Reading Response 8

Yay! It’s the final one everyone, in theory we have made it!

So, I can relate to the author, Hollis Phelps and his editorial, Žižek, plagiarism and the lowering of expectations. Phelps explains his disappointment in realizing his intellectual hero is in fact as human as he is.
Writing is hard, and it is even harder to keep work original. If a topic is popular or current, there is a lot of information written on it. When it is a topic which is of interest to you, then chances are you will read as much information as you can find on the subject. If you have a paper to write on the subject, it is very easy to start mixing original ideas with sources you have read. So as Phelps says, you cite, but as he says, “Cite too much, and your work is derivative; cite too little, and you get accused of not knowing the literature, sloppiness, or in some cases plagiarism” (Phelps). It really is a Catch-22.
As a student, it is hard to find the balance with how many quotes to include, how many citations, and at what point it will be the professor says, ‘too many quotes and not enough original thought’.
Does original thought really exist anymore? Is it possible somewhere, someone has already iterated what is flowing from my fingertips and without scouring everything ever written I am plagiarizing someone at this very moment? If I am, I apologize, it is not my intent and I don’t wish to be held accountable for stealing someone’s ideas due to a lack of resources in researching.
Now I do not want to be so pompous as to assume my ideas are so grand they could be confused with someone else’s, but I do want to toss this out there.
A great writer or researcher does have the resources to find information and put together a masterpiece, but as the author says, “…the actual production of scholarship often depends on others, whose work often remains largely unacknowledged (Phelps). It seems even as an academic, he is willing to accept there are certain levels of acceptable plagiarism that does occur in everyone’s work and basically to keep oneself within the acceptable levels one must remember to cite-at least most of the time.
So this brings us to the second article, “The Disruptive Power of Collaboration: An Interview with Clay Shirky” conducted by Clay Shirky with Michael Chui. The interview is a discussion of “sharing and how it changes everything” (Shirky). Shirky explains how, “when communications tools come along and they change how people can contact each other, how they can share information, how they can find each other—we’re talking about the printing press, or the telephone, or the radio, or what have you—the changes that are left in the wake of those new technologies often span generations” (Shirky). I take this statement to mean with new innovation allows for new ways of communication but also gives individuals the abilities who would have not have done so previously to communicate and share information. I also tie this comment back to the Phelps editorial. Fifteen years after his original article was written, Stanley Hornbeck gets his due respect for the original thoughts in regards to his critique of Kevin MacDonald’s The Culture of Critique: An Evolutionary Analysis of Jewish Involvement in Twentieth-Century Intellectual and Political Movements. For eight years, Žižek was able to take credit where credit was not due and never once did it occur to him prior to being called out on it to admit he plagiarized another’s work. One can go back and forth but let’s be honest, if he’s the scholar he claims to be, then yes he was aware. Shirky believes sharing changes the playing field, eventually it won’t take eight years for a person to be able to realize someone else had taken credit for their work. Once Pandora’s box was opened, I am sure additional writings were communicated amongst those who care for further scrutiny of all of Žižek’s “work”.
As an observer, it makes for interesting reading.

Phelps, Hollis. “Žižek, Plagiarism and the Lowering of Expectations.” Inside Higher Education. July 17 2014.Web. .


Literature Review

The Digital Footprint: Is it Automatic With Birth and
Once Created Can It Be Erased?

Technology has become so integrated in our lives the question arises, if it is possible to be born today and have the opportunity to not be counted and effectively live off the grid on the outskirts of society. Today, if you are born in the United States, a parent is required to have a social security number (SSN) for the child in order to file income taxes and claim the child. The SSN is the start of the government tracking on the child. Technology makes it possible for anyone to create a digital footprint, even prior to birth and once the footprint is created, it is almost impossible to erase. There are some who suggest, it is possible to not create a digital footprint, this paper examines the footprint, how it came about, societies view toward it and whether anyone is really off the grid.

Amitai Etzioni explains in the article, The Bankruptcy of liberalism and conservatism, that the line between the public and private world has become so blurred and mixed it is hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. Etzioni argues the blurring of the line began with the invention of the social security number, “Social Security Numbers were widely used in both public and private realms long before the cyber age, and they contributed to efficiency and raised privacy concerns from their inception”. Etzioni goes on to say that, “The creation of SSNs in 1936 resulted from the Social Security Act of 1935, which authorized the Social Security Administration to establish a record-keeping system to track employee’s earnings and eligibility for social security benefits”. Etzioni explains, “The public was concerned about privacy and confidentiality issues”. Over the years, the SSN was used not just by the Social Security Administration as a way of tracking wages and benefits, but in the 1960s all federal agencies started using the SSN as a means of identifying individuals as mandated by an executive order in 1943. Over the years, additional agencies such as states for driver’s licensing purposes and financial institutions for identification purposes all required the use of the SSN to verify identity. Etzioni continues the argument, that the lines were further blurred, with the Patriot Act in 2001, and “the advent of cyberspace, this difference has been further diminished”. The “tracking device is one and the same in both realms”, as Etzioni continues his paper, he references George Orwell and his book 1984.

George Orwell in his book 1984 discusses what happens when the government has complete and total control of your life. The book is a work of fiction however, fiction can at times parallel real life, “He knew now that for seven years the Thought Police had watched him like a beetle under a magnifying glass. There was no physical act, no word spoken aloud, that they had not noticed, no train of thought that they had not been able to infer.” Orwell was concerned in how society was changing and the interference and intrusions occurring and the general acceptance of it from society. He continues to explain, “Big Brother is watching you”, he parallels the book to his perception of society he was part of in the 1940s. Orwell continues, “Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power…the object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me”. Orwell used fiction to convey some of his concerns about society. Orwell predicted there would come a time when everything a person did would be recorded and cameras would be taking pictures of our every move, and records would be kept on us. Orwell wrote his book in 1949 and foresaw the evolution of government.

Eric Outram outlines a way for those who want to, for whichever reason to they want to do so, to start living off the grid. In his personal case study, Living off the grid, Outram discusses the adventures and attempts of his family in Canada to live off the grid. He contends it is possible to delete a digital footprint, if one truly wants. He explains, “Off-grid living in its simplest form involves finding ways to provide for basic human comforts.” Getting off the grid required finding the land on the Internet, purchasing materials, and building to Canadian building codes.

In his book, Off the grid: inside the movement for more space, less government, and true independence in modern America, Nick Rosen continues the discussion on the ease of living off the grid, but argues in for the benefit not just for the removal of one’s digital footprint but also makes the case for less government intrusion. Rosen explores the back to land movement, which swept through the United States in the early 1970s and has returned, “The back to land movement is having its time again. A few hundred thousand elderly ex-hippies-or maybe enduring hippies-who went rural in the 1970s have now been joined by a younger generation, many who have abandoned the rat race in the past few years”. He contends many have become fed up with the “…consumer-driven society. They have lost all trust with bankers and politicians”. In the United Kingdom, where he is from, he, “launched a website to help campaign for easier laws for what we in the UK call off-grid homes”. He travelled to the United States because his website was getting more interest from people in the states with interest in his idea. He went on a cross-country trek looking for an understanding of how and why people in the states were living off the grid. Rosen continues the discussion; it is not easy to live off the grid in developed countries due to a tie somehow to society, whether it is through the Internet, mail or payments. He entertains the idea; it is much easier to live off the grid in undeveloped countries due to the lack of resources by the government to track a person. He basically states if a person has enough money, then one can easily disappear in a less developed country.


Etzioni, A. (2013). The bankruptcy of liberalism and conservatism Wiley-Blackwell. doi:10.1002/polq.12003
Orwell, G. (1949). 1984. Secker and Warburg.
Outram, E. (2011). Living Off the Grid. Earth Common Journal, 1(1). Retrieved from
Privacy vs. publicity.(1996). Society, 33(5), 2-2. Retrieved from
Rosen, N. (2010). Off the grid: Inside the movement for more space, less government, and true independence in modern America. Penguin.

RR 6

Are We Getting Privacy the Wrong Way Around-is great. The writer Kieron O’Hara is a researcher for the Electronic and Computer Science Department at the University of Southampton and has spent time working on the ethical implications behind the gathering of big data and how it affects privacy.
I like the writer’s point of not just supporting the idea of the companies playing God and deciding to take away our individual rights because, “they can”. O’Hara believes “privacy isn’t a private benefit like health or champagne, but a public good like clean air or scientific research” (92). He understands and even works in the world of big data and number crunching, but he also knows that if you are honest with people about what you are doing with their data, there might not be such uproar about the collection of information. It is the secrecy that makes people uncomfortable. It is the secrecy that has to change.

I didn’t enjoy the article, What Is ‘Evil’ to Google, as much. Ian Bogost writes well enough, but we all know Google controls the world, but the idea that they have evolved into a different species is obvious to anyone who started with google in the early stages, and how often they have changed their privacy policy in the last 14 years or so. It seems so obvious, why mention it?

Bogost, Ian. “What Is ‘Evil’ to Google?” The Atlantic. October 15 2013. <

O'Hara, Kieron. "Are we Getting Privacy the Wrong Way Round?" IEEE Internet Computing 17.4 (2013): 89-92.

Annotated Bibliography

Annotated Bibliography

Coutin, S. B., (2003). Illegality, borderlands, and the space of nonexistence. Globalization Under Construction: Governmentality, Law, and Identity, 171-202.

This article continues the discussion of living off the grid, which had been the norm for many who were crossing the border and coming to the states for a better life. After 9/11 the Unites States realized the borders were very fluid and loose. The essay is an “ethnography of the space of nonexistence. This space is both imagined and real. Like its residents, it both is and is not there.” At the time of the writing of this, the government was trying to get a handle of who was in the country and where they were.

Coutin, S. B., & Chock, P. P. (1996). “Your friend, the illegal:” Definition and paradox newspaper accounts of US immigration reform. Identities Global Studies in Culture and Power2(1-2), 123-148.

It discusses how many in America are living within the shadows of society, but they are not really off the grid because they receive services from the government. Many of the people discussed came across the border or were born here. This is part of my paper because I want to show how times have changed since 1996 and how as technology has integrated in to more of daily life, it is harder to live within the shadows of society.

Orwell, G. (2009). Nineteen eighty-four. Random House LLC.

This book discusses the totalitarian state that George Orwell feared and also felt the world was becoming which he tried to make others aware of when he originally published in 1949. Orwell was way ahead of his time; maybe some of his paranoia is what gave the governments the ideas. Discusses George Orwell’s 1984 and the original plot. 1984 is a reminder to people what happens when the government has complete and total control of your life. It explains how society can change and not for the best when we get to the point of Big Brother keeping tabs on everyone and what happens when a few people have all of the power. While we are not living in his world, many of the predictions did come true. I am including reference to 1984 as an example of our societal shift from the “go out and prosper” to “go out and prosper but remember we are watching your every move”, world that we live in now.

Outram, E. (2011). Living Off the Grid. Earth Common Journal, 1(1). Retrieved from

This is just an over view of what living off the grid requires. It doesn’t discuss technology but discusses the basic needs of a person who intends to live without the creature comforts. “Off-grid living in its simplest form involves finding ways to provide for basic human comforts.” This really discusses the idea that off the grid is not always about hiding from the man, but many times it is about being able to respect mother earth and not over use resources. It presents it in a very positive light.

Philbin, G., & Borkovich, D. J. (2014). American dossier: your life on the internet. Issues in Information Systems15(1).

This discusses our information, online. How much there really is. It discusses the fear we should all have and also understanding of how we cannot hide or be anonymous, somewhere there has been something attached to your name and you should really know what is out there on you, but in reality not really sure if it matters.

Robey, B. (1989). Two hundred years and counting: the 1990 census. Population bulletin44(1), 3-43.

This discusses how the census has changed since it was first take in the US in 1790. This study discusses, how the populations have changed and migrated throughout the US and the shift which has occurred based on where the jobs are. It also discusses the populations of those living here off the grid, who have for many years not been counted and how changes to the Census are capturing the homeless and off the grid populations.

Rosen, N. (2010). Off the grid: Inside the movement for more space, less government, and true independence in modern America. Penguin.

This author is talking about the restrictions put on those who want to live off the grid in developed countries and how easy it is to live off the grid in less developed countries. There are a lot of hoops to be gone through which require money and time to try to fulfill off the grid living in the US.

Strunk, D., Colin, S., Chris, B., & Desmond, L. (2014). American Cyber Insecurity: The growing danger of cyber attacks.

Discusses what we should be afraid of others being able to do with our online information. It’s already out there, and they already have access. This paper covers how as we have more information available online and in databases, our lives are an open book, we as citizens should be concerned with who has access, how they get it, and what they are doing with it. The paper discusses the deficiencies in the current response to cyber attacks and suggests what can be changed to make our information safer.

Does Digital Scholarship Have a Future?

I enjoyed reading this article, not because it was written by the president of the university but because it really does make sense. I can remember a time when just the mention of something new which could be done online would send everyone running to their dial up connections trying to be part of the “new thing”.

Dr. Ayers has provided research to indicate this trend is over, there are those who are skeptical of the “new thing” and not so quick to jump on band wagon.  This could be good or bad, but to me, it seems if it is related to knowledge and learning, it is important to try to find some common ground so education and information can be accessed by as many people in the world, no matter their economic background, (24).

The thesis of this paper is, “The innovations which would have amazed us 20 years ago are just considered part of everyday life and no one really gives too much thought to how they intertwine in what we regularly do”, (25).

His definition of Digital Scholarship is the concept which has grown from the grass roots efforts to combine traditional teaching and learning with the digital world.

The purpose of all scholarship is to contribute in a meaningful and enduring way to an identifiable collective and cumulative enterprise.

The challenges to Digital Scholarship are that scholarly innovations are slow moving, scholars have to be willing to commit to a new pace and schedule to stay current and be relevant, and few scholars are trying to do and be innovative today in the same ways they were 20 years ago because the web isn’t this new exciting and cutting edge thing, it’s just part of our lives, (28).

How does scholarship grow when monographic is what it has looked like for a long time, the monographic culture performs hard and essential work by reducing the range of risk in the risky world of original scholarship, (28).