iReflect…again!

As I had never blogged before this semester of university, I was a little worried about how I would go. Don’t get me wrong, I love blogs, I read and follow a lot of blogs, however the thought of having to put my own ideas and thoughts out there for everyone to read was fairly confronting. I think one of the best parts about this blogging was when I referenced a website I had found online and then the writers of the site actually commented on my blog. They were from India and I also received a few views from Canada and America which was surprising, This further reinforces how exciting and accessible the online world is, where individuals from other countries can find and read my little university blog.

One of my very first posts was on copyright and the reasons why American DJ Greg Gillis, a.k.a Girl Talk, has not been sued. Exploring copyright was interesting, as I was able to relate the course content to one of my favourite artists, and research why he had not been sued for the amount of work he has used from other artists. I feel the example I used will relate to many others as he is quite a popular DJ and others may be wondering why as well.

In week 6, I wrote a post on citizen journalism and the role it has on the way we document and report on the news in today’s society. I really enjoyed this topic and post, as I feel a lot of major news corporations have a bias and subjective opinion towards certain news stories. The more uncensored, unedited and real information we can display in the news, the better chance everyone has of knowing the truth.

My last post for this week was on trolling and the current issue of gender difference online. I really enjoyed writing this post, as I feel my opinion on this topic is a lot stronger than on others previously, due to the fact I am quite interested in this topic. Consequently I found it easy to write this post, where I discussed two of the set readings for that week. I was able to see the positives and negatives of anonymity and identity online, and I was able to state my own opinion in regards to gender based trolling and misogyny.

Through studying Convergent Media Practices and entering the online world through my blog, I have become more aware of the convergent culture that we live in. Even though all students are studying the same topics each week, everyone has the chance to input on such a diverse range of information, that I genuinely find interesting and enjoy reading. My writing skills have improved and I feel I have explored a variety of media texts and topics that will give me the skills and knowledge to work in the media field in the future.

Trolling and gender abuse online

If you think the internet ‘troll’ is a new thing, you’re wrong. Internet trolls have been around for a long time and existed before the days of Twitter or Facebook, when people would abuse others online.

Presently, however, there seems to be a rise in what Jill Filipovic (2007) describes as ‘digital misogyny’, or what others may describe as gender-based trolling. Filipovic argues that women who show their faces online are being subjected to threats and online violence, just because they are in fact women. ‘Being a woman in a traditionally male-dominated career, like law or technology seems, on its own, sufficient to spark sexualised online harassment’. She feels that there is an enormous rise in the amount of anonymous digital misogyny, where faceless men feel they have the right to threaten and abuse women online with death and rape threats, violence and sexism.

In an ABC article, Karalee Evans identifies why she loves the viral Twitter campaign available, called #mencallmethings, where users can talk about experiences they have had with online trolls, ‘naming and shaming the perpetrators’. The hashtag, she describes, is a way that women can come together to further discuss sexist abuse they have been subject to in public online spaces. ‘But what is clear, particularly when you take the time to read through the #mencallmethings hashtag and associated blog posts, is that women are subjected to a unique, and frankly, ridiculous level of abuse almost entirely based on their sex.’ She also feels that men feel they are empowered by the safety of knowing their identity’s cannot be revealed, as if hiding behind the computer screen will save their anonymity.

So what would be the solution to a problem like this? Should everyone’s identity’s online be available? Anonymity is a big part of the online world, and with identity, comes major responsibility. The idea of everyone having their identity’s visible online is appealing, yet virtually impossible, due to internet scamming like ‘catfishing’.

I feel saddened that this type of online abuse has become so prevalent in society today, however I believe women need to be empowered to take action against online trolls. Women should take advantage of the hashtag #mencallmethings, or if its more serious, get authorities involved to track IP addresses. It would be appalling to think that comments of these trolls have affected a person’s life and lead them to silence.

References

Filipovic, J 2007, ‘Blogging While Female: How Internet Misogyny Parallels ‘Real World’ Harassment’, Yale Journal of Law and Feminism, p 295 – 304.

Participatory politics and youth culture

In such a technologically driven world, it would be hard for a young person not to be involved in some sort of social media or online space. With this in mind, it is evident that a lot more young people are becoming actively involved and interested in political campaigns and human rights movements through social media. Within the ever-growing participatory culture we live in, the term ‘participatory politics’ has arisen, where ‘The Youth and Participatory Politics’ study defines participatory politics as “interactive, peer-based acts through which individuals and groups seek to exert both voice and influence on issues of public concern.”

Henry Jenkins argues that there has been broader political participation by the current generation, as the digital age offers a new era of activism through online cultures. “Participatory politics welcomes diverse involvement, enables greater creativity and voice in expressing one’s views, and provides a gateway toward more traditional political activities, such as voting or petitioning.”

An example of this would be ‘Kony 2012’, a video created by a human rights organisation about the tragedy of child soldiering in Uganda. The video was released and circulated well beyond the organisation’s expectations, with over 100 million views within the first week. This rapid circulation was the result of young supporters, as the video was mostly shared amongst school and college students.

The practices of participatory politics will create new opportunities with the political involvement of young people, as the spreading of a poster for Kony 2012 could be their first exposure to politics. It will empower young people to become more involved and develop vital skills that will help them make a difference, whether it is through sharing a video or creating an online political blog.

Rip it, mix it, burn it, share it

The remix culture can be defined as ‘a culture which is dominated by amateur creators – creators who are no longer willing to be merely passive receptors of content’. This rapid transformation from passive consumers to active participants has been enormous over the past decades according to Axel Bruns (2010), with the rise of technologies allowing users to freely upload their own content.

The Amen Break, the worlds most important 6-second drum loop, was one of the first drum samples to be experimented with (YouTube, 2006). First created by a group known as ‘The Winston’s’ back in 1969, this funk and soul music group performed the song called ‘Amen, Brother’ which is probably the most sampled record of all time. The drum solo has now been sampled and used in thousands of hip-hop, drum and bass tracks, and is what they now call the Amen Break.

 ‘The sampler, as well as the turntable, were principle tools largely responsible for the birth and development of hip hop. With the sampler, any drum beat, any guitar riff, any sound that could be recorded, could be used as part of a new composition, a new contextualisation.’ (YouTube, 2006)

As we can see, the Amen Break is much more than just a drum loop. It symbolises the importance, despite being created over 40 years ago, that such a sound has on our remix culture. Technologies that are available to users these days allows for using, remixing, sharing and distributing all content online to anyone that wants to listen. This is what is known as ‘produsers’. We are all produsers, where we all have increased access to creating and sharing our own content. Remixing is a big part of a produsers content, and will continue to grow as our technological world expands as well.

This is a sample of what the drum loop sounds like, for those of you who may be unaware that this loop actually had a name!

 

References

Bruns, A 2010, ‘Distributed Creativity: Filesharing and Produsage’, accessed 2 May 2013, http://snurb.info/files/2010/Distributed%20Creativity%20-%20Filesharing%20and%20Produsage.pdf

YouTube, 2006, ‘Video explains the world’s most important 6-sec drum loop’, accessed 2 May 2013, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SaFTm2bcac

Transmedia in our world today

Honestly, I am slightly embarrassed to say that as a media student, before this lecture, I had never heard of the term transmedia. I have now come to learn that this is actually not a new concept, however many people were unaware that it was called ‘transmedia’. According to Henry Jenkins, transmedia is defined as ‘a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience’. In other words, telling a story across multiple platforms, where consumers have to view and engage in a story through these different platforms for the whole story to be revealed and make sense.

There has been an increasing number of transmedia projects created, due to the way people engage with online media in our technological world. Our way of creating, consuming and sharing stories today has become so available to all users, through smart phones, tablets and the never-ending access to majority of online content (MSLGROUP, 2013).

An example that I find relevant to transmedia storytelling is Harry Potter. J.K Rowling, the author, wrote a series of children fantasy novels, which were then directed into blockbuster films. The extension to which ‘Harry Potter’ is available to the public is enormous, and probably a lot more than J.K Rowling ever expected. An example is ‘Pottermore’, a unique online experience built around the books, where users can freely explore the world of Harry Potter and discover new content revealed by the author. Pottermore has over 4.4 million registered users who have earned around 60 million points for ‘exploring the storyworld and performing virtual actions’. Another example is ‘The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’ in Universal Orlando Resort, where visitors can explore the grounds, access passageways and classrooms, visit Hogsmeade and go on rides where characters come to life. Harry Potter games are also available to purchase on Xbox, Nintendo and Playstation, for gamers to become active in the Harry Potter world and discover new and exciting places.

Transmedia storytelling has allowed us as users to interact and become involved in the online media world, which has enabled major growth and expansion within the industry. Transmedia is essential in our world today, and will ultimately be the future of storytelling.

MSLGROUP, 2013, ‘Transmedia Storytelling: Ten Frontiers for the Future of Engagement’, accessed 19 April 2013,  http://peopleslab.mslgroup.com/peoplesinsights/7-transmedia-storytelling-ten-frontiers-for-the-future-of-engagement/

Excuse me, are you a journalist?

Traditionally, a journalist would be defined as a person who is employed to research, report, and present information as news to the audiences of mass media outlets within a short period of time. In today’s society, however, we have created a new term known as the ‘citizen journalist’. According to Axel Bruns, ‘Citizen journalism fundamentally disrupts the industrial journalism model by employing its users as journalists and commentators’ (Bruns, 2007, pg. 3).

Citizen journalism now plays a huge role in the way we document and report the news and events around the world. ‘Citizen journalism, which often builds on, debates, and critiques the published reports of mainstream journalistic organisations, can also be seen as a form of collaborative filtering … to discover the most relevant, important, or useful information for specific purposes or communities’ (Bruns, 2007, pg. 3).

There has been a major expansion in the online world through different networks and platforms that are now available for everyone to participate in. Websites such as Facebook, Twitter and WordPress, allow users to create their own content and freely express their own ideas through their websites and profiles. Examples of this form of journalism include tweeting about a traffic jam, sending an iPhone video to a news station or even just through creating your own personal blog.

Citizen journalism is often mocked for being subjective, unreliable and of bias opinion. Nevertheless, I feel that the uncensored information that comes from citizen journalism represents a more valid and legitimate truth, which in today’s society, no traditional media can effectively offer. Inevitably, this means we are no longer subject to media gatekeepers providing us with the news that they believe is appropriate and necessary, where we as the audience can now become authorised to choose the information that we believe is newsworthy.

Bruns, A, 2007, Produsage: Towards a Broader Framework for User-Led Content Creation. In Proceedings Creativity & Cognition 6, Washington, DC

Internet gives everyone a voice

Accessing media from around the globe on a regular basis can be a fairly easy task for most people. However, how do we know if the information is correct? How do we know that someone hasn’t just made up an idea and blurted it out on the Internet for all to see? We are all prosumers in the world today where we all have increased access to creating our own content. It can be through personal blogs, videos, music, or online social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter, where we can easily upload it and share it with whoever we want. We live in a participatory culture, where sharing things globally online is the best new thing. We are, however, struggling to keep a hold on the regulation of this content, and are possibly starting to lose control.

According to Janey Gordon, we have embraced the ways that mobile phones are offering an alternative to conventional and authorised sources of information. Gordon looks at three critical situations, one of those being the London Bombings in 2005, where many were injured and some even killed. She says, ‘The media and press asked for eyewitnesses to come forward and used images taken on mobile phones to supplement – and in their terms ‘enhance’ – their coverage of the event’ (p. 314).This form of media technology, as well as citizen journalism, is becoming increasingly important, where the exchange of information relies heavily on mobile phones in the public domain. The only downside of this new media technology is that the content that is being uploaded onto the internet passes through a weak or non-existent gatekeeper (Gordon, 2007, p. 314-315).

So this poses the question again, how can we establish that sources on the internet are being credible in this new media world? As prosumers, we are given freedom to actively participate in the online world, and therefore need to understand that everything we see should not always be taken at face value. Consequently, we need to look for other sources for clarification.

Gordon, Janey (2007), The Mobile Phone and the Public Sphere: Mobile Phone Usage in Three Critical Situations, Convergence 13/3 p. 307-319