Reflection.

What a quick semester! Feels like only yesterday that myself, a starry-eyed, fresh-off-gap year, freshman walked into my first BCM112 lecture run by Ted. The past 10 weeks of blogging have definitely opened my eyes up to the world of digital media. It has been a process of critically analysing digital media concepts that all hover around the notion of convergence. My three best blog posts “Many Hands Make Light Work”, “Nigella Foursome” and “Because I Just Can” all showcase the notion of audiences affecting convergence, in a more specific insight, ‘Participation’.

My three posts all discuss current or recent online trends and using examples, talk about the positives and negatives of the online digital world allowing user participation. Through writing these posts I have been able to understand why the open nature of the online world and lack of gatekeeping can be a problem yet be a positive. In my post “Many Hands Make Light Work”, the notion of ‘Citizen Journalism’ to myself means through the empowering nature of the participatory online world, regular everyday people do not have to be an accredited Journalist to create media. This can be used negatively or positively as explained in the post and in my opinion is harmful to traditional Journalism. My post “Nigella Foursome” was the most fun I’ve had writing thus far, which therefore helped me understand the new culture of ‘Remixing’ online. The concept of remixing to myself was a ‘distortion of reality’ and due to the very accessible and participatory nature of online platforms such as YouTube, it is very easy to do. I also understood that while remixing is very commonly used in a humourous sense (such as my Nigella video), it is also used to bring up political concerns. Writing the post “Because I Just Can” explained the culture of ‘Trolling’. The use of the poem ‘IF’ by Rudyard Kipling, I conveyed the message that you should always be prepared for negative criticism when you put your works and opinions online as it will be very hard to gatekeep trolling. These are just the negative repercussions of free speech online and the open nature of the internet.

These three posts provide useful insight to where the online media world is heading, a user empowering world!

 

Because I just can.

“If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too; If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools” IF, Rudyard Kipling

These vintage, famous words spoken from Kipling help shape my own understanding of current ‘online trends’. Trends of racism, sexism, violent threats, bullying etc on social media, video platforms and blogs are trends that are spiraling so far out of control that it can even leads to suicide. This is due to the openness of the Internet. The participatory nature of the internet as explained in previous blogs have welcomed cultures such as Remixing and Citizen Journalism. Although these cultures may carry aspects of positivity and negativity, a new, negative culture of Trolling has caught open platforms off guard! The definition of the slang term ‘Trolling’ is someone who deliberately posts an off topic, controversial and provoking comment on an online forum. Urbandictionary has a much more clear definition of trolling- “Being a pr*** on the internet because you can. Typically unleashing one or more cynical or sarcastic remarks on an innocent bystander, because it’s the internet and, hey, you can.” This colloquial definition is completely correct, it is because they can. The anonymity and lack of gatekeeping entices these internet Trolls to spread their distasteful opinions. Back in the times of solely passive consumption eg. Newspapers, there was very little access to voice an opinion. Where as now, there are very accessible portals to express an opinion. The trolls aim is to implant a chilling effect which will then discourage people’s involvement online. Some individuals have tried to find solutions to “get even” with these Internet trolls for instance by establishing the website “The Anti-Bogan”. This is basically a website to “name and shame” perpetrators of sexism, homophobia, misogynism etc in the online sphere.

This video truly showcases the characteristics of an Internet troll (even if it’s a parody). They keep themselves anonymous, they feel empowered when they post an extreme comment and they get satisfaction from backlash which is due to having a troubled upbringing . Our participatory culture is changing the world of online media, so online users should still voice their own opinions/ideas to the world. Users who post on open forums must be prepared to receive negative trolling as it is quite hard to gatekeep. In my opinion it’s the invisible responsibility you agree to when posting publicly.

The participatory nature of the online world today should welcome healthy online debates over an issue, but trolling is just one repercussion of free speech on the internet, so “If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools”, as Kipling quotes “You’ll be a man, my son!”

Youth itself is a talent, a perishable talent.

Eric Hoffer who quoted this sentence might be a while in the past, but the meaning however, is very much relevant to the present. Older generations such as ‘the baby boomers’ have the impression that all the youth do is eat, sleep, Facebook, maybe venture out of the house, eat, Facebook, sleep and repeat. There is essentially moral panic about the youth of today. In my opinion this generation is very much correct. We have the perfect opportunity in this digital/social media age to start forms of Clicktivism and Global Activisim. Clicktivism is the pollution of activism with the logic of consumerism, marketing and computer science. Global Activism in my opinion blends together a global change (eg. gay marriage), a target societal group on a global scale (eg. Young people) and the digital world all together. But why do we have the perfect opportunity? Henry Jenkins says it perfectly “the digital age has opened a new era of activism that offers the next generation new avenues into broader political participation.”

Having this said, the new digital era has also brought about a culture of Slacktivism. This is just a pejorative term that describes “feel good” measures in support of an issue, that has no practical effect on the actual issue. I can admit, even I have been a perportrator of slacktivism! Just scrolling down my Facebook page I have seen a post titled “Repost this to feed this child’s family”. Feeling like a hero I repost the Facebook post, but how do I even know its a legitmate charity? I don’t. All I did was make myself feel good for that 5 seconds of my life by reposting phony Facebook spam. That is Slacktivism. Yes I can hang my head in shame now.

“Other peoples interest in politics may be sparked by references by popular culture that helps them connect to issues that they already care about” (Jenkins, 2012) This quote by Jenkins describes Culture Jamming. This new breed of activisms plays to Gen-Y’s interests (which is normally cats doing silly things), but in this form of activism’s case:

julia gilliard(Source: Google Images)

It is a use of a Meme that attracts the interest of users. Meme’s are normally littered all over Facebook, Tumblr and most social media sites which will guarantee exposure to a young audience. The creator has bascially called Gillard a ‘Hipster’ for her new glasses while calling for the 2013 election. The #HipsterGillard uses the popular culture of Twitter to get people interested whilst still creating political discussion.

So there are obviously many ways us youthfuls can become involed in political and social activism, but we must make it meaningful! WE are the future and WE must not let our natural talent of being youthful go to waste, dont be childish and take a stand to what you believe in.

Nigella Foursome?

Warning: Crude humour (and lots of it!)


Firstly, can I begin by saying, tone it down Nigella! Is this the new breed of chefs that are emerging in 2013? Is there some mysterious scent being set loose from her apple upside-down cakes that’s turned Nigella into a sex-fueled manic!? Well, not exactly. This my friends is the art of remix. We all know the REAL Nigella Lawson who is a much-loved, celebrity food writer and journalist. She is also seen as the food worlds ‘sex icon’. The maker of this video wants to exaggerate Nigella Lawson as an overly sexual person (with quite obviously bad editing). The whole purpose of this video is to distort reality. Andrew Whelan perfectly describes the culture of remixing using the French word ‘Detournment’ which means derailment or changing the direction of.

Now, with media platforms such as YouTube these days, it’s very accessible and participatory in nature to remix. Users take remixing as an opportunity to highlight or expose issues within our society or simply just to critique. It’s a deliberate act that can actually cause political investment into intervening regarding issues that are brought up. The only potential social issue exposed that I could decipher from “Nigella talks dirty” is maybe the extreme use of sex or ‘sex sells’ in television. If this is actually the case, the creator puts it in a humorous sense to soften the raw, harsh message.

Also, can the Remix culture however, “take things too far”? I believe it can but only to some extent including legally. In Nigella’s video’s case, it may be poor for her image towards people who have never heard of her before therefore defaming her reputation. But, we can all see that its over-exaggerated and hopefully people will recognise this not an attack on Nigella personally. At the same time, a remixed video needs to be exposed enough in the media for it to get really out of hand, this is when legal action may take place. From a legal perspective, the art of remixing can technically work around copyright. You are essentially combining existing materials to make a new product. However, some companies such as SoundCloud are encouraging remixing but take copyright of original work very seriously.

The art of ‘Remixing’ is on the rise and I will be quite interested to see how it will distort our thinking of reality throughout the years. But in the mean time, Nigella, have a cold shower!

50 Shades of Media.

(Source: Google images)

 

’50 shades of media’ is just an exaggeration I’m using to showcase how the book trilogy ’50 Shades of Grey’ has considered the notion of Transmedia Narration but has made it become sort of a Transmedia Franchise.  “Transmedia storytelling practices may expand the potential market for a property by creating different points of entry for different audience segments” (Henry Jenkins, 2007). I definitely agree with Jenkins here on this one. Why not take advantage of our rapidly evolving digital and social nature and release a story through multiple mediums? Now don’t get confused between Multimedia and Transmedia. As Ted explained in our lecture, Multimedia is simply the same story being told through different mediums, whereas Transmedia is multiple parts of a story shown through different mediums.

Now this self-recognised notion of Transmedia Franchising in ’50 shades of grey’ definitely screams out to me. The marketers definitely recognised their need to expand their book in different ways to keep it engaging. Most probably due to its 40 million copies being sold in its quite short existence. They couldnt however just take the Multimedia approach and just write the book in Chinese, Bulgarian and Polish, as this is not really anything innovative and exciting. The engagement with consumers of the book (mostly middle-aged women) through portals such as their Facebook page created excitement which then caused a launch of a an official board game! (oh great..) “The dirty minds behind mummy porn phenomenon 50 Shades Of Grey have come up  with a board game based on the naughty novels.  It offers an exciting new play pattern for our  range of party games that allows  everyone to finally reveal their Inner  Goddess” (Garland, 2012). This brilliant yet saucy innovation was created in my opinion due to the great reception it had with female readers. The reader wanted to feel what it is like to be Anna (the main female character), so the dirty-minded makers of the game give the players a chance to ‘Reveal their Inner Goddess’ which will hopefully create a different reading experience once they move onto the sequels.

There is even speculation that they are going to release a perfume and lingerie line and a movie! Now before my female readers start running to the mall, understand that they have taken the concept of transmedia narration and applied it to a franchise sort of sense. The movie could possibly show a character’s perspective that wasnt shown in the book? This will definitely engage the fans further. At the end of the day, it is what brings them home (the makers) the bacon.

Jenkins sums it up quite nicely “A transmedia text does not simply disperse information: it provides a set of roles and goals which readers can assume as they enact aspects of the story through their everyday life.”

Many Hands Make Light Work.

Quoted John Heywood. This idiom to his understanding means ‘If everyone helps with a large task, it will get done easily and quickly.’ This is quite obvious in everyday life such as construction of buildings, the making of a film and a team of chefs working in a restaurant. It can also relate to the world of media in relation to ‘Citizen Journalism’ and ‘Collective Intelligence‘.

The Journalism profession can thank the internet for killing it off. This is due to the newly formed *drum roll please* ‘Citizen Journalism’! You’re all probably thinking OOOHHH is it some kind of journalist who acts like an everyday citizen, then BAM he strikes! Well yes, you are on the right path. We can all be citizen journalists, in fact you probably are already citizen journalists! But how Nick, you ask? Well, when was the last time you tweeted about a natural disaster, or filmed a school punch up on your mobile phone then uploaded it to Facebook? You were in fact being a citizen journalist. Now, can you recall an incident where multiple accounts of citizen journalism have helped the actual journalists get to the bottom of things.

This video spread like wildfire when a photographer at the 2013 Sydney Mardi Gra’s caught on camera a policeman seemingly being unnecessarily brutal to this young man. This made huge news coverage and questions were being thrown around such as :- did the policeman cross the line? Was this a homophobic attack on a poor helpless boy? A few days later more mobile phone videos from other patrons start to emerge on Youtube. This time it shows the young man kicking the officers multiple times and resisting arrest quite a lot, therefore the force from the police may have in fact been necessary. This doesn’t just represent citizen journalism but also collective intelligence which is shows in Pierre Levy’s quote “no one knows everything, everyone knows something”.

So thank you Internet for giving us a voice to the world of media, but I cannot help but feel sorry for the journalism profession (as I do one day wish to work in journalism) because the days of Gatekeeping and authority are slowly diminishing. Axel Bruns quotes in the reading this week “Collaborative knowledge management is now emerging as a key challenge to the traditional guardian authorities of knowledge”.

Maybe if the public take advantage of citizen journalism and start posting absolute rubbish online (not as if they don’t already do, Warning: nudity) the real quality-controlled and gatekeeped world of Journalism will make a resurgence!

21st century- When couch potatoes strike back!

Couch-Potatoes

What do you see? You’re probably thinking the stresses of uni have finally turned myself cuckoo. You are actually fifty percent correct, but what I see is infact a fantastic representation of what we actually were as an audience in the past. We were silent and static to what we were consuming. You might even think I would say we were unempowered, but personally I don’t think so. We might have been empowered by what we consumed but simply didn’t have the access to express our opinions to the masses. Could we participate in the messages put out to the masses? No. We were simply helpless couch potatoes. In this day and age with newly emerged media platforms such as Facebook, Soundcloud and Smartphones, ‘The people formally known as the audience” (Jay Rosen) have to now understand the opportunities plus power of not only being a consumer but a prosumer.

Being a Gen-y boy, the concept of expressing my views and opinions via certain platforms such as Facebook seems very normal to me. However, generations before us have never really treaded in this territory. Clay Shirky, obviously from an older generation quotes “the audience can talk back and that’s a little freaky”. Now this makes me feel so young. He comes from a time when the media was monologic (couch potato era). If Jane Doe down the street was outraged with a News article published, Jane Doe simply cannot whip out her Iphone 5 and Vlog her disgust on YouTube, hopefully prompting a public conversation about the issue. Jane Doe could possibly write a letter of outrage to the newspaper which could well…do nothing much at all. Even if the letter was publicized it would have to go through a Gatekeeper which is the total fun police. My dear Jane was just another helpless couch potato. People to this day are still being halted by the traditional media methods such as gatekeeping but due to convergent platforms can now produce themselves (Amanda Hocking self published her booked through Amazon after being rejected by publishers.)

Participation in media has become wild as well as encouraged. It’s a major positive in some respects such as the ability to edit on Wikipedia and retweet edited posts on Twitter, but what really stood out to me most was the encouragement to give feedback. “Sharing, commenting and liking” are now regular features to most online news articles, videos etc. The very well known Vlogger Natalie Tran specifically asks for comments and then even includes them in her videos which therefore initiates conversation! They want your voices to be heard! But because participation is so easy, literally anyone can create a message to reach a global audience, even if it is flawed!  “It was easier to spread frightening rumors than accurate figures, since there were none available” (Janey Gordon, The Mobile Phone and the Public Sphere). I agree entirely as people start to panic if they do not have the information they desire. They could start to Tweet, Facebook and blog rumors and gossip which could cause major problems such as censorship, banning and even including political.

Even though that our place as the audience has positives and negatives we are getting our voices heard. All former couch potatoes get your tweets flowing!

To have or not to have power? That is the question.

Are we as consumers too lazy to take power into our own hands? Do we rely too much on others to take the lead? Can this lead us to success or to failure? This isn’t just a question that relates to everyday life, but also relates to the media world. I am a self-confessed lazy boy. If the phone’s ringing, I wait until someone else gets it, I wait for instructions before I do something. I tend to be afraid to put in my own contribution. This trait seems to follow me quite noticeably into my media practices. I follow the trends of social media such as creating a Facebook, and also bought an Iphone and Macbook pro purely because every young person in the whole of bloody Australia has one. What I’m trying to say is that I would rather the company of the product I have, control how I use their product (locked appliance). That’s just because I don’t have any desire (can’t be bothered) to change the codes, operating system etc. Sure, there is many limitations but some locked appliances recognise this and try to compromise. For example the stock navigation app on the Iphone is horrendous with no alternate options when it was just released, so they released google maps as an app on the app store. Some users however enjoy having the responsibility to make free choices (open appliance). Jonathan L. Zittrain in the reading this week “The future of the internet and how to stop it” clearly reminds us that with the freedom of choice, can come with “viruses, scams, identity theft and crashes.” This may not be seen as entirely negative because there is yet again users that enjoy the challenge to solve these issues. An open platform also allows for collective intelligence which is little bits of knowledge from multiple users coming together. An example of this (and a very sad one I’m ashamed to know of) is the Survivor TV show spoiler sites such as Survivor Sucks. Lots of users put their little knowledge of speculation and leaked information to figure out the next person voted out or the winner (now can I put a bag on my head?).

Some people have a clear preference as explained in the BCM112 lecture this week with the topic being locked appliances vs open appliances. I prefer my Apple Iphone and Macbook simply because I do not have to get used to multiple operating systems. There is little threat of getting unwanted viruses just due to the restrictions of downloading foreign programs. Apple products have essentially a “promise of security”. This can be contrasted against audiences that prefer open appliances such as Soundcloud. This program allows users to upload any of their musical artistry with little restrictions. Operators do however advise about the dangers of breaching other artists copyright, but there is no program that stops users from uploading pirated music. There are a few changes in this relatively new company that indicate that it could be transforming to a closed appliances such as the taking down mixtapes.

Alternatively, there are people who prefer to ‘sit on the fence’ with this power issue. There is always going to be arguments involving the people who sit strongly on one side. Eg. Apple vs Android. But this purely just comes down to the vastly different ideological views of what a media platform should be. Henry Jenkins shows support for both sides in the reading “International Journal of Cultural Studies” by stating “they all get partial credit, given the contradictory and transitional nature of our current media system.”

If the world was perfect Id have the security of a locked device with some options including safe alternate operating systems.

Happy Birthd….Stop, in the name of Copyright!

Now this is just silly, we can’t even record singing happy birthday? Is copyrighting ruining the ever-expanding world of social media? How far do you think some industries will take their control over consumers? Is it fair to say these blockbuster companies are just being frivolous?

It’s hard for Gen-Y people to think of a time when there was no copyright, since basically everything we watch, listen to and play is out of our control. Just think, even the songs we buy off Itunes (even though I download mine illegally shhh) we do not own. In fact just a week ago my poor, little brothers Ipod erased all his music that he bought off Itunes, only because he did not register an Itunes account. Why is it that he still paid for it from his hard-earned money but then gets ripped off when it comes to how much of the product he purchased, he can control? It’s because these Industries have control over whatever they please within their company.

This video is just an example of what we are not allowed to produce on YouTube in terms of copyright.

With the ever accessible world of hardware and technology us as consumers can now produce and consume, otherwise known as ‘Prosumerism’. As Steve Collins explains in his article “Recovering Fair Use”, are these media-giant companies causing copyright legislation to spin out of control? Collins states “Its shifted from being an engine of expression towards a legal regime for intellectual property and the courts basically seek out and punish virtually any use of Intellectual property by others.” Even though most copyright laws include ‘fair use’ exceptions, they are still quite strict. For instance, you can use quotes, videos, articles etc in an assignment, but if you affect the original in any way, shape or form you can be sued. Soundcloud, my chosen media platform for instance is a perfect example of ‘prosumerism’. It’s an online audio distribution platform that allows users to collaborate, promote and distribute their music or audio recordings. There is however copyright rules and regulations that users must follow to ensure they cannot be penalised. Soundcloud simply states “The best way to avoid copyright infringement is to ensure that you don’t use anything created by anyone else. Simple as that.” If the artist does want to for instance create a remix that uses another artists work they can ask for a license, but will cost money.

Now, lets ask ourselves, if copyright plays such a vital part in protecting an organisations intellectual property, inventions and products, how did such succesful organisations and individuals such as Shakespeare and Charles Dickens survive when their work was essentially in the public domain? My personal opinion is because their ideas and creations were so original and ground-breakingly good, they were highly respected so people did not dare to plagiarise their work. Plus the technology we have today used to plagiarise others work such as file sharing programs were obviously not accessible in that day and age.

Finally, the key questions regarding copyright and industry control from these findings are:

1) Is the growing strictness of copyright legislation forcing a more creative and original media world?

2) Can old ideas, inventions and innovations be expanded upon and improved if copyright legislation is loosened?

3) Will prosumeristic acts such as file sharing stricken these laws?

So no more singing ‘Happy birthday’, how about ‘Cheerful Birthday’?

The Medium is the Message. Say what?

So the second lecture ‘Trajectories of Convergence, the medium is the message’ was basically spent watching the squirrels eat their chestnuts out the window plus already planning my second ‘Gap year’ starting semester 2! The whole concept of the medium being the message just didn’t go through to me. However after breaking down the reading ‘What is the Meaning of The Medium is the Message’ by Mark Federman, the meaning of the notion hit me like a piano falling from a tree! (well not that intense).

Marshall McLuhan’s notion that the ‘medium is the message’ is complex but ingeniously explained. He thinks we presume the conventional meaning for “medium” that refers to the mass-media eg. Radio, TV etc. Plus we also apply our conventional understanding of the notion of the “message”, which is the content being put forth in front of us. His presumption was 100 percent correct as this is exactly what I initially gathered as the concept. McLuhan wants us to understand that we create the message, not the innovations that we create.

McLuhan states that the “message” is, “the change of scale or pace or pattern” that a new invention or innovation “introduces into human affairs”. He then places this against concern through observation, that “we tend to focus on the obvious. In doing so, we largely miss the structural changes in our affairs that are introduced subtly or over long periods of time”, these are also known as “unintended consequences”. McLuhan tells us also that a medium is “any extension of ourselves.” For example “the medium of language extends our thoughts from within our mind out to others”, in other words speech is an outering/medium of our senses. Federman also examines how “McLuhan always thought of a medium in the sense of a growing medium.” “In other words, a medium- this extension of our body or senses or mind – is anything from which a change emerges.” A Cassette tape for example which was a media platform used by the dinosaurs only allowed sequential access to the message. Then when the new platform of ‘the CD’ was created this allowed random access to its contents which can result in multiple interpretations and understandings. The medium message therefore changed.

Now, to all my readers this may look like your reading the ‘Da Vinci code’ and trust me I thought I was too, so I’ll try explain a Gen-Y example of the medium being the message. So when a friend text messages you a very long, emotional message that’s either very interesting or you would rather poke your eyes out with a fork then respond. So how do you respond? If you send quite an elaborate extended response giving them deep, emotional advice its sending them your medium and message saying you want to talk about it. Otherwise, you can send a one word response such as “Oh” which implies that you really don’t give a hoot and sends the message directly to them that you don’t want to continue on with the conversation. What im trying to explain is that the message (do or don’t care) is embedded within the medium (length of text).

The understanding of the “medium is the message” is very useful as Federman states ” It tells us that noticing change in our societal or cultural ground conditions indicates the presence of a new message, that is, the effects of a new medium.” It can also mean that if we see that the new medium has a negative impact on society it gives opportunity to change the development of the innovation. This is all very true but with the rapidly expanding nature of social media and technology, are we going to a place of no return where we cannot influence the medium any longer?