Digital Media: Knowledge is Power

On Monday 13th January 2014, I had a day full of lectures surrounding our current module “Digital Media”. During this day, I attended a lecture entitled “Knowledge is Power” taken by Mez Packer, followed by a group workshop on our Internet Hoaxes task from last week (, and a workshop introduction to coding. Below you can find all of the notes that I took from these sessions:

  • Need to show collaboration through our research groups – network with them, comment on their posts, like things, share things, etc.


  • Sir Francis Bacon – first said “knowledge is power” in 17th century
    • Generosity, enlightenment, dignity, splendor, piety, public spirit
    • Is this still true for our digital native population? – some, not others
      • We are much more sophisticated in finding information now
  • In the 17th century, people still had to make sure that the information they received was real
  • Governments have whole phalanxes of people dedicating themselves to obfuscation, trickery, propaganda and lies
  • Anyone can post something online and state that it is true – but is it?
    • Advertisers create illusions
    • Activists spam, tweet and blindside
    • Conspiracy theorists incessantly doom-monger
  • Jimmy Kimmel Reveals “Worst Twerk Fail EVER – Girl Catches Fire” Prank VIDEO
    • It was made up by Jimmy Kimmel to go viral
    • A complete set up for the purposes for going viral
    • It was an internet hoax – we thought it was real because of where it was cut
  • Archive of internet hoaxes –
    • Has traffic light setting to show you if it is actually true or not
    • Almost feel like we could trust things more before the internet – how do we know what’s real?
  • Democratization
    • Democracy will be received through the sharing of internet – we will find the truth
    • There were no boundaries because no one could stop us – to a certain extent, that has happened
    • Also meant a mass of lies
    • Traditional gatekeepers have been eroded – we’re now in the age of citizen journalism and bloggers
    • What happens when some agencies that are meant to protect us turn around and feed us lies?
    • The Centre for Democracy and Technology ( – an organisation that looks at the various impacts of digital technologies (and media) on society
      • This is in response to – access to information, real-time communication
  • Activism
    • How have people responded to being under surveillance?
    • Every single political rally or protests, police will take incredibly high resolution images
    • Sousurveillance – activists film the police filming them
      • Some police have been seen to hide their ID numbers – why? Are they going to cause trouble to?
  • Reportage
  • Full scale leakage and whistle-blowing
    • Wikileaks
      • Julian Assange
      • Aaron Swartz
      • Edward Snowden
  • We’re not really in the age of free information are we? – the people that provided us with free information, where are they now?
  • We’re the first generation that actually have to think about our opinions and uploading them on to social media sites
  • We are global – everything we do is global
  • It’s war out there
    • In 2010, Google temporarily pulled its operation from China
    • Sometime we seem to need a “bullshit detector”


  • Examples:
    • Brass Eye –Cake
    • Bhopal Legacy
    • He doesn’t work for the company, he is an activist – the company never take responsibility for the Bhopal Incident
  • It’s inconvenient to be anonymous
  • The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding From You – Eli Pariser
  • Photo-Manipulation
  • Faking it in Premiere and Photoshop – the new unreality
    • The Turing Test – In Alan Turing’s now famous paper Computing Machinery and Intelligence (1950) he asks whether a machine can be made that would be indistinguishable from a human being when subjected to particular criteria
    • Captcha – Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.
    • Mitsuku wins the 2013 Loebner Prize ($100,00 to the first AI to pass the Turing Test) 

  • Conclusion
    • Sometimes whole nations are fooled

The Third & The Seventh from Alex Roman on Vimeo.

My Response to the Lecture:

After having this lecture, the main part of it that got me thinking was the democratization aspect. The idea that democracy will be received through the sharing of the internet and finding out the truth, along with the fact that the traditional gatekeepers have been eroded through the appearing citizen journalists and bloggers, really made me think about the current and constant struggle professional photographers have to face: the nonprofessionals. 

In Fred Ritchin’s book “After Photography”, he discusses theories surrounding the future of photography, with one of his main points being about the digital native nonprofessionals. As the digital era continues to expand and change, amateur photographers can achieve the same, high-quality image taking and editing that the professionals used to use as their differing attribute.

People may be excited about the democratization that the Internet (and adapting digital media) will bring, but as a photographer, this democratization simply increases my number of competitors.

But on the other hand, Ritchin also mentions how the art industry adapted when photography originally came onto the scene, creating a more experimental medium. That is why these nonprofessionals are not such a threat after all and this democratization of the digital world (I feel) will soon create a more creative and experimental industry.


  • Mid-term presentations – 10th February
    • Should be between 3 and 4 minutes
  • Softaculous App Installer – WordPress – Install
    • Choose protocol – http://
    • Choose domain – your domain name
    • In directory – wp
    • Database name – wp613
    • Will have filled out everything for you
    • Change Admin name, password and email
  • Open in a new tab (the wp page)
  • Then add /wp-admin
  • Type in name and password
  • WordPress
    • Need to familiarize ourselves with it
    • Go to General Settings – change some general settings
    • Go to appearance – themes – change some of the appearance
      • Themes – choose – install
      • Then go to themes – activate chosen theme
      • Customise the theme
  • Add posts from current blog
  • Plugins
    • Akismet – activate
    • Hello Dolly – do not activate
    • Next GEN Gallery 2.0.40 – install
  • Widgets – look at installing Twitter?