite the governments efforts, information about the events in Libya are still getting transmitted to different online venues through the internet.  According to, "there are a number of alternatives being shared on Twitter for Libyans to get online, such as a free dial-up account provided by organizations in Europe.  XS4ALL, a "hacker-friendly" Internet service provider based in the Netherlands, opened up its modem lines for free during the previous curfew, but there had been no activity from Libya on the account, XS4ALL’s Niels Huijbregts told eWEEK."
So there are outside resources that are allowing the people inside Libya to connect to the internet so that information about the events in Libya can still get out on the internet. 


        So Ghadaffi may have stifled or caused the flow of information to be routed but has he completely shut off or disrupted the flow of information?  According to some journalists it looks like cell phone access was still working several weeks ago despite the Libyan government shutting off internet access and owning the two mobile phone operators in the country.  We can also see that this has still not disrupted the "lines" of communication in the network like what Ghadaffi was hoping to accomplish.  He managed to shutdown the main nodes which control internet access and arrested some bloggers posting an anti Ghadaffi message online, yet he has failed to completely take down the network of conversations or people involved.  This is because it is the network of people not the nodes that keep information flowing.

        If Ghadaffi wanted to completely control the flow of information he would need to remove the key people involved in the networking spreading the information on the internet.  The conversation then spreads through the network were other people pickup the conversation and then pass it along.  The Libyan government trying to shut off access or stop the modulating signal of information is one level of control and the people in the network passing the conversation along is another form of modulation or control of the flow of information.  If the information is stopped at one point or a node is destroyed, then information can still pass through other functioning nodes or networks. 


        No matter how or who tries to control the flow of information, there are still other ways for information to spread as long as the key ties in the network are still functioning.  This is just like a virus spreading if it affects one place or person it can spread to others instantly even if part of the virus is contained.  For example, if we look at @ShababLibya on Twitter this is a Libyan movement inside and outside of Libya which also has a Facebook Page associated with the movement.  We can see that since predefined connections and sites have been established that the flow of information can still exist.  Other resources can be used and if predefined alternative methods of communication have been established (dial-up, cellular, radio communications, etc.) then information can still get out through these alternative channels. 

        Can the flow of information be stopped even though one area of the network has been shut off?  From what we have seen predefined channels and connections are hard to break or destroy once once they are established.  In the end, even if the flow of information is interrupted or changed, this flow can be rerouted using other channels or resources.

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.

Are your habits and actions being watched?

        Hasan Elahi was stopped and questioned by Homeland Security when flying back to the United States from a Transience Project.  The reason for his detention was "suspicious movement after 9/11." and he was labeled as a suspected terrorist.  Data on Hasan, like his cell phone records, were anonymized which made his whereabouts unknown which is what had him detained by Homeland Security.  Since Hasan has been tracking his own movements for several years now, he could provide records of his whereabouts to the authorities which prompted his release.


        A predictive algorithm, developed from MIT was used on Hasan's data which failed to predict his movements making him fully unpredictable.  So does this mean that suspicious equals unpredictable?  If a person is unpredictable in there movements then is this an accurate way to determine if someone could be a possible terrorist or threat?  In the MIT study 93 percent predictability was found on all of the test subjects and only 7 percent of the time were a person's wereabouts a mystery.  Based on this study, the predictability of a person's movement is preferred, if not then it can lead to problems as in the example of Hasan and his encounter with Homeland security.

        So is monitoring people's cell phone, debit/credit card activity, and traveling activities a more efficient way to profile people?  We are tracked everytime we use these products so our whereabouts are constantly being transmitted.  So if someone does not conform to leaving a digital trail by using a cell phone or debit/credit card does this automatically make a person a terrorist and is this a just assumption?  What about a persons right to privacy or is this necessary in the war against terrorism?

Blazing new digital trail_large

        People have the right to try and keep their life as private as possible.  From Homeland security's reasoning if people and their habits are predictable then they are not considered a terrorist.  We should look closely at people's habits but not to the point of scrutinizing people due to not leaving a digital trail.  For example, if Hasan does not use a cell phone or credit cards to keep his whereabouts unknown, then this should acceptable.  Instead of interrogating the man to find out if he is a terrorist which I think violates his basic rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. 

        Homeland Securities actions do not surprise me since monitoring strange or no habits on a person is the algorithm that most government agencies use.  The same algorithm works with credit card companies who alert cardholders of unusual spending activity which is compared against a person's normal spending history.  I think Hasan is an important example and shows that Homeland Security made a mistake by analyzing his habits or non habits in the network.  Since he showed up as an anomaly, this was a red flag which triggered Homeland Security to stop and interrogate him.  Obviously he is not a terrorist and at the same time this questions the validity of the predictive algorithm.  It could be that this was an isolated incident since the algorithm shows that only 7 percent of the time is a person's whereabouts a mystery. 

        Liberty and False Comparisons, an online article published by James Joyner reflects these times of change:  "The conservative, torture-friendlyWashington Times, declared that “a balance must be struck between reasonable security measures and the maintenance of a free society.” Abu Ghraib was a fraternity prank, but getting frisked at the airport is a sign of, to quote the Times, “Big Sister’s police state.” (Outside The Beltway,  If the predictive algorithm was used before people entered an airport, then the need to screen everyone before they enter an airplane could be decreased. 

        The predictive algorithm is an important endeavor for studying people's habits and even though there is a margin of error, the algorithm is still necessary in protecting national security.  It is easier to justify searching or questioning someone who has unusual habits then it is to stop someone based on their race or religion.  This way an entity like Homeland Security can justify stopping, searching and questioning someone based on their habits and avoid backlash since they did not profile someone based on race or religion.  This form of tracking dangerous individuals is a big step forward in keeping people safe and minimizing the violation of people's rights.  There will always be flaws or margins of error which will be hard to account for and it is in the best interest of the nation state to protect its people in the most efficient way possible.

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.


Censorship of the future

        How can we predict the future?  If we try to control the media as proposed by premediation then isn't this considered a form of censorship?  Why do we need premediaiton to protect us from unknown acts of violence or indecency?
       The movie indusry is a perfect example of the use of premediation strategies.  For example, movies rated PG-13 or Rated "R" state may contain graphic scenes of violence or other indecent acts.  How do they really know that the acts in a film are indecent?  Even though this system determines whether a film is suitable for certain aged audiences, ultimately it is up to the viewer whether or not they want to see a certain film.  Does this play into influencing the viewer into seeing a film or not based on its rating?  If there was not a rating system, then people would see a film based on other factors (storyline, actors, movie reviews, etc.) and not a censorship mechanism influencing their decision. 


        For example, if I want to see the movie "The King's Speech", which is rated R and I am 13 years old, then I would need someone who is at least 18 years old to come with me to see the movie.  If I want to see the movie on my own, then I cannot do this since I am not old enough to do so.  This then influences the movie producers to take out certain scenes or to rewrite scripts based on what kind of audience they want to show the movie too.  So now the movie producers are influenced to sell more movie tickets at the opening weekend of their movie and will modify the movie based on this censorship movie rating mechanism. 
        This way if a 13 year old wants to see the movie "The Kings Speech" and the rating is PG-13 instead of R, then this will possibly influence more people to see this movie.  This is a perfect example of premediation at work were future events, more movie sales, are predicted if a producer censors a movie a certain way.  Then if there was not a rating system in place people from all age groups could see a movie in theaters regardless of the rating on the movie.  

        "The logic of premediation seeks to prevent an unforseen future by proliferating its remediation by current media forms (Premediation, affect and mediality after 9/11, p. 57)."
We base our predictions of the unforseen future by past events.  So now the media plays on 9/11 by keeping everyone on high alert of an unforseen attack by an enemy that may or may not exist.  True that the future is untold and based on choices we make in the present.  So why try to influence the future by advertising thoughts of a preemtive attack that may or may not happen?  I believe this is the nature of human beings and like metioned earlier in this book "concerned the desire to premediate the geopolitical future so thoroughly that the American public would be protected from experiencing a catastrophic event" is used by the U.S. news media to influence a certain view on the public as a whole to reasure people of the danger and try to protect them by using media.  It should be mentioned that using media to predict the future could be seen as a form of censorship and biasis to protect the populous at large. 

        The Homeland Security Advisory System is another system desinged to guide protective measures when specific information to a particular sector or region is received.  This has an influence on how people will travel or not based on this rating system.  If this system was not in place, then how would we be affected as a nation?


        "Precrime is explained in relation to the idea of prediciton, of a future determined by the sequence of past events (Premediation, affect and mediality after 9/11, p. 59)." 
Precrime is taken from the movie "Minority Report" which has 3 psychic people who can see future murders take place and are used to prevent them.  It suggests that if past events occur, then the murder will take place.  The problem with this is if past events take place and giving people the choice of certain outcomes so that they can try to stop the event from happening.  This the question with premediation as described in the movie which is if we have choices layed out in front of us, based on past events, then will knowing this change our behavior?  I see this as a form of censorship since the future has not happened yet and we assume a person is going to commit an act of murder based on a prediction from a past event or a vision of future events.  This is what Tom Cruisies character, John Anderton, is trying to fight against since the psychics predict that his character is going to kill someone.  He then finds out that this event is a setup and tries to prevent this event from happening.

        "Of course medial desire is not always fulfilled, and the strategies of premediation are not always successful (Premediation, affect and mediality after 9/11, p. 62)." 
This is true in that premediation is a prediciton of future events to come based on past events.  It is true that there can be pros and cons in using the strategies of premediation.  The question to ask about this quote would not be in the realm of successful or unsuccessful, but rather why use premediation at all?  This still comes down to can we predict certain events from happening or not based on information we gather, or should we let natural selections of choice determine outcomes of the future?

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.

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.