myBobLog


A bit of silence
April 16, 2014, 12:15 pm
Filed under: myNews

Perhaps you have noticed that there has been a bit of silence around here. No, I have not given up on my blogs. In fact, I will have more to come as teasers for the book I am working on that is turning out to be a lot of work. I am also working toward determining if I have enough stunning photography to do some sort of exhibit. As I paw through them, I shall certainly have some to post on my photography blogs.

What is the book you ask? It has been mentioned over on the left in the sidebar for months now, however, here is a more detailed explanation:

My first book, tentatively, The technology dilemmas—how we can strengthen our humanity and live in the technojungle. I am looking at technological change and dehumanization as a boomer who grew up hearing about all the promises that technology would bring us in the future. The dilemma, the future never arrives. At least not as promised. We don’t have leisure time created by machines doing our work. Quite the opposite. The more I delve into this, the more concerned I have become. The horse is running wild, we truly do need to take ahold of the reins, or we shall be thrown.

My views, as I have discovered after grabbing a few books from the library, are not the lonely shouts of an alarmist, others have been ringing the bell for years. Some have written some nearly shocking ideas that seem to make sense according to my observations.

My goal is to have an easy to read book that will appeal to a broad audience, although boomers are my target, and provide some general observations that will give the book some shelf-life. Through short chapters, I clearly define the foundations of what I mean by ideas like, what does it mean to be human, and what is technology. Then I look at major technological trends from my observations, provide a few insights, and then turn toward beginning the journey of looking for some solutions to the dilemmas and how we can maintain our humanity. I ask my readers to join me in the journey, as I tell a few personal stories along the way, and learn to critically think through the technology dilemmas we all face and to discover ways to strengthen our humanity so we can all live in (what I call) the Technojungle.

Yes, I am still grinding flour in our Vitamix and making bread, pizza, etc. I am trying to find time to get a few pots of edibles growing for the summer.

Yup, I’m busy, but the blogs are not lost. Stay tuned.



What is culture?

wpid-culture-2014-02-4-22-15.jpg
Culture seems to be what a group of people do, along with other notable characteristics, that distinguishes them from another group of people. This might include language, art, various other activities that are not necessarily unique to them only. Culture is part of what they do as a collective group of activities, expressing what is unique about them.

wpid-hands-in-2014-02-4-22-15.jpg

Culture is constantly changing and evolving. Here the word evolution can be applied appropriately. Technology is one of the greatest causes of cultural change. Technology has a way of helping to define aspects of our culture.

What is acceptable in one culture may not be acceptable in another. However, as the world shrinks due to globalization, more cultures are becoming westernized. So, eating a particular way in one culture may no longer be unacceptable in another culture. I’m not sure if it is still true, but burping at a meal in some cultures was considered acceptable.

Culture is more than what people say or do. The roots of a particular culture are probably in beliefs and values. Spiritual and religious beliefs and values can drive a society to develop a culture that may be quite different from even a close neighboring society.

wpid-6879871-culture-word-collage-on-black-background-2014-02-4-22-15.jpg

Individuals and entire groups of people may belong to more that one culture, or sub-culture. Take a group who like classical music and another group who like soccer. Within each group could be found some who may also like both classical music and soccer. These groups each will have some cultural aspects and those people who belong to both groups will have a shared culture. A large portion of these groups, world-wide, may also belong to a much larger group belonging to North Americans and share in the North American culture.

Culture can define who we are as a human being and what make us unique and individual, but also part of a group. It is the shared activities, beliefs and values, and faith. While we do attempt to think individually, we are actually thinking more commonly within our group and culture. In other words, the culture of our society, group or tribe tends to influence how we think; to think outside of that becomes very difficult.
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As our culture changes, we change. We try to adapt. We take on different approaches to life. We try to organize how we want to live within the constructs and structure of our society and our culture.

If you are a traveler, perhaps you understand what it is like to go to a culture where everything is different. Language, beliefs and values, art, music, clothing may be different. And yet the people in these other societies and cultures are human beings. You may look to find that which you may share in common that you can identify with. There can be many drastically different societies and cultures in the world that we can visit. The people may even look different.

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There are many facets to what culture is and what contributes to or influences the creation of culture. Location and climate can influence how people dress and how they make a living, for example. Environment, such as city or country, can influence culture. Power in forms such as education, politics and economics can create a sub-society of upper class citizens with their own culture.

Does technology create culture, or does culture create technology? Probably both, with each influencing the other. Perhaps technology may have the greater influence. Once we had the beginning of technology like MP3 music stored in digital format (a digital file format for storing audio), players became popular; they began to change culture and to drive the development of more advanced technology for delivering and managing music. I remember advertising that was depicting, through music, dance and imagery, this technology fitting into North American culture. As the technology became integrated into the culture, with more people buying products, more technology could be developed.

 

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Let’s take a closer look and just one aspect of how changing music into a various formats changed culture. Originally, recorded music was a single performance on a disk with grooves that could reproduce the sound. Soon, a record could have a recording on both sides allowing for complimentary music to be coupled together. Early records were recorded and played back without the use of any electrical process.

wpid-vintage-gramophone-record-player-white-background-31110568-2014-02-4-22-15.jpg
Fast forward to the age of the LP (long playing) record. With the ability to couple multiple songs together in an album, a record could take on a theme, such as all romantic music. The next step was to produce a digital version of the album called a CD (compact disc). The organization of the music, and therefore the theme, remained the same. When music began to be distributed in MP3 format, the file could be sold individually or rearranged. This caused the disruption of the album theme.

Culture can tend to create a separation of those who are in control of money and power from those who do not have much money and therefore power.

In the end, when it comes to culture and being human, we have the desire to belong. We have the need to have a sense of belonging to groups and to the culture they share. We will seek to find the groups that suit us and their accompanying culture.

wpid-cultural_diversity-2014-02-4-22-15.jpg
I should be using the term sub-culture more because we are born into a culture; that culture may be difficult to shed to become something totally new. Some aspect of our identity are not possible to change, such as skin colour; that establishes a certain sub-culture that is difficult to change.

There are certain cultural aspects of us that we have been born with. There are others that we adapt or adopt into to help define who we are as individuals—our identity. Human beings seem to have a great need for this individuality and personal identity.

What about culture online in the virtual world of the Internet? Is there an Internet culture? Do the characteristics of culture apply in the online world as they do in the physical world? Users join groups; some of the groups seem to have a group culture that is shared. People want to fit in. There are certainly cultural norms, that is, behaviour that is considered normal. For example, some groups want users to use their real name. In other groups, nicknames can be used. Throughout the online world, typing with the Caps Lock key on, creating text in all upper case, is considered shouting. Sending messages that are not wanted by the recipient is considered spamming. These are all examples of cultural normative behaviours.

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We are building an online world that imitates and is culturally reflective, in many ways, to the real world and in other ways is different, perhaps even less human. The online world does have its own culture; in fact, there are many cultures and some are shared, just as in the physical world.

Some people are said to be cultured if they have been well educated and well brought up. They are seen as having a good, perhaps even distinguished and better, culture.

wpid-whatmakesupculture-2014-02-4-22-15.jpg



What does it mean to be human?

In a world of information and knowledge such as never seen before in the history of humans, we still struggle to answer the question “What does it mean to be human?” Some scientists say it comes down to our DNA. Other people point out that it is the way that we can walk upright and use our fingers and hands. Perhaps our humanity comes from the fact that we have been able to adapt so well to any condition. Others say it is the way we think about what we think; That we are self-aware. Others wonder if our humanity is contained in our way of socializing.

wpid-technology_evolution-2014-02-4-21-211.jpg
And finally, some have concluded that it is our science and technology that makes us human. Anyone who has seen the movie 2001 A Space Odyssey will remember the scene where the ape, after touching the monolith, picks up a bone and uses it as a club, the first tool. It is our use of science and technology that allows us to change the world.

Many people, when asked this question, will focus on what emerges from the use of our brain. We are conscious, communicate in complex ways, think creatively and abstractly. Is it possible to verify that we are the only species with these characteristics? What about whales and dolphins? There are certainly other species that seem to exhibit some complex thought and communication abilities.

wpid-images-1-2014-02-4-21-211.jpeg

Is our humanity defined by our doing all these things so well together? Whales and dolphins are among many complex species that seem to be well suited to their environment. One might even argue that humans actually exhibit a variety of negative behaviours. We alter our environment in negative ways. Where do you draw the line between what is a negative behaviour or what are negative changes to our environment? A large city may seem like an advanced activity, that is if you don’t take into consideration that cities produce pollution, traffic jams and other negative harmful and dehumanizing byproducts.

Many scholars, scientists and sociologists have thought deeply about what it means to be human. Here are my ideas from observation and experience.

We are aware that we are going to die eventually. Our lives are a struggle to stay alive, prolong our lives, heal ourselves with some even looking for ways to increase longevity. At the same time we do things that decrease our lifespan. In many ways this is a paradox. Take smoking cigarettes, for example. We know they kill, yet many people can’t stop and others will even start smoking, knowing the dangers. Smokers will defend their smoking habit. High risk behaviour might be another good example. There may be definite dangers, yet people will continue to do the activity and defend their choice. Why are we so often drawn to the over use of sugar or salt, or other foods that are deemed to be unhealthy.

Even though we are aware of our impending death, we work hard to delay it; we also work hard at decreasing our lifespan. Yet it is within the human behaviour to do that which is dangerous or unhealthy and defend the right to do it. That might be something that is uniquely human.

We often act in irrational and illogical ways. Just as we act to prolong our lives, we also do that which might shorten our life. This doesn’t make sense—it is irrational and illogical. We could consider numerous other activities that are diametrically opposed to one another. How often do you find people who are exercising because they ate too much?
wpid-images-5-2014-02-4-21-211.jpeg
This sort of irrational and illogical behaviour is not done merely on an individual basis; we as a society have many activities that need to be changed. The big one, of course, being our dependence on petroleum, oil—fossil fuels. Burning these fossil fuels creates pollution. These days the contention is that this, along with other activities, contribute to climate change. We don’t actually know if climate change is primarily caused by the activities of humans, or is part of the natural cycle of planet Earth. Likely, it is a combination of both.

In the automotive industry, there have been strides to develop alternatives to the internal combustion engine that uses oil products. Electric cars could have entered the market long before they did. The oil and gas industry is huge and has considerable weight politically and economically. Humans use political and economic issues to steer society away from healthier activities.

Because we human beings walk upright we are able to use our hands, with the unique opposable thumb, to do things that other animals are not able to do. Humans can do fine manipulation of things with their fingers. Evolutionists would say that humans came from an animal that crawled around on all four limbs, like other animals and somehow evolved into walking upright, thus free the hands for special uses. There may not be any actual proof of this in the fossil record, nor do we see any living examples of animals that might be at the in between stage. Apes simply don’t have the dexterity that a human has.
wpid-images-3-2014-02-4-21-211.jpeg
Like many people of the boomer generation (mid 1940s to mid 1960s), I grew up watching science and science fiction shows on TV. I often heard the term humanoid which referred to human-like beings, perhaps aliens, with human appearance and characteristics. As I recall, these were actual living flesh.

We are living in a world we are increasingly having to share with robots; a sophisticated machine that can perform a human function. I believe they were originally called an automaton. They are not necessarily human-like in appearance or behaviour, however, they can function and move things around in a similar manner to a human. That is called robotics.
wpid-images-4-2014-02-4-21-211.jpeg
We tend to have a view of robots being more human-like in appearance and striving to become human-like function and characteristics. A robot might be simply an arm that can perform a human function as part of an assembly or manufacturing process. Scientists are building robots that are visually similar in size and appearance to a human being. One might think that the goal is to make an android, or human machine. The reason is actually that, if a robot is to function in the spaces that a human being lives in, it make sense to have a robot that is similar in size.
wpid-images-2-2014-02-4-21-211.jpeg
To be human is to wear clothes. We don’t walk around naked, at least, not anymore. We may have originally. Clothing hides out nakedness, allowing us to live in colder climates and to adjust our temperature as required. Humans use clothing and jewelry as fashion. Fashion helps to show others part of one’s identity. This is uniquely human.

Clothing is a technology that we use to enhance our lives and to make a statement about ourselves as to who we are as individuals. Some fashions, a uniform for example, identifies a group we belong to, such as military or police. Clothing helps to make us human.

Humans also have a number of emotional and psychological differences from other beings. One reason we have clothing is because we have sexual urges that would otherwise get in the way, although, someone might argue that it is clothing that makes us less comfortable with the human body and unable to control sexual urges. However, clothing is also used to make certain people more sexually appealing. Once again, we have a paradox or dichotomy. We can see advertising aimed convincing teens and pre-teens to dress in an overly sexual manner beyond their age. This is a way of using the technology of clothing to dehumanize.

Humans will argue and fight for a variety of reason other than for survival. They actually experience what we call love. We may not be able to determine if other animals experience love. At least not as humans do. There are three kinds of love. Love for a friend, love for a family member or mate, and a love for God. Love separates us from other beings.

Love tends to drive societies in many directions. Listen to popular music and you will notice that the majority of lyrics are about love. Love is arguably the strongest emotion that humans experience.

If a person is deemed to have thoughts, emotions or behaviours that are not normal or are inappropriate, even destructive, they may undergo procedures to alter and improve them such that they meet with society norms. Some emotional and psychological changes are temporary. Perhaps the result of a trauma, such as a death in the family. Soldiers return home and often have short-termed or long-termed post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They may relive traumatic experiences in their head. This too, when untreated, can dehumanize people and those in their families.

This might be another characteristic of humans. They have long-term memory. Memory that they can recall and often relive, often negative experiences.
wpid-human-brain-2014-02-4-21-211.png
A few humans may actually kill other humans for other reasons than survival or self-defence. Entire societies will go to war. That leaves somebody in charge of ordering another human to kill somebody they know nothing about and have no quarrel with.
wpid-images-6-2014-02-4-21-211.jpeg
Perhaps, what really makes us most human is that most people have some sort of faith or belief that there is another spiritual side, that there is a God. This seems to exist in all societies. This might be cultural or part of what it means to be human, or both.



What does it mean to be human?

In a world of information and knowledge such as never seen before in the history of humans, we still struggle to answer the question “What does it mean to be human?” Some scientists say it comes down to our DNA. Other people point out that it is the way that we can walk upright and use our fingers and hands. Perhaps our humanity comes from the fact that we have been able to adapt so well to any condition. Others say it is the way we think about what we think; That we are self-aware. Others wonder if our humanity is contained in our way of socializing.
wpid-technology_evolution-2014-02-4-21-21.jpg
And finally, some have concluded that it is our science and technology that makes us human. Anyone who has seen the movie 2001 A Space Odyssey will remember the scene where the ape, after touching the monolith, picks up a bone and uses it as a club, the first tool. It is our use of science and technology that allows us to change the world.

Many people, when asked this question, will focus on what emerges from the use of our brain. We are conscious, communicate in complex ways, think creatively and abstractly. Is it possible to verify that we are the only species with these characteristics? What about whales and dolphins? There are certainly other species that seem to exhibit some complex thought and communication abilities.wpid-images-1-2014-02-4-21-21.jpeg

Is our humanity defined by our doing all these things so well together? Whales and dolphins are among many complex species that seem to be well suited to their environment. One might even argue that humans actually exhibit a variety of negative behaviours. We alter our environment in negative ways. Where do you draw the line between what is a negative behaviour or what are negative changes to our environment? A large city may seem like an advanced activity, that is if you don’t take into consideration that cities produce pollution, traffic jams and other negative harmful and dehumanizing byproducts.

Many scholars, scientists and sociologists have thought deeply about what it means to be human. Here are my ideas from observation and experience.

We are aware that we are going to die eventually. Our lives are a struggle to stay alive, prolong our lives, heal ourselves with some even looking for ways to increase longevity. At the same time we do things that decrease our lifespan. In many ways this is a paradox. Take smoking cigarettes, for example. We know they kill, yet many people can’t stop and others will even start smoking, knowing the dangers. Smokers will defend their smoking habit. High risk behaviour might be another good example. There may be definite dangers, yet people will continue to do the activity and defend their choice. Why are we so often drawn to the over use of sugar or salt, or other foods that are deemed to be unhealthy.

Even though we are aware of our impending death, we work hard to delay it; we also work hard at decreasing our lifespan. Yet it is within the human behaviour to do that which is dangerous or unhealthy and defend the right to do it. That might be something that is uniquely human.

We often act in irrational and illogical ways. Just as we act to prolong our lives, we also do that which might shorten our life. This doesn’t make sense—it is irrational and illogical. We could consider numerous other activities that are diametrically opposed to one another. How often do you find people who are exercising because they ate too much?
wpid-images-5-2014-02-4-21-21.jpeg
This sort of irrational and illogical behaviour is not done merely on an individual basis; we as a society have many activities that need to be changed. The big one, of course, being our dependence on petroleum, oil—fossil fuels. Burning these fossil fuels creates pollution. These days the contention is that this, along with other activities, contribute to climate change. We don’t actually know if climate change is primarily caused by the activities of humans, or is part of the natural cycle of planet Earth. Likely, it is a combination of both.

In the automotive industry, there have been strides to develop alternatives to the internal combustion engine that uses oil products. Electric cars could have entered the market long before they did. The oil and gas industry is huge and has considerable weight politically and economically. Humans use political and economic issues to steer society away from healthier activities.

Because we human beings walk upright we are able to use our hands, with the unique opposable thumb, to do things that other animals are not able to do. Humans can do fine manipulation of things with their fingers. Evolutionists would say that humans came from an animal that crawled around on all four limbs, like other animals and somehow evolved into walking upright, thus free the hands for special uses. There may not be any actual proof of this in the fossil record, nor do we see any living examples of animals that might be at the in between stage. Apes simply don’t have the dexterity that a human has.
wpid-images-3-2014-02-4-21-21.jpeg
Like many people of the boomer generation (mid 1940s to mid 1960s), I grew up watching science and science fiction shows on TV. I often heard the term humanoid which referred to human-like beings, perhaps aliens, with human appearance and characteristics. As I recall, these were actual living flesh.

We are living in a world we are increasingly having to share with robots; a sophisticated machine that can perform a human function. I believe they were originally called an automaton. They are not necessarily human-like in appearance or behaviour, however, they can function and move things around in a similar manner to a human. That is called robotics.
wpid-images-4-2014-02-4-21-21.jpeg
We tend to have a view of robots being more human-like in appearance and striving to become human-like function and characteristics. A robot might be simply an arm that can perform a human function as part of an assembly or manufacturing process. Scientists are building robots that are visually similar in size and appearance to a human being. One might think that the goal is to make an android, or human machine. The reason is actually that, if a robot is to function in the spaces that a human being lives in, it make sense to have a robot that is similar in size.
wpid-images-2-2014-02-4-21-21.jpeg
To be human is to wear clothes. We don’t walk around naked, at least, not anymore. We may have originally. Clothing hides out nakedness, allowing us to live in colder climates and to adjust our temperature as required. Humans use clothing and jewelry as fashion. Fashion helps to show others part of one’s identity. This is uniquely human.

Clothing is a technology that we use to enhance our lives and to make a statement about ourselves as to who we are as individuals. Some fashions, a uniform for example, identifies a group we belong to, such as military or police. Clothing helps to make us human.

Humans also have a number of emotional and psychological differences from other beings. One reason we have clothing is because we have sexual urges that would otherwise get in the way, although, someone might argue that it is clothing that makes us less comfortable with the human body and unable to control sexual urges. However, clothing is also used to make certain people more sexually appealing. Once again, we have a paradox or dichotomy. We can see advertising aimed convincing teens and pre-teens to dress in an overly sexual manner beyond their age. This is a way of using the technology of clothing to dehumanize.

Humans will argue and fight for a variety of reason other than for survival. They actually experience what we call love. We may not be able to determine if other animals experience love. At least not as humans do. There are three kinds of love. Love for a friend, love for a family member or mate, and a love for God. Love separates us from other beings.

Love tends to drive societies in many directions. Listen to popular music and you will notice that the majority of lyrics are about love. Love is arguably the strongest emotion that humans experience.

If a person is deemed to have thoughts, emotions or behaviours that are not normal or are inappropriate, even destructive, they may undergo procedures to alter and improve them such that they meet with society norms. Some emotional and psychological changes are temporary. Perhaps the result of a trauma, such as a death in the family. Soldiers return home and often have short-termed or long-termed post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They may relive traumatic experiences in their head. This too, when untreated, can dehumanize people and those in their families.

This might be another characteristic of humans. They have long-term memory. Memory that they can recall and often relive, often negative experiences.
wpid-human-brain-2014-02-4-21-21.png
A few humans may actually kill other humans for other reasons than survival or self-defence. Entire societies will go to war. That leaves somebody in charge of ordering another human to kill somebody they know nothing about and have no quarrel with.
wpid-images-6-2014-02-4-21-21.jpeg
Perhaps, what really makes us most human is that most people have some sort of faith or belief that there is another spiritual side, that there is a God. This seems to exist in all societies. This might be cultural or part of what it means to be human, or both.



My previous world
January 19, 2014, 12:38 am
Filed under: B.O.B.s, Boomerism, myCulture, myLifestyle

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/52231459″>I can’t believe we made it.</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user14316245″>Bart Mitchum</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>



Technology foiled by a gum wrapper of life
January 15, 2014, 10:53 am
Filed under: myLifestyle, myTech

My daughter called me one day to complain that her printer would not work. She lives in another city and I could not just pop over to assist her, so I attempted phone tech support. The problem was that paper was not feeding properly into the printer. It was getting crumpled on one edge on the way into the printer. Of course, I asked her to reach in and feel around to see if anything was in there. I also wondered if the feed rollers might need cleaning. The frustration level was rising. I was sure it was something simple, but she had little time for technology failures.

wpid-05ce16c3-faa3-4bac-8376-687fa3be439f-2014-01-15-10-53.jpg

The next step, was to search on the Internet for similar problems and to find the solution. I found information on how to clean the rollers. I forwarded information on to her. Now, she tends to always be busy and is certainly not a techie type. We all know people in the techno-aversion range who have various levels of interest and ability when it comes to technology. Some love to roll up their sleeves and dive in. Others can’t even imagine doing anything to fix problems involving technology. They just want to plug it in and have it work. Apple Inc. understood this and created computers that could be taken out of the box, plugged in and they were ready to go. There are a range of people that fall between those extremes.

We have all had to deal with a variety of techno-failures. Perhaps you had a broom break. A broom is a type of technology. Call it low-tech. I’m sure we have all had a more complicated technology fail, such as a light bulb. Most of us have also had very complex technology fail like a computer. High-tech devices are so complex that I often think it amazing that they even work some of the time. There are so many things that could fail.

Lately, I have been talking to my daughter about more technology issues. She is learning Adobe InDesign for one of her jobs. I have a background in printing and publishing and ran several Macintosh computer labs for training student to go into the printing industry. We were discussing some of the things that can go wrong and difficulties she has had in getting her typesetting and layout to work properly. Nothing is as simple as it seems. Everybody these days thinks they can write and publish, make documents and do some of the things they see published. My daughter is learning that, at the professional level, it is complex.

I explained to her that, if you can’t replicate the problem, you probably can’t solve it. Some failures or errors are transient. That is, they just simply occur, often at the most inopportune times. I often say, “Technology is great, when it works.” Or, “Technology will fail just when you need it most.”

wpid-unknown-2014-01-15-10-53.jpeg

Another call from my daughter informed me that her computer would not work. We tried everything. She even had a guy friend listen to the strange sounds emitting from the MacBook Pro and then remark, something like, “It is fried.” The local authorized Apple computer store said that it might need a couple of things done and quoted her prices for just looking at it. She was in her final weeks of university and also needed the computer for work, so I said that she should not spend any money on the machine until I could look at it. I told her to go get a new one and that we would help her. When I got the computer, it was indeed completely dead. That, of course, due to sitting for weeks and the battery being fully depleted. So, I charged it overnight. I am writing this article on that very same computer. It is fine. Go figure!

wpid-daily_origami__79__gum_wrapper_elephant_head_by_naganeboshni-d6fuqe0-2014-01-15-10-53.jpg

Probably the most used troubleshooting method that everybody knows is, “When in doubt (or, when all else fails), reboot.” While you’re waiting for your computer to come back up, grab a stick of gum and relax. But, don’t crumple and toss the wrapper somewhere on your desk because it might land in your printer and that is exactly what had happened with my daughter. I got her printer and it now works too. Anybody need a printer?



Copyright Bots
January 14, 2014, 11:21 am
Filed under: myTech

Recently, I received a notice from my Internet provider that someone in my household had downloaded a movie that was copyrighted. It was a pretty long and detailed message full of technical information that immediately indicated to me that it was automatically created. Then, I realized that, of course, this could easily be done.

wpid-copyright_symbol_9-2014-01-14-11-21.gif

Just as hackers create malicious small software programs that can sit somewhere and watch for particular information, such as passwords, bots, as they are called, could do the same to watch for copyright infringement. This is exactly what happens.

A bot, is like a robot, however it is really software; a small program that does a very small task like watch for certain information. When it finds something, it forwards it to whoever is waiting for the information. In the case of a hacker, it might be some of your personal information. Thus, it seems simple that bots could be programmed to watch for copyright infringement. Simple, right? Not really.

A quick search on the Internet reveals that these bots are getting it wrong quite often. It appears that verifying the use of copyrighted material is not as easy as it might seem. Bots have been known to shut down video feeds on YouTube and Ustream—even a speech by First Lady Michelle Obama.

Here is one of the problems. Content is uploaded to the Internet. That content might contain something that was taken from some other content. If this is written, providing the source is usually good enough, unless a large portion is being used, then it is best to get permission.

What is happening now is that bots are recognizing snippets of music, for example, in a video and flagging it as copyright infringement—even though the snippet is not really part of the video, or intentionally added. It might just be a ringtone on a phone in the background. Usually, the result is a message that goes out to make sure the material is taken down.

The bot can cause huge problems when the material it finds is being streamed live, as in the case with Michelle Obama and with the Hugo Awards. In these cases, the stream was immediately blocked creating quite a hoopla of complaints.

Copyright issues in this digital age have been a huge problem. Laws have lagged behind technology leaving copyright owners unable to control their material. Digital files are easily copied and shared. For years, services have come and gone that facilitated the sharing of digital copyrighted content. Napster was one that created a stir over music sharing. Apple iTunes helped to bring the legitimate sale and distribution of music and later, other content.

Copyright owners have had to endure years of loss and it seems that efforts are being made to introduce other forms of control. Laws and governments may side more with the content owners, so we might have to expect more interruptions until the bots or other technologies improve.




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