Participation, you’re looking a little ‘slack’

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Gone are the days of simply producers and consumers: gone is the employment of Monologic media. Here we are in the 21st century, where you, yes you, are the audience; one of billions of the prosumers who has the ability to participate, connect with and explore contemporary dialogic media.

 Behind this dialogic shift lies the addictive participatory culture, as associated with social networking sites. We all crave to be apart of ‘the loop’, where being up to date with current trends, news, gossip and events, is as simple as logging into Facebook or searching a particular hash tag on Twitter. In addition to this active society is the facilities and ability provided to take part in citizen journalism, where immediacy of information, lack of gatekeepers and zero cost and filter entry enables individuals to create, share and reproduce content from various media platforms onto the ever growing Internet. It is here, although, that the debate lies;

Where is the line between productivity/creativity and indolence?

 With this participatory culture comes ‘Slack participation’, where prosumers prefer to take the easier approach in terms of generating and analyzing content. Remember the days when Political activism meant either donating money or physically taking part in demonstrations such as strikes and tours. Now, with the click of the fingers, or in this instance the click of a computer mouse, one can release their inner social activist with merely the assistance with their keyboard.

 KONY 2012, I’m sure, has bombarded your twitter and facebook feed, being a chief example of this slack participation and just how the Internet can craft a viral phenomena.  Instagram, which happens to be my chosen media platform was an integral initiator of the campaigns success, where my ‘followers’ on the application exercised that ordinarily untapped inner activist crosses citizen journalist, through posting the operations slogans and images on the ‘home feed’. Although, it can be argued that, yes, by reblogging and re posting KONY content the cause is accumulating international recognition, yet in doing so the individual is by no means taking physical action, unless you call sitting at a desk and proof reading content ‘physical’. Through this one humorous image below, displayed in todays lecture, this theory is described perfectly in a ‘nut shell’.

(Source: DevianArt)

 This brings us back to that all-important query once again? Where can we draw the line between active or slack participation? Although this modern day participatory culture encourages creative exploration, to what extent does this contribution affect the way in which we take action?  In a world where Clay Shirkay describes media as “global, social, impetuous and cheap”, you, the prosumers, can manoeuvre this ‘line’ to your desire.

 Quick Edit: 28/3/12

KONY CURIOUS

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By now, I’m almost certain that those of you who read this blog have been recently educated on the ‘Kony craze’, even if this was through simply viewing my first blog post. There is, although, one aspect that may differ from individual to individual; how did you come across this universal issue..

 I still remember the 5th of March; it was like any ordinary afternoon, where I would sign into my Facebook account after returning home from Uni. On this particular occasion, the first post to appear on my news feed read ‘KONY 2012’, although I merely scanned the post then proceeded with checking my notifications. “You have been invited to the group MAKE KONY FAMOUS”, “You have been invited to the group KONY 2012”. What? Two out of Three notifications mentioned this so called ‘Kony’. I then refreshed the home page to see not only the initial Kony orientated post, but a news feed flooded with corresponding peculiar phrases.

Success. This is exactly what the Invisible Children’s Organisation and Leader Jason Russell had anticipated; creating global awareness of Joseph Konys inhumane actions via social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter, through establishing inquisitiveness and interest, where curiosity proved to be the key initiator of their viral campaign.

 Worldwide communities have become consumed by this overpowering curiosity, where the campaign has been presented as an ‘eye opener’ to social and political issues which have gone unnoticed, fashioned by a hijack of social media outlets. Until individuals’ computers became flooded with Kony content, the likes of Joseph Kony and the Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army were in many cases unheard of. Thus, there was no chance of bringing an end to the LRA’s horrific doings if hardly anyone knew of the Army, let alone the routines of this militia.

 It is amazing to think that the intrinsic human sensation of curiosity has created a social media sensation in its self, presenting to the World a campaign hosting an element of mystery intertwined with a willing desire to acquire knowledge and power. The power to…

 (Image source: Impacted Nurse.com, Stop Kony)
(Quick edit: 4/4/12)
 References:

Does an ‘Apple’ a day keep the Android away?

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With over 1.08 Billion Smartphone users Worldwide, the ‘mobile phone’ has become an interface to the Internet. The issues of access, power and control associated with these Smartphone’s although can be accredited to the contest between Locked appliances, such as the Apple iPhone and Generative platforms, as seen with the Android platform, whereZittrain states “as time passes, the brand names on each side will change, but the core battle will remain.”

 iOS versus Android. It’s on.

It has been somewhat indoctrinated in society that to be ‘hip’ you must carry around an iPhone. In all honesty I myself have conformed to this idea, where being surrounded by a community using anything and everything beginning with an ‘i’, makes it a little difficult to venture out and seek new innovations.

 The iPhone, although, is deceivingly restrictive, as Apple controls the operating system, the applications market and simply the things you can do with the phone. So here the questions lie:

  •    Are you fine with the idea that Apple controls every choice or action undertaken on your iPhone?
  •    Does this close, tethered system confine how you wish to set up your phone or merely how you choose to use your product?

 Let’s just say, after learning of the closed nature of the iPhone, I have found the Android far more appealing. Due to the generative nature of the Android, the product presented is merely connectivity, allowing consumers and prosumers to be apart of this open eco system, through sharing and creating content/codes and rooting. Instagram, which happens to be my chosen media platform, continues to embrace technological convergence, recently announcing its plans to possibly take the ‘giant leap’ from iOS to Android.

 So does an ‘Apple’ a day keep the Android Away? By this phrase I simply imply the possibility of the iPhones’ market saturation being detrimental to the success of the Android. This statement, however, is by no means accurate. Due to the iPhones inability to allow consumer freedom and creativity it has struggled to reach that of the Androids market share, being 46.9%, leaving the Apple product to linger at a low 28.7%. Smartphone’s, nonetheless, will continue to harness technological convergence and the flow of content across media platforms, where The fact of the matter is which option will you choose; a locked appliance or a generative platform? The decision is in your hands. 

‘KONY’ CRAZE

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“Humanities greatest desire is to belong and connect, we share what we love, and this reminds us of what we all have in common. This connection is changing the way the world works.”

 Sounds familiar? I’d say so.

 This introduction to my first official post was extracted from a unique foreword in itself: The introduction to the viral phenomenon, the KONY 2012 video, narrated by activist and co founder of the Invisible Children Corporation’, Jackson Russell.

 Posted on ‘Vimeo‘ on February 20, the remarkable short film accumulated 13.5 million views; however it wasn’t until 12 noon on the 5th of March that the World was going to experience one of the greatest social media revolutions known to man. With a record breaking 81,853,498 views (as of 18/ 3/2012), and Over 20,000 “Kony”-related videos uploaded in the past week, YouTube became the key driving force for the KONY 2012 campaign, where individuals are strongly encouraged to “Watch it. Share it. Stop at nothing”, as stated by Russell.

(Graph source: ORC Social: March 8, 2012 | Jenny Verbitsky, KONY 2012 Goes Viral in Record Time Thanks to YouTube, Twitter)

 The film indoctrinates one aim; ‘Make Kony Famous’, in the hope of bringing the leader of the Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army to his end through creating awareness of his excruciatingly unjust doings through the use of social media. One integral message is also conveyed; that everyone has the capacity and the influence to make the world a far better place. By sharing or re blogging the video this awareness needed to Stop Joseph Kony is not only being established but also reinforced.

 With modern technology and social networking at our fingertips, any issue can be made global, where the presentation of KONY 2012 on YouTube has been that of an influential, somewhat life changing message set to trigger that little social activist within us all. KONY 2012 has managed to ‘get the ball rolling’ in the move towards a more socially and politically just World, where by achieving the campaigns key objective, to capture the infamous Kony, mankind is making this desired transition.

 After viewing the video and exercising that social activist within, I feel inspired to leave you with one message, as Russell would say, “Watch the film. Sign the pledge. Join the revolution”

References;

(Quick Edit: 3/4/12)

Copyright; what’s the big deal?

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It’s your 20th birthday and gathering around the cake are all your friends and family anticipating the traditional ‘Happy Birthday To You’ sing along.

FREEZE!

There’s just one tiny problem with this scenario. Your family and friends are just about to breach copyright. Unbelievable, I know, but nonetheless true as the rights to “Happy Birthday to You” were sold to the Time Warner Corporation in 1998 collecting $2 million in royalties in 2008 according to Wikipedia.

 The Statute of Queen Anne 1710 saw the first appearance of copyright (as opposed to the prior understanding of property as a scarce physical resource in the public domain, free for all to use), granting owners monopoly for 14 years after publication. The Berne Convention 1886 then enabled monopoly 50 years after the authors death, which guided us to current US Copyright Law, enabling a monopoly of 70 years after the authors death, and 120 years after creation or 95 years after publication if under corporate ownership. This means that J. R. R. Tolkien’s original novel ‘Lord of the Rings’ will be in the public domain in 2043.

 The integrity of copyright regulations is most definitely a debatable topic, in which we’ve all been exposed to the concept, even if this means clicking ‘Agree’ to the terms and conditions on a download that you most likely haven’t read. If someone was to copy, modify or degrade the value of an original work you created I assume you would not be overly impressed. Yet, opposed to that is the absurdity that by singing ‘Happy Birthday’ you are breaking the law. The parody of Michael Buble’s song ‘Haven’t met you yet’ on YouTube, in which Michael replied “this is one of the coolest things he has ever seen”. Despite the violation of copyright, the publicity generated by the video ironically increased Buble’s popularity.

As of 2001, although, under the notion of fair use and creative commons stood the growth of creative communication through sharing, collaborating and expanding on original works, which we can only hope will become the future of copyright foundations.

 So there it is. Copyright. Is it an ethical or excessively restrictive barrier to artistic growth? The answer lies in your hands, and to finish off I’ll leave you with a reminder. Be cautious how and where you sing ‘Happy Birthday’, a lawsuit from Time Warner is no birthday present.

Converging Cultures #101

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Welcome to convergence culture, where in the words of Henry Jenkins, analogue and digital media collide and producers, prosumers and consumers interact in unpredictable ways

The concept of ‘The medium is the message’ plays an integral role within this converged society, where we see the medium as the nature and characteristics of anything we conceive or create, define the change of scale, pace or pattern which an innovative product introduces into human affairs, in others the message.

Dino Ignacio’s infamous series of ‘Bert is Evil’ images saw Sesame Streets character Bert interact with terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden to form a somewhat politically incorrect medium.

(Source: ‘Know Your Meme‘)

 Confronting? Just a little. Although there is no questioning that the above image (medium) is successful in fitting the criteria of ‘becoming the message’ as it challenges and shifts our opinions and political views on not only terrorism, but the light in which terrorism is viewed in this day and age.

Speaking of political views, the ‘Obama Campaign’ brings us to the concept that convergence is the flow of content across multiple media platforms and mediums, and can be identified by that of a transmedia project. The Obama Campaign has been to date one of the most successful non-fiction transmedia projects, where Obama gained international popularity through exploring and utilizing all forms of media to express his political views. Social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, where the Presidents followers on twitter exceed 12 965 057, as well as YouTube were used as a platform for Obama to distribute lectures, interviews and videos of campaigns, such as his victorious election speech in November of 2008.

For all you Matrix fans out there, the film itself has also proved to be an incredibly successful transmedia project. The action packed science fiction phenomenon has been converted into comic strips, video games, Lego toys, theatre plays and character costumes.

So in a little under 400 words, there is convergence for you. Day by day, minute-by-minute, ‘tweeting’ or simply viewing YouTube videos, whether you realise it or not you are immersing yourself into this converged culture that we like to call the 21st century.

(Quick Edit 28/3/2012)