26 February 2007

Social bookmarking

I'm in a quandary.. I have social bookmarking overload! Thanks to Yani at NET11, I have become hooked (finally) on del.icio.us but Greg had to go and push ma.gnolia at us! :)

So for the moment I am using both, but it is highly impractical. I'm tossing up the idea of going back to one (but which one!) or using both for different contexts of links - for example, one for uni links, one for fun links.

Decisions, decisions!

10 February 2007

NET11 - Module 5: Info-Communication Concepts

A little bit of reading material for Module 5: my reflections on each subject are presented in italics.

Information ecology
  • Towards an information ecology, by Rafael Capurro
  • Information ecology, by Felix Stalder
  • NET11 iLecture notes
    The Internet is not simply a communication tool, a storehouse of information - it is a resource that has the potential to empower or pollute the ecology in which it operates, according to the uses put to it by the people who use it. In light of modern environmental concerns, use of this resource carries a responsibility to apply careful consideration of the effects on society and culture.
Case Study: Peer-to-peer
P2P as software/technical network. I am approaching this topic from the culture of working for an ISP, where P2P is largely frowned upon as a piracy technology used by bandwidth 'leechers' and copyright infringers, and thus subject to general suspicion. In saying this though I am aware of its innocuous uses, such as sharing open source software such as Linux 'distros'.
Information transfer
Legal issues: Copyright
Security and privacy
Socio-political considerations
From copyright 'piracy' issues to corporate implementation, P2P is a controversial topic. The benefits of lower cost, efficient distribution are weighed against indexing problems, and fear of loss by corporations who wish to control creative markets.

The 'big bad wolf' in the P2P case is presented as the production companies who claim to be protecting artists rights and are terrorising Internet service providers and individuals; there is a case for the distribution of material (with permission) in providing exposure for the artist and increasing sales through non-corporate channels (consider the emergence of independent artists like Sandi Thom through webcasts, and 'discovery' of new artists through showcase services like MySpace).

The next corporate war may well be against the Google-owned Youtube (sharing of video formats), with dissatisfaction in the way Google is handling copyright material.

Preparing for 'future shock'
  • Internet2
  • PlanetLab
  • PlanetLab builds test bed for new Internet services, by Peter Sayer
    One of the problems emerging from the Internet is the rapid pace of change and the inability of technology to keep up with the new and expanded uses found for it. Existing Internet technology is (as cited in Sayer's article above) becoming "harder to change and easier to break". Technological advancement for the Internet must be developed alongside existing technologies however, it is not a case of simply switching over from one system to another. Advancement is not necessarily more complex than current technologies - one example is the development of OWAMP a "one way ping" tool. The traditional ping measures a return trip between two fixed points (two trips), the one way ping simplifies this even further by measuring the latency in a single direction, thus helping to more accurately pinpoint network congestion.
  • What the Net did next, by Mark Ward BBC, interview with Vint Cerf
    Prior to this unit the real significance of TCP/IP hadn't really struck me, the concept that data is data, in all shapes and forms, interchangeable with any system, any network. The Net works so well that it is easy to disregard the technologies that make it work. In this interview even Cerf mentions that the great potential of a common protocol between all networks and systems did not occur to him immediately. I also listened to a podcast interview with Cerf in which he discusses future Internet trends. He believes the Internet will come to play a large part in mobile communications - from geographical map indexes to standardised communications for interplanetary exploration.
  • The UCLA Internet report: Surveying the digital future
    This report compiled from 2000 statistics, checked the subsequent reports and the trends confirm what I already believe - increasing numbers of people accessing the Internet; email, web browsing the most popular activities; growth in broadband use accompanied by increase in time spent online; growing number of users publishing information. The latest report has the Internet ranked ahead of television and mobile phones as the technology people could least do without; perhaps reflective of the multiple uses the Internet is put to in terms of information, communication and entertainment.
  • The Internet is broken, by David Talbot
    There are different conceptions of what the Internet should provide as a technology. One belief is that the Internet has already reached its potential, allowing a neutral, free flow of data in all forms. Any control of data flow is then implicit upon the user, to apply various patches/programs to employ security measures and the like. The argument propounded here by Talbot is that the Internet should incorporate levels of authentication and security to protect the user. However, it is very difficult to see how a new Internet platform could permanently plug security holes, when the development of spam and virii seem to stay neck-in-neck with current security technology. It may in fact create a new set of problems - the objections and challenges faced by developers of new Internet technologies includes selling change to those who believe "it it aint broke, why fix it?".
For some fun
  • Imagining the Internet: Predictions Database
    It is fun to imagine what might emerge from the Internet, as use of the Internet expands it seems the possibilities are endless, they are only limited by our imagination. The most practical predictions however are based on what the Internet is capable of now, and the ability to expand that capability - particularly when you think of the Internet in terms of an 'information ecology', capable of evolution. One prediction is that the Internet may evolve into a form of artificial intelligence, not that far-fetched when you consider the human-like response of bots. Another prediction, mentioned above is fast becoming a reality, Cerf's discussion of Internet technologies into space exploration.