Reflection

Convergent Media Practices has assisted me to discover so much more about being connected online. The idea of creating an online identity and posting/tweeting every week about our learning materials was a great way to keep on top of work and engage in the content. This is definitely the reason I love this subject as online communication is integrated into our lifestyle. What better way to pilot our progress in convergent media – the shift from analogue to digital. Not only do we learn about this but we actively are a part of it.  I feel confident and accomplished when I look back on my blog posts on all the topics we have covered.

I feel that my 3 best blog posts are:

WEEK SEVEN – https://lorenvettoretto.wordpress.com/2012/04/19/the-nerd-is-the-word/ 

WEEK  NINE – https://lorenvettoretto.wordpress.com/2012/05/04/citizen-journalism/

WEEK TEN – https://lorenvettoretto.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/online-identity/

I chose these 3 posts because I think these are my most significant. They were some of the most interesting and essential topics when learning/discussing the content with regard to convergent media. By relating my own experiences with the issues I especially found them invigorating to write about. I also feel that they are my most insightful and reflective posts, being the most recent ones, as I have developed my method of blogging since the first few. I have gained so much additional knowledge about media convergence, and can now thoroughly understand and contribute to discussions. All three of these posts are significant to us as the wireless generation by yielding the enforcement of how powerful media’s influence is and images portrayed online, especially through social networking. Most importantly, they explore the fact that we have the freedom to be a part of it. Technological convergence is consistently being challenged and I hope to stay a part of participatory culture and continue being a citizen journalist.

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Online Identity

There are many advantages when you become a part of the online world.  In saying that, there are many disadvantages too. The internet provides us with this amazing ability to create an online identity – to share, discover and discuss almost anything. However; posting about whatever you want can surface a lot of controversy, of course. Just like when you speak to someone in person – no two people are the same, so not everybody will agree with what you have to say. This stems from our unique individualities between differing values, morals, belief systems, and cultural lifestyle.

More to the point – prime examples of controversy on the web usually carry a similar theme, which is anonymity. By having the option to be anonymous, this removes a user’s complete identity and a lot of the time this is used to verbally harm others or post unnecessary materials. This is an advantage to the anonymous, because there are no repercussions for them and no further responsibility for the act(s). There are many sites which give the opportunity to not show your identity when posting things. The disadvantage to the latter is obvious; receiving uncomfortable questions or content as well as bullying, abuse and threats. The frustrating thing is it happens too often for every single case to the dealt with. Two sites which bestow these sorts of actions or ‘cyber hate‘ include Tumblr and Formspring. Of course these sites are not run for this purpose, it is purely up to the user. In my opinion, by signing up for sites such as these you are also signing up for the harmful and upsetting comments or images which you may receive. There is no way to control what each and every person does on the internet, especially those who are hidden, i’ve personally come to accept that and move on. Though sometimes it’s not that easy, and can lead to extreme cases of oppression and exclusion. On the other hand, anonymity can sometimes work in everyone’s favour. For example, a victim of violence or rape who is too afraid to come forward but wants to share their story online and get the support they need without revealing themselves. I think that anonymous users think that because they have the right to hide their identity this also gives them the right to use it in a derogatory way. I feel we are fortunate to be able to have an online identity and that this idea of being hidden shouldn’t be muddled with.

Citizen Journalism

Media convergence has challenged the way journalism has been operating over the past few generations. Citizen journalism is when participants of information play an active role by gathering, analysing and distributing news. This is now integrated into our culture as society is changing the way we receive information by transferring from print media to digital media. Why? Because it’s convenient. Instant. Free. The best part about it all is – you can interact. We as consumers are becoming the producers through blogging, vlogging, and even social networking. Media platforms (i.e. YouTube, Tumblr, Twitter, WordPress, SoundCloud, Vimeo) allow us to contribute to collective intelligence in the comfort of our own homes, if desired.

I like to receive my news online because it’s usually from people which I know personally. There is no thorough editing process for the information presented to the public. One click and boom. It’s there, online for EVERYONE to see, at any time. I feel information online can be more reliable because you can discover more about an issue by commenting on the source, and there is usually multiple web pages where the story will overlap, OR alternatively you may know the source personally. For example there was a car crash near my house a few months ago. Because many of my Facebook friends live in my area, or pass through here on a daily basis, I knew about this crash within minutes after it had occurred, before I had even gotten out of bed that morning, and before any news station journalist had written or even knew about it. I read details about the car and passengers on various status updates from people who had driven past, or knew the people in the accident. This is where citizen journalism differs from traditional journalists – reading about incidents online from locals you somehow have a connection to – whether it’s someone you knew from school, a colleague, a friend, a friend of a friend… you get my drift. Traditional journalists are struggling to keep up, and I am interested to see what citizen journalism can do in the future.

Remix Culture

The evolution of remix culture has allowed society to learn and evolve in the way that we identify each other’s creativity and skill. By engaging in participatory culture we can then strengthen our connections and relationships between each other and this is done through platforms such as music. The rise in remix culture has enhanced audience participation – you can search a song on YouTube and discover various mash-ups and remixes derived from the original. This is a form of convergence through new media content, and we have captivated ourselves in this particular culture by uploading, sharing and expanding original works.  YouTube presents a lot of controversy when it comes to copyright and is very misunderstood by most. The remix culture that various users identify themselves with is completely altering the way that an entire generation thinks about copyright. Users shouldn’t be penalised for uploading remixes or mashups of their favourite songs. However, content regulators will argue that without the original artists approval, your video could be considered illegal. Girl talk would be a prime example of a popular mash up artist and a major influence in remix culture. In my opinion I feel that within a modern society it is important to support remix culture – by integrating ideas and producing them in different ways we can now learn, connect, communicate and understand each other even more.

Here’s a video I found very insightful about remix culture – it explores the way that different social groups have taken ideas and themes from tv/film clips and re-worked them into their own music video.

The nerd is the word!

It’s difficult to define what’s cool and what isn’t. Throughout my adolescence I noticed that the trend of being ‘cool’ would typically be doing something different to stand out, but at the same time act like you’re not trying to. For me, one of the first signs of nerds or geeks becoming ‘cool’ was stemmed from a popular teen television series “The OC“. The role of Seth Cohen played by Adam Brody was depicted as a nerdy and shy teenager who had no friends but came from a wealthy family. His time was devoted to comic books (he actually created his own), superheroes, drawing, video games and the like. Money is continuously outlined in the show, as Seth went to an elite high school and then on to college which is contrasted to other characters who didn’t have that opportunity (who were not ‘nerdy’). It was obvious Seth was not ‘cool’ or accepted by his peers at school as he was bullied and portrayed as a social outcast. Throughout the series, Seth’s quirky personality and witty humour began to draw the attention of others not to mention viewers of the show fawned over him. Why? Because he was not considered the ‘norm’ and even though he tried to blend in and not be noticed, he stood out because he was so different to the other teens. I noticed more and more people posting things online (especially blogs) about superheroes, comics and intellectual pieces of work such as poetry, stories etc.

Fashion is also a massive factor during the transition of nerds becoming cool.  Websites have even been produced to get the character Seth Cohen’s fashion. Headings such as “Geeks get the girls”, “Geek chic”, and “Targeting teen trends” are a great example of how nerds have made their way acceptable into society. Collared shirts buttoned all the way to the top, skinny jeans rolled up above the ankle and thick black framed glasses are some prime examples of what is ‘cool’ and accepted now – yet if you were seen in any of these items just 5-10 years back you would have been considered nerdy of course, but with a more negative connotation. The minority has moved to the majority and people are continuously trying to find ways to be different but they eventually become mainstream.

Transmedia storytellers

Many of you would be familiar with Harry Potter. JK Rowling’s novels explore a fantasy world of witchcraft and wizardry which became an instant success. The story of Harry Potter is also available through a film series, comics, video games, board games, music and various paraphernalia.  All of these are delivery channels are created and modified to tell us more about Harry Potter’s adventures. This is considered a technological dynamic and is an effective way to engage the audience as some people may prefer one particular delivery of the story than another, enlarging the market. This gives fans an opportunity to participate with the things they love and even go out of their way to produce ‘fan fiction‘ i.e. stories written by fans with the same characters (e.g. alternate endings) and parodies of clips from films/shows. These are then uploaded and shared online – an effective way of advertising without the original author lifting a finger.Using multiple delivery channels assists a story in promotion, popularity and is achieved by many transmedia narratives (e.g. The Matrix, Starwars).

Henry Jenkins discusses transmedia and how we are using technology to tell our own stories in powerful new ways. Jenkins points out that even going back thousands of years the same stories were re-told many times, and that’s exactly what this new era of social media allows us to do. I feel lucky to be a part of this participatory culture, building a new world of collective intelligence.

I’ve got the power

To upload and share almost anything I want through this WordPress account, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and various other media platforms. We are all citizen journalists. Isn’t that extraordinary? Today, we don’t think about it that much. But in comparison to say, a decade ago, we have come a long way into a very different, amazing and continuously evolving form of communication. We are active prosumers, participating in mediated culture more than ever before. Why? Because we want to be heard, and we can.

There are little to no gatekeepers monitoring what you share online and this is why social networking, blogging and vlogging have become so popular. Monologic media journalists have to be very cautious about what they write and how they present their information. Everything stated in newspapers, magazines, television or on the radio goes through a rigorous editing process. This ensures that the media can control what and how we receive information, although now this control is shifting. An example of this would be Han Han, a chinese blogger who became extremely popular online so he created a magazine, which was shut down after the first issue (selling over a million copies) because there was too much controversial information.

A case study in ‘The mobile Phone and the Public Sphere’ by Janey Gordon investigates the London bombings. Gordon states that those involved were providing “direct accounts from their mobile phones” of information and images through phone calls, SMS, MMS and social networking. I’m quite intrigued that it has actually come to this; being surrounded by danger a horrific event and yet the first thing people do is upload and share what they can see/what is happening. I personally think it’s a way of reaching out. All humans want to be heard and seek interconnection.

Locked appliances VS Generative platforms

Many of you would remember the days where MySpace was one of the most dominant social networking platforms. Its popularity stemmed from the fact that it was an open and free platform. Users were able to generate their own themes and HTML codes to personalise their MySpace profile. The shift to FaceBook then occurred – a closed platform. Whilst you can still post personal content you cannot control how your FaceBook page looks and works. A similar comparison would be the Android and iPhone. The Android allows you to take control and responsibility over the choices you make with regard to how you use it (via rooting) whereas the iPhone is a ‘sterile’ or closed/locked device. This video outlines how Apple has complete ownership according to how the iPhone is used. In fact, Apple receives a 30 per cent profit of everything sold in their App store, which holds over two million applications.

In an article ‘The Cultural Logic of Media Convergence, Henry Jenkins states that “Cultural policy is increasingly being set not by governmental bodies, but by media companies; we lose the ability to have any real influence over the directions that our culture takes if we do not find ways to engage in active dialogue with media“. Jenkins points out the increasing power of converging media and how consumers play a huge part. This statement made me curious… Is using closed devices giving them the upper hand? Should we be concerned? Will this affect us in the future and if so, how? Our culture is becoming more and more technologically dependent. Is this what we want?

And so now, the battle of locked VS generative appliances comes into play. Ultimately I feel it comes down to personal choice… do you want everything already there for you? Are the extra features necessary? Do you have enough time to adjust it completely/to learn how to root? I think the iPhone does a terrific job and is continuously adapting as technology advances. The thing I love most about the iPhone is that I never have to buy a new phone and I will never get bored, because it is consistently being updated and I am able to update the software with the same device! The most revolutionary idea in the world of mobile phones.

You heard right, no copying.

The term Copyright facilitates the right to claim owenership over our opinions and ideas. Violation of a copyrighted item inflicts serious penalties.  90 per cent of the content we are exposed to is controlled by four major companies with the assistance of Copyright protection – Disney, Viacom, NewsCorp and Time Warner. I did not realise how pivotal copyright was until this week. Obviously stealing other people’s ideas is wrong, but I only associated this in my mind with things such as plagiarism because it was always discussed in school from a young age. Though I was quite astonished to discover that Time Warner actually owned the Happy Birthday song and that every time it is sung, it is considered a breach of copyright.

The content industry argues that a world without copyright, is a world without new ideas creating a poor cycle of the same information continuously overlapping. Essentially this argument is stating that the opportunity for individuals to copy each other legally would create stacks of the same material and people not getting the credit they deserve for their own ideas.

The notion of an idea was initially considered ‘public commons’ meaning that we were unable to declare our own intellectual work. I believe a world without copyright would be an unfair world. Every individual has the right to their own intellectual work and should be acknowledged for it. The copyright legislation finally controlled the copying of individuals’ work in order for future generations to understand and learn for themselves. This seems fair to me.

Here’s an enlightening video about Copyright in the media

 

“The medium is the message”, “Worship at the altar of convergence”, “The machine is US/ing us”

 Humanity has been consistently enthralled by the methods used to present and communicate information. How individuals communicate defines who we are and constitutes a lot of what makes us unique. Marshall McLuhan introduced many observations about the impact of changing ways we express ourselves through media.

A valuable phrase stated by McLuhan is “the medium is the message” and that personal or social consequences of any medium is an extension of ourselves. The ‘medium’ is anything from which a change emerges – commonly through mass media communications such as radio, television, internet etc.

“Usually our senses bring the world to our minds, speech takes our sensorially shaped minds out to the world” I found this statement very significant in understanding the way McLuhan expresses the relationship between the medium and content; the content will always bind us to the source.

I was quite impressed with McLuhan’s points on communication and technology, it really opened my eyes as I never directly correlated the information we receive with the WAY we receive information. It seems so obvious when I think about it now though…

An article by Henry Jenkins further appended to my understanding of media change and its importance. It points out the way that convergence represents a cultural shift as consumers are encouraged to seek information and make connections. Participatory culture and collective intelligence is what propels the media along. Participatory culture can be defined as consumers of the media interacting with each other according to a new set of rules which nobody understands yet. Furthermore, collective intelligence can be seen as an alternative source of power in the media.

Convergence occurs within the individual and through social interactions with others. An obvious example, every morning the first thing I do is check my phone, respond to texts, calls, Facebook/twitter notifications, update my tumblr/twitter… etc. Before i’ve even gotten out of bed. It’s also the last thing I do before going to sleep.

The way I ‘measure’ convergence in my mind is comparing generation X to generation Y. I guarantee my parents’  daily routine did not consist of spending so much time interacting with one another through wireless devices. My dad is sickened with the amount of time I spend on the internet, and I can understand why. Although I think he gets so irritated about it because he can’t keep up himself; yet as soon as he is having some sort of technical trouble he is so grateful to have his technology dependent daughter by his side.

Jenkins mentions in a video that convergence culture is a world where every story, sounds, brand, image and relationship plays itself out across the maximum number of media channels. These channels or ‘platforms’ are all the popular websites/applications used today such as Facebook and Twitter. Being connected online allows you to send and receive information on an international scale. Information can now go further, faster.

Another interesting video I watched was one named “Web 2.0…The machine is US/ing US”. This was a quick and effective way of pointing out how we have more power than we think. We teach ‘the machine’ something every time we use it. Hence computers learning what they know from what we do with them. It is not apparent to enough people just exactly how much control we have. More and more sites are becoming user generated since the boom of YouTube, Facebook and the like.