Younger and older than the Internet

Stalder (2005, pp. 63-64) neatly sums up the immeasurable difference that new information can make by stating that “Change is neither additive nor subtractive in an integrated environment; it is ecological. One significant change generates total change. If a species is removed from a given habitat, what remains is not the same environment minus that one species, the result is a new environment and the conditions of survival within it have been reconstituted. This is also how the ecology of information works. New flows of information can change everything.”

This is perhaps never more evident than in the creation of the Internet – this huge technological evolution changed everything. From the telegraph to the huge abyss we now find ourselves immersed in that is cyberspace, it is these globally integrated information networks that have had the greatest impact on the formation of the network society.

This podcast explores perspectives on the Internet from both a 52 year-old woman who witnessed its emergence as well as children aged 9-12 who were born into a world which was already heavily dependent on it.

Reference:

Stalder, F 2005, ‘Information Ecology’ in New Media Center_kuda.org, Open Cultures and the Nature of Networks, Futura publikacije, Serbia, pp. 62-66.

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Researching research

Research-Design
sourced from: http://research-methodology.net/research-methodology/research-design/

Researching what research is – if this isn’t paradoxical then I’m not sure what is. But, here goes nothing …

The first blog of a subject is always the hardest, so admittedly I found myself opening a new safari tab on my phone with the brain-dead intention of Googling the word research. But, after looking at the amount of tabs I already had opened with various questions directed at Mr. Google and his endless pool of knowledge, it became obvious that I research a lot more than I had ever consciously realized. I had consulted Google on cheap flights, bushwalks in my area, the phases of the moon, and costumes to wear to an upcoming circus-themed 21st – all in the past few days. Whilst, these questions might’ve been burning and imperative to me for a couple of hours, they are in no way scholarly research, they are in fact everyday research: research that is unconscious and automatic. Scholarly research, however, is deliberate, it is ‘systematic and objective’, and it revolves around ‘correctness and truthfulness’ (Berger 2014). Scholarly research should be completely detached from our personal opinions, biases and experiences (McCutcheon 2015). No matter if the research falls into the category of everyday or scholarly, either way, when we pose these questions we search for answers that have been provided already, answers that we can add value to or answers that may not exist currently; we aim to establish facts and reach conclusions. Further than this, the research we undertake can fall under two categories: quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative research is about ‘asking people for their opinions in a structured way so that you can produce hard facts and statistics to guide you’ (Willis 2015). Qualitative Research is primarily exploratory research. It is used to gain an understanding of ‘underlying reasons, opinions, and motivations’ (Wyse 2011). Both forms of research can be incorporated into finding a conclusion to an idea, however each have their own downfalls. Berger (2014) claims that quantitative research is accused of being too narrow; where as qualitative researchers are accused of reading into things that aren’t there.

Media research is all of what’s been discussed above, but applied to aspects of the media, including mass media, social media, print media, radio, cinema etc. Research into these areas can help us to identify links between media, culture, society and individuals. Strasburger points out that there is currently not enough media research and that the ‘effects of the media on children and adolescents’ are more or less unknown (2013). This means that there is a space where media research could possibly help fill in the blanks to hopefully minimise the risks that the media presents to vulnerable targets. That is where my interest in media research lies; the effect that media has on its consumers, in particular social media. I am particularly interested in our online social presences and the way that we each shape our online image to make people view us in a certain way. I want to look at the concept of ‘Facebook envy’, where people put the best aspects of their life online and leave out the average things so that when people look at their online profile they form an envious admiration of that person. In broad terms, I am interested in media research in regards to the question ‘does Facebook make people happy?’
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Reference:

Berger, Arthur A. 2014, ‘What is research?’, in Media and communication research methods : an introduction to qualitative and quantitative approaches, 3rd ed., SAGE, Los Angeles, pp. 13-32

McCutcheon, M 2015, ‘Lecture 2: what is media research?’, BCM210, University of Wollongong, New South Wales, 11 March

Strasburger, V.C. 2013, “Spinal Column: Why Isn’t There More Media Research?”, Clinical Pediatrics, vol. 52, no. 7, pp. 587-588

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.

 

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.

It’s not you, it’s me.

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gif source

So, this is really the end; I am officially breaking up with my professional ranter alter ego. It’s been a full-on, time consuming, yet fun and interesting experience and I actually feel like I’ve come out the other side of the blogosphere as a more sophisticated writer that considers an issue from multiple perspectives and is seriously skilled at cutting down to fit under a word limit.
BCM110 you have officially transformed me into one of those people that overanalyses and questions absolutely everything. “omg that is a really great ad, although, if I was a builder I’d be totally offended”, “wow that is a powerful image, look at the way they’ve used juxtaposition!” … yep, I’m one of them. But, the ultimate question that these past 6 weeks have forced me to consider is: ‘are we being brainwashed by the media?’.

When I consider the news in particular, it becomes apparent to me that we are, in fact, to some extent, being ‘brainwashed’ by what we read or watch in the media. In regards to media ownership, the very small group of incredibly powerful media moguls in Australia ultimately spread their agenda and ideologies across all platforms through the media puppets that they own. This uniform, bias media, seen everywhere, acts as a sign for the connotations and denotations that the media owners are trying to portray. This, in turn, sparks moral panic and huge debate within the mediated public sphere which leads to people glued to social media through media effects, debating their view point and creating further interest and exposure for the content creators. Whatever way you look at it, the media does to some extent have an effect of every person, unless you literally live under a rock. We are lead to either believe or disagree with everything that we read or watch in the media, and both cause our minds to be affected by the news that we hear. However, I don’t believe we are brainwashed by the media per say, but instead, by the powerful people who are behind the creation of media content. Media is just the means in which this ‘brainwashing’ information is being spread.

So, that is what blogging for the past 6 weeks has done to me. I have an opinion on everything and through reading other fellow bloggers’ posts I have learnt that every other person also has a valid opinion that is, most of the time, very different to mine, which has made for interesting and thought-provoking reads every week. I am now comfortable in voicing my own opinion whilst disregarding the fear of being judged or disagreed with.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my blog over the last few weeks, at least a little bit.
For now, myself and blogger Ashleigh have decided to go our separate ways, but we’ll stay friends.

Logging out. ash xx

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Glee gif – source

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Reference:

Field, A. 2014, About Ashleigh, WordPress, viewed March 17 – April 14,
<https://aboutashleigh.wordpress.com>.

Turnbull, S. 2014, ‘Making Connections Week 6′, lecture, BCM110, University of Wollongong, delivered 8 April March 2014.

Sealed Sections Unsealing Childhood Innocence

There is widespread debate about the appropriateness of teenage magazines and whether or not these magazines are responsible for the sexualisation of children through subjecting teens to information that is not age appropriate. Looking specifically at Girlfriend magazine, there are several positives and negatives to the magazines’ ‘sealed section’ which has led to debate in the mediated public sphere that is the internet.

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Macushla Burke 2011

The intended target age of Girlfriend is said to be 14-17 year old girls (Pacific Magazines 2014), however around 20% of Girlfriend’s readers are between the ages of 11 and 12. Now, I’m obviously not a mother of an 11 year old girl but I am certain that I would not want my young child to be reading about whether she can “perform oral sex if I have braces”. But, sadly, many 11 year old girls are being subjected to this information at those tender ages, they “can learn the latest sex lingo in an eight-page ‘Sexapedia’ sealed section … and delve into the sexual antics of their peers” (Dirty Laundry 2009). This information is all easily accessible, found comfortably next to the Spongebob Squarepants and Total Girl magazines in every supermarket with no restricted access, classification guidelines or content warnings. The front cover of Girlfriend magazine screams out to teen girls with topless pictures of Justin Bieber and photos of their favourite celebrity with perfect hair and flawless skin. These magazines are exploiting young girls’ desire to grow up quickly by throwing information at them that they should not be interested in until they are 15 at the very least.

The editor of Girlfriend magazine claims that it is “a service” to make sure sex is in every magazine, as teenagers are always going to be curious. This statement is somewhat true; teenagers are forever going to want information about sex and what people of their age are participating in. This is where the debate about ‘sealed sections’ surfaces; are these magazines, full of confronting information, helping teenage girls? One issue of Girlfriend noted that 50% of readers are worried about getting an STI, so, clearly the information within this magazine is helping young people who are choosing to be sexually active by offering knowledge of safe sex and medical advice from a qualified doctor.  There is also a lot of information about cyberstalking, building self-esteem, body issues and mental health problems such as depression. These sealed sections provide answers to questions that readers may be embarrassed to consult their parents about.

It is therefore the responsibility of the parent or guardian to make decisions regarding what is appropriate for their child and to provide adequate supervision over what their child is reading about. Whilst these magazines do provide useful information, I endorse the opinion that these magazines should feature age restrictions or carry warnings in order to ensure that children are not exposed or sexualised at an age that is too young.

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Reference: 

Burke, M. 2011, Sealed Section, image, BlogSpot, viewed 5 April 2014,
<http://macushlaburkethemodel.blogspot.com.au/2011/08/sealed-section.html>.

Dirty Laundry 2009, Sexualising kids: our social shame, Brisbane Times, viewed 5 April 2014,
<http://blogs.brisbanetimes.com.au/lifestyle/dirtylaundry/2009/04/27/sexualisingkid.html>.

Legislative Council 2010, classification (publications, films and computer games) (parental guidance) amendment bill, Hansard Parliament, viewed 5 April 2014,
<http://hansard.parliament.sa.gov.au/pages/loaddoc.aspx?i=158701>.

No Author 2008, SENATE Inquiry: Environment, Communications and the Arts Committee, Parliament of Australia, viewed 5 April 2014,
<http://www.aph.gov.au/binaries/senate/committee/eca_ctte/sexualisation_of_children/qon/classification_qon.pdf>.

Pacific Magazines 2014, Girlfriend, Pacific Magazines, viewed 5 April 2014, <http://pacificmagazines.com.au/Pages/Magazines/Magazine.aspx?mid=fe16ab41-1358-4925-b418-96d5d593388a>.

Turnbull, S. 2014, ‘Media Mythbusting: Big Brother is Watching You Week 5′, lecture, BCM110, University of Wollongong, delivered 1 April March 2014.

Winch T. 2008, Let’s stop trying to turn girls into probationary sexpots, The Age, viewed 5 April 2014,<http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/lets-stop-trying-to-turn-girls-into-probationary-sexpots-20080622-2ux2.html>.

YWCA 2009, Sexualisation of Children, YWCA the Power of Women, viewed 5 April 2014,
<http://www.ywca.com.au/campaigns/past/images/SexualisationofChildren_ABZ_020310.pdf>.

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.