More Youtube funtimes

I’ve got a bit of a wedding theme going on with these videos, but it’s not my fault it’s what I’ve been linked to! The first one is a wedding proposal, it’s really cute:

and this one is a “Save the date” invitation in video form:

What strikes me about both these videos is that they are for family and friends but the makers of both are both very aware that there is a greater audience. Both have Youtube channels and blogs to explain what they are doing. The second one acknowledges the original composers of all the songs they use, and because it’s a parody and uses cliches it doesn’t seem to break copyright law. These videos make me think of people who are kind of trying to become Youtube stars. The proposal actually has a director who is credited and is website is listed in the caption.

I also found this website Viral Viral Videos that takes the effort out of finding these cute funny or weird videos. It all seems very self-aware, I think it would be hard to argue that there are many true merit-based only Youtube stars now.

The links to the blog is here, and the channels here and here

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A question of quality

When we studied Youtube in class, we talked about whether it takes extra effort on the part of the user because they have to ignore quality issues. We forgive dodgy sound, pixellation and buffering sounds because we don’t expect it to be perfect. Youtube is the main way alot people access videos now, I wonder if Armin Medosch, who acknowledges that “[Creative Commons] does not pay any attention at all to the issue of an economic model for supporting cultural production” could see this happening with music. Making quality music with proper recording and production costs money. If people stop making money, but keep making music, will quality be the cost? People who download illegally sometimes say “yeah it’s not the best quality but it will do.” If musicians and other artists become only hobbyists and not professionals because there is no financial benefit to what they do, will we be consistently making that extra effort and forgiving short comings in quality? If Creative Commons and the Free Software movement do become the way of the future, then maybe quality may be what we lose. I’ve tried free software such as Open Office, Gimp and Audacity, but have always found the professional software, MS Word, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Soundbooth as much easier and better programs. If we want everything to be free and open, will we have to settle for less than perfect all the time?

Blogs or elite media?

Week 4.

Russell (et al.) compares elite media and institutions with bloggers and ponders the following question: “Do bloggers, with their editorial independence, collaborative structure and merit-based popularity more effectively inform the public?” (Reader, page 136). Do you agree? Use examples to illustrate your point of view.

Informing the public is the main tenet of journalism. Without a public to inform, and without publishing important information, there is no point in following up a story or putting pen to paper, or typing anything. In the past, we relied solely on elite media institutions to report what was going on in the world, in our country and in our city. Murdoch, Packer and Fairfax were powerful names in Australian media with almost unwavering control over the industry. These names are still undeniably powerful. Murdoch owned media reaches 75% of the world’s population. They’re influence and power, however, is also a shadow of what it once was. The arrival of web 2.0 technologies and an increasingly networked public culture has resulted in a downfall in the power of traditional media monoliths.

The arrivals of bloggers and avenues for independent media have challenged the authority of the media elite – something that was essential to the trust audiences placed in them, and their profits. It is unlikely that blogs will overtake elite media institutions as the main provider of news but they do serve an important function, and in some cases inform the public more effectively than elite media institutions. This is especially clear when the issues being reported infringe on the media organizations other commercial interests.

Russell et al argue that “people are actively resisting the content and practices of mainstream news” (2008:66) and ask “do bloggers, with their editorial independence, collaborative structure, and merit-based popularity more effectively inform the public?” (2008:67). I believe that in general, blogs, especially news and political blogs, which I will focus on, serve an auxiliary function to the main media institutions. Most successful political commentary blogs have positioned themselves in this way because their authors understand that politically informed people who take the time to seek out and read their blogs have already got the basic facts and overview from mainstream media.

There are some cases, however, where independent bloggers are vital to informing the public. These are in situations where it is against the mainstream media’s economic interest to report on an issue and the bloggers take up a cause. Of course, in countries where the media is censored, the ability of blogs to communicate the truth is absolutely paramount. Recent protests and deaths of civilians in Syria at the hands of the state military are not being broadcast by state media, but bloggers are keeping people inside and outside Syria informed.

Locally, the issues not being reported are not issues of life and death but they are in the public interest. In the past 2 years, buying and selling of shares in media companies has been an issue of contention. Lachlan Murdoch and Gina Rinehart significantly invested in Channel 10 last year, meaning that they had significant control over the corporation. This was reported on in mainstream media, but analysed fully in blogs such as Crikey. Crikey is a collection of blogs and news articles that acts as a watchdog for much of the media.  They can analyse media ownership in a way that elite media cannot, due to the ways in which most media owners have their fingers in multiple pies, or that seemingly different news sources are all pieces of one pie.

Crikey also reported last year that The Age’s circulation figures were artificially bolstered by school and university bulk subscriptions. Although the papers are sent out and paid for (some for only $1 for the year like MUSU offered this year) many are left unread. This may seem like an innocuous bit of news, but for advertisers who pay big money to get in those pages, and people who are interested in the fate of the media industry in general, this is important.

More recently, Crikey has reported on industrial action and stop work meetings happening at Fairfax about the proposed outsourcing of sub-editors. Fairfax wont report on the people they are sacking, so Margaret Simons (a freelance journalist) has here, and this website is also keeping people up to date.

Elite media need a watchdog, just as they too are a watchdog. Blogging is not the perfect way to keep the public informed, as mostly it is a ‘seek and find’ medium. Blogs are often more editorialized, by nature, but those interests are usually personal and declared, unlike in the mainstream media. The elite media and anti-institution media both serve a purpose, but bloggers and independent online media is becoming more important in effectively informing the public.

References.

Russell, Adrienne et al. (2008) ‘Culture: Media Convergence and Networked Culture’, in Kazys Varnelis (ed.) Networked Publics (pp. 43-76), Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Youtube funtimes!

I just thought I’d post this video because it makes me happy, the Youtube page is interesting with links to buy Chris Brown’s song there. I really think this is a home video, if it wasn’t such a new song I wonder if Sony would have monetised it in the same way?? Home videos and copyright is so confusing, if I posted home videos of me singing along to the Spice Girls am I really trying to make money off what they have done or just embarrass my sisters and cousins in the clip? What do you think? Was Sony right to monetise this clip or not?

Creative Commons

Some rights reserved by steren.giannini

Week 10.

Following week 10 tutorial’s exercise, explain why you chose the Creative Commons license that you added to your blog and discuss the relevance (or not) of adding the license.

The struggles between people and corporations that hold copyright and people who want to remix or steal others’ intellectual property has become a massive issue since the internet has allowed for the sharing of intellectual property in ways never seen before. Intellectuals such as Lawrence Lessig and Richard M Stallman are supporters of sharing intellectual property and creative works. Personally I can see the benefits of the Creative Commons idea for amateurs and hobbyists but I also support copyright for professionals and people who make a career out of their intellectual and creative work. Ironically, like Lessig and Stallman who are academics and make a living from their ideas.

I have chosen the most restrictive Creative Commons license available for my blog. I would actually prefer to copyright my blog. The reason for this is not that I don’t want to share; I just would prefer to have control over how my words, which are attributed to me, are shared. I don’t want my words twisted or misquoted, which is illegal with the license I have chosen.  The problem that I have with the license is that I can’t control where my work is shared. Someone could put my work on ihateeveryone.com and that wouldn’t be illegal. I also hope to be a journalist when I finish university, so my words are very important to me.

The ideas behind Creative Commons and Stallman’s GNU software are vital in the current environment. These attitudes foster respect for copyright and other people’s creations while also creating a legal outlet for people who want to collaborate and share their ideas, their words, their images, videos and music. As Marc Garcelon shows, the CC symbol helps people to navigate a legal minefield where a wrong step could cost you thousands of dollars, “the CC symbol also represented an alternative to growing legal uncertainty surrounding the doctrine of fair use.” (2010:1314).  Copyright law is not always understood and by creating understanding, it helps people who do want to respect others.

Creative Commons is not without its problems. Nina Paley explains her problems with confusion over a creative commons license here, and it shows the issues that people just assume but don’t take time to understand. Talking time to understand consequences is a real issue in the copyright debate. Taking someone’s intellectual property doesn’t seem to be a big deal because it is a non-rivalrous resource and because we can’t see the person we are taking it from. The copyright ads played before movies compare stealing movies and music to stealing a rivalrous resource such as a car or a handbag but the message doesn’t work.

Intellectual property is non-rivalrous but it doesn’t automatically follow that it should be available to all. People who make a living from selling their non-rivalrous resource use their money to be buy food and other rivalrous resources, just like people who work in factories and shops. We pay experts such as electricians and IT experts for their knowledge when we need something fixed. We pay for drugs created by scientists and value their work. Creative pursuits are just as important and we need to find a balance between the closed world of the corporates in Hollywood and the open world Lawrence Lessig envisions.

References:

Garcelon, Marc (2009) ‘An Information Commons? Creative Commons and Public Access to Cultural Creations’, in New Media &Society 11 (8): 1307-1326.

Lessig, Lawrence (2005) ‘Open Code and Open Societies’ pp. 349-360 in Joseph Feller, Brian Fitzgerald, Scott A. Hissam and Karim R. Lakhani (eds) Perspectives on Free ad Open Source Software. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Stallman, Richard (2002) ‘Why Software Should Be Free’ pp. 121-133 in Joshua Gay (ed.) Free Software, Free Society: Selected Essays of Richard Stallman. Boston: GNU Press.

I have an opinion, therefore I blog.

Week 7.

Lovink argues that “No matter how much talk there is of community and mobs, the fact remains that blogs are primarily a tool to manage the self.” Discuss.

I have to admit that I don’t read many amateur blogs – I read my friends’ travel blogs, or one or two literary blogs that I get linked to on Twitter, but overall I get sick of the irrelevant, ignorant, and inane that makes up the content of a lot of blogs out there. Geert Lovink’s assertion that “blogs are primarily a tool to manage the self,” (28) is exhibited in most amateur and professional blogs. Blogs are a way of publishing our daily diaries and blog cultures have made millions think that not only are their daily doings important, but that other people not only care, but they need to know all the details. The “wider culture that fabricates celebrity on every possible level,” (Lovink, 28) is displayed in the blogs of Perez Hilton and Tavi Gevinson who blog about celebrities and fashion respectively. Both have garnered huge followings and become a kind of meta-celebrity. Gevinson is really known just as Tavi and within 18 months of starting her blog she had designed her own t-shirt with some American designers!

Mia Freedman’s professional blog MamaMia highlights both the culture of celebrity and the culture of the self in the blogging world. Freedman moved online after a career in magazine publishing and has created a brand which now includes a book and television show. Freedman writes about her experiences as a mother and her opinions on news and current affairs. Lovink disputes David Weinburger’s argument that “Blogs are not even primarily a form of individual expression. They are better understood as conversations,” but the element of conversation is vital to the success of Freedman’ s site. Interactivity is a major part of the site, with hundreds of comments and comments on comments sharing experiences, opinions and advice. The blog basically brings the Mother’s Group online (this is not meant to be a derogative statement I think the site is pretty cool). Some of the more dedicated followers have their own blogs and use the comments to advertise themselves in a way, they have also become guest bloggers. Freedman and her staff often link to other blogs that write on similar themes (usually not professional ones) .

The challenge for bloggers, according to Lovink, is “how to overcome meaninglessness without falling back into centralised meaning structures,” (30). Some bloggers are are quite happy to post 20 photos of their cats each day without pondering a greater meaning but professionals and semi-professionals do have to grapple with the question of  how much of a difference they can make by blogging and how insightful they really are. The value of a blog is in the influence it has on its readership and on the greater industry or area of interest. The three blogs mentioned here are highly influential and have created celebrity images for themselves. Although they do manage the self in a big way they do create conversations within the blogs and comments but also influence the conversations and issues in the wider media world.

References:

Geert Lovink (2008) ‘Blogging, The Nihilist Impulse’, in Zero Comments: Blogging and Critical Internet Culture (pp. 1-38), London: Routledge.

Sharing or exposing information?

Mark Zuckerberg - Hero?

Some Rights reserved by blogpocket

Week 5.

Analyse critically the following statement by Mark Zuckerberg while comparing it to privacy issues raised by online social networking collaborative practices:

Mark Zuckerberg was extremely optimistic about the power of sharing our information in the video previously posted here, but my question is, who is empowered by the millions of people sharing their information online? Is it the people losing job opportunities because they have well-documented Saturday nights? Or is it the advertisers targeting every user because of their age and what they and their friends have “liked”?

The buzzwords of the video were sharing, privacy, information and control. Out of those buzzwords, privacy and control seem to be the most difficult to achieve. Danah Boyd’s work on the topic is interesting she says “When the default is hyper-public, individuals are not simply able to choose what they wish to expose – they have to choose what they wish to hide.” (2008:16). I’m an extremely private person on Facebook and agree with Boyd that we shouldn’t be made to feel unusual or wrong if we don’t want to tell our 400 “friends” the minute details of our lives – especially when those “friends” are increasingly including employers, professional contacts, parents, aunts and uncles and (in my case at least!) grandparents.

Education about privacy settings and what they mean is lacking. Most people don’t realise that the information they provide could be enough for someone to steal their identity and Mark Zuckerberg isn’t telling them. Boyd discusses exposure and invasion, two elements that are important in social convergence – basically what social networking online is. These elements are not mentioned at all in Zuckerberg’s video – he doesn’t want people thinking about their negative connotations.

Boyd makes a striking comparison in relation to Facebook and information “Facebook gives the ‘gift’ of infinite social information, but this can feel too much like the One Ring – precious upfront, but destructive long-term.” (2008:18) This is an interesting idea, that we could be destructed by sharing our information.

Increasingly, I’m wondering about information as a commodity. If anyone asked what commodity Mark Zuckerberg traded in, it would be information. He provides a massive service free worldwide (Except in China) which would be impossible without something in return. We give a bit of information, some more and some less, and he gives us a worldwide meeting place.

If we’re trading information with Mark Zuckerberg have we got what we bargained for? Are we empowered by sharing this information? My answer is, no. Are we any closer to solving the world’s problems or are we just buying Mark Zuckerberg’s next Pacific Island when we say something else an advertiser can use?? Well the world’s problems aren’t really going anywhere, and Zuckerberg might want to choose an island somewhere other than the Pacific, because Japan is dumping radioactive water there. Or maybe he thinks Facebook can fix that?

Bibliography.

Boyd, D. ‘Facebook’s Privacy Trainwreck: Exposure, Invasion and Social Convergence’, Convergence: The International Journal into New Media Technologies 14.4 (2008): 13-20