The devil in the detail

First contact – Nadira Sinulingga

We all were contacted by one of our members through E-mail and Twitter and he gathered us all in a group. We first struggled to contact each other through Twitter because of the words limitation (Oh well Twitter! Haha) and we decided to make a Google Hangouts after couple of days. In the Google Hangouts, we discussed the possibilities of what topic we should cover in our video. Then one of our members had this idea of creating a hacker story adapting from a real life situation back in the US. We agreed after some discussion and other possible topics. The story revolves around a hacker which hacks a US Government website and took the contact details of 100 LA Police Officers and then he uploaded to his website and let his followers on Twitter know about that. Also adding, how the FBI tracked the Hacker which is through the Hacker’s Girlfriend Geo tag which is quite popular right now. That is just a brief story from the real life situation. After we discussed about the story and how it’s going to work, we divided the part to every member in our group. The story got two FBIs, a hacker, and the hacker’s girlfriend. We got to choose our own role which is very helpful for everybody because we can make it according to our preference. In brief we got Brett and Supun as the first and second FBI, we got Nadira as the Hacker, and we got Isabella as the Girlfriend.

Preparation – Isabella Mandie

There were different options pre planning the video of what role would be under taken by which individual. Our group came up with different scenarios which included either filming yourself, getting someone to film you to make it look surreal and doing voice overs. The process that was undertaken was using Google hangouts, Facebook and emails to communicate our ideas and make sure that our parts didn’t overlap with each other to enable us to demonstrate our different perspectives of the story.

The forums that our group mainly used was Google hangouts as we found it was an efficient forum to communicate what ideas we had.

Personally, I found Google hangouts very reliable as it allowed every member to contribute. Throughout the process of making the video in figure four you can see I’ve tweeted in regards to our group. I found there were no problems in our group and if there were concerns we would address them straight away, if it was through personally chatting to one individual group member or creating a Google hangout or a group message to make sure that we were all on track.  The digital technologies I used throughout my video were iMovie and my iPhone. I personally found that iMovie was an easy forum to be able to create the video.

Personally, I found that developing and creating the video through the girlfriend perspective extremely interesting. However personally I found myself very attentive towards my group and always was asking questions and making sure I was at every Google hangouts. For future improvement I think I need to learn more on making videos and editing them as I found that difficult. However overall I found that my performance was always contributing and trying to help out wherever I could.

Creativity – Supun Hasthimuni

My depiction of the hacker’s living space which was hastily yet subtly abandoned when the detective (me) gets there is comprised of footage shot in my room. The camera makes a couple of swoops between the computers keyboards lit up in blue through which I hope to convey the technology centric atmosphere of the living space. The focus shifts to seemingly random artifacts and books that occupy the shelves, this is a break away from the computer heavy atmosphere of the room while adding what I feel is a level of complexity to the character, through the interest in literature and theatrics.

The video consistently shifts back and forth between the “dwelling” and a time-lapse of an open sky. Shot from my roof with an egg timer the time lapse is meant to juxtapose the environment of the quite serene suburb within which our notorious hacker chooses to reside. The video makes frequent transitions to and from the time lapse in sighting the idea that despite all things life goes on in this quite south eastern suburb.

The music used in the video acquired through creative commons was chosen for its ability to resonate with an urban setting without sounding too dark and dystopian.

The ending of the scene is by far my favourite. After inspecting the hackers room to no avail the detective finds a note attached to the door saying “kiss my ass”  this not only shows that the individual successfully outsmarted the lawmen but also has a sense of humour.

Meaning – Brett Barfoot

The investigation carried out by the authorities following the hacking, exemplifies the level of surveillance and the abilities of surveillance agencies today. Internet surveillance has undergone a rapid expansion since the early days of drop boxes like Carnivore left at Internet Service Providers and “secret” rooms installed in an attempt to capture or monitor traffic. The digital revolution has provided authorities a raft of new tools and access points to conduct surveillance.

It could be argued that the video shot from four different perspectives highlights sousveillance and that somewhere in the distance, we are being looked down upon and monitored. Perhaps it argues that technology has reinforced and bolstered the abilities of authorities to monitor us. That the actions of the hacker and the girlfriend were naive given the considerable powers that internet surveillance now has to offer. Or they were naïve to the possibility of being identified. The devil is now in the detail and a splinter of metadata was all it took to track a few criminals on the other side of the globe.

1086 words


Dark violet sky by Tobias Weber (CC by 2.0)

Remember the days of the old school yard? No cameras, no fears, no worries.

Technology has provided us the opportunity to observe ourselves and how we perform like never before.

However, the line between the use of surveillance to protect or to serve us becomes murky especially in settings where it is typically used to protect and prevent against negative behaviour.


A prime example of this would be within schools where more and more resources are being used to install CCTV systems in the name of protections of students, staff and parents alike. While there are rare examples like this one in India where surveillance is being said to be used to track performance of teachers and students.

For the most part it seems we are bolstering our classrooms in a bid to protect children from harm and monitor them wherever they go.

However if students are under surveillance during their school hours, are they really free to learn and explore and just be kids?

Back in the days of my school yard, my memory of primary school is that of being kicked in the nuts. And I mean a lot. For memory it seemed a week wouldn’t go past without me complaining that it felt like my baby beans had been kicked up into my stomach.

I also remember seeing a classmate capture a seagull on the school oval with a hook and fishing line. The child then proceeded to drag it along behind him as he ran across the oval as if it was some kind of disturbing kite.

I can’t help but wonder if these important instances of discovery and learning could take place in a primary school yard post the digital revolution.

Is it worth the trade? A generation so closely monitored that they are mere conformists rather than wild adventurous rascals?

Bennet and Raab (2007) state that visual surveillance has a ‘chilling effect’ that can hamper the development of students and curtail their creativity, innovation and experimentation.

While McCahill and Finn (2010) discovered that CCTV cameras assisted students into a state of acute awareness that their behaviour was being recorded and to an extent changed their behaviour in fear that their actions could be misinterpreted by watchers.

In the wake of horrific events around the world, more and more is being spent upon securing our school yards and ultimately our peace of mind.

Whether or not the surveillance curtails negative behaviour is debatable.

Taylor (2013) discovered that the presence of surveillance failed to prevent students’ deviant activities and in her study of schools with CCTV surveillance in Northern England, she found that while most children thought a balance of surveillance and privacy could be achieved, they still felt that the surveillance at school was incriminating them.

The effect of surveillance on behaviour codes was also studied. Taylor (2013) discovered that students perceived that teachers were exempt from scrutiny from surveillance as they assumed that teachers were required to conform to the expected behaviour codes of the school.


Perhaps the best solution is for parents, teachers and policy makers to approach issues of security and growth with level heads. If we continue to treat our fears and uncertainties with the application of more surveillance then we’ll keep slapping on measures that infringe upon the freedom of our children to happily grow and develop.

(543 words excluding citations).


Bennett, C and Raab, C 2007, ‘The privacy paradigm’, in S.P. Hier and J. Greenberg (eds), The Surveillance Studies Reader, Berkshire: Open University Press, Maidenhead, 337–353.

McCahill, M and Finn, R 2010, ‘The Social impact of Surveillance in Three UK Schools: ‘Angels’, ‘Devils’ and ‘Teen Mums,’’ Surveillance & Society, 7, 3, 273-289, retrieved 5/9/2016, | ISSN: 1477-7487.

Taylor, E 2013, Surveillance schools: security, discipline and control in contemporary education, Palgrave Macmillan, London.

Everyone wants a piece of me: metadata, scientists & the big data frontier

The more and more we become immersed in connected technology it seems the more often we are faced with the implications of our privacy.

A dominant reading of the potential pitfalls of our engagement with digital media is definitely one of dystopia. This is no surprise with fears of big business sharing the traces of data we leave from our engagement online and generally our community is becoming more and more reliant on surveillance.


This ‘datafication’ of everything we do online has resulted in a new scientific paradigm that is both problematic for both the collectors and the citizens providing it (van Dijck 2014).

It seems that the powers of technology has big business ‘giddy’ with the possibilities of what inferences can be made from data and is collecting large swathes of it, every way they can.

All I want to do is download angry birds without worrying who has downloaded my information and what that says about me?!


So what exactly is metadata?

The real gold these filthy prospectors are after lies in metadata – the information about our interactions online. One type is descriptive metadata that includes keywords that could lead to inferences about everything from how we react or feel about a certain topic or person to our relationships, wants, needs, fears, hopes and dreams. Theoretically, inferences could be made from a broad range of things just based upon keywords.

Metadata also includes specific information about a user including the title, author, subjects and publisher of information.

From Datafication is bred an exciting new chapter for corporations – predicative analysis – where the real fun starts for those interested in what you want.

Just imagine if you could tell whose line of ‘BO basher’ I am likely to prefer in ten years. Just imagine scientists!


There’s already evidence that information scientists can make inferences from data left behind online.

Kosinski and others (2013) proved that inferences about human behaviour could be predicted from Facebook Likes. Everything from sexual orientation, ethnicity, religious and political views, personality to intelligence and happiness was derived from social media interactions.

The scariest thing about this seems to be that everyone is lining up with a hand out to get access to our data.

The Australian Federal Government recently released a list of 60 organisations that include everything from local councils to the Department of Fisheries – all strutting their stuff under Freedom of Information Laws.

But it’s not just government agencies interested in the supposed power of metadata, educational institutions also are quite curious about what our smartphone says about us.

The digital footprint I leave behind really means that nowhere is safe. It’s not significant anymore if I choose to shop at home or like something while strolling through uni – everyone wants a piece of me!

While all this is going on behind the scenes, the solution would seem to create a pseudonym and carry it across all of your devices, apps, profiles, everywhere. They can have all the random info they like about I.P Freely!

Perhaps another option – feel relief in the fact that the sorting of fact from fiction when it comes to data mining is probably about as fraught with complication as it is for the citizen who blindly engages with digital media.

The lesson from all of this is to be mindful that while there may be advantages in engaging with digital media, more often than not the potential pitfalls of data retention have yet to be fully realised.

(580 words excluding citations).


van Dijck, J 2014, ‘Datafication, dataism and dataveillance: Big Data between scientific paradigm and ideology.’ Surveillance & Society 12, 2, 197-208, retrieved 30/8/2016,

Kosinski, M, Stillwell, D and Graepel, T 2013, ‘Private traits and attributes are predictable from digital records of human behaviour,’ PNAS, 110, 15, 5802–5805, retrieved 30/8/2016,

VAPE-FEAR (Dark Vaporwave, Synthwave, Triphop, Chill Trap Mix) by 209 SINS (cc by 2.0)