Disrecognized Space

agressi sunt mare tenebrarum, quid in eo esset exploraturi


The Internet – Internet Communications Assigment 2: Info-communication analysis

The Blind Men and the Elephant: Metaphors and the Internet
How can our ‘Net skills and knowledge be enhanced by a conceptual understanding of the Internet?The internet consists of a physical infrastructure: there are various servers, clients (such as desktop computers or mobile devices), and connections (such as cables or wireless connections). There is also the logical construction of the internet: how the various protocols interact, how traffic is routed efficiently, and how various nodes on the network are accessed. Knowing this does not, however, help us to understand or use the internet in its sociological sense – how people actually use it, and how that use affects people. This is like the difference between knowing how a car works in an engineering sense, and the uses of cars. An intimate knowledge of the internal combustion engine will not help one to understand the way cars have influenced town planning, injury rates, or more indefinable aspects (freedom, sex, power, for example) which are the metaphors so beloved of advertising agencies. Equally, metaphors and the conceptual understanding they provide (when used judiciously) can help us to better understand the internet.

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The Internet – Internet Communications Module 5

While this module doesn’t have any practical tasks, it does require consideration of some concepts prior to writing the final essay:

  • Information ecologies: the internet is still a relatively new, but rapidly expanding, medium and one way of considering its impact and development is as an ecological environment. I’m not sure that the analogy holds completely (the internet, to a large extent, is planned and regulated, whereas a true ecology develops only through outside pressures to survive and reproduce) but it does see the internet as a thriving, growing, changing structure.
  • Case study: peer to peer: while the media frenzy about P2P networks has died down (though organisations such as the RIAA and movie studios are still as incensed), there are always new topics for the “debate” (just as there have always been with new technologies). Currently, social networking is fashionable. But is it a force for good, or the potential cause of fascist control of society? Probably, neither, just as P2P continues, both for legal and illegal purposes.
  • Preparing for ‘future shock’: knowledge of the nature of the internet, its history, and the plans for its future can help navigating that future, though there will always be unexpected developments (and, perhaps, the whole point of preparing for ‘future shock’ is to expect and embrace those unexpected developments).


The Internet – Internet Communications Annotated Bibliography

Module 1

Dodge, M (2004). An Atlas of Cyberspaces. Retrieved 3 Dec 2007 from http://www.cybergeography.org/atlas/

Martin Dodge, a geography lecturer, presents different ways of mapping the internet, providing fundamentally diverse methods of conceptualising and representing the internet, such as geographical, network connections, and how these have changed (the site is no longer updated, but gives data from 1997 to 2004). It is enlightening to see the internet represented by, for example, the size of data flows, or the projected state of the internet in 2015 shown as a cartogram (where the country is distorted in size based on the number of expected users in that country). In the latter case, the two largest internet using countries by far are India and Russia. Australia, by contrast, is tiny.

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The Internet – Internet Communications Module 4

Tools for using the web

I already have a number of the tools listed (or choose to browse with them disabled – such as the Flash plugin due to its ongoing vulnerabilities and impact on page download times), so decided to try some of the listed tools, and some alternatives I located, which I have not used previously.

The tools I assessed, along with comments, are:

Copernic Agent Basic (search manager)
Full functionality is not available in the free Basic edition (nor is the ability to turn off advertising). The install also requires electronic registration and, unless custom install is chosen, will take over Internet Explorer’s homepage and search functions, which may not be what is desired and can be seen as bad behaviour in software. When I first ran this program it updated its list of search engines. The screenshot below shows a search for “Net11”.

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The Internet – Internet Communications Module 2

Email tasks

1. What information about a user’s email, the origin of a message, and the path it took, can you glean from an email message?

A lot of information is contained within email headers, most of which is not usually of interest to the sender or recipient but which does identify the individual message, how it should be interpreted by the mail reader, and the path it took to get from one machine to the other. Viewing the properties of various emails I have received, the following information can be ascertained:

  • Sender’s email address: this includes information about the domain the email was sent from, which may also further locate the sender to a specific company or institution.

 

  • The list of servers the email passed through: the path the message took from server to server should be recorded by each server.

 

 

  • Content type: the email reader needs to know how the message was encoded and how to interpret the email on arrival

 

 

  • Referencing information: where the email, for example, is sent as “Reply to” the original message is referenced.

 

 

  • Email program: the program used to generate the email can be identified (which can also often identify the operating system being used).

 

 

  • Miscellaneous: various other pieces of information can be appended at various stages. Commonly, these indicate various virus filters the message has passed.

 

It should be noted, however, that some information in emails can be faked (Shinder: Understanding E-mail Spoofing, retrieved 5 December 2007) and that groups such as spammers and phishers will use various methods to obfuscate their trails.

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The Internet – Internet Communications Module 1

Preliminary Matters

My initial issues with using the WebCT and OASIS systems involved my choice of browser. I use Opera which I find highly configurable and fast (I am on dialup), but this is not a supported browser for the Curtin sites.

Internet Explorer 6 (the recommended browser) is, by contrast, much slower, does not have tabs and frequently crashes when trying to save complex frame-based pages (such as those used by WebCT and OASIS).

Nonetheless, it appears both systems work perfectly with Opera, and I have been using this browser without any problems (apart from the constant popup warnings about my choice of browser).

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