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B) Lovink (Reader, page 222) also 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 ONE of these arguments giving an example of a blog. Specify chosen argument in your answer.

I agree with Lovink that more than anything blogs are used to ‘manage the self’. I always thought that was what blogs were for anyway, to express one’s self and give your opinion. That’s why I can’t understand when people complain about them being “too personal, even egocentric” because isn’t that the point of most? (Lovink, 28)

Searching through blogspot.com blog after blog is personal, someone managing their self for whomever to see it. Mia Sophia discusses her life http://miasophiasday.blogspot.com/?expref=next-blog and so does Lisa Marie http://lisamariemlt-justanotherday.blogspot.com/?expref=next-blog. These blogs give insight into these people’s lives, who they are and what their about. To me this sort of blogging allows users to vent their feelings and emotions in a real way. They physically type it all out and it probably doesn’t even matter if someone reads it or not, it has helped them. They are able to hide behind their computer and not have to face the boredom, insults or help offered by ‘real’ people but just say what they want to say.

While many blogs are now used by news corporations or people providing gossip (Perez Hilton) or people even promoting their online stores (http://vintagemp.blogspot.com/) the majority still seem to be personal. Whether this will remain the case is yet to be seen and the more people who use them to promote their ‘talents’ the less I believe we will see of people just being themselves. However,  that’s why blogs seem to be so popular, is the fact that they are so versatile and can be used for any reason you see fit (within reason) and whether you are promoting a store, gossip, talent or yourself they allow you to voice your opinion or ideas no matter what, with or without feedback.

However, some argue this sort of blogging is “garbage” that doesn’t generate additional value which is true if you believe blogs are supposed to generate discussion and thought provoking concepts (Lovink, 30). On the other hand if you believe blogging is about expression and expressing one’s self than they are neither garbage or worthless. In the end I believe people should use blogs for whatever reason that suits them and if some don’t like that then don’t read them, it’s not that difficult a concept.

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

–          Blogspot.com

B) Medosch argues that: “piracy, despite being an entirely commercially motivated activity carried out in black or grey markets, fulfills culturally important functions” (Reader, page 318).

Discuss ONE of these arguments while giving an example online.

Piracy is the unauthorized reproduction or use of a copyrighted book, recording, television program, patented invention, trademarked product, etc (dictionary.com) and it is commonly used to sell in order to make a profit. Piracy is very common in developing countries were everything is pirated from “water and electricity to bandwidth” (Medosch, 2008:81).

While piracy is illegal it continues to flourish especially with the introduction of the internet. Movie piracy began with people taking cameras into the cinema, filming and then selling copies of the film. Now however people have the ability to share and access these pirated copies online. Sites such as Napster and Pirate Bay came under attack from authorities trying to stop these illegal sharing sites. However by stopping one, another just takes its place because piracy is something that people will always do.

As Medosch argues it does fulfill culturally important functions, playing a role be giving access to cultural goods which otherwise would be unavailable to the majority of people (2008:81). It fills the gap in provision and provides access to art movies and more difficult fare which does not get official distribution (Medosch, 2008:81). It gives people access to information and cultural goods such as those in Brazil who illegally obtain modern technologies like the internet, allowing them “access to services and information which allow a low-marginalized population to realize their civil rights” and help to shorten the digital divide within our society (Medosch, 2008:82).

This snippet from the film Pirated Copy (Man Yan in Chinese) gives an idea of the importance of piracy in some countries where people need it in order to make a decent income.

This shows that piracy is more than sticking it to the ‘big guys’ but actually fulfills an important function within these societies.

On the other hand, however, piracy in countries such as Australia which has access to most things and whose population can afford most things in life, the cultural function is lost somewhat but not completely. The use of BitTorrent and other p2p file sharing websites creates a function different to those in developing countries. It creates an online community of users with similar interests who want to share what they have with others, again fulfilling a cultural function, in a slightly different way.

–          Dictionary.com

–          Armin Medosch, ‘Paid in Full: Copyright, Piracy and the Real Currency of Cultural Production’, in Deptforth. TV Diaries II: Pirate Strategies, London: Deptforth TV, 2008, pp.73-97.

–          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fuNsMzSZVE4

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

http://www.tubechop.com/watch/146252

This statement given by Mark Zuckerberg is only a short snippet from a larger discussion on the new privacy settings of Facebook. While I agree that the more control people have over what they share will lead to greater sharing I cannot see it necessarily leading to a more open and connected world and one where our problems will be easier to solve.

 I can understand where Mark Zuckerberg is coming from with wanting his site to improve and allow it to grow by getting users to share more and more content. And I think this can lead to a more open and connected Facebook but the world’s problems cannot be solved by a social networking site, they are a lot larger than that.

This statement and the changes to Facebook were created after many users were complaining that their information was being used and exploited by advertising companies, other users and programs within Facebook. Many groups on Facebook were even created to express their concerns and ideas of how to improve the privacy settings on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/settings/?tab=privacy#!/pages/I-hate-the-new-facebook-privacy-settings/246372636176

http://www.facebook.com/settings/?tab=privacy#!/privacycampaign?sk=info

So it seems that Facebook took these concerns and ideas on board to create an easy to use system. They however didn’t change the privacy settings so much just the ease of using them by adding one master control or switch where in the click of a button your information can be restricted to only your friends or open to everyone. They have even supplied a page to help users understand the new settings and how to change them, even offering video tutorials.

http://www.facebook.com/settings/?tab=privacy#!/privacy/explanation.php

The privacy issues with Facebook really started with the launch of the ‘news feed’ in 2006, the aggregated display outraged Facebook users although the information had ever actually been private (Boyd, 2008:13-4). As Zuckerberg claimed no privacy was compromised but the anger of the news feed was more than that. It was the fact that now that information was at the forefront, people no longer had to go searching and the sense of control was lost (Boyd, 2008:18). Boyd states that “information is not private because no one knows it; it is private because the knowing is limited and controlled” (2008:18). This is what the new privacy settings have allowed on Facebook, although most information still remains visible to some people like your friends or friends of friends it is back in the control of the user.

To me it seems that people aren’t as concerned with their actual privacy, if they were they wouldn’t be on Facebook, but they are more concerned with their amount of CONTROL over the access of their information. Mark Zuckerberg was clever to see this relationship and appeal to the need to control in people to settle these privacy issues.

–          Danah Boyd, ‘Facebook’s Privacy Trainwreak: Exposure, Invasion and Social Convergence’, Convergence: The International Journal into New Media Technologies 14, 4 (2008): 13-20.

–          www.facebook.com

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?

I agree that bloggers do effectively inform the public but is it more effective compared to elite media? That fact I’m not as sure about.

Blogging is a great new form and way to send out and access information. It is quick and easy and anyone with a computer and the internet or now days a phone has the ability to do so. Bloggers have the ability to reach millions of people all around the globe, but do they? As Russell states “not all voices attract equal amounts of attention”, there are some more popular ‘A-list’ bloggers who receive all the traffic (2008:67).

Positively bloggers can be up-to-date with new information being updated by the day, hour or minute, never allowing readers to feel out of the loop. Elite media doesn’t have this luxury as they are usually a daily news paper or weekly gossip magazine and so are now expanding into blogs as well. Unlike elite media blogs also foster more feedback, comments and analysis. They open a public forum for anyone’s thoughts or ideas on the topic, creating a public sphere which is highly effective. Perez Hilton (http://perezhilton.com/), celebrity gossip blogger has access to millions of teens and tweens who are more inclined to read a blog than pick up a news paper or PAY for a magazine. Blogs appeal as they are simple and easy to read, unlike The Age with its sophisticated language (it turns some people away). Bloggers also have the luxury of being able to include images, videos, and links to other information which can be accessed immediately. They can create a larger picture for the reader.

Blogs can quickly go viral through networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter and through word of mouth, however, without this how do bloggers advertise? And if they don’t advertise than who reads them? Starting a following on a blog must be difficult but elite media already has that following. People buying the newspaper every day, having it delivered to their homes or subscribing to fashion magazines, it may be an old form of media but it’s what people have been doing for years. People have to actively go out and find the blog they are looking for, the information they want to read, to some its more effort than going to the supermarket or news agency and they don’t want to do it. A risk with blogging is that they can become “a horror of narcissistic isolation”, sitting alone at home pedaling out their views and opinions (Russell, 2008:67). Personally with ‘news’ blogs I find they can be too opinionated not that elite media can’t be, but I feel that elite media has access to more information and while yes they do manipulate the evidence I still feel like a trust them more over a blog.   

So while bloggers undoubtedly inform the public I don’t believe it is more effective than elite media, not just yet anyway.  

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

While discussing YouTube, José van Dijck argues that the site’s interface influences the popularity of videos through ranking tactics that promote popular favourites (Reader, page 94). How do ranking tactics impact on the formation of online ‘communities’?

To begin what is an online community? Can we define it in the same way as a real life community? The oxford dictionary describes a community firstly as “people living in one area” but secondly as “a group with similar interests or origins”. While the first definition cannot be related to the online community the second definition can be. This definition of ‘similar interests’ is linked to van Dijck’s definition of a community as one that “relates to groups with a communal preference in music, movies or books”, a ‘taste community’ as he coins it (van Dijck, 2009:45). Taste or preference is an activity that can connect individuals with different social groups (van Dijck, 2009:45).

Therefore ranking tactics that promote popular favourites on sites such as YouTube do impact on the formation of communities. Van Dijck states in the article ‘Users like you? Theorizing agency in user-generated content’ that rankings and ratings on these sites are obviously vulnerable to manipulation, both by the users and by the site’s owners,  this means that YouTube has the ability to tailor its site to create the communities it wants to have participating (van Dijck, 2009:45). This limits the freedoms of the communities which YouTube advertises on its community guidelines page, which promotes relative freedoms to the user.  In a way by advertising top rated videos YouTube is becoming more like older forms of media such as the radio station. Radio stations play certain types of music such as classic, rock or top 40, each influencing the type of audience who will listen in, manipulating their community.

Not only is this ranking system impacting on the communities being created but it could also be impacting on the people involved within the community. New media as many like to believe is controlled by ‘active users’ unlike mass media which contained ‘passive audiences’ (2009:43). However, by advertising these most watched/most discussed videos these formats are allowing internet users to once again become passive observers of this content.

As you look through the videos presented on YouTube as most watched you can see a trend. Most are silly, spoof amateur videos which would seemingly create a certain community within YouTube. However, while saying that and although I do agree that these rating systems influence the communities formed, I think that YouTube has found a way to combat this as well. While listing the most viewed or highest rated videos they also provide popular videos from different categories. Some are pretty typical like music, movies, entertainment and trends but some are more defined such as education, science and technology, sports and politics (YouTube). By also supplying these videos for people to access YouTube is trying to foster the creation of a range of communities.

The users interested in a video such as this one about American politics

would most likely be significantly different to those who are interested in this video.

Although the first puts politics into a young and understand form there would still be many who would not be interested in watching it and would prefer to see human angry birds, and again there would be those users interested in both. Perhaps creating three communities already.

–          Jose van Dijck, ‘Users Like You? Theorizing Agency in User-Generated Content”, Media, Culture and Society 31 (2009): 41-58

–          http://www.youtube.com/

Was scrolling through most watched videos on YouTube and came across this video.

It doesn’t really have anything to do with netcom but i thought it was pretty funny and interesting to see which videos get a lot of views

Went and read through YouTube’s terms and conditions.

I found some of their restrictions interesting so thought I’d share the link

http://www.youtube.com/t/terms