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So long Net Comm 2011,

its actually been extremely insightful and i really grew to enjoy using WordPress – i can see why some people really do get into it.

ciao

geo0033

Week 7:

A) Lovink (Reader, page 219) argues that bloggers are creative nihilists “who celebrate the death of centralized meaning structures and ignore the accusation that they would only produce noise”.

The above does have some validity that will be discussed later, however the assertion made by Lovink is quite an exaggeration. Many bloggers use their blogs as a way to understand the world they live and to be able to gather some perspective and reflection about what can sometimes be a chaotic system. It is my belief, that Lovink’s statements are derived from the fact that more media attention is given to the sensationalized blogs that focus on celebrities or more trivial matters, whilst ignoring the fact that blogs are a medium that many people use to express both themselves, and how they interact with the world around them.

One of the greatest tools that blogging has brought about is the fact that allows people to creatively express themselves. Blogging is just a new representation of 21st Century art. Let me elaborate upon this. In the past art was seen as meaningless and a waste of time. However, with analysis, art has been proven to be an excellent conduit for people to explore both themselves and the world around them. Blogging does very much the same. the issue is that unlike art (some art!) which has been proven by most theorists to have relevance both culturally, politically and spiritually, blogging is still in its seedling stage, and therefore hasn’t had enough of a chance yet to allow people to look at it with a more analytical and receptive eye.

However, it is not to say that the above statement doesn’t have any truth.  Because of the fact that people can write about anything on blogs indicates that there exists out there plenty of blogs that are neither insightful, not explorative. Also, the discussions and commentaries on social issues are nor always as detailed, nor as investigative as some profess them to be. This last point however is an example of the fact that we live in a heavily commercialized media world where the press doesn’t rely to much on detail, but instead about how attractive a news story can be to pull in a larger audience base. This shift in our consciousness to engage a detailed and critical analysis of issues is something that Nicholas Carr discusses in his book The Shallows, where he writes that new technologies, combined with a global media have resulted in this:

‘…what the net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. Whether I’m online or not, my mind now expects to take in information the way the net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski…’

We no longer approach issues as intensively as we did in the past, and the same bitter truth is found in blogs which, like the global media, are more focused on making posts attractive and dazzling and in some cases full of just ‘white noise.’

Reference:

N, Carr (2010). The Shallows: What the Internet is doing to Our Brains. New York: Stanford University Press.

B) Lovink (Reader, page 222) also argues that: “No matter how much talk there is of community and mobs, the fact remains that blogs are primarily used as a tool to manage the self”.

The growth of new media forms such as blogging and social networking have allowed for more expression of the self, and exploration of an identity. Michael McLuhan summarises nicely how new technologies have allowed for this extension of the self:

“The medium is the message. This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium / that is, of any extension of ourselves / result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology.”

 

It is true that blogs are very much like personal logs into a diary, the difference that new technology has brought about is the fact that the privacy that used to surround diary entries in the past has been broken down and we now express ourselves over the net globally, to people we will never meet. It is a true representation of how powerful Web 2.0 capabilities are to the individuals who capitalize upon it.

However, while Lovink (2008) states that blogs are primarily focused on the “personal experiences” of the user, and don’t necessarily revolve around contemporary news and media. The latter point is not necessarily true as blogs shift more and more to the discussion of contemporary issues both domestic and overseas. It is a reflection of the globalized world we live in, that we instinctively begin to recognize and reflect upon issues that are relevant at the time. There is no denying that we are all showered by the commercialized media around us, and to state we keep our blogs – personal expressions of ourselves – completely polarized from those issues is a gross generalization.

Here is an example of a blog from a person around 21 who mixes both his own identity with a commentary upon social and political factors:

http://beejy.tumblr.com/

to state that a blog is only one thing, seriously undermines the author’s capabilities and intentions.

References:

M, McLuhan quote derived from: http://thinkexist.com/quotation/the_medium_is_the_message-this_is_merely_to_say/295180.html

Lovink, G. (2008) “Blogging, the Nihilist Impulse” in Zero Comments: Blogging and Critical Internet Culture. London: Routledge

B) Medosch argues that: “piracy, despite being an entirely commercially motivated activity carried out in black or grey markets, fulfills culturally important functions” (Reader, page 318).

With the growth of Web and new media forms, there has been a growing concern with the media industry about file-sharing and illegal downloading of copyrighted property such as music and films. While it is extremely important to protect the intellectual and creative property of artists, the reality is that Web represents a new terrain of interpersonal dynamics and sharing and the exchange of media is an important facet of that environment. Indeed when the internet was first conceived, it was done so with the intention of creating an network where people could exchange information and ideas in a free and un-commercialized environment. Indeed, the inherent values behind web-creator, Barnes-Lee’s network was a system that inspires ‘individual freedom and social responsibility’ (Brate, Pg.226, 2002). In many ways a reflection of the Internet’s own design that was built upon the idea of creating an environment that was ‘noncentralized, nondominating and nonhostile’ (Galloway, Pg.29, 2004). With the growth of intensive of copyright policing, this idealize environment is seeming and further away. As Schiller puts it, this authoritative policing will result in the Internet being ‘transformed into a commercial and pay-for-use system in the near future.’ (Schiller,pg.6, 1998)

Indeed this can be seen to be happening as it is becoming harder and harder to exchange information over the web as copyright laws block much access.

It is important to point out that a person’s intellectual property must be protected, however the concern here lies with the question: how much is the artist really reaping in the rewards of the sale of their creative property? Many believe that it in fact returns into the pockets of the producers and industry behind the artist and is therefore not so much safeguarding a person’s creative property, but ensuring more revenue for the company themselves.

The demonization of those do perform online pirating, is a transparent attempt by the company to pull on the heart strings of audiences and force their moral compass to do what companies perceive as ‘right.’

However as this YouTube video shows, companies and governments deliberately exacerbate the truth, in order to ensure greater return and revenue for their companies… despite the fact that they are still making a lot of money.

References:

Brate, Adam 2002 ‘Ted Nelson and Tim Bernes-Lee, ‘Everything is Intertwingled’, Technomanifesto: Visions from Information Revolutionaries, Texer, New York/London.

Galloway, Alexander 2004 ‘Physical Media’. Protocol: How Control Exists After Decentralization, MA: MIT Press, Cambridge.
H, Schiller (1998), ‘American Pop Culture Sweeps the World.’ Approaches to Audiences – A Reader. London: Arnold Publishers.

YouTube reference:

Dym88, (2006). ‘MPAA’s Anti-Piracy Campaign “Corrected”’ YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSQQ1NqOaA4 June 6, 2011.

More random musings…

 

Are blogs a thing of the past already?!

 

A question that has been discussed a number of times within this subject: do blogs still have relevance?

Some studies have indicated that blogs are in fact something that was indicative of yesterday with more and more people switching to social networking through sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Indeed, from a personal perspective, I have never really been that attracted to making a blog. I sometimes find myself reading a blog or two but that was never with the intention of setting out to find a blog, and over the last year that behavioural trait has become less and less noticeable in me.

Why is that? I think blogging is something that is indicative of age. For younger people (people my own age), the idea of blogging does not necessarily appear attractive because it requires a dedication to a body of work that seems labourous. Social networking sites do not translate to this however because a person can instead just make a small statement that provides all the insight into the thought processes, without having to write several paragraphs. furthermore, the idea of creating a blog can be quite daunting as there is an expectation that you can have a sustainable argument beginning, middle and end. The prospect of writing what is essentially a small essay does not appear appealing as most people are called upon to that through their studies and why would most people generally want to do that in their leisure time? There in lies the appeal of social networking as it allows for that exploration of the self through small, concise commentaries. And the user feels as though they are being sociable as it allows for a medium to converse with friends. Blogs are pretty isolated. Either you attract followers or you don’t, that reality can deter people further.

However, the question must be raised again: are blogs a thing of the past?

Yes and no, I believe there will a noticeable bridging between social networking and blogging and the two camps wont remain so binary. How this will occur, I cannot elaborate upon. Yet where does the appeal of blogs lie that will keep it around (and has, despite what some have said)? I think that blogs do allow you to integrate yourself into a dialogue that can be fairly rewarding and does allow for more specialization of a particular subject matter that some people would find fairly dull. Furthermore, if you are able to attract a following, the discussions that can be generated can be extremely informative and rewarding as it allows you to discuss subjects that must have some relevance to you.

Since starting this blog, I have found a blog that appeals to my one nerdish leaning (hey we all have one!), namely The X-Files.

I found this blog on WordPress a few weeks back http://musingsofanxphile.wordpress.com/

and I have found it quite addictive. Through commenting and discussion I have realized the appeal of blogging. So is blogging a thing of the past? Maybe, but I think that it will, like said before change before it goes extinct.

Week 9:

 

A) Burgess and Green argue that: ordinary people who become celebrities through their own creative efforts “remain within the system of celebrity native to, and controlled by, the mass media” (Reader, page 269).

Celebrity is a concept that many choose to ignore does not translate to longevity. What I mean by this statement is this: that a celebrity is only sustainable when they are relevant or continue to remain so in the public domains, and are recognized for that. A celebrity can have a one-hit-wonder, peak, and then disappear. True, people will remember them, but they will no longer hold a place in the sensory furniture of our pop culture dominated minds. Celebrities, are like products being marketed: objects that are being sold to attract an audience. And like in marketing, the product can have some initial attraction, but if it cannot sustain itself, then it is most likely going to go the same way as the dinosaurs.

The same is true now of internet-created celebrities, even more so in fact, as unlike their Hollywood counterparts, the ability to create yourself a niche on the internet is easier than making a name for yourself out in the real world. More and more people are becoming Internet celebrities. Yet while there is more accessibility to becoming an Internet celebrity, the ability to sustain that status and be recognized for it is a lot harder as its much more competitive.

Lets look at an example of a person who turned himself into a global, Internet celebrity a few years ago through this video:

The video, sparked an enormous response from the global online community, and the creator was able to use this celebrity to make more videos and promote his YouTube channel as well release a single on iTunes (I will not provide a link to that!).

However after the dust settled he was no longer popular, he no longer had the same relevance and people got bored with listening to his new rants, in new videos, which all just followed the same makeup, and moved onto someone else. What this example illustrates, is that while many believe that Internet has allowed individuals to create a celebrity status for themselves, the ability to sustain that status is still dominated by the same conventions that dominate our real world celebrities. People like to be dazzled and kept on their feet by their celebrities whether that be in their personal lives, or by the films or music that choose to be a part of. Internet celebrities must do the same. They must find ways to continue to attract audiences, otherwise they will be a distant memory in the back of some peoples’ minds. While Burgess and Green insist that Chris Crocker (the creator of this video) has sustained himself by his ‘ongoing participation in YouTube’ (Burgess & Green, Pg.24, 2009), this blog disagrees with that statement, as his celebrity status quickly declined several months after the ‘Leave Britney Alone!’ video appeared online, and his following now on YouTube is much less profound that was when the video first appeared.

Examples of celebrities who have sustained on the internet are those such as Perez Hilton and his celebrity gossip blog. Part of Perez’s success is the fact that he continues to provide more snappy and disruptive commentaries on celebrities, as well as the fact that he has branched out into the real world, meeting celebrities. He is not just defined by one video, or one month or particularly snappy writing. He continues to sell his product – himself –  in new ways.

Being an internet celebrity is just basic marketing and if you want be the top and be memorable in this ever growing competitive environment, you need to sell yourself in many different ways to ensure that continued attraction. A sad truth, but a reality that the conventions of the mass media are indeed influencing our ‘Utopian Web.’

references:

J, Burgess & J, Green (2009). ‘YouTube and The Mainstream Media’, in YouTube Online and Participatory Culture, Cambridge: Policy Press.

Youtube reference:

Crocker, C (2007). ‘Leave Britney Alone!’ YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHmvkRoEowc June 6, 2011

Week 4:

Russell (et al.) compares elite media and institutions with bloggers and ponders the following question: “Do bloggers, with their editorial independence, collaborative structure and merit-based popularity more effectively inform the public?” (Reader, page 136). Do you agree? Use examples to illustrate your point of view.

As globalization has given rise for conglomerates and media enterprises to take control of media distribution and the ways in which we consume such media, the growth of blogging and social networking as allowed for more independence from these institutions and allow for the generation of more varied and critical discourses. Yet the extent to which these discourse are making any real effect is something of ambivalence. The issue can really be divided into factors:

The first is that blogging and social networking, despite having been around for a few years now; is still in an embryonic state where the full extent of its influence cannot be quantifiably measured (much like the Harry Potter series – has it really influenced as shift in youngster reading and desire to read… only time will tell…) as it’s impact is erratic and unbalanced. True, examples of its influence have been noted n recent news: the Twitter Revolution, the use of Facebook as a inspiring revolutionary discussion in parts of the Middle East. Yet despite this, it still in its infantile days with its awareness growing, but it’s not reached such a point where everyone has blog or twitter account, and therefore, its influence can’t be justly measured.

The second factor is that the above statement ignores the fact that yes, critical and varied dialogue has been identified through blogging, but this information (for most people) comes from the same source: the corporate media world. Therefore our ability to disengage what has been propagated to us as news is difficult. We have awareness of issues and are aware of the contradictions and flaws inherent within the corporate press, yet most people’s ability to really delve into, and dissect those discourses is, in some ways, limited.

Furthermore, to believe the statement above, grossly underestimates the corporate media world’s ability to adapt to this new foe: prodused news. As history has shown, corporate media has the size and money to adapt and change to ensure it doesn’t lose its iron-like grip over the media world. Croteau and Hoynes illuminate this sad truth by saying that ‘culturally, large media conglomerates are the 800-pound gorillas that can dramatically influence a society’s culture simply by sheer scale and persuasiveness of the message.’ (Croteau & Hoynes, Pg.48, 2007). A chilling reminder that these big businesses are not going anywhere and that they will continue to impress upon users on and off the web.

 

references:

D, Croteau & W, Hoynes (2007). ‘The Media Industry: Structure, Strategy and Debates.’Media Studies: Key Issues and Debates. London: SAGE Publications.

Do we have freedom when the interfaces we use are rigidly designed?

Just more random musings.

In some respects, the statement above does have enshrined within it, some validity. However as with most forms of DIY media that have manifested themselves on the Web, there is a demonstrable lack of the fact that sites such as WordPress, Facebook or YouTube, offer the illusion of autonomy to its users, without carrying through the goods. To illustrate this point, let us first explore the number one social networking Facebook as an example of how this ‘illusion of autonomy’ is carried through.

Since its launch, Facebook has generate an enormous mass appeal based on the fact that it allows it users the opportunity to socialize with friends and peers, upload photos and express ideas in a relatively unbiased, and user-free terrain. In some respects this is true, however let us critically analysis to what degree this is true.

It is a fact that Facebook allows people to connect with one enough socialize with people in free environment. But when discussing the other features that it propagates: uploading of photos, adaptability to change the interface to reflect your own personal tastes and preferences, the contradictions become more illuminated.

All Facebook profiles follow a uniform pattern, which cannot be adjusted. A personal image is displayed along with information about the users (the extent of information displayed is at the digression of  the user), but the colour, layout, font, positioning and links are all uniform and cannot be adjusted by the user. This rigid outlining of a users profile was one of the largest deterrents encountered by web users when Facebook began creating momentum back in 2007-2008, at the expense of its then, main rival – MySpace.  Those that used MySpace were hesitant to jump the social networking boat, as they saw the dogmatic rules that Facebook instilled upon its users. MySpace encouraged, at its users detriment, the ability to use JavaScript and hypertext, to personalize profiles with backgrounds, music, moving images and many other appliances. Facebook does not allow for such an ungoverned system.

To further this point, let us look at a MySpace interface in comparison with an original Facebook interface:

MySpace allowed users to change backgrounds and fonts, embed photos into their profiles interface and play music, Facebook doesn’t.

Another example that Facebook represents a rigid system of controls is the fact that will often change the layout and presentation of profiles without prior warning to the users and will not offer much recourse in changing back. These upgrades include changes to the size of font, layout and distribution of information as well as a new cataloguing of information. This has spawned many groups within Facebook to attack this changes and their rigid settings against users preferences. Taking into account the image of facebook profile interface from 2007, the image below shows just how much the profile has undergone a change that is set in stone and cannot be adjusted.

 While the changes might be so drastic from this image, for users who regularly use the site, changes to what they’re used to, particularly in regards to navigating through the site, an unmediated change can cause much dissatisfaction and confusion, particularly when the option change make is not given or not easily accessible.

Furthermore, Facebook allows its users to upload images, but these images must meet the censorships rules and regulations in order to be approved. Facebook has received a bad reception recently for its removal of images depicting same-sex attraction kissing as being against the rules and regulations. The fact that users are at the disposal of these rules is indicative of the fact that their autonomy comes within a system of protocols and rules.

In regards to WordPress, autonomy is more noticeable, however the layout and structuring of the page is set to design that WordPress instills within all its profiles. While a user can customize a profile like MySpace, like the latter, it is still within the bounds of the domain they are using.

Its not the intention of this blog to create a discourse that presents these DIY sites as dogmatic or imperialistic in any way. It just to show that while some concessions have been made in allowing users to make pages and sites that are a reflection and extension of themselves, the rules and regulations entrenched within the sites do indicate that what could be occurring is the creation of ‘avatar’ profiles – profiles that are a constructed reflection of someone, but not necessarily indicative of all that encompasses that person, due to the restrictions imposed upon that person.

photo references:

Late night musings

As I sit here staring aimlessly around the room, attempting, in vain, to think of something inspired and original to write on this blog, I begin to think about the apparent freedom that blogging – the action of blogging- enshrines upon people. In the heavily centralized media world we live into today where the distribution of media is dominated by several powerful corporate institutions, the ability to blog is a remarkable gift. It allows for the expression of discourses and ideas that are not structured (or not entirely structured) by the fairly transparent discourses presented in the global media. And its not just blogging! Facebook, twitter…YouTube. All avenues that allows for the freedom to express ideas. To critically assess. To receive and be the propitiator of varied and diverse perspectives and ideas. Ideas that don’t have political and economic agendas graffiti all over them in a fairly obnoxious manner. Thats power.

Its in some manners, I remarkable age we live.

….or do we?

Indeed, as I sit here and stroke my beard in a Dumbledorish manner I realise that this apparent freedom, this freedom to express and discuss, is in some way an extension of the same deluded superiority that the conglomerates enjoy. Yes, blogging and Facebooking and twitter and youtubing do provide a medium for expression but is that access extended to all? The harsh reality is no, no it is not. We’re bombarded with the notion that are freedom is a universal freedom, that all over the world people are rushing to their computers, hooking up to web and discussing their ideas freely. But the truth is, many people don’t have this ability. Is this DIY form of media expression really such a global phenomenon, or is just a bitter reflection of the society and culture we live in? that because we have the access to these avenues, we feel we have power. What of those who don’t have that power? What of those that don’t know that power.

Yes, blogging is a powerful tool, but a powerful tool for some, for others it forms a weapon of exclusion. A weapon we generally ignore we wield. Perhaps we should all reflect that in our ability to become produsers of news, have we not slowly turned into the producers of the global media – entities that feel they have the right and expression to voice their opinions, while ignoring the silent voices of those don’t have that ability.

Just a little musing.

In an ideal world Copyright refers to the ability to access and reproduce another individual work. Ironically, through the growth and evolution of laws that protect intellectual property: a person’s own unique work, copyright has merged into a direct opposition of its former definition as it now represent the legal protection of a person’s work.