Archive for August, 2012

I love media convergence! Suddenly we all became these nerdy civil journalists that were able to speak our minds to the world. To me this ongoing dynamic is great and I get to exploit it in many cool ways. I now have a smart-phone which allows me, not only to make phone calls, but to check my g+ account, send a tweet, capture a photo instead of a mental picture and even film it if I need to! Obviously that is just a few examples of what I can do, my point is that convergence has made my cell-phone become this multimedia platform compared to what it used to be 10 years ago.

I cannot remember the exact model of my first cell-phone. It was year -98 or -99 and the phone was very yellow, very heavy and very cool. With it, I was able to text and talk basically 🙂

With today’s cool new technologies, and of course with the Internet onboard, we become “prosumers” (Mitew 2012) instead of consumers, meaning that we are able to produce new content or modify already produced content: Rip, mix & burn (I did not say we were allowed). This used to be a privilege for only the wealthy industries given that the production used to be very expensive, that was also the time when I used to pay a heavy price to watch a good movie at the cinema. But the Internet changed this. It is now free for a person like me to produce content online as well as publishing it, this obviously also makes me able to watch content for free online – great huh? Not so great for the big conglomerates though. Scarcity is money for the industries. Ownership and control of content is the key in their business-model, so the concept of media convergence is not speaking to them as it does to me.

We should not underestimate these big industries. As the world become more convergent they see the need to protect their content through patenting and stricter copyright laws, and we are definitely witnessing this today; license agreements (EULA), patent-wars and user content being removed from the web due to copyright infringements.

Convergence is also challenging to old business models. Take the good old bookstore! Although we see a survivor here and there from time to time, this business is basically dead, replaced by Amazon’s kindle and online book outlets. The same happened to photo-shops which also moved online. The list of obsolete business models is only getting longer. That fact that I find media convergence to be great is a statement made by looking from my own perspective. Many people lose their jobs due to this dynamic, it is hard to adapt and modify a whole society into a technological era, but it is happening, and personally I think it is for the better. Our options are increasing, our knowledge is shared and to be honest, having things online just makes things easier and more convenient.

Reference:

Mitew, T 2012, Transglobal entertainment and media convergence, lecture, DIGC202, Global Networks, University of Wollongong, delivered 27 August.

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Introduction

Politics can be defined as the “activities associated with the governance of a country or area, especially the debate between parties having power”.  To unpack; politics mean the discussions of, for example, our health, justice, laws, and economy, debated between parties and leaders which fight for the power-seat.

Politics in the modern world are striving to be democratic, or are said to be, but are they? Perhaps ideologies, norms and expectations set in our society are influencing what we believe to be right and wrong. At least in the mediated political debate I find this to be a problem. In a democratic country the citizens are entitled to, and in need of, information from all possible angles and viewpoints to be able to make an informed and educated opinion about an issue, so that they can later vote and fight for the kind of society they find just.

I have chosen Australia, a western country in which I have lived for only a year, to demonstrate how it in this example, fails to uphold the democratic values.

Government parties

If I was not actively searching out the different parties in Australia, I would only know two, maybe three of them. I believe The Australian Labor Party (Julia Gillard) and the Liberal Party of Australia (Tony Abbott) are the only two parties enforced and represented in the media. No doubts are they the most popular parties, and therefore of interest, but by excluding media coverage of other parties, citizens are not properly informed. In a country like Australia, which strives to preserve the natural heritage of its land, it surprises me that a party like the Australian Greens (Christine Milne) only have 11.8%  of the Australian votes.

Unbalanced media debates

Maybe if Australians knew more about the environmental discussion, people would have showed an interest in a party focusing on this issue. It appears as the only issue being debated in the media (coming to climate) is the carbon tax! Australia is a western country close to where climate change actually happens today, for example in Kiribati, but still a country where citizens seem to not understand the problem.

Conclusion; hidden agendas

In today’s society most people can educate themselves online, but I still believe the mass media has an influence on our perception of the world. Norms and ideologies are often shaped by our society and the mass-media pushes these buttons. By using words and images which either appeal to us or the other way around, the mass-media can try to make us “read” a story in a particular way. There lies great power in this, and it certainly are a benefit to Governments to “be friends” with the media so that their interests might be enhanced. But it also tells the story of a political debate which has become biased and less democratic.

The hypodermic needle theory suggests the mass media’s messages are directly received and accepted. I believe this implies that people cannot think for themselves and I do not agree with it. The Guardian once mentioned; the media can shape a national mood, but cannot tell us what to think. I think this makes more sense.

Recently the Norwegian newspaper VG announced that the Prime Minister of Norway ought to resign as a result of the findings in the 22nd of July-commission report. This evoked reactions in Norway where the readers responded with disgust to the newspaper’s attempt to influence public opinions.

Who would have thought that information and ideas would become so important that it would shape a whole new economy. Given that products and created out of ideas the information becomes a commodity, and of course then the importance of owning the idea and being in control of how it is used is crucial to ensure the economic profit of it. This brings us to the issue of copyright which can be defined as “a bundle of intangible rights granted by statute to the author or originator of certain literary or artistic productions, whereby, for a limited period, the exclusive privilege is given to that person (or to any party to whom he or she transfers ownership) to make copies of the same for publication and sale.”

For a limited time? The first time someone was granted monopoly it was for 14 years, but today it is for 70 years after the author’s death or 120 years after creation if it is a corporate authorship (Mitew 2012), and in some cases e.g. videogames, it appears to be forever! Not so limited anymore.

It is hard to take a stand regarding copyrights. I see that a business/person wants to defend its rights to the commercial part of its own idea, but has it gone too far? When a company argues it has patent on the shape  “rectangular”, I feel we are moving towards a locked and limited society where we put a lid on ideas and enhance control.

With the Internet in mind I fear the war on copyright will exist forever unless they start censoring it, which is not an alternative. Billions of dollars are spent on court-cases to resolve disputes, a real waste of money really. From this perspective the idea of removing copyrights as a whole looks good, at least it would be interesting to see how it would work or if it WOULD work. But I guess I need to do a lot more investigation into that before I make a statement.

Meanwhile I suggest we take a look at the concept of “fair use” which ought to be less strict. Someone I know uploaded a video to YouTube and was asked to remove it because the music which was being played in the background (not provided by the creator of the video, but recorded randomly in the video) was copyrighted. If that is not an example of fair use, then I do not know what is.

Mitew, T 2012, Against the Law: Intellectual Property and Content Control, lecture, DIGC202, Global Networks, University of Wollongong, delivered 20 August.

There is no such thing as politics or entertainment. It is mashed up in a mix of show-business and political statements. The culture industry has always carried political messages like “Flower Power” in the 60’s and punk as anti-consumerism in the 70’s, but a newer phenomenon is politicians blending into popular culture.

Jon Stewart is a popular actor and stand-up comedian but at the same time a political satirist and media critic. Entertainment can be a vehicle for propaganda as there often are made room for political ideologies which can act as a hidden manipulator. Political visitors are common on Mr. Stewart’s talk-show, and given his popularity and influence in the American society, it is easy to see why.

“Industrial work is set to the rythm of the machine, while knowledge work is set to the flow of information” (Mitew 2012).

There is a lot of talk about a digital revolution, or a technological shift. The change from industrial production to knowledge production, and the new global economy that comes with it. It all sounds promising doesn’t it? But do we ever stop to think how this affects us negatively? We always strive for the better, and many times I believe we are so eager to advance that we fail to see what can go wrong.

In my post “The Power of Networks” I describe how the new flow of information and the Internet has changed our organizational structure. Networks went from the top-down management to a flat and more efficient pattern. The pace in which we exchanged information accelerated, and before we had time to reflect, so did the expectations of efficiency.

For the information to flow, every “node” in the network has to act on received information. Email inboxes are packed with emails and requests, all in a hurry to be answered and sent to the next recipient. Instant messaging and social media even makes the line between work and leisure a bit blurry! People have started to take their “office” to their home, thinking that they have more freedom, but really, what they are doing, is making themselves available 24/7.

It is a paradox really, that we used to say that the network coordination in a hierarchy was so slow that a lot of time was wasted. The price we had to pay was “lost time”, but is it really any better today? As far as i can see, we have even less leisure-time given that we never check out of work. We also seem to justify and accept this new behavior without considering the extra workload we are given. The price we pay today looks more like our freedom.

Reference:

Mitew, T 2012, Liquid labour, lecture, DIGC202, Global Networks, University of Wollongong, delivered 13 August.