Facilitating Unification

I don’t know what’s more worrying, the fact that I could be homeless tomorrow or Telstra can see my browsing history. I think they might even be able to track my calls, which is worrying for them because I’ve had some shady conversations with Petbarn, off shore tax concessions for my shares in schmakos, pretty pissed off that they ratted me out actually.

Seriously though, we have a privacy issue in Australia, through Metadata laws passed by Tony Abbott in 2014, with the help of his good mates George (God I’m a dickhead) Brandis and Malcolm (Turncoat) Turnbull, despite the former communications minister opposing these laws when Labor was in power. Although not a lot of people are aware, companies that we consent to being our provider have relatively everything they can get before cracking into the actual content – IP addresses, time of call, time of viewing (if on browser), email address, download and upload volumes; you name it, it’s on their servers. To avoid these surveillance issues, there are things like VPN’s or Tor Browser to allow us to retain some sort of anonymity. Anonymity is important, but why on a public sphere do we need to remain anonymous? Seems counter-productive to me.

In the internet of things we were meant to facilitate conversation, facilitate access – where as through social media we’ve continually isolated ourselves from lower demographics, in which would render the whole public sphere classist. I’m of the opinion that people without access to social media platforms have no identity, due to the technological determinism our modern culture is faced with. Our devices have become an extension of our own reality, which is interesting because: if our phones are an extension of our ‘reality’, do homeless people exist? Do rural Aboriginals exist? In a modern public sphere, no and I think this is a matter of criticism for the notion that everyone is equal and has an equal voice.

My Virtual Reality project will help facilitate an online blueprint/online presence for people without access to such technology or opportunity. I did mention in my presentation that homeless people in Australia who are given mobile phones are unable to communicate efficiently: due to lack of access to charge points 24/7, no disposable income for credit and potentially no one to communicate with. As a result of Virtual Reality being a newly adopted medium (especially with Facebook’s investment), it will further engage the public in caring about these people’s stories, and ultimately solidify a tangible online presence, in which these people (even when inactive) can communicate with middle-higher class users and hence create a domino effect on closing the gap between “us” and “them”. As a result, altering conservative ideologies and oppressive policy for the better: creating a unification of Australians of all classes.

 

7 thoughts on “Facilitating Unification

  1. From my understanding, you seem to be arguing against the idea of with holding data, and pushing towards a society where anonymity online doesn’t exist in favour of having a presence in the digital world. Is the issue people have with meta data laws in relation to wanting to have an invisible online presence, or rather people having access to information which they have not chosen to give to these providers. Social media and collection of meta data are two completely different concepts within the digital world: social media consists of a user curating a timeline and showcasing elements of their life, both physical and digital, in an online space; whereas collection of meta data involves telecommunication companies collecting every single detail about our online activity – both what we want to share, and what we may not want to share, making the primary difference an issue of informed consent.

    I think your opinion on social media and class is really interesting. I agree that within our own demographic, not having Facebook leaves us disadvantaged and unable to have access to current information within our own (often physical) circles. However, I don’t necessarily think that applies to everyone as a whole. Never the less, if one were to provide access to social media across all classes, would that actually fix the class divide? Yes, these people would have access to a platform they have not previously had access to before, and yes, they may have a more recognised identity, which is not limited to their surrounding, physical society. But what is to stop the ‘upper classes’ of social media then moving on to another platform, a la the trickle down effect (see: The Philosophy of Fashion – Georg Simmel, 1997)? The internet of things helps to facilitate this idea, because you are never locked down or limited to the one digital space, so will creating a blanket ‘universality’ fix the divide, or make it more apparent within a digital realm?

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    1. I’m not god. I’ll ask you one question, do you the name of any homeless people you’ve ever seen? The answer would be no. It’s not about creating a classless society, it’s about empathy and people having the capacity to care about people whom they do not know. Someone who is a mutual friend, but you’ve never met them on Facebook has a car crash, how do you react? You react as any human would. A homeless person putting a status up about not being able to afford to get medicine/food and you can see their location – maybe you’ll go have a chat to them. It’s about creating equity – with more access to organisation who may help them, friends whom they may have, family members and communication in general. My VR project will take this one step further and allow us to get an insight as to why they’re on the street in the first place – a narrative practice where we slow down and actually care. Studies suggest that if we know someone’s name increases our capacity to care for them, or practice empathy in this case. http://www.everydaysociologyblog.com/2014/01/the-importance-of-knowing-names.html

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  2. Haha 10/10 for humour. I agree that although we believe that we live in a free society, we’re actually tightly controlled. So are people who don’t have access to technology for certain reasons freer?
    I’d have to argue yes and no.
    Your project will most likely change the idea of people being free, by connecting and closing the gap between the wealthy and poor is much more important. A class divide or greater privacy? Which is more important to people?

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    1. Homeless people certainly aren’t. Someone searching the deep web, or being tracked as result of xenophobic terrorism laws, oath.

      I’m of the belief that human’s are inherently selfish, that we’re hard wired to prioritise ourselves and complain about our situations. In Australia, right now there is class warfare going on, and it needs to be stopped. Homelessness will rise as a result of tax cuts to the top 25% and with money being ripped form the health sector, morbidity rates of the homeless will rise as a result of poor infrastructure and policy. If we can eventually become an equitable society, I could not give a shit what the government was looking at. Thank you for the comment.

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  3. Our devices have become an extension of our own reality, which is interesting because: if our phones are an extension of our ‘reality’, do homeless people exist? Do rural Aboriginals exist? – this is an interesting point to make. I am definitely interested to see you further your research in this area. However I do believe that it’s important to engage with media and technology but I don’t think its the be all and end all of identity construction.

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  4. I think this comes back to the attitude that access to the Internet is a human right. It’s totally not essential to everyday existence (although access to government things like medicare etc as well as your banking details, bills and so on are all moving online with the option to go completely paper-free becoming more and more of a popular choice). Online presence is a luxury required to interact with something I would say is a bit larger than a single societal class, as a range of classes have access and continue to use these services. What I wonder is why rural Aborigines or individuals from developing countries would want to have access to things like Facebook or Twitter. Yes, there are educational benefits to being online but these seem to come in secondary to the capitalist ideals of getting the whole world united on one social media platform. I do like the idea that allowing the lower class access to devices will potentially close the gap but I still can’t fathom a reason why a higer-middle class suer might answer their call, unfortunately. There’s a larger issue in play here.

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    1. I have to say I completely disagree with you here. To say that lower se demographics have no use for things such as Social media is naive and uneducated. Our world is consumed in capatalism, and it’s exactly what you said “it’s a luxury”. It’s actually perceived as a luxury in order to be able to perform basic communications. You misconstrued the entire idea of mine – you’re saying that entirely there is no particular use of Web 2.0 for lower class. I’m not declaring that aboriginals need Facebook. I said access. This isn’t about people from low se backgrounds posting their best selfie on Facebook, it’s about having the ability to notify people of your existence. If you didn’t have Facebook I guarantee there’s 500 people that didn’t know you were alive, and sadly that’s the technologically determinant world we live in. Class warfare isn’t just imposed by bad policy, or too much money. It’s also imposed upon those that aren’t able to allow themselves to be seen in society, you cannot argue that having access to social media to imprint themselves on some type of public sphere wouldn’t benefit them. Cmon man, please read what I’m suggesting before you critique my ideas, as if I haven’t researched it extensively. Thanks.

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