Week 6: BCM112 Will you be my audience? User empowerment, access and participation across media platforms.

Hello there, I’m Ram Peow Loong Naidu and this is my University assessment blog.  In the seventh-week class, we were introduced to user empowerment, access and participation across media platforms.  During the tutorials, we discussed how technological convergence alters the role of audiences in their interaction with digital media platforms.

Recapping the first topic, I recall that convergence is the flow of content that traverses multiple media and technological platforms. However it cannot take place without the cooperation of various media platform industries. It also includes the migratory behaviour of media audiences (Mitew 2012).

How technological convergence affects the relationship between media technology and the Audience:

The mobile phone is an example of technological convergence that strongly affects the relationship between media technology and the audience.  The use of the mobile phone has a great impact on news agendas, gatekeepers and primary definers (Gordon 2007).  The media used to be monologic, where information only flows one way i.e. one to many.  In the process, information has to pass through a gatekeeper such as the publisher, government censor and/or main stream media. Monologic Media include TVs, radios and newspapers (Mitew 2012).  

Thanks to the convergence of various kinds of technology and invention of devices like the Internet, the iPhone and Android smartphones, dialogic media have taken the world by storm.  They have enabled information to flow in many directions, i.e. from many to many (Mitew 2012). Consequently, new types of players have evolved due to new participations. Consider Wikipedia, a free, collaborative, online encyclopaedia that allows users worldwide to access information from it and edit information into it. This is a boon to those who want to be heard, and judging by the number of bloggers and citizen journalists in the new media, this number is colossal.  Just about anyone can now just broadcast via different networks bypassing intervention as the gatekeepers appear weak or non-existent. Hence, messages can reach a global audience. Thanks to technological convergence, passive consumers have metamorphosed into active consumers. The once inactive audience can now produce information and disseminate it, thereby transforming the average consumer audience into the prosumer audience where they are both consumers and producers of information. Literally any message can be transmitted to anyone in any corner of the world (Mitew 2012).

How the social media facilitate new forms of individual expression.

The advent of the mobile phone has altered the global village as it pushes traditional and official sources of information to the limit. This is particularly felt in times of national and personal calamity. The mobile phone not only documents but reports first-hand events from eyewitnesses and those closely associated with them. The 2003 Chinese SARS outbreak, the 2004 south-east Asian tsunami and the 2005 London bombing exemplify incidents where multimedia text messages (SMS) or messages (MMS) were heavily used to communicate with families and friends, “to precede and scoop official sources” and bypass censorship and news blackouts and relates actual reports of  events. Pictures and short films are being transmitted rapidly along with accounts of events to other media broadcasts and the internet. The new technology has elevated the role of the common audience, enabling them to make vital contributions to a massive audience.  They play an important role as citizen journalists or participant reporters (Gordon 2007). In a sense, “Everyone can be heard.”

The internet continues to be the principal source of news networking, devoid of implicit filters and has the advantage of zero cost of entry.

How do we establish source credibility?

While the world rejoices at what the new technology provides, do not assume that the world of media without gatekeepers coupled with a free flow of information is perfect.  This is because messages transmitted to a global audience without gatekeepers have no quality control (Mitew 2012).  There is no one to validate the accuracy of the information or decide what information is truly newsworthy.  In my opinion, this can prove to be a disadvantage as the public could be fed ‘trash’ or could be misinformed.  The recent China coup comes to mind.  Just recently, rumours of a Coup d’état in the People’s Republic of China were circulating wildly.  It ricocheted around the Chinese Internet on 21 March 2012.  It caused the cost of credit default swaps on Chinese debt to rise slightly. That’s incredible considering there wasn’t a shred of evidence that shots were fired at the Diaoyutai State Guest House or tanks were lining to the streets, as viral microblog posts depicted.  This culminated in the sacking of Bo Xilai, the powerful Secretary of the CPC Chongqing Committee on the 15 March 2012 (Mitew 2012).

———————————————————————————————————————–

Reference List

Gordon, J 2007, ‘Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies’, Mobile Phone Usage in Three Critical Situations, Vol 13(3): 307–319.

Mitew, T, 2012, “BCM112 Will you be my audience? User empowerment, access and participation across media platforms”, lecture, BCM112 Convergent Media Practices, University of Wollongong, delivered 26th March, accessed 9th March, accessed at http://prezi.com/jxq_2muer3ea/bcm112-will-you-be-my-audience-user-empowerment-access-and-participation-across-media-platforms/.

Advertisements

Week 4: I ♥ gadgets: platforms, permissions and ideologies in technological convergence

Hello there, I’m Ram Peow Loong Naidu and this is my University assessment blog and in the following the fourth-fifth week class, we were introduced to technological convergence which touches on gadgets: platforms, permissions and ideologies in technological convergence. In this week’s lecture and tutorial we discussed the dynamics of technological convergence. After reading the 2004 article by Henry Jenkins on the “Logic of Media Convergence” I found his writings too technical.

 

As the course progresses, I realise how the U.S environment is shaped by contrasting trends; lowered production costs versus alarming concern of ownership. The concentration of power in the hands of a few powerful multinational conglomerates dictating what we see or hear is certainly a cause for concern.  Some think the media is too controlled.  Other opine that the media is spinning out of control.  The reality is:  you can’t have both.

 

Recapping the first topic on Convergence, I’ve learnt and understood that convergence involves the flow of content that traverses multiple media and. technological platforms. However it cannot take place without the cooperation of various media platform industries.  It also includes the migratory behaviour of media audiences. Different kinds of materials, contents and channels exist. This theory was coined by Henry Jenkins (Mitew 2012).

 

 

Logan’s (2010) image of Technological Convergence

 

The range of delivery channels has also drastically expanded. Consider this: The functions of our cell phones have evolved beyond its original purpose.  It now enables us to play games, download information from the internet and receive and send photographs or text messages. Thanks to convergence, any of these functions can also be performed through other media appliances.  The CD (one form of media) can be played through a variety of media – stereos, DVD players, gaming consoles and even a blu-ray player.  The benefit of convergence is that it is convenient.  However, this is not all blissful. Within America itself, the rate of convergence creates an imbalance.  The rich and most technologically savvy are the adapters while the rest of the population have to play catch up.  The same is true beyond America. The result:  power and wealth is consolidated within the affluent nations and some shift in the relative status and prominence of developing economies. The reality is that convergence is here to stay and the ease of use of all technological media and platforms will continue to grow simply because it is unstoppable – it’s an on-going process. (Mitew 2012)

Platforms, permissions and ideologies in technological convergence

Both the iPhone and Android are classified as smartphones.  However, which gadget empowers the user the most? While Apple’s iPhone offers a locked appliance, Google’s Android provides a generative, open-ended platform (Mitew 2012).

In terms of empowerment, I would say that the Android triumphs over the iPhone. Firstly, the Android enables consumers to become prosumers, with the option of submitting user-generated content in the form of Apps. Secondly, Android users can root the operating system, changing the entire function of the gadget.  As a result of this experimentation, the smartphone can function as a universal remote control, an option that is becoming popular. In addition, Android users can improve their device, based on user feedback via a user-generated aftermarket firmware – the Cyanogen Mod (Mitew 2012).

Despite being more popular, the iPhone is less flexible. This is because all content in the App Store is being moderated by the Apple Corporation, signifying that Apple’s business model is one that is based on control whereas Google’s business model lies on the premise of sharing and serving as an open source. (Mitew 2012)

The choice one makes depends on whether one prefers to be a consumer or a prosumer.  While the latter enjoys empowerment, he or she could be burdened by too many choices.  While the essence of convergent technologies, such as the smartphones, is to allow the flow of content, how freely it flows is largely dependent on the user’s choice.

Watch, but don’t touch! Copyright, ownership structures, and industry control

Copyright Laws-Look but Don’t Touch

Hello there, I’m Ram Peow Loong Naidu or just Ram and these are my University assessment blogs.  The third-fourth week lectures introduced us to “What is Copyright?” They highlighted that copyright is a very fragile yet sensitive issue. Introduced around the 18th century, it is a legal concept that rewards the creator of an original work, exclusive rights to their work for a period of time.  For example, this blog that I’m posting right now begets the question – “do I have the right to copyright it?” (Mitew 2012). A discussion with my lecturer reveals that American corporations should be credited for modern day copyright as most major global companies were owned by Americans. In fact the U.S. company, the Disney Corporation, is one of the world’s biggest copyright owners, besides being the biggest lobbyist behind the expansion of the copyright laws (Mitew 2012).

So what is Copyright

From what I understand Copyright is a legal concept, created by most governments, to give exclusive rights of an original work to its creator, for a limited time. It actually means “the right to copy”. In my opinion, since convergence also follows Consolidation which is recycling material across different sources, copyrights hamper convergence. Like trademarks, copyright is an intellectual property (Mitew 2012).

The Stop Online Piracy Act, known as SOPA and the Protect IP [Intellectual Property] Act, or PIPA are the most well-known bills that protect online copyrights are.  They are dedicated to preventing online piracy. It was the SOPA & PIPA that caused Wikipedia to shut down for a day in January, 2012. Quite frankly, I was outraged and confused, all the more so since Wikipedia is an important, free, collaborative, online encyclopaedia that allows users to access information from it. It was a serious blow to internet users worldwide.  How in the world did they manage to shut down Wikipedia? I discovered later that they were bills.  

 

The bills allowed copyright holders to seek court orders against websites accused of facilitating copyright infringement. Basically if you upload something to Wikipedia or YouTube that you don’t own the copyright to, the two websites could be shut down and you could also land in jail. The Wikipedia blackout exemplified the impact of enforcing the copyrights laws stringently. While I support copyrights protection, I concur with Wikipedia that this harms free speech as the legislation could allow for “censorship without due process (Mitew 2012).  Perhaps both parties should thrash it out and come out with a mutually acceptable solution.

 

An important lesson I learn is that without copyright laws anyone could freely copy, modify, or sell contents created by others without giving due credits. Famous writers, musicians, inventors and artist such as Rowlings, Tolkien, Da Vinci, Mozart, Edison and Jobs, would not enjoy the fame and credits they rightfully deserve all because their ideas and work  would be considered public domains and are freely exposed to what I consider “legalised plagiarism”- well that’s just unfair.

 

 

Media Conglomerate

 

From what I gather, media conglomerates impact copyrights.  Media conglomerates are very large, multinational companies that control large stakes in the mass media market, like television, radio, music and publishing. Among the largest media conglomerates are Walt Disney Company (United States), Sony (Japan), General Electric (United States), AT&T (United States), and Time Warner (United States). Clearly, the rights to information are in the grasp of a few powerful media entities.  Stakeholders, however, argue that the sheer number of media organizations globally would make it impossible for a few corporations to have any actual control over the worldwide media (Articleworld.org 2012).

 

Consider the latest scandal involving Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. The alleged hacking by News Corp cost its TV rivals tens of millions of dollars by “promoting” hackers’ efforts to give customers unauthorized, cheaper access to its rivals’ broadcasting. The AFR, writes that “the piracy cost the Australian pay TV companies up to $50 million annually and helped cripple the finances of Austar,” a rival satellite TV company.  This incident emphasizes the need for copyright laws to help safeguard the interests of rival businesses which play by the rule (Articleworld.org 2012).

 

Copyrights today: what we can do and what we can’t do

The Do’s

Always register your work with the copyright office which will offer more protection for your work. You also have the choice of giving your copyright to others! For license rights, you can license your rights to others for a specific purpose, yet retaining those rights after that. For nonexclusive rights, the STC can have rights to your work but so can you. Alternatively, you can hand over all rights, including updates, future work, corrections, derivatives, copying, etc. Always be sure to have a copy of the contract in case you do want to use what rights you have in the future and Above all else, hire a lawyer (Scocco 2012).

The Don’ts

You can’t copyright an idea. So, keep your creative juices and ideas a SECRET.  Never post your work on personal Web sites. Feel free to use material if the doc was written before 1923 (life + 70 years) because it’s in the public domain. Don’t just assume that your work always belongs to you: if you create something as an employee, the copyright could possibly belong to your employer. Another mistake is to assume that the publication date is the same as the copyright date.  Remember, the date of copyright is the date of instantiation of the document, i.e. when the work was completed, not when it was published. For limited purposes, fair use applies. Fair use refers to a defence against litigation but is not a right. Thus, satirizing someone’s work can invite legal suits as this is deemed to adversely affect its value. Additionally, do not be misled that all digital reproduction in libraries is permissible. Libraries and Archives have been found to be ‘innocent infringers’ of copyright due to ignorance (Scocco 2012).

————————————————————————————————————————–

Reference List

Articleworld.org, 2012, accessed 12/3/2012, http://www.articleworld.org/index.php/Media_conglomerate

Davies, L 2012, ‘Wikipedia begins blackout in protest against US anti-piracy laws’ The Guardian, 18 January, accessed 12/3/2012, http://www.library.uow.edu.au/referencing/ref_newspaper.html

Feldman J. B, 1996-2012, ‘Facebook Safety Issues’, accessed 11/3/12, http://www.surfnetkids.com/go/safety/788/facebook-safety-issues/.

Key, James, 2011, “Collaborative Bibliography: Technological Convergence”, accessed: 1 March 2012, http://jkeyaudio.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/collaborative-bibliography-technological-convergence/.

Mitew, T, 2012, “BCM112 Introduction: what is convergence?”, lecture, BCM112 Convergent Media Practices, University of Wollongong, delivered 4th March, accessed 5th March, accessed at http://prezi.com/fidnmfqqqw_c/bcm112-introduction-what-is-convergence/.

Mitew, T, 2012, “Watch, but don’t touch! Copyright, ownership structures, and industry control”, lecture, BCM112 Convergent Media Practices, University of Wollongong, delivered 11 March 2012, accessed 12th March, accessed at http://prezi.com/uqd0nc-aww_2/bcm112-watch-but-dont-touch-copyright-ownership-structures-and-industry-control/.

Scocco, D, 2012, “Copyright Law: 12 Dos and Don’ts”, accessed: 1 March 2012, http://www.dailyblogtips.com/copyright-law-12-dos-and-donts/

BCM112 the medium is the Message: trajectories of convergence

Trajectories of Convergence

 

Hello there, I’m Ram Peow Loong Naidu or just Ram and this is my University assessment blog based on the lectures in the second week.  The topic is “Trajectories of Convergence”.

 

Recapping the first topic on Convergence, I’ve learnt and understood that convergence involves the flow of content that traverses multiple media and. technological platforms. However it cannot take place without the cooperation of various media platform industries.  It also includes the migratory behaviour of media audiences. Different kinds of materials, contents and channels exist. This theory was coined by Henry Jenkins (Mitew 2012).

 

Week 2 focused on Trajectories of Convergence and the themes were based on the shifting of old to new media and how the media industries, technologies and audiences are affected by convergence.

 

The trajectories of convergence can be defined by the media and messages. For instance, the papyrus scrolls which first appeared during the third millennium BC was a form of writing which could only be accessed sequentially or readable in a chronological order. Years later, the codex, which was the precursor of the book enabled readers to open the codex to any page they liked, thus providing them random access. This concept was later incorporated into books which were created many generations later. Beyond the book, the internet of World Wide Web empowered consumers with hypertext access, i.e. giving them more access to a wider range of information (Mitew 2012).

 

Over the years, convergence has led to the proliferation of new media platforms, rewarding consumers with innovative ways of reading and writing. A comparison of the old and new media reveals the technological evolution taking place among the various media platforms. A rather recent emergence is the social networking platform – Facebook (Surfnetkids n.d.). Due to the collaboration of multiple media industries, users can have access to vast content, ranging from instant messenger, video, photography, music, games/apps, advertising, groups, events and an instant newsfeed. In my opinion, this was made possible by the convergence of technology. Take the case of the cassette tape; it was replaced by the CD player, which in turn, took a backseat to the mp3 (Bennett 2012). Whilst the contents of these old and new media platforms may be the same, accessibility greatly differs. Thankfully, advancement in technology enables and promotes convergence.  As a result, the old media transforms, reproduces or becomes extinct.  As convergence is an on-going process, newer and bigger media platforms continue to be created. Nevertheless, modern technologies would be meaningless without industries and audiences. Media conglomerates such as Viacom, Time Warner, Disney and NewsCorp control multiple channels, enabling a flow of content which is readily consumed by audiences which appear to have a huge appetite for new information. Consequently, control falls into the hands of these industries, enabling them to reduce costs of production, monitor quality and facilitate distribution (Mitew 2012).

 

In my opinion, this is a good thing for these industries. Conversely, convergence does have a negative impact. Consider the web. The web is rich with contents and is completely free. This implies a low cost of production, a low risk of failure and a low risk of consumption. This may spell trouble for the content industries, as the web eliminates the cost of entry for content production. Why pay when you can get it free.  Previously, audiences were mere consumers. Today, they wear many hats.  They recreate as well as share media.  They are users, participants, collaborators and most importantly, prosumers, and all at the same time. 

 

My take is that without audiences, participants and consumers like you and me, convergence would be redundant, as we are the main reason media platforms continue to transform and advance.

—————————————————————————————————————————

Reference List

Bennett, E 2012, ‘Platforms, permissions and ideologies in technological convergence’, Weblog, weblog, WordPress, accessed 10 March 2012, http://erbjournalism.wordpress.com/2012/03/21/platforms-permissions-and-ideologies-in-technological-convergence/.

 

Surfnetkids n.d., Facebook Safety Issues, accessed 11/3/12, http://www.surfnetkids.com/go/safety/788/facebook-safety-issues/.

Mitew, T 2012, “BCM112 Introduction: what is convergence?”, lecture, BCM112 Convergent Media Practices, University of Wollongong, delivered 4th March, accessed 5th March, accessed at http://prezi.com/fidnmfqqqw_c/bcm112-introduction-what-is-convergence/.

Mitew, T 2012, ‘The Medium is the Message: trajectories of convergence’, lecture, BCM112 Convergent Media Practices, University of Wollongong, delivered 5th March, accessed 8th March, accessed at http://prezi.com/gtaoq8eafh0o/bcm112-the-medium-is-the-message-trajectories-of-convergence/.

My Tweets

Convergence Media Tweets