WikiLeaks does no harm

The founder of WikiLeaks website, Julian Assange, believes the revelations of the site have never lead to anyone being harmed. The WikiLeaks homepage states that,

‘We are of assistance to peoples of all countries who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their governments and institutions. We aim for maximum political impact.’

WikiLeaks publishes countless ‘classified documents’, and Assange believes ‘“there are no official allegations in the public domain” of anyone being hurt by the site’s disclosures’.

He credits ‘the internet and satellite TV stations like al-Jazeera with major roles in the uprisings’ that took place in the Middle East in recent months, although admits WikiLeaks had ‘played a significant role… by publishing secret documents about those countries’ authoritarian regimes’.

He believes that revealing the private documents involved a danger-factor (and even deaths), but that the site refuses to ‘condemn a nation to a dictatorship’ for the simple reason of being afraid to answer to people in the Western world.

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Social networking helps fight crime

After Police gave Joshua Kaufman’s case no attention, he turned to social media to try and retrieve his stolen property.

The story begins after a man broke into his apartment in Oakland, California. ‘A laptop, a bag, an electronic book reader and a bottle of gin’ were all stolen. Kaufman then ‘activated theft-tracking software he had installed’ which sent him photos taken from the computer’s built-in camera of the thief enjoying his newly acquired laptop.

A photo of the alleged theif - taken from The Age online.

Kaufman took the photos to the police to provide them with leads to his case, yet they still did not help him out. He turned to Twitter and created a blog: “This Guy Has My MacBook“.

‘”People who followed me on Twitter retweeted it. It got picked up by social media and the press. It went super viral,” he said. On the same day that he posted his website on Twitter, police came calling.’

Police eventually ended up arresting the culprit, and Kaufman got his laptop back. This case really shows the power of social media when put to good use. If it weren’t for Kaufman’s ability to post his photos online, the police would potentially have never picked up the case, and the thief would have gotten away with the goods. Yay for Twitter!

Joshua Kaufman with his recovered laptop (left); the thief - taken from The Age online.

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Week 11: Piracy

B- Medosch argues that: ‘piracy, despite being an entirely commercially motivated activity carried out in black or grey markets, fulfills culturally important functions’. (Medosch, 2008 pp81)

Piracy has the ability to fulfil ‘culturally important functions’. In particular, Internet piracy (as opposed to physical acts of piracy, such as burning DVDs and CDs, etc.) has had great effects on creating a positive globalised world.

Firstly, online piracy enables people from all over the world to have access to entertainment and knowledge that they would not have previously had without the Internet. Websites such as http://beemp3.com allow Internet users to upload and download content, no matter where they are in the world. Sites like this have the ability to present productions from alternative cultures to users and open them up to things they may never have seen or heard before. These sites not only provide people in remote areas with access to content they may find difficult to physically locate, but also people who cannot afford to purchase entertainment now have access to such things. The Internet provides us with ‘new modes of cultural exchange’ and removes ‘the costly barriers’ surrounding much content. (Alang, 2010)

Secondly, online piracy provides means to the transfer of cultural productions from one country to the rest of the world. It enables people to share their creative content with virtually anyone with computer access. ‘Nollywood’, a term used to describe Nigerian cinema, uses piracy as means of distribution;

‘the pirate copies aren’t necessarily cheaper than the legitimate copies – often, they sell at a similar price and they’re chosen simply because they are the only copies available.’ (Zuckerman, 2010)

Because pirate copies appear to be more easily accessible, distribution would be much more difficult without piracy of such movies. This proves that Medosch is not entirely correct about piracy being ‘an entirely commercially motivated activity’. (Medosch, 2008 pp81)

Thirdly, piracy (physical or online distribution) reflects a globalised world. It can be seen to aid globalisation processes by creating online communities, consisting of people from countries across the globe. What the Internet lets us see,

‘…is that when the exchange of ideas, rather than the exchange of dollars, is the controlling principle, communities will form around the best and most challenging of what culture has to offer’. (Alang, 2010)

It is short-sighted to think that websites are primarily ‘dens of theft’. (Alang, 2010) Piracy allows us to connect with people all over the globe, and come together to discuss and share common interests.

Piracy is a ‘culturally important’ function which enables the sharing of not only music and movies, but also knowledge, that can transcend national borders. Piracy allows people to experience things they may never have had access to. I see it as a positive thing. I think piracy is becoming less and less of a ‘commercially motivated’ enterprise and more about accessibility, regardless of whether you live in a third world country, or a highly developed country.

Bibliography

Alang, Navneet (2010) “Pirates of high culture: there’s more to online piracy than Beyonce singles and porn.” This Magazine Mar-Apr: 42

Medosch, Armin (2008) “Paid in Full: Copyright, Piracy and the Real Currency of Cultural Produtction”, in Depthforth. TV Diaries II: Pirate Strategies, London: Deptforth TV, pp. 73-97

Zuckerman, Ethan (2010) “Nollywood: is better distribution the remedy for piracy?”,
http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2010/10/06/nollywood-is-better-distribution-the-remedy-for-piracy/ June 6, [date accessed May 27, 2011]

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Week 10: Creative Commons

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 issue of copyrighting one’s work has become quite important since the introduction of the Internet. It immediately provided a new and unique way of sharing of information unlike anything ever before.

COPYRIGHT ONLINE

Because of the ease of accessibility and of re-publication of text and image on the Internet, copyright laws were adopted in the US in 1976. These standards meant that everything published online was ‘automatically under copyright’. (Garcelon 2009, pp 1314) You may be considered to violate these laws unless you fairly use the information you take. It is a hard standard to apply. In the year 2000, Creative Commons formed after feeling the need to create a self-licensing system that enables free access to online content. (Garcelon 2009, pp 1314) The shift was made from ‘all rights reserved’ to ‘some rights reserved’. (Gordon-Murnane, 2010)

CREATIVE COMMONS

Creative Commons respect Copyright laws, but believe in ‘the idea of universal access to research, education and culture’. (Creative Commons Australia, 2011) This idea is not always supported by legal or social systems within today’s society. Creative Commons seem to provide a ‘balance between the reality of the Internet and the reality of copyright laws’. (CCA, 2011) The nature of the World Wide Web means that with only a few clicks of one’s mouse, pieces of text, images, video and other creative entities can be copied, redistributed and/or altered, whether the behaviour is malicious or harmless. Creative Commons help to prevent violations of Copyright laws where substantial legal issues face one wrong decision. Creative Commons aim to ‘maximise digital creativity, sharing and innovation’ by attempting to create free-for-all access to online content. (CCA, 2011) After all, intellectual property in digital form is non-rivalrous; its use by one person does not limit its use by another.

Some Rights Reserved by A. Diez Herrero

MY CREATIVE COMMONS LISENCE

I chose to place a Creative Commons license on my Net Communications Blog. I don’t mind that people view my work; they may even consider my ideas to mould their own opinions. However, I selected the strictest license, which will prevent people from twisting my words or incorrectly quoting me. There have, however, been noted ambiguities over license specifications. The term ‘irrevocability’ is stated in the license agreement, and means that once work is placed under the Creative Commons, it is subjected to the terms and conditions of the agreement forever. (McGivern, 2010) The lack of ability to terminate the Creative Commons terms might not sit well with some people. In the case of my Blog, I can accept these terms.

THOUGHTS

I believe Creative Commons is fantastic for amateurs. The terms respect Copyright laws of other people’s work, but also provide room for collaborations between artists and creators. The non-rivalrous nature of digital content is fantastic in this way. I think Copyright is necessary for anyone whose career relies on their creative and/or intellectual property.

Bibliography

Creative Commons Australia (2011) About website, http://creativecommons.org.au/about [accessed 14th May]

Garcelon, Marc (2009) ‘An Information Commons? Creative Commons and Public Access to Cultural Creations’, in New Media & Society 11 volume 8, pp1307-1326

Gordon-Murnane, Laura (2010) ‘Creative commons: copyright tools for the 21st century.’ in Online (Information Today, Inc.), Jan-Feb 2010, volume 34 issue 1, pp18

McGivern, Joan (2010) ‘Common Understanding’, The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, http://www.ascap.com/playback/2007/fall/features/creative_commons_licensing.aspx [accessed 14th May]

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Week 4: Participatory Cultures

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.

The role of a journalist is to inform the public. In this modern, media-saturated society, the world of blogging enables anyone to complete journalistic work. We previously relied solely on elite media and institutions, more specifically newspapers, as a source for local, national and global news. However, these elite institutions have had to adapt to online publishing, so as to compete with the world of bloggers as public informers. Influential media outlets of the past have lost great amounts of power to independent outlets, journalists and bloggers.

RELIABILITY: BLOGGERS VS. ELITE MEDIA

Bloggers do not have to report or answer to anyone. They have a certain freedom of speech that elite media journalists do not have. Russell describes this advantageous liberty as ‘editorial independence’ (Russell et al. 2008, pp67) Bloggers are able to collaborate with each other and freely comment on each others posts. Blogs provide ‘launching pad to offer contesting points of view and alternative practices’. (Russell et al. 2008, pp 66)

However, there is a certain risk with the amount of independence bloggers are granted. Particular bloggers receive more attention than others, meaning that particular information that becomes ‘news’ may not in fact be ‘newsworthy’. An example of a blog like this is ‘gossipist’ Perez Hilton. Sensationalised celebrity news is the focus of this blog.

Elite media journalists are continuously adapting to newer technologies to keep up with online trends. Information is now available instantly online from news sources, instead of in print daily.

However, sometimes elite media outlets with be faced with conflicts of interest when publishing stories. An example resonates at the Fox Business Network. They ‘repeatedly promoted a controversial oil shale venture in Israel’ yet refrained to disclose the head of its parent company, CEO of News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch, is a key investor in the project.
THE PERFECT SOLUTION?

“If it’s interesting and newsworthy, chances are it’ll be on crikey.com.au” taken from the Crikey website

Independently owned news source Crikey acts as a watchdog in the Australian media industry. It provides readers with ‘original content’ and ‘links to stories from all corners of the web’. (Crikey 2011) A collection of both blogs and articles form the backbone of its online content. A happy medium? I think so.

Crikey claims to tackle ‘the stories insiders are talking about but other media can’t or won’t cover’. (Crikey 2011) It aims to show Australians ‘what’s really going on’ in relation to issues ranging from politics to sport, business to the arts, you name it. They have the ability to analyse things without having to think about conflicts of interests.

 

I think that independent organisations such as Crikey are fantastic watchdogs for the elite media here in Australia. But also, in their own way, elite media are providing a type of watchdog service over the blogging world. Bloggers and elite media organisations serve different purposes in unison. I think reading blogs can be quite effective if the reader knows what they are looking for. There are countless blogs out there, perhaps like the previously mentioned Perez Hilton that will contain information deemed useless or un-newsworthy to the reader. If the reader is savvy about the blogs they visit, then perhaps blogging could eventually become a more effective way to communicate with the public.

 

Bibliography

Pavlus, Sarah (2011) ‘Conflict of Interest: Fox doesn’t disclose Murdoch ties to oil shale venture’ on News Corp Watch website, http://newscorpwatch.org/blog/201105110023 11 May, [accessed 13 May]

Russell, A., Ito, M., Richmond, T. and Tuters, M. (2008) ‘Culture: Media Convergence and Networked Culture’, in Kazys Varnelis (ed.) Networked Publics, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp 43-76

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10 reasons you’ll never quit Facebook!

The concept of privacy is ever eroding in today’s media saturated society. Once information or photos are placed online, they remain hard to remove without a (data) trace.

Some users are “tired of not having real control” over what they are sharing, feeling anxious over things they read, worry about data mining. Despite all of its flaws, Nicholas Carlson believes we will never quit Facebook for these 10 reasons:

10. You’re not going to go back to waiting an hour to send an email to 30 people with 40 photos attached. To be fair, faster Internet connections have sped up this process. But it’s much easier to show multiple people the same images, and far easier for others to go back and look at said images days, weeks or even YEARS later!

9. How will you remember anybody’s birthday? A personal favourite feature of mine, great for people with the memory of a goldfish (me).

8. How will you stalk your ex’s new girlfriend/boyfriend? No matter how much you try to deny it, I’m sure we have ALL done this!

7. Without Facebook what are you going to do when you don’t have a friend’s email address or phone number? There’s a couple of people in my life that I sadly am no longer in touch with for this very reason. Facebook is oh so handy!

6. Forget Facebook. 80 million of you are addicted to the FarmVille application. Personally, not for me…but obviously 80 million people would disagree.

5. It takes 2 seconds to “join” a new site through Facebook Connect. It can take a good 10 minutes doing it the old way. (Care to subscribe to these magazines?) Good riddance to that!

4. How will you hear about parties? How will you remember where and when those parties are? The awkward moment you forget to invite someone to an event because they don’t have facebook…

3. You don’t care about Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg’s sometimes sketchy past. I know I don’t.

2. Sure, Facebook has privacy issues, but you don’t care about privacy anymore. Remember when you wouldn’t use your real name on the Internet? We use our full names for everything from signing an online petition, to online shopping. For some reason the danger factor has slowly dissolved.

1. You’ve never quit before. Remember News Feed? You didn’t quit then and won’t now, either. Not even if you want to. Oh, the uproar that caused in online communities! Now, it can be seen as a mildly addictive feature of Facebook to some people, and to be honest, I don’t even remember how Facebook worked without it!

If you’re still paranoid about privacy, here are 13 steps to putting you profile one ‘privacy lockdown’!

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Week 7: Uses of Blogs

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

I wholeheartedly agree with Lovink in that ‘blogs are primarily used as a tool to manage’ or promote the self. (2007, pp 222)

A perfect example resides in the arena of Fashion blogging. Rumi Neely created her blog, ‘Fashion Toast’, back in 2007. It began as a simple blog, and has now elevated its web status to a sophisticated website, with advertisements and all. Neely means business.

‘She doesn’t have a design degree, many fashion internships on her resume or even a wealth of sewing experience. What she does have is a little unconventional: a Web site, featuring pictures of her daily outfits, that happens to draw more than a million hits a month.’ (Peng 2009)

Neely originally started out with an eBay store, Treasure Chest Vintage, that proved to be highly successful. She then created and cleverly linked her blog to it, a seemingly wise business move. As her popularity grew, so did the hits on both sites. Only one year after the blog was created, it was getting ‘35,000 hits a day and hundreds of comments per post’. (Peng 2009) She continued to gained popularity for her style and photography.

Tina Peng can see that ‘many fashion bloggers gain a large amount of readers simply by posting regular examples of how they style their clothes’, a form of self-promotion. (2009) Such online exposure has opened up a ‘gateway’ into the fashion industry for many; Neely has used this to her advantage to launch her career. (Peng 2009)

Fashion Toast is a perfect example of self-interest cleverly underlying the purpose of a blog (perhaps to known to a lot of people as a means to express ones creativity or thoughts, rather than for business). On one hand, the blog has been able to influence people, and them together in a sort of fashion-related ‘community’. But, on the other, it is Neely using her blog to promote herself and her business. Michelle Chen considers her as ‘a fashion entrepreneur, who benefits from multiple social networks’. (2010) The blog now has a Twitter page with over 46,000 followers, a Facebook page with over 13,000 ‘likes’ and a Tumblr.

The reputation gained from her blog aided her eBay business. Back in 2009, pieces were selling for over $200 USD, although the store doesn’t seem to be in operation still today. (Peng 2009) As the online users began to take notice of her blog, so did ‘designers and industry heavyweights’. It lead to a modeling contract (talking about a successful promotion of the self!), front row seats at a Paris fashion show, custom designer garments, and also her creation of two designs for surf and skate brand RVCA, as well as appearing in the line’s fall look book. Her latest success is appearing in a short film made for a Ralph Lauren fragrance. All that blogging has done wonders for Neely’s career!

Rumi Neely taken from Fashion Toast website

Blogs provide an alternative to mainstream media, but are they too self-indulgent? I think it depends on the area of interest the blog in question focuses on. But, a lot of the time, it’s people like Rumi Neely just using the medium as means to get noticed. It’s not that her posts are, shall we say, ‘newsworthy’ as such, but they are a means of self-expression. Lovink suggests bloggers are ‘creative’ in how they ‘celebrate the death of centralised meaning structures’ of mass media. (2007, pp22) Communities may get involved in blogs, however, to Lovink they are a means to manage the self.

Bibliography

Chen, Michelle (2010) ‘The New Face- Rumi Neely’, on Western Fashion Eastern Eye blog http://michelleshelle.wordpress.com/2010/05/11/the-new-face-rumi-neely/ 11 May, [accessed 14 April, 2011]

Lovink, Geert (2007) ‘Blogging, The Nihilist Impulse’, in Zero Comments: Blogging and Critical Internet Culture, London: Routledge, pp 1-38

Peng, Tina (2009) ‘A fashion blog leads to the Paris runway’, on CNN Money website http://money.cnn.com/2009/04/22/smallbusiness/fashion_bloggers_go_into_business.smb/index.htm 23 April, [accessed 14 April, 2011]

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