Sunday, 12 October 2014

WEEK 11: The final review

When I am writing this blogpost, I could still recall the memory of the first day in Auckland when I standing at the Glenfield bus stop spending half an hour doing nothing but waiting for the buses that never seem to come. Almost three months later, I could confidently post the screenshot photo below and announce: it really wasn't my fault.

When we were talking about the ubiquitous media in the future in class, it is always good to know that the media situation at present might be pretty annoying. Well, get down to business, this seminar seems to be vital to me personally. When I started learning this course three months ago, I was quite a pessimist about the future technology world and I was kind of believe technological determinism to some extent. However, at the end of the semester I am preparing to write my final research paper on techno-utopia. Fortunately, I could even get a rough idea from Heidegger about his idea “Dasein”, which I’d like to describe my final research on Bitcoin: the nature of Bitcoin is about its existence and all the possibility around itself. From this perspective, the future of ubiquitous media could be so fascinating to imagine. 

As a student who comes from an authoritarian state like China, it does need time for me to jump out of from this communism-oriented ideology. Admittedly, I was suffering in the shade of the atmosphere like what was described in the novel 1984 written by George Orwell for years when I was in China, especially when I participated in my internship work in several Chinese media which controlled extremely tight by our government. However, at this moment, I could able to get rid of it and start to prepare my final research from the perspective of techno-utopia and I’m really looking forward to it. 

Sunday, 5 October 2014

WEEK 10: Warning: Webcams are everywhere!

The city of Auckland is colourful! Posters in the streets are sparkling! When I was out to take pictures this Friday, my idea is looking for the most common outdoor pictures in the city. Then I got these security warning signs, because almost every public facility has got one. All I need to do is simply walking along the streets, pressing the shutter from one store to another.

Obviously, the security market is booming here, as you can see how colourful the picture is. As a matter of fact, most of the security systems in China are running by the police. 

Well, admittedly, the good news here is that I only met the policemen twice in the past seventy-eight days since I came to the city. Indeed, these warning signs really kick in!

Well, here comes my doubt: Are these security companies themselves safe enough? I mean, what if they are attacked by hackers, or Edward Snowden, or John Key? Sorry to mention that: as a foreigner from Asia, I was quite confident about the public and personal safety in NZ before I came here. Then I happened to read some pieces of news related to the surveillance issues that really baffled me. Just Before I write this blog, I managed to find this interesting website:, which claims to have tens of thousands of online cameras all over the world. (The US got 9323 cameras and NZ only has 78 here fortunately.) I have to say that I really can’t imagine how many other similar websites exist and it really bothers me.

So bros, next time when you read these “warning”s, why not give them a second thought?

Sunday, 28 September 2014

WEEK 9: Cloud? What shall we do if it “rains”? 

During the blog era, one of my favorite entertaining activities was reading Google Reader. Even though the amount of active bloggers was dramatically declined later, I still found much fun there. Last spring, as you all know, Google announced its discontinuation and gave us a specific date. I started to feel extremely gloomy: My Google reader is dying, and no one can stop that. I even tried to take part in several web discussions on How much money do we need to donate to save Google Reader?

So when almost every IT giant provides its beautiful looking cloud service to the public, I start to hesitate, not about whether it’s good or not, but how long it could live. As Lametti (2012) emphasizes, on the cloud, “The structure could be more easily controlled” (p.222). I can’t stop thinking about one paradox: if I assume that one day all cloud services would discontinue (do you agree with that?), what shall we do if we overly dependent upon them? After all, if it’s “cloudy” for too long time, there is a great possibility to start“raining” in the end.

Perhaps the best way I could think of to avoid the Google Reader Tragedy is too maintain as many users as possible. Anyway, the thing is that how to guarantee your chosen service always be popular enough? Yes, some of you might argue that services like Google Cloud would be quite safe, but this is just how I felt about Google Reader several years ago.

So personally, I’m not yet ready to face the potential consequence of the sunset of cloud service, at least for now.

Work Cited:Lametti, D. (2012). The Cloud: Boundless Digital Potential or Enclosure 3.0?. Virginia Journal of Law & Technology Association, 17(3), 192-243.x

Sunday, 21 September 2014

WEEK 8: Surveillance in China, with fun

The readings from this week remind me all the memory about my concerning about Chinese surveillance. In my university in China, you can find webcams everywhere: above the canteen entry, beside the park lane… literally, “everywhere”. I still remember every time when I enter my dormitory, I always put my middle finger straight up to the conspicuous webcam above the main gate. For sure I do understand that webcams are powerful to maintaining security in public area, but there are just too many placed everywhere, which far beyond my tolerance ability.

As a consequence, I’d like to say that I agree with the idea that reasonable paranoia can give you a comfortable defensive position under such ubiquitous surveillance, which can be treated as “healthy paranoia”. I mean that it’d better to maintain a moderate suspicion to the whole society if you want to live a healthier life in China. A moderate suspicion means you don’t need to distinguish every single issue around you, just don’t trust them at all.

Well, my dear classmates, I am aware about the surveillance issues happen in NZ recently. As a Chinese, my advice is “try sousveilling back”. In China, a famous artist, Ai Weiwei, played games with the authorities when he was monitored and guarded by the police. When he was surveilled by webcams set by the government, he started to install four webcams in his own house and showed it on the internet to “help” the police to surveil himself. Obviously, the authorities were irritated and forbidden him to do that again. Ai Weiwei didn’t quit and sculptured a webcam made by marble as part of one of his art project.



Unlike you guys, I have lived with this kind of social surveillance for years, so I’m quite accustomed with this issue already. I just try to make fun with it since I cannot change it.

In the end, I’d like to share several pictures about surveillance situations in Beijing, China. 

Have fun^_^




Sunday, 14 September 2014

WEEK 7: Will ubiquitous media affect our daily life, I mean, to some extent? 

The reading material from this week seems to have much fun to me. It managed to help me continue some of my pessimism feelings about ubiquitous media. By using computers, we humans are already becoming half-cyborgs in our daily life to some extent. The chapter 8 from Along Together gives an interesting example about one situation we are facing to. For instance, when we sit together to have dinner and chat with each other, one of us might take out of his/her mobile phone from his/her pocket and begin to read it. At this time, he/she could be set as an outsider by rest of us and might be labelled as “absent”. From my point of view, the convenient mobile internet sometimes has a negative effect on us.

According to the author, “multitasking” seems to become a normal phenomenon of humans from a bad habit. As a consequence, we are getting used to be interrupted from thinking, talking and even sleeping at any time by reading mobile phones or other media. Just a sounded information push from your Facebook or a stupid picture sent by your friends that you are going to delate as soon as possible, every tiny notification from your mobile phone or your future ubiquitous media could affect your concentration. For me, it is really horrible to imagine about.

I could even imagine further that when ubiquitous media are become that normal in our daily life, we could be surrounded by different notifications (even they could be mute) anytime and anywhere. Little by little, ubiquitous media could be able to lead us to act and to think. At that time, we could become real cyborgs. Finally, the boundary between machines and human beings becomes more and more narrow and vague.

That is to say, we could be assimilated with machines at that time.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

WEEK 6: Not that optimistic, still

This week’s reading contents seem to be quite appealing to me, since they suffused a sense of pessimistic feeling towards future technology. For the past month, I have been unstopping concerned about the side effect of ubiquitous media. I fear the possibility that technology would be intelligent enough to control us, just like what happened in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, what invented by human finally kill human itself.

What I need to emphasize is that I am never a technological determinist. In China, I always treated myself as a neo-liberalist to same degree, but when reading the story of “Weev”, I realized that I haven’t get that far indeed. ”Computerization will set you free.” What kind of freedom does it mean? Is there any boundary for this kind of freedom? I wondered.

One good example is the 3D-printing. Is this just like the technology of cloning? How could it be if it is used to print animals or human? What's more, what about Bitcoin? Could it be possible that it becomes the top one currency of the world one day instead of American Dollar? In fact, for a nation, the control of its currency is so
vital since currency could control the whole market, then the totality of economy, then the nation itself.

To be honest, I’m not that optimistic about the utopia of the future cyber world. For me, the “free” or the “open” market does bring more opportunities and possibilities, however, it also brings completely new order to the world rather than a “free” and “open” one which isn’t written down literally but appears everywhere.

Work cited:

Golumbia, David, “Ceberlibertarianism: The Extremist Foundations of ‘Digital Freedom’,” Viginia Commonwealth University, Dept of English: Sep 2013

Winner, Langdon, “Technology Today: Utopia or Dystopia?” Social Research, Vol. 64, No. 3, Technology and the rest of culture (FALL 1997), pp.989-1017

Sunday, 17 August 2014

WEEK 5: Transcend the Boundary

Luhmann’s Social System Theory simply gives us a new theoretical framework and vision to re-understanding society and individuals. Personally, it gives another opportunity to re-consider Chinese democratization progress. According to Luhmann, democracy is a product of social evolution process. When society evolved to a functional differentiation society, political system has become one of many systems, which means that it must operate within society itself. In my opinion, this kind of political operation could be named “Mechanical Democracy”.

If Luhmann was right, in the future, hopefully, the globalization of function system described by him could be able to re-shape China, not by human well (which is impossible at present), but by the power of rational system (if it is strong enough).

Well, go back to ubiquitous media sphere, from my point of view, Luhmann’s best contribution is introducing Socialism into different fields including computer science. In ubicomp area, the system or the environment becomes unprecedented important. The relationship between human and the rest could be reshaped. In this case, human won’t be dominated any more. Due to the functional differentiation, all individuals are just living in different subsystems. Therefore, human can no longer be understood as a specific integral unit. The stabled ubiquitous environment system could break through the traditional way of interface, and just being existence and operating Rational smoothly and constantly.