BCM310: Emerging Issues in Media and Communication, Introduction

Date: 20 March 2014

Blogpost 1

BCM310: BCM310: Emerging Issues in Media and Communication, Introduction

In the first two weeks, we were introduced to the subject of BCM310: Emerging Issues in Media and Communication which addresses breaking issues affecting the media and communications industries, how innovation, regulation and policy in media and communications interrelate with social issues. Relevant topics include health communications, climate change, media piracy and digital social inclusion (Goins, 2013, pp13-14). We also discussed the media, new media, WikiLeaks, and activists.

New media refer to on-demand access to content and real-time generation of new and unregulated content, which includes interactive user feedback and creative participation They are digital, often can be manipulated, networkable, dense, compressible, and interactive. They include the Internet, websites, computer multimedia, video games, CD-ROMS, and DVDs. They exclude television programs, feature films, paper-based publications – unless they enable digital interactivity (Goins, 2013, pp13-14).

Thanks to new technology, new media enable us to tweet and check our status updates on social websites, have access to wide-ranging resources, up-to-date news and linkages to others worldwide (Ohta et al. 2013, pp1-5). More significantly, we can create media ourselves, download music and pictures, post blogs and offer our views on a myriad of issues to a worldwide audience (Ohta et al. 2013, pp1-5). We are both consumers and prosumers.
Life has been revolutionized with new media.

However, our intoxication with social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter have made us neglects face-to-face communication. Likewise, on the Internet, news can spiral uncontrollably, for e.g. WikiLeaks which proved a headache for the US government or we may encounter extreme views that might be disturbing or unverifiable (Benkler 2011, pp311-397; Coddington 2012, pp377-396; Rosen, 2010). Similarly, cyber bullying threatens the lives and well-being of youths. Pedophiles and stalkers scrutinize social media for potential victims. Terrorists tap the Internet to recruit members. Our privacy online is invaded. In my opinion, the initial euphoria surrounding the new media can turn into a nightmare for those whose identities are stolen or whose privacy is violated.
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References

Benkler, Y 2011, ‘A Free Irresponsible Press: Wikileaks and the Battle Over the Soul of the Networked Fourth Estate,’ Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, vol.46, no.2, pp311-397, accessed 20/3/2014, http://harvardcrcl.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Benkler.pdf.

Coddington, M 2012, ‘Defending a Paradigm by Patrolling a Boundary: Two Global Newspapers Approach to WikiLeaks’, Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, vol.89, no.3, pp377-396, accessed 20/3/2014, http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/docview/1036601494/fulltextPDF?accountid=15112.

Goins, J, D 2013, ‘Emerging New Media Issues’, Computer and Internet Lawyer, vol.30, no.1, pp13-14, accessed 20/3/2014, http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/docview/1269701561/fulltextPDF?accountid=15112.

Ohta, N, Takahara, A, Jajszczyk, A & Saracco, R 2013, ‘Emerging Technologies in Communications’ IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications, vol.31, no.9, pp1-5, accessed 20/3/2014, http://ieeexplore.ieee.org.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/stamp/stamp.jsp?tp=&arnumber=6585876.

Rosen, J 2010, ‘The Afghanistan War Logs Released by Wikileaks, the World’s First Stateless News Organization’, weblog post, Press Think, 26 July, accessed 20/3/2014, http://archive.pressthink.org/2010/07/26/wikileaks_afghan.html.

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DIGC202: Global networking chapter 12 Why Things Matter.

Date: 11 November 2012

DIGC202: DIGC202: Global networking chapter 12 Why Things Matter.

In the twelfth week of class, the class was introduced to the twelfth chapter of the Global Networking Subject entitled “The Internet of things: from network objects to ubiquitous computing.”

This week’s lecture, the class assembled examples and discussion points to look at the expansion of communication networks and micro processers  into everyday objects, the concurrent proliferation  of radio frequency identifiers (RFID), and the emergence of what is being currently theorised as an internet of things.

In this blog, we will examine examples of the internet of things (iot), Artificial Intelligence and their implications for notions of privacy, surveillance, and subjectivity.

God made us in his image.  Now, man tries to make machines in his image.  Welcome to the world of Artificial Intelligence and the internet of things (iot), whereby objects connect and interact with us. Inanimate objects “come to life”.  We make objects do our bidding, displaying our superiority. Man sure is a powerful being today.  Kurzweil said: “a kid in Africa with a cell phone has access to more intelligence than the President of the United States did 15 years ago.” Technology has created intelligent objects which thus receive our respect and attention. (Burke, 2012)  However, things only matter when they are networked. Julian Bleecker pointed out “how physical objects, once networked and imbued with informatic capabilities, will occupy space and occupy themselves in a world in which things were once quite passive.” (Piquepaille 2006) Due to the convergence of technology, media and communication, the borders are crumbling.  As information becomes decentralized and the homogenization of time and space is immaterial, we are no longer bound to the physical space. Instagram, Facebook, pinterest and others, represent the coming together of all those small platforms. Man is able to create, share and spread information. We enjoy ubiquitous connectivity with a global communication system (Mitew 2012; Raeney 2012)

Besides our smartphones and GPS, many more simple objects have become connected, transforming into complex objects and becoming tangible social actors. Julian Bleecker writes about blogjets “that creep into our lives and assert their influence”.  “Blogject” describes the communication and participation by objects in the sphere of networked social discourse, also known as the blogosphere. He cites the pigeons that blog. Pigeons equipped with a GPS device for tracing where it has been flying, and an environmental sensor that records the levels of toxins and pollutants in the air through which they fly are able to communicate on the internet wirelessly, dynamically registering environmental changes.

The new object, once connected, will also be able to store and process that information, as well as independently initiate action (cloud storage and AI).  The MIT Media Lab called this the internet of things (iot). Fancy a refrigerator which can scan the stuff inside the fridge and gives us recipes based on those foodstuffs. (Mitew 2012; Nafis 2012) We have shoes that tell us how far we have walked or run, rings that can detect our heartbeats, and a host of other daily objects that can perform unique tasks, once thought impossible. Our cars are equipped with artificial intelligence that can communicate with us.

In the euphoria of staying always connected, we tend to forget that with such a global nervous system, we are constantly under surveillance. I have always been conscious of the hidden cameras in lifts and public places, and somehow these inanimate objects compel me to behave, thus actually controlling my freedom to do things.  So, these objects have already taken over our lives.  In Malaysia, the Transport Ministry (MOT) has implemented the controversial Automated Enforcement System, where cameras at traffic lights and speed traps were installed to reduce the number of road accidents. You’d think the public would embrace it because it is meant to save lives. No. It was met with public outcry.  People feel very uncomfortable because they are being watched while driving. It’s man versus machines, convenience versus lack of freedom.

I envision a life where we have a cybernetic or mechanical avatar of ourselves that are hooked to our brains and while they go to work for us we get to laze around.  No doubt these things that matter will reshape the way we think and live. Perhaps, one day, every single object that we have around us would “blog”.  As it is, Julian Bleecker has warned us of “blogjets that sneak into our lives and take over”. (Piquepaille 2006) During 2008, the number of things connected to the internet exceeded the number of people on earth.  By 2020, it is projected to reach 50 billion. (Mitew 2012) This demonstrates why objects matter. Simple objects, once connected, attain first class status, because we have become so dependent on them. With iot, our perception of things as inanimate objects will change, as we look at them as powerful devices.  Furthermore, objects are in conversation.  For instance, if our meeting is pushed back by 45 minutes, it will be relayed to our alarm clock which signals the alarm to ring 5 minutes later, which in turn signals the coffee maker to turn on 5 minutes late as well. (Mitew 2012)

With artificial intelligence, we will look at machines as if they were humans.  In fact, one day, we will be communicating more with objects than with humans, having a social communication with them. In my opinion, we may face the danger of regressing in civilisation and staying less connected to fellow human beings.  What took humans thousands of years to be civilised and get connected globally may be jeopardised by the very technology that they created. What an irony! Will machines take over our world?  I don’t think so. Without man, these machines cannot exist.  I do not envisage the so-called doomsday when machines will dominate humanity and take over, as Kurzweil said: “There are still tasks for humans to do’, he says: relating to other humans and understanding them, being funny, sexy, expressing loving sentiments. These are not sideshows to human intelligence, that’s the cutting edge of human intelligence.” (Burke, 2012)

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References

Burke, A 2012, ‘Kurzweil at Techonomy: Artificial Intelligence Is Empowering All of Humanity’, The Blog, accessed: 11/11/2012, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/techonomy/techonomy-artificial-intelligence_b_2117112.html.

Mitew, T 2012, DIGC202 ‘The internet of things’, lecture notes, accessed 26/10/2012, http://prezi.com/hotqlxztvxdb/digc202-counter-networks/.

Nafis, F 2012, The internet of things, lecture, DIGC202, Global Networks, University of Wollongong, delivered 22 October.

Piquepaille, R. 2006, ‘The new world of ‘blogjects’’, accessed: 11/11/2012 http://www.zdnet.com/blog/emergingtech/the-new-world-of-blogjects/187

Raeney, P 2012, ‘Most of world interconnected through email, social media’, accessed 8/11/2012, http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/27/net-us-socialmedia-online-poll-idUSBRE82Q0C420120327.

DIGC202: Global networking chapter 12 Apple Vs Google

Title: DIGC202: Global networking chapter 11 Apple Vs Google.

Date: 30 October 2012

DIGC202: Global networking chapter 11 Apple Vs Google.

In the eleventh week of class, the class was introduced to the eleventh chapter of the Global Networking Subject entitled “Apple Vs Android.”

This week’s lectures touch on Apple and Google, two features of the mobile net. We discussed points to compare the history, philosophies, business models, audience relationships, and practices of these two giants of the mobile internet. We looked into their opposing ideas for the role of the user in the iOS and Android operating systems, and discuss their implications. We also discuss what benefits they offer and how they impact the way people use the mobile net.

When Apple’s iPhone debuted on the 29th of June 2007, it was greeted with long queues amidst much anticipation. However, this euphoria did not last long.  It wasn’t long before users began to question Apple’s philosophy. (Mitew 2012; Nafis 2012)  Since Apple’s core business appliances are tethered to closed ecosystem, it has complete control over the platform, content, and user because of its garden wall of apps ‘the app store’.  Apple’s device is an end in itself — a self-contained, jewel-like gadget locked in a sleek protective shell.   This was frustrating to many users and elicited harsh comments from people like Roth.

“The mobile industry was stuck in the dark ages. Unlike the Web, where open standards had fostered a multitude of cool companies and applications, mobile was a tyrannical, closed system, repelling all innovators and disrupters who tried to gain entrance.” (Roth 2008)

Thus, Google’s operating system Android was ‘born’ to meet this challenge. “Android had the solution: a free, open source mobile platform that any coder could write for and any handset maker could install.” (Roth 2008) Goolge Inc. was founded on 4 September 1998 by Sergey Brin and Larry Page. Their philosophy “Flow of information is key” reflects their core business which is connectivity. (Mitew 2012; Nafis 2012)  I believe that this business concept is responsible for Google’s impressive success; from being a simple search engine to one of the most widely used search engines today. Thus, the difference between Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android lies in the philosophy behind them.

On the one hand is Apple’s closed concept.  On the other hand, Android was a means, a seed intended to cultivate an entire new wireless family tree. (Mitew 2012; Nafis 2012) In my own opinion, Android’s decision to let anyone make add-ons and applications is a threat to Apple.  Under Android rules, everyone’s their own boss.  It is this form of freedom and ‘user democracy’ that makes Google’s Android a preferred choice over Apple’s iOS.  For techies, Android is a better choice because it enables them to customize their phones, take their code and make improvements on it. The possibilities are endless and this is likely the reason why many established phone brands are willing to partner with Google to allow its Android OS to use on all their phones. Thus, the Open Handset Alliance was born. This open and free platform is devoted to advancing open standards for mobile devices. (Mitew 2012; Nafis 2012) With the Android, users have the ability to access the codes, giving them the power to run just about any application that is available in the web minus the restrictions. The Android is merely the core system running the device.  As a user, the beauty lies in its concept in which control is in the hands of the user.  It enables the user to assume control over the platform, adapt and tweak the software to suit personal preferences.

This is the radical difference from the Apple iOS that assumes control over the entire device. Unlike the Android, it is virtually impossible to run Apple’s iOS on a HTC, Samsung or LG mobile device. (HTC Corporation 2008) The battle between Apple and Google is not confined to the two mobile operating giants. Many users have taken the ‘war’ online with many loyal customers offering their two cents’ worth about their mobile phones and the operating systems they use.  In my opinion, this battle arises out of the needs of the users.  Such feedback is necessary and useful as it helps the phone companies to improve on their systems and services.  The intense business rivalry between Apple and Google also creates healthy competition and leads to discounts for consumers.  This can only bode well for the consumers.  For example, the Amazon ‘app-store’ has a free app per day feature for high-quality paid apps, and often posts discounts on some of the most popular apps. This has also contributed to the tremendous rise in the number of smartphone owners. This rise is also due to availability of the mobile net.

People are always on the go and require a system that meets their needs while on the move. (Hay 2012)  Thus, it is interesting to note that the creation of the smartphone and the ability to access the internet on the mobile phones has caused a massive shift in the way people use the internet.  Thanks to the convergence of technology and media, people are now able to use their phones to access the internet and communicate rather than using bulky desktops or laptops.  This meets the needs of the ‘always-on’ society for something light, portable and yet powerful.  Phones are growing more and more powerful — and I think competition between Android and Apple has a lot to do with this.  Also, the convergence of media and technology in the form of the apps available, have affected the way people use the mobile net. It is my personal opinion that this role is played out perfectly by Google and Apple.

This is because the Android and iOS systems have enabled and encouraged more and more people to use the mobile net  for multiple reasons; the purpose of accessing local information, stay informed, buy products, and download music and video via the applications on their smartphones while on the move. The ultimate winner of the war between Google and Apple boils down to how they can please users.

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References

Hay, D. 2012, ‘How People Use the Mobile Web’ accessed:  30/10/2012 http://mobilewebslinger.com/2012/01/24/how-people-use-the-mobile-web/.

HTC Corporation, 2008, accessed: 30/10/2012 http://web.archive.org/web/20110712230204/http://www.htc.com/www/press.aspx?id=66338&lang=1033.

Mitew, T 2012, DIGC202 ‘Apple Vs Google’, lecture notes, accessed 26/10/2012, http://prezi.com/hotqlxztvxdb/digc202-counter-networks/.

Nafis, F 2012, Apple VS Google, lecture, DIGC202, Global Networks, University of Wollongong, delivered 22 October.

Roth, D. 2008, ‘Google’s Open Source Android OS Will Free the Wireless Web.’ Wired, June 23, accessed:  3/11/2012, http://www.wired.com/techbiz/media/magazine/16-07/ff_android.

DIGC202: Global networking chapter 11 #mena #arabspring and the social Network revolution.

Date: 28 October 2012

DIGC202: Global networking chapter 9Case: #mena #arabspring and the social netwok revolution.

In the ninth week of class, the class was introduced to the ninth chapter of the Global Networking Subject entitled, #mena #arabspring and the social network revolution.

This week’ class discusses and explores three case studies related to the uses, futures and philosophies of the internet. In this first case study, the class assembled examples and discussion points on how social networks such as Twitter and Facebook have been used by activists and ordinary citizens in the 2010-2011 Arab Spring uprising in the Middle-East and North Africa.  The class also looks into how the reactions of authorities, and discuss the role of social networks in relation to the successes and failures of the uprisings that make up the Arab Spring. This blog discusses how the convergence in media and technology and the rise of the global communication networks has contributed to the rise of ordinary citizens or citizen journalist reporting news on the Arab Spring, and how social networks such as Twitter and Facebook have been used by activists and ordinary citizens.

In my previous blog, I mention that citizen journalism is the process whereby ordinary citizens play an active role in the process of finding, constructing, reporting, analysing, and disseminating news and information. Citizen journalists can present news and information, from their own perspectives. Practically anyone can play the role of journalists and report anything they deem fit or newsworthy. Citizen journalists share their information by posting comments on social media such as Facebook and Twitter, blogging, discussing through forums, etc. A key aspect of citizen journalism is the absence of gatekeepers. (Mitew, 2012; Nafis, 2012)  With the rise of citizen journalism in the Middle East, people get their news from social media and are influence by such news, even though this news may not be true. (Mitew 2012) The lack of gatekeepers and the fact that this news is not vetted for accuracy does not matter.  People may be gullible and accept any news as the truth.  In my opinion, social networking, like twitter and Facebook, was instrumental in the coverage of the Arab Spring in the Middle East by citizen journalists.  It was also instrumental in getting local and international support for the Arab uprising.  (Srinivasan 2012; New Internationalist 2012)

The role of networks like Facebook and Twitters has evolved from that of a mere social communication tool to that of a more serious and life changing element in the political stage, particularly the Arab Spring. Each element of the digital technology used in communication played an important role in the Arab uprising. The internet was useful for collecting news, disseminating information, social media for connecting and coordinating people, mobile phones for capturing images and making it available to a global audience and satellite television for instant global reporting of events. For the Egyptian and Tunisian dissident groups, these digital tools were crucial as they enabled them to assemble remote and often disparate groups and provided them channels to bypass the conventional media, which was state controlled and censored any news of civil unrest and opposition to the government. This is where the role of social networks like Facebook and Twitters has evolved from that of a mere social communication tool to that of a more serious and life changing element in the political arena and world stage.

The rapid internet interaction through Twitter and Facebook actually gave invaluable information to the protesters in Malaysia, Tunisia and Egypt. In Malaysia itself, the protestors of Bersih 2.0 shared their experiences via Facebook and Twitter to connect with other protesters from across the nation and empowered the activists to coordinate and communicate their activities. However, Evgeny Morozov in discussing Cyber-utopians contend that those who believe that these networks were purely virtual and spontaneous are ignorant of the recent history of cyber-activism in the Middle East, enlightening us of the support that it’s received  from western governments, foundations and corporations. “They belie the notion that the Middle East protests were organised by random people doing random things online”. (Morozov 2011) Morozov claims that by highlighting the liberating role of the tools and understating the role of human agency, Americans feel proud of their own contribution to events in the Middle East, as without Facebook, such unpremeditated rebellion wouldn’t have succeeded – so Silicon Valley deserves a major share of the credit, glamorising the role of Facebook, Silicon Valley and thus, America’s contribution to the Arab Spring. (Morozov 2011)

Could the Arab Spring have taken place without social media?  I think so, because the people were extremely unhappy with their leaders.  However, I think the speed at which it took place would not have been possible without the use of social media.  In fact, following the 2010-2011 Arab uprising, many political and media pundits believed the widespread availability of the internet, satellite communications and mobile phones will promote the growth of similar movements in other African and Arab countries.

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Reference

Aljazeera 2012, accessed 27/10/2012, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/09/2012919115344299848.

Morozov, E 2011, ‘Facebook and Twitter are just places revolutionaries go’, The Guardian, 7 March, a.n., accessed 27/10/2012, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/mar/07/facebook-twitter-revolutionaries-cyber-utopians.

Mitew, T 2012, DIGC202 ‘#mena #arabspring: the social netwok revolution’, lecture notes, accessed 26/10/2012, http://prezi.com/hotqlxztvxdb/digc202-counter-networks/.

Nafis, F 2012, #mena #arabspring: the social netwok revolution, lecture, DIGC202, Global Networks, University of Wollongong, delivered 22 October.

New Internationalist 2012, World Developement book case study: the role of social networking in the Arab Spring, accessed 27/10/2012, http://www.newint.org/books/reference/world-development/case-studies/social-networking-in-the-arab-spring/.

Srinivasan, R 2012, ‘Taking power through technology in the Arab Spring’, accessed 27/10/2012, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/09/2012919115344299848.

DIGC202: Global networking chapter 9 Counter-networks: online activism, whistleblowers, and the darkside of the net

Date: 17 October 2012

DIGC202: Global networking chapter 9 online activism, whistleblowers, and the dark side of the net.

In the ninth week of class, the class was introduced to the eighth chapter of the Global Networking Subject entitled, Counter-network: online activism, whistleblowers, and the dark side of the net.

This week’ class discusses and explores the uses of global communication networks by social activists, cultural tricksters, whistleblowers, political campaigners, hackers and those wishing to build an online public sphere. We also discuss and explore the multiple histories which feed into political and alternative uses of new media technology and examine the tensions between political and commercial applications of new media technologies. This blog discusses how the convergence in media and technology and the rise of the of global communication networks has contributed to the rise in social activist, cultural tricksters and hackers.

The convergence of media and technology has given rise to the Internet and the creation of multiple platforms and devices such as the smartphone and computer tablets, which have impacted our lives beyond our imagination.  It is a boon at times and a bane at others.

The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that serve billions of users worldwide. The Internet carries an extensive range of information resources and services, such as the inter-linked hypertext documents of the World Wide Web (WWW) and the infrastructure to support email.  Today, the Internet is our main form of media and communication and provides us unlimited wealth of knowledge and information and space.  It also enables the “free flow of information” and creates convenience to us. Through all this convenience, comes the threat to the governments and other public institutions.  These are the counter-networks and hackers, comprising online activism, whistle blowers and others, and may work against the government of the day.  Cyber-libertarians are part of online activism which focuses on “information freedom” for everyone and utilizes the “net as an electronic frontier” (Mitew 2012). Mitew likens this frontier to the Wild West, where everything is up for grabs with total disregard to the laws or codes of civilised society. These cyber-libertarians gain illegal access to private and classified information through hacking. They believe strongly that information should be shared by everyone freely on the Internet. This gives rise to the hacking culture.

Hacking is not new.  It started long before World War II, with a tiny group of Polish mathematicians. They made the first breaks into the Germans’ code by relatively simple techniques. The most famous of them was Marian Rejewski – a Polish Mathematician who hacked the first iteration of the Enigma. The Enigma machine was created in “1923 as a commercial product by a German named Arthur Scherbius” (Guba 2012).  The German military used the enigma in World War II to encipher and decipher codes without being understood by foreign intelligence. Cryptanalysis is a form of accessing cryptic codes and decoding them.  This was the first trace of hacking

Telephones and telephone lines as well as the introduction of the electronic phone network switchboards in the 1960s led to another form of hacking known as “phone phreaking” (Mitew 2012; The Mentor 1986) Today, the Internet and the global communication and media networks have given rise to hackers who decipher information technology codes through computers, to hack into phone switches, mainframes and even government servers. Thus, it can be said that the evolution of hacking is parallel to the evolution of technology.   Through all these, comes the “hacking subculture” which saw the publication of hacker magazines and emergence of ‘leet speak’.  The main hacker magazines are Phrack and 2600 which were introduced in 1985 and 1984 respectively. ‘Leet speak’ are hacker slangs, familiar only to hackers.  For instance, words like “n00b”stands for ‘newbie’ and “w00t” reflect a sort of cheer of excitement.  In my opinion, hacking has created a new culture and slangs. (Nafis 2012; Mitew, 2012) Nowadays, people are getting bolder and acquire precious information by all means, including hacking.  This affects how information is guarded by individuals and authorities.  It also affects the way information is disseminated as people do not want classified information to fall into the wrong hands.  It also affects the way we view technology, as technology creates the hacking culture which threatens our “wealth of information”.

The most famous hacker today has to be Julian Paul Assange, who in2006, was inspired to go on a mission for “total transparency”.  (Khatchadourian 2010)  Assange relentlessly hacked into the systems and files of governments and other institutions all over the world to gain access to top classified information and publish them on a Web site called WikiLeaks.org. Since it went online, five ago, the site has published an extensive catalogue of secret material, ranging from the Standard Operating Procedures at Camp Delta, in Guantánamo Bay, and the “Climategate” e-mails from the University of East Anglia, in England, to the contents of Sarah Palin’s private Yahoo account. It boasts of materials from Scientology, the Swiss banks, Russian offshore stem-cell centres, former African kleptocrats and the Pentagon. Threatened with lawsuits and other threats, Assange remains unapologetic. Assange wanted to insure that, once his works were posted online, it would be impossible to remove.  Any government or company that wanted to remove content from WikiLeaks would have to practically dismantle the Internet itself. Hackers can be categorised into the “White Hats” and “Black Hats” (Nafis 2012; Mitew, 2012). While most hackers seek the truth to expose frauds and other misdeeds, earning them the title “White Hats”, they are what I call “cyber vigilantes”.  They are the good guys who also put up good defences against the “Black Hats”. Conversely, the “Black Hats” are the evil hackers who bring down websites to serve their own selfish agenda. Hackers like Assange, are a pain to governments and institutions.  On the other hand, his works are welcome by people who cherish freedom of information.  The site’s work in Kenya earned it an award from Amnesty International So, is Assange a criminal or a hero, a”Black Hat” or a “White Hat”?

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References

Guba, A 2012, Enigma, The Core Memory, accessed 26/10/2012, http://www.thecorememory.com/html/enigma.html.

Khatchadourian, R 2010, ‘No Secrets: Julian Assange’s mission for total transparency’ The New Yorker, 7 June, accessed 26/10/2012,  http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/06/07/100607fa_fact_khatchadourian?currentPage=3.

The Mentor 1986, The Conscience of a Hacker, Phrack, accessed 26/10/2012, http://www.phrack.org/issues.html?issue=7&id=3&mode=txt.

Mitew, T 2012, DIGC202 ‘Counter-Networks’, lecture notes, accessed 26/10/2012, http://prezi.com/hotqlxztvxdb/digc202-counter-networks/.

Nafis, F 2012, Counter-Networks, lecture, DIGC202, Global Networks, University of Wollongong, delivered 22 October.

DIGC202: Global networking chapter 8 Bridges made of pebbles

Date: 7 October 2012

DIGC202: Global networking chapter 8 Bridges made of pebbles.

In the eighth week of class, the class was introduced to the seventh chapter of the Global Networking Subject entitled “Bridges made of pebbles”.

This week’ class discussed what new forms of information gathering and dissemination such as citizen journalism mean for the new media audiences, and the practice of traditional media. We also discussed notions of participatory culture, ethics, credibility, and collective intelligence and whether traditional information outlets or channels of information are dying out, and are no longer being used and whether or not there are any forms of information searching, gathering and sending outlets or channels that are equivalent to the internet.

From what I have learn, citizen journalism is the process whereby ordinary citizens play an active role in the process of finding, constructing, reporting, analyzing, and disseminating news and information. Citizen journalists can present news and information, from their own perspectives, based on the already existing forms of news and information. (Mitew 2012; Nafis 2012) What makes citizen journalism so interesting is that anyone can play the role of journalists and report anything they deem fit or newsworthy. Goode defines citizen journalism as a range of web-based practices whereby ‘ordinary’ users engage in journalistic practices (Goode 2009, pp1287-1371).  Citizen journalists share their information by posting comments on social media such as Facebook and Twitter, blogging, discussing through forums, etc. Anyone who records or posts information online is considered a citizen journalist. A significant aspect of citizen journalism is the absence of gatekeepers.

One of the advantages for citizen journalists is that they can get the news out faster than reporters because reporters cannot go to the scene immediately. Previously, the only way for people to get news is to wait for their newspapers or news reporting on television at specific times. They have no other technology to update them with the latest news.  In contrast, today, news is updated in any websites continuously. As long as you have Internet connection, you can keep up with the latest news. Even social networks like Facebook and Twitter keep the ordinary citizens updated. (Johnson 2009) That is how news is spread to everyone rapidly. However, the task of a citizen journalist is not limited to posting or reporting news.  A number of them have resorted to serious reporting, including analyzing and probing into events that happen around them, and carrying out discussions online with others.  The advent of technology, of course, has contributed tremendously to the rise in citizen journalism.  I, for one, believe that citizen journalism is thriving because of a more educated populace.

Thanks to the convergence of media and technology in the form of devices such as the iPhone and iPad ordinary citizens are able to record things that are happening around them. Just about anyone can use their Smartphones, or even Note pads with built-in cameras or video recorders to capture and record events as they unfolded and distribute them to the rest of the world.  In fact, many historical events, such as the Arab Spring and the devastation from Hurricane Sandy have been reported by citizen journalists even before the professional journalists or actual reporters could reach the scene. Citizen journalism has thrived due to the convergence of media and technology. Information flow is not confined to professional reporters or media corporations, but is facilitated by the ordinary citizens.

Similarly, the 2011 Tsunami that devastated Japan mercilessly was recorded by many citizen journalists. Even as they were running for their lives, they were recording the incidents that unfolded, capturing some of the most heartrending events, showing massive destruction of properties and even people being swept out to sea as the Tsunami pounded the shores of  the “Land of the Rising Sun”. The explosion of a nuclear power plant in Fukushima which resulted in many deaths and mass destruction were also captured on camera and uploaded on YouTube by citizen journalists.  News bloggers and citizen journalists have demonstrated persistence and determination in uncovering political and other scandals, as well as highlighting the shortcomings of professional journalism as it investigates and reports on such scandals. The rise of citizen journalism marks the gradual decline of industrial journalism as the dominant force in the public sphere.

As the industrial age makes way for the information age, and as its hierarchical and centralized structures for the organization of  production, distribution, and market economies transform towards a networked, hierarchical environment characterized by many-to-many information flows, the conventional models of media production, distribution, and consumption are no longer relevant.

The growing disconnect between the needs and wants of news audiences, and the news products provided to them by the journalism industry has been filled by a hybrid producer/user or “produser” (Burns 2009). A shift towards a more equitable media environment which enables all participants to both receive and send information, on an (almost) equal basis encourages produsage. Citizen journalism is a form of “produser”.  During the industrial age, journalistic publication was controlled through the practice of gatekeeping.  Today’s information age has done away with the gatekeeping regime. Instead, the journalist’s role as a watchdog has shifted to that of a guidedog.  A key role for professional journalists therefore now becomes that of identifying and highlighting newsworthy material, wherever it may emerge from. In other words, they watch the output gates of other sources, and further publicise the material published there – they are “gatewatchers”, not “gatekeepers”. (Bruns 2009)

Compared to journalistic gatekeeping, gatewatching requires a very different set of skills: it relies less on first-hand investigative research and the ability to compose succinct news stories, and more on information search and retrieval skills especially in online environments. This also enables gatewatching to be conducted on a far more ad hoc, decentralised and crowdsourced basis than has been possible for gatekeeper journalism: a much wider range of participants, including what Jay Rosen has described as “the people formerly known as the audience”, can now perform “random acts of journalism” (Bruns 2009) simply by pointing out to other users whatever interesting information they uncovered.

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References

Bruns, A. 2009, ‘News Blogs and Citizen Journalism: New Directions for e-Journalism’, accessed: 6/10/2012, http://snurb.info/files/News%20Blogs%20and%20Citizen%20Journalism.pdf.

Johnson, S 2009, ‘How Twitter Will Change The Way We Live’, TIME Magazine, 5 June, n.a., accessed 6/10/2012, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1902818-2,00.html.

Mitew, T 2012, DIGC202 ‘Bridge made of pebbles: Social media and the rise of gatewatchers’, lecture notes, accessed 6/10/2012, http://prezi.com/sh7b7p0osscz/digc202-social-media-and-the-rise-of-gatewatchers/.

Nafis, F 2012, Bridge made of pebbles: Social media and the rise of gatewatchers, lecture, DIGC202, Global Networks, University of Wollongong, delivered 2 October.

Goode, L. 2009 ‘Social news, citizen journalism and democracy’, New Media and
Society
, vol. 11, no. 8, pp1287-1371, accessed: 6/10/2012, http://ciid.politicas.unam.mx/silviamolina_docs/docs/new_media_society_v11_n8_2009.pdf.

 

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.

 

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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