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Female – not a dirty word

Sometimes, naivety is a virtue. Trolling has been around as long as social media. But I was astounded and appalled at the number of people who attack women – especially female journalists – in the form of comments on social media, forums, articles and nearly every other medium where they are able to voice their opinions. But what appalled me the most was the type of comments in which these cowards were leaving.

While negative, hateful comments are sadly all too common, it is the ‘[anonymity which] allows people to indulge their worst tendencies, not only towards individuals but entire social groups’ (Stafford, 2012). The sexually explicit and grotesque comments aimed at women who speak up about respect are often dubbed as ‘feminazis’. These ‘feminazis’ – who include both men and women- are constantly subjected to the entire spectrum of barbaric names. As Virginia Triolli said, “I am called a bitch, a slag, a slut” and constantly told to “go die.” She also went on to add,  “I’ve also been abused in the most disgusting and personal terms, but that just goes with the territory these days.”

These type of slogans were once printed and sold on t-shirts as a form of boastfulness or “bravery” as one customer commented

Take for example, the Channel Ten 7pm Project interview with former Sex Pistols front man John Lyndon. It begins as any other interview but it is at 2:40 that the interview takes a very interesting turn – for the worse (view here).

Another common sexist view is one that someone wrote stating that women “should get back into the kitchen” as well as many other stupid jokes and remarks about why women are smaller than men – these people obviously took cavemen’s lifestyles too seriously.  These deeply entrenched sexist views that are disseminated worldwide have caused a historic misogyny debate in Australian Parliament between Prime Minister, Julia Gillard and leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott:

On a lighter note, there are many blogs who are speaking up about these issues – such as the AntiBogan who aim to name and shame those who are misogynist, coward trollers. As well as Twitter which has a hashtag (#mencallmethings) which also aims to name and shame as well as illuminating that there is a real issue with how females are treated within the media. This movement is about “empowering women to respond to their abusers with the same functionality the trolls take for granted – a platform to call out, name and shame.”

As the internet becomes more a part of our lives, we need to seriously look at these trolling issues and encourage naming and shaming – there should be some element of accountability as it is a low, cowardly and pathetic act.

Picture source: http://www.stuff.co.nz/technology/digital-living/8389638/Keep-Calm-T-shirts-glorify-rape-murder

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World Peace is Just One Click Away

Youths of today have been branded as lazy, slack, unambitious, money-leeches but we have never been acknowledged as compassionate, politically minded people. However, through the rise of participatory politics, younger generations are finally being re-branded and – most importantly – heard on political issues that concern them.

It is from the rapid rise of social media that has enabled participatory culture to re-invent itself as more and more people are turning to social media to be heard. Since youths spend the majority of their time on social media, it is an obvious tool to use to disseminate your message and coordinate action across multiple networks and platforms – including traditional medias. Such is the case of  KONY 2012. Henry Jenkins notes that KONY was only planned to reach, “half a million viewers over two months”. Rather, the KONY 2012 video was launched and reached a staggering “100 million viewers over the first week”. The following statistics on KONY exemplify how powerful one voice can be when social media is used:

Kony 2012 in facts and figures

The numbers are phenomenal and the result somewhat depressing. As we are all aware, KONY 2012 failed and for many reasons – but the most obvious one was that it had, “limited ‘drillability’ (the ability to drill deep into the issues).”

This is a serious problem with using social media as a means to express opinions and political movements. Take the White House launching its own Tumblr site. Is it the new form of political campaigning? Frankly, I believe so. As more youths are discarding the power that they have to vote, this is a way for the President to meet them halfway and delve into their worlds.

As we are caught up in the hype of the issue – especially issues on quality of life or emotionally-driven issues – we forget to actually look past the campaign’s face value. I don’t know about you, but I am an absolute sucker for WSPA campaigns and I will always sign petitions or donate money. But it is the way that they target to your emotions that annoys me. They present you with pamphlets brimming with photographs of neglected and abused animals then proceed to ask for a donation to help these animals or sign the petition to stop such-and-such government. I am not disregarding the fact that these animals are abused and neglected and that it is a highly emotional and serious issue – but why do they still exist if there are so many petitions and awareness? This is where the term “slacktivism” is introduced. It defines a feel-good moment when you ‘click’ for your support on a moral, political or social issue without “having to actually get one’s hands dirty or open one’s wallet“.

Maybe we have finally found the a way to world peace – it’s just a *click* away.

Picture source: http://findingjustice.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/KONY-2012-Facts.jpg

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Can’t Touch This

Or can you? Previously, I have discussed the issues surrounding copyright and whether or not the old  laws still hold true in today’s society. But with an ever-changing world, it is hard to impose copyright and intellectual laws because it is so easy to rip, burn, change and remix. Or touch.

An interesting point that Kirby Ferguson makes is that “copying is how we learn” which is so very true if you think about school – in a basic example, teacher writes, you copy, you learn. The same goes for inventions where the elements that make up the product, are not necessarily designed by the inventor but they are copied, transformed/altered and then combined in a particular sequence which leads to the end product.


Lawrence Lessig says that we have moved from a “read-only culture” which consumes media to a “read-write” culture that “re-creates the culture around them” again explaining produsers (users being producers of new content). But being produsers is in some ways the issue – but the larger debate is about intellectual property and the restrictions that it places on creative individuals. Ferguson rightly says that we have the tendency to become “territorial” about everything we do, say and create as we “hate losing what we’ve got.” Much like Steve Jobs. In 1996, he had no problem in boasting that he was “shameless in copying” ideas from the first computer – Xerox. However, when Jobs met his match in the Android phone, he whined like a spoilt two-year-old saying, “I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product.”

Overall, I agree with Axel Bruns on this point, “Collaborative efforts to engage in creative, artistic mash-ups can be described as a form of distributed creativity: they… build on and extend an existing pool of artistic materials” also illuminating Ferguson’s notion that “creation requires influence.” Take the last decade’s top 10 movie hits, 74% are wither sequels or adaptations of novels, comics or video games (Ferguson). So why can big media moguls suppress the little man into conforming with the intellectual property laws when they are the ones remixing?

And anyway, who does not like a good mashup or sequel or blatantly obvious copied movie?


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Better Late Than Never

I have always been the last person to read, watch or listen to popular media – I still have never watched Lord of the Rings or Star Wars (shoot me later).  Game of Thrones was no exception. However, I have been the first to delve into the deep, dark hole of obsession over the HBO series and engage in what is notably called transmedia storytelling.

Transmedia storytelling is essentially, “storytelling across multiple forms of media, with each element making distinctive contributions to a user’s understanding… including where user actions affect the experience of content across multiple platforms.”

Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, blogs, forums, games, cartoons, video games, GIFs and every imaginable medium has been drowned by Game of Thrones fans which encourages an “encyclopaedic impulse in both readers and writers” (Jenkins, 2007). This means that we as the audience no longer act as consumers but again, as prosumers. The latest transmedia campaign for Game of Thrones was this;

But is transmedia as innocent as it portrays? With the “blurring [of] the line between marketing and entertainment” being the most prominent issue regarding the integrity of transmedia – are they revenue raising or engaging with audiences? Personally, I believe that it is in some ways revenue raising. Who has not wanted the new game, book, toy that has been branded as a “must have for your collection!”? My obsession was over the Saddle Club. I owned everything that there was to own – books, toys, posters, bed covers, CDs, bags, jewellery – EVERYTHING. When I think back to that, I begin to imagine how much money was actually spent on pointless items.

By contrast, today’s modern society are turning to the internet to feed their obsession – as there are no costs, multiple entry points and a whole fandom waiting. Jenkins states, “Transmedia storytelling is the ideal aesthetic form for an era of collective intelligence” as die-hard fans working collaboratively to solve problems, write reviews and make the most hilarious GIFs. He also notes the most popular form of collaboration as fan fictions being an “unauthorised expansion of these media franchises” which enable the fan to “fill in the gaps” that they believe are missing from the original content.

If there was ever a louder cry for transmedia narratives, it would be from the fans of Avatar. Fans of the movie were reported to have been “plagued by depression and suicidal thoughts” as they realised that the utopian world of Pandora is not accessible. Wow.

So in a society where we are constantly connected and searching for ways to experience our passions, transmedia storytelling will stay.

Video sourced from: http://marclougee.com/2012/02/03/game-thrones-transmedia/

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Is Traditional Journalism a Thing of the Past?

Jay Rosen believes, “A journalist is just a heightened case of an informed citizen, not a special class“. I could not disagree more. While it is an obvious fact that the way in which we receive our daily news today, is extremely different from 30 years ago, the reliable source in which we get it, remains the same – a journalist.

Yes, I understand that more and more social networking sites are incorporating news, they do not however, replace a journalist. Mark Luckie discusses in the video (below) about how Twitter is simply a source of information as they “have no editorial staff and therefore no filters” whereas a journalist’s role is “to be that filter“. Furthermore, the information that we receive from such sites as Twitter cannot always be considered reliable as it is instantaneous and not researched. I simply see it as a resource not a news piece. However, the global uprising of the citizen journalist has made me slightly unsure about the security of a journalist’s role and begin to question the future role that a highly educated journalist could have if Twitter and other online medias have when it comes to presenting news.

This is where my argument sways. I like to agree with Andrew Marr when he says that citizen journalism is “fantastic at times but it is not going to replace journalism“. But realistically, “acts of journalism can be performed by anyone” and that we must consider journalism to be an “ecosystem” (Jeff Jarvis – video) Most people have a smart phone of some sort and are connected to one or more social medias. From this significant increase in the ubiquitous connectivity, it is somewhat effortless to begin producing your own news content and put a journalist out of a job. The classic example of traditional media being slower than social media was when an earthquake hit America in 2011.

My main concern with the rise of citizen journalism is the lack of authority, experience and prestige. When a major newspaper reports on Global Warming, more people are accepting of the news and believe what the journalists have written because of the assumed prestige of the paper and the level of authority that they give is similar to parental authority – if they say that it is true, then it must be. Conversely, a citizen journalist with their smartphone, on the street, reporting that Global Warming is true, can be pushed aside as they have not yet established authority.

I have come to be a fence-sitter again and believe that citizen journalists and traditional journalists should collaborate so as to “add to what traditional…[journalists] are doing and not take away”.[1]  It also has the potential  to add to the authenticity of a particular news story as “the passion of ordinary men and women to tell the kinds of extraordinary stories”[1] can finally be heard on a global level.

Sources: [1] http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/jun/11/rise-of-citizen-journalism