Feeds:
Posts
Comments

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).

I feel that a distinction must be drawn here between how anti-piracy people see pirates, which probably would be whole organizations (who, by the way, probably never met each other IRL – in real life) hellbent on sucking the industry dry of money by creating millions and millions of copies instantaneously and distributing it to all their target market before the movie poster man can even let the glue dry…

…and people who want to help others fulfill their wish to be entertained without spending near-obscene – and I’m not exaggerating – amounts of money doing so.

Constantine Roussous noted that “nearly 25% of global Internet bandwidth is used for downloading copyrighted works illegally”. It does sound like a high figure, but as Armin Medosch argued, most of those internet users are probably downloading to gain “access to cultural goods which otherwise would be completely unavailable”. (2008:81)

Take, for example, countries where movies “[do] not get official distribution for whatever reason” (2008:81), like China (the Chinese government seems to hate everything, or at least according to Roussous, they are the dangerous kind of censorship that anti-piracy laws can lead towards). What about the citizens who do not want to be left behind on a certain cultural craze? (Like when the Academy was praising Memoirs of a Geisha, which China banned.)

An average ticket to the cinema in Melbourne these days cost literally an hour of my casual wage, and that’s before the snacks that I buy on discount in cheap Asian stores that I have to smuggle into the cinema, because the freaking popcorn costs 10 bucks. Sometimes people just want to see a movie to take their mind off their lives, not necessarily for the whole cinema-going experience – must they still forfeit an hour or more of their hard-earned money?

TV shows work by a strict schedule – most of the time, the show that you want to watch will be on at half past seven on a Thursday night, and that’s it, no re-runs until maybe 4 years later. The sites on which you can legally watch those shows are restricted to American IPs only. What do you do then? Sure, you can simply not watch the show anymore, but I’m sure that the media industry would rather their customers see their product illegally than not at all.

An average song from the show Glee costs $2.99 (iTunes), and that’s with the AUD as strong as it is now (it’s 99c in the US, I think). Glee has covered well over 100 songs, producing on average 3 songs a week that the show airs. If you bought ALL of their covers, you’d have spent well over $300 in the course of the past 2 years for songs you probably already have, just sung by teenagers.

People who help rip, distribute and seed torrents on torrent sites are thanked, not because they have “stuck it to the man”, but because they have helped normal people who just want to be entertained without spending all of their money doing so.

References:

Medosch, A., ‘Paid in Full: Copyright, Piracy and the Real Currency of the Cultural Production’, in DEptforth. TV Diaries II: Pirate Strategies, London: Deptforth TV, 2008, pg 73-97

Your Mum Rates Me

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).

References: Burgess, J. and Green, J., ‘YouTube and The Mainstream Media’, in YouTube Online and Participatory Culture, Cambridge: Polity Press, 2009, pg 15-37

communitychannel (watch the difference between her first videos and now, and even now and half a year ago – her tools got better, her style changed, and her work included less and less other actors. Nat is a really interesting example of how much she kept her private life out of the media and YouTube – which is an astounding feat considering.)

kevjumba (Kev used to just have webcam videos of himself, but of late (especially after a Christmas video) he has been incorporating his Dad a lot more. Many viewers liked his pre-Dad videos (myself included), but I think the reason he uses his Dad so much is because he gained sudden and incredible popularity post-Dad, and after appearing on the Amazing Race with his Dad, his public image became tied to him.)

By the way, interesting: YouTube uploading now as an option for privacy and ownership. You can have the Standard Youtube License, which is under the User Agreement that I doubt anyone reads, or a Creative Commons – Attribution (CC-BY-  reuse allowed) license. not that I’m going to write a post on that but interesting to see how this is suddenly becoming an option that, again, I doubt anyone will abide.

 

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 I noted in my previous post Haters Gon Hate, most bloggers write blogs to manage themselves, to express their own opinions, to log their own memories. The number of bloggers who actively read many other people’s blogs are much less, if we discount the views by personal friends.

So to have a blog which is frequented for your content, not because they know you, is thus quite a power to behold. But whether it is because the person is popular…

An example of a blog that gives out information would be The Daily What. It is part of the Cheezburger network, with its own category. It is a blog that is followable on Tumblr, which means that its contents are integrated into a Tumblr user’s dashboard during their browsing. Therefore, it has in the past broke news to its readers just as fast as Twitter, and with more included detail – faster than, I suppose, even television. Its full use of Web 2.0 – videos, hyperlinks, the ability to embed multiple images, the ability to have contents that cater to all sorts of tastes (well, tastes of people who are constantly on the internet) – combined with internet-goers’ “increasing skepticism toward mainstream media, have prompted readers to become active participants in the creation and dissemination of news” (Russell et al, 2008:67), has rendered it my own personal favorite source of furthering my knowledge in news matters.

When the Libyan crisis broke out, I first heard about it on Twitter, then went onto educate myself about it on TWD, because they had so helpfully compiled an entire post of a collection of journalists’ blogs and reports, as well as live updates of what was happening, as well as videos from people who were in the country.

And perhaps this undermines the traditional media, it certainly does not “serve less to weave society together than to break it apart” (Sunstein, Republic.com). If anything, users of Tumblr who follow TWD are better informed on the Libyan crisis, and have banded together to spread the information. When Japan was devastated by the earthquake, TWD kept everyone informed of the state of the disaster, and helped get donations to Red Cross by linking Tumblr users to their site. TWD breaks the assumption that “new-media networks may well provide a platform where all voices can be heard, but not all voices attract equal amounts of attention” (Russell et al, 2008:67) by that the admins of TWD are constantly looking through Tumblr and other areas of the blogsphere for blogs that have written about a particular issue, and if they find one by a less-famous yet equally opinionated and researched blogger, they will pass on this unknown-blog through their own blog. While this practice is not widespread and, if anything, may grant the unknown-blogger their 15 seconds of internet fame, it still is a step away from the “horror of narcissistic isolation” (67).

I believe that as long as the blogs who do get a lot of traffic are aware of their power, and strive to put across not only their own opinion but other researched information, then it can avoid the stigma of blogs as a news source, and outdo the traditional media.

References:

Sunstein, Republic.com

Russell, A., et al, ‘Culture: Media Convergence and Networked Culture’, in Varnelis, K. (ed.) Networked Publics, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008, pg 70-76

Haters Gon Hate

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”.

I think that I will use my own personal blog ‘the life and laughs of me‘ as the main example, for simplicity and because I realize that I fit the description.

Geert Lovink (2008) was spot on when he (she? Oh dear) defined a weblog as “a log of personal thoughts…diary forms around what is happening in a person’s life, and reports and comments on what is happening on the Web and the world out there (3). Indeed, when asked if they own a blog, the contents that come as a result of “yes” are more often than not a public personal diary. The opinions and relevancy of said contents vary depending on the political/social leanings of the writer – whether they are interested in news and society, or just themselves. You can judge a blogger on their ‘up-and-at-them-ness’ by how fast they respond to a particular internet phenomenon.

I suppose what helps out my blog is that I follow Glenn Reynolds’ rules: “a personal voice, and a rapid response time” (Lovink, 2008:3). Most of my readers are people who know me personally, and because I am consistently talking about the same people, those who don’t know me personally are made familiar with the characters. However, I do write my opinion on certain news matters, and as Lovink noted, I didn’t “[sit] down and thoroughly analyze the discourse and circumstances” (7). At the time, I was simply writing this to remember later on which day this happened, and what my feelings were on it – “to hold onto it all, to cheat the clock and death of all things that [I] had lived” (Virginia Woolf in Lovink, 2008:6). Many posts were banal but sentimentally crucial for my own future perusal.

The issue of privacy also raises itself – I had stated in tutorials that I operate under the basis that “people just don’t give a damn about your life”. I keep almost everything public, but at the same time I am acutely aware if I write posts regarding what may be construed as illegal activities, and since I recently started working, I’m careful to only blog positively about my work (which was actually a requirement in the signing up process manual at work), which refutes Danah Boyd’s argument that “youth are pretty blase about their privacy in relation to government and corporate” (in Lovink: 7). I never include people’s full names, and at times even censor parts of their first name – yet I describe circumstances with an almost obsessive fidelity, almost as if my “liberation requires [me] to ‘tell the truth,’ to confess it to someone…, and this truth telling will somehow set [me] free” (Michael Foucault in Lovink: 13). It is almost as if I need to be honest about the things that happened, in order for it to have happened and for me to have been justified as being a part of it.

And at the very end, I have logged over 40K views in the 3 years that my blog has been in existence, and only after considerable and shameless advertising on my behalf. In my near 500 posts, only perhaps a dozen had news worthy content. The most comments I gained, discounting when I got a sudden surge during the George Clooney GAT week (which had people from other schools finding me on Google), were probably 8 comments in one post. Many of my friends read my blog, but don’t comment. Whether I turn off commenting or not, it seems, is of little or no consequence. Lovink suggested that most bloggers feel that “reader comments turn a blog into a message board” (2008:28), but it would seem that it doesn’t even begin to happen. My personal blog is for my personal use, and I don’t feel any group or mob within myself and my fellow blogger friends.

References:

Lovink, G., ‘Blogging, The Nihilist Impulse’, in Zero Comments: Blogging and Critical Internet Culture, London: Routledge, 2008, pp 1-38

WordPress “masks the database and creates a continuous blogging experience within the browser” (Helmond in Reader, p. 180), yet the database is rigidly defined and categorised. Discuss how this shapes the way we interact with the World Wide Web through blogging and how it affects user agency.

Here’s a metaphor for understanding what is otherwise a slightly confusing concept – let’s pretend we have a new-age vending machine where we simply use our fingers to write our request on a large touch-screen, and the machine vends out the drink we want. We’ll put this metaphor onto how a database, form, server, browser and user input works. The touch-screen is the browser (and, I suppose in this metaphor also the WordPress software), and the available drinks inside the machine is the database. As Anne Helmond suggests, “the interface is meant to hide the database from the user” (2007:44), so the user cannot see the drinks available in the machine, but is aware that the machine, for example, vends only soft drinks. The user is thus aware that they can input only soft drinks – not realizing that if the database/machine contains other forms of drinks, they can also access that: in this sense, “the browser…is a concealment of the source” (Helmond, 2007:45).

The rigidity of choice emerges at this point.  The form – which can be seen as the sensors on the touch-screen which sends the written message into the part of the vending machine which recognizes the input (ie the server) – “is one of the standard ways to receive user input from a web page” (Helmond, 2007:46). Basically, there is a certain way in which one must fill out the form (in HTML code, or, such as in WordPress, in the dialog boxes) in order for the server to accept it – so writing a drink request in Chinese, for example, may not be recognized by an English machine, much in the same way that writing wrong codes or trying to write outside the parameters of a dialog box is ineffective.

User agency is affected in this case when the user isn’t aware of the other drinks available, or if other forms of drinks simply aren’t available, or if the user isn’t competent in coding/vending machine language.

Another problem that is perhaps outside of the metaphor is the requirement of an internet connection. While there are ways to “write your post offline, completely format it, save a draft version, add a category or tags and publish it to your blog when you have online access” (2007:48) it is perhaps not within an average blogger’s capabilities (or bother) to go through the process. As “WordPress relies heavily on its community that tests new versions” (2007:53) etc, it has to ensure that when the user IS online, their experience is made easy, and WordPress has done so, so that “users may not even be aware of the existence of the database” – that the user doesn’t even think about the shelves with the drinks, just the touch-screen and the input.

Helmond sums up WordPress’s intentions with its blogging software with this:

Writing posts in the graphical user interface of WordPress is less complex than directly writing posts in the database. The intuitive interface masks the database and creates a continuous blogging experience within the browser. (2007:53)

Because it is easier to write a command into the touch-screen than to reach in and find the drink yourself – provided you don’t mind the limit on what drink you can get.

References:

Helmond, A, ‘Software-Engine Relations’, in Blogging for Engines: Blogs Under the Influence of Software-Engine Relation, MA Thesis, Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam, 2007 pp. 44-53

I will get down to the formal blogs very soon. This weekend soon. Yep.

One thing I forgot to mention in the feedback on my last tute was that I felt like none of the topics REALLY covered how we use the net to communicate. I mean we got the HOW but not the other HOW.

Yeah man, making sense is my forte.

Maybe because it’s still a rather new phenomenon, and maybe because many of the students may not have access to it, but I feel like there weren’t so much focus on mobile internet.

And I bring this up because, after 2 months of hassles and whatnot, I finally got my Blackberry back, along with mobile Twitter and Facebook.

When I didn’t have my Blackberry, I spent train rides either gazing out of the window trying to memorize the song on my iPod, or training up my Zubat Katherine so it will learn Wing Attack.

Before I had my Blackberry taken off me, I was on MSN, Twitter, Facebook, BBM all at the same time. 4o minutes didn’t seem enough of a train ride for that kind of integration.

And now? After 2 months of having almost complete radio silence (my replacement phone had a bad battery life so extensive texting wasn’t an option either) on my daily commute to and from the city, what do I do on the train now that I have my Crackberry back?

I think that the subject has been very heavy on how GOOD all this communication is (and yes, there was a sort of focus on how BAD piracy is but it’s still in relation to how GOOD legitimate file sharing is), but it doesn’t really focus on the negative side of having all this information at our fingertips. The week on Zuckerberg talked about privacy – now people are sharing craploads of information to people who actually probably don’t want to know, sensitive information, and that’s sort of a negative side of information.

But what about on a personal level? You can NOT share stuff if you just control yourself, but looking at what others have shared? For some reason, I got really invested in the relationship of a person I went to high school with for 2 years, whom I haven’t spoken to since I left, simply because she was sharing everything on Facebook. For some reason, banal tweets from celebrities about how much they love their dog is really interesting, simply because they posted a picture that my Blackberry took ages to load. When I didn’t have my Blackberry, I stopped following that relationship (which fell apart), I stopped caring if Josh Thomas’ puppy is doing alright, and it probably still is, and I managed to get a pretty powerful Golbat and learned 3 new songs, backup and all. If anything, not being connected for 80 minutes each day has made me achieve more than I otherwise would have.

Do we REALLY need all this integration? I mean, sure, I found out about bin Laden’s death half an hour later than I would have with mobile Twitter. I had to actually check the weather on the 6pm new the night before. But that’s the thing – there’s always another source we can go to for information. Perhaps mobile internet – therefore mobile knowledge and updates – would be much more NECESSARY in times of when there aren’t other sources – when power lines are down but mobile towers are still up in disasters, etc.

Just a thought. Probably going to post this on Facebook later.

Alex.

Facebook Privacy

Some rights reserved by wwwes

Referring to the statement that Mark Zuckerberg made about the new privacy functions on Facebook, and the reasons for which they were created:

When people have control over what they share, they’re comfortable sharing more. When people share more, the world becomes more open and connected, and in an open world, many of the biggest problems we face together will become easier to solve.

Here, Zuckerberg implies that as long as people know exactly who is reading what they’re sharing, they’re more inclined to share more. He intends that in a – theoretical world – where everyone knows what is going on with everyone else, there won’t be misunderstandings which cause problems.

While there are merits to this argument, these merits perhaps only apply to the less important social matters. Yes, it makes communication easier when my friends know my mindset through  my tweets and my blogging, and in some cases it even actively helps – when a friend posted a slightly suicidal status, many of her friends banded together to get a hold of her and talk to her. But a quick browse through Lamebook.com can easily prove that sharing too much online can create huge problems. Very rarely are the information posted only about the party doing the posting – someone else who might not want their TMI shared would have their reputation dragged through the mud as well.

If anything, sharing sensitive information – and by that I mean socially sensitive, not missile launch projections sensitive – creates more problems than it solves. I don’t think we’re at a point in technology where communication can only occur online, and if two people are having huge problems, they can talk to each other about it, not post it on Facebook.

Moving onto the other “sensitive information”, is the debate over Wikileaks, and whether putting into public every single piece of information is a good idea or not.

While I agree that to some extent civilians should be privy to what the government is up to, particularly on issues that directly affect them – as a means to keep the government in check and un-corrupt – there are things that civilians simply do not need – and for that matter, would want – to know. For the most part, people are living rather comfortably, and it would be naive to think that we can do so without some sort of “immoral” activity going on with the government.

If all of these immoral yet life-cushioning activities were brought out into the open, chances are they would have to be stopped, and the cushion taken away. I hardly think that people with the luxuries they have come to see as rights being taken away would be willing to “solve the biggest problems in life”.

Alex.