Internet Bulllies

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“The implication that a woman must be sexually appealing to be taken seriously as a thinker did not start with the internet… The net, however, makes it easier for boys in lonely bedrooms to become bullies.” —Laurie Penny

The most targeted group of internet trolling appear to be women. A study conducted in 2006 found that web users with “female” names were 25 times more likely to be harassed than users with “male” or ambiguous names. Women are subjected to crude insults and aggressive threats which are usually quite sexual in nature. This is usually done as a means to undermine those women who supposedly dare to voice their opinions publicly. Furthermore, through their anonymity, internet trollers feel empowered to harass and attack other individuals merely because they can. As this occurs over the internet, there is no filter or policing which could prevent such abuse.

The recent death of TV personality, Charlotte Dawson fuelled the discussion on internet trolling and cyberbullying. The hate campaign over Twitter got the better of Ms Dawson and pushed her to her death. Dawson was targeted by a stream of abuse and death threats, including “stick your head in a toaster” and “kill yourself” (ABC 2014). This tragic case demonstrates the dire consequences trolling can have on the victims. As Kate Carnell notes, the anonymity over social media makes cyberbullying more dangerous. As she claims “bullying via social media can be a major factor in triggering mental health issues” (ABC 2014).

I was personally very shocked after reading how vulgar these trolls were against women. As a young woman myself, I was disgusted but also frightened that people could think and say such things. However women are fighting back to such abuse. For example, Jessica Valenti launched the #mencallmethings campaign. Under this hashtag, women can retweet threats and abusive comments as a means to ‘name and shame’ the anonymous trolls and make such individuals accountable for their actions. However in my opinion, laws should also be implemented to criminalise these trolls. It may be extreme, but I believe, those individuals who abused Ms Dawson should be accountable and criminalised for her death.

References:

ABC 2014, ‘Charlotte Dawson’s death puts cyberbullying back in the spotlight’, ABC News, 24 February, viewed 12 May 2014 < http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-02-23/charlotte-dawson-death-puts-focus-on-cyber-bullying/5277904>.

Doyle, S 2011, ‘The Girl’s Guide to Staying Safe Online’, In These Times, 17 November, viewed 12 May 2014 <http://inthesetimes.com/article/12311/the_girls_guide_to_staying_safe_online>.

Griffin, M 2011, ‘Troll-attack campaign goes viral’, Sydney Morning Herald, 8 November, viewed 12 May 2014 < http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/trollattack-campaign-goes-viral-20111108-1n4j4.html>.

Thorpe, V & Rogers, R 2011, ‘Women bloggers call for a stop to ‘hateful’ trolling by misogynist men’, The Guardian, 6 November, viewed 12 May 2014 < http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/nov/05/women-bloggers-hateful-trolling>.

Video

SunriseOn7 2012, Charlotte Dawson Speaks Out, video, YouTube, 2 September, viewed 9 May 2014 < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrwnBGsyX8o>.

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Clicktivism = Slacktivism

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Henry Jenkins argues that the digital age has opened up a new online era of activism which offers the younger generation greater opportunities to contribute and participate in political discourse (Jenkins 2012). This is particularly evident with the rise of social media, whereby individuals can share and promote their own political, religious or social concerns to influence public opinion. This is known as ‘Clicktivism’.

The most recent example of Clicktivism is the social media campaign called ‘Bring Back Our Girls’. The campaign has been launched across multiple social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter. In one day alone, #bringbackourgirls was tweeted 412, 000 times (McPherson 2014). The hashtag originated in Nigeria, which demonstrates how ‘pervasive social media has become in developing nations amid the rapid growth of internet access and mobile devices’ (McPherson 2014). In fact, as SMH reports, there is a petition on the official White House website, calling President Barack Obama to work with Nigeria and the UN to rescue the school girls. Almost 27 000 people have signed the petition to date.

But to what extent will this campaign really lead to change? The campaign is currently at its’ peak with a huge hype around it. However, is this another Kony 2012 example where you simply hop on the bandwagon and take part in the ride while it lasts?

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In my opinion, most of these social media campaigns fail because they do more to make the ‘activists’ feel good about themselves rather than actually addressing the issues. A classic example was the recent #NoMakeupSelfie Campaign. This campaign involved women taking pictures of themselves au natural in order raise awareness for cancer. While it initially started off as a campaign to raise money for cancer research, it soon became a simple opportunity for women to take the perfect filter-processed selfie in the name of ‘cancer awareness.’ What did it achieve? Nothing.

Social media has indeed transformed the medium of activism. While clicktivism can lead to greater awareness and in some instances, social change; in many instances, it becomes an activity where individuals ‘click’ their concerns away. Gaining a ‘like’ is only a passive, lazy and effortless step to supporting a cause. Clicktivism requires something more —it should be used as an ongoing campaign, to spread awareness and enlist supporters outside the realm of the internet.

References:

Jenkins, Henry. (2012). ‘The New Political Commons’. Options Politiques <http://www.irpp.org/po/archive/nov12/jenkins.pdf

MacPherson, R 2014, ‘Missing Nigerian girls —from #bringbackourgirls hashtag to global action’. Sydney Morning Herald, 9 May, viewed 9 May 2014 < http://www.smh.com.au/world/missing-nigerian-girls–from-bringbackourgirls-hashtag-to-global-action-20140509-zr7d0.html>.

Video 

SBS2Australia 2013, Clicktivism —Why social media is not good for charity (The Feed), video, YouTube, 18 November, viewed 9 May 2014 < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUiF6uTjMWI>.

Welcome to the Remix Culture

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Due to the rapid development and transformation of media technologies, we now live in a digitalised, web 2.0 era, which has empowered audiences to become active participants and content creators. As a result, a new culture has emerged: the remix and mash-up culture. Remix cultures entail ‘combinational creativity’. As Kirby Ferguson states:

Remix Culture ‘was made using these three techniques: copy, transform and combine. It’s how you remix. You take existing songs, you chop them up, you transform the pieces, you combine them back together again’ which results in a new creation.

Thus anything can be subjected to the effects of remixing and mashup —whether it be music, TV series, music or interviews. Everything can be copied, transformed and combined into new pieces of work. Pogo, a Perth based remix artist, uses the sounds and songs of classic films and morphs them into hit electronic jams and ‘original songs’.

In most of Pogo’s projects, the newly-created piece of music consists solely of the sounds he samples from those films or scenes, without additional, ‘external’ music or sound effects (Wikipedia, 2014). This activity attracts the argument that remix culture lacks creativity and is killing originality, which in turn infringes copyright law. However in my opinion, it involves skill and talent to be able to orchestrate different pieces of work to create something pretty amazing. Thus copyright poses a threat to such activities as it restricts free expression, creativity, culture, innovation and democracy (Collins, 2008). Furthermore, all stories may be subject to the same criticisms.  According to Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch, all plots are a variation of one of seven basic themes. Therefore, we may as well argue that companies such as Disney should also be attacked for lack of originality.

We live an age of participation and produsage where everyone has the means to transcend the traditional boundaries and contribute their own personal essence to a greater piece of work. In my opinion, remix culture enriches and transforms different facets of original content to create something new and amazing which perhaps would not even be foreseen by the original producers.

Want more information? Click here for Alex Bruns’ four key universal principles on produsage and remix culture.

References:

Popova, M, ‘How Remix Culture Fuels Creativity & Invention: Kirby Ferguson at TED’, Brain Pickings, viewed 3 May 2014 < http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/08/14/kirby-ferguson-ted/

Snurb 2007, ‘Produsage: Key Principles’, produsage.org, viewed 3 May 2014 < http://produsage.org/node/11%20>. 

Wikipedia 2014, ‘Pogo (electronic musician)’, Wikipedia, viewed 3 May 2014 < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pogo_(electronic_musician)>.

Video 

Pogo 2010, Wishery – Pogo, video, YouTube, 4 November, viewed 3 May 2014 < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qs1bG6BIYlo>.

Ted 2012, Kirby Ferguson: Embracing the remix, video, YouTube, 10 August, viewed 3 May 2014 < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zd-dqUuvLk4

 

Transmedia Storytelling of Middle-Earth

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Henry Jenkin’s 10 points on transmedia texts and their complex fictional worlds are more easily explained through the analysis of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

The mystical world of Middle-Earth in LOTR and The Hobbit, has unfolded across six films, comics, books, video games, radio channels, and fan fiction sites. Thus the story has been dispersed ‘across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and co-ordinated entertainment experience’ (Jenkins, 2007). Each of the mediums broaden the audience’s understanding of Middle-Earth. For example, The Hobbit is the backstory to LOTR. It serves both as an introduction to Middle-Earth and as a link between earlier and later events presented in LOTR. Both the books have also been developed into major films which further enhances the viewers’ experience of the narratives. The franchise has also branched into the medium of video games. Now in ‘The Battle of Middle Earth’, “players can explore many different aspects of Middle-Earth from a variety of character perspectives, even ones that are only explored in small ways within the main story” (Bain K, et al, 2011). These extensions of the narrative make a unique contribution to the story. The video games —as well as LOTR toys— also provide its readers with a set of roles and goals which they can ‘assume as they enact aspects of the story through their everyday life’ (Jenkins 2007).

While the movies are catered to a slightly older audience, J.R.R. Tolkien’s story of The Hobbit was originally for children. In 1989 the story was adapted in a children’s comic book series which was published by Eclipse Comics. In the following years, more comic adaptions were produced, including comics written in foreign languages such as German and Italian. These adaptions demonstrate the ways in which the storytelling practices attempt to attract different audiences. This was also done through the radio series of LOTR and The Hobbit in the 1960s and 1980s.

The extensive and complex nature of Middle-Earth enables readers to creatively engage with their own imaginations and create their own stories. The original stories essentially introduce potential plots with which the audience can speculate, elaborate and play upon. LOTR and The Hobbit fan-fiction sites enable fans to ‘fill in the gaps’ they have discovered in the original stories (Jenkins, 2007). Similarly, the virtual world of Second Life also invites audience participation. Considering you can make absolutely anything on Second Life, it would be possible for users to create their own virtual Middle-Earth. This means users can have the power to control, dictate and produce their own unique narratives. However, the main potential limitation to this creative use of Second Life would be the issue of copyright. Nevertheless, Second Life does provide its users with the ability to ‘role play’ in the virtual world.

Watch this video to uncover the parallels between LOTR and The Hobbit. 

 

References:

Bain K, et al, 2011, ‘Transmedia and Crossmedia Convergence in a Connected World’, Convergenceishere, viewed 18 April 2014 < http://convergenceishere.weebly.com/lotr-and-eragon.html>.

Jenkins, H 2007, ‘Transmedia Storytelling 101’,< http://henryjenkins.org/2007/03/transmedia_storytelling_101.html>

Video

Frodo Baggins 2013, Lego Le Seigneur Des Anneaux / Le Hobbit Bande Annonce De Transition, video, YouTube, 13 September, viewed 19 April 2014, < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3DXtc8Vobg>.

IGN 2013, Connections Between The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, video, YouTube, 17 December, viewed 19 April 2014 < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9BzM1xQeBw>. 

Ullyses Gordon 2010, What is TransMedia?, video, YouTube, 17 October, viewed 18 April 2014 < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9uX_65IFpY>.

 

From Citizen Journalism to Collective Intelligence

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In today’s technological era, society has become largely immersed in a dialogic media landscape, whereby media content is interactively produced and shared by many individuals. This reflects the participatory culture of the 21st century as the roles of media content audiences have changed. Consumers are no longer passive who simply receive the message; consumers are now active as they produce, create, distribute, discuss and receive the message. This user created content has essentially challenged and reconfigured the established traditional boundaries between media content production, its rules and its logistics.

This culture of participation and produsage has led to the new modern phenomenon of citizen journalismNow, ordinary citizens have the power to share news instantaneously at the tip of their fingertips. Media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have all made it easier to share content across the internet. For example, events such as Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring were all instigated through social media. 

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Traditional news broadcasters have also recognised the changing patterns and have thus embraced this participatory culture. For example, after the activity of citizen journalists during the 2004 tsunami and the 2005 London Bombings, in 2006 CNN launched its iReport initiative which allows people from across the globe to share and publish stories, pictures, videos and breaking news in one space. This demonstrates the way in which CNN relies on collective intelligence to share news stories. As Pierre Levy notes, when we combine and collaborate the knowledge of all individuals, we can have a greater understanding on the issues involved. 

Similarly, the virtual world of Second Life is designed to be non-linear and relies on collective intelligence for expansion. The world is focused on providing an enjoyable user-generated, community-driven experience. Second Life users collaborate and share ideas and content to help develop the online virtual world. Almost all the objects in Second Life are created and modified by users. Thus while platform developer, Linden Lab, provided the online space, Second Life users have used their own imaginations to essentially create, dictate, generate and maintain their own unique online world.

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Second Life users use their creative imaginations and skills to create beautiful worlds.

 

References:

CNN 2014, ‘CNN iReport’, CNN iReport, viewed 10 April 2014 < http://ireport.cnn.com/>

Nielsen, N 2010, ‘“Collective Intelligence”, by Pierre Levy’, Michael Nielsen, 23 May, viewed 10 April 2014 < http://michaelnielsen.org/blog/collective-intelligence-by-pierre-levy/>.

Video 

Business Objects 2007, Collective Intelligence — The Vision, video, YouTube, 29 May, viewed 10 April 2014 < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQe8dWTbE2U>.

 

Citizen Journalism: User Empowerment, Access and Participation Across Media Platforms

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The mobile phone has had a profound impact on the way in which news and stories are distributed across the domestic sphere and international sphere. Essentially, the mobile phone has led to an innovation in journalism: now, ordinary citizens have the power to share news instantaneously at the tip of their fingertips. Media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc have all made it easier to share photos, messages and videos across the internet, allowing users all around the world to access and engage with such content. Thus the advances in digital technology and the growth of the internet have empowered a new era of citizen journalism. This means that we now live in a participatory culture where ordinary citizens are also contributors to the community through self-expressed user-generated content.

The latest event I can think of where citizen journalism came into play was when a 13-year-old girl filmed two young women assaulting and abusing an elderly man. The amateur footage was later handed in to the police and was also posted on YouTube which circulated across social media sites.  Channel 9 aired the Footage on a Thursday night and by the next morning, the names of the young women were circulating on social media. Members of the public also called the police and by late Friday afternoon, both women handed themselves in to the police. This one example demonstrates the way in which the combination of the mobile phone and social media has made it harder for offenders to escape liability.

Taking pictureSimilar to this event, Janey Gordon also identified the way in which the mobile phone proved to be crucial in the crises of the 2004 South-East Asian Tsunami and the 2005 London Bombings. In the 2004 tsunami, many utilised their mobile phones for contacting others about the tsunami. The mobile phone was used in a number of ways: for photography, phoning or texting home, and most importantly, contacting survivors (Gordon 2007, p.313). Thus individuals in the crisis areas were able to capture and document the natural event in ways which would not otherwise have been possible. This also demonstrates how the news was spread without ‘the gatekeeping or editorship of corporate news media’ (Gordon 2007, p.313). Similarly, the event of the London Bombings also proved how the mobile phone became crucial in providing potent documentation of the event (Gordon 2007, p.314). Even the media and press utilised the images -which were subject to editorial process- taken by the citizens as a means to ‘enhance the coverage of the event’ (Gordon 2007, p.314). 

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All these events demonstrate that individuals involved in any event -the people who are are the story -are better at capturing the story. It may be argued that they are the best journalists. Citizen journalism also enables a diverse range of voices to be heard. Unlike mainstream media (where 70% is owned by Rupert Murdoch!), citizen journalism over the internet allows individuals to compare and contrast amongst a variety of vetted sources of news. However while this is a great advantage, this can also be a disadvantage as reports may be unreliable, inaccurate and subjected to bias. As Chris Measures claims, professional journalists are generally trained to avoid bias and understand both sides of a story (although this is questionable as at the end of the day, the important question to ask is: who owns the media corporation?). This article provides one example of where citizen journalism went incredibly wrong during the Boston Marathon Bombings.

Nevertheless, it is clear that the digital age has revolutionized the way audiences now engage as well as participate in reporting the news. As Kate Bulkley reported, many agree that such technological developments have added a richer dimension to current affairs.

Also check out Katie Couric’s Top Citizen Journalism Moments on YouTube:

 

Reference List

Journal Articles:

Gordon, J (2007), ‘The Mobile Phone and the Public Sphere: Mobile Phone Usage in Three Critical Situations’, Convergence, Vol 13, no.3, pp. 307-319.

Online:

Bochenski, N, Calligeros M, 2014, ‘Gold Coast bus attack: two women leave elderly man ‘upset and shaken’, Brisbane Times, 28 February, viewed 31st March 2014 < http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/gold-coast-bus-attack-two-women-leave-elderly-man-upset-and-shaken-20140228-33pyl.html>. 

Bulkley, K, 2012, ‘The Rise of Citizen Journalism’, The Guardian, 11 June, viewed 31st March 2014 < http://www.theguardian.com/media/2012/jun/11/rise-of-citizen-journalism>. 

Jenkins, H, 2007, Videoblogging, Citizen Journalism, and Credibility, Confessions of an Aca-Fan, viewed 31st March 2014, < http://henryjenkins.org/2007/03/videoblogging.html

Measures, C, 2013, ‘The Rise of Citizen Journalism’, Socialmedia Today, 1 May, viewed 31st March 2014 < http://socialmediatoday.com/chris-measures/1430031/rise-citizen-journalism>.

Video:

Five Year, 2010, Katie Couric’s Top Citizen Journalism Moments on YouTube, video, YouTube, 10 May, viewed 1st April 2014, < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySEIK-I8I-Q>.

THNKR, 2012, Citizen Journalism On The Rise, video, YouTube, 10 September, viewed 1st April 2014, < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKLPkODHo64>. 

Platforms, Permissions and Ideologies in Technological Convergence

Convergence has had a profound effect on technologies and media platforms. In my opinion, it has generated a culture where both producers and consumers work together to essentially reach the goal of ‘convenience’. We are constantly striving to use and collaborate technologies to make life easier and more efficient for ourselves. Companies compete rigorously through greater innovation of products as a means to win the hearts of more consumers. This has largely been achieved through the digitalisation of technology which has enabled content to flow more easily amongst media platforms. 

As the lecture outlined, now, convergent media platforms are bigger than the sum of their parts i.e. smartphones, tablets, laptops etc (Moore 2014). This has all been driven through competition. For example, the new Xbox One has been classified as an ‘all-in-one entertainment system’, making it a competitor not only for Sony’s PlayStation and Nintendo Wii, but also the platforms of Apple TV and Google TV. The Xbox One not only performs its’ basic function of entertaining its’ user as a gaming machine, but it also performs the functions of connecting to the internet; accessing and using social media sites; skyping; watching TV and movies etc (Moore 2014). After all, life is so much more convenient when everything can be done through one black box! 

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However, while such devices can make individuals feel limitless, they can also ironically restrict us. For example, the lecture discussed the contrasting ideological approaches of Apple and Android. Unlike the Android system —which is a more open, generative and user-friendly platform —the IOS system features a digitally exclusive yet restricted and locked environment (Moore 2014). This can essentially be seen by the fact that IOS only runs on the iPhone. Thus, everything about the way individuals interact with the iPhone is deliberately tethered to Apple. For example, the centralised App Store is a monopoly point for users: it is the only way users can access content (Moore 2014). This reflects Apple’s ideology of providing its’ users with a ‘more consistent and focused user experience at the expense of flexibility and innovation’ (Moore 2014). However, as an Android user myself, I do appreciate the greater flexibility i’m allowed on my phone. I feel as if I have more options and I can truly cater the phone to my own needs.

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Similar to the open, unrestricted environment of the Android system, Second Life is also catered to user discretion. It provides a unique experience for all its users. The Second Life slogan is: ‘your world, your imagination’. Thus the options on Second Life are limitless, for example: users can create and customise their own avatar multiple times a day; the world is accessible to those with visual impairment; users can create their own virtual goods and sell them through the Linden Currency which can be exchanged to US dollars etc. See ‘How Second Life Works‘.

 

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Such open environments clearly allow users to customise their own experience. However, at the end of the day, users have the discretion to choose which ideological structure suits them when choosing a technology or media platform. 

Reference List

Online:

Wikipedia, 2014, Second Life, Wikipedia, viewed 30 March 2014, < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Life>. 

Xbox Wire Staff, 2013, Xbox One: The Complete All-in-One Games and Entertainment System, Xbox Wire, viewed 30 March 2014, < http://news.xbox.com/2013/11/xbox-one-complete-games-entertainment

Other:

Moore, C 2014, ‘Platforms, Permissions and Ideologies’, BCM112, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, 25 March.