Information Structure

The theme I gathered from the bibliography of “Homeland” by Cory Doctorow is that the internet can be a huge source of power. For example, it mentions how “If you’re looking to use an operating system that lets you control your whole computer, down to the bare metal, then you want GNU/Linux.” It goes on to give other tips such as how to program and how to jailbreak your phone. In Homeland, it also showcases how knowledge is power. In the story the main character is given a USB drive that holds secret files about the government. I think this is interesting because if something were to happen to Ang or Zeb, the files would be exposed. So in way they could potentially take down the government.

Another theme I noticed from “Homeland,” was that information can be manipulated. For example, even though the characters would burn written information in various spaces, most people didn’t know that digital copies of the same information were obtained on USB drives. In the story “Digital Methods for Web Research,” It talks about Wikipedia and how information can be altered. It also mentions “Each article has a series of digital objects such as anonymous edits with the IP address of those editors, whose location can be looked up.” This not only connects to manipulation, but power as well. I think this is interesting because anyone can find the IP address of where someone made edits and harm them if they wanted.

This reminds me of a course I took in DTC 475 (Digital Diversity). We read an article called “Matrix Multiplication and The Digital Divide” by Oscar H. and Gandy Jr. They talk about the importance of protecting yourself from data miners since they take information from the user’s cookies. They use this information to manipulate and take advantage of their consumers and even categorize them based on the products they buy and eventually exploit them.

Another thing to note, is that data can be manipulated not only by people but it can be filtered by programs and algorithms. We build filters to try to determine what is relevant to us, but these filters can go too far and hide data that may be useful. They are created with good intentions, but a machine has no intentions beyond the instructions it receives. According to Weinenberg, data can be more easily cultivated from a crowd than from a single source. To manipulate data, one needs only to manipulate the mob mentality of a crowd. This can be done with social media, traditional media, or by spreading rumors that catch like wildfire. No source is incorruptible, even the average response from a large sample size can be tainted by bias

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