A great MDIA5003 blog

So the semester is nearly at an end and this is my last blog post.

The topic this week is the NBN, regulation, and the future of digital media. The reading for the week is ‘Regulation in the digital economy: Principles for the convergent environment’, and it was written by Tom Apperley who is my tutor for this class, you can access the reading here: http://broadband.unimelb.edu.au/engage/pubs/wp/regulation-digital-economy/Reg-dig-eco-principles-web.pdf

This week I think I will just take a few bits from the reading and talk about why I found them relevant based on what I’ve learnt in this unit. I might attempt to make some conclusions about the future and regulation of the online environment, but you know, I’ve only done one semesters study on this and I’d much rather be looking for some new memes or tweeting about dugongs. So I guess the theme for this week is something like ‘Now you know about what’s in this online space, it’s time to think about how it can be better!’

‘More memes’

‘More cats!’

‘More goat videos!’

Settle down, what I mean is not necessarily improving it from the inside but thinking about how it can work more effectively. This means how do we go about regulating and governing it?

I mentioned this briefly a few posts back and came to the conclusion that it’s difficult to regulate something when you don’t know what it will be just yet and it hasn’t reached its full potential. The online environment could go in so many different directions and it’s important to remember that. For example, this spoof video makes a great case for cats being the future of online:

That wasn’t the best example but come on; it’s the last week people! Anyway, my other conclusion was that many people with way more knowledge than I have, have made many suggestions and one of them is probably the way to go. I still agree with that statement, however, the reading for this week made a few points that made me think ‘hmm maybe I should try to develop some of my own ideas about how the internet should be governed.’ I think the main point that got me thinking along those lines was the idea of freedom of speech and how back in the day regulation of the press and so forth was created to protect this. I mean, I still don’t have any idea how to go about regulating it but I think any regulation should be made to protect freedom of speech and freedom of information.

Another thing I found interesting from the reading was the idea that the NBN will provide opportunities for a range of new business uses. Here’s a link to the NBN roll-out map which demonstrates that the plan is that all of Australia will have access to the NBN in the next 3 years: http://nbnco.com.au/when-do-i-get-it/rollout-map.html.

It makes you wonder what we currently have to go into a physical store to do that in a few years time we will be able to do online. We are already seeing a change in advertising to cater to the online market. Here’s a few of my favourite examples of advertising that has taken advantage of the opportunities that online and mobile media presents, it will very interesting to see how advertising evolves over the next few years, as I think we are already seeing a big movement towards online and mobile and the creative opportunities provided there:

Another point from the reading that I found thought-provoking is that the online environment makes it both easier and more difficult for creators. For example, in Australia if you want something to be seen, you no longer have to rely on whether or not a major network will give you air time. For example the Greenpeace ad below was refused air time on Australian TV but was shared and played so often online that the message was still able to be heard. However the other side of this is that there is a greater variety of things online which can make it difficult for your message to be heard.

I like to think that if your message is good enough and you know enough about the online environment, you should be able to cut through the noise out there. And if not, the internet provides you with a platform to create something that can remain there forever where anyone from anywhere can access it. Maybe in many, many years from now the future classes of school children will have to study your work and you’ll be regarded as one of the great thinkers of our time. Maybe that will happen with this blog, we just don’t know.

When is a Meme a Meme?

It’s meme week!

I think to begin this post, it is only fitting to share some of my thoughts in meme form:

1846164

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memes everywhere

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1846116

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But what exactly makes a meme?

I guess a meme is typically funny, usually culturally relevant or speaks to a niche group, it’s shared, copied and altered online and it doesn’t hurt if it features either Sean Bean, an animal, or a child. They don’t have to be a picture either, it can be a video or even text, something like ‘first world problems’ could be considered a meme. But I will tell you this, the more I learn about them, the less I seem to understand.

The reading for this week was ‘The Language of Internet Memes’ by Patrick Davison. You can access it here:

http://archive.org/stream/TheSocialMediaReader/Mandiberg-theSocialMediaReader-cc-by-sa-nc_djvu.txt

The reading attempted to give a definition of them, it talked about playing soccer and zebras getting eaten by lions and I didn’t really get it, I think that was mainly because uni is nearly over for the semester and my brain power is fading, but I do plan on giving it a re-read when I have the time.

Memes are one of those things that exist, and are relevant and everyone shares, but I feel like no-ones quite sure about them just yet.

I think there are two ways that advertisers/marketers try to use memes.

1. They use a preexisting meme to advertise their product/service. Examples:

This one is really clever because the use of first world problems not only uses the meme but also makes fun of it, in the sense that they aren’t really problems are they? A meme within a meme if you will. By doing this, they really manage to get the message across in a way that puts it in perspective for people in the Western world.

Screen-Shot-2012-11-14-at-17.23.021

This is a simple example of using a meme in an ad, you get the idea.

2. They try to create a new meme that will be shared. Example:

This one is very popular. Therefore, it has been copied many times, they created something totally new and a character that people wanted to copy.

I’m not really sure what the difference is between a viral video and a meme, I suppose as long as it starts on the internet and is made fun of or copied it can be considered both a viral video and a meme. How many times does it need to be copied or shared to become a meme? I’m not sure, I suppose only once might make it a meme for a specific group such a friendship group, a class, an office, but it would have no relevance to a larger group who wouldn’t consider it a meme or even necessarily understand it.

It should be noted that perhaps the reason that memes aren’t seen a lot in advertising is the legal mess related to using them. Here’s some additional information about that:

http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=879e138f-c98b-4eb2-a55f-0037cf2ed906

http://mumbrella.com.au/i-can-haz-memes-in-advertising-168326

So, are memes relevant to understanding online and mobile media? Yes and no, I think you could certainly understand online and mobile media without understanding what memes are, but eventually you will stumble across something that is a meme, and you wont understand it and understand its relevance and that will be a confusing day for you. There are many memes that I don’t get, but I come to the conclusion that I’m not supposed to get them. Knowing what memes are probably isn’t going to add any significant value to your life, it wont get you a university degree (although it is contributing to mine), it wont win you any Nobel prizes or help you discover the mysteries of the world, but it might make you laugh once in a while, and it might give you a new way to express your thoughts on things. There’s only so much you can say about memes, the best way to understand them is by looking at them, working out which memes relate to you, and then have a go at creating them. That makes it very convenient that the internet is full of them, go on, search away, I wont take up any more of your time with my ramblings.

Elections, Clouds and Don

So today’s lecture focused on social media and elections.

Here’s a summary of what my Facebook friends were talking about on election night:

50% the AFL
40% ‘we’re all going to hell in a hand basket’ type statuses (Labor/Greens voters)
1% comments about why it is a good thing Liberals got in, or, ‘I don’t care’ type statuses
9% other things, because it’s a Saturday night

This information is fairly useless in terms of getting an idea of what the ‘general public’ (god I hate that phrase) wants because my Facebook friends list is not an accurate sample group, because, well, if I’m friends with someone its usually because they have pretty similar views to myself.

So continuing on with this, how can we know that comments on social media are an accurate idea of what the ‘general public’ wants? when:

– Not everyone has social media or even the internet
and
– Only about 1% of people are active sharers.

There’s some information about this here: http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/digital-life-news/facebook-checked-by-9-million-australians-every-day-20130820-2s7wo.html

As you can see, 40% of Australians check Facebook every day, which is a lot, but it certainly isn’t everyone. On a similar topic, here are some stats from a few months ago which I found quite interesting:

http://frankmedia.com.au/2013/05/01/social-media-statistics-australia-april-2013/

From an assessment of my Facebook friends we can see that they would much rather discuss the AFL than politics, AFL may not impact on our lives as greatly as which political party will win the election, but it’s much more exciting to watch. Go Geelong!

The lecture also covered the topic of wordclouds, which is something I’m much more interested in than elections, and besides being pretty and fun, I think they are an interesting way of arranging data.

Here’s a wordcloud I made for this very blog!

Wordle: Untitled

There are two things that this wordcloud made me think:
1. I’m concerned that the word ‘something’ is used so often.
2. Who is ‘don’?

I think wordclouds are useful, as you can tell it makes sense that the words ‘social’, ‘media’, ‘future’, ‘people’ are all used in this blog, but obviously it doesn’t give you an idea of how they are being used. So it is useful but I guess it can’t be used in isolation as a tool of gauging opinion. I think in terms of real-world applications, wordclouds are something that I would find quite useful. It gives you an idea of what people think and it also is presented in a professional looking manner, so now I thought it might be useful to run through the steps involved in creating one.

This is the site I used: http://www.wordle.net/. There are others but I found this one to be the most popular and I also found it easy to use.

So for this wordcloud, I am going to analyse the words I use most in my tweets.

Step 1. Go to Twitter, go to settings, click on ‘request your archive’

Step 2. Check your e-mail where the archive will be sent to. It says ‘please be patient’, but it only took a minute for me to receive it.

Step 3. Click ‘go now’ and ‘download’

Step 4. (This step is just for fun). Before I make the actual wordcloud I thought it would be fun to guess my most used words. I guess ‘I’, ‘Tweet’ and maybe ‘Penguin’ as a random one.

Step 5. Go into the excel sheet you’ve just downloaded containing your tweets, copy them into http://www.wordle.net/create, (if you Tweet a lot of links, you will have to go through and delete them but it should only take 5 minutes) click ‘go.’

Step 6. Choose how you want the words displayed, the colours, basically just make it look good.

Here it is!

Wordle: Untitled

I guess ‘I’ doesn’t count as a word. Or ‘Tweet’. and ‘Turtle’ and ‘Dugong’ were more popular than ‘Penguin.’ Ah well. But that does go to show that wordclouds can show insights that you didn’t expect.

You can see from this that there are real-life applications for using wordclouds. For example, I know in advertising it could be an interesting way to display consumer insights, and if you were going for a job, it could be a good way to show what you talk about and are interested in.

So to conclude, wordclouds are much more exciting than elections.

Yep, that’s what I learnt this week

Sharing is Caring

This week’s topic is about intellectual rights and information exchanges.

The main point that I took from the lecture today is that the internet makes it really easy to copy/steal other people’s ideas and really difficult to prevent that from happening. Especially at the minute when I would argue, we’re still not quite sure what the internet is and what it’s role will be in 1, 5 and 10 years from now.

So, what will we use the internet for in future? (if we still use it at all). It seems unlikely that we won’t use it, but then again, remember these – once state of the art inventions?

Floppy disks

Anyway, a lot has been said about protecting intellectual property in the age of convergence, and it’s been said by people much more clever than me. Here is a link to one such article that I found really helped me to develop some ideas about this:

http://jmrc.arts.unsw.edu.au/media/File/The_Adaptive_Moment_Convergent_media1.pdf

I would like to focus this post on why I don’t think we can introduce strict laws around copyright online.

People have similar ideas all the time. Have you ever gone to say something and at the same time someone else has gone to say the exact same thing? Yes. It happens to everyone.

There are no new ideas. Whatever you produce is probably not so unique and special as you think it is – here’s why: 1. There’s a lot of stuff in the world, and something similar probably already exists without you even knowing about it, and 2. You probably found inspiration from other sources. That’s not a bad thing! Here’s a video about where good ideas come from, spoiler alert! It’s from other people (and you too, just watch it).

Therefore, I see the sharing of intellectual property as going both ways – it’s awesome to be able to find inspiration and ideas online that complement your own. The problem of course, is when someone takes your idea. If someone takes something you’ve produced with no interest in making money from it (e.g. they download your song for free) I think that’s a lot less of a problem compared to when someone takes it to (potentially) pass of as their own and make money from it.

So why do I think that taking something and not attempting to make money from it isn’t so bad? Everyone does it. And when everyone starts doing something, it gets to a stage where, instead of getting everyone to stop – it’s easier to just accept it. Now, I don’t necessarily mean that musicians, artists, writers, and anyone who creates anything should just expect to never get paid ever again, I mean that the way things are done will change. We are already seeing this with crowdfunding, and with musicians putting on more shows and making their money that way.

Here’s a link to Amanda Palmer’s TED talk – The Art of Asking. She covers some similar ideas.

The last thing I will talk about on this topic is creative commons (you can find out more here: http://creativecommons.org.au/about) or just watch this video:

I think creative commons licensing is a fantastic way to acknowledge that things in terms of copyright are changing and what you create can no longer be protected in the same ways it has been previously. Creative commons is an excellent example of the fact that people want their work to be shared or remixed and changed into something else. Leonardo da Vinci once said ‘art is never finished, only abandoned’, that might have been true in Leo’s time. When he put down his paintbrush and walked away that was pretty much it, no-one else could come along later with their paintbrush and their own ideas and change it into something else, it would have been an outrage, but now, with creative commons licensing, they can do that, in fact it’s encouraged. With creative commons, art never needs to be abandoned again, it can continue to be remodeled into something new.

Lastly I’ll just finish off with a video (yes, another video) of a collaborative art piece which demonstrates that through collaboration, a big idea can be created, I also think it’s interesting that they refer this back to the internet – a space where collaboration can occur to create bigger and better things.

Predicting the Future

This week we are talking about ‘News Business Online’ which means using words like ‘convergence’ and ‘platforms’ and talking about ‘the new media landscape.’ The main article for this week is ‘News 2.0?’ It talks about a predicted future for 2015. To be honest, I’m kind of over having to predict the future when we talk about news and new media.

Therefore, this week I will be putting on my negativity hat and purchasing one ticket to the dystopian future thank you very much.

dystopia (1)
(http://joannaparypinski.com/2012/01/22/welcome-to-your-dystopian-future/)

My first problem with these predictions for the future is that we have this idea that because we see something going a certain way, we think ‘yeah that will pretty much continue going along like that.’ Maybe the internet won’t be popular in a few years time, maybe social media was just a phase, maybe we will start heading back the way we came and people will go back to relying on newspapers for information, or communicating by drawing on cave walls. You might be thinking ‘that’s pretty unlikely.’ But why is everyone so sure that things will just keep running in a straight line?

In these ‘predictions’ it usually involves some sort of future where citizen journalists are the flavour of the day and what we currently consider ‘journalists’ are old hat, and things we learn about in museums (assuming we still have them). But journalists aren’t just things, easily replaced by technology. Journalists ask questions. Questions that the ‘ordinary person’ might not think to ask, and even if they do, might not then want to investigate further. If we are continuing on the ‘everything will just continue in a straight line’ theory, I don’t foresee a future where journalists don’t exist. Here’s a link to an article that suggests a possible list for telling who is a journalist:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/thomas-kent/whos-a-journalist-closing_b_4033856.html I believe that this demostrates that there is still a significant and seperate role for journalists.

Another problem I have with these predictions is society’s faith in the ‘ordinary masses.’ This predicted future might work in a future where everyone is an academic, but a lot of people make up the world, and a fair few ‘ordinary people’ tend to have this quality where they take everything they see, read and hear, at face value. Looking at my Facebook feed, the rubbish that gets shared and passed off as ‘news’ and ‘real’ is worrying. Not everyone has the ability to research, think critically, question, investigate, perform a Google search or visit http://snopes.com/.

‘Ordinary people’ need some sort of guidance, they need quality journalism so they have something to tweet, and retweet and share. Because the ‘average person’ is either lazy or busy, other than a Google search, they aren’t going to go and research something they want to know more about.

Many of my favourite novels are set in a dystopian future. And in these novels, there’s always an underlying issue that society has ceased to function in a way it should because people have stopped questioning things. The government tells them something, and they believe it. In Fahrenheit 451 people believe books are dangerous, they don’t question the way things are. That’s because at some stage, they lost the ability. (You can access the novel here: http://kisi.deu.edu.tr/murat.goc/451.pdf)

The future of news can both encourage that ability, and take it away. We are more connected to the world than we have ever been, and we can question things, so easily by looking it up online. But not everything that is online is necessarily true. That’s where journalists come in. It is more important than ever to have journalists providing ‘the ordinary people’ with the truth. If we begin believing everything we read, we begin sharing everything we think we know, and that’s dangerous. Journalists need to be asking questions and finding answers on behalf of everyone so that everyone has access to quality, timely, news. Not just re-shared stories.

My main point is that, yes, news consumers behaviours are changing, but that does not mean journalists will become any less important. This has been a pretty intense post, so now I’m going to include an award winning ad about quality journalism, while the citizens encourage debate, it is the journalists who dig deeper to find that there’s more to the story than it seems on the surface.

There’s a lot to think about here, hopefully it has provided some food for thought. I’ll finish with a quote from Fahrenheit 451, just to give you a little more to think about.

‘We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?’

Meikle, G (2009), ‘News 2.0?’ in Interpreting News, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 170-195

The topic for this week is ‘A Brief History of Social Media’ and the reading is ‘Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship’ by D Boyd and N Ellison. You can access the reading here:

http://www.danah.org/papers/JCMCIntro.pdf

The first thing that I would like to make note of is that this article was published in 2008 which means it doesn’t mention a few of the newer social media platforms, or SNSs as they are referred to in the article. 2008 was the year that I first started using Facebook, you can scroll down on this site:

http://mashable.com/2011/02/04/facebook-7th-birthday/ to see what it looked liked back then.

The article mentions a few that have since faded out or were never really popular in Australia to begin with. If you are interested in taking a little stroll down memory lane have a look at this list:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanhatesthis/your-favorite-old-social-networks-where-are-they

The fact that social media is both so new and subject to rapidly changing trends means that it can be difficult to find really relevant academic readings. For example, as part of a uni subject last year, I studied the text ‘Beowulf’ which was written somewhere between the 8th and 11th centuries. This meant that I had centuries of relevant academic writing to rely on. In terms of social media, we have less than two decades of research, and something that was written 6 months ago may no longer be relevant.

I thought I would create a chart demonstrating my social media use, to give you an idea of the SNSs that I have knowledge of.

Social Media Use

I certainly wouldn’t consider myself a social media addict, but a few points (thankfully not all) from this list were familiar:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/regajha/struggles-of-being-a-social-media-addict

The reasoning behind why I use each platform varies, but in general I use social media as a way of keeping in contact with friends, which can be difficult as I live interstate. I also find it is a good way of keeping up to date with the latest news in specific areas (For example, I’m able to keep up to date with everything happening with my football team, the Geelong Cats, by following them on Twitter).

I think that the way SNSs are used depends on the users rather than the creators of the platform. For example, some networks failed in some countries but became very popular in others. When MySpace was created, it wasn’t designed for musicians but they found it was a platform that worked for them. Just like how when Friendster eliminated the most popular feature, people stopped using it.

As I read this article I was reminded of another one that I read a few days ago. The main reasons that I remember is the article annoyed me and so unfortunately it stuck in my mind.

You can check out the full article for yourself here:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonnazar/2013/07/23/20-things-20-year-olds-dont-get/

I won’t go into all the issues I had with it but will just focus on the point relevant to this week’s topic. That point was that ‘Social Media is Not a Career’ which states that ‘these job titles won’t exist in 5 years.’ I disagree because I think social media will still be around in 5 years and will still be relevant. I believe that the advantages and range of uses that social media provides are too significant for them not to be around. Social media provides a cheap and easy way for people to keep in contact with each other, even when they are on opposite sides of the world, which is reason enough for it to still be around. But the real significance of social media comes with its advantages to help people. For example, earlier this year, the only way that the rest of the world got an accurate glimpse of what was happening in Turkey was via the stories on social media. And during natural disasters, people are able to go to somewhere like Twitter where information is easily organised via hashtags, to see what the latest news is. I think these advantages demonstrate that it will still be relevant and therefore there will be jobs specific to social media.

Here’s a video that contains some reasons why social media isn’t a fad and will be something that is integrated more and more into our lives

It will be many years before we can truly say what social media was, and that will depend on whether it is still an everyday part of our lives like the telephone, or something that was an embarrassing phase that will be mocked by future generations like penny-farthings, floppy disks, and walkmans.

I’ll finish with this image, that hopefully demonstrates that perhaps social media isn’t a completely new thing but rather a new way of doing things.

vintage-social-networking

(for more pictures like this one, check out http://wronghands1.wordpress.com/)

Welcome!

I thought that before we get into the business side of things, that I would tell you a bit about myself and this blog.

I am currently studying Public Relations and Advertising at UNSW, and as part of one of my subjects – MDIA5003, Online and Mobile Media – we have to blog about our thoughts on the weekly topics. Of course, if you are a fellow student in the class or indeed one of the lecturers, you already know this, and if it is the latter and you’re looking at my blog to mark it, may I mention what a marvellous class I think it is.

This blog will primarily be about my thoughts on the weekly topics including the readings and the lectures. Hopefully I will be able to make some links to PR, advertising and journalism where possible (or anything else I can think of along the way). So this might sound a little bit boring, but bear with me! I’ll try to keep it fun rather than serious and academic, and I think there will even be some fun topics!

Meme meme

Today in class we discussed the idea that people either consider the new media environment, specifically in relation to social media, as either utopian or dystopian and through the course it will be best to judge on a case-by-case basis. I feel that I strongly agree with both versions! On one hand, social media provides an amazing space where ideas can be shared, like in the coffee houses of old. I find it incredible to think that there is so much knowledge at the end of our fingertips (or in the ‘computer in our pockets’ as our lecturer described smart phones today). On the other hand, I do believe that social media is creating negative behaviours in people. That the general attitude is that the only things worth doing are the ones worth tweeting about and, well you know, selfies are a thing now.

Check out this comic ‘The Social Media Generation’ by Marc Maron for a bit more of a negative take on Social Media:

2013-09-05-maron
http://zenpencils.com/comic/129-marc-maron-the-social-media-generation/

I have chosen a blog name to reflect my varying thoughts on social media. Media, in all its forms is very much a menagerie (if we take the word to mean a large, perhaps a little out of control variety, rather than a group of exotic animals). The main point is the variety not only of platforms available, but also in the way they’re used and have the potential to be used.

Anyway, that’s enough of my waffling on for one night. Hopefully this blog will become a space of sharing my thoughts about the potentials of online media, and hopefully it wont head down the dystopian route. I guess that will depend on how hard I study this semester. Stay tuned for my comments on this week’s reading, which will hopefully be up in the next few days. Or, failing that, a selfie.

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