The assignment was:
1. Identify and describe 5 specific capabilities of computing (e.g., speed, permanence/storage) made possible or enhanced by computing technology.
2. Select one of the capabilities you identified and discuss its relationship to the following issues raised by the application of the technology:
Security 3. Describe the areas of potential IT policy decisions that may be triggered by your selected capability.
1.) Capabilities of computing
I chose the following capabilities: connectivity, multimedia handling, accuracy, fast mathematical calculations, repetitive operations.
Connectivity: it is the first in my list and it’s the most important capability of the computers for me. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to learn here for example. My whole life is built on computing and nowadays mostly around Internet, so it’s an important feature for me. Connectivit means that you are able to communicate with virtually any connected computer user in the whole world. It’s unbeleivable how much nations can be found here or in internet based games for example. Multimedia handling: This is the ability of recording and playing voice and video content on the computers. Accuracy: computer operations are accurate. The result will always be the same, doesn’t matters how many times we make it repeated or which computer we use. Fast mathematical calculations: it’s one of the most important capabilities of computing. It makes us able to search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, drive airplanes, forecast weather, etc. Repetitive operations: a computer will never be tired. It can repeat the same operation again and again with the same result.
2.) Issues raised by connectivity I obviously choose connectivity from my list to discuss. I do it, because it’s very close to me, and because it raises all the mentioned issues. In most cases, I’ll refer this capability as Internet, because currently this is the most used way of connecting computers.
Privacy On the internet, this is surely an issue. Timothy J. Walton (2000) wrote in the first sentence of his article: “The right to privacy in Internet activity is a serious issue facing society.”. There are many problems mentioned by the author, like unsolicited e-mail, usage of cookies, building of huge company databases about the customers’ behaviour, selling customers’ data.
Ownership It’s a huge problem nowadays. First of all, the ownership of the information. Internet is huge and mostly anonymous. Nowadays it’s moving towards a more and more open information publishing. Free websites, blogs, community networks make it very hard to take care of the ownership of the information. Another problem, which is closely related to this one is the Intellectual Property Rights. Who can prove, who is the owher of an article or a novel for example? How can it be assured, that no body will state, that it’s his/her work?
Control Issue of control is raised by connectity daily. First you can think of control of the computer itself. Nowadays there are many ways hackers can use to take control of the connected computer you use. There are troyans, backdoor opening viruses, password crackers, network sniffers. This is a very important issue nowadays. Another issue is that influencing masses through information flow is much easyer than it ever was. In Hungary the biges “mediahack” was when a clever journalist made fool of the whole Hungarian press. According to Sz. I. M. (2007), Gábor Varga found out an imaginary story about the Madzsari tribe in Africa. Madzsari sounds very similar to Magyar, which is the Hungarian word for Hungarian. The story was simple and wrote that an imaginary Swiss institute, African Research Institute was the source of the information. It wrote, that www.ar-institute.ch is the homepage of the institute. The author intentionally hide some traps in the article, for exapmle, there were no such institute, and even the homepage didn’t exist. For the first time, the whole Hungarian press, including the bigest newspapers wrote about it as a fact and the bigest television stations presented it as a huge sensation and as a proof of Hungarian greatness. Nobody checked the source and nobody tried to open the website. The first one who tried to check it was SZ.I.M, the journalist of my favourite Hungarian portal.
Accuracy Connectivity helps us to gather more accurate information quickly. You can ask anybody in no time or check an information website in minutes, so connectivity helps us to imporove accuracy of information. Although there are a lot of difficulties because there are numerous information sources and you cannot always tell which one is reliable. Robert Harris (2007) writes about very good methods of evaluating information found on the internet. He says that information needs to be avaluated carefully because unlike traditional information sources, internet articles usually published without a preliminary approval process.
Security** **Security is a complex idea. Because, what is security? Security is basically the ability to keep privacy, ownership and control. A house is secure, when nobody can enter it without the owner’s will. A computer is secure if nobody can enter it without the owner’s will. Nowadays it’s not an easy thing to keep your computer secure.
All the mentioned issues are connected to each other. Let’s look at just one exapmle. According to Randy James (2009) Internet censorship in China not only makes it impossible to reach specific websites, but when you try to view some information, you have to provide your personal details. They restrict access to pornography websites and many political topics. I’m sure, that this “total” control helps to improve the security level of Chineese internet, but affects privacy, accuracy and control, too. We say, it’s bad. But what we do with company firewalls and proxes? Limit the access to information. And in modern companies access to internet is not an anonymous activity any more. And what did USA - and many other countries - try in the schools? A proxy like control system to limit the access to specific information.
3.) IT policy decisions triggered by connectivity Connectivity triggers numerous policy decisions. Maybe the most common is that almost all companies access internet through a proxy servers. Many companies limit the access to websites and internet services with a well defined internet policy. Some companies even limit the access to the internet with policy decisions. Policies can be written ones or software / hardware forced ones. The National B2B Centre (n.d.) developed a very detailed guide about making internet policies. They write that making clearly stated internet usage policies to help the employees to follow it and the company to defend itself when an employee makes unacceptable things using the company’s resources on the internet.
Randy James (2009) A Brief History of: Chinese Internet Censorship [Online] Available from: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1885961,00.html (Accessed: 10. February 2010)
SZ.I.M (2007) Magyar törzset fedeztek fel Kongóban? [Online] Available from: http://index.hu/tudomany/tortenelem/magykonfg367/ (Accessed: 09. February 2010)
The National B2B Centre (n.d.) Introduce an internet and email policy [Online] Available from: http://www.businesslink.gov.uk/bdotg/action/layer?topicId=1074402338 (Accessed: 10. February 2010) Timothy J. Walton (2000) Internet Privacy Law [Online] Available from: http://www.netatty.com/privacy/privacy.html (Accessed 09. February 2010)