Posts Tagged ‘H Jenkins’

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.

Introduction

Convergence is defined by Henry Jenkins (2006) as “the flow of content across multiple media platforms, the cooperation between multiple media industries, and the migratory behaviour of media audiences.” The ongoing process of convergence is creating a more participatory society for the user by changing the dynamics of media technologies and opens up for new business-models for the industries, like it did with the idea of Transmedia. New technologies enable us to take pictures, record sounds, write and film, and because of the Internet we also have the opportunity to upload, download, remix and share content that are already flowing online. We have become more like “prosumers” (Mitew 2012) instead of consumers.

The audiences’ future is looking bright, but convergence also carries negative baggage. With these new technologies we have started to act as we please online, and thus a fight for survival between audiences and industries has emerged. In this essay I argue that convergence has affected the audiences’ use of technologies and respect for copyrights, the audiences’ choice of technologies, and the emergence of censorship due to the audiences’ use of new technologies. I will use Flickr as an example of technology throughout the essay.

Copyrights

The Internet and our new media platforms enable us to create mash-ups and remixes of the content online, and currently we are actively taking advantage of this. At the same time the copyright rules we have today are very strict, and because of our increasing level of participation the Media Industry keep lobbying for even stricter laws. Many users are frustrated with the copyright regulations, because the things that they create are removed from the web and sometimes the user even gets sued, but we should not forget that copyrights are a necessity and that they are made to protect our intellectual properties as well from being used as others.

We should think twice about using copyrighted material and give the industry another reason to fight for their content, instead we should embrace the solutions that are already out there. Maybe the media industry softens as time goes by, and realises that we are only using their work for new ideas and creativity. It is actually interesting to see how some users complain on copyrights, but still their own work is guarded and cannot be shared or copied.

Trey Ratcliff (2012) says “a pure artist has two motivations: creation for the sake of creation and sharing for the sake of connecting with the world.” If we want to use other peoples’ content to create new material, we need to allow other people to borrow our content as well. By committing to Creative Commons (2012) anyone can use your content as long as they acknowledge you and ask for permission if it is for commercial purposes.

The photo sharing site Flickr has enabled Creative Commons licenses (Flickr 2012) for a long time and it shows how sharing and attribution can be practised. You can choose which images you want to keep as private and which ones you want to share with the public, this way you provide images and videos for other people to use freely. With an open sharing ideology your content can travel all over the world via other peoples’ blogs, newspapers and online albums, and can even result in actual revenue! Although there will always exist thieves we must believe that most people are honest and willing to pay for the work of others, and most importantly this must start with ourselves and our own ideologies.

Generative platforms

A media platform today is expected by the user to grant us constant and immediate access to the world. It must enable us to multitask, and provide a place where everything can be produced, stored and shared. If a media platform cannot follow up on all of these “minimums”, it will be replaced by a more innovative technology. These technologies have “become interfaces to the flow of content” (Mitew 2012) that comes with convergence.

What I think few people realise is that we should choose wisely when we decide which platform to use for participation. There are several industries that fight to regains control of both users and content, and thus construct the platforms to do so. Facebook and Apple are both examples of media platforms that are locked appliances. Everything you post on Facebook are owned by Facebook, and by using it you agree to give them the rights to distribute “your” content as they wish. Apple provide a “walled garden” (Mitew 2012) for its users, a garden where Apple has already decided which applications you are allowed to use, and it is not possible to explore anything else.

I believe that in an era where we are fighting for Internet freedom and milder copyright laws, we should we be aware of ideologies where the Industry controls everything we can and cannot do. There are other media platforms which operate in freer environments, where the users own their own material and are even welcome to explore and improve the operation systems. In a Top Ten (2012) review of Flickr it was said that Flickr “want to get photos and video into and out of the system in as many ways as [they] can: from the web, from mobile devices, from the users’ home computers and from whatever software [the users] are using to manage their content.” In addition to this, Flickr also invite users to construct their own applications via their Application Programming Interface (API) (Flickr 2012).

I believe that by choosing a media platform or technology which is open and generative, we build an environment for ourselves where the flow of content between us and our media platforms flow freely.

Censorship

We are “the people formerly known as the audience” (Jay Rosen 2006), and with our media technologies and platforms today we now have the ability to use these technologies to freely express our opinions and share our knowledge with the world, it is the closest we have ever been to democracy. Social media platforms are increasingly popular in our daily lives; even the industries are finding new and innovative ways to implement these platforms into their businesses. For advertisers sites like Facebook act like a buffet of what is popular and what is not (Li 2012), some newspapers welcomes citizen journalism through to their news via blogs, images and videos (CNN-IBN 2012), politically Twitter has been used efficiently to organize demonstrations in the world and lately news have travelled faster via social media sites than anything else.

As it get more difficult for the media conglomerates to maintain control, they now try to lobby our Governments for a more definite form of control; censorship. Bills like the “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA) and the “Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act” (CISPA)keep sneaking up on us, claiming that they are there to protect against online theft, but the intended result is to set us back as pure consumers by gradually blocking social media sites which will be blamed for hosting infringing links.

Our new media technologies and platforms can be used for creative purposes, but now more than ever we must remember what they are fundamentally constructed to do; spread messages. Several social media sites have demonstrated against these bills, Flickr for instance, was part of the campaign where they blackened, or censored, a lot of the pictures online to demonstrate what SOPA would look like. So far, the Internet and its users have won the battles, but given the different interests between the media conglomerates who wants to be the sole producers, and us who wants to participate, the war is far from over.

Conclusion

Flickr is a photo sharing site which enables its users to share “objects, knowledge and resources” (Weiss 2005). It was one of the first websites constructed to function in the web2.0 era, and for a very long time it was a revolutionary website. As a member on Flickr you create a profile, you connect with friends and people you choose to follow and you can comment on your own as well as other images. Flickr is a brilliant host for pictures; it is perfect for sharing and having your images discovered, but lately the photo sharing site seem to suffer by a lack of innovation (Dimech 2012). As the ongoing process of convergence continues, we are constantly presented to new technologies and innovations, and the contest is hard between the components. The one which is the most user-friendly and up to date wins the audience. I find it ignorant to choose a media platform or media technology solely on its design and functions, when there are many other important things that should be considered: Are you the owner of your own content? Are you allowed outside of the “walls” of your technology? Is your media platform supporting CISPA? Sites like Flickr, supports our freedom as users and that ought to be a strong argument for choosing it.

I love convergence! How can I not, I mean, convergence is bringing so many new and exciting opportunities to the world. According to Henry Jenkins, convergence changes the use of technology, influences our cultural and global interactions and understandings, shapes new ways for industries and potential economies and even changes the way we act socially! Convergence enhances hybridity and globalization, and a participatory culture which looks like it can be the closest we have ever been to democracy.

It sounds very promising. But is it all good? There are many issues one could choose to discuss for this question, and today I have chosen to write about social convergence and citizen journalism. At this very moment I am writing a post in my very own blog, the blog is public and there are no filters or code of ethics which controls what I choose to publicize. If I have something to add to the news today, I can, and if someone wants to read it, they can. Social convergence is making multitasking very easy and gives us the opportunity to get information and news from several places almost at the same time.

Back in the days Walter Cronkite used to finish his news with his own signature-line: “That’s the way it is”. Being a highly trusted broadcast-journalist this was his way of telling his audience that “this is what the news is today”, and it probably was. But as time has gone by, I believe that we have been met with several incidents that have made us not trust mainstream media as much as before. Politicians being corrupt, ownership of media giving us unbalanced and biased packages of news, I think these things made us embrace social convergence even more. Instead of putting our trust in mainstream media, we now put our trust in collective intelligence.

The negative side of us being able to produce news and share it to the public without being actual journalists is of course that there appears a lot of information on the web which are not true; it is hard to filter what is correct and what is not. There are no code of ethics, like journalists strive to write by and I believe that we need this code of ethic. Henry Jenkins talks about “civic media” instead of “citizen journalism”. He says:

“Civic media, as I use the term, refers to any use of any medium which fosters or enhances civic engagement. I intend this definition to be as broad and inclusive as possible. Civic media includes but extends well beyond the concept of citizen journalism which is so much in fashion at the moment.”

The use of any medium which fosters civic engagement. That means us, as well as mainstream media, and talk-shows, and TV-shows, and politicians and everything that spreads information. Instead of “being at war” with mainstream media, thinking that it controls all information, we should seeze the opportunity and cooperate. Citizen journalism might give us an opportunity to express ourselves, but what are the chances for us reaching a world-wide audience? Cooperation might lobby our stories more than we can do ourselves. Marcus O’Donnell, subject coordinator of journalism at the University of Wollongong, suggested that having news being told to us, as well as being given a space to participate, might be as democratic as it can be. I would have to say that I agree.

Reference:

O’Donnell, M 2012, Citizen Journalism, audio recording of lecture, BCM112 Convergent Media Practices, University of Wollongong, delivered 30 April.

An interesting topic today is how technology rapidly develops and how it forces the society to follow the new trends.

History shows that we have always struggled to make progress and improve our understanding in technology. Several examples are listed in the Media History Timeline (2002); paper were discovered in 105 A.D.in China, Samuel Morse granted patent for telegraph in 1844, Thomas Edison invented the “talking machine” in 1877 and the kinetoscope in 1891, the videotape were introduced in 1958 and the list goes on. It all happened over time and the society also had time to adapt to the new “eras”.

But something happened when the internet was introduced and in the 1990s when the public were provided access to it.  Technological inventions and developments rapidly increased. The computer helped us get rid of the massive paperwork, but not long after that someone figured the stationary computer restricted us to stay put in one place and so the laptop was drawn to the spotlight. It was light and easy and made us more flexible enabling us to bring it wherever we needed it. Before we knew it the laptop was too heavy and space-demanding so our mobile-phones were transformed into smart-phones making them into small computers. Figuring the smart-phone was a bit to tiny to use for work, the pads and the tabs came to the market and so it will continue, what will be next?

Technology has reached a point where the spectators and the consumers have become the producers of media, or at least we are enabled to participate. Instead of having a few people explaining and telling us about the ways of the world now everybody is able to engage and share their knowledge and stories around the globe. Like Henry Jenkins (2009) expressed it “…George Orwell imagined a world where big brother was watching us when we instead with little cellphone cameras are watching big brother every moment of the day.”

In this blog I will discuss and reflect over different aspects related to  digital media and also how media present curtain issues to the public.