Thursday, 23 December 2010

Politicians struggling to cope with that interwebby thing

Good article from Colin Jacobs who heads up Electronic Frontiers Australia:

Besides liking to get their picture in the newspaper, the politicians of the world have something in common: They are struggling with the internet.

http://www.thepunch.com.au/

The Christmas Spirit (from my "What The ?!" files)

Yesterday I rang my grandmother around 10am to confirm lunch with her on Christmas Eve.  This has been a tradition in recent years, largely due to the fact that my mother is an unusual human being who hasn't spoken to any of her children, grandchildren or ex-husband for several years.  As a result I and my immediate family are un-invited to any "real" family events such as Christmas Day, Easter Sunday and my grandmother's birthday that are attended by said mother, grandmother, auntie and cousins, so instead we make arrangements on different days close by (I'm actually OK with this).

Imagine my surprise (uh-huh) when my grandmother advised that Christmas Eve lunch was going to be "difficult" this year.  A combination of auntie moving to the country recently, "real" family Christmas Day lunch at her house, mother being sick and grandmother unable to drive herself that far, cousin driving grandmother to country on Christmas Eve instead, Nicky being "rescheduled" (yet again) as a solution to all these woes.  Yes, imagine my surprise.

Taking into account the time of year and that I'm currently running 2 children who have been in 2 different places all year, work, study which doesn't stop over Christmas, building a house and a husband that works long hours, I managed to slot in a quick visit yesterday, after 11.30am doctor's appointment but before grandmother's 3pm Christmas party event.

So my morning went like this:

10am - phone call
10.15am - rushed to post office & supermarket, 2 kids in tow.
11.00am - rushed home, put shopping away.
11.15am - rushed out to doctor's.
11.45am - sat on path outside doctor's surgery while son lay on ground feeling faint.
11.55am - took children home, lay son down on bed with water.
12.00pm - asked son if he was OK to visit or if we should cancel. Son OK.
12.10pm - jumped into car and braved Bell Street (very busy).
12.20pm - McDonald's drive-thru for lunch.  Stopped for 3 minutes in carpark to wolf down burger.  Continued on.
1.00pm - arrived at grandmother's, feeling a little chuffed at achievements thus far in day.
1.01pm - got chewed out for being "late" and not calling.
*sigh*

And people wonder why the Christmas spirit is not strong in me :>

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

WEB207 - Topic 1.3 - Music

As a long-time Internet user, I was mildly offended/vaguely amused by Kot's "Before Napster, downloading music on MP3 files was a relatively esoteric pursuit reserved for only the most dedicated music geeks.".  Ha! I've never considered myself to be a dedicated music anything but I confess to having a substantial MP3 collection long before Napster ever appeared.  So I suppose I'll wear the "geek" part... Tongue out  It IS true to say that Napster helped me find music I'd never listened to before, and I did buy quite a few CDs as a result of stuff I found on there, which was definitely one of the benefits of Napster at that time because up until then you either had to go into a shop, hope to find a friend to borrow a record from or listen to the radio for hours on end and hope you'd get to hear what you wanted to hear.  But at the same time, I downloaded a lot of music that I never ended up buying and I can see how that was a challenge to the record labels.  I do remember the Metallica-uproar, and all the anti-Metallica sentiment that was going around the file-sharing community at the time.  The funny thing was, I'd never listened to Metallica until then but I went and found a copy of something-or-other to check it out!


1.  Digital communication and distribution create both the benefits and the challenges for the music industry.  Digital enables perfect copies to be made quickly and easily, which allows digital distribution outlets such as ITunes to distribute music in a highly cost-effective manner with relatively little human input, and provides artists with a much wider distribution than they may previously have had by distributing record albums.  At the same time, this also allows users to distribute the same perfect copies illegally.


2.  Current laws were mostly created before digital distribution became a reality, and are woefully inadequate in today's world.  Most of them have no appreciation or allowance for what the Internet can do, and how people use the Internet to access music (and indeed other forms of digital media).  Virtually all are nation-based, while the internet allows users to traverse national borders, therefore rendering most laws obsolete.


3.  Radio is still the quickest and most cost effective way to distribute real-time news, sport and media.  Even though digital devices allow users to personalise their musical playlists and listen to podcasts later on, radio still allows local community and national interaction for live events.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

WEB207 - Topic 1.2 - Film

1. Here are some key quotes and my ideas from the reading:
  • "Unlimited selection has led to a complicated scenario in which unlimited choice runs up against an incredibly crowded marketplace".

  • "there is certainly the risk that what Wajcman refers to as "virtual communities of choice" will only serve to reinforce cultural homogeneity and exclusivity because participants may seek out only those opinions that reinforce their own perspectives on the world".

  • Movie piracy - "As digital distribution was increasingly becoming a possiblity, debates frequently focused on internet piracy".

  • "the convenience of watching movies at home takes movie watching from something associated with effort to something associated with domestic space" - friendships with other customers and store clerks, the "tactile quality of picking up videotapes and DVDs for examination" is lost.

  • "Netflix has over 100,000 titles in its catalogue, it currently has the rights to stream only about 10,000 titles via it's Watch Now player and set-top box" - and isn't legally available in Australia.

  • "the paradox of choice" - the frustration that many consumers face in response to having too many choices.

  • "audience enthusiasm has not necessarily translated into financial stability".
2. Yes, anybody could make a film, just as anybody could write a book or paint art or create a sculpture - but the media they're creating has to be both compelling enough material, and told skillfully enough, to capture an audience's attention.  The fact that it's easier now to produce new media is counteracted by the other fact that there's now so much more competition.  I still think that, like good blogs and good books, the cream rises to the top.  Internet sites like YouTube can assist that process.

The other point to make is, that not every filmmaker wants "Hollywood success", as Tryon describes when discussing the Mumblecore filmmakers, who have distanced themselves from the Sundance Film Festival "which they define as too commercial and too unforgiving for the truly independent filmmaker".  So the Internet has also given these filmmakers the opportunity to gather a niche audience away from Hollywood that they otherwise may not have been able to gain, while also providing those audiences with a wider variety of choice than they previously had.

3. Here are some key quotes and my ideas from the article that I feel help to answer to this question:
  • "ultimately, the unofficial Internet campaign for Rings taught Hollywood much about how fans could promote a blockbuster."

  • "Although some of these sites were doing things of which New Line disapproved, all of them were publicizing Rings."

  • "Like the film itself, the Internet campaign had to both appeal to the built-in fan base and create a new, larger audience."

  • "The website was covered widely in print, broadcast, and online media, generating additional free publicity."

  • Ian McKellen at McKellen.com - "his diary created an unintended rivalry with Forde's "Force of Hobbit," which contractually had exclusive rights to on-set coverage."

  • "New Line learned from experience and changed its strategy."

  • "In the wake of Rings, a slow shift in the attitude of Hollywood companies has become apparent as they realize the enormous value of the free publicity offered by responsible fan sites."

  • "Some fans seemed already to feel themselves as allied with the director against the Hollywood system."

  • "Knowles and some other webmasters invented the category of professional fan."

  • Fan sites like AICN & TORN initially lost money but now making money via advertising revenue, affiliate links, merchandising, voluntary subscriptions.

  • viral marketing - "New Line discovered the virtues of cooperating and negotiating with fans"

  • the point is not to convince fans to go to the movie, but to convince them to communicate their enthusiasm to others.
Cheers,
Nicky

Monday, 20 December 2010

THE DIGITAL STORY OF NATIVITY - ( or Christmas 2.0 )


Sunday, 19 December 2010

9 Ways to Connect With Santa on the Web

You don't have to head to the North Pole to hook up with Santa this year. There's a sackful of online options that will let your little ones connect with the Claus from the comfort of your own home.

http://mashable.com/2010/12/18/santa-websites-christmas/

Saturday, 18 December 2010

High School: 1957 vs. 2009

Thursday, 16 December 2010

60 Questions to Consider When Designing a Website

We spend a lot of time asking ourselves, our clients and other people questions. Whether it's choosing the perfect shade of green for our latest web layout or figuring out how to implement a complex typographical solution, the ability to ask the right questions is among the most critical of skills for a web designer. In this article, we'll go over 60 specific questions that web professionals should ask before taking their website public.
 
http://sixrevisions.com/web_design/60-questions-to-consider-when-designing-a-website/

Sunday, 12 December 2010

12 Usability Guidelines Every Joomla! Template Should Follow

Friday, 10 December 2010

JPEG 101: A Crash Course Guide on JPEG

Somewhat geeky article about the JPEG compression algorithm for images - hey, it's my blog, I can post what I like :p

http://sixrevisions.com/graphics-design/jpeg-101-a-crash-course-guide-on-jpeg/

Thursday, 9 December 2010

WEB207 - Topic 1.1 - Television

Time-shifting has changed the way I and my family watch TV - I have most of the shows I regularly watch setup to record on FoxtelIQ with the "Series Link" option on, which lets you set-and-forget (digressing slightly, but if you're interested in my recent input to improving "Series Link" please click here), or I download what isn't being shown here yet.  I rarely watch a "live" show any more, although my husband watches a lot of sport live - but even then, he rewinds the exciting bits if and when he feels like it.  But then I look at my Dad and grandmother and it has had very little impact on them.  My grandmother has only just figured out how to record on her VCR and my father still hasn't mastered it!  What has changed is the "watercooler talk", but that isn't entirely due to time-shifting - pay TV and the increased number of available channels has also contributed.  My Dad still has his 4 channels but nowadays when he tells me about a show he watched last night, I either haven't seen it at all, or haven't had time to watch it via the IQ yet.

I think sporting events and certain popular shows are still best to watch live.  In the case of sport it's partly because it's still very difficult to download a sporting event after the fact, and almost impossible to find a free live stream online.  I'm sure this is again a corporate notion, but it's painful.  I remember being in the US in 2008 when Buddy Franklin was due to kick his 100th goal for the season in the AFL, and frantically Googling all over the place trying to find a live stream of the game so I could watch it.  Granted, the actual goal was up on YouTube shortly after so I could watch a replay, but it wasn't the same as watching it live and in the context of the whole game.

As for popular shows - I remember Tama signing off Twitter when the Lost season 6 finale was shown in the US, until it was shown in Western Australia!  Simultaneous broadcasting would certainly be an awesome thing in cases like that. :>

I don't really think that "overflow" has a vast impact on a TV show right now, and because it doesn't happen with every show it's more like an "added bonus" thing.  It's also difficult for Australian's to participate due to the "tyranny of digital distance", as illustrated in the Leaver (2008) reading, because most of these shows aren't shown straight away in Australia and therefore any online participation would happen well after the fact.  This is partly why I downloaded episodes of Heroes for several years, so I could participate in the online stuff that went with the show.  However, I watched all 6 seasons of Lost this year and only really utilised the Lost Wiki to try to understand some of the things that had happened that I was losing track of along the way, so I wouldn't say it's imperative to either have the "overflow", or to utilise it.

I wrote a Blackboard post outlining some of the reasons that the commercial networks in Australia do not simultaneously broadcast shows directly from the US.  Last week I was talking to a TV station manager at a Christmas party  and told him what we've been studying this week.  He said that yes, it's all about commercial reality, and that when new ideas crop up they ask 2 questions - "Can we?" and "Should we?".  The first generally relates to the technology and is usually "yes" and the second relates to commercial reality and is often "no", at least initially, because if there's no money in it then it's not worth doing.  But he also said that they are now being forced to do a lot of new things by the federal government, all the new digital channels, plus anti-siphoning laws, etc.  He didn't mention the NBN but I imagine that will have an impact too.  So I don't really know when all this will happen, but I think it's definitely "when" and not "if".

Cheers,
Nicky

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Thoughts on television

In answer to a question on Blackboard about why commercial networks aren't looking at simultaneous downloading, I posted this:

My husband has a background in TV so I grilled him about this.  What I got from said grilling is that basically, the main barrier to simultaneous broadcasting is all commercial and it's quite complicated.  To break it down a bit (and I hope I got this right, and apologies for the length of the post!):

- There is a distinction between a broadcaster and the owner of a show.  For instance, CBS in the US may commission Jerry Bruckheimer to make a show (like CSI) and it's not CBS's show to sell, it's Bruckheimer's, and it may be HIM making the deal to sell it on to another country's TV network.  However, sometimes the deal IS made by CBS or NBC, but these deals can become quite complicated and may involve clauses such as having to buy 5 shows, and show A, B and C before they're allowed to show D, or "can't show this until x days after US release".  These deals can take a while to work out, as they are worked out on a per-country (or per-network) basis.

- Australian TV networks (ALL TV networks) are commercial entities - they buy a show and then sell advertising slots to help cover the cost of the show they have bought.  So if we watch a show via a download and not via a TV broadcast, the end result is a loss of advertising dollars to that network.

- While a lot of us doing Internet Communications know how to download bittorrents, at the moment broadcast TV is still the main way that a majority of the population view TV shows.  The reality is that it is easier and more cost effective for the commercial networks to cater to a majority and simultaneously do things in a way that suits THEM best, not the individual.  Until more users start downloading and hitting their hip pockets, this isn't likely to change much.  My husband's answer to the question "why can't they do it?" is basically - "they can - but it's not in their interest to do it right now".

- Australian TV networks also influence distribution - they want to show top-rating shows during ratings periods, to get the biggest bang for their buck.  The US ratings season is the opposite of ours - their top shows start in their autumn as school starts, which is when our ratings are winding down for summer.  Traditionally the Australian networks "kept" the good shows to use at the start of our school year, so as to get the best ratings.  The numbers of viewers drop off during summer, with holidays, daylight savings, etc.  As well, they play games with each other, and with us.  Ever noticed how some nights there are a bunch of good shows all on at the same time?  The networks play games, trying to get the highest ratings and therefore the highest revenue.  Sometimes they'll hold back their best show and concede the ratings for that slot to another network, and put their best show on at a different time when there's no competition.  Often they show repeats but don't tell the viewer that they're repeats, so we tune in and *bang*, another rating point for them.  Very sneaky. :>

- Australian TV networks used to watch the US shows and see what was rating well there before buying it for screening here.  So arguably what we used to get was the "best of" from the US.  If it flopped there, chances are we never even saw it or if we did, it was as part of a package deal that was shown in the off-ratings season.

- Sometimes, it can be cheaper for Australian networks to buy shows that are a bit older, so they wait a while.  In recent times, the networks have taken some risks on brand-new shows and bought them before US screening, at arguably a cheaper price.  That's why some shows disappear really quickly nowadays.

I personally think that TV show/video downloads will probably follow a similar path to music downloads.  First they had Napster, then once enough people used it enough to impact the music industry's hip pockets, all the digital rights management stuff appeared and eventually it got a lot harder to download music illegally, and a lot easier to download it legally (Itunes etc).  Then the commercial entities could still make their money, and everyone was happy. :>

Cheers,
Nicky

Why WikiLeaks Is Good for America

"WikiLeaks stands to improve our democracy, not weaken it."

Now how about we all stop trying to shoot the messenger, and instead take a look at the actual message (and perhaps also a quick peek at the shitty "security" measures that allowed the leaks to occur in the first place).

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/12/wikileaks-editorial/

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Open letter: To Julia Gillard, re Julian Assange

"We wrote the letter below because we believe that Julian Assange is entitled to all the protections enshrined in the rule of law and that the Australian Government has an obligation to ensure he receives them."
 
At the time of posting this there are 2149 comments on this post - I haven't read all of them because frankly, I can't keep up!  But from what I've read they are overwhelmingly supportive.  Add your name today.


http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/41914.html

WEB207 - Media Diary Part 1 - Today's Diary

You are asked to keep a diary of your media consumption for a single 24 hour period (ie one day) once during the first two weeks of this unit. At the end of the day, please do a summary of how much time you've spent engaging with different media platforms.

Diary of Monday 6th December 2010

7.00am           Woken up in the usual manner, via "4yo boy alarm clock".
7.20am           Get up, turn on PC.  Check HTC Desire Android smartphone for any urgent overnight email (I only have 2 of my email accounts configured on this, for sanity reasons) or Tweets (I have 3 Twitter accounts, one each for personal interests, my web development business and for school).  Nothing important.  Log into PC and fire up email and Facebook (but no time to check anything yet).  Start getting myself and kids ready.
8.30am           Quick check of email - I have approximately 8 email accounts all downloading into Microsoft Outlook and filtering to various folders, for various interests and business.  Quick churn through Twitter using Yoono, a Firefox plug-in.  Click on a few interesting links for later reading.  Go through eBay searches (for Christmas shopping).  Quick scan of tech newsletters.
8.50am           Rush out the door to deposit kids at school and childcare and pick up mail from PO Box.
9.20am           Head to local shopping centre to attempt to finish Christmas shopping.
9.30am           Arrive at shopping centre.  Tackle David Jones and Big W, looking for a particular Zhu Zhu Pet for my daughter (after failed attempt at different shopping centre yesterday).  Both stores advertised these as being available on their websites at 11pm last night.  As expected, not a Zhu Zhu Pet to be found in either of these stores or in fact anywhere else in the entire shopping centre (not that I walked the entire centre, but another mother I met in Toys R Us had).  Googled "Zhu Zhu Hamster" on my HTC and discovered it was available online, but couldn't complete purchase due to non-mobile website and weird popup window.  Abandoned online shopping attempts, completed several other purchases in stores and gave up on the bricks and mortar "Great Zhu Zhu Pet Search of 2010", and went home.
11.35am         Arrived home.  Google searched "Zhu Zhu Hamster" on PC and immediately found what I was looking for on Fishpond.com.au.  Add to Cart, Checkout and paid for in 3 minutes.  Wonder yet again why I bother shopping in shopping centres when online shopping is so much simpler.  Mixed feelings - happy that I've finally found the thing, but irritated that I wasted 2 hours wandering around a shopping centre (no, I do not love shopping).
11.40am         Checked email while boiling the kettle.  Scanned through Facebook and The Age.  Posted a link about Melbourne's impending locust invasion on Facebook.  Gross.
11.50am         Caught up on Tweets.  Most of the accounts I follow contain links to articles.  Scanned through previously opened articles (from 8.30am), and read a few new ones.  Mostly about Wikileaks and Julian Assange, which has turned into a minor obsession. :>  Posted interesting ABC article about Wikileaks to Facebook.
12.30pm         Stopped for lunch.  Rang my Dad while eating.  Read through a few more emailed techy newsletters.
1.00pm           Continued with WEB207 coursework, which wasn't completed last week due to (a) website rebuild and (b) waiting for brand-new reading glasses to arrive so I could actually read the readings.
1.58pm           Posted outraged link to Twitter and Facebook - "What a load of Mc-Bullsh*t, Mc-paid for and Mc-sponsored by... guess who?" (http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/The-Australian-Way-Video).  Feeling slightly nauseated.
2.00pm           WEB207 coursework.
2.15pm           Corrected one of Tama's typos via Blackboard. Tongue out
3.15pm           Downed tools to go and pick up my daughter from school.
3.45pm           Back home, checked email, Facebook and Twitter.  Got afternoon snack for my daughter and did a bit more WEB207 reading.
4.45pm           Downed tools to go and pick up my son from childcare.  Then home, dinner, kids, etc.
7.15pm until 11.00pm   Back home, checked email, Facebook and Twitter a couple more times.  Continued with WEB207 readings yet again.  Posted a few things to Blackboard.  Showed husband nauseating Oprah McVideo.
11.00pm          Half an hour of "Angry Birds" on my HTC before bed.
11.30pm          Bedtime.

Summary
Via the combined use of my PC and smartphone, I was online all day!  I probably spent about half an hour reading email, about 2 hours reading news, links from Tweets and on Facebook, 3 minutes shopping online, approximately 5 hours on WEB207 work, about an hour on the phone and the rest of the time on Christmas shopping and with my husband and kids.  This is a fairly typical Monday for me, I either work or study or both, but if I'd chosen a different day then it would be very different as my son only goes to childcare a couple of days a week this year.

Monday, 6 December 2010

WEB207 - Topic 1.0 - Introduction

Core Viewing:
Liu, D. (2010) Apple Mac Music Video. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kxDxLAjkO8
Core Reading:
Jenkins, H. (2004). The Cultural Logic of Media Convergence. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 7(1), 33 -43. doi:10.1177/1367877904040603 [Via Library Catalogue]
Manovich, L. (2009). The Practice of Everyday (Media) Life: From Mass Consumption to Mass Cultural Production? Critical Inquiry, 35(2), 319-331. doi:10.1086/596645 [Via Library Catalogue]

1. Jenkins suggests nine areas where the relationships between consumers and producers are changing. What are these, which seem most important, and how far have these new relationships emerged.
    1. Revising audience measurement. An example of where this has happened in Australia recently is within the Australian TV ratings system, known as OzTam.  On 27 December 2009 OzTam introduced the measurement of Time Shift Viewing, which allowed for the capture of ratings for programs viewed at a later date, or that were paused during a live telecast, as well as the original "Live" system.  In some cases this has changed the results of a shows viewing by as much as 14%.

    2. Regulating media content.  Once, media producers aimed to appeal to as many people as possible so content was quite conservative and broadreaching.  Now there is a move towards more narrow, personalised media production.  However, this has resulted in cultural conservatives attempting to impose their own ideals and effectively put things back to "the good old days".  This may help to explain the recent attempts by many international governments, including Australia's, to introduce internet filtering or other ways to regulate content online.

    3. Redesigning the digital economy.  The concept that content will increasingly come with a pricetag, although attempts to enforce this haven't always been successful.  An example that I used in NET102 was Rupert Murdoch's implementation of a paywall around the websites of The Times and The Sunday Times in the UK, which has seen a 90% drop in traffic since it's introduction.  However, sites such as ITunes, which seem to have appeared after this 2006 article was written, seem to fit the theory of a "micropayment system" that would "allow media producers to sell their content directly to consumers, cutting out many layers of middle folk, adjusting prices for the lowered costs of production and distribution in the digital environment".

    4. Restricting media ownership.  Changes to restrictions on media ownership in recent years has seen even greater consolidation of ownership. Although Australia's media ownership laws have remained unchanged for some time, our media is still fairly concentrated between large organisations such as News Ltd, PBL, Fairfax and Telstra.

    5. Rethinking media aesthetics.  Media across multiple channels and the aesthetic implications of this.  For instance, in the case of a TV show like "Lost", the TV show must be self-contained enough to satisfy viewers who only watch the TV show, but additional media such as web-only media can enhance the media and make it more complex for those viewers who want that.

    6. Redefining intellectual property rights.  Jenkins says "In the new media environment, it is debatable whether governmental censorship or corporate control over intellectual property rights poses the greatest threat to the right of the public to participate in their culture".  Couldn't have said it better myself!  There are so many examples of the ludicrosity of copyright - the one I used for an essay in MED104 was the case of Larrikin Music against the Australian rock band Men At Work, which I won't repeat here - but suffice to say, I thought it was a nonsense lawsuit that should never have happened in the first place!

    7. Regnegotiating relations between producers and consumers.  The examples used are the recording industry and the gaming industry, where the first have responded to new technologies like peer-to-peer networking with legal action, and the second have actively engaged with their customers.

    8. Remapping globalisation.  Teens in the developing world use American culture, and teens in the western world are now consuming media such as Japanese anime, Bollywood films and Hong Kong action movies.

    9. Re-engaging citizens.  Using the media for the purposes of activism.

    While I think all these areas are important, since this article was written in 2006 I think the most important areas have become the regulation of content (2) and intellectual property issues (6) - but that could just be that I find them the most interesting!

    2. Manovich suggests a few areas where the most interesting and innovative responses to social media are being produced - what are they, and how might (or might not) these be indicative of new forms of creativity unleashed by digitisation?

    I didn't enjoy this reading as much!  A bit too wordy for my tastes.  But to answer the question - unprecendented growth in social media has led to lots of innovation by both large organisations and also individuals.  Every professional or company, regardless of size and physical location, now has the ability to have a web presence and put their new work online, for viewing by a global audience.  This not only allows individuals to see what others are doing, but also allows them to work with others to develop new tools together.  An example given related to artists and artistic schools, where traditionally one produced work which others then responded to with their own versions of things, but the original did not engage with those who followed.  Today's media practices involve two-way conversations between a wide range of individuals, which arguably can only help to enhance cultural creativity.

    3. Lastly, a much bigger and more personal question: Looking at the unit material, which areas look to be of most interest to you? Why?

    Without going through all of the course material to formulate a complex response at this stage, I suspect that Television and Photography will interest me the most, as both are areas that I already have an interest in.  Regarding Television, my interest isn't so much in watching it, but in how it is produced and how ratings are measured, and the changes that are occurring as a result of new media innovations.  I have also long held a personal interest in Photography, so I am interested to see what we cover in that week's coursework.

    WikiLeaks a blueprint for things to come

    "the failures of WikiLeaks provide the blueprint for the systems which will follow it"
     
    http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/41846.html

    Saturday, 4 December 2010

    The Shameful Attacks on Julian Assange

    "In a memorandum entitled "Transparency and Open Government" addressed to the heads of Federal departments and agencies and posted on WhiteHouse.gov, President Obama instructed that "Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing." The Administration would be wise to heed his words -- and to remember how badly the vindictive prosecution of Daniel Ellsberg ended for the Nixon Administration."

    http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2010/12/the-shameful-attacks-on-julian-assange/67440/

    Tuesday, 30 November 2010

    Monday, 29 November 2010

    WEB207...

    Starting WEB207 this week... as soon as my brand-new reading specs arrive!

    Thursday, 25 November 2010

    RT @rbbayliss: What the web would look like if everything was behind apay wall:

    Sync your files with Dropbox

    And if you join I get more space.

    http://db.tt/QGGu1cd

    Wednesday, 24 November 2010

    Out of the mouths of babes...

    Hmm... today was HOT.  Trekked back to the car which had been parked outside and told Joshua that I was going to open the windows "just for a minute" to let the hot air out while the air conditioner fired up.  Pulled out into the street and I hit the window "up" button.  The rest went like this:

    Joshua:  "Mum, was that one minute?"
    Me:  "Err... yes."
    Joshua:  "Hmm.  Well.  You know when you're on the computer, and I ask you if I can watch TV?  And you say 'in a minute'?  Well that is WAAYY longer!"

    Busted :p

    RT @efa_oz: US Judge bars ‘Fair Use’ defense in Xbox modding trial

    Tuesday, 23 November 2010

    What I'm running on my Android

    LOVE my HTC Desire!  A few people have asked what apps I have - here's the latest list (I can't be bothered trying to link them, just search the names in Android Market and you'll find them easily enough):
    Apps
    • Facebook for Android
    • TweetCaster for Twitter (allows multiple Twitter accounts)
    • ColorNote Notepad Notes (still can't find anything to sync with Outlook Notes)
    • Dropbox (lets me share files betwen PC and phone)
    • KeePassDroid (have KeePass installed on PC and data file in Dropbox - always up-to-date password manager *wheee* geek-heaven!)
    • Google Maps / Google Sky Map / Google Goggles / Street View on Google
    • TinyShark (plays Grooveshark for free)
    • OI File Manager
    • Airplane Toggle / Wifi Toggle / Silent Toggle / Bluetooth Toggle Widgets (from Droidmania - good for quick access on-screen)
    • GPS Toggle Widget (SchreinerDev)
    • Silent Time Lite - lets you configure the phone to automatically go to Silent mode at certain times - I have a "Night" event which makes it all go silent at 10pm each night.
    • SMS Backup - absolutely the best thing ever.  Sends a copy of every SMS you send/receive to your email.
    • Aussie Weather Radar
    • Footy Scoreboard
    • Ashes Cricket Live Score
    • Barcode Scanner (scans QR codes)
    • Unit Converter - Convertpad
    • Adobe Photoshop Express
    • Live Drive (Think Nimble)
    • Bookmarks manager
    Games
    • Angry Birds
    • Angry Birds Seasons
    • Jewels
    • Solitaire
    • Real BlackJack
    • Mahjong
    • Sudoko Free
    What I still need
    A successful, easy, FREE way of syncing Outlook Tasks and Outlook Notes to the Android.  C'mon Microsoft and Google, TALK dammit.  If anybody knows a good way to do this please let me know.

    For a review of my Telstra-branded HTC Desire that I posted on a Telstra message board recently, please click here.

    Saturday, 20 November 2010

    A Life on Facebook


    Have I ever mentioned my geek-lust for @timberners_lee? :P

    Long Live the Web: A Call for Continued Open Standards and Neutrality

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=long-live-the-web

    Friday, 19 November 2010

    Review on my Telstra HTC Desire (Android)

    Originally posted here
     
    I've had my Telstra HTC Desire for 4 months now, after using a variety of smartphones (a new one almost every year) for the last 6-7 years. While it's one of the best phones I've ever had, there are 2 glaring issues which, if I'd known about them beforehand, probably would have made me second-guess this purchase:

    1. Despite the fact that it's supposed to be fully a customisable device, Telstra have hard-coded it so that it is impossible to remove any Telstra-specific apps that you don't want. There is NO way to delete those Telstra apps, which largely do not work if you are using Wi-Fi anyway. This is despite a sales-rep in a Telstra shop assuring me that they COULD be removed. The only way to get rid of them is to flash the ROM with a generic Android ROM, which is a little daunting for most people and apparently voids the warranty anyway. I could understand Telstra putting their own things in, but to make them unremovable makes the whole concept of Android a bit of a joke, and makes we wish I'd bought a generic handset from overseas instead.

    2. HTC Sync, to sync between Outlook and the Desire using a cable, is a complete and utter disaster of an application. I acknowledge that this isn't a Telstra issue, it's an HTC/Google issue. Coming from a WinMobile device where I could sync Calendar, Contacts, Tasks and Notes easily, it was a shock to discover that I can NOT sync Tasks or Notes. Further, the sync randomly randomly corrupts my Outlook contacts each time I sync (and yes, I've tried 3 different versions of HTC Sync). As a result I've done one sync and then turned it off for Contacts, then fixed up all the corrupt entries in Outlook, and now only sync my Calendar. The only thing that makes me dream about my WinMobile days, quite honestly!

    Cheers,
    Nicky

    Why it's good for kids to grow up taking small risks.

    Thursday, 11 November 2010

    Topic 2.4 - The Shaping of Time and Space

    READ
    Harris, Laurel. 2003. Time, space. In Theories of Media (University of Chicago). Archived by WebCite.

    This glossary entry is useful in terms of its discussion of the socially-constructed aspects of time and space, and the role of media technologies in changing our experience and conception of time and space. How are time, space, and the Internet interconnected, how has the Internet affected the way we experience time and space?

    Soraj Hongladarom. 2002. “The Web of Time and the Dilemma of Globalization,” The Information Society 18(4), pp. 241 - 249. In E-Reserve.

    This article is useful in terms of considering the political aspects of time, particularly in relation to the power balance between global and local cultures, as applied to Thai culture. Are there any parallels with your local culture/s?

    DISCUSS:

    1. How has engagement with the Internet affected your experience of time and space?

    2. The mindmap: how well does it represent your learning and understanding of the Internet and everyday life since? Given what you know now, what would you do differently?

    I've moved from an office-based (apparently 9-5 but not really!) job working for an employer, to being self-employed and working from home at all different times of day and night.  This has also enabled me to study online in a similar way.  I read a lot of stuff about work/life balance and people complaining that you can never switch off like you used to, but the Internet has enabled me to work, study AND spend quality time with my kids and achieve the kind of balance that I would never have managed pre-Internet.  Mind you, I do seem to LOSE a lot of time too, reading links from Twitter mostly, which has helped me to expand my knowledge in a lot of areas that I had no previous experience in - but has also helped me on the journey to needing reading glasses!

    Cheers,
    Nicky

    Fairfax boss: Our users prefer us to autoplay video

    Fairfax says that users PREFER videos on their site to play automatically. Have your say at Mumbrella. :> Oh, and if you use Firefox you can install Adblock Plus if you want to block it http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/archive/1554779. (I also use this to block Facebook ads, don't see any of 'em!).

    http://mumbrella.com.au/fairfax-video-pippa-leary-autorefresh-35878

    Wednesday, 10 November 2010

    This is what I'm studying

    This short video introduces the BA (Internet Communications) offered by Curtin University in Perth, Australia. It is designed primarily for students thinking of studying with us through Open Universities Australia.


    Friday, 5 November 2010

    Awesomeness

    Sunsets (Live from the Sunsets Farewell Tour DVD)

    Thursday, 4 November 2010

    How children lost the right to roam in four generations

    When George Thomas was eight he walked everywhere. It was 1926 and his parents were unable to afford the fare for a tram, let alone the cost of a bike and he regularly walked six miles to his favourite fishing haunt without adult supervision.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-462091/How-children-lost-right-roam-generations.html

    Topic 2.3 - The Relationship between Society and Technology

    READ
    Williams, R. & Edge, R. (1997). What is the Social Shaping of Technology?. The Research Centre for Social Science.

    These authors criticise the exaggeration of the inherent qualities of technology. What is SST? What is technological determinism? What does SST offer in contrast?

    AND:
     
    Micah M. White, “Facebook Suicide ,” Adbusters, June 4, 2008. Archived by WebCite.

    This piece for an activist magazine issues a call for to leave Facebook; read the comments as well. What relationships between the control of our social networking information (power), community, identity, profit (economy) and privacy does this highlight?

    DISCUSS
    1. With reference to Facebook, an online game, or any other Internet application or technology, look into how the developers and users negotiate its development:
      1. Are there examples of the developers and the users disagreeing with some change or other? What was the outcome of these?
      2. Have the people using the application found uses that the developers may not have anticipated?
    The Facebook privacy issues were a classic case of Facebook going just that bit too far, and users revolting.  Earlier this year changes to the Facebook platform resulted in everything I had previously clicked "Like" next to suddenly being visible to the whole world next to my name, even though my privacy settings were all set to only allow myself or people on my friend list to see my profile.  And there was no way to stop that from showing.  So I went in and removed all of my Likes (although I've since put some back, but now they're all carefully "neutral" or "professional", in case they decide to do it again one day).  There were people all over the world threatening to leave Facebook, which resulted in this email from Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, to a friend (intriguingly, the friend questions his own right to publish the email, and only does so when Mark gives him permission, which I found quite hilarious at the time - I was wondering what excuse Mark could possibly come up with to make his friend protect his privacy!)


    http://scobleizer.com/2010/05/23/when-do-you-throw-a-ceos-privacy-under-the-bus/

    The privacy issue was covered in the media and finally Facebook announced that they would be "Making Control Simple", which I thought was really a very subtle way of saying "we stuffed up".


    http://blog.facebook.com/blog.php?post=391922327130

    This was reported in what I considered to be a more HONEST way by many media outlets:


    http://www.itwire.com/your-it-news/home-it/39398-facebook-backs-down

    Google has also encountered privacy problems with applications such as StreetView and Buzz, resulting in lawsuits by various governments including Australia, Canada and the European Union.
    To answer the second part of this question, the best example I could think of was Twitter, with users creating the @username and #hashtag, but now that I've logged into Blackboard I see that William beat me to it!

    Cheers,
    Nicky

    Wednesday, 3 November 2010

    We're sorry for claiming Captain Kirk was in command of CaptainPicard's starship

    Friday, 29 October 2010

    Topic 2.2 - Community and Identity

    READ
    Shafi, Can a Virtual Community be any different from the experience of a Real Community?” Incoherent Thoughts, December 13, 2005. Archived by WebCite.

    This blog post expresses the author's initial reservations about virtual community, and then moves on to a more positive stance on their possibilities. This highlights the normative use of the word community, that is, beyond being a way of describing a set of social relations, 'community' often implies certain values and expectations. What do you associate with the term, 'community,' and are these things available in both online and face to face types of community?

    Don Slater. (2002). Social Relationships and Identity Online and Offline. In Leah A. Lievrouw, Sonia M. Livingstone & Sonia M. Livingstone (Eds.), Handbook of New Media (pp. 533-546). In E-Reserve.

    This chapter in a student textbook on new media interrogates the distinctions between offline and online and provides examples of the changes in the way social relationships are formed and maintained, and identity is constructed.

    DISCUSS
    1. Discuss, in relation to an online community of your choice:
      1. How is this a 'community' (and what is a community)?
      2. Connections and gaps between the world of this community and face to face life.
      3. Who are the 'powerful' in this community, and how was this power acquired?
      4. Is there a difference between 'virtual' and 'real' life? What do these terms mean, nowadays?
    2. Pick 1 topic (e.g. dating) and list examples of the way the Internet has, in terms of your topic, become part of our everyday in terms of community, power, economy and identity.
    Shafi defines a community as “a group of people having common interests” (Shafi, 2005) and Zhang defines a virtual community as "communities formed through computer-mediated communications" (Zhang & Tanniru, 2005).  I've chosen to examine Facebook, which is the second-largest website in the world (Facebook, 2010) with currently over 500 million users across the globe (Alexa.com, 2010).  Facebook allows "communications between people who are spatially dispersed", or "disembedded" (Slater, 2002); that is, it enables friends and family in different geographic locations to communicate with each other online.
    There are some similarities between "real life" and an online community such as Facebook.  Facebook demands that you use your real name when joining, which removes some of the anonymity, or "disembodiment" (Slater, 2002), of earlier Internet-based communications such as IRC and ICQ and arguably makes it less detached and more "real" than those earlier communication platforms.  It allows you to control who can and can't view your personal profile, which is similar to you controlling who you do and don't tell things to in the real world. and you can also control what you actually say.  Some may argue that you only see what people want you to see on Facebook, but I think that's true in real life too - if I'm having a bad day then I'm just as unlikely to wander around the streets telling people as I am to post it on my Facebook page.

    There are also some obvious differences.  After many years of travelling I have many friends scattered across the globe, who previously I would only hear from a few times a year via a lengthy email.  Now that they are Facebook friends I can keep up with them on a far more immediate basis.  In some cases too, I've learned more about individuals via their Facebook pages than I ever knew about them from real life.  The biggest problem I have nowadays is if a friend ISN'T on Facebook - it has become so easy to post an update about something in my life on my Facebook profile and letting 100+ know something simultaneously, that I sometimes forget to then contact those individuals who aren't on Facebook.

    I think the power behind Facebook lies equally between Facebook themselves, and also users.  Facebook has access to the personal information of over 500 million people and, as was discussed in last week's iLecture (Kent, 2010), the fact that Facebook is free to use only means that they aren't selling Facebook to individuals but are instead collecting our data as a way of selling Facebook advertising to us.  However, Facebook itself is of no value if nobody uses it, and the public outcry (Swan, 2010) last year over the way they handled user privacy resulted in changes to privacy controls (Zuckerberg, 2010).

    I think that the terms "virtual and "real life" nowadays really refer to what Slater calls “face-to-face embodied interaction” and "disembodiement" (Slater, 2002).  Traditional ideas of community have changed - community is now less about geographic location and much more about common interest (Shafi, 2005).

    Alexa.com. (2010). Top Sites - The top 500 sites on the web.  Retrieved November 1, 2010, from http://www.alexa.com/topsites
    Facebook. (2010). Facebook Statistics, from http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics
    Kent, M. (2010). The Internet and Everyday Life: Power and Economy.  Retrieved from http://dbs.ilectures.curtin.edu.au/lectopia/lectopia.lasso?ut=3152
    Shafi. (2005, December 13). Can a Virtual Community be any different from the experience of a Real Community?  Retrieved from http://shafisaid.wordpress.com/2005/12/13/can-a-virtual-community-be-any-different-from-the-experience-of-a-real-community/
    Slater, D. (2002). Social Relationships and Identity Online and Offline. In L. Lievrouw & S. Livingstone (Eds.),In Handbook of New Media (pp. 533-546): Sage Publications Ltd.
    Swan, D. (2010). Facebook backs down  Retrieved May 27, 2010, from http://www.itwire.com/your-it-news/home-it/39398-facebook-backs-down
    Zhang, Y., & Tanniru, M. (2005). An agent-based approach to study virtual learning communities, pp. 11c.
    Zuckerberg, M. (2010, May 27). Making Control Simple.  Retrieved from http://blog.facebook.com/blog.php?post=391922327130

    Thursday, 28 October 2010

    Topic 2.1 - Power and Economy

    READ
    Brendan Gilbert et al., Web Content/Social Networking, Blog, Corporate Power in New Media, May 14, 2008. Archived by WebCite.

    This student blog states, "People's barriers are down and they fail to realize the extent to which corporations affect their online behavior". How true is this statement?

    Mansell, R. (2004). Political Economy, Power and New Media. New Media & Society, 6(1), 96-105. In E-Reserve.

    This scholarly article makes the case for analysis and research into the political and economical aspects of the Internet. Note down the reasons Mansell gives and think of examples to illustrate.

    DISCUSS
    1. Power operates in many ways on the Internet, let's take one example, that of Internet access, to discuss power (no more than half a page):
      1. Are there limits to when, what (sites), how much, and where you access the Internet?
      2. How can you transgress those limits and what are the possible consequences?
      3. Is it possible to lose your access and what are the ways this might happen?
    2. How do economic relationships conflict with or support existing power structures through the Internet? Choose an example from your first module and discuss on the discussion boards.
    Author: Nicole Veitch
    Posted date: Wednesday, October 27, 2010 2:27:29 PM WST
    Last modified date: Wednesday, October 27, 2010 2:27:29 PM WST
    Total views: 3  Your views: 3


    The corporation that bothers me the most is Google.  The best example I've seen that demonstrates just how far they've wormed their way into our lives via the Internet, is this video:

    http://hungrybeast.abc.net.au/stories/beast-file-google

    At the time I came across this (it may have been part of an earlier subject, I can't remember now!), it was labelled "Google is Skynet" (for anyone who has watched the Terminator movies or TV series).

    While everything Google offer is "free", there are so many strings attached that a lot of people never think about.  I use Gmail, I have an Android phone with a bunch of Google apps on it, and I've used Adwords and Adsense for business, Maps, Earth... the list goes on and on.  All of them are "free" and once you've got a Google login then you can use it for everything so it's easy, no need to remember a bunch of different passwords.  But the other side of that is, everything you do is under a single login, which means that they can read your emails, see your Contacts, see copies of any online shopping you've done, see all the documents or photos that you store, see what you search for in Maps and Earth, they can even see a StreetView picture of your house (and hopefully you're not IN that photo!).  It's really quite creepy once you start thinking about just how much information they are storing about YOU on their servers.  And they are using your information to target advertising at you.  So from the perspective of this week's topic - I would say that Google hold a massive amount of power online, because they own so much information about so many people.

    Cheers,
    Nicky

    ======
    Author: Nicole Veitch
    Posted date: Thursday, October 28, 2010 6:03:26 PM WST
    Last modified date: Thursday, October 28, 2010 6:03:26 PM WST
    Total views: 4  Your views: 4


    I too found the Mansell reading to be horribly longwinded and confusing and frankly, that was an hour of my life I'll never get back.  However, the key points that I finally wrung out of it were:

    - While there is now far more new media available than ever before, the actual supply of much of this media is controlled by a small number of large media companies.

    - Scarcity is being created by these companies, via things like copyright and paywalls, to control the media and therefore control consumers use of it.

    - Additionally, information is gathered about consumers by these companies, which is then sold on for advertising purposes.

    - This results in changes to the social and cultural behaviour and values of consumers - ie. they only consume media produced by a small cross-section of the media, and therefore can have their views and opinions "shaped" by that media.

    - There has thus far been little attempt to research the consequences of these changes.

    It basically all comes down to power and money which, if I've got it right, is what Political Economy is all about - these processes give these huge companies great power, from which they can make great profits from.

    You only have to look at the current state of Australian media ownership (http://www.aph.gov.au/library/intguide/sp/media_regulations.htm).  Virtually all of the media in Australia is owned by either News Ltd, PBL, Fairfax, Telstra, Seven, Ten and a couple of others.  I don't see any stories that any of them are going broke!

    Cheers,
    Nicky
    ======
    1. I personally don't encounter many limits with regard to my own Internet access because I pay for a good plan and have the technical know-how to get around most issues, but I can think of quite a few limits that are currently imposed on a good percentage of the population, including:

    • Media corporations imposing limits via the use of paywalls - Rupert Murdoch recently made the website versions of UK-based "The Times" and "The Sunday Times" newspapers subscription based, and sites like Crikey.com.au which have a portion of their site behind a paywall.  While the jury is still out on the effectiveness of this for news (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/online/has-rupert-murdochs-paywall-gamble-paid-off-2067907.html), I see Jenny gave a good example of this affecting access in an academic sense.
    • Media corporations blocking access to certain media on a country-basis - ever tried to watch an episode of your favourite TV series directly off the US-based website?  Chances are good that you'll get a "sorry you need to live in the US or Canada to view this" message.
    • Many corporations impose limits for their employees via corporate firewalls, blocking sites such as Hotmail, Facebook, etc.
    • The Government, via departments such as the ACMA - although there currently isn't a mandatory content filtering system despite Senator Conroy's best efforts, the ACMA can and do issue takedown notices against ISPs who host certain material (as detailed here http://www.acma.gov.au/WEB/STANDARD/pc=INT_IND_CONTENT_ABOUT).  If the mandatory Internet filter is ever allowed into existence, the government will have the right to block information that is not illegal to own, our very own government-endorsed censorship regime.
    • Schools - many government primary schools take the approach of blocking everything and only allowing a specific list of sites to be accessed.
    • ISPs, particularly in Australia, enforce download limits and shape access speeds for certain accounts at certain times of day.
     While it's not easy to get around a paywall without actually paying, it IS fairly simple to bypass most technical blocks via the use of anonymous proxy sites and as far as I'm aware, there aren't a lot of consequences for doing this.  However, in some instances it would be possible to lose Internet access altogether - for instance, if your ISP chooses to block your access due to excessive downloading, or hosting inappropriate adult content or for breaching copyright.

    2.  I've been using the Internet since the early 90's, before it was such a money-oriented beast, and I have to say that while the constant money-driven aspect of it nowadays annoys me, with sites covered in advertising and having to pay for things that once you could download for free, the fact is that back then there just wasn't a lot of good content available, and not as much choice.  So it's sort of a catch-22 - finding ways to make money from the Internet has ultimately given consumers greater choice and variety and greater quality to choose from (if you know where to look!), but it also means putting up with all the advertising and paywalls and other economic "barriers" along the way.  I've used the example of Google in another post - free email accounts come with more and more "added extras" every day.  At the end of the day I think you generally get what you pay for.

    Cheers,
    Nicky

    Friday, 15 October 2010

    Happy Meal Project (gross)

    NYC artist Sally Davies photographs a McDonald's Happy Meal every day. The project has been going on for 137 days, and the Mickey D's hamburger and fries look exactly the same. Talk about one weird McDonald's art project.

    http://www.refinery29.com/happy-meal-art-project.php

    Monday, 11 October 2010

    Sesame Street's "Old Spice" parody - love it! :-)


    Thursday, 23 September 2010

    Topic 1.6 - Politics Julia Gillard is my Facebook Friend

    READ:
    Nagourney, Adam. The 08 Campaign: Sea Change for Politics as We Know It. New York Times. 2009-01-19.


    This week we were asked to look at two political websites from a choice of four, and think about the degree to which people's political engagement and participation is affected by Internet communication, and also the role played by the Internet in assisting the democratic process to identify and resolve the main social issues.
    I chose to look at www.pm.gov.au, the Prime Minister of Australia's website, and also www.GetUp.org.au, a citizen/interest group which I've become interested in over the past year.  While the Prime Minister's website pretends to display a "participatory" look via prominently displayed "PM Connect" links to Facebook, Twitter and Flickr on the front page, the reality is that the site is presented in a traditionally mainstream media format which is effectively a one-way broadcast platform containing advertising and press statements, that allows the Prime Minister's office to carefully control the information that is released.  The social networking pages don't appear to be actually used for social networking, but more as an extension of the main website, to broadcast news, and there is no interaction with followers.  It is questionable whether the Prime Minister has ever personally touched any of these websites!  The overarching message is one of "follow me but don't speak".

    On the other hand, www.GetUp.org.au is an independent political movement which aims "to build a progressive Australia".  Their organisation including their website is participatory with many contributors and they actively utilise Web 2.0 and social media to keep the lines of communication open.  They encourage individuals to join up, either as free email members or paid contributors, and contact members directly to ask which issues they would like to address and to get feedback on campaigns.

    I found both websites interesting because I think they both ultimately achieve their current goals, albeit in vastly different ways.  The Prime Minister's office are using the Internet and social media as a way of showing that they are modern and up-to-date, without actually interacting with followers in any significant way.  GetUp are using the Internet to inspire and drive a grassroots movement of political change, by interacting and participating with their followers as much as possible.  Both sites are targetting different groups in different ways and for now, they are probably both achieving their respective goals.  But in terms of assisting the democratic process and dealing with social issues, the Prime Minister's one-way communication website is hardly promoting democracy and it could be argued that they are missing the value of internet-based communication which is free, broadly available and has a wide reach.  By contrast, GetUp offers it's 350,000+ members the opportunity to identify and participate in a broad range of political and social issues including changes to the electoral registration process, opposition to the Government's proposed mandatory internet filter and currently, a class action regarding bank fees.  It's a shame that the peak political website of our country is one-dimensional in it's approach to the democratic and social issues of the day.

    Cheers,
    Nicky

    Topic 1.4 - Health What My Doctor Didn't Tell Me

    READ:
    Gunther Eysenbach. (2008, August 25). Medicine 2.0: Social Networking, Collaboration, Participation, Apomediation, and Openness. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 10(3).

    This week we were asked to select a particular health topic that interested us and find out more about that topic using the Internet.  I chose to investigate a form of skin cancer called Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), which my father was recently diagnosed with.  I started by typing the name into Google and the first result that came up was on Wikipedia, which provided a high-level outline of the condition, followed by a variety of sites based in the United States and Australia.  Even though a medical condition is often going to be a global one, I tend to prefer to use the "Pages from Australia" option and then select government-provided or professional association sites such as:

    Cancer Council Australia

    Department of Health and Ageing
    Sunsmart
    Australasian College of Dermatologists

    The main reason I prefer these sites (gov.au, org.au or asn.au) is that I trust that the Australian government and professional bodies will provide accurate information.  Eysenback describes three ways that users can identify trustworthy and credible information and services - using intermediaries, which are basically trusted web portals containing only information vetted by experts, disintermediation, which is where a user bypasses "middlemen" and directly accesses information themselves, and apomediaries, which is more like guidance and filters that help direct a user to high quality information and services.  I suppose in this instance Google is my apomediary and the government and professional association sites are my intermediaries.
    During my research I discovered that SCC is the second most common form of skin cancer, less common than Basal cell carcinoma but more dangerous, although less dangerous than melanoma.  I also discovered that the "official" sites I'd chosen were overall more informative and less graphic than Wikipedia, which had a couple of horrendous looking photos.  The other thing the research did was to send me off looking for skin spots on myself, which I probably wouldn't have otherwise done today!

    I think the Medicine 2.0 that Eysenbach describes is an interesting idea and I'm sure there would be a cross-section of society that would embrace it and be happy to "take responsibility for their own health".  But then I think of people like my parents and grandparents who don't like the idea of any of their personal information being online in the first place, and who probably wouldn't have the time or inclination to try to get to it anyway, and my currently "invincible" 20 year old cousin who is at that age where health is something you just don't think about, and many of those in society who would probably benefit the most from it but have the least amount of opportunity to access it.  So I think it's probably quite a while off yet.

    Cheers,
    Nicky

    Wednesday, 22 September 2010

    Topic 1.3 - Dating, Intimacy and Sexuality

    READ
    Pascoe, C.J. (2009). Intimacy in Mizuko, I et. al. Hanging Out, Messing Around, Geeking Out: Living and Learning with New Media. Available from http://digitalyouth.ischool.berkeley.edu/book-intimacy

    This week we were asked "How far would a partner/spouse have to go online before it is considered cheating? Up to what point is flirting online acceptable? How 'real' is cybersex?"  We were also asked to discuss dating, romance and intimacy in the context of the Internet, drawing on this week's reading by Pascoe.

    I've been using the Internet since the early to mid 1990's and I know many people who have met somebody in some type of "online" way, although none who were teenagers so Pascoe's article provided a different perspective for me.  He uses the example of teenagers to break down courtship practices into four different areas - meeting, flirting, going out and breaking up - and argues that new media tools have changed the ways that these things occur.  People can now look up others online, utilise shared contacts to facilitate a meeting and flirt using online social networks which allow for "controlled casualness".  These networks are both private realms away from adults, and also public arenas that allow other members of the social network to view what is happening.  Once a courtship reaches the "couple" stage, social media can be utilised to display affection and to reinforce a relationship in the eyes of others, and if it gets to the "breakup" stage then there is often a public element of "sweeping up the digital remainders" of the relationship.  At the same time, however, individuals can also use these same networks to monitor others, which increases the vulnerability of those being monitored.

    I found Pascoe's article interesting but not necessarily compelling.  While it may indeed be true that teenagers prefer to meet in person first and then go online to conduct the "flirting" stage, in my own experience, admittedly not with teenagers, many people nowadays also meet online first and then develop a relationship later.  While new media tools have certainly allowed all of these activities to be conducted in new ways, ultimately I don't believe that meeting somebody online is greatly different from meeting anywhere else, and I don't think relationships should be viewed any differently either, so the first two questions of this week's question is interesting to me from the perspective that the word "online" could be taken out and the question would be the same.  At the end of the day, if one person's behaviour hurts the other then it's not appropriate, whether it's conducted online or offline.  Flirting is flirting and cheating is cheating, no matter where it happens.

    The question of cybersex is also interesting.  While the physical side of things doesn't seem to be a factor, I imagine that actually getting into that situation with another person would involve finding/meeting somebody who was willing and probably also some online flirting, ultimately leading to the grand event.  In other words, there would have to at least be some mental energy devoted,and possibly also an emotional connection.  So I would consider that getting to that point with somebody other than your partner/spouse would be just as hurtful to them as any other form of cheating.

    Overall, it is evident that the Internet and people's everyday lives are becoming more intertwined, to the point where "online" and "offline" relationships are not necessarily distinguishable anymore.

    Cheers,
    Nicky

    Tuesday, 21 September 2010

    Foxtel IQ, Series Link and Channel 9

    Feeling a tad smug about a minor success this morning! We've had Foxtel IQ for ages and if you've got it and if you use Series Link to tape all episodes of a show because you're busy like I am, then you probably also know that Channel 9 have been the only channel for quite a while that don't offer it. Annoying! Not only do they switch and shuffle their shows around all over the place all the time so you can't tune in regularly every week, but you can't "set and forget" either.

    Several months ago my hubby started doing business with some Channel 9 executives and jokingly suggested that they fix this Series Link thing to shut me up. Considering that ratings are now counted if a show is watched within 7 days (rather than only "live" airings like it used to be), you'd think this would have already been a priority, but no. Anyway, they promised to look into it (I'm imagining with much blokey arm-punching and guffawing but I could be completely wrong)... and last night, as I was doing my semi-regular-when-I-remember "try to find the shows I like on Channel 9 and tape them/wtf has "The Mentalist" gone THIS TIME?/Ooh look, "The Block", hope I remember to tape that every week/crap, forgot "60 Minutes AGAIN/haha they've moved "Cops LAC" AGAIN, wonder how much longer that will last" routine, I noticed... Series Link!! It's there!! Success!!

    Hubby has advised exec friends that I expect chocolates in anticipation of their increased ratings. And I have learned a valuable lesson... it really isn't what you know, it's WHO you know (or in this case, who your hubby knows)! :-)

    Cheers,
    Nicky

    Topic 1.1 - Music I Want My MP3

    Read: Laughey, D. (2007). Music Media in Young People's Everyday Lives. In Music, Sound and Multimedia: From the Live to the Virtual (pp. 172-187). In E-Reserve.

    This week we were asked to examine what the Internet has added to the musical landscape and what it did for music, consumers and producers.  We were given a reading and set a task of opening an account with a music discovery and streaming service such as Last.fm or Grooveshark, and reviewing the service.

    I initially set up Last.fm but didn't find it very intuitive and didn't like the idea of having to install software on my PC to make it play so it was abandoned fairly quickly.  On the other hand, Grooveshark was much simpler to use and I found the concept interesting.  I was a teenager in the 1980's so back then it usually went like this:

    - Hear a song on the radio.
    - Setup cassette deck and sit next to radio every night waiting for it to come on so I could tape it off the radio, hoping the DJ didn't talk through the beginning or end.
    - If I REALLY liked it, buy the record (you could buy cassette tapes but tapes stretched with constant playing so buying the record was like having a "master").
    - Tape the record anyway, because the only record player was my parents and it was in the lounge room, and I had a tape deck in my room.

    The Internet has resulted in many changes to the music landscape, including the way music is produced and distributed.  Digitisation has enabled music to be produced easily and inexpensively and, more importantly, allowed it to be perfectly copied and therefore downloaded and shared.  The creation of the MP3 file format in 1993 allowed songs to be reduced in size to a few megabytes, and the introduction of services such as Napster in 1998 enabled consumers to download perfect copies of songs for free.  These practices have consistently upset the music industry ever since and they have spent great time and effort pursuing individuals and sites for copyright breaches and the like; however, new technologies such as BitTorrent continue to emerge and now we are also seeing online music streaming services such as Grooveshark.  These sites are interesting from the perspective that consumers are sharing their own music but not distributing it - there is no downloading involved like there was with Napster - so it will be interesting to see how the music industry handles this.   Regardless, all of these new technologies have allowed consumers to have choice, to listen and share whatever music they want, whenever they want it, no longer at the whim of a radio station.

    The different ways of sharing of music and musical preferences has also flourished with the Internet.  Sites such as Grooveshark allow users to create friend lists and playlists and share the music you're playing.  What was once private consumption is now public.  Additionally, social networking sites such as MySpace have also enabled distribution of music by artists, allowing them to distribute their own work without having to rely on traditional platforms.  In some cases this has even allowed new artists to be "discovered" online.  Fans can also "follow" their favourite artists in similar ways to the traditional "fan clubs", but the information is much more immediate.

    Cheers,
    Nicky

    Monday, 6 September 2010

    NET102 - Introduction

    READ:
    Study Guide for Module 1. These study notes establishes some of the basic ideas and approaches we'll be using in this unit: What are the reasons for studying the Internet in terms of the everyday and what our chief areas of focus?

    'Everyday Life' and 'Conclusion' sections (pp. 163 to 165) of Berger, A. A. (1995). Sociological Theory and Cultural Criticism. In Cultural Criticism: A Primer of Key Concepts. Sage Publications. In e-Reserve.

    This week we were introduced to the unit and given a reading which explained "Everyday Life" as the "focus by social scientists on the experiences of ordinary people and on their routines, attitudes, beliefs, and ways of functioning", which are influenced by popular culture, the media and particularly advertising.  The reasons for studying everyday life are 1. To understand ourselves and our society better, 2. To identify and understand effective progressive/conservational tactics and 3. To recognise and understand change.  I must confess that I found the 3 pages fairly dull so I hope the rest of the unit isn't all going to be like this!

    We were also asked to discuss our experience of the Internet and how it compares with others and I submitted this to Blackboard:

    I was really interested to read all of your Internet experiences and actually I was a bit rapt that there are so many long-time Internet users here because in my world I've always been considered the nerdy one, so this is like joining a very cool club! :>  I started out with a Commodore 64 in the late 1980's and in 1993 started working in IT and discovered bulletin boards, and from there got onto the Internet via dialup, armed with an Ozemail 3.5" disk of apps that allowed you to use Usenet, Archie, Gopher, IRC (which I subsequently spent hours of my life on) and the World Wide Web (using Quarterdeck Mosaic).  In 1995 I taught myself HTML and wrote my first web page in Windows Notepad and in 1996 I went backpacking and kept in touch with the very few people I knew who had email (mostly IRCers), and put some photos up on my website as I went.  This involved getting film developed, finding a friend with a scanner, a PC and an internet connection, another friend who provided me with a free Unix shell account, and knowing how to FTP and write HTML via a command line - fun!

    Nowadays it seems like just about everyone I know has email and a home PC and a mobile phone they can surf the net with, and you get to see people's photos at the time they're actually doing things instead of weeks later. I can't imagine life without the Internet now - I do everything online - banking, read news, social networking including Facebook and Twitter, organise holidays, research things like restaurants, movie times, builders, tradesmen and schools, study, and work - still doing websites.  My daughter is in grade 1 and she uses the Internet at school.  I joke with friends and family that if they're not on Facebook then I don't remember to keep up with them but it's almost not a joke any more.  My husband made me leave my laptop at home for a week in July when we went on a family holiday and I felt like I'd had an arm cut off!  So the Internet is very much a part of MY everyday life.  I found this article which I thought was interesting - it's about whether broadband should be considered a necessity and a basic utility like gas, electricity and water.  I personally haven't spent more than a week or 2 away from the Internet since 1994 so it sounds perfectly reasonable to me but I don't really think my usage is the norm!  My parents and many of their generation of friends/family have broadband but just as many don't and I have many friends who have access but don't use it anywhere near the way I do, and they're all quite happy, so maybe we're not at "necessity" yet. :>

    As far as controversies - one of the things I've always been very focussed on is online privacy and until recently I made a concerted effort to stay very anonymous online.  Joining Facebook was a huge step outside the "anonymous" comfort zone and I have to say that, despite the fact that it's convenient and fun, the way Facebook handles (and changes) privacy settings drives me mad and I've had days where I've thought about just ditching the whole thing.  But I also find it a bit addictive so maybe that's why I'm still there. :>  Another issue I've been fairly involved in over the last couple of years was the Australian government's proposed internet filter, which hopefully is now dead in the water.  If you'd like to get me started on the issue of governments and censorship then just say the word, but I'll restrain myself for now!  But to me, although both of these issues are Internet-related, they're also relevant offline issues - privacy and civil rights.  It's just about how the world should handle them in a global, online situation.

    Cheers,
    Nicky

    Thursday, 2 September 2010

    Friday, 27 August 2010

    Oh dear... I seem to have a lot of these skills...

    Wednesday, 25 August 2010

    To put it simply...

    Friday, 20 August 2010

    Facebook Places...

    Facebook has released a new "Places" application that allows you to check-in your location BUT ALSO allows others to check you in. This means that your physical location could be broadcast across Facebook without your knowledge. If you don't want others to know your physical location (read this article to... see some examples of why you don't want this!), I suggest you follow the steps in this link to disable Places.

    http://gawker.com/5616329/the-first-thing-you-should-do-with-facebook-places-dont-let-other-people-tag-you

    Tuesday, 17 August 2010

    Monday, 16 August 2010

    MED104 - 3.4 Who’s listening? Mass communication in a networked, mobile environment

    Read:
    Malpas, J. (2009). On the Non-autonomy of the Virtual. Convergence 15(2), 135-139. (Electronic databases)
    Watch:
    TED talk: Seth Godin on the tribes we lead
    Seth Godin discusses the effect of the internet on mass advertising.

    Learning Portfolio entry
    1. Summarise the main points in the readings noting your agreement and disagreement with the ideas and opinions of the author/speaker.
    2. Account for your own use of media technologies and make note of the costs and benefits.
    3. Brainstorm ideas about who gains and who loses in terms of contemporary communication media including costs and gains for the environment.

    Friday, 13 August 2010

    MED104 - 3.3 Talk to me! Chatting/texting/twittering at each other

    Read:
    E.J Westlake (2008). Friend me if you Facebook: Generation Y and performative surveillance. The Drama Review 52(4), 21-40. (Electronic databases)
    Fun article about Facebook and how people perform themselves through digital media.
    Watch:
    TED talk – Evan Williams on Twitter

    This week's reading by Westlake argues that "the predominantly Generation Y Facebook community uses Facebook to define the boundaries of normative behavior through unique performances of an online self." Westlake went on further throughout the article to describe various behaviours that he felt were only relevant to Generation Y, such as "The generations of people older than current college students ... do not have the same perspective on the internet as a means for social networking as the generation that is just beginning to graduate from college" and "Unlike older people, Generation Y-ers may not understand the purpose of public protest and are not likely to march in the streets to voice their views." While it may be true that Facebook was originally created for use within schools and universities and in 2008 a majority of those people probably WERE in the Generation Y age-group, according to these statistics, in 2010 Facebook usage looks to be fairly evenly spread across both Generation X and Y, and as a Generation X-er who has been actively using the Internet for over 15 years, I don't necessarily agree that the behaviours described are specific only to Generation Y or that Gen-Y'ers act differently because of their age.

    Regardless, the basis of the reading was about the concept of privacy with regard to media producers and consumers, and how this has changed with the advent of new media technologies such as Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools. Westlake says that "The internet has changed the way we read text and the way we read each other’s performances", which I tend to agree with. Today's internet users, whatever their age, have the ability to utilise social media tools to express their sense of self and to communicate via texting, online chat and also via their individual profiles via whichever tool they're using. As a result of this and due to the "open" nature of the internet, these communications are often far more visible to a wide range of individuals than simple communication across the back fence used to be 50 years ago, which raises issues of surveillance and privacy and has resulted in incidences of both creepy stalking by predators, and government intervention (interference?). But Westlake also argues that users respond to the knowledge that anybody can see what they're doing by "performative surveillance" - that is, presenting themselves in ways that will be acceptable to others - and therefore that this is similar to face-to-face interactions where people are careful about what they say in their peer groups in order to gain acceptance.

    From a personal perspective, I have been an early-adopter with regard to the Internet for many years but my usage has changed significantly in that time and I've always been very conscious of privacy - it's already been documented in this blog that I didn't join Facebook until I was happy with the way privacy was handled, and I almost left when they were messing around with privacy earlier in the year. I did agree wholeheartedly with a part of the reading which said that people are putting more personal information online now than they ever did. My first personal home page was created sometime around 1995 but it was deliberately vague and while it included some photos and links to other websites that I liked, there was virtually no personally-identifying information on the site - in fact, I spent the best part of 15 years very carefully putting nothing at all about myself online, until fairly recently! Nowadays I am an avid user of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and while I still actively attempt to maintain a positive web presence and I tend to keep private things offline, there is no doubt that there is far more personal information on my profiles on these sites than my 1995 personal home page ever contained. Additionally, I now also use these sites to follow information distributed by others and I post regular updates and re-post news stories that interest me, so people reading this information would gain a fairly clear idea of my views and ideals. Even though I'm no more or less likely to write something on Facebook or Twitter that I wouldn't be prepared to say face-to-face and I don't use either as a way of secretly showing my subversive side or anything like that, I'm also conscious that whatever I write is likely to be there forever so I do try to be careful about the image that I'm presenting and I do make an effort to carefully select what I present and who I present it to, which I suppose means that I am practising performative surveillance! I do know a lot of people of all ages who behave in a similar way to myself online, but it's also fair to say that there are many who don't - and they're all different ages too. :-)

    Cheers,
    Nicky