John D Radcliff, Specializing in Interactive Technology & Education!

WikiLeaks and P2P Networks

“Before WikiLeaks started releasing the classified State Department cables, its content was hosted by two Swedish ISPs and another based in France. WikiLeaks added’s cloud server to the list earlier this month after it began releasing the documents, Cowie noted. Amazon quickly stopped hosting WikiLeaks, apparently over terms of service violations.
After Amazon’s actions, WikiLeaks began hosting the domain with two different ISPs one in France, and another in Sweden, Cowie said. Then a couple of days later, WikiLeaks’ DNS provider, EveryDNS, terminated its domain name service. In response, WikiLeaks established several new country-level domains, such as in Switzerland, in Austria and in Cocos Islands. It then pointed the new domains back to existing IP addresses, or began having the new domains hosted with service providers in different countries (Computer World, 2010,

P2P Networks

Even though authorities tried to shutdown WikiLeaks, it was able to use other DNS providers and spread out further on multiple overseas internet based servers. This trend started with Napster which not only changed the music industry but which helped give rise to peer to peer networks. Napster, was the first generation of peer to peer file sharing which relied on a central based server. After the government shut down Napster, new P2P networks like Kazaa, Gnutella, and BitTorrent took Napster’s place. Just like WikiLeaks, these new P2P networks are scattered throughout the internet with no central physical place to store data. So now if a government or corporation wants to shutdown a P2P network, it is almost impossible since these new networks do not have a central location of where files are stored. So if illegal music or movies are being transmitted through several nodes and these nodes go down, then the P2P software will find other nodes to get these files from.

WikiLeaks now has a bigger presence now since the authorities shutdown some of their servers. According to James Cowie, chief technology officer at Renesys, an Internet Monitoring firm, “A total of 14 different name servers across 11 different networks today provide authoritative name services for the domain.” So now after the authorities tried to shutdown WikiLeaks, the organization mutated through the internet just like today’s P2P networks which makes it hard to find and shut down these networks. The spread of these networks are like a virus with no head and in an attempt to shutdown these networks it only causes these networks to spread. There is no head or organizational hierarchy which exists to WikiLeaks or P2P networks. These networks exist as a collective consciousness that keeps morphing without a real purpose only to reiterate that information is meant to be free and to fight against organizations that are suppressive or non-transparent.

Does WikiLeaks and P2P networks create or cause issues for other user’s on the internet?
What is the future of these P2P networks?

Can you trust online comments?

“Taken together, these results indicate that third-party online commentary not only influences individuals’ attitudes regarding the specific target of others’ comments, but it also influences individuals’ perceptions on the attitudes of the general online community (A Networked Self, Papacharissi, 2011).”  This quote points out that people can be influenced by other people or a group of people’s comments in online communities.
A general statement is made about a business or someone then other people jump on the band wagon and support what is the most popular or the most negative opinion.  How do we know if comments made on a social networking site are legit?

An example of this is Yelp, which is a social networking, user review, and local search web site.  People can go online and rate a business which can hurt or help.  Here is what one advertiser experienced on Yelp according to a recent CNET article:
“One Yelp advertiser who asked to remain anonymous told CNET News that in his dealings with Yelp over the past few years, he had never been promised that his reviews would be manipulated. To the contrary…despite paying $750 a month for advertising services, he said, the site’s refusal to remove several negative reviews that he felt were fake pushed his business from the top ranking to No. 7 in the search results, costing him a 25 percent drop in revenue (CNET,, 2009).”

Since people’s attitudes and comments influence other people online, this can have a dramatic effect on a business as we have seen in the above example.  It is unbelievable that someone can pay Yelp $750 a month for advertising and have manipulated reviews posted on the site which hurts the company’s online ranking.  Plus, Yelp allows people to connect and share using there Facebook accounts which means that fake comments about a business on Yelp can spread to other social networking sites.  The difficult part now is that this business will have to spend valuable resources on trying to makeup for the 25% drop in revenue due to these negative fake reviews.


Another example, is a dentist whose patients posted positive reviews about his clinic,
only to have them filtered out. He has over 2,000 patients and every other week one of
them writes a positive review on Yelp and none of them stay (New York Times, 2011).
According to the same New York Times article, people are paid a fee to post a positive comment about a company and others will post a negative review about their rivals on Yelp.

The problem is that the online submissions to Yelp cannot be trusted, since reputable or non reputable comments are filtered out or not by Yelp’s algorithm.  This can hurt a business and with Yelp’s filter algorihm’s not being that effective it is hurting Yelp’s reputation as well.  This can have an influence on what people think about Yelp and if the current trend continues, Yelp could be seen as a non reputable social networking site.  What does this mean for other social networking sites and could such comments on networking sites hurt a social networking site’s reputation?


Economic conditions can force people to take extreme measures. In the book called Transmission, by Hari Kunzru, Arjun gets hired on as a virus technician who gets sub contracted out by another company and is getting paid next to nothing. He tells his family that he is the head of his department and this is were the trouble starts. When Arjun made this decision, it then affected everyone else around him.

Chris, Guy, Lila and others were affected by Arjun’s choice of trying to make it big in America. Instead of swallowing his pride and going back home, he unleashes a computer virus which causes chaos around the world. This computer virus then has an effect on all of the people Arjun knows or does not know. From this, Arjun is actually the virus spreading his self centered attitude around the world and affecting other people’s lives.

Arjun’s virus Lila version 8, messes up EU’s information databases and confuses Guy swift with a known white colored criminal who gets deported. This is similar to today’s viruses who not only rearrange data but also steal credit card and Social Security numbers which can hurt people’s identity’s. We see the damage that such viruses can cause in a world that is dependent on computers for almost everything.

A computer virus spreads like a virus except we do not see what is really spreading behind such malicious code. When computer viruses are released into the wild, human attitudes and emotions are the real viruses getting released onto these computer systems. Guilt, despair, greed, pleasure, revenge, and pain are a few of these human attitudes that get spread when a computer virus goes viral. Looking at this story, Arjun’s desperation and pain gets unleashed on an unsuspecting world which has an effect on everyone around the world. We should ask ourselves the question of “what outcome or effect will our content have on other people when it is released onto the internet?”

New Media Ecologies?

An example of a modern day controversial musician is a guy who goes by the name of “Girl Talk”.  Gregg Gillis, is an American musician specializing in Mashups and digital sampling. His form of music has come under a lot of scrutiny since he produces mashup style remixes by taking a dozen or more unauthorized music samples from different songs to create a new song. Since he is only sampling each song, he states that he is not violating any copyright laws. Even though the musician, Girl Talk, has been quoted by the New York Times Magazine as “a lawsuit waiting to happen” this artist does cover himself legally by giving credit to the artists he copies. Also, he distributes his music freely at under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license.

Pirate Radio is the transmission of illegal or unregulated radio transmissions. Pirate Radio has most notably been from the use of sea vessels or across borders of countries who do not regulate their radio transmissions. These form of broadcasts either do not transmit a station identification or transmit a power wattage which is not at a legal limit.

The artist, Girl Talk, has creatively come up with a new type of music in the form of a mashup and now has legally been able to get away with not being prosecuted due to the way he is distributing and composing his music. Pirate Radio on the other hand clearly violates radio transmission laws and tries to skirt around it by broadcasting in countries or in open waters were the law has no reach. The way “Girl Talk” has come up with a new way of making and distributing his music makes him a new kind of radio pirate by creating a controversy over the legal creation and usage of his music.

I like what Matthew Fuller states in his book Media Ecology on Page 41 which is, “Standard formation and nonstandard uses create a recursive cycle that is always ongoing but never entirely predictable.”
This quote from Fuller clearly shows how media can take different forms and be used in non standard ways like music mashups or illegal radio transmissions. Media is always changing and never predictable as in the case of Girl Talk. It is a unique transformation in media to see someone mashup music, create a controversy, and stay legal unlike radio pirates who clearly violate transmission laws.

Another example of this controversy is the ability to download free applications from the internet (e.g. Audio Hijack Pro and Sound Tap) and use these applications to record professional musicians music from YouTube. This is a fairly new technique that most people do not know about which means people can get there music for free from YouTube without having to pay for it. What about if more and more people new about this technique? Would this create a new controversy and would it be legal since people are just using this captured music for their own personal use?

Also, what other types of radio or music pirates will develop as technology in society continues to evolve? Will technology continue to push the legal boundaries of most countries to the point of making illegal transmissions legal?

Out of touch with elected officials

Some of these news people and politicians have had to work hard to make it to the top and some have not. JFK and George Bush Junior did not have to work hard to make it as president due to their families status. Theodore Rossevelt and Harry Truman had to work hard to make it to the top of the political ladder.

The problem is that people forget who they were and how they got into a certain position. Then when a person receives a political position such as senator or president, then the culture in these positions start to thwart their good intentions.

Now with web-based media, politicians have a greater chance of providing a canned or a staff member response to constitutes. This makes them harder to reach and give the people of a country the illusion of communicating with their elected public officials.

Facebook brings a more honest and transparent government?

Facebook has created new jobs here in the U.S. and abroad in many countries. Just take a look at their job board: When a company files for an IPO, they are seeking to raise more money from investors so that they can expand which will in the end create more jobs.

Zuckerberg is trying to gain investor's confidence so that he can over inflate the company's value between $70 to $100 billion dollars. This is why Zuckerberg said "bring a more honest and transparent dialogue around government that could lead to more direct empowerment of people". In the above statement, he is saying that Facebook helped to give the people of Egypt the ability to remove their president from power which he is using to gain the confidence of investors.

Yes Facebook can help in bringing more attention and dialogue to different situations but it is impossible to claim that any company can bring direct empowerment for people with their governments.

Facebook monitors what people are saying or doing on their platform. This means the government can come knocking on Facebook's door at anytime and subpoena anyone's information. Also, Facebook has and can shutdown people's pages due to content that they deem as not appropriate.

I think Zuckerberg needs to rethink his statement of "more honest and transparent dialogue".

Article on Zuckerberg and Facebook's IPO:

Ghost Map And Viral Media

Ghost Map discusses the outbreak of Collara during the 1850’s In England. In this discussion, the book dives into the way the disease was transmitted, the lives it affected, and the advances in medicine it helped to bring about. Dr. Snow, who was a practicing doctor during this time period, made great discoveries in anesthesia and came up with the theory of how Collara spread during 1851 in London, England. Cholera is caused by contaminated water or food.

People who were living in the Lambeth region of London, were living in very tight and unsanitary conditions. There were 40 people living in a one room apartment and when people had to throw out there trash or waste, it was thrown into the sewage systems of London which connected to the cities drinking water supply. After John Snow’s death, England’s parliament finally dealt with the issue by constructing a sewage system which was largely operational by 1865. Later on, in 1866 another out break of Cholera claimed which claimed 4,000 people’s lives. The cause of the disease was traced to the East London water company who contaminated a nearby groundwater supply due to negligent practices.

When something in the media goes viral, it can contain a lot of these similar traits as the spread of the disease Cholera did in London. When something goes viral, it has an incident that takes place, then a catalyst or carrier, then a result. Take for example the fire fighter first responder who recorded Dayna Kempson-Schacht’s death on his cell phone then passing this video onto another unknown firefighter who walks into a local bar and texted it to other patrons. After that, the video spread until her parents received a copy of the video. The accident of this young girl was the incident that took place, then a firefighter was the carrier, and the people in the bar were the drinking water supply that spread the video which lead to the original firefighter who shot the video to get suspended. The source and spread of this video is similar to how the disease Cholera spread in England during 1851.

The same issues of finding the cause of a viral media video like what happened with the girl in the auto accident are the same which happened with the outbreak of Cholera. The source of the disease and how it was spreading is what had the medical community of that day confused and guessing on why this outbreak was occurring. Then the social and political issues around the incident make things complicated in people wanting to prove that there theory or reasoning is right which can cost lives. With the incident of Cholera in England, finding the source of the disease was imperative in order to stop the spread of the disease and save lives. With the girl in the car crash, more then one person could be found as the cause for the spread of the video and the certain questions can arise from both of these incidents. What about the issue of finding other sources of transmission from the spread of a disease or video and holding everyone accountable who caused the spread?

Laws and the internet in Libya

        The middle east has several first and second generation measures to regulate internet access and online activities.  This includes laws and regulations, technical filtering, physical restrictions, surveillance and monitoring, and harassment and arrests.  There are alot of laws and regulations used to control access which include laws that start with press and publications all the way to Internet and ISP rules and regulations.  Ghadafi used several of these methods to try and suppress the anti government protests that broke out in Libya.  He threatened to lock people up if they were caught using Facebook to post anti government remarks.  He shutdown cellular and internet access through out the country.  All of his actions are from laws that are prominent in other Middle East and North African countries who all share the same view of controlling internet content which is seen as insulting or offensive.  Here is one example of a current law in Kuwait: "Kuwait's 2006 press law allows the imprisonment of journalists for making references to Islam that are deemed insulting or for articles seen as "against national interests" (Access Controlled, p. 526)."

        According to the laws setup in the middle east, Ghadafi has every right in arresting people and shutting down the internet in order to protect "national interests" in Libya.  I agree with having laws and filters in place to regulate certain content if it is going to pose a threat or harm someone else.  For example, if there is a website that is promoting a terrorist attack on the Libyan government then I think the government has every right in taking action against the site and its owners.  The problem with this is what is considered unlawful in the eyes of the Libyan government?  Also, why filter the internet to the point of limiting a person's freedom of speech or expression in Libya?  Does limiting the access to certain online content, shutting down the internet and arresting people for posting anti government information going to stop the uprising in Libya?

        Currently Libya is in a state of turmoil.  Rebel forces in cities across Libya are starting a revolution against Ghadafi and the current Libyan government.  Ghadafi has retaliated by using the Libyan military to wage a war against his own people.  It may seem strange to wage a war against one's own cititzens until we look at the laws, policies and structures in place which allow for these actions.  So in the eyes of Ghadafi this could be deemed as a disruption to the state and he is acting with "national interests" in mind.  This  does not have anything to do with the rules and regulations of content being filtered or blocked on the internet in Libya.  But it does point to how the people in Libya are being treated and why they are being treated this way.  Since Libya is a authoritarian government the people's rights and freedom of expression will be hampered no matter what they do in this country.


        These kind of laws can stifle Libya's economy and which we have seen can lead to a revolution.  If people are stifled online then this can have a government start to take away freedoms in real space as well.  In the reading I found that countries in the middle east like Libya are blocking sites for political campaigning and social activism.  Of course the people in these countries are asking that these restrictions be lifted.  Of course these countries are not going to lift these restrictions since they know that the internet is associated with voice and power.  Ghadafi understands this and that is why he has not lifted restrictions on the net or changed any of the laws in his country.  The worst part about this is that U.S. companies are helping to provide these technological restrictions for these countries so that they can make a profit.  It is a shame that content filtering companies do not have a conscience or a concerns about the issues going on in these countries.  I think if they did it would have a big impact on how these countries would go about filtering their internet content.

        A balance of laws and content filtering must be reached if the middle east along with Libya want to keep peace in their countries.  If not, then these governments will continue to experience turmoil and uprisings.

What the Libyan government could learn from the internet

        The internet cannot be controlled by laws or threats that are made by governments.  Take the quote from Code 2.0 by Lawrence Lessig, "The claim for cyberspace was not just that government would not regulate cyberspace – it was that government could not regulate cyberspace.  Cyberspace was, by nature, unavoidably free.  Governments could threaten, but behavior could not be controlled; laws could be passed, but they would have no real effect (Code 2.0, p. 3)."

        Ghadafi has made claims that he ‘will crush’ anyone who plots against him and if he catches anyone using Facebook, he will have them imprisoned.  He has gone so far as to shutdown the internet and cell phone communications in an attempt to stop the transmission of the revolution infection.  The threats can be made and yet even as Ghadafi shuts down the internet in Libya he still cannot control the code which is still broadcasting anti Ghadafi messages. 


        Even with the attempt to shut off communications other companies like Google have provided speak to tweet and dial up numbers so that people can still communicate even though Ghadafi has cut off communications.  So can a government leader stop the spread of dissent on Facebook by making threats of locking up Libyan citizens for posting anti Ghadafi messages on Facebook?  Or can his futel attempts to shut off communications really have an effect on controlling the code?  The only way Ghadafi could make an impact on the net is if he would hire a group of hackers to create computer code or launch DOS attacks that could shutdown Libyan based Facebook and Twitter pages.  Even if he locks up Libyan citizens for using Facebook (whether true or not) what difference would this make in stopping the spread of the anti Ghadafi message through out the net? 

        The solution to this problem is right in front of him.  Instead of trying to shut off or destroy the flow of information coming in and out of Libya, he can embrace it.  He could learn more about what is going on in and outside of his country by monitoring communications.  For example, he could setup a team of people to look at the different posts online about his country and learn from what is being posted online.  Then he could use this information to manipulate the network to his advantage or to find the location of rebels or protests.  The more information that is broadcasted online the easier it is to monitor people's conversations or locations. 

        For example, people use Twitter or Facebook to broadcast where they are by using their cell phone.  I found the following tweet when searching for the keyword #Libya on Twitter:  @ShababLibya: I would continue to urge all media to head to Sallum in #Egypt, we can provide people in #Benghazi and all East #Libya #Feb17.  If we exam the tweet, we can see that @ShababLibya could be informing the media people in Egypt to head to the city of Sallum in Egypt to provide the people in Benghazi and all East Libya Freedom.  The #Feb17 keyword is a website for the Libyan Youth Movement which is promoting freedom, democracy and change.  So this tweet could be code for an organization of media sources to congregate move to the city of Sallum to provide freedom for the people in Libya.  Now if Ghadafi has not suppressed the internet and is paying attention to these forms of communication online then he could be learning alot about this particular tweet.  If he knew the code, maybe he could plan to watch the border of Egypt near Sallum to watch where these media sources (journalists) are moving to in order to capture them or to broadcast an anti revolution message in the network.  He could also try to shutdown the website by using a team of hackers to launch a DOS attack on the site.  Since the Libyan government seems to not be interested in this, then it will continue to be foreign or code to them. 
        So trying to control the revolution conversation is hard when the way this conversation is being spread is not clear.  This conversation has followed a non linear path and has the whole world watching due to the internet and broadcast media.  The question now is what happens next and what role will the code continue to have an effect on Libya.  Clearly it has helped spread the message of the revolution in Libya and has caused the Libyan government to shut off the internet including other forms of communication.  So can the code be controlled or is it just an uncontrollable force that governments will have to deal with?

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!