The Internet of Things: The Quantified Self

Quantified_self_logo“It began with a small group of digital obsessives recording their heartbeat. Today the ‘quantified self’ movement is a gadget-filled fitness craze.” – (Sunday Telegraph Magazine, 2013)

The quantified self goes beyond simply weighing oneself everyday, it goes to subjecting oneself to quantitative habits, its the incorporation of technology to gaining data such as oxygen, heartbeat, how much sleep one’s gotten, how many paces one’s walked and states of mood just to name a few.

So why would people do this? Why would people force themselves to be measured every moment of every day? The main objective here as told by Gary Wolf is that of self knowledge…of getting to know ourselves better.


One of the main aspects that is particularly interesting is how this digital-driven movement has moved towards becoming more fitness and wellbeing based. If you’re wearing a fitbit and tracking your heartrate and pace counter every day you’re participating in this movement.

Achieving self-knowledge, like Gary Wolf said, an important step towards self improvement, and many people gather in communities to share their data between each other, usually fitness-wise, where individuals all act as separate nodes in the community, each with the same equal goal.

It’s interesting as these huge amounts of data, are now generated daily by individuals, which could never happen before. This sort of big data can be extracted by huge companies and corporations to understand complex aspects of a place’s population, such as roughly on average the amount of exercise undertook daily.


Dark Fiber: Flame (The Malware)

Flame-Infection-Map_Kaspersky-660x429This is a map back in 2012 showing the amount of Flame infections discovered on customer machines.

So what is flame? It’s a massive, highly sophisticated piece of malware that was infecting targeting systems in Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Sudan for at least two years.
So the malware was initially discovered by Kaspersky, who stated that it dwarfs Stuxnet in size, and it was believed it was wrecking havoc on Iran’s nuclear programs in 2009 and 2010. What’s interesting is this virus was recognized as part of an espionage toolkit, but there was no way to identify these sinister forces as its difficult to find exactly where keyloggers, worms, malware and other viruses originate.

It was found that it was originally utilized to spy on users of infected computers and steal data from them, be it keystrokes, recorded conversations and important government documents.

It’s such a complex piece of malware that Gostev, chief security expert of the time at Kaspersky stated it could take almost 10 years to understand it in its entirety.

However, what was interesting was the spreading mechanisms that are typical with Malware such as Stuxnet were switched off, possibly to avoid accelerated detection by the creator or attackers.

The malware also has no kill date, however the operators can spread a kill module that will eliminate all aspects of the virus, picking up all breadcrumbs left behind.

Anonymous & Hacktivists

anonymous-hacker“The word ‘hacker’ originally meant somebody who enjoyed exploring, playing with, or learning about computers. Like ‘phone phreak,’ it later shifted to have a negative connotation: somebody who breaks into or abuses computers.”

Hacktivism essential encapsulates online activism. Anonymous is probably biggest hacktivist collective, who are mainly known for their self-branding and their anti-authoritarian sense of online comeuppance.

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Mohamed Bouazizi, Social Network Revolutions & Citizen Journalism

Trottier-Latuff“…and on Jan 14, just 10 days after Bouazizi died, Ben Ali’s 23-year old rule of Tunisia was over.”

So just a little background, Ben Ali was the dictator of of Tunisia since 1987, on November 2010, Wikileaks released cables on Tunisia confirming extensive government corruption under Ben Ali’s rule. It included how the dictator’s house was very modern, his ruling family would feed his guests with vast amounts of food despite the country suffering massive financial pressure with many living in poverty.

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Apple and Android, Walled Garden vs Open Source

W9EzaJB“I think Android hurts them more than it helps them. It’s just going to divide them and people who want to be their partners.” – Steve Jobs, 2008

So Android’s device philosophy is all about it’s technology being open source. This means that you can root your phone since they give out the open source code, you can browse Android’s many unofficial app markets if Google Play isn’t your thing, there’s zero control over the platform, content and userbase.

This can be compared to Apple’s own ideal situation of complete control and closed devices. Apple wants all software and hardware to be absolutely exclusive to them, this is because unlike Android they do not want their users tinkering with their software and finding vulnerabilities, ruining the experience for everyone.
Apple repairs and parts for mobile phones and their desktop computers can only be purchased and repaired by licensed resellers or official stores.
This control spills over to the specific app store itself, all apps are undergone through this walled garden approach, it has to undergo an approval process controlled by Apple.

This is pretty much complete control, but this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a horrible idea.
This means that users can ensure reliability of their product alongside ease of access, if a user isn’t particularly interested in open source coding, tinkering and making their phone unique (which is the majority of the general public) then Apple hardware is absolutely the way to go.
Why go through all the troubleshooting of other open source products when you can just buy an Apple product and know for a fact that it’ll work fine?

What is Hidden: The Hardships of Long Distance Commuting

David Xu, 18 is currently studying the first year of his Commerce & Law degree at the University of Sydney, despite living in Wollongong. He spends 12 hours commuting to and from Redfern each week, with each trip lasting roughly two hours.
The second person in this multimedia piece is Alex Chung, my father, who spent four days traveling from his part-time job at Sydney Airport Mcdonalds to Kingsford during his high school years.

The aim of this narrative was to explore the lives of students such as David, who travel incredibly long distances in the pursuit of education.
What is hidden in this piece are the silent hardships of students that we may never find out about.

For David, waking up at 6 AM in the morning, fighting with other passengers during peak times for spare seats, and coming back late at night is a way of life. While other local students at universities in Sydney have the privilege of short commute times, if not walking distance then a short bus ride away, David cannot take such time for granted.

Each hour of every day in every year adds up, and the time wasted commuting will continue to accumulate over his five year degree. And with the South Coast Line only arriving once every hour, issues such as missing a train or unexpected trackwork could easily lead to missed attendance and possibly further repercussions.

To encapsulate the idea of wasted time, I traveled up to Sydney three times in a week with David. I took photographs of Central, Redfern and Town Hall stations alongside local stations such as Wollongong and Dapto.

Coming from the Illawarra to the bustling metropolis of Sydney, it was a feeling I can only describe as being on borrowed time.
Each trip was traversing stairs and escalators, swiping Opal cards through ticket barriers and racing towards train stations, not daring to suffer another hour’s wait.
Being forced to take a 9 PM train back to Wollongong, arriving at 11 PM to a pitch-black station was in the back of both our minds.

So why would David waste so much time commuting to and from Sydney each week?
A single child from a small family, living in a tiny apartment complex it was not a choice he could make. While he can live comfortably in Wollongong, affording weekly rent of two hundred and upwards in Sydney for world-class education right now is next to impossible.

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