Reading Response 11/9

Storming the Servers: A Social Psychological Analysis of the First Internet War

I could not imagine a day without the Internet. My life is based around the Internet; there is not one day that I am not using it. Being without it for as long as they did during the Internet war in Estonia seems unfathomable. It really does sound like a nightmare.  I am not someone that uses my phone often or watches television as a means of entertainment. I am all about the different ways the Internet acts as a tool for me to not only stay connected, but to enjoy the little moments that I use to relieve stress. My family is in California and I am in New York so I skype them a lot.  Families work that way; you’re parents want to see your face while talking to see how you’re doing. I would not be able to function without the Internet. It is like an addiction, there is no going back once I have already had a taste of it.

What It’s Like to Participate in Anonymous’ Actions 

The analogy with MasterCard and Paypal as it having to do with membership only access is something that I never really thought about when associating with commentary made by anonymous posts.  Thinking about it as something exclusive that only certain people can gain access to it versus where it is available to everyone plays up to the appeal of anonymous posts. When your identity is hidden, there is more freedom to express yourself. No one can really trace it back to you or at least they will not know who the poster is. If you are a member, there is all this information you have to provide and everyone will know who you are and can constantly keep tabs on your every action. Although I prefer anonymity; it also has its consequences. There are greater chances for someone to abuse the power and that will cause trouble not only for the poster, but the forum/platform in which the commentary was posted on. It can be taken out of proportion if there is a feeling of a threat or something could instill fear, given our current government is always cautious when it comes to what is deemed a part of national security.

Digital Zapatistas

The statement that public spaces are increasingly privatized seems true to a certain degree. I never really noticed it, but if you really stop to think or look around at your surroundings, there are not a lot of public spaces that are readily available. The Digital Zapatistas’ virtual protests has really revealed the ways in which cyberspace itself is occupied and organized as commercial and private, rather than public. Spatiality, Edward Soja argued, “is socially produced, and, like society itself, exists in both substantial forms (concrete spatialities) and as a set of relations between individuals and groups, an ‘embodiment’ and medium of social life itself.” To me this suggests that space does not just have to be just the physical aspect, but a state of mind. It is about the unlimited or expanse in which all material objects are located and all events occur.  Like Soja argued, it depends on who or what is involved for it to be defined or changed.

new forms of protest

DDOS is virtual sit in, and as lives are increasingly played out in an online setting, new forms of protest are becoming a new way to gather masses. Where new forms of media arise, there is potential for exploitation, but there is also potential to use this media for the betterment of society. Although loss can be incurred when groups of people attack institutions it is also important to notice that this can happen with any form of protest. The general strike in Oakland as part of the occupy movement blocked one of our countries main ports and this cost a supposed 8.5 million dollars in business, but it also brought the issues of the protestors to the forefront of media attention.

Some might argue that this is negative attention for the movement but this reminds me of one of the protestors interviewed during the London riots and i thought was really well stated. The young man from Tottenham was interviewed by a NBC representative the reporter ask if the young man thought the rioting actually achieved anything. to which the young man replied “Yes, you wouldn’t be talking to me if we didn’t riot would you? Two months ago we marched to the Scotland Yard, more than 2,000 of us, all blacks, and it was peaceful and calm and you know what? Not a word in the press, Last night a bit of rioting and looting and look around you.”
One look around and you would now find dozens TV crews and newspaper reporters interviewing the young men everywhere.

Power from the Bottom Up

The First Recorded Internet War started in Estonia in 2007 because a bronze statue of a Soviet soldier from World War II was going to be moved to the outskirts of the city. This statue serves as a symbol of the Soviet power and moving this statue would be considered an “insult and a sign of disrespect (Storming the Servers).”

“Individuals are often unwilling to give up things that they possess and they will value such possessions more highly than markets would dictate.” The idea of blogging on the internet is more convenient for individuals since the posts are anonymous; this helps people express their true feelings. It is aso socially valid: people are more likely to say their ideas when they have support. “Memes with an emotional component are likely to be more contagious.”

In the end, the statue remained in the same place, but because so many people were involved in this attack to the infrastructure of Estonia’s internet, countless losses took place. So it not only was about the statue, it was also about fighting for speech and its freedom, something that in the long run is a lot more important. “For those countries and for a host of other authoritarian regimes, Internet freedom is a threat, to be countered by censorship, the imprisonment of bloggers and domestic spying (Washington Post, January 25th, 2010).”

Internet is a powerful tool for communication and we won’t stop hearing about Internet Wars. The Estonia case is the first of many, another interesting example is the 2008 South Ossetia War. And what about the Holy Internet Wars e.g. Project Chanology vs Scientology? Now we can talk about iWar, which ” is distinct from cyber-warfarecyber-terrorism and information warfare (Wikipedia).” It seems we’re mirroring the non-digital world, including the War of Internet Addiction, a parallel to the World on Drugs. We just love the word WAR, don’t we?

Reading Response: Digital Zapatistas, Storming The Servers(Estonia), What Is Like To Participate in Anonymous’ Actions

The cyberspace is space where the individual goes social or an interconnection between human beings through telecommunication and technology, with no relation to the physical geography. The internet has long been the provider for all types of information and also sharing of personal emails and pictures, but the definition of the internet now goes beyond all this and encompasses social networking, private chatting, private information sharing and community and group formations with the anonymity of the user intact. With the current economic scenario all around the world, the Internet is one of the major reasons for coordinating group attacks, movements and protests. In this age of democracy, the people’s opinion can be made to reach its destination via the help of the Internet and it has been greatly helped by the parallel creation on anonymous profiles on the Internet.

Back in 2000, when the Zapatista Air force bombed the Mexican barracks with paper planes with messages on them, the people found a common method of attacking and making their voice felt. It was soon realized that consistent and continuous jamming of sites could draw the attention of the concerned authorities. In the Zapatista online Tribal Port Scan people could mount their attack on any site. The common people had found a way to express their concerns now. This form of attacks are particularly effective, as, if it is launched on a government website, it can practically stall it and also forcefully attract the attention of the authorities and register the protest. It can also be interpreted as a sign of warning. The Electronic Digital Theater, an attack portal and organization, developed tools for ‘International Hacktivism’ by which any protest against the globalization and its problems can be dealt with.

In Estonia, this form of cyber protest was promoted to a full-scale war. In this case the Russians in Estonia jammed official websites by repeatedly transmitting data to a website, disabling vital services and incurred costs for the country. This was a protest for a decision that the government took to move a bronze statue of a Russian soldier, and this has been termed the First Web War. Such attacks on sites have been made possible for many reasons. Firstly, the people participating remain anonymous and can enable users to be far aggressive without the fear of being caught. Secondly, group norms were set in. As the protests became popular, friends joined in, and others who read the blogs and saw others doing it, got involved as well. Thirdly, easy methods of communicating to everyone the process of attack and, contagion, reflective behavior, helps in increasing such things.

Current communicating methods include Internet Relay Channels. These have helped increase the connectivity between people with no identification as such. Thus over the world more and more people can join hands for a cause. There are many benefits from these, ranging from the possible unification of the world for a cause and easier methods to spread them. Also, the people’s voice can actually be relayed through this without actual physical violence and damage to life and property. Recent protests of Occupy Wall Street and the recent London Riots had also used such methods to relay messages and protest. However good it may seem, the flip side of the coin shows huge economic losses to countries, problems of online protests going onto the streets and possibility of pleasure hacking by irresponsible individuals, who cannot be traced by the security agencies.


The First Internet War

At First, reading about this just made me angry. I don’t believe disrupting someone else’s life and creating problems or uncomfortable situations for others is the solution to deal with your own problems and discomforts. It’s not a give as you get solution. Protestors and ‘attackers’ are just creating more problems for the world to deal with. Even if the problems are targeted to the problem creators in the first place!

But, there is something even bigger to think about when reading this article. First wars used to be created by physically hurting and destructing people and their environments. Now with our over dependence on the internet, it is so much easier to get to people and hurt them and destruct their lives! From cannon balls to code, it seems the tools for wars are getting simpler in physical structure and less tangible.

The idea of loss that is brought up in this article is quite interesting to read. According to the article, “Research on loss also indicates that when information is perceived as a loss, individuals are more likely to engage in unethical behavior.” This makes me wonder the same thing. Because of one incident the protestors, used the DDOs attack on Estonia to bring loss to Estonia. So having a loss of your own makes you want to adapt unethical procedures to bring loss in someone else’s life, and the people who bear this new loss will now in turn resolve to other unethical behaviors to bring loss in someone else’s life. This seems like a vicious circle.


HAHA: Taxi

The Taxi is quite a clever idea that is a great combination of public opinion, interaction and mobility.

The Interventionists article started talking about the vast spread of the media culture, capitalist culture and a massive marketing and advertising culture, rather revolution that had begun in 90s.

The Taxi project is a funny counter action toward these same cultures and revolutions. It uses the top of a taxi cab, not to advertise brands or sell a lifestyle but rather as a political and social art mobile.

Collecting statements from people and strategically flashing them on taxi tops, based on geographical locations of the taxi is pretty funny and genius because 1. It is collaborative 2. It provides a platform to voice public opinion anonymously and humorously which is often what the general public needs as they may not have the courage to otherwise do so. 3. It is mobile! It is an art piece/ statement that moves making it viewable and part of a larger audience.

I wonder what filters the statements went through and what the structure of finding these statements were. Some of the examples seem very casual and plain funny. I don’t think, non-impactful statements should be completely avoided because they add a sense of light hearted, humorous feeling which helps in keeping  positive public involvement.

IP Censorship Bill

This is very troubling…already passed in Senate.

“So the E-Parasites (aka the Protect-IP Act) is a censorship bill designed to allow the government to censor websites at the behest of the entertainment industry.”

Visit OpenCongress for more info. The video above was created by Kirby Ferguson, creator of the Everything Is A Remix series.