Intelligent Media

We had a lecture as part of our MA course from Adam Burns about Intelligent
Media. It linked up social political issues with technical covering how isssues to do with Data are connected to Control / Surveillance / Power particularly in the light of technological developments. This is something that most people are probably not very
aware of except in quite an abstract sense.

Adam illustrated the range of data that is available to others when we
connect electronically to a network. Mostly these egs came from the
Internet and Ethernet and many were shon via to Free2Air an organisation
he is involved in.

In doing this he also provided a model of how we connect. For example he
showed that by using Unix command 'Tail' a system administrator can find
out a lot of info about the previous URL that someone's come from and
there operating system etc. {Also though that most of this can be
falsified if people know what they're doing.)

He went on to give examples of data aggregation (with the eg of Analog.cx)
and provided technical background to this such as ARP Address Resolution
Protocol, MAC Medium Access Control address {like IP address for Ethernet)
and Signal to Noise Ratio. This was in relation to Free2Air community
wireless network and showed up some of alternative posssibilities of
networking but also how these might be limited by bandwidth being
controlled etc.

Packet / traffic sniffing was used to show how much info we are
inadvertently sharing every time we use Ethernet and or Internet. We
looked at examples such as NTOP, Ethereal, Etherape and Etherman. All
these go beyond aggregation to more meaningful representation.

Adam also referred to US and EU governments and representatives routinely
collect much of this type of information maybe without many people knowing
or caring. He said that some of the egs he showed us from Free2Air were
partly there to show people how much information is available to others.

This is one of areas I'm very interested in and it's complicated I think:
Many people know about surveillance and think it's bad but aren't in a
position to easily do much about it. Even more interesting is the fact
that there are lots of people who know something about it but don't
neccessarily regard it as a threat or not as something to act upon.
Connected to this there's lots of myths / conspiracy theories about
government surveillance. These compete with lost of dominant myths about
why an unserveilled unrestricted Internet would be dangerous (because of
Terrorism and Paedophiles and even copyright / IP infringement etc etc.
This is one example (more overt police action being another) of how human
control measures are being used because it is very difficult to sustain a
'walled garden' by purely electronic security means.

Another related issue will be how these possibilities will be exploited
commercially and we will increasingly have to weigh up a pay off between
giving information and being connected electronically. In most ways, in
commercial arenas but also in social, there are great benefits to be able
to connect to others over distance and there are often benefits in sharing
information but there are also risks and not just in the sense of criome
or what people will konow about you but also for example in the way in
which you adapt your life to this and depend on it giving up choice in the
long run. Also alternatives to this such as p2p networks are very
interesting and also not as simple an issue as they are sometimes
represented as. [...got to finish now but there are more areas I'm very
interested in connected to this

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