Legal Ease

Breaking down legal barriers

The major thrust of my storify for this week is how much there is to learn on a daily basis in this internet age; the interoperability between what we are learning and the daily news. As I work to produce a video, an application and webpage, I am struck by how much I have to learn and the legal requirements that I am supposed to agree to when I download and use the ‘free’ programs or try to post my creations to the web. The fact that the chapter from my text book Interop this week deals with Legal Interop also forced me to connect with what I was trying to accomplish in the course assignments. Let me break this down a bit.

As I was creating my video, and as I tried to post it publicly on the internet I began to recognize the potential of posting it on YouTube. I wondered if all my images from Creative Commons were in fact public domain. That lead me to have concern for the music I chose to use as background because I pulled it from my personal music library. I wanted to acknowledge the artists but not having received permission to use it, I know that I have no right to use it.  And for the sake of this assignment and all that I have learned in this fabulous course “Digital Skills and Innovation for the Global Economy” at Ryerson University, there is always the potential that what is posted to the internet can go far beyond our intended audience of instructor and classmates. So, needless to say, I pulled the song out and used one that was licensed as free to use found on Creative Commons, thanks Creative Commons!! A very clear YouTube video on what Creative Commons is all about.

And, licensing can be so confusing, but this YouTube video explains it pretty well:

The currency of the European Union examples and the Cyprus news this week as yet another example that by creating any sort of economic union with its legal implications, the whole will consistently be only as strong as its weakest link and the dangers of allowing the weaknesses of one nation to have an impact on the economic well-being of its partners and the global economy. Here is a video on YouTube entitled Could tiny Cyprus take down the world? It provides a very good understanding of the state of Cyprus.

And, the currency of cyber terrorism described on page 188 with the situation that South Korea faced in this past week at the hands of what many observers suspect was the work of North Korea.

One can choose to feel overwhelmed by the learning that is required by anyone whose goal it is to fully participate in the internet age and for that matter keep up with this course content and all its recommended readings, and applications. And, yes it is all very exciting, stimulating and valuable. This course moves as fast as the information it serves to provide us as it changes and develops over the internet.

How are we as student learners assured that what we do for this course online through our learning processes does not come back to haunt us in the future?


Compliance: Institutional and Human Interoperability

The key message this week from Interop by Palfrey and Gasser was the challenge presented is the issue of compliance by all institutions in Ontario to accommodate the needs of disabled and vulnerable members of society. The United Nations states “Internet Access is a Human Right.” The following article and embedded video provide more insight.

When you get right down to it the planning and training necessary to be able to provide accommodations to information, internet and websites in Ontario have nothing to do with technologies and data. They have everything to do with human and institutional interoperability. The next YouTube video explains to a larger degree.

As I reviewed the Accessibility Wizard, I realized that it emphasized that not all institutions were the same but rather that the goal was for all institutions and humans who work in those institutions to work together to accomplish shared goals. In this case, to make accommodations in whatever way individuals require to access information, maintain their safety and acquire employment. Take the Accessibility Wizard to see how your organization can be more accessible.

The question becomes what can the Ontario government do to increase institutional and human interoperability in an accessibility program that aims to bring so many diverse institutions into a common goal?


Thinking with design in mind – is not a novel concept

Complexity is certainly the theme that ran through all that I learned in this week’s module. It began with design thinking that requires the designer to consider all those who might use the device, website or commodity that is being created. Considering the various needs, expectations and potential platforms people can access there are an extraordinary number of possibilities that must be considered as we know. From here, the step into context-aware computing and ubiquitous computing added new levels of complexity with the number of different devices that are available for use.
The You Tube video that follows explains the potentials of ubiquitous computing.

Here is a wonderful example of ubiquitous computing. The world as we might think it should be:

Everything introduced in this seventh week of learning presented mind numbing potential and possibilities while at the same time reinforcing the increasing complexity of the age in which we live. It appears to me that with each new potential and possibility that seems useful, there is an equal if not greater potential and possibility for disaster. The case of the global financial meltdown and the extent that within the global village, a mismanaged economy in Greece or an erupting volcano in Iceland can have dire global impact highlights the complexity in which we live. Since by nature, governments tend to be short sighted, business leaders tend to be self-serving and both of these groups aim to use system designers and engineers for their advantage. It is hard to understand what needs to happen in order for the mechanisms to engage to allow us to work proactively with the negative effects of a highly interconnected world. (Interop, pg. 153)

The question becomes:
What can citizens of the global community look for in a proactive way to ensure that governments and business leaders are implementing mechanisms that will enable us all to deal with the negative effects of a highly interconnected world?

Interoperability in Consumer Empowerment

Or the road to disaster.

This is my third week in the Ryerson Communications program in Digital Skills and Innovation for a Global Economy and I have learned so much. So much that through my excitement I felt compelled to share the pivotal points to you by tweeting the YouTube videos and other views that I felt you would benefit from. There is so much out there as you already know, but to a novice that I feel I am, I have been enjoying this learning and hope you enjoy my adventure. The following YouTube video has the authors of my text Messrs Urs Gasser and John Palfrey on Interop: The Promise and Perils of Highly Interconnected Systems speaking on this subject.

In this week, while I have learned that consumers, companies, and governments should work together for higher levels of interoperability, I learned that what is good for consumers is not necessarily in the best profit interests of companies. This was made clear in the case of chargers for all of our electronic devices. I certainly have a drawer of them and often frustrated in not being able to find the one I need. The fact that the European Union as a result of pressure from consumers and environmentalists finally had the top ten cell phone chargers interoperable by “introducing a shared micro-USB standard” was very encouraging. This “legislation by threat” example pointed out the power of humans if an institution such as the government steps in to apply pressure on companies for greater interoperability. (Palfrey and Gasser, Pg 58-59). This next article explains in more detail the advance technology and why some companies are not so quick to be interoperable.

Without this pressure it seems that achieving horizontal interoperability where all the big companies make their various gadgets or in the case of China, instant messaging tools compatible, is a long term struggle. Companies such as Apple would be inclined to work toward vertical interoperability instead where all the consumers texting, viewing and listening desires are interoperable within the range of “I” products but not beyond. Even here, I learned that strides are being made to expand rather than contract the degree of interoperability (even if in some cases a premium has to be paid) as a result of consumer demands.

Finally as I explored the various instant messaging tools this week, it was interesting to read the case of the Tencent and Qihoo in the “Chinese Internet wars” in my text Interop, pg 67 cited how “consumer demand has played a role in driving interoperability horizontally across platforms.” It was interesting as well that it was computer programmers or the technology layer who were primarily responsible for the successes in this area. There is no doubt that interoperability empowers us in our role as active users of digital technology.

The YouTube video that follows shares more detail about these two internet giants in China.

”Most important from a society perspective, interoperability empowers us in our role as active users of digital technology. The powerful role that interoperability plays in this respect becomes clear when we look at the ways in which millions of computer and smartphone users now can create and share digital content.” (pg 72)

This YouTube video is an example of working together to make improvements to technology that is affordable for all.

The big question is, to what extent in the shrinking number of major players in the global economy, will demands for interoperability make the biggest players more competitive and therefore responsive to consumer demand? And, to what extent might we be setting the stage where one or a few giant companies control the thoughts and communications of all consumers?


The Promise and Perils of Highly Interconnected Systems
by John Palfrey and Urs Gasser

I began a new course last week at The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson University. Although it is not towards my degree program in Public Relations, upon seeing it advertised I instantly thought I would be very interested in it. This course is callled Digital Skills and Innovation for the Global Economy. The link that follows is the information that gained my attention.

The course textbook is called Interop, written by John Palfrey and Urs Gasser they are “both law professors and researchers, interested in the way the ongoing explosion of information technologies affect societies around the world.” (Pg. 4) Interop stands for “interoperability” which is the exchange of information between the four layers being technology, data, human and institutional. “The main purpose of the theory of interoperability is to help define the optimal level of interconnectedness and to lay out a path for achieving it.” (Pg 3) I walked into my local Chapters and purchased the last text book on the shelf the weekend before the course started, it was confirmed in my mind that this is the course for me at this time. This is the text I am reading through-out the next twelve weeks. This blog will serve as my platform share what I am learning from week to week until the end of this course on April 13th. After that, we shall see where this leads.

I found that the Introduction and first chapter of Interop helped me understand the digital age in which we live and heighten my awareness of the potential benefits and pitfalls to social media. I was first struck by the layers of interoperability (page 6) and particularly the human and institutional layers which helped me understand that my difficulty in understanding their potential was the extent that they were the most abstract. If indeed greater connectivity and interoperability can help humans and institutions more collaborative (page 7) while maintaining unique characters the sky seems to be the limit. This is best summarized on page 11 where Palfrey and Gasser say “One of the primary benefits of interoperability is that it can preserve key elements of diversity while ensuring that systems work together in the ways that matter most.” The following YouTube Video helps to support my point:

The major thing that struck me in the chapter on the Technology and Data Layers was the extent that humans increasingly expect that the various systems and platforms in which they work and play and socialize are easily transferable; the challenge in an age where technology is advancing so quickly.
I like this YouTube video in that it is AODA compliant and recaps the major developments in technology within the last 10 years.

The concept of geolocation (page 29 in Interop) also resonated with me to the extent that producers and services that we have an interest in can keep track of us and provide us with benefits such as giving us coupons and by allowing us to read the menu as we walk by the restaurant but also can at the same time invade our privacy. It was at this point that I connected the text with the YouTube video that identified the extent that peoples likes on social media can be translated into advertising that makes them $millions$ and users marketing fodder.

Will the pictures we take today on one platform be available to us when we want to show these pictures to our grandchildren even 10 years from now?