Henry Jenkins: Critical Information Studies for a Participatory Culture (Part Two)
Jenkins sees us at a critical point in forming ‘participatory culture’ (which he sees from an internet utopian viewpoint), and suggests a number of issues that need to be addressed in order to achieve such a culture:
Fundamentally, information about the potentials and how to deal with the risks of new media is required, rather than the current climate of fear mongering.
There is a ‘participation gap’ whereby some users are more fully engaged in the new media than others.
Schools (and other public institutions) are not necessarily the best places to foster participation in new media at the moment with their policy limitations and focus on skills which are quantifiable.
The ‘wisdom of the crowds’ needs to be addressed in the context of new methods of engaging it in order to expand participation.
Cyberspace is in danger of mirroring real world divisions since many sites are run by a hierarchical system, and this can lead to fracturing of minority groups into unconnected units.
Fair Use versus Copyright is a major legal stumbling block to new media.
Terms of production and consumption, and the appropriate economic model, need to be defined for new media. There is a danger that ‘free labour’ becomes ‘unpaid labour’.
‘Citizen journalism’ is a misnomer. Rather, new media allows participants to utilise journalism and other existing media sources to transform, reroute and circumvent censorship.
New media changes the politics of globalisation from a state based model to a user (often interest specific) based model.
New media potentially allows for a new grassroots democracy, and we need to consider how this can be used to create participatory democracy rather than just participatory culture.
Jenkins, H. (2009). Critical Information Studies For a Participatory Culture (Part Two). Retrieved May 31, 2010 from http://henryjenkins.org/2009/04/what_went_wrong_with_web_20_cr_1.html
Did You Know 4.0
This video runs through numerous statistics to highlight how media is being transformed by the internet. Traditional media (such as newspapers) are declining, while online options (and the numerous hardware methods of accessing them) are increasing. Convergence is the buzzword used here, but there is also a rapid expansion of the material and sources. Much of this product may also be things such as spam.
It is interesting to note how the video is presented in a rapidfire sequence, which seems emblematic of the new media: more information, faster, but less time to integrate and consider?
Xplane, The Economist, McLeod, S., Fisch, K., & Bestler, L. (2009). Did You Know 4.0. Retrieved June 1, 2010 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ILQrUrEWe8
Class discussion and activities
Personal media usage:
I only buy the one (state) paper on the weekends. This is more out of habit (and more time to read at the weekend) since much of the information in it is now accessible via the net. I also read the two local papers, though they’re free and delivered to the household. I browse the Guardian Online every few days, but don’t spend much time on other online news sites specifically (only as a result of links in RSS posts).
Internet usage averages 3-4 hours a day. I use it for email, RSS feeds (though which I obtain my updates of cultural/hobby/news information), maintaining a few websites, blogging, e-commerce and occasional forum posting.
I am a heavy wireless listener. It’s on pretty much all the time I’m not out or watching TV. Usually Radio National though I also wander across to News Radio or Classic FM sometimes, as well as spending an hour or so a day listening to the rightwing commercial talkback demagogue (it’s always interesting to know what the other side is thinking!). Radio usage is often in the background while on the computer.
I subscribe to only one industry journal. Ten years ago I was regularly buying up to 10 different journals. Most of these are now irrelevant since I can obtain the information more quickly on the net, and can also choose to receive information more specifically tailored to my interests.
I spend about two hours a day watching TV (split between free to air and DVDs). This has also much reduced since joining the net.
I read a lot less than I used to via dead trees. I’m not sure this is directly attributable to the net though, since a lot of my reading was done while commuting (something I don’t do at present). I do, however, find reading a book online tiresome and unpleasant. I also have hundreds of books and usually want to reread something rather than the latest blockbuster.
I had a prepaid mobile, but allowed it to lapse since I hardly ever used it. I still have a landline.
I still buy CDs (infrequently – I already have a large collection and don’t get time to listen to the ones I already have). I don’t have an ipod, but I have ripped my collection to MP3 for easy listening when on the computer.
I don’t do any social media type stuff, but find it fascinating (especially the regular news Moral Panic of the Week about how it’s destroying our lives, making us sick, and endangering our children).
While there were varying levels of engagement with new media among other students, the points I found most interesting were how there is a (broad, but not complete) distinction between older and younger users. Younger users use the new media more confidently and more often (which would be expected since they have grown up with it) but also seem to have less understanding of anything outside of that particular part of the internet, or are less discriminating about things such as privacy or authenticity of information.
The first wave of internet pay walls: how the old media (particularly newspapers) are struggling to maintain income in the face of the belief that all information on the internet should be free of cost.
Coughlan, S. (2010). The first wave of internet pay walls. Retrieved June 3, 2010 from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/8720282.stm
Our Cluttered Minds: a review of The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains which discusses the neuropsychology of how the internet is transforming our brains. The outcome may be uncertain, but every new technology creates new patterns of thinking.
Lehrer, J. (2010). Our Cluttered Minds. Retrieved June 4, 2010 from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/06/books/review/Lehrer-t.html?src=me&ref=arts
Technology changes how art is created and perceived: how the new, collaborative culture (‘Wiki-culture’) is changing the culture of art. It is more rebellious, less top-down (and hence similar to much earlier folk cultures) and more group oriented.
Gabler, N. (2010). Technology changes how art is created and perceived. Retrieved June7, 2010 from http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-ca-wiki-culture-20100606,0,7851757.story
The Library of the Future: A New Electronic Canon: a brief note about an early CD ROM collection of literature works, noting the unstated implications. The work is only accessible by those with the requisite technology. The selection of works is based on ‘technological, academic, economic’ constraints, and no woman writers are present.
Keep, C., McLaughlin, T., & Parmar, R. (2000). The Library of the Future: A New Electronic Canon. Retrieved May 30, 2010 from http://www2.iath.virginia.edu/elab/hfl0126.html.
Week 2/ The Medium is the Message?: When media converge.
Lawrence Lessig: Four Puzzles from Cyberspace.
Approaching the subject from a law background, Lessig concentrates on how cyberspace (which Lessig sees more as the psychological totality of using the internet, rather than the internet itself) affects laws and, more broadly, the rules of society. Using a number of examples, he points out how cyberspace can create its own rules, or be less subject to rules, and how it can be used to present different (and sometimes less societally constrained) personas which, in some ways, feed back into the real world. Lessig argues (from a US based position) that cyberspace will provoke many challenges, and that the architecture and code of the various parts of cyberspace will also be a strong determinant of these freedoms and restrictions.
Lessig, L. (2005). Four puzzles from cyberspace. Retrieved June 7, 2010 from http://www.socialtext.net/codev2/index.cgi?four_puzzles_from_cyberspace
Henry Jenkins: Participatory Culture
Dr Jenkins argues that new media is more participatory, linking us back to earlier communal cultures (see also Technology changes how art is created and perceived above), and taking the production (not just the consumption) of media away from global media companies. He terms this ‘convergence culture’, but it is also a much more fractured and variegated culture as well, with new media spinning off in all sorts of directions. What is obvious, however, is that life is more observed, recorded and connected (at least in technological societies). Dr Jenkins stresses the positive possibilities from this interconnectedness and reinvention, but tends to skate over any negatives (copyright is briefly mentioned). Could the scenes from Metropolis be a hint that technology can not only free, but enslave the masses?
Jenkins, H. (2009). Participatory Culture. Retrieved June 6, 2010 from http://cinematech.blogspot.com/2009/05/great-video-w-henry-jenkins-on.html
Identify one of your favourite media texts
I want to consider a pre-internet multimedia text, the works of William Blake.
Considered in retrospect the first Romantic poet, Blake was a multi-faceted man. Poet, painter, engraver, visionary and revolutionary, amongst other things (Keynes, 1975, p ix). He was never immensely popular or mainstream in his life, though he did find some regular patrons in his final years (Wilson, 1978, pp 358-360).
In particular, I want to consider his Illuminated Works. Illuminated art was not new, nor was engraving (Blake was, by training, an engraver) but Blake developed his own style of engraving which was a combination of painting and etching (Viscomi, 2003, p 41). This allowed him to more fully integrate the text and the image on the page. His productions were hand printed and coloured (often assisted by his wife) and so only ever existed in very limited numbers. Each printing is unique with different colouring and sometimes different ordering of the pages. This method of production meant each work developed as it was printed (Viscomi, 2003, p 47).
While he struggled to sell any of these works in his lifetime, they have since come to be considered masterpieces.
In effect, Blake was doing something that is happening now via the internet. He took the existing technology, and used it to, in a sense, remediate the art of engraving, to produce something that came solely from his own visions. Also, like today, any new production does not guarantee a ready audience, though Blake was of course operating in a commercial culture as well as an artistic one. The new media, in its turn, is struggling to come to terms with what it wants to be in a commercial sense (does it want to have a ‘commercial’ sense?).
Due to this commercial imperative, Blake often had to operate within the commissioning requirements of his patrons, but his Illuminated Books were a private obsession that came solely from his own creative impulse.
Nowadays, rather than being (highly creative and beautiful) commercial productions, his works are extremely valuable gallery pieces. Sold on a personal basis in his own lifetime by himself, when his illustrations to the Book of Job were recently on view at the WA Art Gallery I was conscious that my every move was being watched by a hovering security guard (while I watched the engravings).
The internet partakes of a voyeuristic culture as well, with a tension from the guards (internet censorship, governments, laws, code).
Blake’s works, in their turn, have been remediated, often in musical form. Random examples include such diverse artists as Ralph Vaughan Williams (Ten Blake Songs), Mike Westbrook (Glad Day – itself derived from a musical about Blake (Westbrook, 1999)) and The Doors (who lifted lines from Blake’s Auguries of Innocence (Blake, n.d.): Every night and every morn / Some to misery are born, / Every morn and every night / Some are born to sweet delight).
There are many Blake links on the net. The William Blake Archive is a primary source. Youtube is also full of Blake inspired creations.
Blake, W. (n.d.). Auguries of innocence. Retrieved June 10, 2010 from http://www.artofeurope.com/blake/bla3.htm
Keynes, G. (Ed.) (1975). William Blake: The marriage of Heaven and Hell. London: Oxford University Press.
Viscomi, J. (2003). Illuminated Printing. In Eaves, M. (Ed), The Cambridge companion to William Blake (pp.37-62). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Westbrook, M. (1999). Glad Day [CD]. Munich: Enja Records.
Wilson, M. (1978). The life of William Blake. London: Paladin Books.
You, the DJ
Discusses how listening to music via the internet still reflects much of what has gone before in radio, but with the difference that (to an extent) the user now selects the music. Nonetheless, this still relies to a large extent on machine algorithms (created by someone somewhere else) or other people’s lists.
Frere-Jones, S. (2010). You, the DJ. Retrieved June 6, 2010 from http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/musical/2010/06/14/100614crmu_music_frerejones?currentPage=all
Books on vinyl records
Alive to the pleasures of rabbiting on: a news report about a new vinyl LP label for stories. Representing part of a backlash against the digitisation of media, the creator claims “The MP3 has an alien digital gloss. It’s streamlined, corporate, like a mainline train station. Listening to a short story on vinyl is the purest antidote to that. It’s more immersive. It heightens engagement.”
Sandhu, S. (2010). Books on vinyl records: alive to the pleasures of rabbiting on. Retrieved June 9, 2010 from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/booknews/7803869/Books-on-vinyl-records-alive-to-the-pleasures-of-rabbiting-on.html
Is Newmatilda.com still waving goodbye?
After announcing its closure due to lack of finances, this post discusses various options considered in maintaining the site, including subscriptions, a group blog, and a paywall system. Each of these are rejected for various reasons. Here again, the conflict between old and new media models is apparent. The new media allows wider, easier access, but it makes financing difficult, especially where workers are expected to be paid, and other costs met.
Cordell, M. (2010). Is Newmatilda.com still waving goodbye? Retrieved June 10, 2010 from http://newmatilda.com/2010/06/10/newmatilda-still-waving-goodbye
William Blake and the Illuminated Book
A short discussion of Blake and his radically new Illuminated Books in relation to his revolutionary attitude to both art and society. Blake is presented as a precursor of hypertext, taking what was a mass commodity item (the book) and reinventing it as a multimedia expression of individual skill
Keep, C., McLaughlin, T., & Parmar, R. (2000).William Blake and the Illuminated Book. Retrieved June 11, 2010 from http://www2.iath.virginia.edu/elab/hfl0234.html
Streams of content, limited attention: the flow of information through social media
boyd argues that the internet changes media from relying on distribution (one to many) to an attention based system (many to many, one to one, many to one). She provides some warnings since this new system is not inherently democratic, relies on stimulation to gain attention (that is, reaction is more important than content), homophily can be accentuated (we only see or associate with those already like us), and power is still an issue (it is, however, moved from the distributor to the creator).
boyd, d. (2010). Streams of content, limited attention: the flow of information through social media. Retrieved June 11, 2010 from http://www.danah.org/papers/2009/UXMagazineStreams.pdf
The Blake Multimedia Project
An example of remediating Blake’s work as an interactive computer program with hyperlinked text. While preserving the text (and visuals) it extends the “verbal and visual codes”.
The Blake Multimedia Project (n.d.). Retrieved June 11, 2010 from http://cla.calpoly.edu/~smarx/Blake/blakeproject.html
A brief discussion of intertextuality in the context of narrative. Developed in the sixties, intertextuality argues that no text stands alone, but is a product of all sorts of sources, both ‘high’ and ‘low’, and that part of this context that is at least as important are all the influences and experiences of the reader. The internet, also, seems to be transforming the intertext as a series of hyperlinks, memes and mashups.
Keep, C., McLaughlin, T., & Parmar, R. (2000). Intertextuality. Retrieved June 11, 2010 from http://www2.iath.virginia.edu/elab/hfl0278.html
Week 3/ Entertain me!: Who makes your entertainment? Actors, institutions & participatory culture
The promise is great: the blockbuster and the Hollywood economy
This paper looks at Hollywood blockbusters (the modern version of which is dated from the release of Jaws), showing how they were a product of the threat of television, but also utilised television (for advertising) in order to create their market. The paper notes that blockbusters, in part, are designed to draw people away from television to see them on the big screen. It is interesting to wonder what effect, and how Hollywood will respond, to the growing trend towards home theatres with their large screens and surround sound systems. As opposed to new media, however, blockbusters are very much a corporate product, intended to appeal to the mass market (and, accordingly, a lower common denominator). Therefore, new media are another threat with its widely distributed, individualised culture of participation (rather than consumption). It will be interesting to see how Hollywood also deals with this, other than its current attempts to stem piracy and take a punitive approach (which can also be seen in the ‘code’ of region coding DVDs and releasing them at staggered dates).
While blockbusters financially support less marketable films, the blockbuster system itself enforces reduced innovation (other than technical, special effects, innovation). The message must be simple (‘high concept’!). The franchise is becoming more important also: rather than innovate, repeat. So what Hollywood is doing in the face of various threats is effectively caricaturing itself and what it does (did?): bigger, louder, and the same. Since Cucco divides media products into ‘artistic-cultural and economic’, it appears that Hollywood is concentrating on economic at the expense (!) of the other.
The economic imperative is also seen in the opening weekend saturation screening, and the need to make as much money as possible in this opening period, and that income will then drop very sharply. It is interesting that Hollywood has also adopted this to avoid word of mouth feedback, which may be negative, whereas new media relies on word of mouth (word of linking) and positive feedback to get attention.
Cucco, M. (2009). The promise is great: the blockbuster and the Hollywood economy. Media, Culture & Society. 31(2). 215-230. DOI: 10.1177/0163443708100315
Fanfiction is described in its plethora of genres, styles, purposes and intents. The article links it back to Virgil, Chaucer and Shakespeare (though they perhaps didn’t write ‘fanfiction’ but rather took existing plots and rewrote those stories). Fanfiction, as a retelling/extension of a television show (or book) takes that as its jumping off point. It is clear that the purposes of fanfiction are far more diverse than simple fan devotion (otherwise the show itself – ‘canon’ – would suffice) but as an expression of the author into the show’s world. It seems to be an expression of the author’s imaginative world back into the fictional world of another. As in other remix cultures, questions of ownership and control are part of the agenda, with varying tolerance or encouragement.
Fanfiction. (2010). Retrieved June 12, 2010 from http://fanlore.org/wiki/Fanfiction
Exploring a particular aspect of remix culture, the use of re-edited television shows and movies set to a music track (with its own – unwritten – rules and aesthetic standards), these short videos explore the culture and reasons surrounding this artform. Clearly, vidding allows a fan-based community to engage more actively with a show, and to continue that interaction even when a show is cancelled. A number of other issues are not specifically stated in the videos, but it is clear that a major part of vidding is the sense of community, not just the shows, and acceptance within that community. Also interesting is the mainly female producers of vidding (though this may be a skewed sample selected for these particular videos) which would indicate that vidding may be a space on the internet (and in real life at conventions) where this group can freely express itself.
Vidding. (2008). Retrieved June 12, 2010 from http://transformativeworks.org/node/579
Who produces entertainment media, and how and where do we consume it?
Entertainment media is still, to a large extent, produced by large corporations (or, at least, they are the method that authors, film-makers and musicians use – or are used by – to produce their product and distribute it. With the advent of home computers and relevant software, home production and distribution (audio mixing software, print on demand, cheap digital video cameras, for example) have become far easier. The issue of distribution (attention) still remains an issue.
Discuss changes in producers, institutions, and relation to user-driven / made content
As noted above, production can be so much more disseminated. Participation is easier. The ‘long tail’ may be more significant (though the tail may be getting longer, but nothing else). If a producer of media can, however, connect with a specific niche (perhaps a TV show’s fans through an online forum?) this can provide a way of eliminating the need for traditional marketing.
What do we mean by participatory culture?
In participatory culture the consumer/observer can also be the producer/entertainer. Barriers to the two groups become less as technology enables one to be the other. Filming and uploading a video is child’s play these days (literally). Downloading a video and watching it depends on the choice of the downloader rather than a corporation.
How useful is the internet in terms of active resistance to powerful institutions?
The internet provides means to circumvent powerful institutions (government censorship, media copyright) by the very nature of its intentionally distributed transmission system. Instead of one (or a few) points to monitor and control, the points expand exponentially (at least, if something attracts enough attention) and can constantly change. Nonetheless, the technology is nonpartisan: the same institutions can use the technology to try and regain their control.
Cordwainer Smith imagined convergence culture (and viral media) in 1964
Henry Jenkins looks at the depiction of media in the science fiction of Cordwainer Smith (who was, under his real name, a political scientist), finding much of what he depicts forecasts the media of today with its imperative to document before something is real, and to transform the real into something else.
Jenkins, H. (2009). Cordwainer Smith imagined convergence culture (and viral media) in 1964. Retrieved June 11, 2010 from http://henryjenkins.org/2009/10/cordwainer_smith_imagined_conv.html
Incantations for Muggles: The role of ubiquitous Web 2.0 technologies in everyday life
boyd considers how technology is used across age ranges. Using broad divisions, she points out the different concerns of each, and how the concerns of one group for another do not necessarily correlate. She also points out that online groups have four characteristics that other groups don’t: “persistence, searchability, replicability and invisible audiences”.
boyd, d. (2007). Incantations for Muggles: The role of ubiquitous Web 2.0 technologies in everyday life. Retrieved June 11, 2010 from http://www.danah.org/papers/talks/Etech2007.html
Making sense of privacy and publicity.
boyd considers a range of issues concerning online privacy and (again) how these are often age-related. She points out the difference between public information and publicising information (a passive versus an active function), and also how ‘privacy’ online is still a concept that is being defined.
boyd, d. (2010). Making sense of privacy and publicity. Retrieved June 11, 2010 from http://www.danah.org/papers/talks/2010/SXSW2010.html
William Blake as hypertext: The Laocoön’s marriage of word, image, and technology
Koren argues that Blake was a precursor of today’s hypertext artists since his artworks were created in a highly individual way through the interface of ‘word, image and technology’. He also argues that today’s hyperlinked world provides a better method to display Blake’s work than previous textual only reproductions. Blake, he argues, turned away from commercialisation, and instead adapted the technologies available to him (as a result of the new Industrial Revolution) to create his own vision, just as today’s hypertext creators do (as a result of a similar revolution in technology), exerting complete control from vision to marketing, effectively circumventing the standard commercial processes. Taking Blake’s engraving of the Laocoön, Koren shows how Blake used this as a stepping off point from current debates on the nature of Art to create what is effectively a hypertext manifesto, an intertextual jumping off point.
Koren, D. (2005). William Blake as hypertext: The Laocoön’s marriage of word, image, and technology. Retrieved June 12, 2010 from http://www.devonkoren.net/academic/wblake.html
Digital designs on Blake: The fourfold visions of William Blake and Martin Heidegger
O’Gorman takes a postmodern look at new media, using Blake as a jumping off point to discuss his concepts of hypericonomy (a form of intuitive image linking) and necromedia (the linking of ‘media technology and death’ – something that new technology can subvert by making our digital selves immortal, but possibly by making us less human).
O’Gorman, M. (n.d.). Digital designs on Blake: The fourfold visions of William Blake and Martin Heidegger. Retrieved June 12,2010 from http://www.rc.umd.edu/praxis/designsonblake/ogorman/ogorman.html
William Blake and the remediation of print
Edgar comments on how Blake remediated medieval illuminated manuscripts, and the printed book, to create his Illuminated Books where text and image were so tightly integrated they were inseparable. He also notes how this allowed Blake to more freely express himself. Edgar sees comics as a modern day extension of this linked text and image, as well as hypertext, though he notes that, unlike Blake’s physical activities with chemicals and plates, modern hypertext authors are physically dissociated from their creations.
Edgar, S. (2009). William Blake and the remediation of print. Retrieved June 13, 2010 from http://blogs.ubc.ca/etec540sept09/2009/10/28/william-blake-and-the-remediation-of-print/
Fan vidding: a labor of love
Linked from Vidding (above) this article makes it clear that the vidding culture has a preponderance of women both creating vids and assisting others to create them. The second part makes more explicit the tensions between power (the possibility of being sued by corporations for copyright breaches) and the empowering (a particularly female space, and also a space that is open to portraying other than exclusively heterosexual relationships).
Jenkins, H. (2008). Fan vidding: a labor of love (part two). Retrieved June 12, 2010 from http://henryjenkins.org/2008/12/fanvidding.html
Jenkins, H. (2008). Fan vidding: a labor of love (part one). Retrieved June 12, 2010 from http://henryjenkins.org/2008/12/in_many_ways_the_emergence.html
Some interesting points that come out of this article:
• Vidding reinstates in a sense female authorship (something that was well represented in literature in the nineteenth century but which disappeared to a large extent in the twentieth).
• Vidding is seen as a way of retelling and reforming stories in a community way (which links to other articles mentioned on this learning log which liken the new media to the old folklore traditions).
• Vidders are predominantly female, and vidding is seen as a way of technologically engaging women, as well as providing a means to tell their (suppressed) stories and give them a political (in the widest sense of the word) voice.
Walker, J. (2008). Remixing television. Retrieved June 14 2010 from http://reason.com/archives/2008/07/18/remixing-television
This article argues that citizens have become increasingly politically disenfranchised in favour of pursuing the pleasures of consumerism. It states that memes can be used as an often ‘playful’ method in order to subvert this trend and re-engage people in political activity. An example given is what happened to Jonah Peretti when he ordered some Nike shoes, and how his story went viral on the internet. Culture jamming is linked back in one of the references to Beatnik culture, and I tend to agree with this. A consumer culture has certainly existed since the fifties, and it was far from inclusive (where were the African Americans? Where were the working women?). The current state of political disinterest exists in contrast to the sixties, but it could be argued that was a brief revolt that failed. The Addams Family, with its subversion of consumer values and cultural norms, could also be seen as another early culture jamming meme. Nonetheless, the internet provides a rapid, distributed (and hence less blockable) method to disseminate memes (which are, essentially, ideas and therefore ideally suited to a nonphysical cyberspace). The Obama campaign indicates how this can work to also politically reengage a large mass of people.
Culture Jamming. (n.d.). Retrieved June 14, 2010 from http://depts.washington.edu/ccce/polcommcampaigns/CultureJamming.htm
Week 4/ Don’t touch that! Copyright, ownership and institutional control
Recovering fair use
Collins points out that the concept of copyright intends a balance between producers’ rights and ‘fair use’ (at least as codified in US law), but that he considers the balance is currently weighted too much, and increasingly so, in the favour of the restrictions imposed by copyright owners and corporations. He provides a brief overview of the development of copyright law from England to the US, and its changing definition (remix?) over times to resolve issues of copyright as ‘property’ control versus societal benefits. One legal example he provides occurred when a three note musical sequence was ruled as subject to copyright and requiring licensing before use elsewhere. This makes me wonder how many novels, for instance, use the same three word sequence as other novels, and whether this would also be considered copyright infringement and, if not, how is it different? Another example demonstrates the ‘Streisand Effect’: a video that barely nobody had watched suddenly shoots to fame when a corporation tries to take it down. Collins, nonetheless, sees some hope in legal actions to (re)define copyright and permit fair use though, as his examples show, legal procedures are, necessarily, long and conservative in the main, while the technology explodes and transforms ever more rapidly.
Collins, S. (2008). Recovering fair use. Retrieved June 19, 2010 from http://journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/viewArticle/105
A Fair(y) use tale
This video makes a political statement about the tension between copyright enforcement (here portrayed as excessively enforced by the Disney Corporation) and the right to ‘fair use’ in taking ideas and redeveloping them, by using the works of the Disney Corporation in fragmented form. The statement, however, is US-centric (though the main point is still relevant elsewhere – particularly the increasing length of copyright being pushed for by the Disney Corporation). It does not address the issue of how important copyright is for individual artists, for example.
Faden, E. (Director). (n.d.). A fair(y) use tale. Retrieved June 19, 2010 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UycH2HvBRd4
Larry Lessig on laws that strangle creativity
Lessig discusses a middle ground proposition for dealing with copyright in the context of remix culture and the internet. He places his proposition in a historical context, pointing out the fears that new technology have always evoked (in this instance, in terms of the gramophone and recorded music). He also discusses legal changes in relation to the ownership of property (in this case, land ownership and the ‘rights’ of aircraft to effectively infringe – but not necessarily to compromise – that right by flying overhead). Finally, he provides an example of how democratisation of media can effectively overcome a threatened monopoly (using broadcast radio as his example).
Lessig argues for a ‘remix’ culture, enabling a democratic and open creatively active culture (which he points out should not be equated with direct piracy of material, but a reinvention of that material). He states that there is a polarisation of this argument, between the stringent controls being implemented by corporations, and the laissez faire philosophy of the other. Instead, Lessig wants a middle ground solution, where there is a range of copyright permissions for a work depending on the user (such as Creative Commons) and a market where ‘free’ can compete with ‘non-free’.
His final point is that the technology is already outstripping legislation and that children, in particular, are growing up in this world where this sort of remix culture is the norm. We need, therefore, to deal with this issue using ‘common sense’ rather than draconian measures.
Lessig, L. (2007). Larry Lessig on laws that strangle creativity. Retrieved June 19, 2010 from http://www.ted.com/talks/larry_lessig_says_the_law_is_strangling_creativity.html
Develop an outline for Assignment 2 (How has convergence affected the relationship between users and producers of media texts?). I am interested in the way convergence culture seems to be recreating (or remediating?) a pre-Industrial culture. Many articles mention how the way traditional folklore or arts were produced and disseminated is closer to remix culture than the copyright controlled structure that has existed since then, and which is now under attack (though not actually failing as such, at least not yet). A proposed outline is:
• Introduction: Convergence has created a culture of pre-industrial publishing post-industrial technologies.
• Convergence: new media publishing and distribution methods versus traditional media.
• Remix, blogging, YouTube as examples of ‘folk art’.
• The copyright threat and corporate challenges.
• The unresolved dialectic of free speech versus content control.
• Conclusion: New media/remix/partipatory culture is here to stay, though the future forms it will take are still being decided.
Identify any problems about copyright that you are likely to encounter in your final assignment. Assume the text that you will remediate is the text you chose as a favourite in your first entry. Since the works of William Blake are long out of copyright (death of the creator plus 50 years – under Australian law) these works can now be considered in the public domain (and, indeed, William Blake’s poems and paintings are liberally available on the internet). Use of specific photographic reproductions may, however, be subject to copyright since even photographs of other artist’s work can be considered a ‘creative’ production.
Digital facsimiles: reading the William Blake Archive
Viscomi, one of the editors of the online Blake Archive, here describes the reasoning behind it and its development. The nature of Blake’s work is that text and image are tightly integrated. Yet, even printed reproductions do not convey his full work, since they are limited to one edition (when Blake reordered and recoloured works throughout his life) and are expensive. An online edition ‘brings’ works scattered worldwide together, making them searchable. Due to the care taken in scanning the images, this resource provides image detail that is sharper and clearer than in printed resources, and makes the works available in a single ‘place’ for viewing and comparison.
Viscomi, J. (2002). Digital facsimiles: reading the William Blake Archive. Computers and the Humanities, 36(1), 27–48.
Australian Copyright Council: Information Sheets
This page provides a range of booklets covering numerous aspects of copyright law from an Australian perspective. ‘An Introduction to Copyright in Australia’ provides an overview of Australian law in this regard. While copyright now extends for 70 years (in line with US law), works which had their copyright expire prior to 1st January 2005, when the law changed, do not gain an extra 20 years but remain expired, thus creating a two-tiered system. The information sheet also points out that not only copyright is a concern, but also other legalities such as trademarks and defamation.
The information sheet on ‘Fair Dealing’ explains
“The copyright act allows you to use copyright material without permission if your use is a “fair
dealing” for one of the following purposes:
• research or study;
• criticism or review;
• parody or satire;
• reporting news; or
• professional advice by a lawyer, patent attorney or trade marks attorney.”
Whether or not a profit is intended is irrelevant. Further discussion indicates how unclear these categories can be. Parody or satire, for example, depends on
“• how much of the copyright material is used;
• the context in which the parody or satire is used; and
• whether or not the copyright owner generally licenses such uses.”
Interestingly, these information sheets are very up to date, with one on ‘Creative Commons licences’ and ‘User-generated content and Web 2.0 websites’ (in brief: website owners do not automatically own copyright in user-generated content, but are liable for any breaches of copyright they might contain).
Information sheets. (2010). Retrieved June 22, 2010 from http://www.copyright.org.au/publications/infosheets.htm
From centre stage to cyberspace.
Being touted as the first iPad opera, this work is being promoted as “an interactive music video”. Some of the interesting arguments about this work in the article include the extra reach that this digital medium will provide, but also how it is having to be justified so it is not just seen as threatening traditional opera. Also, this work was written in 1985 and has remained unproduced since, but the new technology platform is giving it a (potential) worldwide audience. The article also demonstrates the collaboration between artists (the composer is a 74 year old woman who is not technologically literate) and producers to reform the work.
Rule, D. (2010). From centre stage to cyberspace. Retrieved June 22, 2010 from http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/opera/from-centre-stage-to-cyberspace-20100620-yp4p.html
Mashups, remixes and copyright law.
This article looks at the tension between remixes (often produced by individuals for no monetary gain) and the restrictions of copyright law and the legal difficulties of obtaining permission to use works. The law in such cases is ill defined and will probably require individual rulings for clarification. O’Brien and Fitzgerald also note that the US definition of ‘fair use’ is broader than that provided in Australia. The authors call for a clarification of the law, especially in the case of non-commercial derivatives, considering otherwise that creativity is being stifled.
O’Brien, D. & Fitzgerald, B. (2006). Mashups, remixes and copyright law. Internet Law Bulletin 9(2), pp. 17-19.
Welcome to convergence culture.
Thanks to a link from the student discussion board for pointing out this early article by Jenkins, in which he provides his definition of ‘convergence’. For Jenkins, convergence represents a multiplatform media landscape, where users are not tied to any one form or location to access their chosen media. He sees it being created from the top down by large corporations, and from the bottom up by ‘teenagers’ in bedrooms (perhaps true at the time, but surely remix culture is created by more than just teenagers?). In other words, the many to many model that reinvents the old passive reception of media. While the technology makes remix culture possible, Jenkins argues that it is the social aspect that is of primary significance: participatory culture is, by definition, only possible is the users participate in it, which leads to his third main point of collective intelligence (though I don’t think this is altered from any other culture, rather that it is enlarged, and made more immediate by digital technologies).
Jenkins, H. (2006). Welcome to convergence culture. Retrieved June 22, 2010 from http://www.henryjenkins.org/2006/06/welcome_to_convergence_culture.html
Radiohead’s managerial creativity
This paper looks at music in relation to new media, with a particular focus on Radiohead’s seventh album, the first after the expiry of their EMI contract, which they chose to release via the internet and to allow people to choose how much to pay for it (or whether to pay at all). Primarily done for artistic control reasons, this only changed one of the five ways musicians gain income (‘live performances, merchandise sales, song publishing, sponsorship deals, as well as record sales’). This represents a change from mass market to the niche market, though it must be said that Radiohead had the advantage both of prior fame as well as the publicity surrounding their decision. Morrow also sees correspondences between the potential for marketing music online, and the success of the porn industry online. Part of their product was released for free, or at a low cost, while ‘upgrades’ were available in the form of better quality CDs with extra material. While Radiohead have not abandoned the traditional marketing methods, they have embraced the digital realm (rather than, for example, ignoring it which would possibly lead to the same result through piracy without the fan networking and income).
Morrow, G. (2009). Radiohead’s managerial creativity. Convergence 15(2), 161-176. DOI: 10.1177/1354856508101581
Cyberspace and the public sphere: exploring the democratic potential of the net
Dahlberg (writing in 1998) looks at two views of how the internet is perceived. First, as an open censorship-free, space where democracy can reign and all users are equal; secondly, as another platform for capital. He notes three aspects of capital in this process: ‘commodification, convergence, and commercialisation’. He considers these aspects from an economic viewpoint, where ‘control’ of the internet is gained by increasing privatisation. This is seen as a threat to decentralised democratic participation on the internet (along with the concomitant problem of ‘stratification’ occurring due to differing levels of access). It is interesting to read this paper over a decade later, since the same tensions still are being played out: the democratic, internet utopian participatory culture still struggles to locate itself against the capitalist, regimented (corporate) sectors of the internet.
Dahlberg, L. (1998). Cyberspace and the public sphere: exploring the democratic potential of the net. Convergence 1998( 4), 70-84. DOI: 10.1177/135485659800400108
The practical politics of step-stealing and textual poaching: YouTube, audio-visual media and contemporary swing dancers online
Carroll considers dance culture in the context of online culture, and how the two influence each other. She takes as a particular case study swing dance and the Lindy Hop (originally an African American dance step), popular in the early 20th Century, and revived by interested dancers in the 1980s. As she argues, much of this revival is heavily reliant on online communities, both leading to their creation, and in turn being influenced by them. She also likens this process to that of fan cultures on the internet, as noted by Henry Jenkins. The internet, for example , is used to distribute compilations of archival dance footage (which often also breached copyright). The footage can also be of the ‘fans’ themselves, and the primary driver here seems to be community, as well as the transformation and development of the dances. YouTube has made this process more widely distributed, and more communal though, Carroll notes, that this movement is technologically based does bring up questions of access, privilege and power.
Carroll, S. (2008). The practical politics of step-stealing and textual poaching: YouTube, audio-visual media and contemporary swing dancers online. Convergence 14(2), 183-294. DOI: 10.1177/1354856507087943
Andrew Keen vs the Emos: youth, publishing and transliteracy
Ware discusses changing meanings of ‘publishing’ in a Web 2.0 context by looking at two diametrical opinions: that Web 2.0 publishing produces only illegitimate, unreliable ‘white noise’ (the claims made by Andrew Keen in The Cult of the Amateur); and that Web 2.0 is an interconnected, social medium that requires a ‘different reading’ (the claims made by Andy Greenwald in Nothing Feels Good). Ware argues that Web 2.0 subverts the traditional power structures of publishing, and allows communication amongst those not normally provided with a means to do so. Some of this divide (which Ware points out does not preclude both methods of publishing co-existing – transliteracy as opposed to literacy) is generational as a younger generation uses the tools available to it to define itself, though this explains only part of the issue by limiting its focus onto a single demographic. Ware sees both the authors’ viewpoints as extreme and incorrect (or, at least, incomplete), claiming rather that Web 2.0 changes publishing and literacy from a passive consumer activity to one that exists at the “local and personal level” and that “What the rise of Web 2.0 has done is simply to bring everyday, private sphere dialogue driven literacies into the public sphere in a very obvious way”.
Ware, I. (2008). Andrew Keen vs the Emos: youth, publishing and transliteracy. M/C Journal 11(4). Retrieved June 24, 2010 from http://journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/viewArticle/41
Week 5 / Entertaining the world: using media across cultural boundaries
Pop cosmospolitanism: Mapping cultural flows in an age of media convergence
Jenkins argues that convergence means ‘media will be everywhere’. Of course, it already has been for many decades, but in Jenkins’s sense all the channels will be at the discretion of the individual, and the individual will also be able to manipulate and change that media. He sees this in terms of ‘corporate’ (increasingly concentrated global corporations) and ‘grassroots’ (the creation and distribution of media by individuals) convergence. Grassroots convergence transcends national borders.
Jenkins discusses issues of ‘odor’ and ‘fragrance’ or how culturally different (or how much ‘other’ culture is retained), specifically in television shows and films, showing that there is still a lot of alteration of cultural differences to make products more acceptable, though this is changing (of course, Japanese animation shows have been broadcast in Australia, at least, since the 1960s for children – such as Prince Planet and Kimba the White Lion).
Spreading this grassroots convergence are the ‘desi’ – the dispersed ethnic groups and the ‘otaku’ – the fans. These two groups can be seen at cross purposes, but they both serve to create acceptance of culturally different products (which, if the interest is large enough, then becomes a corporate product as, for example, in the dubbed films of Hiyao Miyazaki, or The Matrix).
The Industrial Revolution took the means of production and placed them in increasingly concentrated hands (and locations): from factory owners to the global corporations of the late twentieth century. New media, convergence and the ready availability of powerful technology (software and hardware) means that the means of production are now also available to the individual, and everywhere. This recreates the sense of the localised craftsperson, the indigenous culture (see also next section – but also the culture of a village or a region that existed prior to the Industrial Revolution in the Western world). Unlike pre-Industrial Revolution times, however, the two cultures are now existing in an uneasy conjunction, seeking to find some sort of balance.
Jenkins, H (2006). Pop cosmopolitanism: Mapping cultural flows in an age of media convergence. In H. Jenkins, Fans, bloggers and gamers: exploring participatory culture (pp 152-172). New York: New York University Press.
Indigenous, ethnic and cultural articulations of new media
• Critics have argued that new media can lead to fragmentation of community (particularly minorities such as ethnic communities).
• New media can, instead, be used as a tool to reinforce community. If the community controls the technology, the technology can reinforce community values (eg Inuit, Kayapo, Warlpiri).
• The technology (a video camera in this case) becomes part of the social structure.
• Instead of physical geography, networking technology creates ‘scapes’ of ideas: ‘mediascape, ideoscape, ethnoscape’.
• Diasporic peoples now become part of an ‘imagined world’, unified by the technology.
• This moves the control of power back into the hands of the communities (eg Uyghars, Arabs).
• New technology enables indigenous and ethnic communities to create their own ‘databases’ as representations of their social values and structures, rather than those designed around the metadata of existing Institutions (eg Tribal PEACE project which was planned, structured and designed around Native American societal paradigms or ‘ontologies’).
Srinavasan focuses here on ethnic and indigenous peoples, and how new media can be used to empower them as long as the technology (the ‘tools’) are theirs to use. This philosophy can also be seen, however, being used by other hidden or minority groups all across the internet: sexuality, religion, politics, recreational interests and so on all become ‘transnational’ nations just as much as for indigenous groups or diaspric ethnicities.
Srinivasan, R (2006). Indigenous, ethnic and cultural articulations of new media. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 9(4), 497-518.
Identify media texts from other cultures that you enjoy. Consider whether your use of these texts makes you a “pop cosmopolitan”.
I have always been something of a pop cosmopolitan. As noted elsewhere, one of the first Japanese cartoons I watched was Prince Planet, dubbed into American, on a black and white television, long before I had any concept of Japanese culture or anime. I also like a lot of folk music (since rebranded as ‘world music’), and foreign films and literature (at least subtitled, or in translation). What has certainly changed, however, is the permeation of foreign cultures, or subcultures, into the West (and in the other direction – for example, Japan’s fascination with Elvis Presley) that has been enabled by the internet. Where previously an intermediary was required (the local video store’s rather small foreign language section, the foreign language bookshop, the eventual creation of SBS) these foreign texts and social norms can now be linked to, downloaded, assimilated, reused, and distributed by anyone so inclined.
One example are the RSS feeds I subscribe to: these are from local and national sources, as well as some Spanish and French feeds. They range across various topics, from SF and fan feeds, to science and politics from a range of worldwide sources, technology sites, folk music, security sites and so on.
Excerpts from Textual Poachers, by Henry Jenkins
In this series of excerpts, Van Deusen provides a series of extracts from Jenkins’s book which relate to, and are based on, her correspondence with him and her vidding (many of which are available on her site). Jenkins points out that fan culture recontextualises the original material, adding layers of meaning, or extracting layers that were unseen (such as focussing on the gestures and looks the actors give one another). The process enlarges, expands, or subverts storylines, and often is deliberately aimed at a particular audiences, or with meanings that would only be interpretable by those already very familiar with the original material.
Van Deusen, M. (2005). Excerpts from Textual Poachers, by Henry Jenkins. Retrieved June 28, 2010 from http://www.iment.com/maida/tv/songvids/textualpoachers.htm
Music two-point-zero: How participatory culture is reclaiming knowledge, power and value systems from the inside out.
In this text of a public lecture, Draper looks at Web 2.0. He notes that the dot com bust was a sign of the emergence of a new, more mature technology, and that this technology facilitates collaboration and creativity across borders and cultures (and across the legal efforts of corporations to stifle it).
This is leading to a less hierarchical, flatter culture where ‘disorder’ is the dominant paradigm. Hierarchical links are less important than found conjunctions. He also notes the concept of the ‘long tail’ where the internet makes the marketing of small interest products possible (though he also notes that much of the new media material is poor and of a low standard – nonetheless the new creative makers represent a significant, and economic, impact).
In the context of Music 2.0, Draper notes how large record companies structure their legal agreements to maximise their income, while bands are often left in the red. Contrasted with this, he notes Prince’s free give away of an album, and the subsequent profit he made from live concerts as a result of the publicity from this action. Young people, and bands, are using the internet through social media to market and promote, as well as for music downloads, rather than traditional marketing and selling. Draper provides a number of examples such as the disparity in classical music sales (much higher on the internet than in traditional stores).
Draper, P. (2007). Music two-point-zero: How participatory culture is reclaiming knowledge, power and value systems from the inside out. Retrieved June 28, 2010 from http://www29.griffith.edu.au/imersd/draper/createworld/draper_twilightlecture.pdf
The iPhone apps throwing light on best-selling books
A newspaper report on efforts being made by digital books publishers to differentiate their product from traditional books (a different format, but the same product) by providing extra material which is likened to DVD extras. As the article notes, electronic media allows more material to be provided that can explain, explore and expand the material of the book (though a part of me thinks that a book that needs to be explained indicates a failure of the author and editor). Though not explicitly stated in the article, it would also seem important for these ebook publishers to make product that is valuable and desirable to lower piracy and to draw people to choose their product over standard books (or standard electronic versions of those books).
Flood, A. (2010). The iPhone apps throwing light on best-selling books. Retrieved June 29, 2010 from http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/jun/28/book-extras-iphone-app
Participation, remediation, bricolage: considering principal components of a digital culture
Deuze considers online culture not as something suddenly new, but in the context of previous culture. He sees digital culture’s difference not in the ability to produce media digitally, but in the way users perceive and receive those productions. As he points out, the elements of a culture that produces media, transmits them, and consumes them has always existed. New media (or digital media, as Deuze prefers) eliminates the editorial role, producing unfiltered information in a participatory network where anyone can act as the creator, and where hierarchies are eliminated. He sees:
Two mutually constitutive features of digital culture: remediation as in the remix of old and new media, and bricolage in terms of the highly personalized, continuous, and more or less autonomous assembly, disassembly, and reassembly of mediated reality.
The third important force he describes is participation.
1. Active agents in the process of meaning-making (we become participants).
2. We adopt but at the same time modify, manipulate, and thus reform consensual ways of understanding reality (we engage in remediation).
3. We reflexively assemble our own particular versions of such reality (we are bricoleurs).
Bricolage is an interesting way to view new (digital) media. Deuze points out the the ‘bricoleur-citizen’ “reselect(s) and rearrange elements until a pattern emerges which seems to satisfy the constraints of the task and the current purposes of the user.” Bricolage, a tradition in Art, is the principle also behind mashups, remixes and vidding, though corporations still trying to maintain control of their material often consider it copyright theft, piracy and non-productive.
Deuze, M. (2006).Participation, remediation, bricolage: considering principal components of a digital culture. The Information Society, 22(2) 63–75. DOI: 10.1080/01972240600567170
The cultural logic of media convergence
Jenkins looks at the contradictory and transitional nature of new media: where technology and connection is available freely so the individual can participate, but global corporations are becoming increasingly concentrated. He sees convergence as “a process, but not an endpoint” and, therefore, something that is still being defined and that is forming between ‘media power’ on one hand and ‘collective intelligence’ on the other.
Rather than culture jamming, he argues that media participation is important. Instead of disrupting the media, we should be shaping it (via our cultural and intellectual, and collective, needs).
Corporations, he states, are also changing the cultural landscape from the top down, expanding their interests, but also often doing this in ways that are seen as counter-productive to consumers and often self-contradictory across their corporate structures, particularly since new consumers are no longer passive individuals, but actively involved as groups.
Jenkins outlines “nine sites where important negotiations between producers and consumers”. These include such important issues as defining what is an ‘audience’ in new media, how to engage that audience, how will content be paid for, and the thorny issue of intellectual property.
He concludes with a call to actively engage with media industries to define these elements since, as he says, the media companies will have more say in these matters in the future than, historically, governments have had.
Jenkins, H. ( 2004). The cultural logic of media convergence. International Journal of Cultural Studies 7 (1), 33-43.
Week 6 / Play with me!: Having fun with media
Claiming a stake in the videogame: what grown-ups say to rationalise and normalise gaming.
Thornham takes an ethnographic approach to understanding adult gamers (21-35, across a variety of households in the UK) since the average age of gamers is 28 (again, in the UK). She investigates only ‘autonomous’ households, thus excluding family homes where different dynamics are at play (though this might well be a significant group). She also states that she has specifically chosen people similar to herself, and that they were already competent gamers. She investigated 11 households.
Bearing these caveats in mind, Thornham investigates the ‘justification’s for adult videogaming.
She finds that consoles are purchased primarily due to peer pressure, or for social inclusion reasons. The same thing, of course, might be said for almost all consumer goods that are not necessities, and is a function of advertising, capitalism and consumerism.
Pleasure comes from the relationship the gamer has with the game via the console. As Thornham points out, there needs to be a balance between deferred reward and boredom in order to maintain this, and to keep the gamer playing. Gaming was also seen as a socially normative act, reinforcing social norms (heteronormative) whereas ‘geek’ gaming is seen as obsessive and sexually and socially abnormal.
She states in her conclusion “Gaming, like television viewing, ﬁlm viewing, or internet use, is tied to wider social and cultural discourses.” While I think her results are limited, since her sample is so small and selective, nonetheless I believe her conclusion is certainly correct. How those social/pleasure/power/gender functions play out in different groups may well show other results however. In a ‘geek’ household might heteronormative functions be viewed as ‘abnormal’ for example?
Thornham, H. (2009). Claiming a stake in the videogame: what grown-ups say to rationalise and normalise gaming. Convergence 15 (2), 135-139.
The War between effects and meaning: Rethinking the video game debate.
Jenkins addresses the issue of computer games, and the dichotomy between games as pernicious influence on unshaped young minds, and games as reflective conscious interactivity. The former, Jenkins argues, relies on assuming that gamers are a tabula rasa, fully formed and shaped by the morals (or lack of morals) of the games they play. The latter, however, rely on already existing knowledge and concepts to understand and interpret games and game play.
He states “Games, like other media, are most powerful when they reinforce our existing beliefs and lest effective when they challenge our values.” Of course, this distortion also needs to be considered when assessing how games influence or change us (if they do).
Jenkins points out that not all games are first-person shooters. Many are educational, or at least have other goals than simple killing. Furthermore, a major factor in game play is the communal aspect of it. Games can also have a reflective, ethical framework (though no player is required, necessarily, to engage with that aspect) such as Black and White (though, of course, the division between ethically ‘positive’ and ethically ‘negative’ choices in this game rely on a pre-existing categorisation by the game’s creators).
Jenkins, H. (2006). The War between effects and meaning: Rethinking the video game debate. In D. Buckingham & R. Willett (Eds.), Digital Generations: Children, Young People, and New Media (pp 19-31). New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Ass.
Plants vs Zombies
Must… stop… playing… game…
As a non-gamer (other than computer version of standard games such as Chess or Solitaire) this game presents a nice mix of the threateningly macabre and the childishly twee (maybe naming my player Edgar Poe so that I was defending Edgar Poe’s house against the zombie attacks helped). It also presents a nice balance of ‘just enough’ information bites as the game progresses, reasonably intuitive gameplay, and the occasional surprise (pole vaulting zombies) to keep the player on their toes. I also feel the repetitive music, and the increasing number of resources to pay attention to (suns, which plants to choose, where to plant, where the zombies are) helps to distract the player from the real world and keep them playing the game. I thought I’d just try it out, and ended up playing for over half an hour.
The game has been generally well received. Metacritic’s roundup of reviews (2009) repeats some key words, such as ‘fun’ (or ‘hilarious’) and ‘addictive’ as well as noting the amusingly designed sprites. Graft (2009) notes its equal appeal to hardcore gamers (since it is a well structured ‘tower defense’ game with strong elements of resource management) as well as the casual purchaser (presumably from its fun elements).
Graft, K. (2009). Analysis: the universal (brain-eating) appeal of Plants Vs. Zombies. Retrieved July 4, 2010 from http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=23678
Plants vs zombies. (2009). Retrieved July b4, 2010 from http://www.metacritic.com/games/platforms/pc/plantsvszombies
Write about your personal experience with games and your attitude to video and computer games
I have dabbled with various games from the early days of text based BASIC games, such as TREK (based, of course, on Star Trek) through such classics as Tetris and Chip’s Challenge, as well as larger games such as Civilisation, but I would not class myself as a ‘gamer’ other than in the broad sense that humanity has a drive to ‘play’ long after childhood. In this sense, I see Tetris, or Snake, as being in a similar class to Scrabble or Battleships (the non computer versions) though with a larger sense of interactivity.
Part of the issue also includes the cost of gaming: not just the initial cost, but also the ongoing cost in terms of time and skill development which is something I don’t have available. This doesn’t mean I’m anti-gaming – I see no problems in gaming, even with hardcore gamers. Nor do I think that computer games are necessarily the source of all evil and turning children into violent drones in real life. A few examples of violent individuals and game playing don’t confirm a causation. It might be just as likely that violent individuals are drawn to violent games. Furthermore, gaming doesn’t exist in a cultural vacuum. There are so many other elements affecting an individual (cultural, media, psychological, family) that picking a target that the accuser often isn’t familiar with (or feels threatened by) is too easy.
Having recently rewatched Star Trek: The Original Series I consider the episode Spock’s Brain is an ideal candidate for remediation since it is considered one of the worse episodes of that series (at least by William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy (Spock’s Brain, 2010)). Having had some experience with using sequencer software I feel this episode can be used to create a musical/auditory track using the basic components of the episode (soundbites, and iconic sounds such as phasers and communicator bleeps) to create a short musical piece. It would be interesting to also add some sort of video as well but since I have no experience creating video this may be too difficult in the short time available. I am currently looking at Creatoon (www.creatoon.com), however, and this program may be able to create a simple enough video in the style of the Terry Gilliam animations used in Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
Spock’s Brain. (2010). Retrieved July 5, 2010 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spock’s_Brain
A variant of Space Invaders in which every alien that is destroyed also wipes a random file from the user’s computer, while the alien ‘invaders’ don’t actually fire back. As the creator states:
By way of exploring what it means to kill in a video-game, Lose/Lose broaches bigger questions. As technology grows, our understanding of it diminishes, yet, at the same time, it becomes increasingly important in our lives. At what point does our virtual data become as important to us as physical possessions? If we have reached that point already, what real objects do we value less than our data? What implications does trusting something so important to something we understand so poorly have?
Lose/Lose. (n.d.). Retrieved July 3, 2010 from http://www.stfj.net/art/2009/loselose/
Video games threaten kids’ attention span
Despite the bold claim in the headline, this report of a recent study looking at schoolroom behaviour and attention in relation to videogame playing isn’t quite so inflammatory. It does note that while increased videogame playing seems to correlate with attention problems in the classroom the actual effect is ‘small to moderate’. It is also pointed out (near the end of the piece where a lot of people may not read to) that the study doesn’t prove that videogames are directly harmful, since children may be playing late into the night and therefore suffering from lack of sleep, or using videogames as an activity in preference to exercise.
Video games threaten kids’ attention span. (2010). Retrieved July 6, 2010 from http://www.cbc.ca/arts/story/2010/07/05/health-video-games-tv-screen-attention-kids.html
New Media Resistance: Machinima and the Avant-Garde
Horwatt looks at the development and the many forms of machinima, whether it be to produce a work from an avant-garde, a feminist, a left-wing, a gay gamer clan, or some other perspective. He traces the development of machinima back to the democratizing effect cheap video cameras (which he describes as a form of folk art) created, but which has now moved online with the ready availability of software and game footage to be used as ‘found’ material to reconstruct a different narrative. He concludes by noting “Many found footage filmmakers and video artists describe the process of appropriating materials and manipulating them as a form of retribution or resistance. Nam June Paik once said that “Television has been attacking us all our lives, now we can attack it back.” Now millions of gamers are going to have their turn.”.
Horwatt, E. (2008). New media resistance: Machinima and the avant-garde. Retrieved July 6, 2010 from http://cineaction.ca/issue73sample.htm
Social media and sentiment mining
A Background Briefing program looking at privacy and social media, and the interface with advertising. Behavioural targeting is the result of differing standards to privacy on the internet (both from the users freely giving away information – including simply from comments or actions, not just publishing actual data – and the willingness of marketing firms to take and use this information, and to sell it on). As in video games, computers make assimilating and correlating all this data, and the not-so-invisible trails that web users leave, temptingly easy for companies to turn to their profit. The program prompts the question ‘What are social norms?’ though, since such norms fluctuate, perhaps the more appropriate question might be ‘What social norms do we want from this technology?’. One comment in particular demonstrates both how ‘invisible’ the internet has become, and just how potent that invisibility can be commercially:
Geordie Guy: Advertisers are a million miles ahead of users of social networking sites. It’s so surprising to me to find out that organisations like Facebook and Google, which are large companies – there are a lot of Australians who don’t even realise that there are companies behind them. There’s been research in Australia that suggests that a lot of people don’t even know Google is a company, and consider it to be this amorphous concept that exists out there on the Internet. These are all driven by advertising revenue and there’s a lot of money to be made, and they’re getting smarter and smarter at making the money.
Hunt, S. (2010). Social media and sentiment mining. Retrieved July 6, 2010 from http://www.abc.net.au/rn/backgroundbriefing/stories/2010/2933391.htm
A compilation of numerous short articles and pieces on using the internet for social activism and creativity, this book smacks heavily at times of the worst of empowering self-help books. The piece on ‘attention’ contains some interesting points, however. Scott describes four ways a person can get attention: advertising, public relations, sales (note: all part of corporate marketing), or “creating something interesting and valuable and then publishing it online for free”.
Scott, D. M. (n.d.). Attention. In I. Gupta (Ed). What matters now (p48). Retrieved July 6, 2010 from http://sethgodin.typepad.com/files/what-matters-now-2.pdf
Week 7 / All the world’s a game: virtual worlds, interactivity, convergence
Alternate reality gaming and convergence culture : The case of Alias
Örnebring looks at Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) in relation to the television show Alias. ARGs are online games designed so that they can only be solved communally, often over a period of months. Örnebring considers three ARGs, two productions of the network that produced Alias, and a fan based creation. In contrast with Henry Jenkins’ ‘celebratory’ approach, Örnebring considers ARGs as marketing tools, whose role is to generate ‘viral marketing’ or promotion of the source material (in this case, the television show) rather than necessarily direct selling.
In analysing the three ARGs, it is interesting to note the difficulties Örnebring had in reconstructing the games since, unlike other games, ARGs are specifically ephemeral and webpage based. Once they have served their purpose their sites are allowed to disappear.
Comparing the ARGs, Örnebring finds the industry games more traditional, in that they do not actually add to anything already present in the program, but rather are designed to immerse players in the program’s world. The fan game, on the other hand, looks at the ‘syntagmatic gaps’ of the program, extending the background story, partly through the constraint of not being able to use original characters due to copyright law. The fan game, unlike the commercial productions, only ever produced three of a proposed six episodes.
In conclusion, Örnebring sees ARGs as very much traditional forms, aimed at fulfilling a clear marketing goal, and satisfying existing fan bases, unlike Jenkins’ more open-ended self-created and self-controlled view. It seems that both views are not necessarily exclusive, however, especially given that ARGs are different in how they are presented (as web based explorations) and the growing potential (or disregard) for fans to ignore copyright restrictions.
Örnebring, H. (2007). Alternate reality gaming and convergence culture : The case of Alias. International Journal of Cultural Studie.s 10(4), 445-462.
Playing on the digital commons: collectivities, capital and contestation in videogame culture
Coleman and Dyer-Witheford look at games culture in terms of commons (usable by all, owned by none) versus commodity (profit-driven, privatised) models.
They trace the development of today’s game culture to the original ‘hacker’ games such as Adventure and Hammurabi. This culture was changed when companies such as Microsoft and others commodified these free (and, before the term was invented, open source) games, ‘fencing’ them in with copyright and other controls to regulate who could play them. This control led to piracy and warez, sometimes also profit driven, and the inevitable backlash of increasing controls on the software (DRM, activation etc) and copyright enforcements.
A grayer area is abandonware: games that are no longer sold or maintained, but which are still subject to copyright. Having frequented abandonware sites, I wonder why an old text based DOS chess game would be worth defending in court when one of the main appeals of these games is nostalgia from those who played them but no longer have a copy.
Modding and machinima represent using games for truly creative purposes: expanding or altering them, or creating movies from them. As Coleman and Dyer-Witheford point out, there is some leeway from producers to allow this or even to actively encourage it, but there is often a point beyond which the corporate entities will not allow the hackers to go when they feel their profits may be threatened. Nonetheless, as the paper notes, the gamers most likely to do this are those who most feel an affinity for the game, and who are probably the companies’ best customers (if not just in promoting the games).
Massively-Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs) represent another method to commodify games on the internet through the commons – these games are not free, but require the ‘commons’ of multiple users to control the virtual worlds. This may be the most successful model to date to incorporate both elements, though the tension between the two is also still evident in the conflicts over control (such as who sets the rules of what is allowable) and profit (such as in-game trading). As someone who has never played a MMOG (as noted elsewhere, there are questions of a certain ‘privileging’ of cost and time involved) it’s interesting to watch these territories (virtual and real) being actively defined).
In passing, the comment that e-commerce and its associated capitalist presences on the internet were seen by some as the end of the commons (just as the original farming commons were fenced in and eliminated) hasn’t yet come to pass. Possibly this is because the internet has no ‘limited’ commons to fence off, but is infinitely expandable. The commodifiers can increase their presence, but the commoners can expand at the same time, meaning that there isn’t an endpoint in which one can subsume the other.
In their conclusion, Coleman and Dyer-Witheford identify three groups arising from the interplay of gaming groups: “rejectionists, reformers and radicals”. The rejectionists wish to control gaming, and are generally the same as the corporations. The reformers, such as those using ‘creative commons’ wish to balance control and freedom by allowing audiences to have some of the rights previously held by companies. Radicals represent the ‘socialist/communist’ approach, whereby the commons is supreme. At the moment there is no clear supremacy for any group, though the situation is far from settled. As the authors note, we are in an ‘interregnum’.
Coleman, S. & N. Dyer-Witheford. (2007). Playing on the digital commons: collectivities, capital and contestation in videogame culture. Media, Culture and Society. 29 (6), 934-953.
Bring a plan that identifies the form, proposed content, technological tools and intended audience of your remediation project.
I propose creating a remediated project from Spock’s Brain, an episode of the original series of Star Trek.
I had initially considered creating a techno version of the soundtrack, using Hotstepper (http://www.threechords.com/hammerhead/hotstepper.shtml) but have since decided it would be ‘truer’ to the source material to use only the show’s soundtrack (recorded with Audacity -audacity.sourceforge.net/). There are enough quotes, as well as iconic sounds and music chords, to be able to take these and use them in a musique concrete piece. I would also like to add a video track as well. I have discovered Creatoon (www.creatoon.com/) which seems ideal since what I have in mind is a visual complement to the soundtrack, taking images from the show, and then putting them together in a 2D style animation. I have used Hotstepper before and therefore feel comfortable with this aspect of the remediation. I have not done any video animation, however, except a long time ago using a 8mm film camera and stop motion animation. Creatoon seems to be a good software replication of this process, so I hope to be able to transfer those skills across. It should be noted that all the software tools used in the remediation project are freeware.
The intended audience is primarily Star Trek fans, or those reasonably familiar with the show, since some understanding of the characters (and the actors) and the distaste that this episode is generally held in, are required to fully appreciate the parodistic nature of the work. Hopefully, it will still be enjoyable for those with only a passing knowledge of the show as well, especially given how a lot of the elements of Star Trek have entered into common culture.
What it takes to be a top 100 website (charts)
A series of charts showing visitor numbers for the top 100 and top 1000 websites as listed by Google (there’s some missing data since Google doesn’t list itself or YouTube, for example, but the trend is probably still correct). The charts show a strongly exponential drop off in visitors which demonstrates a few things: the ‘long tail’ effect (of course, even at number 1000, the figures are still in millions per month); the importance of gaining attention on the internet – most people follow the same few sites; and, conversely, a niche site can still exist with its own subset of visitors if it can gain attention and retain visitors.
Pingdom. (2010). What it takes to be a top 100 website (charts). Retrieved July 10, 2010 from http://royal.pingdom.com/2010/07/05/what-it-takes-to-be-a-top-100-website-charts/
Too Hollyweird for Hollywood? David Lynch asks fans to help fund his movies
An article describing various methods film-makers are using to harness crowd sourcing (called variously “crowd funding” or “people powered”) in order to fund and produce films. While it can be seen as simply seeking funds from a wider base than traditionally, it should be noted that the fans are rewarded in various ways – receiving a David Lynch portrait, being credited in the film, or having some active say in the actual form of the film.
Akbar, A. (2010). Too Hollyweird for Hollywood? David Lynch asks fans to help fund his movies. Retrieved July 12, 2010 from http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/too-hollyweird-for-hollywood-david-lynch-asks-fans-to-help-fund-his-movies-2024367.html
‘RapeLay’ video game goes viral amid outrage
This article raises various questions which are not specific to video games or the internet, but which have had to be confronted because of their nature. As the article notes, simply banning something on the internet is actually more likely to promote it, leading to wider distribution. My impression (and that is all it is) is that this sort of ‘rape’ game, while it may be played elsewhere, is essentially a Japanese cultural product*. The words for this sort of product (hentai, anime) are Japanese, though this particular game, of course, takes the issue to a more confronting level. What should be censored on the internet (can anything be censored on the internet?)? Should cultural perspectives and differing societal mores be considered? What is (acceptable) pornography (is allowing pornography but obscuring genitals an answer?)? Do these sort of games and images promote the activities? Could they actually reduce offending by offering a virtual outlet for socially unacceptable crimes?
Perhaps the most important question, though, is if we’ve ignored the issue for so long and allowed it to get to this level, have we already abrogated our responsibilities?
Lah, K. (2010). ‘RapeLay’ video game goes viral amid outrage. Retrieved July 13, 2010 from http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/03/30/japan.video.game.rape/
*Diamond and Uchiyama note that Japanese society sees women as subservient, but also notes that rapes and other crimes have been decreasing, even though Japanese pornography doesn’t discriminate between children and adults, and covers numerous fetishes. Indeed, they find that pornography may be beneficial, and that a repressive upbringing may be of more significance in predicting sexual crimes later in life. Their report does not, however, consider the internet or active gaming.
Diamond, M. and A. Uchiyama. (1999). Pornography, rape and sex crimes in Japan. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 22(1): 1-22.
Music lyric infringement cases are a murky area
When does a work reinvent or recreate, and when is it copyright violation? Is unconscious repetition or variation culpable? In a season of Hollywood remakes, this article looks at music copyright cases stretching back decades. Many of the cases seem silly or inconsequential, many seem to be using the law as a blunt instrument, though there are no easy answers, whether the violation in question includes a riff, a phrase, or a Nietzschean phrase that has entered the popular vocabulary.
And, since the phrase “That which does not kill us only makes us stranger” is used in a 1995 episode of Aeon Flux (Thanatophobia — http://www.tv.com/aeon-flux/thanatophobia/episode/140051/summary.html), surely Peter Chung and MTV can now sue Christopher Nolan for using essentially the same phrase in The Dark Knight?
Caro, M. (2010). Music lyric infringement cases are a murky area. Retrieved July 13, 2010 from http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/ct-ae-0711-ripoff-20100711,0,4199961.story
Geeks, tweets and bums on seats
A report on twitter and the ‘democratisation of the arts’. The article notes the effectiveness of Twitter in marketing productions, and also the need people feel to share their feelings immediately about things (though I have to wonder if tweeting during a performance actually indicates a disengagement with the performance) as well as being able to directly engage with the artists and performers. Twitter is also being used directly as the medium for performances, such as Romeo and Juliet via tweets.
Blake, E. (2010). Geeks, tweets and bums on seats. Retrieved July 13, 2010 from http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/theatre/geeks-tweets-and-bums-on-seats-20100709-103g8.html
Internet addiction driving South Koreans into realms of fantasy
An article noting how South Korea’s gamers are becoming victims of ‘addiction’ to the games. While the psychological interpretations of addiction and lack of human relationships are questionable (the latter is followed by a case of a couple who formed a relationship through gaming), the issue of games as an escape from reality, and the imperative to constantly improve and succeed in the virtual world are real and significant issues, if only for the conflict this creates with real world requirements such as jobs. To address some of these issues, teenagers have legally restricted times they can play games (and are virtually penalised if they play games at the wrong times) but adults are not subject to these laws.
McCurry, J. (2010). Internet addiction driving South Koreans into realms of fantasy. Retrieved July 14, 2010 from http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jul/13/internet-addiction-south-korea
Week 9 / Inform me! news media
Journalism in a digital age
Harper considers how online journalism changes the nature of news and traditional newspapers. Though he notes that few people use online sources primarily for news (at least in 2003), users can select information from a number of sources, or search out source documents directly, bypassing news organisations altogether. Of those who seek out news, the proportion drops with decreasing age – is such a trend continues, this would indicate that the consumer base for news companies is disappearing. On the other hand, online ‘newspapers’ can provide extra value by including video and audio.
While both print and online newspapers have ‘gatekeepers’ selecting what material to accept and what to reject, these function differently online. An online newspaper, theoretically, has unlimited space, though this would never be true in the real world (since server space costs money, this in limited; since the number of journalists is limited only so much copy can be produced).
Taking the Chicago Tribune as an example he looks at some of the defining characteristics of online journalism: non-linearity (stories can be linked to other stories or viewpoints, and users can choose their own path or go elsewhere); stories are designed in a manner similar to visual media such as film; stories are ‘layered’ into segments, due to the limited space a computer screen provides (though many newspapers choose not to do this).
Finally, Harper looks at how money might be made in this environment. He states 60% of expenditure is printing costs, which would not be required online (though if a newspaper provides both a print and online edition, that cost would not be saved). More importantly, a major source of revenue is from classified advertising, and he wonders what would happen if this was lost to online sites (which is happening today).
Harper, C. (2003). Journalism in a digital age. In H. Jenkins & D. Thorburn (Eds), Democracy and New Media (pp. 271-280). Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.
Online mainstream and alternative news sites
Perth Indy Media: http://perth.indymedia.org/
The West Australian: http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/
The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
Some of the challenges that online newspapers face include how much and what information to put on the front page: too much information can be overwhelming, too little may not draw viewers in. Layout (the ‘code’ of the sites) is also important: how is the page laid out? Is it easy to follow and scan? Also, an online newspaper needs to consider how it categorises stories since not every story can be included on the front page. All of the suggested sites were viewed on the same day in order to compare their coverage for that day (17th July 2010).
Crikey tries to put as many stories as possible on its front page, which means the layout is very text heavy and difficult to follow. Categories tend to be unclear as well. There are broad divisions such as Journalism/Online/Print/The Ad Business/TV & Radio (all one section) which again makes the page very difficult to ‘chunk’. Many links also go to other news sites, which would seem an interesting strategy on the front page, while other stories are subscriber only. On this day the leading stories included a number about the Federal Election, the BP Oil Spill and asylum seekers. Crikey clearly presents a left wing view.
Perth Indymedia presents itself in more of a blog format, with categories on the right side of the page, numerous links to other Indymedia sites on the left, and the main stories presented in date order and all given equal weight in the centre column. Stories on this site also seem to be presented from a left wing perspective, but are more selected and infrequent than a mainstream news site. On this day the featured stories were on Kevin Rudd being ousted, a play being presented by Friends of Palestine WA, uranium mining, asylum seekers and homophobia.
The West Australian site shows its commercial links, with sections devoted to Channel 7 television and the Skills West Expo. The online paper clearly categorises stories and shows a definite hierarchy of importance. A large banner is devoted to the Federal election campaign, but then stories are listed as ‘Our Choice’, Video, WA, National, World, Business, Sport, Life and Style, Entertainment, Travel, and Offbeat. It is interesting that the breakdown follows closely what would be expected in the print edition. The focus is clearly on WA news, and other news from a WA perspective (including, in that sense, what West Australians are expected to be interested in). There is a heavy entertainment leaning though, also shown in the various ‘opinion’ pieces (are these simply the equivalent of blog posting?). The front page also includes Horoscopes. As an indication of the audience, an online poll asking which party readers would be voting for showed, on this particular day:
• Labor 21%
• Liberals 72%
• Greens 4%
• None 3%
This result clearly doesn’t mirror more legitimate polls, but it does demonstrate, I believe, the political leanings of the West Australian readers (it’s also interesting that the options given do not include the National Party, or Other as choices).
The Huffington Post includes a large number of stories on its front page but, unlike Crikey, they are better separated and many also include a brief summary. Different categories are also colour coded which could help scanning to select stories of interest. The site lists main categories at the top of the page, and it is interesting that the very first one are to Facebook and Twitter feeds. Categories also include some not featured on other sites, such as College, Impact and Religion, as well as US regional subheadings (the Huffington Post clearly takes a US-centric view, covering issues and names that I am not familiar with). The Huffington Post also features news bloggers, and the number of comments on stories (three of the ‘most popular’ stories had over 8,000 comments – do people read all of these, or is it simply a desire to make themselves heard, or at least feel that they have made themselves heard?). Video, like other news sites, is also featured but, unlike television which has broadcasting standards, questionable material can be posted online. Such as ‘Police Release Footage Of Fatal Shooting Of Man Who Rammed Car Into Cop [WARNING: GRAPHIC]’, which raises questions of what material should be shown on the internet, and does a ‘warning’ make it permissible? The political leaning of the site (if any) is less immediately obvious, though a tendency to criticise US politicians seems to indicate a tendency towards a libertarian viewpoint.
Salon has one of the better layouts of a news site. Story headlines are clearly differentiated, and each also has a brief summary of the story. The front page provides main category headings across the top: News, Tech & Biz, Life, Movies, TV, Books, Food, Comics, Store. Based on these, Salon would be assumed to be a less ‘hardcore’ news site with its leanings towards lifestyle categories. There are also Facebook and Twitter links. Featured stories are then presented and, below these, a longer list of recent stories. On this day the featured stories included two on movies, one on cooking, one on cosmetic surgery, three on other media sources and ‘The Week in Pictures’.
Of these sites I have only regularly used two: the West Australian (which I find useful for local news though my first preference would be for the ABC (www.abc.net.au/news) first) and Crikey (again, for specific stories only, usually when I am searching for coverage of a particular topic rather than on a regular basis, and for its Andrew Bolt commentary (http://blogs.crikey.com.au/purepoison/category/andrew-bolt/) since I also like to see what Andrew Bolt is commenting on (http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/) ). In terms of sourcing news information I mainly rely on the radio (various ABC stations) for local and Australian news, and the Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/) for world news (since this site provides coverage on topics such as Science and Technology which I like to follow). While all sites have some sort of political bias, I would accept the ABC (and the BBC) more readily than commercial sites. A lot of the bias is not obvious, however, and tends to be shown more by what is not covered than what is.
News Consumption Trends
In 2008 a Pew survey showed for the first time that more people used the internet to get their news than newspapers. The rise in the internet percentage was quite dramatic. Television still exceeds both though it, too, is declining, but more slowly. Among younger users (less than 30) the internet and television rated equal.
A 2010 Pew survey (giving slightly different categories, so not directly comparable) gives the internet as the source of 61% of ‘some news’. Television, however, still rates more highly and doesn’t seem to be declining very fast. What is of interest in this survey, however, are two things: 92% get news from more than one source from more than one platform; and the social networking aspect is having a dramatic effect (75% state they get news from social networking). The majority use 2-5 news sources, and the minority have only one favourite source.
As noted in the second article, news distribution (and attention) is becoming a participatory function, and users appear to have reduced loyalty to any particular site (though this is smaller in relation to television, possibly since there are fewer channels).
It should also be noted that the surveys relate to North American users only though, in general, the same trends would probably be occurring in Australia.
Gross, D. (2010). Survey: More Americans get news from Internet than newspapers or radio. Retrieved July 18, 2010 from http://edition.cnn.com/2010/TECH/03/01/social.network.news/index.html
Pew Research Center. (2008). Internet overtakes newspapers as news outlet. Retrieved July 18, 2010 from http://people-press.org/report/479/internet-overtakes-newspapers-as-news-source
According to a survey reported by Prlog.com, Americans trust BBC.com more than they trust any home grown internet news site. The survey rated 11 high traffic news sites on a scale reflecting their proportionate levels of trust or distrust. Interestingly, the Huffington Post rated very low, and came in tenth. The survey also notes that there were differences in trust between men and women, with women tending to give greater ranges in their reported levels of trust or distrust.
Galli, M. (2010). Research survey asks: “Which web news sites are the most trusted?” Retrieved July 19, 2010 from http://www.prlog.org/10673706-research-survey-asks-which-web-news-sites-are-the-most-trusted.html
Essay 2 Outline
I am still in the early planning stages for this essay, but I see that the various dichotomies in new media will need addressing:
• Copyright/Creative Commons
• Corporate control/Individual freedom
• Media control/Free distribution
These topics are clearly inter-related. I also am planning on linking this to the development of my own remediation project in terms of tools, consumer as creator, everyone as producer, limitations of this model (technical/artistic skills are still required, attention is now a key ‘value’ as opposed to corporate marketing).
Week 10 / Networks of information: blogging, citizen journalism & collective intelligence
The mobile phone and the public sphere
Gordon considers the increasing use of mobile phones to record and distribute records of events, and to act as ‘eyewitnesses’ without the mediation of traditional news gathering agencies (the ‘gatekeepers’). She looks at three case studies: the SARS outbreak, the south-east Asian tsunami, and the London bombings (each of which is what she terms a ‘critical situation’).
In each case she finds that, while mobile phones allow people to become ‘citizen journalists’, relating and disseminating information through their networks of friends and contacts, this usage was still being controlled or used by the gatekeepers. In the case of SARS, the Chinese government’s strict censorship monitors all SMS messages, for example. In the Tsunami case study, mobile phones were used as a method to contact people in the disaster hit areas, but no coordination of such services was evident. A similar use in the case of the London bombings saw the network overloaded. Video taken of the event was also used by mainstream media, and hence editorialised in the traditional way (though, clearly, much more coverage was available, effectively supplied for free).
She concludes that, while mobile technology provides for an immediacy of coverage and reaction, it is far from ideal, and not necessarily dramatically altering news media and government controls in a fundamental way. It does, however, clearly have a great input into maintaining, reaffirming, and speeding up people’s networks of friends and, perhaps, this is of more sociological significance than its effect on news.
Gordon, J. (2007). The mobile phone and the public sphere. Convergence 13(3): 307–319 DOI: 10.1177/1354856507079181
‘Blogs of war’: weblogs as news
Wall looks at the function of blogs in news reporting by focussing on a specific event: the US-Iraqi war in Spring, 2003. She contrasts traditional news media (increasingly concentrated in fewer organisations, subject to ‘acceptable’ authorities and functioning under a culture of ‘acceptable’ subjects) with the journalism of blogs which she sees as particularly postmodern (no division between public and private, fewer gatekeepers, highly connected by hyperlinks – though there is also less fact checking and more quotation).
She finds these ‘postmodern’ reporters (particularly non-professional journalists) more opinionated, more personal in their writing. She also notes that stories also include the comments to the posts, since these often add to the original post, as well as the hyperlinks which form part of the story (and which, by the nature of hyperlinks, can go on indefinitely). She states that such writing, that might well be termed ‘biased’, is more credible to its readers because of the community aspect, that readers are seen as ‘peers’ rather than ‘consumers’.
Wall, M. (2005). ‘Blogs of war’: weblogs as news. Journalism 6(2): 153–172 DOI: 10.1177/1464884905051006
Jimmy Wales on the birth of Wikipedia
Jimmy Wales discusses his project to record ‘the sum of all human knowledge’ (later, though, he discusses deleting irrelevant articles and those not notable enough to remain) through the use of volunteer workers and to provide it to ‘every single person on the planet’. The project is managed by volunteers and created by ‘anyone who wants to’ contribute (financial contributions are also part of the plan). Others (Finkelstein, 2008) have seen this as effectively slave labour and less egalitarian than it is portrayed (some editors, for example, are more equal than others and, as Wales notes, some editors have more ‘credibility’).
In relation to the article on Bush/Kerry he notes that articles can, however, become battlegrounds and need to be ‘locked’ to prevent further editing, though he maintains this is a minor issue. Wikipedia maintains a ‘neutrality policy’ rather than a ‘truth policy’, though this simply pushes the issue from defining ‘truth’ to defining ‘reputable authorities’.
Wales notes how ‘chaotic’ Wikipedia is, but issues of authority and reputation that existed with written encyclopedias have been transferred to different realms: he notes that ‘monarchy’ is still required, and that position and authority equate to power in the wikiworld. Votes to delete articles, for example, are democratic except when Wales, or other ‘authorities’ trump democracy.
Finkelstein, S. (2008). Wikipedia’s school for scandal has plenty more secrets to reveal. Retrieved July 26, 2010 from http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2008/mar/27/wikipedia.scandal
Jimmy Wales on the birth of Wikipedia. (2005). Retrieved July 26, 2010 from http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/jimmy_wales_on_the_birth_of_wikipedia.html
Blogs I visit
I have a large number of blogs listed in my newsfeeds and these cover a broad range of topics. Many are for amusement, while others cover more serious topics such as science sites, sceptical sites, specific news aggregator sites (on topics such as the arts, SF, and so forth) as well as business related blogs. Many also cover multiple categories (they may be sites that post both serious and humourous posts). Generally, the sites need to satisfy a number of criteria:
• They need to update regularly. A dead blog is a boring blog. Regular may be multiple posts every day or it might be one a month, as long as the site is still being actively maintained.
• They need to be of personal relevance though, as noted in the list of categories above, relevance is a fluid concept – they might provide timely updates to scientific research, or they might simply post cartoons I find funny,
• The more important the subject, the more reliable the blog needs to be. A humour blog is judged simply on how funny it is, a climate science blog needs to show some scientific validity and independence. This comes from a number of means: tone of the posts, credentials of the blogger, other sites linked to (which can indicate what ‘community’ the blog sees itself as part of) and what references (in this sense, most especially what sources and hyperlinks are in the post) are used.
Why we play games: the four keys to player experience
An interesting report of a study by Nicole Lazzaro, who finds that the primary reason people play games is for the emotional aspect, which she breaks down to four categories:
1. The challenge of a game, including strategy and puzzles,
2. A sense of ‘awe and wonder’ in games which create worlds that can be explored,
3. Games that create a different mental state or focus, as a form of ‘therapy’, and
4. Shared gaming experiences which are mainly community based.
She also notes that the most successful games include aspects of all four categories.
Kane, B. (2004). Why we play games: the four keys to player experience. Retrieved July 26, 2010 from http://www.gamasutra.com/gdc2004/features/20040326/postcard-kane_04.shtml
How blogs and social media agendas relate and differ from the traditional press
A report of a study by the Pew Research Center into online news media. They found that social media and online news are largely a separate thing from the stories reported by mainstream media. They also found interesting differences in different online media: blogs, for instance, relied more heavily on traditional media stories (as also noted by Wall above) and were more emotive and personal; Twitter carried less political stories and more technology stories; YouTube was used more randomly, and for particularly visual stories (as would be expected). Attention spans on all social media were, however, very short with lead stories changing rapidly.
How blogs and social media agendas relate and differ from the traditional press. Retrieved July 26, 2010 from http://www.journalism.org/analysis_report/new_media_old_media
Reality bytes: eight myths about video games debunked.
In this undated article (but post-2003) which was linked from the student Discussion Board Professor Jenkins addresses eight ‘myths’ about videogames. These myths are persistent ‘truths’ often promulgated by the media relating to the way games are changing, in particular, children by making them more violent and more dissociated. Jenkins shows that these claims are misinterpretations, or based on limited studies. It is clear that games and game-playing exist within a larger cultural framework which consists of other, possibly more important, factors (such as education, family and the ‘magic circle’ of play) and making unwarranted causal links at this stage is simply jumping to easy (but probably mistaken) conclusions.
Jenkins, H. (n.d.). Reality bytes: eight myths about video games debunked. Retrieved July 26, 2010 from http://www.pbs.org/kcts/videogamerevolution/impact/myths.html
Newspaper chain’s new business plan: copyright suits
This article details the efforts by one US lawyer to profit from bloggers and others who cut and paste news stories. By buying the copyright in these stories (and now also working for one media company) he threatens to sue reposters, settling out of court. The amounts he receives are unclear, but would appear to be fairly low in each case. This brings to mind the ‘ambulance chasing’ lawyers of the past, though this is perhaps a more aggressive form. The article notes that such tactics have not been overwhelming successful for the movie and music industries, and it is hard to see how effective this could be as an overall strategy, rather than a money-making effort by one person. As can be seen by the comments on the article, it is also going to turn many people away from companies employing this strategy.
Kravets, D. (2010). Newspaper chain’s new business plan: copyright suits. Retrieved July 26, 2010 from http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/07/copyright-trolling-for-dollars/
Broadcast institutions, community values
Shirky discusses the nature of online communities in relation to broadcast media, and points out five important areas:
“1. Audiences are built. Communities grow.
2. Communities face a tradeoff between size and focus.
3. Participation matters more than quality.
4. You may own the software, but the community owns itself.
5. The community will want to build. Help it, or at least let it.”
His discussion stresses the importance of the organic ways in which communities develop and grow (indeed, one researcher refers to the ‘loam’ necessary for these conditions), and how the development is predicated on internal groupings and efforts. He also notes the dramatic difference between traditional media, and new media: ‘filter, then publish’ in the first instance, whereas online communities ‘publish, then filter’, where the users and creators also become the editors.
Shirky, C. (2002). Broadcast institutions, community values. Retrieved July 27, 2010 from http://www.shirky.com/writings/broadcast_and_community.html
Week 11 / Talk to me! Chatting/texting/twittering at each other
Evan Williams on listening to Twitter users
The co-counder of Twitter discusses the origin and development of this company (and technology). Twitter was originally only a side project to a larger startup, with a limited purpose: to allow broadcast short message texts. What followed demonstrates the power of the online consumer in both deciding what technology they wanted to use (perhaps not any different from the real world), but also in what ways to use that technology (radically different from the real world). Twitter became a method of realtime news updates, disseminating political information, advertising and marketing, and many more (and probably more still to come). Furthermore, the users also altered the system to their own needs, creating hashtags, for example.
Williams, E. (2010). Evan Williams on listening to Twitter users. Retrieved July 31, 2010 from http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/evan_williams_on_listening_to_twitter_users.html
Friend me if you Facebook: Generation Y and performative surveillance
Westlake looks at social media, privacy and definitions of self by focusing on Generation Y (those born between 1982-2001) and its use of Facebook in order to meet with the Foucaultian panoptic gaze, both adapting to it and challenging it.
She describes how Generation Y, unlike earlier generations, prefer to use social media to communicate and to constantly write and rewrite the hyperlinked text of their (multiple, altering) identities.
Unlike the fears of some early commentators, social media networking does not appear to harm or reduce real life social interactions. Indeed, it may actually facilitate them, either by networking about various gatherings, or allowing those with little opportunity for such interaction – those isolated for whatever reason – an online method to socialise.
The openness of social media, the constant exposure to the public gaze, is also seen differently from earlier, more private, generations (though regular outcries over Facebook’s ever changing privacy policies and tendency to set all information to public demonstrates that it is not without its own borders). While older generations perceive a moral panic about social media and try to enact laws to limit and control it, the media saturated Generation Y perceive the issue differently. While Facebook can be used for online stalking, there are rules that control and limit behaviour. Nonetheless, Westlake observes that, while users often break these rules where they are seen as inappropriate (creating fictional profiles, for example) it is the users themselves who become the best enforcers of maintaining standards and controls in the network. The Panopticon is not staffed by an all-seeing Observer, but by all the users who simultaneously observe themselves and who are creating their own definitions of ‘self’ and ‘privacy’.
Westlake does not, I note, make any reference to the fact that Facebook is a private company, and not a charity, and how the profit imperative may also affect and intersect with performance of self online.
Westlake, E. J. (2008). Friend me if you Facebook: Generation Y and performative surveillance. TDR: The Drama Review, (52) 4 pp. 21-40
Reflect on your own use of messaging, facebook, and twitter concerns or fears you may have and economic opportunities you might recognise
Being a baby boomer, I fall directly into the “don’t use social media” camp. This doesn’t mean that I am against them, just that I find other forms of interaction (email, blogging, forums) sufficiently fulfilling. These also allow me to better control my time online, whereas much social media (and especially Twitter) gives out a more urgent need for constant response and retweeting. If it’s not immediate, it doesn’t seem real anymore. I am also wary of what information I make available on the internet: while it may only be single items here and there anyone who wants to can easily locate and correlate them. Again, social media’s stance (not always, but often, and especially with the poster child of social networking, Facebook) seems to be make everything public and accessible, and only restrict it if there are enough complaints.
Nevertheless, as noted, this doesn’t mean I don’t see a purpose to them – in an increasingly connected world they provide real as well as virtual links between ever widening groups of people (but they also provide the opportunity, for the same reasons, for never being able to disconnect which can be problematic in issues such as cyberbullying).
This site provides some estimated analytics for the Twitter website (though only for the US). At the time of viewing, estimated usage had gone from roughly 24 million to 33 million over the period from January to July, with the steepest increase in the last month. Demographics are also interesting: female usage is greater than male usage, and is much higher than the overall internet participation rate. Twitter users are also mainly 18-34 age bracket, are overwhelmingly Caucasian, and are not college educated (though the rates for African-Americans and Hispanics, while low, are much higher than overall internet participation rates). These statistics would indicate (at least for the US) that, while Twitter is increasing dramatically in popularity, it is also being used as a tool by groups that have traditionally been under-represented on the internet.
Twitter.com. Retrieved July 31, 2010 from http://www.quantcast.com/twitter.com
Social networks: The great tipping point test
The wealth of data exposed by social networking media is being used and analysed by scientists. While the hope of determining mathematical laws to accurately model human behaviour may, at present, be utopian (or dystopian, depending on your view), the actual trends shown by social networking are interesting. In broad terms, popularity tends to be both random (especially initially) but then heavily influenced by social pressures (conforming and following). Cell phones can also be used to track and model the movements of people. In one interesting comment, it is noted that “individuals generally travel lots of relatively small distances, but occasionally take long excursions that move us to very different territory”. The same thing might be said of how users traverse virtual territory when online.
Buchanan, M. (2010). Social networks: the great tipping point test. Retrieved July 27, 2010 from http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20727701.100-social-networks-the-great-tipping-point-test.html?full=true
The Twitter effect isn’t what Hollywood thought
In contrast to the previous article, this report presents a less glowing assessment of Twitter in relation to the movie industry. Currently, Twitter is less important in promoting (or denigrating) movies, though other social media (such as Facebook) are noted as more important. It is also noted that more directly personal methods are more significant: both personal interaction, but also the less quantifiable SMS texts (which, while the report doesn’t note, could presumably be seen as the equivalent of tweets sent to specific friends, rather than broadcast to a general audience). Hollywood is, however, using Twitter via ‘Promoted Tweets’ – effectively advertising by another name – which shows another aspect of how large corporations are trying to use social media to maintain their incomes and product promotion.
Frankel, D. (2010). The Twitter effect isn’t what Hollywood thought. Retrieved July 28, 2010 from http://www.thewrap.com/print/19484
Social media: huge, and here to stay
A snapshot of where social media is at. The article notes that “If Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest behind China and India” which raises interesting questions. Is Facebook a country? If it is, is it separate from China and India (and other countries) or is there actually an overlap which effectively blurs national borders, especially since all the users are already members of a real life country?
The article also notes the ‘perfect storm’ effect that the convergence of broadband, mobile devices and social networking sites that has allowed this potential medium to become such a popular one. This also means that companies are now investigating ways of profiting from social media (the article states that the opinion of Facebook friends is more important than advertising (though this might also reflect that advertising on the internet is more difficult to promote, and easier to avoid than, for instance, on TV.
Murphy, S. (2010). Social media: huge, and here to stay. Retrieved July 29, 2010 from http://www.livescience.com/technology/social-media-100728.html
Using data from Facebook and the World Bank (though from different years), this page shows Facebook users as a percentage of country populations in order to give some idea of Facebook penetration of each. This doesn’t, of course, indicate what other social media sites may be used in those countries, and there may well be regional variations in popularity. While more than half of the populations of Iceland and Norway are on Facebook, Australia and the US sit around the higher end of user rates, though Australia is slightly ahead of the US.
Facebook’s invasion (2010). Retrieved July 31, 2010 from http://www.smashrobot.com/tech/facebooks-invasion/
Week 12 / Who’s listening? Mass communication in a networked, mobile environment
On the Non-autonomy of the Virtual
Malpas argues that virtual worlds are not separate (‘autonomous’) entities that exist separately from the real world, but are bound up in the structures of the real world. For instance, virtual worlds only exist because of the infrastructure (such as servers and cables) that they use; they, like the real world, are constructed from the same languages; and users of virtual worlds also exist in, and come to those virtual worlds from, a real world and hence bring with them their real world realities of interaction, psychology, expectations and standards.
While Malpas’s point is certainly correct – the virtual world exists in and is dependent on the real world – he doesn’t address what makes them different, and which may be more significant. For example, what is the importance of different avatars, or of different social rules, in the virtual life as opposed to the real (or, perhaps more pertinently, what is the significance and effect of those on the real life)? He also notes that virtual worlds are not often very different from real worlds but, again, I feel that it is the differences that are the important point here.
His argument that everyone and everything involved in virtual worlds is subject to legal constraints somewhere in the (real) world is perhaps less contentious, since it demonstrates the border between traditional power and online life’s different rules.
While virtual worlds are a ‘fictional construct’ based on physical reality, it can also be argued that reality is a ‘fictional construct’ in a similar manner, certainly in terms of identity and relationships. Nonetheless, it is an important point that virtual and real worlds are not sharply divided, and that this division may well become less clear in the future.
Malpas, J. (2009). On the Non-autonomy of the Virtual. Convergence 15(2), 135-139.
Seth Godin on the tribes we lead
Godin argues for the power of the internet to change ‘everything’ in terms of its ability to link groups of people with similar interests or concerns (or ‘tribes’ as he terms them) and to provide greater opportunities to spread ideas. He gives a number of examples of how people have changed society, including how city councils handled stray dogs, Al Gore, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, the Beatles, Hugo Chavez and Bob Marley. It should be noted, however, that most of these examples are people who already had some form of power (such as position, money, access to a record company, or a combination of these).
Godin is basically making a call for greater political engagement which he believes will be facilitated by the internet and social networking in order to create a better, more utopian world via what he terms a ‘new model’ of leadership that has supplanted Fordism and advertising. The internet is, however, neutral. Ideas can be to create what one person considers a ‘better’ society, or may be the opposite (it may, indeed, be another person’s, different, idea of a ‘better’ society). The Yugoslavian conflict of the nineties could be seen as a ‘tribal’ conflict. The use of the internet to spread doubt about climate change when nearly 100% of scientists in the field are convinced of it is an example of how an idea can change public opinion and create political change (delaying action on climate change) in a similar way that companies promoted doubt about the health effects of smoking (http://bbickmore.wordpress.com/lord-moncktons-rap-sheet/, for example, and the recent claims of abusing the rating system on Digg reported at http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/aug/06/digg-investigates-claims-conservative-censorship).
Godin’s claims are not wrong – the internet and its links make such groupings of tribal ideas faster and easier (particularly when the idea is something obscure that others in your physical location may have no interest in), but it does not discriminate about quality or bias in ideas, nor does it necessarily guarantee that any tribe will find (or want) links to other tribes.
While Godin argues that it only takes one person to start a change, that person has to have his or her idea accepted and passed on by others to form a tribe, and for the idea to grow and spread.
Sadly, dashing my expectations, Godin did not play the piano at any time during his presentation.
Bickmore, B. (2010). Lord Monckton’s rap sheet. Retrieved August 7, 2010 from http://bbickmore.wordpress.com/lord-moncktons-rap-sheet/
Godin, S. (2009). Seth Godin on the tribes we lead. Retrieved August 6, 2010 from http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/seth_godin_on_the_tribes_we_lead.html
Halliday, J. (2010). Digg investigates claims of conservative ‘censorship’. Retrieved August 7, 2010 from http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/aug/06/digg-investigates-claims-conservative-censorship
Teens prefer texting vs. calling… Except to parents
A report of a Pew Research Center study of phone use among teenagers, stating that texting is the preferred means of communication (and that it is used even more so by females). Texting is seen as more immediate and less intrusive than voice calls, but also it is being used as a separate territory from parents, marking out teenagers as a separate (technological) social grouping. While teenagers and parents separating themselves as groups that are ‘with it’ and ‘not with it’ is nothing new, the use of technology to facilitate this differentiation is new.
Hadhazy, A. (2010). Teens prefer texting vs. calling… Except to parents. Retrieved August 6, 2010 from http://www.technewsdaily.com/teens-prefer-texting-vs-calling-except-to-parents-0446/
Teens lead the way in shift away from email
In a similar trend, email is being perceived by teenagers as a ‘grown up medium’ and old-fashioned compared to the immediacy and networking of social media sites such as Facebook and texting. One academic speculates that teenagers will increasingly use email as they become adults and take over adult communication methods which is an interesting idea, if untested as yet.
Murphy, S. (2010). Teens lead the way in shift away from email. Retrieved August 6, 2010 from http://www.livescience.com/technology/teens-shift-away-from-email-100805.html
Facebook replaces email, instant messaging online
A Neilson Co. Report provides information on trends in internet usage, giving activities an average user (always a questionable entity) performs over an average internet hour. Social networking sites (especially Facebook) takes up 22.7% of the time while email and instant messaging have decreased. The report does note, however, that Facebook provides these facilities via its site, and that users may simply be choosing to use the one site to manage all their communication needs, rather than dramatically changing these methods.
Meredith, L. (2010). Facebook replaces email, instant messaging online. Retrieved August 6, 2010 from http://www.technewsdaily.com/facebook-replaces-email-instant-messaging-online-0960/
How scientific research is being crowdsourced (or using ‘distributed thinking’ as one scientist calls it) via the internet. One example is analysing protein folding. Initially this was done simply by distributed computing, taking a little of a user’s computer resources spread across a large number of users, but humans are often able to assess these complex problems quicker than computers (which laboriously step through every possibility). Changing the project to a game (Foldit) improved results. Another distributed thinking project, Stardust@home, had users who performed assiduously, while others quickly lost interest, and yet others ‘cheated’ in order simply to gain points. This led to users being assigned skill levels (which is also a problem other distributed projects, such as Wikipedia, have had to deal with). One scientist notes that such programs exploit “three uniquely human talents: a superior spatial awareness; an ability to take short-term risks for long-term gain; and the converse, recognizing a dead-end early and knowing when to quit”. Interestingly, the last two are social skills where computers perform (at present) poorly or not at all.
Hand, E. (2010). People power. Nature 466(7307), 685-687
Does Facebook unite us or divide us?
Zuckerman ignores the media hype about Facebook and asks whether it is actually making us ‘imaginary cosmopolitans’: people who are part of a huge transnational group, but who actually only interact locally with those we already know. This is reinforced by Facebook’s code, identifying people who probably already know you when you sign up, and the tendency for the majority of internet users to access resources located within their own countries. He also notes how Facebook can increase divisiveness, using the “Everybody draw Mohammed day” campaign which quickly turned from a call for freedom of speech to a hate group.
Zuckerman, E. (2010). Does Facebook unite us or divide us? Retrieved August 11, 2010 from http://edition.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/08/03/zuckerman.facebook.global/index.html
The rewards of non-commercial production: Distinctions and status in the anime music video scene
Ito looks at the reasons fans participate in the non-commercial production of anime music videos, noting that this is not a ‘free culture’ area as such, but comes with its own set of rules and expectations in order to define it as a separate subculture. Rather than financial gain, social recognition and participation are important goals in this field (even more so for fan productions which are produced for a specific subculture, as opposed to something like Wikipedia which is intended for a general audience). One aspect of these rules is connoisseurship, which leads to a hierarchical structure of acceptability (which is being challenged by newer, younger entrants to the field who hold different views of what is acceptable). This can also lead to differing amounts of power in determining the ratings (and social rankings) of others. Ito notes, however, that it is not the hierarchy and elitism that should be stressed, but the community support, and distributed participation that are important factors since these facilitate new entrants and in maintaining the subculture.
Ito, M. (2010). The rewards of non–commercial production: Distinctions and status in the anime music video scene. First Monday, 15(5). Retrieved August 11, 2010 from http://www.uic.edu/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/viewArticle/2968/2528
Sociological implications of scientific publishing: Open access, science, society, democracy and the digital divide
Herb looks at the move to provide open access to scientific information and papers on the internet, noting that there are multiple arguments for this: the financial cost of closed access (especially for journal subscriptions); in order to reduce the digital divide; and in order to increase democracy and reduce societal divides. This does not, however, take account of some conflicting factors: for scientists, social capital (the value of ideas, and the ‘publish or perish’ imperative) are paramount; democratization is limited by the fact that the internet is made up of individuals (with conflicting interests) and information (the ‘capital’ of the internet) is controlled to a large extent by corporations who wish to maintain that control; open access can be seen as ethnocentrically controlling countries that are considered to be ‘information poor’ (though this is a postmodern argument about the relative value of belief systems). Herb does, however, note that open access can be liberalising, and that a larger number of open source journals emanate from developing, rather than developed, countries (though these, and scientists from these countries, remain grossly under-represented in the developed world).
Herb, U. (2010). Sociological implications of scientific publishing: Open access, science, society, democracy, and the digital divide. First Monday, 15(2). Retrieved August 11, 2010 from http://www.uic.edu/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/viewArticle/2599/2404
Week 13 / Conclusion
My remediation of Spock’s Brain (http://homepage.mac.com/m5comp/trekbits/trekpics/brain/) as a musique concrete work (with rather dodgy animation) is uploaded at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOL6Wz5jk_o. In creating this work I was consciously attempting to portray remix culture literally: the soundtrack of the episode is cut into smaller pieces and remixed into a three minute structure; the images of the show are also cut and trimmed and then remixed on the screen; finally, the letters of the title (‘spocksbrain’) are remixed on the screen in a series of anagrams.
Consider your personal use of media; have you changed the way you think about and use the media?
My personal media use falls somewhere between luddite and technophile. In some respects I am keen to embrace new technology (my first website was created in 1997, my blog in 2005), in others I have avoided new technology altogether (Facebook, Twitter). What the readings and research have shown, though, is that I am not alone. The way people use new media and social media is often a function of generation and cohort (reference), partly through trying to define themselves as separate from other (usually older) generations and partly through what media are already being used by friends. In other words, the media I use, and the media others choose to utilise, is a function of personal value in the social context. For myself, I do not see that there is anything on Twitter that I particularly need to know and, if there is, the other media that I use (blogs, news sites, email) will alert me to it. For others, the situation is different, and the latest tweets of friends and those being followed are important to them and in their relationships to others.
This also links in to the ‘tribalism’ of the internet. This is not a new concept (consider specific newsgroups before the World Wide Web, or IRC chatrooms), but convergence and sites such as Twitter mean that these groups are increasingly linked more quickly in time and across a wider range of platforms, most especially mobile platforms, so that these groups remain connected 24 hours a day. Whether these tribes link to other tribes to form a global community, or whether there will be increasing separation of enclaves is a moot point.
The other major factor in new media is the tension between the utopian view (‘information wants to be free’) and the corporate view (‘we control it and you pay for it’). The answer probably lies somewhere between absolute anarchy, and total monopolistic control (another aspect of separate enclaves?). While I had previously seen this as a losing battle (the corporations continue to rely on the old, legal, methods and, while they win a few battles, continue to lose the war), I now see this as rather more insidious. Corporations are now more likely to utilise social media to advertise, promote and sell themselves. Being constantly connected, and making our information universally accessible, is a goldmine of data for advertising.
In summary, I am less likely to take the utopian view of the internet (such as espoused by Godin (reference)) though that does not mean I believe we are in for a dystopian control of the internet either. We are in a fluid situation, where those on either side are still discovering what the internet can do and be used for. Whether that means the total collapse of print newspapers, for instance, or better money making opportunities through paywalls, online news sites, and social marketing is unclear but it does summarise the conflict that is presently occurring.