Let’s Reflect

When asked to commence blogging for Convergent Media Practices at the beginning of the semester, I must admit I was frightened. Putting my thoughts out there, into the vast online world, was very confronting. What if my posts weren’t good? Everyone in my class could see them. In fact, anyone in the world could…

When I found myself writing my first post, it took me hours upon hours to edit and re-edit what I was about to submit into cyberspace. Now, after commencement, my posts are up within a quick half hour. This post is a reflection on my best blog entries.

My first ever blog post Why hasn’t Girl Talk been sued? is one of my favourite posts perhaps due to the sheer amount of time I assigned to it. Exploring copyright laws encouraged me to reflect on the distinct remix-culture we reside in. I effectively related the subject material to the copyright issues surrounding one of my favourite musicians, Girl Talk. By discussing a world-renowned artist and questioning copyright laws and fair use, I believe I reached my audience with a relatable example. I also believe the post is engaging due to insightful hyperlinks and an embedded Soundcloud track.

In week seven we explored the evident rising popularity of nerds and the post Get Your Nerd On. is my reflection on this topic. This post represented my deep personal reflection on how the popularity of nerds has caused me to rethink some of my choices in life. Due to my particular interest in fashion, I discussed the rise of the nerd culture and how it has been represented through fashion trends. This post is effective as it represents my newfound awareness regarding technological advancements and the following paradigm shift surrounding nerds.

My most recent post BEWARE of the Troll! reflected my opinions surrounding online identity and the issue of ‘trolling’. This is one of my favourite posts as I believe my opinion is louder than it has been previously, this is likely due to my interest in the issue. Because of this, I found writing the post relatively easy. I discussed the weekly material and also conducted further research into the topics. This allowed me to provide superior examples through hyperlinking. Writing this post caused me to identify the pros and cons of anonymity and identity online. It also effectively revealed my personal opinion regarding trolling and misogyny.

Studying Convergent Media Practices and entering the blogosphere has caused me to think about the convergent world that we exist in. It has reiterated to me the monumental impact of the internet. Along with my confidence in having an online presence, my writing skills have also improved. I’ve developed a deeper understanding of the digital media that surrounds us and its effects on everyday life.

BEWARE of the Troll!

The idea of the internet ‘troll’ is not a new one. Violent, inflammatory messages are ridden throughout chat rooms, blogs and forums with the soul intent of provoking an emotional response. Living in what I believe is still a somewhat sexist reality it’s easy to grasp the idea that a large majority of this trolling is directed at women and is of misogynistic nature.

The internet has provided a window for this previously concealed misogyny to climb on through. Not long ago, such forms of abuse involved a type writer and snail mail. These days the idea of online anonymity allows people the freedom and confidence to say things they wouldn’t normally say and provides them with the shield of a screen name. The keyboard warriors have a world where they are free to indulge in their worst tendencies.

Louise Mensch, a controversial MP, recently had abuse hurled at her online after a television appearance. Twitter was alive with trolling directed openly @LouiseMensch. To give you an idea, here’s a few of the charming tweets:

“Typical soulless rich whore.”

“Louise Mensch.. You would wouldn’t you? Given half the chance you’d strangle her!”

“Diarrhoea in a litter tray, Louise Mensch, same difference.”

What’s not often brought to the public eye is the more alarming form of this type of trolling, the type that involves malicious threats towards the individuals and their families. The viral Twitter campaign #mencallmethings exposed such attacks. Suzanne Moore, a Guardian columnist, said she “can’t put here some of the stuff men write to me. It involves dismemberment, blood and excrement.”

This form of misogyny is causing some of the best names in journalism to hesitate before publishing their opinions.

So is there a solution to this growing trolling? Should everyone be identifiable online? Anonymity is a large part of the success of the internet and something in which it has been framed upon. With identity comes responsibility, however, the idea of forming legitimate identity online is virtually impossible.

As a woman, to these women, I say cop it on the chin and carry on. Name them and shame them. If the threats can’t be shrugged off due to their sheer viciousness, then there are other roads to take. Get the authorities involved, track some IP addresses and expose the troll behind the keyboard. It would be shocking to see women let the trolls consume them and be bullied into silence.

Are you a journalist?

At this point in time, it’s likely that you’re answering with ‘no’. Traditionally, a journalist is a person who is employed to research, write and report information through means of a mass media channel with the intent of reaching a large audience.

Let me now introduce you to the concept of the citizen journalist. This term has taken off over the past decade as we are witnessing the sheer power of the internet and its participatory framework. Traditional ‘news’ and how we come across it has seen a colossal transformation.

Shayne Bowman and Chris Willis describe this citizen journalism phenomena as, “[t]he act of a citizen, or group of citizens, playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analysing and disseminating news and information.”

Citizen journalism has played an enormous role in documenting major news around the world. In a previous post, I have discussed its role in the London Bombings. We’ve all seen the dramatic videos from September 11 captured on smart phones and distributed virally. More recently, Syrian activists are revealing their nations unrest via YouTube in a time when the Syrian government has blocked conventional types of journalism. And, more often than not, a large majority of us find out about celebrity death via social media feeds.

The internet has seen an explosion of networks and platforms in which everyone can participate. Users are encouraged and empowered. Specific collective intelligence websites, such as Storify.com, now exist to offer users a new platform on which their journalistic ideas can be not only be written, but collaborated and appreciated.

Now let’s reconsider that opening question…

Have you ever tweeted when stuck in a horrendous traffic jam, warning other drivers to take an alternate route? Ever recorded a video of a malicious fight on a night out and posted it online? Monumentous or not, these are indeed forms of citizen journalism.

Citizen journalists are often ridiculed for their bias, subjectivity and unreliability. Regardless, I believe the uncensored content of this form of journalism powerfully embodies a raw truth and authenticity which no traditional media can successfully offer. No longer are we subject to mass media gatekeepers feeding us only with the news they feel appropriate. The audience has been empowered, and we have a right to choose what we believe is newsworthy.