Pigeons Blogging About Air Pollution, Thanks IOT

The internet of things (IOT) is the next evolutionary stage of the internet, and involves the obliteration of the everyday passiveness of objects, inviting in an age where objects become active subjects. These active objects will have several distinct qualities, such as (Mitew 2014a):

  • Network addresses: so they are identifiable online
  • Sensory capacity: so they can register changes in their current environment
  • The ability to store and process information: so they can independently initiate action (actuate) based on the data stored and processed
  • Being remotely locatable: so they can be locatable in an environment
  • Having a semantic interface: so human interaction is possible with these active objects

These active objects continually collect sensory data and continuously share data online, where it gains value through the process of aggregation (Mitew 2014b).

Such an example might include the ‘Pigeon that Blogs’ (read more here, see it in action here), – project by Beatriz da Costa – a blogject that involves a flock of pigeons, equipped with GPS, GSM communications technology, and pollution sensors, that ‘blog’ about the pollution levels of the air they fly through, which they distribute by making the data available on something like a Google Map (Bleecker 2006, pg. 5).

These pigeons, considered pests by society, gain the status of first class citizenship as they acquire the ability to be sociable, they can now comment in conversations on matters of concern that they were once not privy to (Bleecker 2006, pg. 5, pg. 16).

In the future, active objects in the IOT will begin to add another layer and dimension to meaningful discussions as they contribute information that humans could never hope to put forward without their help in the first place. Like Bleecker, I too would like to know how we can harness the active objects of the IOT to help us in creating a more habitable world.


Bleecker, J 2006, A Manifesto for Networked Objects — Cohabiting with Pigeons, Arphids and Aibos in the Internet of Things, IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, Vol. 32, No. 4, pp 1-16.

Mitew, T 2014a, The Internet of Things: From Networked Objects to Anticipatory Spaces [Part 1], Online Video, YouTube, viewed 21 October 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tFTNJwlpOg&list=PLiPp71qLKusXOU1bKxHVappCbRNN3-J-j&index=42

Mitew, T 2014b, The Internet of Things: From Networked Objects to Anticipatory Spaces [Part 2], Online Video, YouTube, viewed 21 October 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5sa_HHt-Voc&list=PLiPp71qLKusXOU1bKxHVappCbRNN3-J-j&index=43

Image By nottsexminer (Feral Pigeon Uploaded by Fæ) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons – *Note* I have modified this image.

Surveillance and Data Retention

Whenever your computer makes a connection online it makes a copy of the information you are accessing, which can be a negative thing because this connection becomes data that stays online forever (Mitew 2014). This data is stored in an aggregate for the purpose of surveillance, and as our lives become more permeated by the internet, we create even more data that can be extracted and aggregated (Mitew 2014).

This aggregation of data is terrifying to think about because it is stored in centralised and controlled databases. This idea is becoming more pertinent to the Australian public as the new Data Retention Law became active on 13 October 2015, which says your phone and internet communications – only to whom, when, where, and how you communicate will be recorded, the content of your communications are safe, for now – and must be retained for the next two years by service providers.

In an article by Max Chalmers, embedded tweets from Edward Snowden tell us that “surveillance is not about safety, it’s about power. It’s about control.” This may well be true, as an article by Robin Doherty lists a series of agencies that will be able to access our data without seeking warrants. Although not listed, should we be worried about the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), a member of the ‘Five Eyes,’ being later included?

Doherty’s article also provides some useful links to technology that will allow the public to protect their phone and internet communications. Some examples include: TextSecure, RedPhone, and IPVanish.


Mitew, T 2014, Dark Fiber: Hackers, Botnets, Cyberwar [Part 1], Online Video, YouTube, viewed 14 October 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNRjkVVYOzE&list=PLiPp71qLKusXOU1bKxHVappCbRNN3-J-j&index=39

SamsungTomorrow 2014, Samsung Introduces the Galaxy K zoom, a New Camera Specialized-Smartphone, Image, Flickr, viewed and modified 14 October 2015, https://goo.gl/3UDq4z

The Erosion of Hacking Ethics

Mitew (2014) said that hacking culture began in the 80’s with the appearance of the personal computer. During this period, it was the expansion of computer technology, the declining prices of personal computers, and the appearance of modems that allowed this, which excited computer hobbyists because they could now connect with other computers and each other (Thomas 2005, pp. 602-603).

The ethics surrounding hacking at this time are well described by Julian Assange in an article by Raffi Khatchadourian (2010), Assange said, “Don’t damage computer systems you break into (including crashing them); don’t change the information in those systems (except for altering logs to cover your tracks); and share information.” Thomas (2005) also looks at the early ethics of hacking in its ‘Golden Age’ in deference to Levy, whom says that these ethics have declined since their formation (pg. 605).

Though hacking was built upon noble morals, the actions behind hacker’s motives were viewed as unethical, which led to demonization by the media with the help of incidents like: the accidental release of the first internet worm that froze around 6000 computers; and the Legion of Doom incident where a company employee for Steve Jackson Games was thought to have engaged in hacking from his home personal computer, and because of the nature of the company – a science fiction and fantasy games publisher – the US Secret Service surmised that the company was engaged in hacking too, and thus, raided the company and confiscated equipment, files, game manuals, and other resources (Thomas 2005, pg. 611).

Hackers are now embroiled in the dark side of the web and engage in activities that can be deemed criminal activity. Although, as we have seen, there are some examples of current day hackers that follow the ways of the old, such as Julian Assange.


Khatchadourian, R 2010, No Secrets, New Yorker, 7 June, viewed 7 October 2015, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/06/07/no-secrets

Mitew, T 2014, Digital Resistance: Hacktivists, Whistleblowers, #AfterSnowden [Part 1], Online Video, YouTube, viewed 7 October 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaWxbF3uvik&index=36&list=PLiPp71qLKusXOU1bKxHVappCbRNN3-J-j

Thomas, J 2005, The Moral Ambiguity of Social Control in Cyberspace: a Retro-Assessment of the ‘Golden Age’ of Hacking, New Media & Society, Vol. 7, No. 5, pp. 599-624. http://nms.sagepub.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/content/7/5/599

Image by Almonroth (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ATyping_computer_screen_reflection.jpg

I have modified the image.

Moldova Protests

Connectivity plays an important role in social media activism as it allows the masses to reach out to one another. Social media, a modern communication tool, allows connectivity amongst likeminded people and grants the ability to mobilise, coordinate, and disseminate in a fast manner.

In the past, connectivity was aided by local influence such as in the case of the Arab Spring with Asmaa Mahfouz’s video, calling all to take action. Similarly, it was two youth movements, Hyde Park and ThinkMoldova, who organised the 2009 “I am not a Communist” protest through networks such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs, SMSs, and emails.

The result ended up with a large group of people, disputed to be between a few hundred and 15,000, turning up to protest in Chisinau’s central square, Piața Marii Adunări Naționale. Unexpectedly, the protest turned violent with people throwing stones at the parliament building which was also set on fire.

Current political protests in Moldova involve 6 years of political dissatisfaction coming to ahead with the loss of a 7th of the country’s GDP, bringing up to 100,000 people to the streets in outrage. Twitter is being used in this protest with the people converging at Piața Marii Adunări Naționale with #pman being brought back into use from the 2009 protests.


Barry, E 2009, ‘Protests in Moldova Explode, With Help of Twitter,’ New York Times, 7 April, viewed 27 September 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/08/world/europe/08moldova.html?_r=0

Brett, D, Knott, E, Popșoi, M 2015, The ‘Billion Dollar Protests’ in Moldova are Threatening the Survival of the Country’s Political Elite, LSE, viewed 27 September 2015, http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2015/09/21/the-billion-dollar-protests-in-moldova-are-threatening-the-survival-of-the-countrys-political-elite/

Mitew, T 2014a, The Social Network Revolutions: #mena #arabspring #maidan [part 1], Online Video, YouTube, viewed 27 September 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vt3gzJ9tB7w&list=PLiPp71qLKusXOU1bKxHVappCbRNN3-J-j&index=31

Mitew, T 2014b, The Social Network Revolutions: #mena #arabspring #maidan [part 2], Online Video, YouTube, viewed 27 September 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwT-eFj8qgA&list=PLiPp71qLKusXOU1bKxHVappCbRNN3-J-j&index=32

Mitew, T 2014c, The Social Network Revolutions: #mena #arabspring #maidan [part 3], Online Video, YouTube, viewed 27 September 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZH-OLNN2IY&list=PLiPp71qLKusXOU1bKxHVappCbRNN3-J-j&index=33

Mitew, T 2014d, The Social Network Revolutions: #mena #arabspring #maidan [part 4], Online Video, YouTube, viewed 27 September 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8825RLzypM&index=34&list=PLiPp71qLKusXOU1bKxHVappCbRNN3-J-j

Mitew, T 2014e, The Social Network Revolutions: #mena #arabspring #maidan [part 5], Online Video, YouTube, viewed 27 September 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FbzHUhT6QQ&index=35&list=PLiPp71qLKusXOU1bKxHVappCbRNN3-J-j

Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chisinau_riot_2009-04-07_17.jpg

Are you gonna curate that?

With the advent of the internet and the explosion of content, legacy media models have begun to flounder in the new information age. Where news used to be in the hands of the gatekeeper, it is now in the hands of the masses, the prosumers, also known as gatewatchers. What becomes valuable in this period is the endless cycle of massified information production, aggregation, and curation.

This cycle is characterised by Bruns when he talks about gatewatching, which he says is “conducted on a far more ad hoc, decentralised and crowdsourced basis than has been possible for gatekeeper journalism.” Like the permanent beta, this cycle is continuous and unfinished. This cycle lends itself to what Bruns describes as ‘deliberative journalism,’ where conversation is the vehicle for production, aggregation, and curation.

Take Twitter, for example, where meaningless individual tweets join together to create the resonant effect of a story unfolding as they are aggregated with hashtags and curated by comment and analysis. Johnson sums up this unfolding of a story by describing it as “a suspension bridge made of pebbles.” In a world where information is abundant, coherence is key. We gain this coherence through the valuable, and often scarce, services of aggregation and curation, which gives information value, because it suddenly transforms from being confusing to clear.

Bruns, A 2009, News Blogs and Citizen Journalism: New Directions For e-journalism, EJournalism: New Directions in Electronic News Media, New Delhi, BR Publishing, pp. 01-20.

Johnson, S 2009, How Twitter Will Change The Way We Live, TIME, viewed 19 September 2015, http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,1902604,00.html

Mitew, T 2014, Bridges Made of Pebbles: Social Media and the Rise of Gatewatchers [part 1], online video, YouTube, viewed 19 September 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1wlVOQA8y8&index=28&list=PLiPp71qLKusXOU1bKxHVappCbRNN3-J-j

Mitew, T 2014, Bridges Made of Pebbles: Social Media and the Rise of Gatewatchers [part 2], online video, YouTube, viewed 19 September 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YugX5gZxNRc&list=PLiPp71qLKusXOU1bKxHVappCbRNN3-J-j&index=29

Mitew, T 2014, Bridges Made of Pebbles: Social Media and the Rise of Gatewatchers [part 3], online video, YouTube, viewed 19 September 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kgsf8cVKWo8&list=PLiPp71qLKusXOU1bKxHVappCbRNN3-J-j&index=30

Israelson, N 2009, Bulgaria Pollution River, image, Flickr, viewed 19 September 2015, https://www.flickr.com/photos/tedxgp2/5143061821

Note: I have modified Israelson’s image.

Should we join the clergy? Or run free in the market?

Software development for Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android software’s can be compared to two models discussed by Eric Raymond, the cathedral and the bazaar.

Apple’s iOS software is comparable to the cathedral model, because of Apple’s policy of only allowing Apple staff to work on Apple products. Raymond (2001) summarises the cathedral model when he says “software… needed to be built like cathedrals, carefully crafted by individual wizards or small bands of mages working in splendid isolation, with no beta to be released before its time (pg. 2).” This summary is very true of Apple’s development strategy as they adhere to this characteristic of the cathedral model, only releasing the iOS update when all identifiable bugs have been resolved, even if this means releasing once a year.

Google’s Android software on the other hand is a perfect example of Raymond’s (2001) bazaar as it is developed in open communities where releasing software early and often – whether it be newer versions of Android operating systems, updates, or apps – is balanced out by the idea that “given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow (pg. 9).” Android operating systems or apps being developed in the bazaar have the luxury of releasing early and often because there are many people working on them. These projects can have hundreds of people developing them, and the advantage gained by having this number of people working on a project is that bugs and problems are quickly identified and resolved, allowing for quick updates and patches (Raymond 2001, pg. 9).

The cathedral and the bazaar are both models for developing software that work effectively, with parts of each that users both like and dislike. In terms of the operating systems themselves, Apple’s iOS offers security because it’s software has been developed in the isolation of the cathedral to it’s thought to be ultimate form. In the other camp, Google’s Android offers a customisable platform where users have the freedom to choose and replace software that has been created and co-developed from the bazaar, where products are stuck in permanent beta, always improving.

At the end of the day, there is a choice to be made, a choice between comfort and freedom. Would you rather have the comfort of a device that supports closed software? Or the freedom of choice afforded by a device that is open to any software?


Mitew, T 2014, iOS vs Android: The Two Futures of the Mobile Net [part 1], Online Video, YouTube, viewed 13 September 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93_KfPDwpu4&index=24&list=PLiPp71qLKusXOU1bKxHVappCbRNN3-J-j

Mitew, T 2014, iOS vs Android: The Two Futures of the Mobile Net [part 2], Online Video, YouTube, viewed 13 September 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBQDsZG8nVk&list=PLiPp71qLKusXOU1bKxHVappCbRNN3-J-j&index=25

Mitew, T 2014, iOS vs Android: The Two Futures of the Mobile Net [part 3], Online Video, YouTube, viewed 13 September 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNvC-AEAxdY&index=26&list=PLiPp71qLKusXOU1bKxHVappCbRNN3-J-j

Mitew, T 2014, iOS vs Android: The Two Futures of the Mobile Net [part 4], Online Video, YouTube, viewed 13 September 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gtNXm_gDOY&list=PLiPp71qLKusXOU1bKxHVappCbRNN3-J-j&index=27

Raymond, E.S. 2001, The Cathedral and the Bazaar, The Cathedral and the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary, pp. 01-40.