Archive for November 6th, 2012

Computer Hacking and the Moral Standpoint: For Saints or Sinners?   no comments

Posted at 4:38 pm in Uncategorized

Initial thoughts on philosophy constitute the subject as a means to question, analyse and assemble thoughts and conceptions of the universe (Nagel, 1987). Furthermore, it has been mentioned that these analyses technically cannot be answered within the current available technology of that particular time. And so, early constructions of the ‘heavens’ and earth, from various religious eras, seemed contradictory to the later findings from scientific studies. Although, from this, further questions can be built upon this to create new philosophies of the universe. This insinuates that the foundations of philosophy stem from an innate human motivation to learn about the world around us and question our very purpose within it. Whether in hindsight that an act of communications hacking is indeed relevant or even significant to the purposes of human beings on planet earth and within the universe.

Not only does philosophy stem from an ideology of ‘nothing is certain’, it also strives to suggest that there are implications and ramifications for such actions associated with what is humanly and technologically possible. Brian Harvey (1985) analyses the ethical consequences of such hacking actions and that the human associated with the action will indeed, over time, become desensitised to the ethical implications as a consequence of their actions. This seems as though it is dependant upon whether they are hacking for the greater good or whether it a simple act of breaking down security systems in order to alter the intended message to its audience.

Furthermore, Harvey (1985) notes that the ethical understanding of a human being is something that is learned, something that is driven from our interaction with the environment and with society, that ethical understanding and awareness are social phenomena that are altered according to variables such as gender, race, religious belief, culture and status. In reference to communications hacking, the ethical implications are based on the judgement from the end-user or the audience of the message and not of the hackers themselves. Although, this begs the question of whether empathy is an emotion on the flipside to perceived ethical discrepancies.

In a news article, the Vatican stated that hackers are subjects associated with a greater good, that they are driving us away from the restrictions and securities of western society and that freedom of speech and the right to know such information is a part of society (Discover Magazine, 2011). In reference to one of my previous posts, this article continues down the route that hacktism is the ideology associated with the freedom of information.

It is clear to see that there is a crossover point between political action and philosophical theory. In my next entry I shall be researching how philosophical theories are represented as political ideologies and how this may affect societies perceptions on communications hacking. Does political reasoning give the hacker the excuse to perform such actions?

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Written by Gareth Beeston on November 6th, 2012

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Markets   no comments

Posted at 10:18 am in Uncategorized

In which market structures do web-only firms operate? And what are the implications?

There are many market structures in which firms trade[1]: perfect competition in which many firms sell an identical product; monopolistic competition in which a large number of firms compete with slightly different products, leading to differentiation; oligopoly where a small number of firms compete; and monopoly in which one firm produces a unique good or service, e.g. utility suppliers.

Perfect competition

Perfect competition gives rise to a situation in which economic profit induces entry into the market by firms, which in turn eliminates profit. And economic loss induces exit, which in turn eliminates the loss. When profit and loss have been eliminated and entry and exit has stopped, a competitive market is in long-term equilibrium. But this is a rare state to maintain.

Monopolistic competition

Monopolistic competition results in many product innovations, to achieve differentiation, which are cost-efficient to produce so not significant.  It differs from perfect competition in that there is excess capacity and the prices are higher.


An oligopoly has a small number of interdependent firms resulting from natural barriers to entry. It is distinguished from monopolistic competition by measuring the market ownership of the 5 largest firms compared to the next 10 largest firms, with 60% market ownership by largest firms giving the oligopoly. It is studied using game theory.


A monopoly has 2 key features: there is no close substitute and there are barriers to entry which deter potential competitors. The 3 types of barrier are: natural in which economies of scale enable one firm to supply the entire market at the lowest cost; the ownership barrier if one firms owns the major portion of a resources; and a legal barrier if a firm is granted a monopoly franchise, government licence, patent or a copyright.

Web-only firms operate in a mix of all 4 market types. There is the monopoly in search services and SEO advertising by Google; the oligopoly-duopoly of Google and Facebook in platforms for user-generated social content and dependent applications; the monopolistic competition of other topic or media based dependent social networks (e.g. SoundCloud, Myspace, Youtube, Vimeo, Goodreads etc); the perfect competition of free knowledge sites with professionally created or user-generated content (e.g. Wikipedia, online periodicals, Quora, Stackoverflow etc).

Are the Freemium business model permutations, including indirect revenue streams, the most economically viable models? Are they supported or undermined by the mixed market environment? The next instalment follows…

[1] Economics / Parkin, Michael, 1939-

Written by Caroline Halcrow on November 6th, 2012