Final Musings

Having reached my blog quota and with little left to say, I’d just like to share some final thoughts about #netcomm11.

While a fascinating subject, I’ll be blunt, a lot of the topics and tasks have been overwhelming for me. This subject takes extra dedication and time to be done correctly and 5 gold stars to those of you have achieved this. I suppose it’s to be expected – it is a core subject for us MediaComm-ersn and trying to cram all there is to know about the internet in 12 short weeks is impossible. In saying that, this bumpy ride has been enjoyable at times.

THINGS I’VE LEARNT

  • You don’t need to hashtag in wordpress
  • I’m confused as to how to remove said hashtags from my tag list as wordpress selects them automatically
  • RSS Feeds are not a confusing concept as for some reason I first suspected
  • 99.9% of people are a lot more skilled with wordpress than I am
  • Blogging is time consuming and sometimes fiddly but when done right, it is an amazing sense of achievement (in my sad little life anyway)

Adios, Net Communications!

Picture by imaphotog

AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike Some rights reserved by imaphotog
Found @ http://www.flickr. com/photos/imaphotog/205492402/

Words I Wish I Had

I originally set out to do the Week 7 question regarding “blogging as a tool to manage the self” as part of my assessed blog collection.

Once I got down to writing, I couldn’t even come up with a decent no-assessment-required piece.

I’ve done a bit of blog snooping and found Cristina’s Blag. Her Week 7 response was EXACTLY what I wanted to say, I just couldn’t phrase it correctly.

The primary function of the blog is to promote oneself but, to paraphrase slightly…

So what?

Self expression through creativity isn’t a dirty (string of) word(s), as long as its honest. And there are a lot of smart internet users out there (yes, really) who have super BS detectors and will simply not read a blog if they’re not feeling what they’re viewing.

I will refrain from posting it on this site out of respect to a friend, but her first and (thankfully) only attempt at a blog was a total disaster. It was a brutal, overdramatic sobfest from a bleeding heart and it targeted not only her family but friends as well.

She was not one of the smart internet users I discussed before, and she posted a link to this blog on her Facebook page. It got her into a whole lot of trouble and for what? To express thoughts that should most definitely be confined to a diary that should then be burned?

The cooking blog Simply Recipes is fuelling my gastronomic obsession at the moment. As a former resident of Georgia, USA, I’m loving being exposed to soul food cooking again…even if it’s only via saliva-inducing pictures. The creator Elise Bauer is an example of a savvy blogger when it comes to self-promotion. The site is primarily about the sharing of recipes and cooking tips, so Bauer’s small blurb, photo and Facebook link are handy but not essential to the running of the site. She gives a face to the recipes provided, added to the “homely” feel cooking already elicits without being over the top.

Now, I’m hungry…

(Apologies if I creeped you out Cristina, kudos on the good work)

PICTURE
http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/pralines/

Week Eleven

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

As discussed in my Week Three blog entry, bonding over common interests is the basis of the formation of online communities (Van Dijck, 2009). The sense of belonging felt when one is part of a community is important to the mental and social function of any human being, whether in the real world or in cyberspace (Van Dijck, 2009). The Internet provides people from all corners of the globe to feel connected with one another through the various services it offers. In recent years, the development of the piracy market has aided the establishment and growth of numerous online communities. As Medosch (2008) argues, “piracy, despite being an entirely commercially motivated activity carried out in black or grey markets, fulfills culturally important functions”. Illegal streaming and viewing of TV shows and movies has given those without legal access to these texts the opportunity to participate in a community through shared appreciation (Medosch, 2008).

The global GossipGirl phenomenon is an example of how piracy has played a role in the creation of what is now a cult-like obsession for many teenagers worldwide. According to an article published in the online version of New York Post, a Chinese version of the American teen soap was proposed due to the show’s popularity in the country (Daly, 2010). Said executive producer Stephanie Savage, it was estimated that “more people watch [Gossip Girl] online in China than watch [the show] in (all forms of) viewing combined in the United States” and “they [were] watching it illegally” without streaming from the show’s network (Daly, 2010). “I think [Gossip Girl] speaks to young people in a universal way,” said the series’ creator Josh Schwartz.

However, November 2010 saw a crackdown on the streaming of unauthorized foreign television shows in China, resulting in a nation-wide ban of all pirated material, both tangible and online (Chang, Sun and Zhang, 2011). This included the removal of all Gossip Girl episodes from the country’s main provider, Youku.com. Online communities in China of Gossip Girl viewers were left without means to access their beloved television show (Chang, Sun and Zhang, 2011). Within a few weeks, the negative reception to the total ban prompted the government to reassess its laws on foreign productions and moved to bring copyrighted versions of Gossip Girl and other programs to the screens of its people (Chang, Sun and Zhang, 2011).

Youku.com

Without first being exposed to the pirated copies via video sharing sites, the move to push for the right to view foreign TV shows in China may not have been occurred. As Medosch states in Paid In Full, “piracy fulfills an important role by giving access to cultural goods which would otherwise be unavailable to the vast majority of people” (Medosch, 2008). Today, the strangehold the government placed on Youku.com in regards to foreign material has been loosened and the site continues to gain popularity. The freedom to determine one’s own viewing pleasures in China may seem minor in comparison far graver issues faced by its citizens. Nonetheless, any step towards gaining greater jurisdiction over one’s life is a positive one.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Chang, X., Sun, D. and Zhang, Y. (2011) Reshuffling China’s online video-sharing industry amid copyright protection, English News, Xiuhuanet.com, January 8, 2011. Accessed 02/06/11 via [http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/china/2011-01/08/c_13681857.htm]
Daly, S. (2010) “Gossip Girl” To China, New York Post website, July 30, 2010. Accessed 02/06/11 via [http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/tv/gossip_girl_to_china_jJEZmOfVaogN7MxfimmYOI]
Medosch, A. (2008) “Paid in Full: Copyright, Piracy and the Real Currency of Cultural Production”, in Deptforth. TV Diaries II: Pirate Strategies, London: Deptforth TV.
Van Dick, J. (2009). “Users Like You? Theorizing Agency in User-Generated Content”, Media, Culture and Society 31: 41-58

Allem’s Law

Last week saw a landmark reached in 21st century law. Allem Hilkic, a victim of cyber bullying, took his in own life in 2009. Now, courts have ruled that Allem’s death was the result of a crime.

Watch a video of the story here

This ruling is reflective of the need to harness the sometimes dangerous power of internet. The boys who bullied Allem must have felt invincible sitting at their keyboards, firing off barbed and scathing comments to their demoralised victim. A few years ago, the law may have correlated with the boys’ delusions of innocence. But the rising prominence and reliance on the internet in our society means the actions it aid have become increasingly regulated. Just as the world wide web is no longer impervious to the world of copyright law, so too is its relationship with criminal law becoming a greater focus.

This ruling is a victory for those who have ever suffered torment at the hands of a cyber bully and understand its crippling effects. A keyboard no longer provides a safety net for these gutless thugs.


Some rights reserved by J_O_I_D


Week Ten

Following week 10 tutorial’s exercise, explain why you chose the Creative Commons license that you added to your blog and discuss the relevance (or not) of adding the license.

“Intellectual property has the shelf life of a banana” – Bill Gates

Gates’ attitude towards intellectual property is increasingly becoming the norm. It is easy to dismiss the notion of legally possessing an object that isn’t concrete  and nowadays there are now more ways than ever to violate a person’s right to claim ownership over their intangible possessions (Garcelon, 2009). The internet has proved itself a vessel for piracy and copyright infringements. However, following the years of minor panic amongst those who faced intellectual property violations, Creative Commons licensing has grown in prominence since it’s conception in the late 1990s to emerge as a necessary and reassuring tool in current cyber relations (Garcelon, 2009).

When faced with the decision of choosing a Creative Commons license for my blog, I immediately thought of all the ways in which I had challenged or misused the intellectual property of others. I download music from YouTube videos maybe once a month, I’ve watched pirated DVDs on more than one occasion and I often quote TV shows and use their jokes as my own. I was conscious of the fact that, if somebody were to reproduce identically the information I’ve worked hard to create through this blog and claim it as their own, I would be furious.

The most important factor in selecting the Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license was ensuring that any information used by others would be attributed to me. Attribution is the only characteristic common to all Creative Commons Licenses for the simple fact that acknowledgement of one’s efforts is a desirable and deserved consequence of the reproduction of one’s property.

However, I was drawn to the statement made by Lessig in Open Code and Open Societies (2009):

“The realm of ideas…is not rivalrous in the way that the realm of real things is.”

This concept is central to my selection of Creative Commons license. The Internet, while needing to be subject to some boundaries, is essentially about the sharing of information.

I was open to letting others “remix, tweak and build on [my] work”. After all, the majority of things published and created nowadays are far from original. Additionally, I liked the idea of others being able to share my work without individually needing to give permission. The “Share Alike” aspect of the license, means I have reassurance that users of my content must adhere to at least a few rules, considering the numerous opportunities for intellectual property violations through use of the internet.

Finally,  I was adamant that I did not want my work to be reproduced or altered for commercial purposes. This sentiment stems from a sense of disappointment at the possibility of failing to make a profit from my own work while others reap the benefits. I am aware that as an occasional user of pirated music this seems somewhat hypocritical. Sites such as LimeWire request fees for their top-of-the-range services, essentially stealing money from the artists whose work the distribute. My justification for this preference is a familiar mantra amongst poor university students who resort to piracy: artists these days profit little from music sales in comparison to the money they receive through endorsements and appearances at events.

The problem with respecting intellectual property in the 21st century is its convoluted definition. According to Lessig (2005), “to question property…is to put its importance in context”. Unfortunately, the both the types of property and the contexts are various. Therefore,  adding a license may seem like a task that reaps little reward. But having a sense of control in a realm that elicits feelings of such as cyber space is important for content creators. Furthermore, the appearance of a license on this page encourages viewers to formulate their own opinions about intellectual property rights.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Garcelon, M. (2009) "An Information Commons? Creative Commons and Public Access to Cultural Creations", New Media & Society 11.8: 1307-1326
Lessig, L. (2005) "Open Code and Open Societies", in Joseph Feller, Brian Fitzgerald, Scott A. Hissam and Karim R. Lakhani (eds) Perspectives on Free ad Open Source Software.  Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp. 349-360.

Week Nine

Müller argues that: despite the more diverse forms of participation that video-sharing sites allow in comparison to mass media, “the quality discourse on YouTube works to structure possible acts of audiovisual participation to well-established conventions and standards” (Reader, page 287).

Founded in 2005, YouTube originally began as a platform for amateur video sharing as an alternative to commercially-produced content (YouTube, 2011; Van Dijck, 2009). However, the quality of content has changed drastically since it’s year of establishment and present-day videos. Müller’s argument that the burgeoning “quality discourse…works to structure [content] to well-established conventions and standards” is well-founded (Müller, 2009). The “convergence between commercial popular culture and community participation that YouTube represents” (Burgess and Green, 2009) is growing as the disparity between mass media and the originally amateur site lessens. It is true that the prevalence of video-making tutorials and YouTube success stories from amateur content propel users to create higher-quality content (Müller, 2009). However, since 2006, YouTube users have been competing with commercially produced material and are forced to rise to their standards in order to be noticed (Van Dijck, 2009).

The following YouTube video is a compilation of twenty of the first videos posted on YouTube in 2005:

Aside from one computer-animated clip and musical sound-overs, these clips represent minimalist entertainment that helped YouTube gain popularity in it’s early years. The concept of user-generated content in this form was previously represented simply through amateur film festivals and television talent shows.

In October 2006, YouTube was acquired by YouTube and consequently began to subject viewers to advertising and features, such as Promoted Videos, that required a fee (Van Dijck, 2009). As early as November 2008, the decline in the popularity of amateur video on YouTube in the face of the pervasive nature of commercial content was noted. Online film blogger for UK publication The Guardian, Ben Walters, analysed the content of the Top 20 YouTube Videos of all time (circa 2008) and acknowledged the “corporatising effect” the site was facing (Walters, 2008). While only half were professional music videos, the majority of the remaining ten were “user-generated content…based on pop culture”. Included in this genre is following video from “Lezberado”:

In 2008, this video had 60 million hits and has since nearly doubled this figure (Walters, 2008; YouTube, 2011). While humour is still valued, the amateur quality of this video (and it’s fellow “independent” videos of the 2008 top 20) means it would be unlikely for a similar style to be as popular amongst YouTube audiences today. Of the current Top 10 YouTube videos of all time, one home video and one user-generated animation make the list (MacManus, 2011). The remaining entrants are professional videos of pop stars.

As it develops, YouTube will continue to operate in an increasingly similar fashion to commercial television. Well-produced pieces with the potential for profit will be promoted over low-budget creations, regardless of originality.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Burgess, J. and Green, J. (2009), "YouTube and The Mainstream Media" in YouTube: Online and Participatory Culture, Cambridge: Polity Press, pp. 15-37.
MacManus, R. (2011) "Top 10 YouTube Videos of All Time", Read, Write, Web. Accessed via [http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/top_10_youtube_videos_of_all_time.php] on May 31, 2011.
Müller, E. (2009) "Where Quality Matters: Discourses on the Art of Making a YouTube Video" in Pelle Snickars and Patrick Vonderau (eds) The YouTube Reader, Stockholm: National Library of Sweden, pp. 126-139.
Van Dijck, J. (2009) "Users Like You? Theorizing Agency in User-Generated Content", Media, Culture and Society 31: 41-58.
Walters, B. (2008) "What do YouTube's Top 20 clips tell us about user-generated content?" The Guardian: Film Blog, accessed via [http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/filmblog/2008/nov/20/mark-ravenhill-youtube-competition] on May 31, 2011.
YouTube (2011) About YouTube, accessed via [http://www.youtube.com/t/about_youtube] on May 31, 2011.
 YouTube (2011) Promoted Videos, accessed via [https://ads.youtube.com/] on May 31, 2011.
VIDEOS
1nterwebs (2009) The 20 Oldest Videos on YouTube, accessed via [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uImk2RgCq_U&feature=related] on May 31, 2011
 Showtime (2007) Lezberado: Revenge Fantasies, accessed via [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jbkRGPxvaM] on May 31, 2011

Week 5

Analyse critically the following statement by Mark Zuckerberg while comparing it to privacy issues raised by online social networking collaborative practices:

The notion of control is one that people can sometimes feel they lose touch with when using the Internet. It is an ever-changing environment where it is not always clear which information we retain as private and what is available for the world to access. However, as we gain a greater understanding of the net, the user’s lack of power over what they share is losing its validity as an excuse for unwanted privacy violations due to the changes in policies of popular websites. The underlying reason for changes to Facebook’s privacy settings are divulged in the following statement from creator Mark Zuckerburg:

This 2010 video press release was in direct response to “user comments and concerns” over the “sharing of personal information” (Facebook, 2010). These concerns stemmed primarily from the introduction of the News Feed feature in 2006 (Boyd, 2008). According to Danah Boyd, the listing of every act undertaken by a user being made visible to all of their friends drastically “alters the social dynamic of Facebook” (Boyd, 2008). She defines privacy as “a sense of control over information, the context where sharing takes place, and the audience who can gain access” (2008). Academic criticism coupled with public outrage spurred the “simpler and more powerful controls for sharing information” (Facebook, 2010).

As Mark Zuckerburg states in his video blog, “When people have control over what they share, they feel comfortable sharing more” (Zuckerburg, 2010). The move to shift the responsibility of retaining privacy on Facebook from the creators to the users is more than just an opportunity for Zuckerburg and his team to wash their hands of any problems regarding misuse of personal information. Facebook had provided privacy controls for users since its creation in 2006 (Boyd 2008), but their format had been of a more complex nature. Facebook’s intentions with the new settings included:

  • making control simple
  • limiting publicly available information
  • easier opt outs(Facebook, 2010)

These changes addressed the concerns present amongst users of a variety of social networking platforms. While users are aware that they are displaying information of a personal nature, sitting at a computer screen can lure one into a false sense of security.

The adoption of the News Feed function in 2006 is concurrent with Zuckerburg’s utopian views on the sharing of information. In the 2010 press release, he states that “in a more open and connected world, many of the problems we face together easier to solve” (Zuckerburg). The assumption made by the Facebook team that people would see the sharing of information as a positive move is not entirely unfounded. A 2007 study determined that of Facebook users at a particular school, ” 90.8 percent of profiles contain an image, 87.8 percent of users reveal their birth date, 39.9 percent list a phone number…and 50.8 percent list their current residence” (Solove, 2007). These figures could be argued to be representative of the majority of global Facebook users. Zuckerburg’s transformation of the privacy settings demonstrates a radical approach that caters not only to the desires of the predominantly-complacent users but the more interactive, safety-conscious group. Empowering followers validates their importance in the functioning of the social networking site.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Boyd, D. (2008) "Facebook's Privacy Trainwreck: Exposure, Invasion and Social Convergence", Convergence: The International Journal into New Media Technologies 14.4: 13-20.
Solove, D.J. (2007) "How the Free Flow of Information Liberates and Constrains Us", in The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumour and Privacy on the Internet, New Haven: Yale University Press, pp. 17-49.