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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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An Apple a Day Does Not Keep the Controversy at Bay

When the technological world first began, industries built content that allowed them complete and utter control. However, as technology has advanced, it has been increasingly more difficult for them to control. But not when it comes to Apple vs. Android.

When deciding which smartphone I wanted, I orignally thought iPhone as it was the ‘on-trend’ device to have and they were simple and shiny and user friendly. But after doing further research – yes I do this for nearly every product I buy (nerdy I know) – I realised that the iPhone is just an over priced piece of glass.


I have always disliked Apple for various reasons and this distaste was heightened in my lecture as we discussed open/generative and closed/locked systems.

Apple is the perfect example of a closed or locked system; as Steve Jobs stated, “we define everything that is on the phone“. Apple’s closed system means:

  • Everything is thethered to Apple
  • All apps are from the App Store
  • Apps available have been approved by Apple and may be removed at their discretion
  • They have complete control over content, user’s interaction and the platform

Scary when you think of it in those terms, isn’t it? Apple seems to like the ideology that they can have complete control over us as they are locking our options for our “own good“. Conversely, Android is the opposite believing in an open and free operating system. These are the few features that an open system has:

  • Anyone can access and modify the system
  • Open ‘garden’ of apps – Google has received criticism over this point as consumers believe they should ‘spring clean’ their app store
  • No control over users, content or platform
  • As part of the Open Handset Alliance, there are 84 companies who have joined allowing consumers  greater competition and a better outcome when buying phones.

However, after my very “convincing” one-sided argument, I do believe that iPhones do have a purpose as a phone for my parents or those new to smartphone technology as Peter Yared says in his amusing and articulate article “What phone would I recommend for my mum? An iPhone. It’s safe, predictable, and uniform. What would I recommend for anyone under 40? Definitely one of the new breeds of Andorid phones” and I whole-heartedly agree.

We- the younger generations – are changing the way industries and producers design their products. Evan William, co-founder of Twitter said that he originally “designed [it] as a broadcast medium” and that “sharing was invented by users” further emphasising the pre-historic way that Apple works as a locked system. Twitter is a generative system allowing users to individualize their interaction and experiences with that particular product and/or system.

This is the way of the future – but brings to light the problem with the future of the internet and social media. Thus being the paradox of convergence – as consumers now have more freedom of choice, industries are aiming to reign in their control of ownership.  Is anything simple?!

I will leave you with this funny commercial that was re-done on an ABC program called ‘The Checkout‘ which is fantastically hilarious and supports my view on iPhones just being expensive glass…

Sources: iBroke cartoon: http://capitalogix.typepad.com/public/2010/04/ipad.html

Android: http://ranpict.com/android-vs-apple-wallpaper.html

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Generation Zzzzz…

The media is a dying industry”  how many of you heard this before embarking on your degree in Communications and Media? I have heard it countless times and frankly, it is annoying and incorrect. The traditional or monologic media has simply changed its medium – but the message remains the same. However, what has dramatically changed is the way in which we access and interact with information.

As a boderline Generation Y and Generation Z person, with parents born into the end of the Baby Boom, I have seen first hand the differences in the way in which we interpret and accept media.


My parents are what Jay Rosen says are the “people formerly known as the audience” meaning that – for example – a newspaper article was written, produced and consumed in a limited amount of ways. However, we – the younger generations – have a myriad of ways in which we can consume media and in particular, moving towards being prosumers – meaning that we are not passively consuming, we are producing, sharing AND consuming with the help of the internet and social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and various blogs. As participation is becoming easier, we are also becoming slightly addicted to the immediacy and constant flow of content surrounding one particular topic and not studying the issue in-depth; and this leads me on to the myth that Gen Y and Gen Z’s are lazy by nature. I for one think this is complete bollocks.

Has anyone else noticed that the people who conduct the surveys and produce the information are grey, old, nomads with Dumbledore-ish beards?! They probably haven’t even tried to assimilate with social media. As mentioned before, the information remains the same, it is simply the medium that is changing and I for one believe that the interactive side of media today, enables us to engage with issues like never before as it is conversational by design but on a larger scale, it is collaborative problem solving. And possibly, the most common and globally known example of this is Kony 2012. Kony 2012 is no matter where you stand on this issue, is a prime example of just how powerful social media is and how quickly information turns to conversation which turns to mobilisation and civic engagement which moves to global interest and power. Twitter went mad, Facebook went red with posters and TV stations had the Kony campaign on a loop – it was the outsider’s window to the inside. This is purely the beginning of how we consume media in a forever changing technological world. So, the media industry is not dying, it is re-incarnating.


Sources: Cartoon image