DIGC202: Global networking chapter 7 Into the cloud: the long tail and the attention economy.

Date: 30 September 2012

In the seventh week of class, the class was introduced to the sixth chapter of the Global Networking Subject entitled, “Into the cloud: the long tail and the attention economy”.

In this week’s class we discussed how developments brought by media/technology convergence create a new economy of filtering, and access to cloud-storage content.  We explore several concepts; cloud computing, the attention economy and the long tail.

With traditional communication channels like television and print, control is in the hands of the institution.  They require a high cost of entry, a high cost to the user, and pose a high risk to producers because of the high cost of publishing and accessing content, unlike contemporary communication channels. With the convergence of technology, contents are easily available and increasingly abundant.  Thus, attention becomes the limiting factor in the consumption of information. (Mitew 2012; Nafis 2012)

Books and even lost or obscure literature can be found exclusively in the internet.  Because the convergence of media and technology is causing previously rare material and information to be abundantly available, the attention of individuals is becoming scarce. In light of this, attention economics enable content consumers, producers, and intermediaries to better mediate and manage the flow of information.  Several software applications are available to ensure that the first content viewers see interests them. This is because if too much time is spent to locate something, the user will find it through another application. Thus, the convergence of technology affects the attention economy.

Unlike traditional communication channels, there is no quality filter for the internet. (Mitew 2012; Nafis 2012) The contemporary communication channels include the internet and social media like blogosphere and forums. Blogospheres enable users to voice out their opinions while forums encourage online discussions.  Most significantly, control is in the hands of the consumers and everyone becomes a ‘produser’. Also, the traditional communication channels are business models based on scarcity as opposed to the internet which is a platform with built-in abundance. Hence, there is a change in mind set and the way people use the media. (Anderson 2005)

The ‘long tail’ refers to the tail-end of a sales chart which constitutes the non-hits or niches.  It is anticipated that this is where the new growth is emerging.  The long tail effect can be explained by the shift in economy and culture, from a focus on a relatively small number of “hits” (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve toward a huge number of niches in the tail. (Anderson 2005) Previously, businesses favoured a mass market because traditional mediums were expensive. Today, the rapid flow of information via the internet helps in the dissemination of information. People use the internet for exchanging information between businesses and customers, or among friends and colleagues.  The convergence of media and technology, coupled with cheaper production and distribution costs, has made it more economically attractive to retailers to market online and to market to a “mass market of niches”. (Anderson 2005; Mitew 2012; Nafis 2012)  This creates the long tail effect whereby there is a shift from one big mass market to a combination of numerous small niche markets.

In the past, due to expensive shelf space, retailers only stock the likely hits.  Today, online retailers (like Amazon and iTunes) are able to stock virtually everything. In addition, people prefer niches and are willing to pay extra for niche products and services. Retailers can also create demand by generating “Immediacy”, authenticity or personalisation as suggested by Kelly (2008).  “Immediacy” is made possible via the internet as the exchange of information is real-time. (Kelly 2008) Retailers can respond to any queries rapidly online. Products such as paintings are valuable if they are authenticated by the painters themselves.  Similarly, shoes by Jimmy Choo are custom-made to suit the individual’s needs. As such, they have niche contents and people are willing to pay for such exclusivity. The desire for niche products coupled with the retailers’ ability to deliver almost immediately, also help explain why the number of niche products outnumbers the hits by the millions. These millions of hits constitute the Long Tail.

Cloud computing refers to a process which enables a user to access computing and content whenever you want, anywhere. (Dixon 2012, pp36-38; Nafis, 2012)  Often done with the use of a web browser, cloud computing allows the user to access the program over the Internet to view and edit the file as needed. Examples include web-based e-mail accounts, such as Yahoo and Hotmail, online banking accounts, and Facebook and LinkedIn accounts.

Cloud computing companies include Intacct, which provides accounting and related business services. Intacct uses cloud computing to help pioneer software-as-a-service. (Intacct 2012) They use a multi-tenant approach to software architecture that significantly lowers the cost of delivering and using products. Intacct is a cloud financial management and accounting system specifically designed for small and mid-sized companies. (Intacct 2012) Their system includes applications for accounting, contract management, revenue recognition, inventory, purchasing, vendor management, financial consolidation, and financial reporting. (Intacct 2012)

With Cloud computing, there is no need to purchase special software (other than an Internet browser) for the device that connects the user to the cloud.  Secondly, there is no need for significant file storage space on that device. (Dixon 2012, pp36-38)  Thirdly, cloud computing provides the ease of collaboration among multiple users on documents stored in the cloud. Cloud computer is considered cheaper for the first two reasons. (Dixon 2012, pp36-38) Cloud computing has impacted the way people use the media in business. The cheaper cost of cloud computing coupled with free basic services in many instances have given rise to the use of cloud computing. Also, faster Internet connections make it easier for accessing files from multiple computing devices which is essential for businesses. Today, most users have several devices by which they need to access their data and applications, namely, office and home computers, a laptop, a tablet computing device, and a smartphone.  Therefore, the convergence of technology has contributed to the rise in cloud computing. However, cloud service users need to be aware that there is no guarantee that their electronic files and data stored with a particular cloud service will be accessible forever.

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References

Anderson, K 2005, ‘Long Tail 101′, weblog post, Wired Blog Network, The Long Tail, accessed 29/9/2012, http://www.longtail.com/the_long_tail/faq/.

Dixon, Herbert B, Jr. 2012, ‘Cloud Computing’, The Judges’ Journal, vol. 51, no. 2, pp36-38, http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/docview/1017886066.

Intacct, 2012, accessed: 29/9/2012, http://us.intacct.com/.

Kelly, K 2008, Better Than Free, accessed 29/9/2012, http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/kelly08/kelly08_index.html.

Mitew, T 2012, DIGC202 ‘Into the cloud: the long tail and the attention economy’, lecture notes, accessed 28/9/2012, http://prezi.com/nm7rgdlnxhdf/digc202-into-the-cloud-the-long-tail-and-the-attention-economy/.

Nafis, F 2012, ‘Into the cloud: the long tail and the attention economy’, lecture, DIGC202, Global Networks, University of Wollongong, delivered 24 September.

 

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DIGC202: Global networking chapter 6 Transglobal entertainment and media convergence.

Date: 23 September 2012

In the sixth week of class, we were introduced to the fifth chapter of the Global Networking Subject entitled “Transglobal Entertainment and Media Convergence.” This week’s lectures touch on Transglobal entertainment and media convergence.

According to Jenkins, convergence is the flow of content across multiple media platforms, involving the collaboration between prolific media industries, and the shifting behavior of media audiences.  He stresses that media convergence today holds more significance than mere technological change, but that it holds great implications on the relationship between existing technologies, industries, markets, genres and audiences.

“In the world of media convergence, every important story gets told, every brand gets sold, and every consumer gets courted across multiple media platforms”. (Mitew 2012; Jenkins 2006, pp1-24)

In the midst of the omnipresent media, facilitated by the proliferation of channels and the portability of new computing and telecommunications technologies, we now get almost instantaneous news online, courtesy of media convergence. E-books have replaced cumbersome hard copies. Previously, separate different appliances were needed to perform different tasks.  This is a stark contrast to what it is today. Gone are the days of chunky gadgets and rooms cluttered with all kinds of appliances. Things have gone smaller and slinkier.  As we speak, the small and portable pen drives are popularly being used as the new data-storing device, replacing the bigger-sized CDs and floppy disks; the latter is now obsolete.  All good things come in small packages!  This is great news as we do not have to buy so many appliances and worry about storage space.

In the past, the use of the cell phone was limited to making and receiving calls and texting. Today, with the convergence of technology, the simple cell phones have graduated to smartphones.  They are not only small and sleek but are packed with special apps with their functions expanded to incorporate the capabilities of multiple devices and appliances which enable users to carry out a myriad of complicating tasks. (Jenkins 2004, pp33-43; Jenkins 2006, pp1-24) The special apps enable users to do mundane tasks like navigating our journey to getting first-aid help. Note apps serve as reminders of what we need to do.  E-mails can be read and replied without a computer. With the convergence of media and technology, photos can be snapped and edited via a photo editor application and directly uploaded onto the internet or social media website and all for free through Apps Store.  Similarly, smartphones can transfer information more rapidly and in more varied ways, such as via tweeting, SMS, Facebook or MySpace. This has implications far beyond our gadget market. Bryan Chen calls it the ‘anything-anytime-anywhere future’. (Chen 2011, pp1-206)

Thus, the convergence of technology and media facilitates the rapid flow of information.  It has certainly made our lives more exciting, meaningful and easier. In my opinion, the ability to stay connected all the time with anyone anywhere is the most significant aspect of the convergence of technology.  In fact, we can call ourselves the ‘global communicator’.

According to Henry Jenkins, “Convergence is taking place within the same appliances . . . within the same franchise . . . within the same company . . . within the brain of the consumer . . . and within the same fandom.”  (Jenkins 2004, pp33-43; Jenkins 2006, pp1-24; Mitew 2012)

This technological convergence is galvanized by a change in patterns of media ownership. Previously, while Hollywood was synonymous with cinema, present-day media conglomerates have controlling interests for all sectors of the entertainment industry. For example, Viacom the American global mass media company and world’s fourth-largest media conglomerate, not only has interests in cinema and cable television but also produces popular music, computer games, websites, books, newspapers, magazines, comics and even toys and amusement park rides. (Mitew 2012)  The reconfiguration of the media environment is influenced by two seemingly contradictory trends. On the one hand, new media technologies help reduce production and distribution costs, broaden the choices of delivery channels and allow consumers to archive, annotate, appropriate and recirculate media content in strapping new ways.  I believe these should be celebrated. Conversely, the concentration of the ownership of mainstream commercial media in the grasp of a handful powerful multinational media conglomerates who also control the entire entertainment industry is unnerving to me. Both sides have their own vocal supporters and the debates continue unabated. Some fear that the media is beyond control while others warn that a world of gatekeepers will stifle policy debates.  Given the contradictory and mercurial nature of our present media system, I think that neither side is wrong.

Reading the history of how people used to communicate reminds me of how fortunate we are to live in this era, when we are spoilt with the wonders of technology.  What a difference a few years make.  Thanks to the convergence of technology and media, we can do our assignments while surfing the web, listening to and downloading MP3 files, communicating with friends on Facebook, or twitter, reply to emails on Yahoo or Hotmail, essentially multi-tasking in rapid succession, 24/7.  Fans of a popular television series and movies may read dialogues, discuss episodes, debate subtexts, create new storylines or ‘fan fiction’, record their own soundtracks, direct and produce their own movies and channel it across the world. We get the freedom to express ourselves. Technology is liberating us from the gatekeepers of media.  We can be consumers one moment and producers, the next. In short, we can be “prosumers”.  This shows that anyone can create and spread information and be actors or directors. But, let’s not get too carried away with what we can do with technology. The temptation of the15-minute fame can have undesirable consequences.  Think Alvin Tan of National University Singapore and his girlfriend, Vivian! Technology and media convergence should play a role in supporting humanity, not replacing it.

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References

Chen, BX 2011, Always On: How the IPhone Unlocked the Anything-Anytime-Anywhere Future–And Locked Us In, Da Capo Press, Cambridge centre, Cambridge.

Jenkins, H 2004, ‘The Cultural Logic of Media Convergence‘, International Journal of Cultural Studies, vol.7, no.33, pp33-43, accessed 21/9/2012, http://ics.sagepub.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/content/7/1/33.full.pdf+html.

Jenkins, H 2006, Worship at the altar of Convergence culture: Where old and new media collide, pp1-24, New York University Press, New York,  accessed 21/9/2012, http://www.nyupress.org/webchapters/0814742815intro.pdf.

Mitew, T 2012, DIGC202 ‘Transglobal entertainment and media convergence’, lecture notes, accessed 22/9/2012, http://prezi.com/zcvqfdos9uga/digc202-transglobal-entertainment-and-media-convergence/.

DIGC202: Global networking chapter 5 Against the Law: intellectual Property and Content control

Date: 16 September 2012

DIGC202: Global networking chapter 5 Against the law: Intellectual property and content control.

In the fifth week of class, the class was introduced to the fourth chapter of the Global Networking Subject entitled “Against the law: Intellectual property and content control.” We looked into Intellectual property, content control and Copyrights & Trademarks.  It was interesting to compare copyright laws of the past and those of today. I feel that the concept of copyright laws and content control are essential to encourage creativity, as people today do take old ideas and do a little modification and pass them off as new ideas. Well, to me that is definitely not creativity.

 

In the 16th century, the idea and concept of property was only applied to scarce physical things. In those days, properties reflect a person’s position in society.  There was no such thing as intellectual property, so knowledge, ideas, and creativity were copied and sold freely without the need to seek any approval or give any acknowledgement to the original creator. (Mitew 2012) Over time, I think people began to appreciate the values of their creations and felt short-changed when others benefited from their hard work.  As more and more people resort to accessing everything in the cheapest and easiest possible ways, such as  copying materials from  books, poems and music, copyright laws were enacted to safeguard the interests of authors.

 

According to Butler (2004), “Copyright is a privilege of law, given to owners of tangible works. Under copyright laws, the owner of a work has the right to take that work and reproduce or copy, distribute, publicly perform or display, and create derivatives of it.” (Butler 2004, pp41-42)

 

Usually, copyrights last a period between 50 to 70 years.  A lot of things are copyrighted, but not many people are aware of it. Who would think that the ‘Happy Birthday’ song is actually copyrighted?  (Hisket, 2010)

 

Should anybody violate the copyright laws, they can be sued for piracy, or be accused of plagiarism. However, people continue to do so blatantly.  I think this is because intellectual property is intangible.  Hence, it is difficult to protect the creators’ ideas. Intellectual property encompasses music, movies, artworks, logos, ideas etc. So, when you download music and movies, do you feel guilty or are you even aware that you are doing so illegally.  What about all those ideas that you took from journals for your assignments?  Creators of such ideas, music and movies have intellectual property rights.  Intellectual property rights are legal devices designed to protect intellectual property, which can be broadly defined as a recognized ownership over the ideas, designs, inventions or concepts created by a person or an organization (Mitew 2012; Snapper 1999, pp127-135)

 

John W. Snapper in “On the Web, plagiarism matters more than copyright piracy” talks about how web users are confused by the terms piracy and plagiarism.  He clarifies that “Piracy is “the infringement of a copyright and plagiarism is the failure to give credit” (Snapper 1999, pp127-135).  It is understandable why people do get confused over the two. This is because most wrongs involve both piracy and plagiarism. I personally think that it is easier for the layman to relate to piracy due to the blatant and rampant downloading of movies and songs from the Internet for free, than to plagiarism.  In Malaysia, it is common to see DVD sellers, plying their wares – the latest movies, albums, and even computer software – at a much reduced price. A common excuse for buying these pirated wares is that the originals are way too costly.

 

Snapper seems to suggest that there is too little literature on the subject of plagiarism compared to the subject of copyright. He attributes it to the difficulty with investigating plagiarism. (Snapper 1999, pp127-135) Personally, I feel the reason why plagiarism is receiving relatively scant attention is the economic and intrinsic values attached to copyright and patent protection laws.  A very good example is the recent Apple vs. Samsung court case in the US, whereby Samsung was accused of infringing on the patent and copyright laws.  Samsung is ordered to pay Apple US$1.5 billion in damages.

 

Another interesting topic related to copyrights is Creative Commons.  This appears to be the solution to copyrights which is deemed too restrictive.  In my opinion, it is a compromise between strict copyright rules and blatant ‘stealing’ of ideas. It specifies what others can use from the creator, thereby redefining copyrights.    This is useful as a person can tell what contents or ideas can be taken without committing a copyright infringement.  However, they impede creativity to a certain extent as often, our creativity is driven or inspired by the works of others in the past. To quote Lawrence Lessig, “Creators here and everywhere are always and at all times building upon the creativity that went before and that surrounds them now.” (Mitew 2012; Snapper 1999, pp127-135)

 

Copyright laws also have implications on the way information is handled and spread.  They impede the free flow of information meaning that information cannot be transferred freely from certain sources to others without getting the rights to do so. People will be extra cautious in creating, handling and spreading information because this is being restricted by copyright laws and any information which lacks authenticity and originality and is based on previous works needs to go through the parties that hold legal rights to the information used. However, due to the convergence of media and technology, and the rise of information technology like digitization and social media like the internet the process of copying, publishing and distributing digital copies has been made very easy and inexpensive. This is advantageous to those who want to spread information quickly and at a minimal cost.  At the same time, it leads to rampant piracy and plagiarism.  Thus, copyrights play a critical role in addressing these illegal acts and protecting the rights of the creators and those who hold the rights to profit from the information.

 

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Reference

Butler, R.P. 2005, ‘Intellectual property defined’, Knowledge Quest, vol. 34, no. 1, pp41-42, accessed 15/9/2012, http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/docview/194726627.

Hisket, D 2010, ‘The song “Happy Birthday” is copyrighted and brings in about $2,000,000 per year to the copyright holders’, accesed 15/9/2012, http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2010/04/the-song-happy-birthday-is-copyrighted-and-brings-in-about-2000000-per-year-to-the-copyright-holders/.

Lessig, L. 2004, Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity, Penguin, New York, USA, pp21-30, accessed 16/9/2012, http://books.google.com.my/books?id=cxZp0sV3V80C&printsec=frontcover&dq=Free+Culture:+The+Nature+and+Future+of+Creativity&hl=en&sa=X&ei=dJCnULrtOMHTrQea6oG4Aw&ved=0CCsQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Free%20Culture%3A%20The%20Nature%20and%20Future%20of%20Creativity&f=false.

Mitew, T 2012, DIGC202 ‘Intellectual property and content control’, lecture notes, accessed 22/9/2012, http://prezi.com/bm5k4k0atb2g/digc202-intellectual-property-and-content-control/.

Snapper, J 1999, ‘On the Web, plagiarism matters more than copyright piracy’, Ethics and Information Technology, Vol. 1, no. 2, pp127-135, accessed 16/9/2012, http://www.springerlink.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/content/l215064qj8kk1331/fulltext.pdf.

DIGC202: Global networking chapter 4 Citizen journalism and new media audiences, liquid Labour: Global media industries and the price of immaterial production.

Date: 4 September 2012

DIGC202: Global networking chapter 4 Liquid Labour: Global media industries and the price of immaterial production.

Hello, my name is Ram Peow Loong Naidu and this is my University assessment blog.  In the fifth week of class, the class was introduced to the third chapter of the Global Networking Subject entitled, Liquid Labour: Global Media Industries and the Price of Immaterial Production.

Reference is made to Mitew’s presentation:  How Did the Advent of Information Networks Affect Organisations and Labour. The lessons extol the virtues of the Internet, elucidate how information flows over neutral networks, breaking borders, and resulting in the homogenization of network time and space. 

Information networks have drastically affected organisations and labour by transforming organisations from a horizontal and centralised model to that of a distributed and decentralised one. The first large scale organization to decentralise the decision-making process were the Nazis, whereby aircraft and tank technologies were effectively collaborated with systematic application of the German tactics of infiltration and bypassing of enemy strongholds.  The term ‘blitzkrieg’ was adopted by Western journalists to describe this form of armoured warfare during the 1939 German invasion of Poland. Decentralisation can be likened to the Blitzkrieg operations: the coordination of a large information network in real time. (Mitew, 2012)

Weiner explains the transmission of information by elaborating on the existing theory of the transmission of messages in which he incorporates his idea that people send messages within a system in order to control their surrounding environment. (Wiener, 1954, p.15) Calling his theory “cybernetics”, Weiner also stresses the importance of feedback within an environment. (Mitew, 2012)

Flow of Communication and Feedback

 

Image of the Communication Feedback model

Image URL or Website: http://www.comprofessor.com/2009/10/i.html.

Another interesting theory was also introduced to the class, namely, John Boyd’s feedback loop. 

John Boyd’s feedback loop

Feedback between act and observation

 

Image of John Boyd’s Feedback Loop model

Image URL or Website: http://www.spartancops.com/ooda-loop-simple-concept-modern-combat-strategy/

Boyd’s diagram illustrates that decision-making occurs in a recurring cycle of observe-orient-decide-act. Anyone that can process this cycle rapidly can thereby “penetrate” the opponent’s decision cycle and gain the advantage. The second O, orientation constitutes the most vital component of the O-O-D-A loop since it moulds the way we observe, the way we decide, and the way we act.

The way we deal with large information network in real-time can be problematic because it can affect transaction costs. Bradwell and Reeves stated that “the coincidence of technological, social and labour market change is significant because it changes the costs of their operation,” i.e. transaction costs. Bradwell and Reeves are concerned with reducing transaction costs attributed to networking while trying to reap its benefits.  These benefits could be seen in Google’s most successful products, such as Gmail, which are attributed to its employees being given resources to develop personal projects in company time. (Bradwell and Reeves, 2008) 

This week’s lesson reminds us that machines are susceptible to breakdowns.  Conversely, information does not rest.   Thus, while industrial work is dependent on machines, knowledge work is attuned to the flow of information.  (Mitew, 2012)  The creation of global media conglomerates, whereby production is information-based has wide implications as information is power (Mitew), and creates knowledge workers. (Peter Drucker)  Mitew also traces the transition from industrial labour to factory machines, factory lines, to liquid labour, computers and finally information processing.  He espouses the dynamics of liquidity, presenting the fact that free information flow necessitates local decision making.  He explains that free flow of capital information and free flow equates to Liquid Labour.  He opines that “capital always moves to the place with the greatest Return on Investment (ROI).” (Mitew, 2012)

The advent of the Internet brings with it drastic changes in work patterns, most notably the rise of mobile productivity.   A Cisco study reveals that three out of five workers are just as productive outside the office.  The network dynamics in changing workplaces were initially greeted with trepidation. However, a recent survey by Unisys and IDC shows that IT workers are being provided with mobile devices.  This flexibility of allowing workers to surf the net, even at the workplace, represents a new approach by management which have recognised the power of social networking and the immense opportunities it offers.  The tremendous rise of mobile emails is testament to the importance of the mobile workforce and mobile productivity in today’s highly connected society. 65% of workers, mainly youth-driven, use tablets to communicate. (Mitew, 2012)

The advent of information networks also challenges more formalised hierarchies and centres of power and control, which have conventionally upheld organisational structures, rocking the way things are traditionally executed. Networks are informal and nimble, offering new opportunities for innovation, “freeing people from the constraints of hierarchical oversight”. (Bradwell and Reeves, 2008)  This transformation from formalised hierarchies to a network or ‘flat’ system of communication promises huge possibilities for workers, who can utilise their network capital to enhance their career, pursue their values and grab latent opportunities. As for organisations, networks provide novel means for improving processes, recruiting and retaining staff, exploring new business ventures and ideas.

So, what does the future hold? Well, the home will be the office and the office the home.  Our personal space and time will no longer be so personal, as we strive to keep up with bosses and clients. This could spell the demise of huge office buildings and work cubicles.  There will be less face-to-face contact among colleagues, while more virtual and online contacts, such as via Facebook and twitter, will be the norm.

References

Bradwell, P, Reeves, R 2008, ‘Economics’, Network citizens Power and Responsibility at work, vol. 1, pp 25-31, accessed 1/9/2012, http://www.demos.co.uk/files/Network%20citizens%20-%20web.pdf.

Bradwell, P, Reeves, R. (2008) Economics, In Network Citizens (pp. 1-92). London: Demos, [URL: http://www.demos.co.uk/files/Network%20citizens%20-%20web.pdf].

Nafis, F. 2012 A Global Nervous System. August 13 [lecture] Selangor: University of Wollongong.

Mitew, Teodor 2012, DIGC202 Global networking chapter 4 Liquid Labour: Global media industries and the price of immaterial production, accessed: 1/9/2012, http://prezi.com/jzxu5yetufdf/digc202-liquid-labour/.

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