FIN

First off, as this is the last blog of the course, I figure I will start this off slightly differently than normal. Through this course, we have been exposed to a variety of media sources and posting techniques, coaxing us into this relatively new online world. Although prior to the course I was would have already considered myself as “New Media Literate” in that I am well aware of popular social media outlets, and an avid user of sites on its forefront such as “reddit”, I enjoyed the readings presented and was interested to see alternative views on many current subjects regarding this quickly expanding industry. The variety in which we presented our own work was also refreshing compared to the usual reports and PowerPoint presentations I have grown accustom to as a fourth year business student. However, transitioning into our first discussion question, I still do not feel more inclined to become a “produser”. I think the following point in Bird, S. E’s paper is extremely relevant to this:

“Van Dijck (2009 ) cites an ‘an emerging rule of thumb’ that suggests only one in a hundred people will be active online content producers, with 10 ‘interacting’ by commenting, and the remaining 89 simply viewing.”

I believe this statement fairly accurately describes the current situation in regards to “produsers” in social media. As I discussed in my previous blog the vast majority of people that are apart of the online community are not producing their own content. The majority of the population simply views this content made by “produsers”, potentially interacting with a comment, without generating any major content of their own. They either have nothing to contribute to whatever topic they have an interest in, or simply do not have the desire to put the effort into generating and distributing their own content. This is the area in which I fall in. At the end of the day, I really have no desire to make the effort required in order to generate my own content and produce a blog for leisure. Despite the experience the course has given me, as well as my own personal knowledge of new media I possessed prior to the course, I still would rather leave the responsibilities of being a “produser” to someone else.

Nevertheless, I do feel that the online environment that we in this class have had a chance to participate in truly does nurture the “produser” in all of us. As said by Jonathan Sterne in his article “What if Interactivity is the New Passivity?”:

“Contemporary media beg for and sometimes demand active participation. They ask their users to intertwine them with as many parts of their lives as possible. It is not just so-called social media (a misnomer if there ever was one—since all media are by definition social). Magazines and newspapers implore us to write back and explore on multiple platforms. TV shows ask us to go online and participate in discussions and games, books get their own Facebook pages where readers are asked to “like” them, software companies put together “street teams” of users willing to promote them in a manner analogous to what concert promoters used to do.”

This demand for “active participation” is no doubt increasing the number of “produsers” in the online community. The requirements for creating your own content are also so low right now. Another quote, again taken from Jonathan Sterne’s article states:

“A mobile phone and a little know-how gets you access to a potential world of auditors.”

This is no exaggeration. The barriers to entry of becoming a “produser” in a first-world environment are extremely low. Everyone with a smart phone has the tools they need in order to produce and distribute their own content. Even a phone plan is not truly necessary anymore with most Starbucks and McDonald’s locations offering free Wi-Fi internet. Generally the only barriers stopping people from becoming “produsers” is their own free-will.

As far as intimations of deprival I have regarding the “produsage” that potentially looms before us, I believe that the positive aspects this new age brings heavily outweigh the negative aspects. As Bird, S. E. said in here paper:

“New media practices have helped citizens breakthrough repressive government controls, first in Myanmar, Iran and China, and most recently in Egypt and across the Middle East, bringing stories and images that professional journalists could not obtain. And they have facilitated Instant mobilization of donations to Haitian earthquake relief and a range of political causes.”

These are just some of the many positives that the beginning of the “produsage” has created. Yes, there are some hurdles that we still are going to have to overcome as the environment advances, but I see no reason why these cannot be conquered with ease. The opportunities presented through this new age are boundless, and I believe we have only seen the tip of the iceberg as far as the changes to society it will make.

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#ThisJustIn

The Internet in general has been a constant source of new opportunity throughout essentially all functional processes. The reason for this was summed up perfectly by Peter Dahlgren:

“An important attribute of the net (broadly understood) is its capacity to facilitate horizontal, or civic communication: people and organizations can link up with each other for purposes of sharing information, providing mutual support, organizing, mobilizing, or solidifying collective identities.”

This attribute of the Internet, allowing people to communicate in new, previously unsought of ways has spawned a global revolution of sorts. This is particularly true when discussing the concepts of citizen journalism and/or social activism. Prior to the Internet, specifically before the Internet was widely available and it was common for everyone and their mother to be using it, citizen journalism was generally impossible to be broadcast to a wide audience. There are only so many people you can transmit your message to through such mediums as public access TV, AM radio, and self-printed newspapers, among other relatively attainable “old-fashion” citizen journalism methods. Now that it is possible for citizen journalism to be shared easily to a wide audience throughout online mediums such as various social media outlets, such as Facebook and twitter.

Expanding off of this new ability for the citizen journalist, of their voice finally having a chance to be heard by the masses, come a variety of opportunities. Alfred Hermida summarizes all this quite nicely:

“Digital media technologies such as Twitter facilitate the instant, online dissemination and reception of short fragments of information from sources outside the formal structures of journalism. Open, networked digital media tools challenge the individualistic, top-down ideology of traditional journalism (Deuze, 2008), while services like Twitter question a news culture based on individual expert systems over knowledge-sharing”

Twitter, as a medium for public expression, should not be underestimated. Through its ease of use, and broadcast range it can be an extremely effective tool for the citizen journalist. By March 2011, an average of 140 million daily messages were circulating on Twitter (Twitter, 2011). This volume of users is impossible to ignore, and is changing not just citizen journalism, but journalism as a whole. Citizen journalists are now able to challenge big media in an attempt to broadcast what they think is right, without filters. Alfred Hermida again made a great point when he said this:

“The role of journalists as professionals who decide all the news that’s fit to print is under pressure. Schudson and Anderson note that ‘‘in an era of cellphone, camera phone and blog, jurisdictional questions will be legion’’ (2009, p. 98). They note that bloggers now receive press credentials, though they were once considered as trespassers by mainstream journalists.”

 

This has led to such events as the “Twitter/Facebook revolution” in Tunisia and Egypt.  Through citizen journalism and social activism utilizing social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook, the world was made aware of problems occurring in these countries. With this new knowledge the Internet connected world moved for changes. Governments were petitioned, and social media was used to encourage protestors and to set up protests for people directly involved. In the end legitimate revolutions occurred, directly as a result from the social media used. However, the social media aspect also proved as a hindrance in a different way. Peter Dahlgren summarizes this:

“We must avoid reductionist thinking that seeks technological fixes for societal ills; policy discourses and journalistic commentary at times lead us astray in this regard, for example when the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt become simplistically framed as ‘Facebook revolutions’.”

Due to the uprisings being spread through social media, it seems that many people misunderstood the severity of the situation. They were not involved directly, and only truly connected to the situation through their Facebook or twitter account. There was no danger to themselves or others close to them so they didn’t really understand the true urgency of what they were trying to accomplish. As similar events occur in the future, there is no doubt similar reactions will be had and methods must be found to counter this.

As far as these new opportunities afforded through social media encouraging myself to participate more directly in citizen journalism and social activism, it honestly has not made much of a difference. I’m not one to jump on the bandwagon for helping out random internet causes, such as the recent “Kony 2012” rising, that proved to be really more of a scam than anything as invisible children was only using 31% of their proceeds to actually help the kids affected. What did change for me however was the availability of low effort causes such as petitions that are now easily accessible to me. If the end goal of these causes resonates with me, I will go out of my way to give my signature to try and help. Other than that, as far as actually becoming a journalist on social media, I really don’t have any interest to do so.

 

Facebook-revolution

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Sharing Culture or Making Excuses?

For this major blog post, the passage I have chosen to reference is from “Under the Pixelated Jolly Roger: A Study of On-Line Pirates” by Kevin F. Steinmetz and Kenneth D. Tunnell. The specific passage refers to how pirates justify illegally downloading goods as an attempt to share culture. I chose this passage as I find sharing culture as a justification to piracy as an interesting outlook that I have not previously thought off. However, I also disagree with the logic behind this justification, and thought creating a rebuttal towards it would be interesting as well.

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“Producer-Consumer” Freedom and Copyright Law

In this stage of the information age, the internet has become the main resource for new media for the vast majority of the population. Taking a quote from Hana’s Blog;

“I cut costs by not having cable so I rely on the internet to watch TV shows and provide me entertainment.”

Acts such as this are becoming more and more common. People are abandoning other media sources for the internet as it provides all that they require and are interested in, in one convenient package. This is just a testament to how the internet is changing all of our lives. However, with this advancement and freedom that comes with the internet, new issues with respect to copyright laws have come into play as well.

Online communities of “producer-consumers” have become prevalent throughout the constantly expanding world of the internet. These “producer-consumers” become so involved within the realm of whatever their specific interest is online, that they feel compelled to develop their own content and submit it to online mediums such as YouTube. This is where copyright issues come into play. A quote from Lev Manovich’s “The Practise of Everyday (Media) Life” explains how the issue started;

“As De Certeau ponts out, in modern societies most of the objects which people use in their everyday life are mass produced goods; these goods are the expressions of strategies of designers, producers, and marketers. People build their worlds and identities out of these readily available objects by using different tactics: bricolage, assembly, customization, and – to use the term which was not a part of De Certeau’s vocabulary but which has become important today – remix.”

Although it seems that in this context physical objects were being referred to, digital objects can follow under the same rules. The majority of digital content people come across and develop and interest in is mass produced. Through this mass produced digital content, people will often pull different aspects to put into their own creations, or “remix” them. In the eyes of many companies, this use of their material is seen as infringing on their copyright. This has become a major issue in today’s world. In a quote taken from Henry Jenkin’s “The cultural logic of media convergence”, the question is asked;

“(There) has been a heightened grassroots awareness of the issue of media ownership. Will public dissatisfaction with corporate media be a driving political issue in the coming years?”

From the time this question was asked this has already happened. Major companies have pushed for bills such as “SOPA” and PIPA” to be passed to limit the content people are able to use in their own creations. This has caused a major backlash from “produced-consumers” and even just the general populous of internet communities around the world who view their ability to produce their own content with elements off of this mass produced products to be extremely important. Although not a producer of any major online content myself, even I was a part of the uprising to prevent the success of these bills, which were ultimately dropped.

I believe the outlook taken by certain game companies outlined in Henry Jenkin’s “The cultural logic of media convergence”, is the most beneficial option to all parties;

“In the games industry, the major successes have come within franchises that have courted feedback from consumers during the product development process, endorsed grassroots appropriation of their content and technology and that have showcased the best user-generated content. Game companies have seen the value of constructing, rather than shutting down, fan communities around their products and building long-term relationships with their consumers.”

Through this method of looking towards “producer-consumers” for assistance and promoting user-generated content, game companies are not only gaining free publicity for their product, they’re gaining valuable feedback and development for their titles. This aspect seems to be grossly overlooked by many major companies. When “producer-consumers” are using their content in “remixes” its free publicity for them. It’s expanding their product to a range of viewers who may not have ever come into contact with it otherwise. The public image of the company will also be viewed much more positively. Look at game companies Valve and Electronic Arts as examples. Both produce quality games people love to play. However, valve is very community based and open to user created content, where Electronic Arts was one of the biggest supporters of “SOPA” and will enforce their copyrights in anyway they think they can. If you were to go onto a popular internet community such as “Reddit” and ask users about the two, Valve has an overwhelmingly positive image, where Electronic Arts has an overwhelmingly negative image.

To conclude, I believe Raymond’s Blog makes a very important point;

“It does not matter what you do, there will always be restrictive copyright laws. These laws cannot be avoided because it is necessary for protection. If any person can go around claiming that he or she was the original composer without consequences, the world would be a chaotic place.”

Although I agree with this entirely, I think we have to carefully consider how far we let these copyrights go. I believe that over the next few years arguments regarding the subject will become more and more intense, and I can only hope that in the end “producer-consumers” still have the freedom to produce the content they love to make.Image

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The YouTube Revolution

When thinking about what I have produced and consumed online over the past year, YouTube immediately comes to mind. YouTube is revolutionary in that it has allowed the masses of internet users to be able to upload their own content online freely and easily, as well as view content other people have posted for the world to view. Through this process, YouTube has opened up new ways for people to entertain and educate themselves and others. It gives people the freedom to post videos of whatever variety they wish (assuming it doesn’t violate YouTube’s terms of use), and look up videos of whatever variety they wish. To be put simply, as Teresa Rizzo said:

YouTube is not about telling stories or developing narratives”

Through this concept, people have posted things from skateboard videos, to cats walking on treadmills. This freedom has started several different subsets of internet culture, and opportunity. I myself have uploaded a few videos over the past few years, though I find that I, along with the majority of people utilizing YouTube’s service, generally stick to watching other people’s videos with the occasional comment if something from the video provokes me to do so.

As far as opportunity goes, people have started to take advantage of this video system and started profiting through YouTube’s partner program. Through this program people are paid according to how many views their videos get and how many ads they have agreed to place on their “channel”. Many people have been able to quit their day jobs to do this, and the most successful “YouTubers” are making well above 6 figures, by doing nothing more than posting their videos to YouTube. For this reason, many people have begun flocking to YouTube for their chance to “make it big”.

Although I feel YouTube is mostly a positive for the internet as a whole, there is one inhibiting aspect that must be considered. As Teresa Rizzo said:

“Youtube clips blur the distinction between the private and public sphere”

When you post a video to YouTube, it is visible to everyone. There is no privacy, and you can’t take back something after you’ve posted it. Even if you delete the video from YouTube, someone could have potentially downloaded it to their computer, or even posted it somewhere else. This aspect turns many people away from the service.

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Communication is Human Nature

I believe communication in general is tremendously important in our day to day to day lives. Communicating with each other is simply human nature; without regular human contact I think many of us would have to call our sanity into question. I think AK‘s blog outlines this quite well:

“Mobile communication devices enable us to live a technology and socially connected lifestyle that empowers us to enjoy the benefits of instant communication and connection”

Communication provides us with entertainment, knowledge, opportunity, and perhaps the most important and most overlooked, contact or attention from others. Mobile communication is simply the next step in our society has developed in our constant need to communicate with each other.

Mobile communication gives us a way to communicate with anyone in the mobile network, which is basically everyone in this stage of its development, anywhere and anytime. Not only this, but now through various programs such as facebook and twitter, we have multiple ways to communicate with people on different levels. The ability to communicate like this has done wonders for our need for need for human contact. Taking a quote from Marnie’s Blog:

“You really feel lost when not being able to use your phone because you feel disconnected from the world.”

Though not even 15 years ago this phenomenon was practically non existent, with the rapid development of technology this feeling of being “disconnected” without a method of mobile communication is becoming widespread through our society. We can go further into this with a quote from katiebenedict13comm2f00‘s page:

“I pay more attention to my phone then to my school work – I am always checking my text messages, Facebook posts, tweets and emails. If I don’t see the red light blinking on my phone I feel, “what’s going on?” I feel cut off, even lonely.”

While it may seem bizarre to people who are not apart of this “revolution” mobile technology has created, mobile communication has allowed us to express ourselves, and feel apart of something socially wherever we are. As I discussed previously in my minor blog, a quote I find very compelling from by Scott W. Campbell andYong Jin Park states:

“The mobile phone lowers the threshold for interaction”

Through these mediums such as facebook and twitter, as well as through text messages and similar means of mobile communication, the so called “threshold” of human interaction has been decreased dramatically. People are now able to communicate things so easily, they will now discuss things they previously thought were too unimportant to actually call or meet someone to discuss. This gives people reasons to talk to people they never would have before, and hold conversations they would have previously never had. Though it may seem trivial, these new social interactions are strengthening ties between people, and providing the human contact we mentally require with a much lower “threshold” improving the quality of life for many people. This is especially true for people that may have found typical face-to-face forms of communication difficult due to issues such as social anxiety or even and inability to leave their house often or at all due to an injury or disability. However, this goes into a semi-related yet different topic on the benefits of mobile technology and communication to people with disabilities.

This new mobile technology and mobile communication has also radically changed how we work today for the better. As previously mentioned, mobile technology allows us to instantly communicate with each other. This allows us to do anything from communicating with clients, to receiving reports for a big meeting later in the day. Gerald Goggin states in his paper “Adapting the mobile phone: The iPhone and its consumption”:

“It’s a genuine handheld computer, the first device that really deserves the name. (Regarding the iPhone)”

Although Goggin was talking about the iPhone in this context, in the current market this can be said about almost all smartphones. Almost everything we could do on a computer before, we can now complete on our mobile device. This has made life much easier for many in their day to day lives. It has also opened the door for unique tasks and communication to be completed that were not possible in the past before this technology was introduced. An excellent example of this was described by Scott W. Campbell and Yong Jin Park:

“One additional example is peer-to-peer journalism, in which regular citizens become eye witness journalists by capturing and broadcasting news events using their mobile devices (Goggin 2006; Gye 2007). This form of journalism was experimented with in 2000 (Rheingold 2002), and today it is common for local and national news broadcasts to show images captured and distributed from mobile camera phones.”

This example demonstrates both how people can work and communicate easier via mobile technology.  Through their devices they are able to both capture events and broadcast, or communicate them to other people.

In conclusion, I believe mobile communication has become almost a necessity in today’s world. It has improved the quality of life around the world, and can only improve as technology evolves in the future.

 

cell phone

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New Mobile World

The introduction of modern day mobile phones and mobile communication has revolutionized our everyday lives. It has completely changed the technologically proficient’s outlook on interaction with like minded individuals. This quote from “Social Implications of Mobile Telephony: The Rise of Personal Communication Society” by Scott W. CampbellYong Jin Park further explains this:

“McLuhan argued that characteristics of communication technologies shape cognition and social organization. Accordingly, the development of print moved society into a visual age, while television, radio, and film helped move us into a mass age. This line of reasoning is succinctly captured by McLuhan’s (in)famous assertion that ‘The medium is the message’.”

I completely agree with this assertion. This new medium that has become so prevalent has definitely reshaped cognition and social organization. With the introduction of this technology that allows people so many to communicate on a completely different level people are interacting quite differently than they would in the not so distant past. Instead of vocal conversations, people can now communicate quickly and easily anywhere they go through text messaging. Some of the uses of this are further described in this quote again from “Social Implications of Mobile Telephony: The Rise of Personal Communication Society” by Scott W. CampbellYong Jin Park:

“Planning social activities is a priority for many teens and young adults, and the ‘real-time’ nature of mobile communication plays a vital role in this process. Thus, if a social gathering changes, it is easy to get word out. If a party is boring, those who arrive first can send a message to others and alternative plans can be developed. Privacy is an important nuance to these novel forms of connection and coordination. Much of what young people have to say to one another can now more easily be said (or thumbed) ‘under the radar’ of their parental observation. Thus, the mobile phone not only lowers the threshold for interaction among young people, it does so in a way that offers increased privacy and autonomy from their parents.”

Ignoring the fact that mobile phones are now making it easier for teens to do things their not supposed to without their parents knowing, the quote “mobile phones lower the threshold for interaction” is particularly important. Mobile phones allow a method of communication easy enough that people will now communicate things they thought were too unimportant to actually go out of their way to call or meet someone to talk about. While this may seem trivial it opens up a whole new section of social interaction strengthening ties between people that may not have existed without this technology.

However, some people may find themselves “constrained” with this technology so widely available. Again, we can take a quote from “Social Implications of Mobile Telephony: The Rise of Personal Communication Society” by Scott W. CampbellYong Jin Park to explain such a case:

“In fact, some are concerned that social networks can even become too personalized to the extent that there is a ‘telecocooning’ effect (Habuchi 2005). Communal spaces are also personalized through use of the technology, which can lead to its own form of ‘cocooning’ as individuals shut themselves off from copresent others while plugged into their mobile devices  (Ito et al. forthcoming).”

This “telecooning” effect is becoming more and more prevalent, with people so focused on their cell phones that they almost forget the real world around them. In the world today it is extremely common to see a family sitting down for dinner with everyone on their cell phones, or friends out together with individuals focused on whoever happens to be texting them opposed to the real person standing beside them they can legitimately interact with. While some may not view this as an issue and just “a changing of the times” some people find this behaviour unacceptable and a detriment to future social interactions.

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