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.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Monday, 16 August 2010

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

Malpas, J. (2009). On the Non-autonomy of the Virtual. Convergence 15(2), 135-139. (Electronic databases)
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

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.
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. :-)


Tuesday, 10 August 2010

MED104 - 3.2 Networks of information: blogging, citizen journalism & collective intelligence

Melissa Wall, (2005). Blogs of war: weblogs as news. Journalism 6 (2), 153-72. (Electronic databases)
Wall analyses the cultural conditions that gave rise to blogging, situates it with regard to “old media” and then analyses the ways in which blogs reconfigure journalistic discourse, specifically in relation to blog coverage of the Iraq war.
Gordon, J. (2007). The mobile phone and the public sphere: mobile phone usage in three critical situations. Convergence 13(3), 307-319. (electronic databases)

This week's readings examined the emergence of blogging in relation to traditional journalism. As discussed last week, traditional journalism practices have evolved over the last century, from detached and neutral reporting of facts in a basic manner in the early 20th century to a writing style that imitated fiction and included character, scene and dialogue around the 1960's, to a focus on entertainment toward the end of the 20th century. This was largely due to an increasing concentration of ownership which has resulted in the majority of today's news being controlled by a relatively small number of extremely large corporations whose major focus is profit.

Blogging emerged in the late 20th century but didn't really achieve great popularity until weblog services such as Blogger emerged, which allowed anybody to become a content creator without any technical capabilities. In the words of Rebecca Blood in 2002 "Blogs allow ordinary people to become content creators, able to publish and potentially globally distribute their writing" (The Weblog Handbook: Practical Advice on Creating and Maintaining Your Blog. Cambridge, MA: Perseus).

In my mind (and as discussed in last week's entry) blogging presents an alternative to traditional journalism but I don't really think it will replace it - actually, I think it enhances it. Traditional journalism is a passive medium aimed at the largest possible audience, and therefore the content is tailored in such a way as to appeal to the majority. Blogging is an active, two-way medium where the audience is encouraged to respond via comments, but much of the time it is simply re-presenting information that the mainstream media is using, in different ways. Bloggers don't have the spectre of corporate sponsorship hanging over their heads so they are not afraid to offend and don't need to try to neutralise information. Professional journalists are supposed to present news in a neutral fashion that ensures that both sides of the story are told - although this doesn't always happen these days! Bloggers, on the other hand, can present more personalised and opinionated views which often only tell one side of a story.

One area where blogging has proven to be useful is with regard to "citizen journalism" - times when ordinary, everyday people actually break news or present news that hasn't previously been presented by the mainstream media. The two readings used examples including the 2003 US-Iraq war, where bloggers from Iraq were blogging about the situation from the Iraqi side, and also the Chinese SARS outbreak (2003), the south-east Asian tsunami (December 2004) and the London bombings (July 2005), all events where bloggers provided sources of information, including images, that the mainstream media did not have. However, it was when the mainstream media took that information and broadcast it that the greatest media saturation occurred.

I tend to utilise a combination of traditional journalism including TV and newspapers, and a couple of blogs. These days I hear of most news via Twitter, which often links to either blogs or mainstream online news, and then I watch that news on the TV that night. I find blogs such as Crikey and Smartcompany to be interesting, because both include lots of opinions about what's happening in the mainstream media, and I also follow Mashable's Social Media Twitter stream so I can read blog articles that I find interesting from there. I can't really envisage a situation where I would ever rely on just one source of information, so having a combination works well for me.


Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Crap and politics and un-democracy in Australia

I don't really understand why everybody is automatically assuming that this election will be close. The reality is, if there was a 23-seat swing TO Labor in 2007 after 11 years of a Liberal government, then there could just as easily be a 23-seat swing back AWAY from them in 2010. Yes, a lot of people vote one party their entire lives - but clearly a lot of people don't. Personally, I think it's more about how much they've pissed people off in the last 3 years than anything else, and I can't see how anything Scripted-Julia says in these 3 weeks is going to change that. The reason for the 23-seat swing in 2007 was pretty much because people had had enough of John Howard's crap. We haven't really had enough time to get tired of Julia's crap because she's only been PM for 5 minutes, so all that remains to be seen is if people associate KRudd's crap with her or not. (And if people admire or despise a knife-wielder :p) What a basis for running a country.

If I've said it once, I've said it a hundred times - FORCING an entire nation of people to vote for these bozos only gives then validity. And fining people who choose not to vote is NOT democratic, no matter which way you look at it. I don't care about all the "but in America only 50% of people vote" and "but we don't have enough people" arguments that people inevitably offer up when I make my point - the fact remains, only dictators force people to vote for them, and if politicians want votes then they should have to EARN them. Yes, in the US only 50% of people vote, but that is one of the lowest voter turnouts in the world. In New Zealand (which has far less people than Australia) voting isn't compulsory and yet they still have an 88% voter turnout. According to this Wikipedia article, low turnout may be due to disenchantment, indifference, or contentment. My view is, if you're not forced to vote and you choose not to, you can't complain about what you end up with. But having free choice is ALWAYS better than not.