One Microsoft Way: the World of Proprietary Software

What could the software licensing landscape look like in 2015? Write a short (blogged) predictive analysis.

This task is confusing a bit for me as all we know the world is going to end in 2012. 😀 Actually, I think everything could happen: the software licensing could become much stronger and oblige us to pay for everything or it could become completely free and accept any useful changes from users.

Even though it seems that the world is going more towards the second version – as windows is imitating free functions but there is too much power coped in one’s hands. A good example would be youtube and prohibition of almost all the original music clips – a thing that one had problems with imagining before… Another example from recent days the prohibition of some pages that were not even proved as violating the copy rights (just were on the suspect list) by ICE. And what’s surprising – the pages were not banned only in the US but all over the world without any notification to the owners…

When we try to enter to the http://torrent-finder.com/ this is what we get:

But also from the other point of view we may see how powerful can be the mass (recent events with WikiLeaks). I hope that in 2015 there will be a big difference and the monopoly won’t be in the power any more. With the situation that we have now the digital divide is just becoming deeper and deeper as only the rich ones are able to  have access to every day simpler things (it’s not only about the professional software) and the normal people have to rely on illegal copies. Most of the students do as they don’t have other choice… And, the students that are not connected to any IT fields do not even know about the existence of OpenOffice, for example…

Task 10

Description of the courses according to the activity theory:

  1. PLENK2010
  2. New interactive environments

Subject

  1. to clarify and substantiate the concepts of personal learning environments and networks.
  2. (re-)design of new interactive environments for collaborative work and study. Particular attention is paid to the analysis, representation, and (re-)instrumentalisation of human activities and activity systems with networked tools and services.

Object

  1. the learning in the course results from the activities students undertake, and will be different for each person.
  2. Participants acquire conceptual knowledge and procedural skills on how to analyse, represent, and (re-)instrumentalise human activities and activity systems with networked tools and services.

Mediating artefacts

  1. Tools available in PLE used for complementing the tasks but also for intercourse communication: wiki, blogs, twitter, skype discussions, facebook page, daily newsletters, Sunday readings and resources, forum, Elluminate sessions twice a week. It has to mentioned that the activities are freely chosen and course members may remain their anonymity. I suppose the facilitators follow the following rule that was quoted in the course forum:

“I did not give birth to any of these students and I am, therefore, not responsible for their ability or inability to learn anything.”

Also I would agree with one course participant’s (George Siemens) opinion that  It’s not about tools. It’s about change.

It’s the change underlying these tools that I’m trying to emphasize. Forget blogs…think open dialogue. Forget wikis…think collaboration. Forget podcasts…think democracy of voice. Forget RSS/aggregation…think personal networks. Forget any of the tools…and think instead of the fundamental restructuring of how knowledge is created, disseminated, shared, and validated.

2. Tools: blogs, video-conferences, wikiversity, readings, time scheduling, twitter.

Rules

  1. The four basic rules for the course participants:
  • Aggregate – choose the information that is interesting for them
  • Remix – keep the information in your online place
  • Repurpose – interpret the information and create something by yourself using the tools that have been presented to you
  • Feed forward – share your work and be interested in the work of your colleagues

2. Rules are more strict as the students are being evaluated and have to follow the deadlines. Nevertheless, the same rules as before might be applied to the course activities.

    Community

    1. This course is a joint venture between the National Research Council of Canada (Institute for Information Technology, Learning and collaborative Technologies Group, PLE Project), The Technology Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute at Athabasca University and the University of Prince Edward Island. Facilitators: George Siemens, TEKRI, Stephen Downes, NRC, Dave Cormier, UPEI, Rita Kop, NRC. You’ll find their bios here: Facilitator Bios  + students (The course has 900 participants but far away not all of them are active)
    2. Facilitators: Terje Väljataga (Tallinn University) & Sebastian H.D. Fiedler (Centre for Social Innovation) + 27 registered students

    Division of labour

    1. Course facilitators and participants will analyze the research literature and evaluate it against their own experience with the intent of developing a comprehensive understanding of personal learning environments and networks.
    2. tools and information investigation, task accomplishment, feedback from the facilitators or colleague students

    Also, I would like to mention some disadvantages of the PLENK2010 course seen by its participants:

    • lack of depth
    • lack of data structure
    • too much of information and not being able to keep up, lack of time

    About New interactive environments I would complain the same – lack of time as there are too many tasks coming from other subjects.

    In general both courses have same objectives and similar methods. I suppose it’s caused by the new learning style that is really needed in our societies as the old one falls short of expectations. We do not need a knowledge but the skills and these types of the online courses can really teach how to gain them.

    The essay: Does new media narrative change our identity?

    Does new media narrative change our identity?
    (Will new media lead us back to the global tribe?)
    What are new standards for writing narratives with new media?

    Internet:  absolute communication, absolute isolation.

    ~Paul Carvel

     

    In this essay I will try to mention the changes that have been occurring in our identities due to the impact of new media narrative. I would like to start with the previous identity change or even maybe a continuous change that was noticed by Plato in the Ancient Greece. By that I mean the change from oral to written culture.

    Speech is inherently an oral event, based on human relationships, unlike texts. Plato in his book “Phaedrus” shows strong resistance to literate technologies, which he calls pharmacon – the word has two meanings: medicine or drug but also, a poison. Writing, Socrates argues, is inhuman. It attempts to turn living thoughts dwelling in the human mind into mere objects in the physical world. By causing people to rely on what is written rather than what they are able to think, it weakens the powers of the mind and of memory. True knowledge can only emerge from a relationship between active human minds. And unlike a person, a text can’t respond to a question; it will just keep saying the same thing over and over again, no matter how often it is refuted.[1]

    According to the following the change in how humans perceive the world started to change and evaluate. The world became divided into sentences, words, and letters. Now any text is constructed as a mosaic of quotations; any text is the absorption and transformation of another.[2] With the passing ages we became so habituated to written words that we no longer imagine our lives without them. It’s enough to look at Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451 where the books are burned for the good of humanity. According to Plato maybe it would be a good solution but for our culture it’s something completely unimaginable.

    The exact evaluation might be understood better thanks to McLuhan (The Gutenberg Galaxy) analysis of the history of communication – from the invention of speech, to pictograms, to the phonetic alphabet, to typography, to the electronic communications of today. It is how human consciousness was restructured, profoundly changed not only the frontiers of human possibility, but even the frontiers it was possible for humans to imagine.

    Thanks to the new imagination we no longer face the world as its underlings – as subjects – but we now possess the faculty to calculate it as a field of virtualities, and to compute some of those virtualities into simulations of realities according to our own program. This is the new imagination. The consequence is that we no longer seize and handle the world in order to change the real, but that we do so in order to realize virtualities. We are no longer sub-jects, but pro-jects. Our head turns if we try to execute such an existential revolution. […] And this explains the curious creative dizziness which takes hold of those who program synthetic pictures, who possess the new imagination. With each key they press they dive into a field of virtualities, and entire worlds emerge which they themselves had not expected. A new level of existence is opening up, with new experiences, sentiments, emotions; concepts and values proper to it. Homo sapiens is about to bring a faculty into play which so far has been dormant.[3]

    Now, McLuhan and Ong also document the re-emergence, in the electronic age, of a kind of ‘secondary orality’ that displaces written words with audio/visual technologies like radio, TV and telephones. Unlike primary oral modes of communication, these technologies depend on print for their existence. Mass internet collaborations like Wikipedia rely primarily on writing, but re-introduce relationships and responsiveness into the text. Even though from this point of view the orality might be coming back into power there are plenty of medias based on new narratives which have a huge impact on our identities.

    Prior computer image of the era – in which the virtual reality user travels through the virtual space, is replaced by the new – in which a man who is at the airport, on the street, in the car or anywhere else, checks his emails or makes his phone calls using a phone connected to the PDA.

    You see your first fragments of Implementation on stickers posted on signposts on your way to work and find the rest online when you google a remembered sentence. Surrender Control sends you text messages regardless of where you are or what you’re doing. You read Online Caroline and Blue Company in a series of emails arriving in your inbox amid spam and work mail. A character in a fictional weblog sends you instant messages and appears in the comments of a political weblog you also happen to read.[4]

    Also video surveillance is becoming ubiquitous, and not only activated by governments, military, or enterprises, but also by private individuals – low-cost, wireless camera, with connection to the Net, can currently be placed almost anywhere.

    In the popular media, there is currently no common discussion on the different types of technology – mainly due to the fact that they belong to different industries and different markets – but the future is a combination of both – all of them will change our physical space in the information space – by drawing from the information (surveillance, observation), or fitting it into information (mobile space, computer displays). This close relationship between surveillance and the accompaniment is one of the key elements characteristic for highly developed technological societies. The concept of enriched reality means computer strengthening of the human intellect. The world of tomorrow will know that it does not need to be made in the immobile office. This raises the new paradigm in which computing and telecommunications will be delivered to the mobile user. For this purpose, new technologies are being created, hence the discussion about information outlet and tide is being held.

    The contemporary world is guided by the idea of individualism, and places the individual and autonomous actions in the center. The man has no longer simply to be in the world; he has to affect the world. Even abstention from action becomes a decision, and thus in some sense the action. What’s more, the human individual’s impact on reality is not debatable; it only has to become conscious. This way Michael Heim (The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality[5]) is right analysing the term of interactivity in the contexts of virtual reality. Heim notes that many people see virtual reality as every form of electronic representation, which implies their action. While deleting files from our desktop we use the icon representing the trash can where we put the unnecessary files. Text documents, although they do not exist on paper – still are documents. Our computer desktop may be identified with a wooden desktop from our room. Each of these entities is a virtual entity – not existing physically, but still existing, with which we enter into active interaction. They differ from the representations of similar items on the television by that that we treat them as real objects. Image does not need to deceive the eye, to become virtual. The reality of computer trash comes from your true commitment to interact with it.

    It seems that, consequently, a unit of a modern audience, tele-viewer and observer, a passive consumer of meanings, learns about live from mediated reality presented in the medium. His emotionality is a secondary emotionality which indeed is rooted in its original ancestor, but then it has been processed, reconfigured and directed as authentic. While television and film have a tendency to raise awareness that death on the screen is not really happening, the computer goes a step further and suggests that even the protagonist is not true. Already a large extent can be observed that the behaviors and scenes that are not in approval among the hard-core viewers of television, they do not affect computer viewers. In the context of apathetic society, reaching the peaks of hypocrisy and moral relativism, indignation presented only on the outside is not outlived at all. Baudrillard watching the events at Heysel, noted (J. Baudrillard “Heysel Syndrome”[6]):

    rather than complain about the revival of atavistic violence should be understood that what produces this form of violence, these special effects, which also include terrorism […] is  our modernity, our hyper-modernity. Traditional violence we know from Third World countries comes from enthusiasm and sacrifice, is ritual, yet spontaneous. Our violence, on the contrary, is simulated, it doesn’t come from passion or instinct, but from the screen […] The media go ahead of it and cause it.

    The obscene and the absurd no longer have limits. In a world that you create, there are no other rules but those that you have created. There is no ethics; it’s not necessary any more. While creating, sometimes you get the status of a god (as in the game Black & White[7]) – what a tribute paid to human vanity. The sense of power takes the place of responsibility, to mistakenly perceived ability to create worlds and beings.
    This type of virtuality is transferred to many areas of our lives on the Web – to the interpersonal contacts, the authenticity of a politician that uses this medium to disseminate his views, the online studies and the social gatherings.
    In each of these situations we are more than passive observers, we have more abilities than just giving a meaning to a message, we are the actors of interaction in the same way as its audience.

    The modern world creates various forms of tele-presence – from talking on the phone, Internet, through internet bots (which can be substitutes for real users), by sharing our body and mind we go toward creating agile models not just of the collective intelligence, but maybe in the future also of a collective body. Deleuze proposes that all the elements of a machinic assemblage, including human bodies and technological devices, are part of a collective machine. For him the organic body and the inorganic tool are nothing without the machinic assemblage which gives them a certain relationship of vicinity with each other, animals, and other elements.[8]

    Ones that improve (psychologically: deepen) the human-machine communication are avatars – graphical representations of the person/character, otherwise: virtual corporeality. Interestingly, the avatar does not necessarily take the form of a human. Depending on the type of contact, the world in which one participates, the forms that we deal with are anthropomorphic, drawn from animal world or myths. With an image is intended to fill a space of non-verbal communication – which is the basic for the interpersonal communication – the avatar can smile, cry, be happy, sad or ashamed instead of you. Temporarily range of emotions possible to present through the avatar is narrowed to the easiest and most versatile. However, these representations exist – and move naturally in the physical level of nonverbal communication phenomena produced artificially, with a large bit of effort invested in it. It can be argued that avatar’s emotions are hyper real – they constitute of (Baudrillard’s) simulacrum both of emotions and their images.

    To sum up I would like to present the table based on Eriksen’s book Tyranny of the Moment: Fast and Slow Time in the Information Age:

    Industrial society[9] Information society 

     

    Bulding of nation Globalization
    Book Internet
    One-chanel TV Multi-chanel TV
    CD and LP MP3
    Life-long monogamy Serial monogamy
    Depth Breadth
    Linear time Fragmented time
    Too little information Too little freedom from information

    Probably there is no need to add anything but just realize what those changes do with us. Even though we are chatting with 3 persons through skype or facebook in reality we are alone, we don’t speak, we barely move, we don’t have any eye contact. We stick to this one thing that is just a thing but for us it is everything. There is a big danger and temptation in just staying at home instead of going out and meeting real people. With absolute communication we become absolutely isolated and forget that all actual life is encounter…[10]


    [1] Walter J. Ong, Orality and Literacy, pp. 78-79.

    [2] Kristeva, „Word, Dialogue, and Novel“, In Desire in Language: A Semiotic Approach to Literature and Art, edited by L. S. Roudiez. New York: Columbia UP, pp.66

    [3] Vilém Flusser’s view on art – Session 1: A NEW IMAGINATION, pp. 4.

    [4] Jill Walker, Distributed Narrative: Telling Stories Across Networks, pp. 1.

    [6] Jean Baudrillard, „Syndrom Heysel“// Andrzej Gwóźdź, Media, eros, przemoc – Sport w czasach popkultury, Kraków 2003, pp. 57.

    [8]Deleuze, G. & Parnet, C. Dialogues II. London: Continuum, 2006, pp. 76-77.

    [9] Eriksen T., Tyranny of the Moment: Fast and Slow Time in the Information Age, 2001.

    [10] Buber M., I and Thou, 1937.

    additionally:

    the values that are being forgotten…

    The Millennium Bug in the WIPO Model

    Find a good example of the “science business” described above and analyze it as a potential factor in the Digital Divide discussed earlier. Is the proposed connection likely or not? Blog your opinion.

    I consider a good example of ¨science business¨ the use of personal computers by students. More and more often universities require to have a personal computer and almost unlimited access to the internet. Maybe nowadays it doesn´t seem like a problem, but certainly there are people that do not have enough money and cannot afford to have a laptop or the internet connection at home. I think even Estonia is a pretty good example – since I have come here the only tasks that I have are based on computers and the internet: the tasks are published in the net, if I want to complete them I have to use the net, if I want the professor to check my homework I publish it on the net. What´s more – the internet is the only way by which I can speak to some of my professors or attend the online lecture. Also, I haven´t seen some of my classmates  in real life but I speak quite often with them.

    From one point of view the use of computers help us getting along with the new technologies and accustom us to every day changing world. Obviously, it´s a huge help while learning – we may find anything we want. Although students use laptops as well at home as in the university, there are more and more negative opinions. We may read in Daniel de Vise’s article Wide Web of diversions gets laptops evicted from lecture halls:

    A generation ago, academia embraced the laptop as the most welcome classroom innovation since the ballpoint pen. But during the past decade, it has evolved into a powerful distraction. Wireless Internet connections tempt students away from note-typing to e-mail, blogs, YouTube videos, sports scores, even online gaming — all the diversions of a home computer beamed into the classroom to compete with the professor for the student’s attention.

    […]

    The laptop computer, introduced in 1981, has become nearly obligatory on campus; some colleges require them. They are as essential to today’s student as a working stereo system was to their parents.

    It becomes a problem because there are more and more students that are technological natives and their professors often have problems in understanding them.

    According to the Duke University’s scientists research called Scaling the Digital Divide: Home Computer Technology and Student Achievement children that have computers at home and access to the internet do worse on the test than their poorer classmates that do not have such an equipment. This study suggests that simply handing out computers is going to make the digital divide worse, rather than better. According to this graphic we may notice that there quite big divide in the computer ownership rates:

    To sum up I want to quote Bill’s opinion posted in his blog (older man’s introduction to the internet):

    Google

    When I was young and I wanted to know something, I was beaten for being too inquisitive. That’s the problem with the young people today, they have a google answer for everything. If they had to walk to their local library every time they had something stupid to ask they would ask a lot less stupid questions.

    The Hacker Approach: Development of Free Licenses

    Study the GNU GPL and write a short blog essay about it. You may use the SWOT analysis model


    strengths

    • the users have freedom to change the software
    • assures that patents cannot be used to render the program non-free
    • The purpose of the GNU GPL is to give users four basic freedoms:* The freedom to run the program for any purpose (freedom 0)
      * The freedom to study how the program works and adapt it to your needs (freedom 1)
      * The freedom to redistribute unmodified copies (freedom 2)
      * The freedom to improve the program and release your improvements to the public, so maybe the whole community benefits (freedom 3)
    • The GNU GPL provides that in the event of a breach of its terms, any rights acquired by the licensee shall expire. So the person loses the right to promote or modify a covered work. With this case we are dealing as examples, if someone had turned on all or part of our program under the GNU GPL to their own program and then distribute to its program to license other than the GNU GPL. Granting of licenses is not getting rid of copyright and the use of the program without an appropriate license means its violation. It is possible therefore (in accordance with Polish law) to demand from the person who infringes our copyright discontinue such violations, issue received benefits or pay double or triple, when the infringement is willful,  amount of equitable remuneration. You can also ask for reparations if the offending action was culpable. In addition, Article. 79 Law on Copyright and Related Rights Act provides several other claims. Of course, the presence of specific claims is dependent on the sole will of the owner. It may also benefit from exercising his rights under the same license. In this regard, we may refer to paragraph 8 of the GNU GPL v.3.

    weaknesses

    • no warranty for the free software
    • Due to the fact that any work based on the work covered by the GPL must also be based on the license, the GPL is a viral license. So the GPL affects any program that uses GPL code. Criticism of that coercion is most often targeted by supporters of a less restrictive license, such as the BSD license.
    • Most free software licenses such as the X11 license, the BSD license and the LGPL is compatible with the GPL. This means that the source code based on them can be integrated seamlessly into the program under the GPL (as a whole will then be covered by the GNU GPL). But there are open source licenses, which are not compatible with the GPL. For this reason, many people are discouraged to use such a license, because based on the code is not difficult to be reused in other projects.
    • Code licensed under the GNU GPL can not be used in programs for other licenses.

    opportunities

    • There was a German organization founded  gpl-violations.org, which aims to detect and prosecute, including the courts, cases of infringements of the GNU GPL. Its founder is Harald Welte. Most of the violations detected by the organization ended up with the sentence of an infringe, under which the violator had to pay a specified amount. In several cases, however, German court was in favor of the proprietor, like in the case against D-Link
    • The opportunities connected with Linux:
    • Linux has very good support, often much better than commercial programs. Internet is full of accessible information, and the answer to the question often is provided in a short time. Moreover, this support is free and requires no service contracts. There is also commercial support from companies like Red Hat, Novell, IBM and HP, if necessary. It is also worth noting that the fact that users need less support than in other operating systems is due to the fact that Linux has fewer bugs and much more resistant to viruses and other malicious code.
    • Linux is based on Unix, which was designed in 1969. UNIX and its descendants are considered by many experts as the best (most stable and flexible) operating systems that were ever designed. They survived over 30 years of rigorous testing and continuous improvement through world-class computer scientists, while other systems do not survive more than a couple of years, usually due to a combination of technical inferiority, and the planned service life.
    • The main reason for the rapid growth of Linux in the world is that the TCO is significantly lower TCO than proprietary software. Reasons why it is lower, are: (1) it is free, but also that (2) is more solid and reliable (fewer crashes, reducing the risk of data loss), (3) its support is an affordable (although there are also paid services), (4) can run on older hardware, thereby reducing the need to buy new (5) users are not forced to upgrade equipment, and (6) does not require a tedious and costly licensing control. The results, which show that the TCO of Linux is higher than Windows, is sponsored by Microsoft. The main reason why the TCO of Linux might be higher is that the cost of hiring its administrators is greater than the cost of employing people with experience with Microsoft products. Indeed, it is true, however, it is ignored here that Linux administrators are more productive, because for it there are less viruses and less security patches to install. Do they also have to deal with the system crash or fight with licensing issues.

    threats

    • You may charge any price or no price for each copy that you convey,  and you may offer support or warranty protection for a fee. — isn’t that a thread of commercialization?

    Task 9

    Put out a post summarizing your understanding of activity theory and its potential for describing activity systems.

    For analyzing the term I have chosen these two articles:

    1. Published in B. Nardi (ed.): Context and Consciousness: Activity Theory and Human
      Computer Interaction, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1995, pp. 17-44.
    2. THE FUTURE OF ACTIVITY THEORY: A ROUGH DRAFT, Yrjö Engeström

    According to them:

    • the term “Activity Theory” may be misleading because the term “activity” does not carry the essential connotation “doing in order to transform something”, nor it is a theory;
    • was first born within Soviet psychology,
    • Activity Theory is a philosophical and cross-disciplinary framework for
      studying different forms of human practices as development processes, both individual and
      social levels interlinked at the same time.

    • the activity system can be best represented by the previous graphics that I have found in the internet. Here we may see that the activities are divided in certain point as: community, rules, object, subject, tools… For completing an activity at least two individuals are needed and they work is always mediated – they use special tools, follow certain rules and divide their labor according to their specialization. The subject requires the community specialized in producing some object. The community divides the process of production into separate actions and each its member is responsible for one of them.
    • Engeström talks about ‘runaway objects’- objects that have the ability to expand up to a global scale of influence (like Linux). It is hard to control them and they may have unexpected effects.
    • there are plenty of activity systems that are based on runaway objects and it is hard to describe exact relation between them (as seen in the graphics).

    Task 8

    In the article I have fond interesting Luhmann’s idea about Ego and Alter selections. Earlier people knew their Ego, they knew who is going to read their messages. Because of the digitalization people lose their receivers, posting in a blog or in a web page we never know who is going to read it and we’ll never see their reactions. The author states:

    This is arguably the most fundamental change which has occurred, and explains how personal media forms may take on mass communication characteristics.

    I would definitely agree with her first of all because I have seen the change and I have experienced it by myself. Maybe, before the message producing was more boring as you knew that only one person (or more, but you always knew the receivers circle)  would receive it, and now you may expect anything – maybe someone will read your poem and offer you to publish it or maybe someone will steal it and say that it’s his. There is always the risk and one may stay confused for a longer time: if to share my ideas and wait for a critical feedback or just save them for himself and be sure that nobody will copy them.

    However, whereas mass media comprise their own function-system, the internet works within all of society’s social systems, increasing levels of self-reflection (Rasmussen, 2002).

    — I like this statement as it perfectly mirror the situation in our society. I think since 2002 it has become ever more relevant. It is quite hard to see how our society changes only by living our lives – we pay too much attention to our world not seeing what surrounds us. In the internet it’s much easier – one may just read comments under some popular video on you tube and investigate the level of ethics and education of the commentators (that seems to be less and less important). This way we may get a perfect reflection of the society all around the world, as it states McLuhan – the world is becoming our skin and we feel every change on it.

    The article tries to strictly distinguish between personal and mass media and somehow achieves it by the graphic. Even though it is explained in a clear way it will have exceptional cases when the distinction might be more than confusing. With the constant development of new technologies followed by new means creation it can’t be defined in a permanent way. There are plenty of blogs that may be made only for a certain circle of readers but are not protected with any password and this way become a mean for mass media – anyone may read it and the author will never receive eventual response. The distinction between an author and a reader has disappeared and probably will never come back. It might be seen as a positive phenomena as the freedom of speech is increasing and discussions may lead to faster alterations but from the other point of view the internet is being filled with ignorant comments and obliges to follow the pattern…