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?

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?