The Internet Gives Us a Voice

How would you seek out news on this fine Tuesday morning? Perhaps you skim through the daily newspaper whilst sipping your morning coffee, or maybe the 8AM radio news on your commute to university keeps you informed . Both are valuable and somewhat ‘credible’ sources of information. These types of journalism are referred to as monologic media, broadcasting from one to many. They provide you with access to information, but they do so passively. It is because of this that these forms of media are dwindling. They don’t allow us to voice our opinions, and after all, everybody has the desire to be heard.

The internet has seen the rise of dialogic forms of media, from many to many,  and the internet is just that: dialogic by design. It creates something that monologic media doesn’t, the ability for us all to be heard. This has seen the rise of the citizen journalist whereby members of the public actively process, collect, report, analyse and disseminate news and information. Anybody with internet access can broadcast a message via platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and personal blogs. Consumers have transformed from passively listening to actively communicating.

Janey Gordon (2007) explores the influences of new media in the reporting of three critical situations, one of these situations being the London Bombings of 2005. Gordon states that “those involved or nearby were already giving dynamic accounts from their mobile phones” and that the media and press “used images taken on mobile phones to supplement – and in their terms ‘enhance’ – their coverage of the event” (p. 314). Without citizen journalism, such in-depth accounts of the London Bombings would have been delivered much slower to the public, and information available would have been purely that provided by the police.

Citizen journalism now plays a vital role in the public sphere and the way in which we come across sources of news and information has changed rapidly. The downside to this new era of journalism is that content on the internet passes though weak or non-existent gate-keepers. We are faced with a dilemma – how do we establish the credibility of sources of information in this day and age?

How would you react if a friend tweeted that a tsunami was heading for the east coast of Australia? Would you instantaneously grab your belongings and run for the hills? My guess is probably not. We are given the freedom to participate in the online world and we therefore enlist to understanding that not everything we stumble upon on the internet should be taken at face value.

References:

Gordon, J (2007), ‘The Mobile Phone and the Public Sphere: Mobile Phone Usage in Three Critical Situations’, Convergence, vol.13, no.2, pp307-319

Don’t Put All of Your Apples in One Basket

My gadget collection consists of an iPhone, a MacBook Air and an iPad. Apple, Apple, Apple. Why? Due to the market saturation, I have just assumed that it is the way the technology is going and that I should purchase accordingly before I get left behind.

My father is opposed. He is a PC and Android type of guy. I’ve always thought he was just ‘stuck in his old ways’. However, due to a recent lecture I’ve come to understand his reasoning behind it all.

Apple’s products are what we call ‘closed’ or ‘locked’ devices. Take the Apple iPhone for example; Apple has control over what applications are available to customers via the ‘App Store’ thus restricting what can be housed on your device and what can be accessed. This achieves control over the content and the user. Apple devices cannot be ‘rooted’ and they therefore also claim control over the platform itself. It’s a very logical example of business consolidation and Apple’s aim for industry domination.

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There are obvious Apple vs. Android debates circling new technologies.

Android provides something that Apple doesn’t, a generative platform. This invites prosumer’s creativity and innovation. Android allows users access to the code which enables them not only to control the software on the device but also the hardware itself. Android gives us free choices. This freedom also has its consequences including spyware, identity theft and viruses.

Will Apple products become fads that are phased out by empowered consumers favouring generative platforms? Or will perhaps the tight security and elegant design of Apple outweigh the negative impacts of a locked device? Personally, I’m reconsidering my ‘Apple, Apple, Apple’ attitude towards technologies and I wonder if my devices will become sterile in time. Android and Apple are currently battling head to head on tablet and smartphone sales. It looks like we’ll just have to stay tuned.

Why hasn’t Girl Talk been sued?

We all know that big bad symbol. Copyright.

Copyright is everywhere. The idea was introduced back in 1710 as ‘An Act for the Encouragement of Learning’. Before this time anybody could freely copy, modify and sell someone else’s ideas or content without any ramifications. If one person wrote a book someone else could copy it and claim it as their own, so this new rule made sense. Back then.

These days almost all intellectual property is owned by someone. If you use someone else’s words or ideas without acquiring their permission you are leaving yourself open to litigation. In this digital age breaching of copyright laws is everywhere. Even the song ‘Happy Birthday to You’ is owned by Time Warner. We can’t win.

After sitting in on a two hour copyright lecture, I came out with one thought – ‘Why the hell hasn’t Girl Talk been sued?’

For those of you that don’t know, Greg Gillis is the man behind Girl Talk. He is an American DJ specialising in digital mashups, mixing together samples of different songs from different genres in a form that you just can’t help but move to. I’ve seen Girl Talk at countless festivals across the globe and he’s always guaranteed to put on a good show.

Girl Talk’s latest album ‘All Night’ features a whopping 372 samples of other artist’s music, none of which has he gained permission to use. Girl Talk is with the record company Illegal Art who claim to be ‘pushing the limits of sample based music since 1998’.

Gillis recognises that his music raises obvious legal concerns but he maintains that the brief samples he works with are covered by the copyright law’s ‘fair use’ principle. Many would disagree. So why hasn’t anyone taken Girl Talk to court? He is making money out of other peoples work. Perhaps they enjoy his work? Perhaps it would be a bad PR move taking such a high profile artist to court over something as trivial as a 3 second music sample? Joe Mullin at paidcontent.org shines some light on the matter:

So why hasn’t Gillis been hauled in front of a judge by the music industry? Probably because he’s the most unappealing defendant imaginable. Gillis would be a ready-made-hero for copyright reformers; if he were sued, he’d have some of the best copyright lawyers in the country knocking on his door asking to take his case for free.

They say that Girl Talk is a lawsuit waiting to happen. I hope not, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Since Girl Talk releases his work under Creative Commons licences I’m going to leave you with a song from his latest album (and not get sued). Enjoy.

KONY2012 – Empowering a Generation

I would find it hard to believe that anyone reading this blog has not yet been exposed to the Joseph Kony story by now. But by the odd chance that you haven’t, do yourself a favour and watch this video.

Invisible Children is a non-for-profit campaign aiming to bring the war criminal Joseph Kony to justice. They are doing so by harnessing the command of the internet and empowering the ‘little people’ like you and me.

This story moved me in so many ways. How could a rebel movement like this one be occurring for over 26 years and not be in the constant light of the media? Over 60,000 children have been stolen and been commissioned as sex slaves and child soldiers who are forced to fight in unthinkable conflict. The man that is behind all of this is not fighting for any cause but to maintain his power, he is not supported by anyone, and yet he is still not being stopped.

When the young Ugandan boy Jacob, who is directly affected by the LRA, is asked

“You don’t want to stay on earth? You would rather die than stay on earth?”

He replies,

“Yes. How are we going to stay in our future?”

Every child should have the right to look forward to their future and as the Invisible Children’s campaign says ‘where you live shouldn’t determine whether you live.’ The KONY2012 video has reached over 27 million views in less than 48 hours. Media platforms have given us power to raise awareness because in this day and age we are all broadcasters. It seems that we are shaping human history by proving that ‘a bunch of littles can make a big difference’.

This campaign could not have come at a better time for me than my second week of University as I have been trying to grasp the ideas of ‘convergence’. I found out about Joseph Kony when I logged onto my Instagram account on Wednesday morning and saw images of KONY 2012 and STOP KONY. ‘Who is Kony?’ I asked myself. So I did what our generation usually does with words that aren’t in our vocabulary: Google it. Google’s first result lead me to the YouTube video. I then proceeded to share this video with my friends via facebook and fellow BCMer’s via Twitter. In a matter of minutes and on one single device I’d manage to access five different media platforms, each of them playing a vital role. This is convergence to a T.

Share the video. No harm can be done from raising awareness.

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Blogging needs a 101

Hi. I’m Lauren and this is my (somewhat novice) blog. Welcome.

I’m 23 and for the past five years I’ve been ‘living the dream’. I’ve spent my time travelling the globe in the chase of sunshine and snow and also gaining a lot of ‘life experience’… or so I’m told. Needless to say, my brain hasn’t felt much mental stimulation in that era of my life, and the time has come for that to change.

I recently enrolled in University and for the past week I have been navigating my way around a campus that is seemingly a whole lot larger than my hometown. I’m studying a Bachelor of Communication and Media Studies and students have been asked to join the online world via WordPress and Twitter. As far as online networking and digital media goes, Facebook is as far as my cyber limbs have explored. Until now.

I was introduced to Facebook many years ago and, if I’m being honest, scouring my news feed is now one of the first things I do in the morning, coming in way before my cup of coffee. WordPress and Twitter apps have now also found their way to the home screen of my iPhone. Uh Oh.

So…. here’s to another online time consumer. Sounds neg, but I’m actually thrilled. At this stage I’m not too sure what is going to fill these virtual pages, time will tell, follow if you please…

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