Mind the Gap

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Soraya 2013

Many people are under the impression that online sexism against women is a thing of the past. They believe, since men and women are now freely allowed to — and do so regularly — use social media and voice their opinions all over the internet, that women aren’t discriminated against for having these opinions. This is not the case; there is a huge gender gap in the online convergence environment. As unbelievable as it may sound in our generation, there are actually men (and some women) in the world that despise women and think they shouldn’t have a voice. The main source of this online gender gap is generally from one thing, misogyny.

The internet is regularly recognised for its ‘openness’, but ‘open’ in no way means ‘equal’. While it may create a place for people to voice their opinions, it also magnifies the inequality between genders. The problem with the web is the ability to appear anonymous. Since the option to send harassment without consequence is available, there is nothing stopping misogynists from voicing sexist opinions. This has lead to ‘trolling’ becoming a sadly normal phenomenon. Many women have spoken out about their online experiences of trolling after lobbying for women’s rights, such as Caroline Criado-Perez who received threats of death and sexual assault after she successfully campaigned to get images of women onto British banknotes. Females who are then speaking out about harassers are accused of trying to suppress free speech, a contradiction since the women are simply using their own free speech.

Alarmingly, a University of Maryland study revealed that young people posting in chatrooms with female usernames receive 25 times more malicious messages than men. The authors of the study then advised parents to tell their children to not divulge their gender online. The message? Young girls can use the internet, they just have to hide who they are.

Whilst sexism is an old problem, new media has made this hate against women almost acceptable, as long as it’s online. We don’t approve of misogyny in the real world, so it should not be tolerated online. Discrimination against women is still very much a prevailing issue.

Lizodool 2012
Lizodool 2012

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Reference:
Moore, C. 2014, ‘#mencallmethings: identity and difference online week 10′, lecture, BCM112, University of Wollongong, delivered 13 May 2014.

 

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Social Media Saviours

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unicef anti-clicktivism ad – OneGirl 2013

The convergence of technology has led to ways for young people to become involved with political activism online. But, there is widespread debate as to whether or not this social media activism, known as clicktivism, actually has a powerful impact. Many argue that it “lacks the personal ties of community that once drove social change” (Jenkins 2012). Yet, others encourage young people to create and share to spread a message that they feel is important.

But, how much of difference does online activism actually make? Mass debate can be seen around whether or not it is a positive or negative trend.

Many believe that clicktivism is a valuable process which welcomes involvement and voice, and provides a gateway towards political activities like voting. As a link between popular culture and social causes, clicktivism is thought to influence more people than traditional awareness methods by branching entertainment into politics (Jenkins 2012). One example of positive online activism is the Harry Potter Alliance which uses social media and a popular franchise to successfully assist important issues. In encouragement of clicktivism, several organisations claim that most of their supporters find the organisation through social media.

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statistics of clicktivism: study by Georgetown University – OneGirl 2013

In contrast, many people criticise young people involved in clicktivism as lazy in comparison to the political protesters of the 1960’s. Whilst it is understood clicktivism may raise awareness, many judge that the action stops there. A person may feel like they’ve done their part by ‘liking’ something but they actually haven’t achieved much. An unfortunate example of ineffective clicktivism can be seen through the number of people not undergoing the recommended tests for breast and prostate cancer, despite all the pink ribbons and Movember moustaches seen on social media. For it to be of any significance, a click needs to be “the first step people take towards making a difference and not the last” (Flaim 2013).

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anti-clicktivism ad by Crisis Relief Singapore (CRS) – OneGirl 2013

Although opinions on clicktivism are split twofold, anything that creates broad awareness on an important issue is a good thing in my eyes. Yes, a ‘like’ may be a small gesture, but it is far better than doing nothing, especially if this action spreads awareness or leads to further involvement.

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Reference:

Moore, C. 2014, ‘We are the 99%: between #ows and clicktivism week 9′, lecture, BCM112, University of Wollongong, delivered 6 May 2014.

The Rise of Remixes

My understanding of remixes is that they are formed when independent media pieces are joined to create an entirely new form of media with a differing meaning from the original. Filmmaker Johan Söderberg (2007) describes remixes nicely, stating that they are “just like cooking. In your cupboard in your kitchen you have lots of different things and you try to connect different tastes together to create something interesting.”
These remixes are new and refreshing online developments, but they are part of an ancient tradition: the recycling of old culture to make new. All creators throughout time have stood “on the shoulders of giants” as Isaac Newton (1676) states. 

However, over time these remixes, specifically music related, have being completely revolutionised and increased in frequency as a result of the rapid changes in technology which “allow us to pick apart media and put it back together in new and different … and very exciting ways” – Kreisinger (2011). The opportunities to mix-up, change and reinvent sounds are now massively wide-spread and simple, as Söderberg (2007) explains, “you can do (video remix) almost for free on your own computer”. The convergence culture of our society, with hundreds of different technologies being shoved inside smaller and more powerful technologies has provided more people with the power to create, which means that many more do. Instead of simply listening to remixes as an audience, users are becoming produsers, using readily-available technology to interpret and remodel media in their own ways, either on their own or through collaboration with other produsers. This use of already existent media to create remixes is not simply copying. Lessig (2008) provides the analogy of sounds being used like “paint on a palette. But all the paint has been scratched off of other paintings”. That is essentially what convergent technology has enabled: unique and beautiful paintings that are only possible to paint with the colours from other paintings. 

The process of convergence has enabled users to both create and enjoy many things throughout the media, but in my opinion, the most exciting and entertaining is the phenomenon that is the remix culture.

My favourite remix-

the original:

remix:

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Reference:

Moore, C. 2014, ‘Rip/Mix/Burn: music sampling and the rise of remix culture′, lecture, BCM112, University of Wollongong, delivered 29 April 2014.

Revealing the GoPro world one video at a time

“Transmedia storytelling represents a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels … each medium makes it own unique contribution to the unfolding of the story.” – Jenkins 2007 

My favourite example of a transmedia narrative is the Twilight Saga. Since the release of the four books, the story has been hugely expanded. Fans are able to watch the books come to life with the five movies, and get to know characters through the companion novella, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, and Midnight Sun, an alternative perspective of Twilight. The transmediality is obvious; you don’t have to have read the books to understand the film and you don’t have to see the film to know the characters. 

Similarly, the GoPro (POV wearable & mountable compact camera) is capable of being a transmedia narrative. When a viewer watches GoPro footage, they are not entirely focused on the individual characters or plots but rather on the complex world that is GoPro. The one video “provides roles and goals which readers can assume” (Jenkins 2007). By seeing one powerful video, an individual is exposed to one section of the huge GoPro world. The viewer, most of the time, will then watch multiple GoPro videos and receive a well-rounded image of GoPro and its capabilities; “consumers become hunters and gatherers moving back across the various narratives trying to stitch together a coherent picture from the dispersed information” (Jenkins 2007).
If a viewer only sees one video, that consumer will not know everything about GoPro. Users pool information about the GoPro by using the camera for different purposes, and tap into each others expertise to create the never-ending story of GoPro. This does not mean that one video does not tell a story, in fact, every video can be understood on its own. But, each video contributes to the narrative as a whole.
The accessories available alongside the GoPro also contribute to the transmedia story as they are all used for a different function; new parts of the story are revealed with every accessory release.

The bigger picture of The GoPro is unveiled with each video that is added to the bottomless pit of footage.

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GoPro bigger picture (source)

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Just for a bit of novelty- the story of 2013 shown through GoPro footage

Reference:

Moore, C. 2014, ‘Transmedia narratives: from blockbusters to g/local content flow week 7′, lecture, BCM112, University of Wollongong, delivered 15 April 2014.

What do produsage, GoPro and the dishes have in common? They’re all unfinished!

Content creation has now begun to collapse the barrier between producers and consumers and has allowed participants to be both users and producers in the role of a produser. These produsers engage in the untraditional method of content production known as produsage – “the collaborative and continuous building and extending of existing content in pursuit of further improvement”. (Bruns 2007)

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constant development of GoPro || image 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. (top-left to bottom-right)

A key characteristic of this progressive technique is that it must remain unfinished; it is a continuing process that creates unfinished artefacts. Artist Brian Eno (1995) suggests that we “think of cultural products, or art works, or the people who use them even, as being unfinished. Permanently unfinished.” Produsage doesn’t work towards completion but instead the steady upgrade of shared content. User-generated content in the world of GoPro (POV wearable & mountable compact camera) is exactly that; unfinished. Users are constantly editing, remixing, re-editing, sharing and re-filming both their own and other users’ footage. The GoPro itself is also an unfinished artefact; the creators are always thinking of ways to improve both the camera and the community of GoPro users where content is shared. Such improvements can be seen through comparison of the original GoPro to the current advanced Hero3+, and also within the website, app, editing software and GoPro social networking sites. To ensure that this positive development takes place, produsage communities rely on negative contributions being identified and counterbalanced by a larger number of positive contributions. The best GoPro footage is viewed all over the world through GoPro’s ‘video of the day page’ and even as GoPro advertisements. This pushes users to continually improve on their creations and means that the limits of the GoPro are never met, it is a continuous process of improvement that is never complete; the content seen “always represents only a temporary artefact of the ongoing process, a snapshot in time which is likely to be different again the next minute …” (Snurb 2007)

As long as users continue to produce, produsage will remain unfinished. 

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snapshot in time – GoPro constantly changing and growing

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Reference:

Moore, C. 2014, ‘From citizen journalism to collective intelligence Week 6′, lecture, BCM112, University of Wollongong, delivered 8 March 2014.

A Passion for Participation

The most impressive thing about GoPro is the passion of its users. It is said to have the most socially engaged online audience in the world, with a Facebook fan base that grew to 1.3 million in a year. But it’s not the fan base size that sets GoPro apart — it’s the level of engagement of those fans.

GoPro began as a wrist camera for surfers, stemming from CEO Nick Woodman’s two greatest passions: surfing and photography. He defined his target audience by being his target audience. From beginning as a niche product, the GoPro has evolved into something that almost every person wants; the target audience has stood up and identified itself. But, this unintended audience is what has made the GoPro so successful. Woodman (2012) recognises that “The content people capture is really what’s growing our brand. It’s not about the camera. It’s about sharing the content.”

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original GoPro camera, Mike Lewis 2010

GoPro connects with its users in exciting and memorable ways by tapping into their interests and connecting with them on a personal level. That is what makes GoPro footage so easily recognisable, the perspective of passion that always shines through. The viewers get sucked in and feel as if they experience the moment themselves: “It’s like a teleportation device,” Woodman (2012) says. His consideration of the audience is what drives the success of GoPro. Yes, they created a great product, but, it’s clear that user content is what drives its awareness. GoPro is highly dialogic in nature: people watch footage and want to join the conversation, it relies on people talking, sharing and participating.

Every two minutes, a new piece of user-generated footage is uploaded to Youtube; it is ranked #1 on the Brand Channel Leaderboard for audience passion and popularity. This flood of content is a way for GoPro to involve it’s audience and form a close producer-consumer relationship by empowering users to create content that GoPro can share and use for commercials. GoPro lets its users become the stars, which often excites and encourages users to share their content and spread further awareness and popularity.

GoPro is its audience.

user-generated content for GoPro ad

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Reference:

Moore, C. 2014, ‘Will you be my audience? User empowerment, access and participation across media platforms Week 5’, lecture, BCM112, University of Wollongong, delivered 1 March 2014.

Producers Love Consumers

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Dr. Shay Hershkovitz 2012

Recently, the relationship between producers and consumers has undergone rapid changes. According to Jenkins (2004), old consumers were seen as compliant whilst new consumers prefer to take media into their own hands. He claims that producers have “expanded the range of available delivery channels and enabled consumers to archive, annotate, appropriate and recirculate media content in powerful new ways”. The producers that have managed to keep up with these accelerated advancements are the ones experiencing long-term success. Producers that have maintained their old ways have joined their methods as a thing of the past.

GoPro, as a new company, came into the media battle with tactics that were formed around ‘prosumers‘. Their realisation was that consumer feedback during the product development process was fundamental to success. GoPro understood that for their company to be investable, it needed to have a long-term future. They authorised crucial funding of their content and technology and exposed the best user-generated content to spark intrigue. They also built fan communities around their product to shape a relationship with their consumers; such as an online site where every GoPro user receives news and weekly doses of user-generated content. This close relationship as well as the decision to act as an open technology, has allowed the GoPro to encompass an option not available to its competition: it has become a platform as well as a product. CEO, Nick Woodman, believes the GoPro’s success is due to what it enables a person to do and how it makes them feel. The lifestyle aspiration and brand associated, according to Woodman, is what makes users think, ‘God I love my GoPro’.

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J.D. 2011

It is the close dependence that producers have on consumers and vice versa that has seen the GoPro navigate its own path from a niche product to being present at almost every event. But, GoPro’s current massive following does not mean that its success will be permanent; how many GoPro users will buy a new camera every year? The only way for GoPro to maintain popularity is to listen to what users want and constantly develop new technology.

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Reference: 

Moore, C. 2014, ‘Platforms, Permissions and Ideologies in Technological Convergence Week 4’, lecture, BCM112, University of Wollongong, delivered 25 March 2014.

 

Copyright or Copywrong?

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SmallBizConnect, n.d.

To me, and hopefully others, copyright is a difficult concept to grasp. Thankfully, Ming Thein (2012) sums it up by asking whether you would take an apple from a table under certain situations, and comparing those situations to downloading images from the internet:
a) A sign said ‘please help yourself’ / creative commons license
b) There was no sign, and no obvious owner / sample for royalty-free or licensed stock
c) There was a tag on the apple saying ‘this belongs to’ / somebody else’s gallery site
d) The table with the apple on it was in a grocery store / somebody else’s site with a watermark and ‘all rights reserved’ in fine print

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I had previously never read a whole Terms & Conditions page; but, I can now tick that off my bucket-list thanks to the 4722 words of fun GoPro put forward to ensure proper use of their camera. Surprisingly, I surfaced some interesting points that have forced me to think deeper about the strength of copyright.
GoPro has full faith in licensing of work, affirming that they “respect the intellectual property rights of others and expects its users to do the same.” GoPro has enforced policies which terminates access of users who repeatedly infringe the copyright terms. In accordance with the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, GoPro responds to claims of copyright infringement, by allowing users to report supposed violations.

GoPro is intensive when it comes to being able to distinguish user content from original GoPro content. They have many templates in their editing program which display that the content is “Shot with my GoPro camera”. As well as this, they encourage users to tag #GoPro when sharing footage on the many platforms that video gets spread across. GoPro does not claim any ownership rights within user content and nothing in their terms restrict any rights that people have to use and exploit user content. However, GoPro has access to any content which can be used as they please, without providing compensation.

Copyright is a complex system which can really only be upheld by one method… reading the T’s and C’s carefully!

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Karla Lant 2013

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Reference:

Moore, C. 2014, ‘Watch, but don’t touch! Copyright, ownership structures, and industry control Week 3’, lecture, BCM112, University of Wollongong, delivered 18 March 2014.

irregular

I’m Ashleigh – commonly known as rash thanks to a creative friend who has a unique ability to make nicknames stick… yep :/ Although, I promise I do not have any form of disease involving a rash, especially herpes. I’m 18, Aquarius, obsessed with the moon, and it literally took me a week to write this first blog post as I could not think of anything interesting to write about myself. Anyway, I’m trying…
I’m a very confused first year uni student at UOW studying a bachelor of communication and media studies – dean’s scholar (don’t ask me how I got dean’s scholar.. I’m still questioning whether there was some form of mistake). My favourite thing about uni so far is 100% seeing all the clothes that girls wear everyday. Honestly, if i had a dollar for every time I have wished that I could Shazam someone’s outfit this past week then I might have enough money to actually afford new clothes. Key word: might.. I am currently unemployed (SOS), although I do have a job trial coming up for Salsa’s, (Y) yay tacos.
I’m not completely defined on what I want out of life career-wise yet, but I am hoping that this uni degree will have me doing practical things and take me exciting places because the thought of working in an office every day physically makes me anxious. I think picking a font is seriously one of life’s hardest tasks, followed closely by picking what to order at a restaurant (when in doubt caesar salad always).
I’m left-handed, – sorry if any of you ever have to sit to the left of me in a lecture, those table things are so obviously made for right-handed people 😦 – which is the only thing that makes me a freak of nature, besides maybe the fact that I hate lollies?
I’m a complete music junkie, triple j you are my life. I honestly couldn’t give you a favourite band or song though because my taste changes based on what mood I’m in, but at the moment Bombay Bicycle Club is playing in my ears. As often as my music taste changes, so does my favourite colour.. I feel so cruel if I single out one because they’re all so differently perfect. I’m clearly a very indecisive person if you haven’t noticed.
I think the most unexpected fun fact about me is that I’ve experienced 20 piercings in my lifetime, not all of which I currently have. Usually when people hear that they immediately picture a punk girl with black hair and holes all over her face but I’m surprisingly not like that so here is a photo of me to prove it…. Image

I’m the one on the left with my sister and favourite person in the universe next to me.. not that it really matters because we look so alike.

Hope you enjoy reading about my average but perfect life and my university journey throughout the next months, I can’t think of a cool way to end this post and its 12.59am. Bye.