Typing what you’d never say

Image source:

Image source: theguardian.com

The web has certainly created a world for new types of conversation to take place, conversations that sometimes have no boundaries. We can hardly be stopped from expressing our opinion somewhere online, we can comment and tweet and post about our strongest thoughts and opinions. Misogyny– the hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women – is increasingly being voiced by men online. The implications of this activity are serious.

Many of these misogynistic statements would be shut down in a real-life conversation, the speaker overruled or put in their place. But online when we comment on a blog we can be taking part in a conversation of hundreds of people. Surely this gives a better chance of finding others who share the same views? Yes of course, and so men are taking this opportunity to gain the power to express their dislike for women.

The internet creates a new and sheltered platform for broadcasting nastiness. The term ‘keyboard warriors’ is well-known as a result of the recent discussions surrounding cyber-bullying. This cyber-bullying has dominantly involved high school students of both genders. Unfortunately, warriors are again rising and this time women are the target. In this case it is even more worrying, as the dominant perpetrators are not students. They are out in the real world, they are grown men who should know better but simply don’t.

Positive online action has been taken with #mencallmethings, the successful twitter campaign where victims speak out against abuse. A recent example of fighting back is the misogyny speech made by Julia Gillard, as the then Prime Minister stood up to offensive remarks from Tony Abbott. This was in response to offline misogyny, but the speech soon circulated through social media potentially reaching online offenders.

This is the only way to stop this violent behaviour, by making it known. We cannot allow women to continue to be intimidated and threatened, simply because misogyny is a big issue. We need to start breaking this issue down, naming and shaming one warrior at a time.

 

Source: youtube.com/watch

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Making our voice count

Young people are increasingly attempting to voice their political concerns, yet politicians are mostly unable or unwilling to address these. As the voice is being replaced with social media platforms, we have to question if this new form of political activism is real. Does it have the power to be recognized and drive change, or is it merely superficial engagement?

It is true that clicktivism exists, as youth use their media platforms to promote political concern. Just as human rights organization “Invisible Children” did, when it released the video “Kony 2012” which was watched by more than 70 million in the first four days. This proves the power of platforms such as Facebook, where the mass audience reach ignites participatory movement.

Image source:

Image source: tntribune.com

But for every activist of Kony 2012, there were many slacktivists. Slacktivism represents actions performed via the internet (in support of political or social causes) which require minimal time and effort. This kind of involvement is becoming very popular, as it too easy to ‘like’ a page or ‘share’ an image. Many believe this activity makes them activists, but it doesn’t make a real difference.

Image source: endslaverytn.org

Image source: endslaverytn.org

What does make a real difference is those who use social media to do real things, such as creating the videos on concerning issues and donating money to charities. Too many of us voice our concerns with no evidence or action to support them. When Kony 2012 drew criticism from established human rights groups, many of Invisible Children’s young supporters lacked the critical skills needed to defend their position.

Social media is our opportunity for political participation, giving us a chance to establish our views. But in order to make ourselves heard we need to be better educated. Anyone can make a ‘status‘ of their opinion on poverty, but unless the person can back this up, with; understanding, statistics, and experience; then they’re just another complaining teenager. We will only challenge politics when we have an understanding of what we are challenging.

Source: youtube.com/watch

 

More than 2 sides to every story…

Image source: youtube.com

The introduction of modern technologies have allowed for the evolution of mash up-style practices, in particular those that feature music. These were once the mix-tapes of the 70’s and 80’s, but can now be created and found on online websites such as ‘ccMixter‘. Modern technologies have dramatically changed the mash-up culture, making it a  faster and more interactive process.

Image source: ghostkollective.com

Through the acts of remixing and file-sharing we are engaging more and more in the production process. Many of us who contribute to music mash-ups are also listening to and using them. We are therefore participating in the practice of produsage, a process that is both ongoing and unfinished as we constantly add to the existing material. As anyone can contribute to the creation of these mash-ups, they have the potential to attract more attention than the artist of the original material. There are many cases where a song is adapted into a popular and successful remix, and the creators of this remix overshadow the original artist.

 

Mashup

Image source: ibm.com

The video above is of a song featuring ccMixter as an artist. This community website contains remixes which are licenced under Creative Commons. It allows you to; listen to, interact with, and remix the music; in return you are required to attribute by crediting the creator/s of any material you use.

An independent artist and music remixing site have combined to create one song. This video highlights the relevance and positive outcomes of mash-up culture. Hearing the lyrics of a well known Christmas carol ‘Noel’, alongside a more modern guitar instrumental is an enjoyable experience. It is unique in that it could not have been produced by a single artist alone. Consumers have used websites and editing programs to edit and transform an existing song. Here, mash-up culture has created something beautiful. When we combine our strengths we have a chance to transform existing material into artworks that are more powerful, and can be related to by today’s society.

Chapters 1-3: App, Facebook, Twitter

Transmedia storytelling exists when there is a telling of multiple stories across multiple medias, creating one extensive story. Each of the mediums contribute unique information, increasing the audiences understanding of the story. This process creates multiple points of entry into the audience, engaging more users more often and enhancing their experience. (Jenkins, 2007)

The App Emergency Aus is doing this. When researching it, I soon discovered the producers had adopted other forms of social media platforms including a Facebook Page and Twitter account.

The creation of a Facebook page is a massive addition to the existing App.  When using the App I was only able to view events occurring in NSW, but by liking the Emergency AUS Facebook Page this changed. My news feed soon provided the option to track the progress of Cyclone Ita in Queeensland, and displayed images of a fire occurring in the Perth area. I no longer needed to access the original App, I was being fed important updates from another platform I used every day. Facebooks’ open layout really stimulated the conversation and made it even easier to access emergency information.

The Twitter Page has a different approach, with the main activity involving the ‘retweeting’ of information shared on other pages. An example is the warning issued by Country Fire Authority for Antwerp, tarranyurk. It includes some incredible safety information, which could not be found through the App or Facebook page.

The sharing of content through various forms of social media creates an environment where we are moved beyond data to knowledge and wisdom. The rapid evolution of digital media technology creates opportunities for new forms of communication, accelerating the potential for change.

This reflects the approach of Emergency AUS, as it has adopted three different media platforms. It targets an audience who spend many hours engaging with media platforms every day. This communication strategy is effective with each piece of knowledge complimenting the other. With this collective intelligence comes the best chance to keep all Australians informed.

 

An unexpected experience

Throughout this ‘Blogging’ experience I’ve become increasingly motivated by reading others’ posts and receiving their encouraging comments. It was so exciting to know there were people out there interested in what I had to say. I found that when I commented on other’s posts I was critical, and the process helped me to recognise weaknesses in my own writing.

In writing  ‘Are you Mom enough?’, I explored the denotations and connotations of a controversial breastfeeding image. This would be the topic I was least interested in, as it was broad and I wasn’t sure where to go with it. I preferred being given a direct question such as “Why is it important who controls the media?”. Through researching I was surprised to learn of the dramatically high concentration of media control in Australia.  I developed an opinion that I was really passionate about, and found it easy to argue my point with examples. This helped me to realise that my strength in writing is finding what I’m passionate about and communicating it to the audience.

My first post ‘Blame the Media’ was my favourite to write, as I chose an issue (cyber-bullying and Facebook) that I could really relate to. This topic was rather challenging as my view on this debate is somewhere in the middle. Communicating it was complicated, as I had to rack my brain for the right words to explain how I felt. I’m most proud of the way this post turned out, as I managed to draw upon both sides of the argument and present an inspiring piece.

Publishing the introductory post – I was certainly nervous. Being out of my comfort zone, I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy this subject. But I honestly have, and it’s because of the discoveries I have made. I learnt just how passionately I felt about some of the topics. I know my writing can be improved so much more, and starting my own ‘Blog’ has been an amazing first step in this process.

Image source: churchm.ag

Image source: churchm.ag

Produsage produces intelligence

Image source: wikipedia.org

Image source: wikipedia.org

We live in a collaborative environment, and are not just users but also producers of information. We are ‘produsers’, engaging in participatory culture that allow us to combine our skills and knowledge. The idea of produsage is explained through Brun’s four key characteristics. (p.4)

An organisational shift occurs, with a move from individual and team producers to a larger community of participants. Emergency AUS has a large base of producers including government and official emergency entities, as well as members of the public. This is a crucial aspect of the App as it is responsible for the increased generation of content.

The produsers backgrounds vary from amateur to professional. Their roles change fluidly as they go from leaders to participants to users. This occurs in Emergency AUS and can be recognised as the success of the App. As users can post warnings and be viewing nearby alerts simultaneously, the App becomes more convenient and relevant than traditional media outlets.

Products are always unfinished, and continuously under development. Emergency AUS embraces this on its’ Facebook page, as producers update warnings to ‘Watch and Act’ or ‘Advice’, and users edit their own posts or comment on others. This activity is collaborative, as information can be challenged and ideas can come together. As a result the App can produce far more accurate and up to date material, highlighting the importance of collective intelligence.

Produsage relies on engagement which is permissive and lenient. Emergency AUS producers hold copyright and intellectual property rights of the content submitted by users. However the success of the App comes from users’ increased participation, as they have the freedom to upload original videos and photographs without breaching copyright. As there is little threat of ‘breaking rules’, the relaxed system encourages users to be producers and provide content for others.

We can see the many benefits of the emerging participatory culture that is produsage. These highlight the importance of creating an open environment, with free sharing and collaboration of information which could in this case save someone’s life.

Image source:

Image source: smh.com.au

 

The power to define cool

Image source: rollingstone.com

Image source: rollingstone.com

The Magazine ‘Rolling Stone‘, is a widely distributed magazine which focuses on both political issues and subjects of popular culture. This particular cover is appealing towards a younger audience. Bruno Mars is a well known musician, admired for his; voice, music, attractiveness, and celebrity status.

We know Rolling Stone is ‘cool’, we think Bruno Mars is ‘cool’. When Rolling Stone shows Bruno Mars smoking, we are being encouraged to think smoking is ‘cool’. When we look at this magazine our brains are automatically associating the image of success with the act of smoking. This text is massively contributing to the debate surrounding the smoking culture of young people, raising questions about introducing laws on the use of cigarettes in popular media.

I think young people who choose to smoke are mostly aware of the negative health implications. We are constantly confronted with campaigns against smoking, in the form of; graphic images on smoking boxes, and powerful television advertisements. Sadly, it only takes one image, such as the one of Bruno Mars smoking, for all of this to become meaningless. All of a sudden people can excuse their behaviour, saying: ‘Bruno Mars smokes and he’s rich and successful’.

“There’s a concern that the media don’t care about the quality of material in the public sphere. They simply want to make money, and so dumb down to the lowest common denominator.” (McKee, 2005)

It’s not shocking or a surprise to see a cigarette appear on the cover of Rolling Stone. This magazine is certainly not disassociated from drug and alcohol culture. Rolling Stone is simply embracing it’s image, and this cover is not unlike many past covers. The producers are not doing anything wrong, and they aren’t even breaking any laws. However, Rolling Stone has influence over millions of people. Therefore, they have a responsibility to acknowledge the effects of their images. This magazine has the ability to send any message, so why not have Bruno Mars holding a guitar or a hat? I’m sure this wouldn’t have the power to define Rolling Stone as ‘uncool’.

Reference

Mckee, A, 2005, ‘Introduction: the public sphere’, An Introduction to the Public Sphere, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 1.

We are the Media

A significant aspect of media convergence has been the transformation of the role of the consumer. We were once seen to be far more passive, as we sat in front of our televisions taking in the information. We are now increasingly active, with access to numerous forms of dialogic media which promote conversations amongst the public. We are so in control of this media, choosing when and where we access what content.

Image source: http://bit.ly/1fO7A67

Image source: notothequo.com

In Emergency AUS, we can see all of this taking place. The App promotes users to post personal observations that can contribute to the news feed. The theory is that this participation will improve safety of the community, as consumers and producers combined will be more effective than producers alone. Ultimately, an App has been created where the audience feeds itself.

As users, we have been empowered with the chance to participate in production of content. The positive implications of this relate to both the interactive experience and the information provided. Initially we are part of the conversation, which can; give us confidence, make us feel included, and be an enjoyable experience. Secondly, we are enhanced by what we learn from the rest of the public: our access to information is increased, we are exposed to instantaneous updates, and we can find more relevant and channelled information.

Image source:

Image source: friendfiler.com

As we have become new types of users there are also negative consequences. The news we are reading may be very far from the truth, as people are given the ability to spread any message they choose. This creates a whole new level of media, where we can not rely on any source without further investigation and exploring of opposing views. These problems are widely managed by those known as ‘gatekeepers’. These include editors and producers, anyone/thing that is put in place to slow the information down and verify and edit it before it is broadcast. However, on the Web it is impossible for everything to be controlled, and there are also many platforms and devices emerging with very relaxed rules and monitoring of what can be posted. This is certainly the greatest threat of user empowerment.

In emergency situations, mobile phones have allowed people to immediately document what is happening, as well as share photos and videos. It has been questioned to what extent this use of mobile phones is challenging the conventional and official sources of information.(Gordon, 2007) I think the producers of Emergency AUS have recognised this reality, and incorporated it into a platform that can be managed and controlled by higher levels of authority.

It is clear we can no longer separate the Media from ourselves, as we continue to; share, produce, modify, and influence it. There can be some very unethical and unreliable content circulating, therefore we need to take responsibility for our participation. We currently have incredible access to free platforms, allowing us to reach a massive audience. I think we are wasting our time sharing photos of cats, when we can be informing others of real-life issues.

Reference

Gordon, Janey (2007), The Mobile Phone and the Public Sphere: Mobile Phone Usage in Three Critical Situations, Convergence 13/3 Pages: 307-319.

Ripe Intelligence, 2012. Emergency AUS. [online] Available at: <http://ripeintel.info/ProductsAndServices/EmergencyAus/>. [Accessed 30 March 2014].

 

Tensions of a locked-flowing App

We are all part of media convergence everyday- as we access content across various platforms, logging out of one network and into the next. This media convergence is more than a simple technological shift. It alters the relationship between existing technologies, industries, markets, genres, and audiences. (Jenkins, 2004)

When observing this idea of convergence, I see a significant change with the emergence of participatory media culture. In the past, media technologies featured the producers as the only source of information distribution. They now utilise interactions between producers and consumer to generate content. Jenkins refers to the ability of consumers to bring the flow of media more under their control through interacting with the mass market. The two sides can effectively reinforce each other and create more rewarding outcomes. This closely resembles the concept behind the App Emergency AUS, where both the producer and the users interact and contribute to production.

Technological advances have allowed for the creation of an App with the power to save lives. In my opinion Emergency AUS combines an ‘open’ platform with ‘closed’ aspects in a clever way to improve communication. However, I must admit that tension is created when a platform fails to deliver on it’s responsibilities of control. For example, Emergency AUS producers “endeavour to ensure all content is accurate and current”, but users’ comments suggest this is not good enough: “People putting in fake observations for various locations, Unfortunately it clogs up the really useful information”. I think this is where free-flowing content can be dangerous, especially in an App where a false warning could lead to an unsafe decision being made in a crucial evacuation situation. This reflects upon our fear of unreliable information, and our tendency to seek out devices which are more controlled and can be trusted.

Image source: emergencyaus.info

Image source: emergencyaus.info

As the media continues to evolve, we will see existing forms of media change dramatically. Providers will be increasingly adopting dialogic devices that allow us to have our say. We will become even bigger participants in distribution of information. At the same time the need for locked features, such as copyright laws and consequences, will be more crucial in limiting the damage caused by our interference. We obviously have no control over the form that technologies take, we can only control how we use them. In the case of applications like Emergency AUS, it is our responsibility to conform to the closed aspects and not abuse our fundamental power as Prosumers.

 

 

Reference

Jenkins, Henry (2004), The cultural logic of media convergence, International Journal of Cultural Studies, Volume 7(1): 33-43.

Ripe Intelligence, 2012. Emergency AUS Terms of Use.[online] Available at: <http://www.emergencyaus.info/legal/>. [Accessed: 1 April 2014].

Itunes, 2013. Emergency AUS Customer Reviews .[online] Available at: <https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/emergency-aus/id567636545?mt=8>. [Accessed: 29 March 2014].

When your opinion isn’t yours

We observe and absorb media every day, and sometimes we rely solely on this information to make judgements and form our opinions. But what if we were to question who controlled this media? In doing this we also have to think about the percentage of the media they control. The issue of cross-media concentration, where large companies or wealthy individuals can own a vast array of media is very concerning.

Who controls the media can have the power to determine the message that we receive. In an article by Malcom Fraser, he refers to Gina Rinehart (the largest shareholder of Fairfax) taking control of The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald. “What can we expect? Oppositions to the Emissions Trading Scheme, oppositions to the Minerals Resource Rent Tax. Policies that will support unbridled profits of great mining enterprises.” This is a reflection of the fear of our news being shaped by a powerful person’s political, economical, and business motives.

As foreign investors take over local media institutions our news is becoming globalised, and stories are in the interest of other nations, not Australia’s. Allowing overseas companies to buy into radio or television stations can give them a powerful tool for propaganda, and the information we are being fed is tailored to suit there motives.

Australia’s ranking on a world scale of press freedom is low, and our media is among the most highly concentrated in the world. When people like Rupert Murdoch are the owners of so many forms of media, it is possible for us to; watch the television, listen to the radio, and read the newspaper; and be exposed to the same point of view. We as the public are only subject to a small number of opinions, and when a single storyline generates the same view over and over again, it can be hard to not believe what we are being told.

Ultimately, we need to have diverse ownership to achieve quality and variety in our media. It will allow for freedom of expression, and most importantly create a more informed public who are in control of choosing their own side of the story. Regarding the question of ‘Why is it important who controls the media’, the importance of it all is simply recognising that it can be controlled. We can be reading something that is false or swayed in a particular direction, and we need to act upon this by exposing ourselves to as many forms of media as possible and draw upon other sources, such as; people’s opinions, facts, and real-life experiences; because there is more to the story than the media.

 

Image source: heraldsun.com

Image credit: http://ab.co/1ltv1ZU

Image source: abc.net.au

 

Reference

Hart, E., 2011,Case Study 6: Media Ownership. Media and Journalism: New approaches to Theory and Practice, Oxford Univerity Press, 2nd edn, pp.400-408.