Seminar 11 – Assignment 2 Initial Thought Process

During seminar time this week we were able to start/continue thinking about what to study and discuss for assignment 2 of the module. I’d only briefly considered what to write about before this point so, I sat for quite a while reading over my blog and lecture notes, then researching into a few initial ideas such as learning technology. However, the inspiration for my essay came from the birthday present I’d just bought for my Dad’s birthday – an Amazon Echo Dot. This device can be likened to a Siri or Cortana, allowing the user to speak commands aloud to their device, once connected to the internet, the device can give information on weather, news etc and connect with other household devices in order to play music etc.

Since I like to check reviews for items before buying them – especially on Amazon since it’s a very popular site and people tend to leave reviews on many of the items, I had a browse through some of the reviews on the Dot, and although many of the reviews were positive, some people were concerned about privacy and security when using the device. Although there is a switch to turn the microphone off on the device, the general idea is that it’s listening all the time, and will respond when the user speaks the command word – Alexa. However, this means that the device could potentially listen 24/7, record everything and store the data.

Amazon has stated that the device keeps a track of the information and tools you’ve used, in order to give a better user experience and that this information can be found and deleted on the users Amazon account, but this will mean the device will forget everything it knows about the user.

It’s all a matter of personal preference and knowledge, some users of always listening technology are not bothered about their devices collecting data about them, some users just simply aren’t away that there could be potential privacy issues with their devices and others will not use or are resistant to using always listening devices, due to concerns for their privacy.

I will be using privacy and surveillance discussions from theorists such as Manovich and Andrejevic in my report, as well as a number of journals and articles about always listening technology in order to argue that although always listening technology may cause concern for some people, it does not pose a threat to privacy and security, but rather is used for monetary gain by those who receive the data – which is not a threat to the user, it just means they are targeted for specific marketing strategies and advertisements.

There’s my train of thought so far, I’ll be continuing in next weeks seminar and then it’s just a case of writing out the assignment!

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