Cyber Responsibility – Security Updates

A recent Wikileaks release revealed extensive information on the tactics the CIA uses for surveillance. The documents, named “Vault 7” that the CIA was using “[contained] several hundred million lines of code, many of which are designed to exploit vulnerabilities in everyday consumer devices” (Miller & Nakashima, 2017). The documents have caused “damage to the CIA’s efforts to gather intelligence overseas” and have added to the “strain on the U.S. government’s relationship with Silicon Valley giants including Apple and Google” (Miller & Nakashima, 2017).

Google released a security update to patch the “Android smartphone software…vulnerabilities highlighted in the WikiLeaks documents” (Nicas, 2017). But the issue now is that “only 2.8% of Android devices run the latest software, released in August” last year (Nicas, 2017). The technology the CIA crafted for surveillance efforts raises important questions about how much trust we can place in our everyday technology’s ability to protect our privacy, but what can be done when users do not take minimal responsibility in updating their devices with security patches? While the phone makers should be held accountable for creating a safer software, more emphasis needs to placed on the users to accept and download these cyber security measures.


Miller, G., & Nakashima, E. (2017, March 07). WikiLeaks says it has obtained trove of CIA hacking tools. Retrieved March 12, 2017, from
Nicas, J. (2017, March 12). Google Mends Gaps in Android Security. Wall Street Journal, p. B4.

Adversary or Advisor?

The Trump Administration has faced several setbacks in less than a month since Inauguration Day. One of the most shocking has been the executive order signed January 27 that barred “immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States” (Korosec, 2017). The tech industry was quick to react to the news citing the issues they would face in meeting skills shortages.

The problem the immigration ban created brought a group of business leaders to the spotlight: the President’s Strategic and Policy Forum. The business advisory group that is “headed by Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman and includes [Tesla’s Elon] Musk, BlackRock’s Larry Fink, IBM’s Ginni Rometty, J.P. Morgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon, and General Motors’ Mary Barra” is set to provide the President with counsel to “provide feedback on issues that…are important for our country and the world” (Korosec, 2017). Given the criticism facing President Trump, the business leaders are “grappling with concerns over how to engage with the new administration” (Greenwald, 2017).

Controversy over the participation in the advisory group, particularly after the company’s response after the immigration ban, led Uber CEO Travis Kalanick to resign. But others have defended their choice to remain as a way to help create positive changes with Musk noting that “simply [providing] advice and attending does not mean that [he agrees] with actions by the Administration” (Korosec, 2017). Earlier, Musk had reinforced his participation and the benefit it can provide by saying that it is “better that there are open channels of communication” and that “simply attacking him will achieve nothing“ (Lui, 2017).


Greenwald, T. (2017, February 14). IBM Chief Defends Role Advising White House. Wall Street Journal, p. B3.

Korosec, K. (2017, February 2). Elon Musk Says His Role as Trump Advisor ‘Does Not Mean I Agree’ with the President. Retrieved from Fortune:

Lui, K. (2017, January 27). Elon Musk Says Simply Attacking President Trump ‘Will Achieve Nothing’. Retrieved from Fortune:

Reinforcing the Digital Divide

Questions loom as FCC Chairman Ajit Pai settles into his new role and seemingly contradicts the vision he set of “closing the digital divide” with a move that tells “nine companies they won’t be allowed to participate in a federal program meant to help them provide affordable Internet access to low-income consumers” (Fung, 2017). These nine companies had previously been allowed to proceed under the Lifeline program by the previous Chairman Tom Wheeler. Pai stated that this form of last-minute “midnight regulation” undermined the majority opinion of the commissioners and that they would not be forced to move forward.

Access to reliable high-speed internet service is mainly due to cost in the United States where “nonadoption is closely tied to economic status” and “lack of data access reinforces other inequalities” (Crawford, 2013 p. 261). As consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge’s president Gene Kimmelman states: “limiting the Lifeline program, at this moment in time, exacerbates the digital divide. It doesn’t address it in any positive way” (Fung, 2017). In an age where high-speed internet access “brings a wealth  of economic activity and information” to communities, it remains to be see what Chairman Pai’s plans will be to bridge the gap in internet access for the country’s poor as he chooses to move past subsidy programs (Crawford, 2013 p. 261).


Crawford, S. (2013). Captive Audience. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Fung, B. (2017, February 3). The FCC is stopping 9 companies from providing federally subsidized Internet to the poor. Retrieved February 5, 2017, from The Washington Post:

All-Inclusive Digital Revolution

With many panels centered around the theme of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the World Economic Forum brought together leaders from government, business, and academia to discuss how digital technology (such as automation) will affect economic security for people around the world. In an article discussing the potential of intelligent cities as a mitigation for existing and future resource disparities, Frérot presents the argument that “digital technology provides solutions”, but that it will require active cooperation and depend “on the social support that is provided [and] on the policy choices made” (Frérot, 2017).  The argument here is that while technological advancements have created inequality, that same technology can empower communities to create policy that is more inclusive, that the “information [technology gives us] becomes knowledge, and knowledge becomes the power to act more and to be more useful” (Frérot, 2017).

Writing about Davos in The New York Times, Goodman argues that it will take movement on behalf of the business community and governments to make the tough decisions that can create an environment that reduces economic inequality. He observes that “solutions that have currency [at Davos] seem calculated to spare corporations and the wealthiest people from having to make any sacrifices at all” while expecting the middle and working class to adapt their skills readily for the automated future (Goodman, 2017). Policy makers will need manage “the digital transition” to protect the most economically vulnerable and “supplement digital innovation with social innovation” to really bring to fruition the benefits promised by intelligent cities (Frérot, 2017).


Frérot, A. (2017, January 18). Intelligent cities, inclusive cities? Retrieved January 21, 2017, from

Goodman, P. S. (2017, January 19). Amid Populist Fury, Elite Mull Inequity, but Avoid Talk of Sacrifice. The New York Times, pp. B1-B4.

What are the characteristics of a Master?

In order to communicate clearly, we must think clearly. If we are to think clearly, we must analyze concepts into their component parts and then synthesize the reflection into a coherent whole.

As part of our final meeting in the ICS 602 Human Communication Process and Theory course, the seminar analyzed the characteristics of a Master; as we continue on the road to mastery through the Center for Information and Communication Sciences graduate program, we state that a Master is:

    • Proficient in “visioneering” – Sophie Guetzko
    • Driven – Ryan Schoonover
    • Confident in their answers – Morgan Byasee
    • Dependable – Adam Vang
    • Thoroughly competent – Joe Porcelli
    • Adaptable, lives under pressure, and feels accomplished – Natalia Nazareth
    • One who leads by example – Jared Armstrong
    • A life-long learner – Randy Hiser
    • Analytical of context – Samaria Chicas
    • Visionary – Heather Vaughn
    • Resourceful – Jennings Banter
    • Creative – Temo Macias
    • Professional in their communication and appearance – Alison Lytle
    • A professional communicator – Chelsee Purvis
    • Curious/inquisitive about the world they live and work in – Erica Stevens
    • Patient – Nate Atkinson
    • Persistent – Quinn Sheridan
    • A great note taker – Preston Radtke
    • Disciplined – Deja Studdard
    • Someone who takes initiative to develop their field and peers – Katelyn Zehner
    • Someone who makes critical observations in any situation – Dakota Wappes
    • Someone who effectively filters and synthesizes information – Megan Roche
    • A competent individual – Emeka Egwuonwu
    • Someone who can adapt well to teamwork – Kristina Turner
    • Eager for a paradigm shift – Aaron Bender
    • A servant leader – Tom Stevenson
    • Someone who has the ambition to walk the paths that have been untouched and the wisdom to adapt to the situations from his failure – Justin Anderson
    • Inviolable – Victoria Bishop
    • Adept at solving complex problems – John Vellenga

While any one word cannot describe a Master, through the synthesis  of these characteristics we create the action (praxis) of being Masters. As Dr. Gillette says, “walk on two legs” – it’s the thinkin’ and doin’ that will get you there.

Information Renaissance – Leadership Shift

What sets an individual or organization apart when all the information we need is at our finger tips? The advantage of “trade secrets” that the world of the Industrial Revolution enjoyed is no more. With the advent of the Information Age, those who wish to survive have realized that only way to move forward is to innovate and enrich.

While we tend to speak in terms of the economy as it relates to business and organizations, we now find ourselves in a time when the paradigm shift must start with individuals and flow from there. The Information Renaissance, as Dr. Jay Gillette details in his article “Leadership for the Information Renaissance: Clarity, Challenges, Opportunity”, has move us towards a need to be skilled in many disciples to succeed. 

The School of Athens, Raphael, 1509-1511
The School of Athens, Raphael, 1509-1511

Our leaders now have to move out of that private corner office if they wish to really tap into the power of their team. As Kirby Ferguson states in his “4 Steps to Getting an Idea“, the flow of knowledge is a prerequisite for creativity. Leadership is an important aspect of this because of their ability to communicate the organization’s overarching vision as a compass.

If what we sell now is added knowledge value, individuals and leaders must support systems that enable and empower innovation. It is no longer about what you know but what you do with it – we trade knowledge and our currency is ideas. The currency is generated by a community that fosters innovation, creativity, and interdisciplinary learning and communication.

Copy + Paste – Inspiration and Transformation of Ideas

“…there is nothing new under the sun. “(Ecclesiastes 1:9, The New King James Version)

The subject of plagiarism is pertinent in the world of academia now more than ever; the internet allows us to have access to any information we seek immediately. The research that previously would have required one to travel to particular libraries is now reduced to a trip to a search engine.

Plagarism in academic work is the theft of ideas and ideas. It is critical to give credit to the sources you use in your research. But I think that some academic discretion must be given when developing a new take on old ideas. While this can sometimes be taken as “copying” existing works, this is the only way new ideas can come to fruition.

However, this form of thought process must be carefully monitored by the researcher and implemented with integrity.

Source: Encyclopædia Britannica
Source: Encyclopædia Britannica

As demonstrated most in the arts, a new take on old ideas can spark movements. Elvis Presley’s rock and roll was a take on blues music which was inspired by African tribal beats; the surrealist movement that included “originals” such as Salvador Dalí drew visual inspiration from indigenous African and American art.

Cultural appropriation is often tacked to the previously described artists as it should – the denial or commercialization of the intellectual property of other cultures has created serious issues socially. But, it is possible to obtain “inspiration” without damaging or demeaning  it’s source.

After starting a web series called Everything is a Remix in which he stated that all art is derived from existing art, Kirby Ferguson followed up with a his “4 Steps to Getting an Idea“. He breaks down the creative process into three steps:

  1. Copy
  2. Transform
  3. Combine
Source: Everything is a Remix

The “combine” is the resulting idea. Ferguson notes that “the conscious mind supplies the subconscious mind with the materials it needs”.

In a way, this borrowing allows for theme development; while “everything is a remix” (meaning that everything come from things that already exist), we can still forge ideas that move thoughts forward or in a different direction.

Blind plagiarism is the theft of intellectual property; inspired ideas crafted with integrity is creativity.

CICS – Creating Leaders for the Information Age

Ball State University’s Center for Information and Communication Sciences is a master’s degree program that creates leaders at the intersection of business and technology. It provides an information and communications technology (ICT) foundation with practical business experience.


CICS enhances the lessons provided in the traditional ICT coursework with Student Social Learning Program (SSLP), giving master’s candidates the opportunity to increase their experience in the “soft skills”; these events emphasize things like business dinner etiquette and business networking. SSLP events include: alumni wine dinner, business golf outing, job interview training, and career option seminars. Even as business increasingly relies on technology for various functions, interpersonal communication skills continue to be an important trait in future hires.

By teaching students how to operate within the business environment, CICS creates the next generation workforce: they know the language of technology so that they can effectively do business in the modern world.

A testament to their ability to transform master’s candidates into successful professionals, CICS enjoys great support from their alum who regularly participate in events with current students.

Human Communication – The What, How, and Why

As part of our coursework for ICS 602  (Human Communication: Process and Theory), we were tasked with developing a comprehensive written exam on our analysis of the practice of human communication as part of our synthesis of theory of human communication. Below is my discourse on the topic, including the original abstract and headings. 

A More Perfect Union: Praxis of Human Communication In an Evolving World

Samaria Chicas,  Ball State University

ICS 602 – Human Communication: Process and Theory, Dr. Jay E. Gillette


Human Communication, in practice, creates an evolution in practitioners through medium and context. To effectively communicate, the reflection and re-engagement in communication must be a continuous process.


Communication occurs in our world at even the atomic level. Beings, cells, energy, and other organisms transmit information intentionally or accidentally. But it seems humans, given the consciousness to think outside of the current circumstance, are alone in theorizing about how they communicate.

As a student of communication and information science, I will explain in this paper my analysis of human communication as an evolving practice, changed and manipulated by context and available mediums. This will be done through explanation of my theory of human communication, its practice, and how it comes together.

Theory, systematic thinking, and practice (doing) create a feedback loop that moves forward as it unites (praxis) and gets reanalyzed (theory) and re-applied (practice). This union of theory and practice, as an ongoing process is illustrated in figure 1 (Gillette, Oct 2016).

Figure 1 - Relationship Between Theory and Practice


To begin my analysis of the practice of human communication, I will define the term and then provide explanation of the components. The definition does not seek to confine discourse but simply provide a framework for development. As suggested, “definitions…are tools that should be used flexibly” (Littlejohn, 2011, 5). Human Communication is the sending and receiving of data through a medium within a context.

The sending and receiving are neither symbiotic nor dependent; while there are two or more parties involved, reception of a message is not required for communication to occur. As an example, our evolving and culturally differing body language provides a means for non-verbal communication that is sometimes not received. Since “non-verbal communication may not be voluntary or successful”, a practitioner may work to improve its reception (Anderson, 2016). In Western cultures, business women are coached in ways to display more dominating body language so as to improve this non-verbal conveyance of power.

Data refers to the message or messages being sent. This can be in the form of “sounds, media, or actions” (Bishop, 2016).

The medium is the channel that the data is sent and received through. This can be verbal, non-verbal, visual mediums; we have found an increase in the mediums available to us as technology advances.

The context is the situation in which this happens. To me, this is where the “human” comes in; our culture, language, and position provide a frame for the sender and receiver in the communication process, illustrated in figure 2.

Figure 2 - Communication Process


Human Communication in action formed the basis for our civilization today. Through our ability to agree on what things meant, we evolved a way to create and combine data into “information [to be] understood, selected, filtered and used to make a decision” (Gillette, 2000, 7).

In practice of human communication, context becomes key. The identity of the participants, environment, language (including grammar or slang), and values frame the data and medium. For example, hand gestures mean different things in different cultures; a ‘peace’ sign in the United States has a more vulgar interpretation in the United Kingdom.

Technology has found ways to create common understandings through use of visual communications. The modern emoji or emoticon keyboard provides a set of human-like facial expressions that have an increasingly common meaning for social media users.

The mediums through which we practice human communication also expand as technology innovates to improve human interaction. Previously restricted by distance, people are now able to have face-to-face meetings from long distances. This adds a non-verbal component to what was once only auditory.

The medium and context are at a constant battle for the sender and receiver; the many “tyrannies of architecture”, such as noise, physical arrangements, and socially applied positions of power (titles, for example) create distortions of data (Gillette, Aug 2016). The practicing human communicator is tasked with interpreting the received message despite these limitations, since “elements of human communication are learned [and] obtained through direct experiences” (Littlejohn, 2011, 4).

This interaction of elements come together to make a loop of learning. We ‘do’ communication, ‘learn’ and ‘assess’ the feedback, and ‘do’ once again.


As humans practice communication, we create an evolving practice that is altered continuously by our available mediums and changing contexts.

If “knowledge is ultimately what we understand” and what we understand changes as we communicate and learn, then that same knowledge re-expressed can have a completely different meaning depending on the context and medium (Gillette, 2000, 3).

The understanding of this cycle becomes increasingly important as we work to improve technology and the way we do business in a global context. We are bringing the world together despite cultural barriers but without ignoring them. As Tom Peters repeatedly describes in his book Thriving on Chaos, listening is what makes the difference between success and failure. This practice of taking in communication “systematically – and unsystematically…for facts – and for perceptions” allows us to put the knowledge gained into motion (Peters, 1988, 176).

The value of undistorted feedback, which we are able to perceive through the practice and reflection (theory post-practice) of communication, becomes a determinant for the longevity of any organization (Peters, 1988, 185).

To effectively communicate is to allow change to be changed continuously.


Anderson, Justin. “Definition of Human Communication.” ICS602 Human Communication: Process and Theory. Dr. Jay Gillette. 2016. Print.

Bishop, Victoria. “Definition of Human Communication.” ICS602 Human Communication: Process and Theory. Dr. Jay Gillette. 2016. Print.

Gillette, Jay. “ICS602 Human Communication: Process and Theory.” Letterman Building 269, Ball State University, Muncie. 24 Aug. 2016. Lecture.

Gillette, Jay. “ICS602 Human Communication: Process and Theory.” Letterman Building 269, Ball State University, Muncie. 12 Oct. 2016. Lecture.

Gillette, Jay Edwin. (2000). ““Information is Knowledge in Motion”: A Practical Framework for Understanding Knowledge Management.” Print.

Littlejohn, Stephen W., and Karen A. Foss. Theories of Human Communication. 10th ed. Long Grove, IL: Waveland, 2011. Print.

Peters, Thomas J. Thriving on Chaos: Handbook for a Management Revolution. New York: Harper & Row, 1988. Print.

Tapping In

How much can we learn from subliminal sensory training?

A team of researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology are discovering new applications for passive haptic learning (PHL) through a study using Google Glass.

They developed a game that teaches them Morse code passively through a set of vibrations passed through Glass’s bone-conduction transducer. As they learned this language, half of the participants “felt the vibration taps…for each corresponding letter” while the control group felt no taps. [1]

Photo credit: Thomas Hawk
Photo credit: Thomas Hawk

Participants who were receiving vibration signals were able to learn while “not paying attention” and could pass a test on Morse code in less than four hours.

PHL has “has taught people braille, how to play the piano and improved hand sensation for those with partial spinal cord injury” [1]. The applications of this method could eventually be translated to other mobile smart devices.

Passive communication in other forms (such as body language and facial expressions) already has the potential to teach us about different cultures; the research here could add an additional element to the human communication experience by providing subliminal, immediate learning through confirmation systems with those vibrations. This could tap into parts of our learning we have not explored in the past.



[1] Scientists teach people to learn Morse code in four hours without trying. (2016, October 27). Retrieved November 2, 2016, from