Another week of ideas and debate, with some hugely helpful information exchanges on the blog from users with keen tech and web knowledge. Once again, I'll attempt to round up some of the points and arguments made this week, as appropriate to their programme or topic.
Programme Two; breaking the web:
The discussion of the web's vulnerability to attacks of various kinds continued with interesting insights into the resilience of the web
to the majority of these ongoing battles online. DS Wall suggesting that one real way of damaging the web was to damage its credibility, rather than damage its infrastructure.
@cyberissues cites Turkey
as an example of a nation state which rather than using a blanket firewall, applies legal pressure to ISPs to block 'offending' sites. And points out that the UK has similar controls over sites and their content via the IWF
that are currently a voluntary opt-in.
brought up the idea of 'net neutrality
' (as championed by Vint Cerf
) but this appears to be an issue, indeed term, closer to US hearts and minds. Does the UK have a similar champion? Sir Tim Berners-Lee perhaps, in his assertion that the web should be like a blank piece of paper upon which no rules are imposed by that paper - that you may write (or draw) upon it what you will.
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There was a general consensus that the internet and web, whilst disruptible were unlikely to be destructible. Users @jayfurneaux
pointed to the more likely point of failure - power supply!
And while language on the web (English-based code and western message) as soft-imperialism has been roundly argued against previously on the blog @TaiwanChallenges noted a potential political point being made by the languages
offered by an open source translation program. Perhaps the medium can indeed be the message?
As part of the series we will be using a graphics company to visualise various processes to explain the workings of the net. Two such processes were being taken to the graphics company this week and programme two director, Frank Hanly, asked blog users to check the tech
we were asking the graphics team to illustrate: packet switching and filtering/blocking. The replies were a much appreciated sanity check.
When those graphics are developed further we'll get them up onto the blog to show how your input helped.
Programme three - the cost of free
Aleks Krotoski provided a starter for ten on the issues of privacy and the information economy
this week, invoking her fondness for Orwell's 1984
. Aleks argues that rather than Big Brother's gaze having been imposed upon us by a dictatorship, we have in fact opened the door and invited into our lives the gaze of... any number of eyes.
echoed DS Wall's point of trust and engagement being a fine balance for the web and its applications alike: 'Now there presents a problem - too much suspicion in these social services and
they become unusable; too little and disaster may ensue.
'The survival of democracy depends on the ability of large numbers of people to
make realistic choices in the light of adequate information. A dictatorship, on
the other hand, maintains itself by censoring or distorting the facts, and by
appealing, not to reason, not to enlightened self-interest, but to passion and
prejudice, to the powerful "hidden forces," as Hitler called them, present in
the unconscious depths of every human mind.'
Experiments - testing the web
@GaryGSCC suggested planting a fib/lie into the web
and tracing its course and spread through the web. This, they suggest, should be planted via a variety of sources, reliable, respected to the more scurrilous, to see whether the inception point would affect the spread of the (mis)information.
@SheffTim sets a challenge
to find out as much about a person as possible via their digital presence and footprint. Following that, to what extent could you track a person via the net (and beyond)?
On Twitter @vo0ds
suggested testing 'the (random number)% of the internet is porn myth
Programme four - is the web changing us?
More information around the themes of programme four - the web is changing us - are coming in the next week, but almost in a prelude to the impending discussions @TaiwanChallenges took to task one of the main questions of the series: the effect of the web on the human brain
. This is an excellent and considered look at the differences between the Asian and Western approaches to language and communication (though not exclusively Far East/West divisions): 'there is the possibility that using the web - the western web as it is today -
will make 'us' become more like Asians in the respect that we learn to process
information more contextually, more holistically
Next week, expect blog posts from Jon Webster on artists' surviving in a world that increasingly expects to consume their content for free, more info on programmes three and four and Tim Berners-Lee's views on privacy online.