DIGC 202, Media

Power is Made By Pure Manipulation

In my blog post I referred to a John Perry Barlow article from 1996 where he predicted a utopian, euphoric world where the Internet would thrive and would be “more humane and fair than the world your governments have made before”. But he was not alone in his views as Bruce Sterling agreed with this notion. However, fast forward eighteen years and Sterling has realised where he went horribly wrong with his debate – he forgot about greed.

As the technological world develops faster than we can imagine; creators, visionaries and individuals with  money are changing the intrinsic and extrinsic values that the Internet once held – such as being fair and open. And this is why Barlow and Sterling’s previous arguments are invalid is because of ‘walled gardens’.

Walled gardens – as explained by my lecturer Ted Mitew (2014) – are closed, hierarchal, central databases that exist online where access is controlled, filtered and monitored so as to secure their system and lock content to the platform. These gardens are then considered stacks. Stacks are vertically integrated system where information is shared between between the parent platform and its multiple sister platforms. The easiest example would be Google. Google itself is a walled garden as it is designed to hone your search based off the information that you have provided. Stacks come into play when examining Google+, Gmail, Google Docs, Google Maps and the Google phone. But stacks are not the Internet; Sterling (2013) explains them as, “vertically integrated globalised internet structures used by millions.” Furthermore, “stacks have livestock, the Internet had users. Nobody on the Internet knows you’re a dog”.

Bruce Sterling explains that to stacks you are just a money maker

Bruce Sterling explains that to stacks you are just a money maker

It was at this point, I became confused as to whether I was studying vet science and intelligent animals or digital cultures. But alas, we continue.

Information is not free, it’s owned, controlled, filtered and monitored by the owner of the garden and in turn creates big business for advertisers and this is what I believe, both Sterling and Barlow could not predict – the immense power that advertising has. Stacks have livestock meaning that their users are monetary raisers, it is an economy based on information. The information that we provide in turn provides these stacks with an insight into what we like and dislike – based off what we search, click and share – which then helps advertisers target us specifically.

A recent example is Twitter who, in 2011, wanted to become a semi-closed platform – similar to Facebook. It would see the social networking site amplify its amount of sponsored tweets per day as well as integrating more advertising as Ben popper examined in his article.

As the title suggests – from John Mayer’s Vultures – suggests, power is made when power is taken. This – to me – is what closed networks stand for; it is their intrinsic nature to do so. You do not deserve the power so we will not give you the power. But does this have to be the future for the Internet? Are we really going to hand all power over to someone who does not care if we are dog, robot or human? Does it really come down to money?

Mitew, T 2014, ‘The Feudalisation of the internet, Lecture, DIGC202, University of Wollongong, viewed 4 September 2014. < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1IEq3uHKh8&index=19&list=PLiPp71qLKusXOU1bKxHVappCbRNN3-J-j>

Popper, B 2012, ‘Twitter Follows Facebook down the walled garden path’, The Verge, 9 July, viewed 7 September 2014, http://www.theverge.com/2012/7/9/3135406/twitter-api-open-closed-facebook-walled-garden

Sterling 2013, Webstock ’13: Bruce Sterling – What a feeling!, online video, September, Webstock, viewed 3 September 2014< http://vimeo.com/63012862>

 

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DIGC 202, Media

Money For Nothing and Your Tips For Free

Being somewhat of a traditionalist and a budding journalist, my ideal job would be one where I write and produce content for an audience that does not spend 99.99% of their day in front of a screen. Meaning print either for a newspaper or magazine because who does not love the smell of a new magazine or the crumpling of a newspaper. However, I know this is somewhat unrealistic as “we are in a paradigm where the former consumers are now also the biggest producers of content” (Mitew, 2014) and this means that as a journalist, I must compete.

Or do I?

The world of blogging began in 1999 – three years after the Spice Girls released Wannabe – and the publishing world became worried. This is due to blogging destroying publishing’s extrinsic and intrinsic values. Blogging does not have any barriers to entry  such as large production fees, meaning that anyone, anywhere with access to the Internet is able to establish a blog and write for a world audience. Furthermore – as Shirky (2002) suggests – print publishing acts as a filter. Blogs however, have no filter and you are able to offer whatever you like, your opinions on current events, a draft novel, fan-fiction, even your ridiculous pictures of your breakfast. But does this make them a journalist or professional writer? Well, no according to Clay Shirky.

The same can be said about blogging making people believe they are writers since 1999

The same can be said about blogging making people believe they are writers since 1999

 

Shirky (2002) points out that the fact that mass professionalism is an oxymoron, as professionalism implies a small group of people; blogging on a large scale is simply mass amateurisation as he suggested. But mass amateurisation  has its perks as niche markets are now accounted for through blogging as traditional media cannot provide for all markets.

But do not discount traditional media just yet, it still has its place. I believe that the fundamental argument for traditional media in this case is that it provides an overview on a myriad of topics, in one, simple design that is highly accessible. Therefore it caters for a mass market where niche markets – by definition – cannot. Moreover, traditional media still has more authority and authenticity when it comes to breaking major stories as well as providing primary information for its audiences. Many audiences look elsewhere for clarity on major issues away from traditional media on blogs such as Global Voices which has earned its credibility over many years.

Overall, blogs yes are wonderful as they enable individuals to have a voice and share that voice on a larger scale. However, blogs are magnificent for gaining further insight and tips for free for individuals and journalists – in cases such as citizen journalism – but my future, I believe is still in tack for now.

Sources:

Shirky, C 2002, “Weblogs and the Mass Amateurization of Publishing” in Clay Shirky’s Writings About the Internet, accessed August 30, http://shirky.com/writings/weblogs_publishing.html

Mitew, T 2014, “The Attention Economy and the Long Tail Effect”,Global Networks, University of Wollongong, accessed 31 August 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCnVnLYPoi0&index=14&list=PLiPp71qLKusXOU1bKxHVappCbRNN3-J-j%20

Picture: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-DxGXgW8gs1Y/UGn_y6YzTiI/AAAAAAAAACg/DY5hR4mHjy0/s1600/inta.png

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JOUR 206, Media

JOUR 206 – Emotional History

Any task involving someone’s personal history and emotions is a difficult assignment to undertake where one must strike the perfect balance of empathy as well as still drawing out their emotions.

The concerns that I initially had before going in to the interview was the fact that Ashleigh and I went to school together. Whilst being acquaintances for many years, I thought that it would be uncomfortable as I did not want her to feel as if I was just getting a story. Whilst that was the prominent reason, the interview flowed and dipped between questioning and all the juicy gossip and general life and this put us both at ease. But definitely what set the initial tone was when my pen rolled off my knee and I bashed the microphone into her teeth. We’ll just call it a rookie mistake and never mention it again!

Ashleigh was diagnosed with Metastatic Ewing’s Sarcoma when she was only just 17 years old. I was preparing for my HSC exams and Ashleigh was preparing for her imminent death. This was something that I was prepared to ask her, but I was not ready for how easily she recalled her darkest, scariest days of staring death in the face. I assumed she would recall that time in a sober, highly emotional way; rather, she recounted that experience as if telling me what she did last week. At this stage, I was stumped as to where to take the interview as the follow-up questions were essentially the same but with slight variations. But I quickly thought to ask her about things that she would not be asked on an everyday basis and this is where Ashleigh truly opened up and her vulnerability was exposed.

Ashleigh has done many interviews about living with cancer and how it has affected her and her family as her community has supported her from day one and is interested in her progress. For the majority of our interview, she was bubbly, confident and engaged. However, when I asked her “what has it been like to watch your friends move on?” she quickly withdrew and her vulnerability was portrayed as she – I suppose – had not prepared to be asked those questions. She recalled sitting in a hospital bed – after undergoing a 9 hour operation where the left side of her pelvis was removed and radiated – and scrolling through Facebook and seeing her friends’ 18th birthday parties, all in their dresses, a myriad of friends around them, ready to go out. This was when I changed my story’s angle dramatically as I realised, this is what the story needs to be about –  not a young person living with cancer but a a teenager who was missing out on milestones.

Overall, Ashleigh was an amazing person to interview as she presented challenges for me in her responses along with her wit and humour keeping me on my toes. But the part that still stuns me was the fact that Ashleigh thanked me at the end of our interview, for helping her to portray a different side to her cancer story. And this significantly altered my approach to telling her story.

 

 

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BCM 240, Media

Internet Makes a House a Home

I tell this story to anyone who is willing to listen. My parents packed my sister and I up, at the tender ages of 9 and 7 and travelled around Australia for six months. Most people ooo and ahh at the stories and idea of just walking away from reality for six months; but what baffles many, is the fact that the only technology we had was a mobile phone and my sister and I both had Sony Walkman CD. Yes, that was it. No iPads, no TV screens, not even a GPS system. And you know what, it was the best thing that my parents could have done.

A Sony Walkman CD was the only thing that provided entertainment for six months travelling

A Sony Walkman CD was the only thing that provided entertainment for six months travelling around Australia in 2002

 

Internet Cafes were our main source of communication to family and friends back at home as the Internet was a well and truly developed at this stage – 2002 – it was not yet a widely accessible service.

At home, I cannot remember a time without a computer or the Internet. Whilst we were still limited to what we could do on the Internet – mainly homework or later, MSN messenger – it has always been a part of my life.

A year or two ago, we had the National Broadband Network (NBN) installed in our house as one of the trial towns. Oh my, it was wonderful. I am not going to pretend I know what the actual benefits and try to explain the terminology as I have no idea. But I do know that it is kind of great because things load faster than ever before.

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/qjBbFvy722w” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>

The NBN's plans for one year were a big ask

The NBN’s plans for one year were a big ask

Despite having a networked home, my parents always placed a huge emphasis on actually talking to one another of an evening as well as not allowing television, gaming consoles or Internet into our bedrooms. My father finally relented and allowed for WiFi access in our rooms and even now, we still have to emerge from there of an evening to eat, at the table, with technology not allowed. This is strict, yes, but I am grateful because I am able to survive in social situations without having to turn to my phone to escape. And this is why I admire Sherry Turkle’s Ted Talk on how we are increasingly becoming Alone Together. She describes it as craving to be with each other but also being elsewhere via our technologies.

Turkle (2012) says that we are forgetting what it is like to have a real conversation, in real-time, without editing and perfection. We are now talking in “snips” which satisfies us briefly but this feeling is not sustained over a long time. So what does this mean for our households where we want technology to reciprocate the same values as our homes do? I think it means our homes are breaking down. Not the abrupt zombie apocalypse style but slowly we are losing what used to hold our homes together such as the family dinner where families sit down, interact with one another. The Internet and technology are hindering our relationships.

Danah Boyd explores this notion of how the Internet is impacting our relationships and lives via various studies of teenagers and their use of the Internet. My parents – especially my mother – scoff at the idea of how much time teenagers spend with their technologies playing, searching, watching, generally consuming the Internet.

Some of the areas Boyd examines are identity in a digital age and addiction but I feel most importantly and timely, she touches on cyberbullying. An issue that many of us have witnessed or experienced.

Boyd (2014) discusses that “networked technologies complicate how people understand bullying. Some people believe that cyberbullying is a whole new phenomenon. Others argue that technology simply offers a new site for bullying, just as the phone did before the Internet” (Boyd 2014, p.132). I believe the latter and sincerely see a networked home as somewhat of a concern for families that have young children and teenagers as there is a lot of time spent without . Home is supposed to be safe but with bullying not ending at the school gates and literally following you home everyday, this issue needs to be addressed when discussing or debating the future of the networked home.

However, I do begin to pull myself back up on to the middle of the fence when further reading Boyd’s (2014 p.133) paper where she states, “heightened visibility…prompts people to assume that technology must inherently make bullying more hurtful and damaging”. So are we really in the middle of an ‘epidemic’ or is because we are more aware that we are panicking?

Overall, a networked home is the future home. One where we will not be able to disconnect as such programs as the NBN roll through and our lives are overcome with technologies as we slowly but surely move towards forever being alone together.

Boyd, D 2014, It’s Complicated, Yale University Press, Yale

Turkle, S 2012, “Connected, but alone?” Online video, TED Talk, February, accessed online 23 August 2014 http://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together

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DIGC 202, Media

Why everyday should be pyjama day

I have a dream. A dream that one day I will be able to work from home, sitting in my pyjamas, working away at whatever time suits me. However, I do not think this will be a reality.

As previously mention in this post, I am a nana because I constantly engage in debates about why technology is a detrimental advancement in our lives. I really do not like the way in which it dictates our lives, both professionally and personally – unless it grants me my dream. More fuel has been added to my fiery debate as this week I explored the notion of liquid labour.

Liquid labour is about the flexibility that our labour has because it is – as Ted describes –  as “always available” because it has  “unrestrained borders” due to technology. The invention of the smartphone is probably the simplest example to use as it is a device that we can literally take with us anywhere at anytime. How many times have you seen someone checking their emails at a coffee shop or at their child’s sporting game?

Peter Bradwell suggests that communications technologies have super-charged the way in which we as individuals work as the accessibility to work means that an increasing number of people continue working at home and at other various locations ensuring that more work is done than an average person would do within working hours.  Hansi Lo Wang believes that technologies – such as smartphones and tablets – have become “digital leashes to the office” making it harder for individuals to walk away at the end of the day and disconnect.

But this is what more individuals want according to Bradwell (2008, p.27) stating, “money is not the sole incentive anymore…employees are looking for values that match their own, and work that fits with their life.” Which is fair enough as we are having families later in life, living longer and working longer hours. I mean, who does not want to be able to work from home, in their pyjamas, at whatever time suits them, so long as their boss is happy? Well, if you work for Yahoo, sadly, this is a far off reality.

Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, banned her employees from working at home in 2013 and caused great controversy. However, I feel that she had good reasoning to do so saying, “To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side…some of the best decisions and insights come from impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home.” I believe that she is right and this is fair. It also enables employees to leave work at work and engage in their social lives of an evening and weekend. Hopefully, this will put an end to those disgruntled adults at children’s sporting games who are constantly attached to their iPhones because “work demands the majority of my time”.

The more that technology develops and it encroaches into our daily lives, the more likely we are to not be able to disconnect. Our workplaces will become zones of silence as we will forget how to talk and collaborate with one another and there will be no work completed as we are longing for the day to finish so we can do it at home. However, I believe that once working from home is implemented across a myriad of workplaces, I believe they will want to revert – similarly to that of Yahoo.

Deuze summarises this idea of liquid labour by saying, “the way we do and understand things is increasingly transformed through and implicated by the way we engage with the media in our lives.”

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 1.49.25 pm

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 1.49.31 pm

 

References:

Bradwell, P., and Reeves, R. (2008) Economies. In Networked Citizens (pp. 25-31)

Deuze, M. (2006) ‘Liquid Life, Convergence Culture, and Media Work’

 

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DIGC 202, Media

They see me trollin’

In 1996, John Perry Barlow wrote A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace where he outlined a cyberutopia where they were “creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth” (Barlow 1996). But what he did not see coming, were trolls.

The speech was written for an era where computers and technology were developing rapidly as well as the freedom of the Internet vastly expanding. Previously, new technologies – such as the telegraph – were significantly controlled by state institutions. One can draw interesting parallels between a new technology and the rise in totalitarian states due to the technologies demanding centralised control. However, cyberspace did revolutionise this paradigm. It became a place where individuals could transcend the barriers that were set by state institutions. It was a place of freedom, community and shared experiences.

But this whimsical tale of an entire population coming together to share harmonious stories and find a place of equality was somewhat naïve. The freedom that cyberspace provides have never been seen before enabling trolling. Trolling is where you systematically follow someone and pretty much ‘hate’ on their work or attack the individual for reasons that are seemingly pathetic. Whilst this flaw could have not been avoided nor foreseen in the early stages of the utopian view of what the internet would enable, it is something that dramatically contradicts why cyberspace was created.

Barlow wrote, “We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity” (Barlow 1996). To examine this comment from the utopian view of social networking, one can understand that due to the vast size of the Internet, that one can freely and easily express his or her opinions wherever and whenever he or she feels. A broad ocean of communication, understanding, tolerance and education. Conversely, examine this same comment with a dystopian view of cyberspace. Trolls are able to do the exact same thing – expressing opinions and so forth – yet never get caught.

So, if the cyber space truly is how Barlow described as being a place without prejudice against “race, economic power, military force” then why are we still experiencing it? Why are trolls still able to do what they do and get away with it? Maybe, I’m just being negative or maybe we have a serious issue on our hands that needs to be resolved before we move further.

 

 

 

Gorenflo, N 2013, ‘Better than Cyber Utopia: How the Internet Helped Us Create the Sharing Economy’, Yes Magazine, 3 June, viewed 16 August, http://www.yesmagazine.org/new-economy/better-than-cyber-utopia-how-the-internet-helped-us-create-sharing-economy

 

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BCM 240, Media

TV ratings and the ABC

For a politics class last week, we had to discuss whether the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) should be privatised or not. A lot of the comments and articles regarding the network’s privatisation argued that it was the diverse and extensive audience that the ABC attracted, coupled with its ratings, that made it such a viable entity.

OzTam is the Australian official source of television audience measurement. Their latest report – July – states that the ABC obtained 6.9% of the total television viewed throughout the month on both Free-to-Air and Pay TV. These measurements or statistics are significantly useful for advertisers and marketers. However, since the ABC does not advertise throughout their programs, the statistics can be used in other ways to exemplify the network’s success.

Firstly, and the most obvious use, is to express  the popularity of a new TV show. The recent airing of the ABC’s new show, Utopia, saw the ABC’s overall ratings lift. The show drew “778,000 viewers…more than double the audience of previous weeks” (Bodey 2014). But more than that, the show’s ratings, “helped the ABC to its best Wednesday share of the year, 13.0 per cent” (Bodey 2014).

Secondly, the audience’s demographics can be explored through the ratings of popular “oldies” shows such as Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. Today’s article by Matthew Knott in the Sydney Morning Herald explained that the ABC is having to cut a lot of programmes so they can redesign the network to boost their 20 – 50 year old demographic.

 

Median age of viewers per channel

 

However, some have speculated that if the older viewers are “tuned out” then it would lead to the ABC being significantly affected as their ABC Shops would not see the same revenue due to disgruntled customers. On average – according to ABC Fast Facts –  200,000 Australians shop either in-store at their 155 nationwide stores or online each month. These staggering figures are directly related to their ratings as the stores sell the programs merchandise.

Moreover, the ABC Fast Facts suggest that the ABC’s ratings can be linked to more Australians having a greater and deeper understanding of current affairs and events. This is due to the  broad range of honest, investigative, high quality journalism that their news programs provide compared to the vastly different to commercial stations who must follow their owner’s political views. On average, the audience that the ABC’s 7pm News draws is 1.3 million people per night, every weeknight. Moreover, their collective current affairs and news website brings 1.7 million visitors per month.

So whilst television ratings are predominantly used to show who’s tuning into what, they can be used for wider purposes such as exemplifying why ratings and audiences are important for revenue.

 

Bodey, M 2014, ‘Working Dog’s new comedy Utopia lifts ABC’s TV ratings’, The Australian, 14 August, viewed 16 August, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/media/broadcast/working-dogs-new-comedy-utopia-lifts-abcs-tv-ratings/story-fna045gd-1227024003819

Knott, M 2014, ‘Jobs to go as ABC tunes out older viewers’, Sydney Morning Herald, 17 August, viewed 17 August, http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/jobs-to-go-as-abc-tunes-out-older-viewers-20140816-3dtb9.html#ixzz3Ad2LhAan

OzTam 2014, 2014 Consolidated National Subscription TV Share and Reach, viewed 13 Aug, http://www.oztam.com.au/documents/2014/OzTAM-20140720-B2NatSTVShrRchCons.pdf

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