Lightbeam My Transparency

Online, a story of ourselves is being told. That story is being harnessed from us to our friends, family, and possibly others that we aren’t aware of. Who’s really keep up with our every move?

For certain individuals who don’t think too much about what they post online, or how much it connects to other parts of the web, this information can be shocking. Lightbeam, an extension on firefox that allows one to view how many third-party sites are being connected to the site their visiting, is a very mind blowing device when used. Taking it upon myself to view Lightbeam, I watched as it connected me to slightly over 230 third-party sites.

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When I first started, I had only visited 6 sites which brought me to around 160 third-party connections. Then, after trying to figure out how transparent I am online by searching my name and various usernames, it brought me to 235 third-party connections.

 

With those connections being rooted on the internet forever, it makes one wonder, how much information is online about them? My name is very uncommon, so before I began searching myself, which I will admit I have done before, I didn’t think I’d be surprised. So, what were my results when I searched Sema’Jay Hall into DuckDuckGo?

Not much of a surprise… If you click on the images above, you’ll notice that what comes up in the search is my facebook, IMDB, youtube, and much more that is below, mostly other tv sites and a link to one of my tweets. When I search images, A lot of pictures of cars pop up, which I actually find very interesting. What do those cars have to do with my name? My full name at that…? Lastly, when looking through videos, of course, my Youtube videos come up and are presented for everyone to see. It’s nothing that I didn’t expect or would not like to show to the world.

Yet, for other people who aren’t as transparent as I am.. I dare you to take this challenge and see what you, and the world, can find out about yourself!

Is Neuromancer A Twitter Troll?

Social Media creates two forms of individuals. You have the actual person posting the pictures, forums, videos, tweets, etc. Then you have to image created through those forms of communication. It is very common that people don’t know who is holding. A certain account. For instance, when it comes to Twitter, a lot of the “troll” accounts or accounts where people tweet nonsense is done without anyone even knowing who the actual person is. All that is known is the persona that’s created. According to an article from the NYtimes, titles, “The Trolls Among Us”, they state that “Internet users adopted the word “troll” to denote someone who intentionally disrupts online communities,” in order to get a laugh or for their own personal gain.

The appearance of a troll is common and can be seen in many ways, while sometimes it is for one to create chaos, others may use their secret identity for personal tranquility, to post encouraging things they might not be able to do in another sense, or they might use that identity to help others and go after the trolls.

Through the presence of a social identity, it allows one to have the best of both worlds. In real life, with twitter, instagram, YouTube, the fame is attracted to the persona account. In some instances it is the actual person, but in most cases it is the account, the idea/mystery that followers have for them. This relates in a sense to Neuromancer, through multiple characters. Through Wintermute/Neuromancer, Armitage/Corto, and with Molly, we see this relationship of two identities emerging from one.

Wintermute is the persona that is created through his hacking actions, while Neruomancer is the actual being. He is the being that has created this image that takes a hold and almost acts as if it has a mind of its own. In the article with the NYtimes, they state that a, “troll explained the lulz as a quasi-thermodynamic exchange between the sensitive and the cruel: “You look for someone who is full of it, a real blowhard. Then you exploit their insecurities to get an insane amount of drama, laughs and lulz. Rules would be simple: 1. Do whatever it takes to get lulz. 2. Make sure the lulz is widely distributed. This will allow for more lulz to be made. 3. The game is never over until all the lulz have been had.” This reminds me of Wintermute in the sense that he finds humor in the terrorizing that he conducts on the other in the novel. Not to mention that many of the individuals that troll for the tedious reasons have a mass following. This is the same with Wintermute and how he has a following of people who are amazed by what he does. He has the followings of 3jane, Rivera, who are intrigued by the power that Wintermute holds.

For Armitage, while he starts off the novel in mystery, it is believed that he does his trolling in order to help others. His past identity as Colonel Willis Corto, was compromised when he was the only surviving soldier from a war that left him wounded and betrayed. Through the betrayal that he faced from the individuals he thought he could trust, he went insane, eventually partaking in an experiment that essentially created a new person. Corto then had a new identity, Armitage. Yet, through all of this, he battles with the two identities that he possesses. He had Corto who is trying to break through and not betray the people he has gotten close to, while Armitage is the foil who is deceiving many through his mysterious past.

With Molly, her story is very personal in the fact that she found a somewhat form of reinvention for herself. Molly’s past insisted of her essentially being a prostitute and having a chip that allowed her to forget all of the encounters she had. While that’s bad, her chip begins to malfunction and she gets little glimpses of her sex encounters as well as the fact that she fell in love with a guy named Johnny, but he was killed due to a job they tried to complete. Her newfound self, like a cyborg, is a very strong and powerful girl. She can take care of herself due to her great confidence that allows her to help and find closure with herself. While her past wasn’t great, this new identity allows her to become someone she didn’t think was possible, someone who could stick up for themselves.

This novel greatly shows a correlation between the cyber hacking world and are very present social media world. In present time, we have a Twitter account for terrorist group, ISIS, that can’t be located. In Neuromancer, Wintermute exports information through the cyberspace and can’t be tracked. These similarities are ironic and completely interesting as they bring a new light to the book and to our very technological world. It correlates with the idea that anyone can re-create themselves for their own personal desires.

Pickup on Neuromancer

It’s completely alluring how a 1950’s film noir can relate so much to a novel from the 80’s about the far future. We see things like this happen all the time, in all forms of art. Where life can imitate art and art can imitate itself. Perhaps in music, graphics, movies, novels, dance, etc. In this case (funny because Case is the main character of Neuromancer), we see a correlation within characters, actions, and settings.

When watching the film, Pickup on South Street (1953), I was immediately able to see correlating personalities in characters that could connect to Neuromancer, three in particular. I saw a huge relationship between Skip and Case, Candy and Molly, and lastly Moe and Linda Lee.

Skip and Case are almost the same person in the way that they’re exiled from what they love to do. Skip, while not fully exiled, is on his third strike and with another he could be placed in jail. Not being able to do any of the looting/pickpocketing that he finds worthy in his life. Case, while being exiled, isn’t allowed into the matrix where he is his happiest, where he sees a reason for living. Both characters deal with hacking in two ways. Skip hacks the world/cheats the system by pickpocketing others, and making a living that way. Case, uses hacking by stealing or retrieving data that he may find useful in certain situations. Each character is also introduced with a proposition, Skip has two sides telling him to give them the microfilm, while Case has two sides asking for his hacking expertise…Which neither can decide on alone.

This is where the other characters come in. The relationship between Candy and Molly is huge because both begin a romantic interest with the main characters, and both are working for a side that they don’t know much about. Candy doesn’t know the contents of the microfilm, but she is perfectly fine working for Joey. Molly, works with Armitage, but doesn’t know much about his background. When asked, both characters have conflicting issues of whether they’re working for the right team or not.

Lastly, the relationship between Moe and Linda Lee is small but still present. Both characters use information to get what they desire. Moe, being the information keeper of the underground crime world, has tons of easily assessable information for the cops, but only if she is able to receive a reward, money. While Linda Lee, in the beginning of the novel, she has information about Wage that she gives to case, but in all she really only talked to case to use him and get the RAM. Not to mention that both characters don’t have a pretty happy ending, as they both are killed for working both sides of the grid.

In all, the relationship is heavily evident. Including the fact that the basis for a noir is almost the same as the basis setting for Neuromancer. The violence, the strange, the exotic, and dream like qualities that present themselves. Pickup on South Street and Neuromancer are almost like the same story just in slightly alternative dimensions.

 

 

 

Technological Importance

To what extend is technology an important aspect in society? How is it hanging the definition and coding of what it means to be a human?

Neil Easterbrook discusses how “In Neuromancer, all natural/artificial images are reversed from their conventional priority: techno now precedes physic” stating that in Neuromancer, one finds technology being more important than nature. That statement couldn’t be anymore true.

The first and overwhelmingly most important instance that proves Easterbrook true is that Case is a suicidal exiled hacker. He values the cyberspace as the true crucial aspect of life. Gibson deliberately implements how important technology is becoming by allowing the audience to witness how the exclusion from it can lead to a decline in ones own health, mental and physical. (Symbolizing Case as the teenage girl who didn’t receive enough Instagram likes.)

In addition, this relates to a correlation within robotic enchantments to ones self as the new form of plastic surgery in the world of Neuromancer. Molly, Julie, and many other characters in the novel have experienced inhuman enrichments to benefit their ideal of perfect.

It almost seems like an everlasting premonition of what is to come in the future. Prepare for Keeping Up With The Cyborgians in 2065!

The “Hacking” Real Deal

Is hacking a negative or positive act? <> How does one create without hacking?

Neuromancer, a William Gibson novel, works simultaneously with McKenzie Ward’s, A Hacker Manifesto. Gibson uses the characters in his novel to construct a different idea of hacking. In A Hacker Manifesto, Ward states that “To hack is to release the virtual into the actual, to express the difference of the real” which is something that Gibson does many times. Case, the hacking protagonist, is used along with the idea of the real (flesh) and virtual (robotic) to transform hacking into a positive action.

The typical ideal of a hacker seems challenged in Gibson’s novel. When I think of Case, I don’t think of the typical hacker whom never socializes, and doesn’t do drugs; ya know, the typical “nerd”(hope that doesn’t offend anyone). Case gives off the vibe of being the Jim Stark of the hacking world. He drinks, he sleeps around with women, he partakes in gang activity, hence his relationship with Wage, but he is still the discouraged Cowboy hero. It all changes the ideal of what hacking and hackers are. It goes to give the idea that the hero can be a non perfect superman like individual.

With the personality of Case challenging the real, to the distinction between the actual (flesh) to the virtual (robotic). Gibson uses flesh as a form of hacking. Gibson uses Ward’s idea of differentiating the real in order to express individuality. Take Molly for instance, she is a cyborg  that still is a self thinking, living, breathing person. She is allowed to have a relationship with Case and reciprocate feelings, which allows one to think of unanswerable questions.

Can she have children? How long will she live? Does she age?