Well, I think I’ve officially finished my blog, and now I’m feeling slightly compelled to summarise what it’s taught me. Lame? Maybe a little. But hey, it’s my party and I’ll blog if I want to!
If there’s one thing Net Communications has, well, communicated, it’s that the digital age is only going to infiltrate more and more facets of our lives. From the music industry, to copyright, from the route we take to work each morning to, more obviously, how we contact our friends and family; technology and more specifically the internet, will continue to attempt to convenience our daily routine in ways we never even vaguely imagined possible. But how successful is this attempt? Well, responses are quite varied, as our tutes have shown. Issues such as piracy, constant surveillance, censorship, and the decrease in physical interaction are heavily linked with the increased use of the internet in our society, and I fear this will continue to plague society . Some Net Comm lectures and readings have freaked me out, making me want to immediately jump onto Facebook and de-tag every single photo of me from Arts Camp. (..Actually, upon further consideration, I should probably do that anyway, haaa.)
But ultimately, I leave this course (well, hopefully.. that is assuming I pass!!) with a feeling of positivity towards the digital age. Sure, I’m still going to stream episodes of Jersey Shore online. I’m still going to stand up for peer-to-peer file sharing networks and hey, I may even still keep my old Facebook privacy settings because frankly, I kind of can’t be bothered working out how to change them (naive? Probably.) Yet conversely, I’m more aware of the vital role the net is playing in our lives and more importantly, I’m much more informed on my rights in this crazy world wide web. This internet community is a crazy one; it’s confusing and humongous and fascinating and scary all at the same time.. but it’s so important to understand its increasing link with ‘real’ society.
So thanks, Net Comm, for the interesting food for thought. Honestly, I’m probably going to delete this blog at the end of the semester, and my Twitter account too, because that whole ‘digital footprint’ thing freaks me out like crazaaay. But I’ll keep the memories forever 😉
ASSESSED POST (WEEK 9):
Burgess and Green argue that: ordinary people who become celebrities through their own creative efforts “remain within the system of celebrity native to, and controlled by, the mass media” (Reader, page 269).
There can be no doubting of the power of internet celebrities, or more affectionately, “cewebrities”. Most commonly discovered through YouTube and other online video sources, these regular, everyday people grasping fame through their uploaded videos are finding themselves with an increasingly prominent position in today’s mass media; their names and creative projects splurged over newspaper headlines, viral emails, discussion forums and even television programs. One could go so far as to argue that these ordinary citizens are the face of a new generation of stars, finding fame through their own means rather than being followed endlessly by paparazzi and pushed by agents like the traditional star. Viral sensations such as Rebecca Black of ‘Friday’ fame, Antoine Dodson of ‘Hide yo’ kids, hide yo’ wives…’ and Chris Crocker of ‘Leave Britney Alone!’ have proved to be so popular not only from their unique videos, but from their apparent ‘everydayness’- the viewer relating to the natural and somewhat genuinely authentic circumstances in which the video was created and uploaded. Indeed, a lot can be said in the merit of acknowledging these regular human beings as celebrities, rather than obnoxious divas caught up in the fake and materialistic society of Hollywood stardom.
And yet despite the simplicity, authenticity, and even democracy of these “cewebrities”‘ practices, it can be argued that this new generation of stars are not part of the celebrity culture generated and dominated by the mass media. As Burgess and Green assert, entrance into the exclusive ‘Celebrity Club’ is secured not through online popularity, but through “gate-keeping mechanisms of old media- the recording contract, the film festival, the television pilot, the advertising deal.” (2009:24). This is where these “cewebrities” are left hanging in cyberspace: their fame may have millions of online views, but, as Burgess and Green commentate, they are simply “famous for doing something in particular very well, even if that something is unlikely to accrue prestige in the traditional media or arts industries.” (2009:24)
An example that immediately springs to my mind is Keenan Cahill, a 16-year-old teenager who uploaded videos of himself lip-syncing to popular songs such as Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ and Katy Perry’s ‘Teenage Dream’; some of which have received over 40 million views.
Essentially, Cahill is a YouTube sensation because his videos make us laugh- he can get a little too into the lyrics and his confident dance moves are quite unique. He’s been featured on MTV, interviewed by Chelsea Lately, and even collaborated with ‘real’ stars such as 50 Cent, but this sudden popularity online doesn’t automatically make Cahill a celebrity. Although he’s recognizable on our computer screens, he hasn’t quite made the transition from what Couldry (2003, in Burgess and Green (2009:22) labels the ‘ordinary word’ and the ‘media world.’ I can’t imagine Who Weekly will be publishing photos of him shopping for groceries next to a picture of say, Cameron Diaz frolicking on the beach.
As Burgess and Green observe, “YouTube has its own, internal system of celebrity based on and reflecting values that don’t necessarily match up neatly with those of the ‘dominant’ media.” (2009:24) There’ll always be an opportunity for a wannabe celebrity to broadcast themselves into internet stardom, but the real system of celebrity can only be cracked by those supported by members of the mainstream media.
Burgess, Jean and Green, Joshua (2009). ‘YouTube and the Mainstream Media,’ in YouTube: Online and Participatory Culture. Cambridge: Polity Press.
The highly anticipated new Coldplay single was released yesterday, entitled “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall.” Being a huge Coldplay fan, I was able to hear the amazing tune the moment it hit the radio… Oh YouTube, how I love you.
However, what I found most impressive was the lead up to the release. As we debated early on in the Net Communications course, the internet can potentially murder the music industry through the abundance of illegal downloading and peer-to-peer file sharing networks. But in this instance, I’ve got to assert that the world wide web has done nothing but promote awareness and anticipation. I ‘liked’ Coldplay on my Facebook, meaning, as I’m sure you know, that I receive occasional updates from the band’s management team on my News Feed. A few days before the new song’s release, videos such as this one below started popping up on my page; little snapshots of the tune serving as a teaser.
In just a few hours, each video had 90-100 THOUSAND views, sparking huge discussion over the details of the song. Fans were in a frenzy, setting dates in their diaries for the release, listening to old Coldplay hits in preparation, etc etc.. all from a quick few YouTube video postings. I know that there are many criticisers out there hating on the internet for the sheer accessibility of free music, but really, as this latest case demonstrates.. what’s the harm in a little publicity?
ASSESSED POST (WEEK 5):
Analyse critically the following statement (0:26-0:39) by Mark Zuckerberg while comparing it to privacy issues raised by online social networking collaborative practices:
For someone as intelligent as Mark Zuckerberg, this statement seems awfully idealistic.
Now to “when people share more, the world becomes more open and connected, and in a more open world, many of the biggest problems we face together will become easier to solve.” I’m not denying that the simplicity and accessibility of social networking has its perks. The amount of open Facebook events out there petitioning against important social issues such as animal cruelty and homophobia is fantastic to see, and so effective in raising awareness. But Zuckerberg is forgetting one key fact in this equation. The notion of ‘openness’ does not necessarily equate to honesty or, essentially, ‘friendship’. As Solove asserts, due to the association of online ‘friendship’ with social status and popularity, “a friend on a social network is not necessarily a close friend” (2008:26). In the spirit of online democracy and freedom, we are all treated equally. But, as Solove critiques, “few social network sites allow users to distinguish between close friends and mere acquaintances.” (2008:27). Would we feel comfortable showing photos of our latest holiday to our best friend? For sure! But how about giving them to some random friend-of-a-friend you vaguely remember meeting out at a club one night? Mmm… I’m going to guess ‘no’ on that one. But unfortunately, that’s the way social networking collaborative practices operate.
Does allowing ambiguous acquaintances to hear how we hate cramming for exams or how excited we are for the Wombats concert truly assist mankind in “solving our biggest problems?” Seriously, Zuckerberg. It’s time for reality. Surely increasing the availability of personal information raises more issues than it fixes.
Boyd, Danah (2008). ‘Facebook’s Privacy Trainwreck: Exposure, invasion and Social Convergence’. Convergence: The International Journal into New Media Technologies 14.4.
Solove, Daniel J. (2008). ‘How the Free Flow of Information Liberates and Constrainus Us’. In The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumour and Privacy on the Internet. New Haven: Yale University Press.
So I’m going to be perfectly honest with you, Net Comm blog. When I first heard about Creative Commons in lectures and tutorials, I kind of zoned out a little bit. Sure, copyright licenses seemed important to bigger projects like books or movies or songs, but to me, the protection of the work of my little university blog assessment didn’t really seem that important. I kind of brushed the whole concept aside and went back to what I was more comfortable with- topics like social networking, piracy, music distribution and citizen journalism.
Well, Net Communications, look who’s come crawling back. Hey there. I’ve jumped off my high horse, read a little more into it and finally seen the light. Sure, as Week 10’s readings by Garcelon (2009) suggest, although I’ve got automatic intellectual property rights (the right to my own ideas), unless I put a license on what I create, I’m not very protected when it comes to distribution or reproduction. And that unnerved me a little bit. I’m in no way saying what’s written here on this blog is super important- sure, I value my opinion and I’m proud of my work- but in the long run, I can’t imagine anyone’s really going to quote these ramblings in an essay or use a phrase of mine in a song or something. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t protect what I’ve got. Upon thinking about it, I would definitely chuck a tantie if I saw my work uncredited on some random website or in a magazine.
So that’s why I chose to, like pretty much everybody else here on this Net Communications task, embed a Creative Commons license to this blog.
I’ve had a look at all the different choices and decided upon CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 (see above picture!). This means that people are free to share (‘to copy, distribute and transmit the work’). That’s fine by me. Sharing is caring. If one of my posts leads to a greater understanding or awareness of a topic, awesome. Glad I could help out. As well as this, the license allows my work to be remixed. At first I wasn’t thrilled at the idea of this and considered disallowing this one, but upon further consideration, I reminded myself how much I love mashups of quotes from cult movies like ‘Mean Girls’ and ‘Harry Potter’. Why not?! I’ve got nothing to lose.
BUT, my work must be attributed back to me. I’ve put solid time and effort into this blog. I don’t care if it sounds selfish, no way is somebody else going to take credit for it. It also must be used for non-commercial purposes, and if you choose to distribute my work it must be under a similar license to my own Creative Commons copyright.
Ahhh. I feel like a weight’s been lifted off my shoulders. Now that my license is protecting my work, I can get back to business 😉
I’ve just seen this incredible news article on ninemsn.com and felt compelled to share it with my Net Comm buddies! You can read the article here (http://news.ninemsn.com.au/world/8256855/teenager-sells-one-of-his-kidneys-for-an-ipad2), but basically the gist of it is that a 17 year old Chinese boy, Xiao Zheng, sold one of his kidneys to a supposedly very shifty, illegal agent for 22,000 yen (US $3,900) so that he could buy an iPhone and an iPad 2. How crazy is that?!!
Image source: http://www.geeky-gadgets.com/china-ipad-2-sells-out-in-four-hours-09-05-2011/
The more I think about it, the more it saddens me. Firstly, of course it’s heartbreaking that this young boy felt that literally selling a part of his body was the only option he had to raise enough money to purchase what he wanted. Furthermore, it’s terrible such organ-trading organisations exist on the black market and that Zheng was able to access these advertisements online. But what is similarly concerning to me is that Zheng wanted these technological devices SO badly, he resorted to such an extreme to purchase them. As the ninemsn article said, Apple devices are seen as “status symbols” in China. It’s not just China though, it’s everywhere. This story alerted me to e the sheer influence Apple’s products have over us, subconscious or blatant. Opening up your MacBook at uni or whipping out your iPhone on the bus home suggests today that you’re modern, cool, sophisticated, affluent, and cultured- everything Zheng clearly wanted to embody. I fear this emphasis on owning technological gadgets as a symbol of status and modernity will only increase as society becomes more and more reliant on technology, Internet, and the products of Steve Jobs.
ASSESSED POST (WEEK 7):
Lovink (Reader, page 222) also argues that: “No matter how much talk there is of community and mobs, the fact remains that blogs are primarily used as a tool to manage the self”.
I can’t help but feel that Lovink’s comment that “blogs are primarily used as a tool to manage the self” (2008:28) was highly generalised. Sure, I’m not denying there are thousands of self-absorbed bloggers out there uploading photos of their latest meal or travel destination or new pair of Manolo Blahnik’s, desperate to join the ever-increasing club of Internet Celebrity. I’ll be the first to raise my hand and say yes, I too use my Facebook to project a certain ‘cooler’ image of myself. Online narcissism- we’re all guilty of it! In that sense, I see Lovink’s point. In his own words, “the essence of a blog is not the interactivity of the medium: it is the sharing of the thoughts and opinions of the blogger” (2008:28). We don’t post these things to purely encourage the communities within these mediums; we do it to exchange information in a way that reflects ourselves- or at least, a version of ourselves.
But I’ve got to stand up for the variety out there in the big bad blogosphere. Lovink himself admits not to “just think of the American pantheon of blog heroes, or the trashy, frivolous and studiously non-serious Myspace.com if you want to get an insight into the specifics of this particular technology” (2008:3). Yes, there are the Perez Hilton’s that use their blogs to convey who-cares information with a strong underlying tone of self-promotion, but it’s stereotypical. Equally, there are so many blogs that encourage and support online communities rather than focus on managing the self. I wouldn’t go so far as to label it blogging altruism, but I believe many care more about the information and ideas they are sharing and the discussion that they trigger, rather than attempting to turn the spotlight back towards themselves. Take the successful blog ‘PostSecret’ (www.postsecret.blogspot.com), set up by Frank Warren in 2005.
This blog “community” collects and displays anonymous postcards physically mailed in to Warren by readers that are decorated with a deep, dark secret the writer would like to emotionally deal with, but not publicly face up to. In a 2007 interview, Warren stated that he began the weblog not to draw attention to his genius artistic talent, but “to create a place where people could feel free to share their private hopes, desires and fears… where the secrets they could not tell their friends and family would be treated with dignity in a non-judgmental way.”
Furthermore, Warren said he found inspiration in “how new communication technologies like blogs and virtual communities are creating the potential for new kinds of conversations.” He’s a reluctant celebrity, refusing to go on talk-shows and cash in on his weblog, but has teamed up with numerous depression and suicide prevention organisations and released three books full of these postcards solely to raise awareness of issues often mentioned in these ‘secrets’ such as anxiety disorders and domestic violence. Does this seem like a blogger regularly posting his readers’ intimate art forms to primarily manage himself? I don’t think so. Sounds a real, all-accepting online community formed through the inclusive process of discussion and networking via a blog, to me. Maybe the internet isn’t filled with self-absorbed Generation Y’ers documenting their every move. Maybe, just maybe, blogs are being used for the greater good.
Maybe I’m naïve but personally, the sentiment of ‘mob formation’ and ‘online citizenship’ in the blogosphere seems much more prominent than that of self-management and promotion. As Warren puts it, “I try to take myself out of PostSecret as much as possible… the power comes through the voices on the postcards.” (CNN, 2007). Most blogs aren’t principally for boasting and showing off. They’re for sharing passions and ideas, memories and predictions, hopes, fears, controversies, truths, and secrets with those who want to listen.
Kawasaki, Guy (2007). ‘Ten Questions with PostSecret’s Frank Warren’, How to Change the World. http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2007/10/ten-questions-w.html#axzz1OCgrS7RH [accessed 3 June 2011]
Lovink, Geert (2008). Blogging, the Nihilist Impulse’, in Zero Comments: Blogging and Critical Internet Culture. London: Routledge.
Leopold, Todd (2007). ‘The Secrets People Reveal’, CNN Online. http://articles.cnn.com/2007-01-30/entertainment/postsecret.warren_1_postsecret-postcards-public-art-project?_s=PM:SHOWBIZ [accessed 3 June 2011]