joycechng

Posts Tagged ‘observation

This post draws upon content from Week 10 lectures as well as readings. The question to be discussed is as follows: Following Week 10 tutorial’s exercise, explain why you chose the Creative Commons license that you added to your blog and discuss the relevance (or not) of adding the license.

I’ve recently added something new to my blog. A box at the right-hand column declaring basically, that any content here is free for all! As long as you mention you saw it first here. It’s not very difficult, given the ease at which one can hyperlink things.

I chose to use the freest form of Creative Commons License: Attributions, which lets anyone who’s interested in my blog’s content to “distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon [my] work, even commercially, as long as they credit [me] for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered. Recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials” (Creative Commons, 2011).

The main rationale behind using this license is due to one of the aims for this blog project: Connectivity.

Connectivity is defined as access to the World Wide Web (WWW) whereby one can interact with others using the Internet (LeBlanc & Blum, 2007). To enable my blog to be accessed and used by as many netizens as possible, following the principles of network neutrality, I’ve decided on using this particular license, Attribution (Save the Internet Coalition, 2011).

Network neutrality is summed up neatly with this sentence: “This principle implies that an information network such as the internet is most efficient and useful to the public when it is less focused on a particular audience and instead attentive to multiple users” (Lin, 2010). Lin has also stated that under this theory, no information should be prioritised over another, hence another reason for my choice of this Creative Commons License.

While it’s true that network neutrality will most likely have the greatest effect when adopted by major online content providers, as a citizen of the WWW who believes that every little bit of effort will move us towards this desired state of free (online) press, I chipped in.

On the other hand, it can be argued that if I’m standing on the side which advocates free use of information on the Internet, there’ll be no need to add a license to my work. However, I also understand the value of original work, which is precisely what the Creative Commons License allows for (Garcelon, 2009). While I have opinions of my own, basis for a certain thought might come from some more enlightened person. Grateful for them allowing others to get insight, I’ll make sure to give them credit. Along the same line of thought, while I’m happy if others find my blog useful, crediting me would boost my happiness (and ego)!

While access to more information is important and necessary in advancing society, I’m also of the opinion that this license I chose will kill two birds with one stone. Creating a community that will not take information for granted, and hopefully grow to treat the importance of acknowledging freely available work as commonplace will be an ideal net order. In this sense, it can be said that by including this license, I’m helping in public education!

Hence, by joining a wider community of netizens who are willing to share information and also aid in creating a better and friendlier WWW, I believe that the addition of a Creative Commons License which allows free usage of my blog while at the same time helping to normalise credit-giving is the best possible compromise.

References

Creative Commons, 2011. ‘About The Licenses: The Licenses’, viewed 27 May 2011.

Garcelon, M. 2009, ‘An information commons? Creative Commons and public access to cultural creations’, New Media Society, Vol. 11, No. 8, pp. 1307 – 1326, Sage Publications.

LeBlanc, DA. & Blum, R. 2007, Linux For Dummies: 8th Edition, Wiley Publishing Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey, USA.

Lin, R. 2010, ‘Network Neutrality: Definition of Network Neutrality’, viewed 27 May 2011.

Save the Internet Coalition. 2011, ‘Network Neutrality 101’, viewed 27 May 2011.

This post draws content from Week 9 lectures and readings. The question to be discussed is as follows: A) Burgess and Green argue that: ordinary people who become celebrities through their own creative efforts “remain within the system of celebrity native to, and controlled by, the mass media” (Reader, page 269).

While it cannot be denied that celebrities can exist mostly outside mainstream mass media (read: the indie industry), I agree with Burgess and Green’s argument (Burgess & Green, 2009), mainly because it comes to a point whereby the mass media eventually encompasses all.

Burgess and Green further elaborated saying that media power will always lie with big media producers because these media conglomerates are the ones fueling the notion of ‘amateur stars’; “rags-to-riches stories” (Burgess & Green, 2009, p. 22). There have been numerous stories of ordinary people gaining recognition online through Youtube, MySpace and so on. When mainstream media picks up on them, they are propelled to greater fame.

While it can be argued that many celebrities like Radiohead and R.E.M who are known to the public, do not conform, or ‘sell out‘ (Urban Dictionary, 2011); they have been highly involved in non-commercial distribution of their work which goes against the basic principles of mainstream music industries, by virtue of the fact that they have become household names prove the over-reaching influence of mass media.

My point is, while celebrities who have gotten famous out of their own creativity appear to be independent of mass media, to get famous and remain famous, mass media is a vital element of the equation.

Whether it is going along with the tastes of the public who utilise mass media, or purposely resorting to shock tactics which appear contrary to what the masses want or have been inundated with via mass media (i.e. Leave Britney Alone: Chris Crocker with his clashing views at the time, standing up for Britney Spears when the mass media was mocking her), ultimately, ‘self-made’ celebrities remain within the control of mass media.

In other words, the mass media remains a barometer by which these celebrities measure themselves against, and decide on a presentation that would gain them the most fame.

Taking the case of Youtube again, one Youtube celebrity whose work has spawned a slew of similar video tutorials, is Michelle Phan.

Michelle Phan is a Youtube ‘star’/makeup artist who has over a million followers on her Youtube channel, and has garnered nearly 70 million views since 2006. While it can be argued that because she makes use of her personal skills to teach makeup to her viewers and thus is not controlled by the mass media, her content is fundamentally influenced by the mass media, thus she “remain[s] within the system of celebrity”.

Take for example her makeup tutorial on Lady Gaga’s Poker Face makeup.



Phan’s video tutorial was posted in May 2009, at the height of Lady Gaga’s fame for her debut album featuring the song Poker Face. Therefore, it is quite easily inferred that Phan, a self-made celebrity is within the control of mass media which compelled her to produce content which she knows will be popular with her viewers due to the hype surrounding Lady Gaga.

Hence, I believe that Burgess and Green’s argument holds.

References

Burgess, J. & Green, J. 2009, ‘Youtube and The Mainstream Media’, Youtube: Online and participatory Culture, Polity Press, Cambridge, UK, pp. 15 – 37.

Phan, M. 2008, ‘Lady GaGa Poker Face Tutorial’, Youtube.com, viewed 24 May 2011.

Urban Dictionary. 2011, ‘Urban Dictionary: Sell-out’, viewed 24 May 2011.

As the title explains, this is another short post about WordPress and the various difficulties I have encountered. This time, the problem was with WordPress automatically ‘eating’ up my line spacings.

A quick Google search ensured when I again, got annoyed that the formatting for this blog was strange i.e. does not live up to my exacting standards. As I found, a number of netizens have also faced this irritant and a fair number of forum postings have been used in the discussion.

For an example of what I mean, here’s one. Despite entering after each paragraph, before and after each inserted media, things still ended up like this:



The lack of line spacings before and after images! I suppose you would have to be a really oddball like me to care about such things, but there you go.

Thankfully, this time’s search for a solution was a pretty easy one. This website that popped up gave a simple, and most important, working solution.

My life is complete. For the moment at least.

References

Google. 2011.

JBS Partners. 2008, ‘WordPress strips / removes blank lines while I add empty lines’, JBS Partners, viewed 25 April 2011.

This post will draw upon lecture content as well as readings from Week 5. The question to be discussed is as follows: Analyse critically the following statement by Mark Zuckerberg while comparing it to privacy issues raised by online social networking collaborative practices.

“When people have more control over what they share, they are comfortable with sharing more. When people share more, the world becomes more open and connected. And in a more open world, many of the biggest problems we face together will become easier to solve.”



(Source: Extract from Mark Zuckerberg on Making Privacy Controls Simple video)

Firstly, let’s pick apart this little speech. “When people have more control over what they share, they are more comfortable with sharing more.” Really, Mr Zuckerberg? Really? Besides its obviously simplistic view and assumption of people’s actions, this is a contradictory sentence.

When people have more control over what they are sharing, i.e making use of the many, revamped privacy controls Facebook has come up with, there won’t be any conceivable reason as to why they would share more publicly.

Yes, in the simplest sense, they are sharing more, but all this information would be shrouded by privacy settings and thus be invisible to “the world” Zuckerberg mentions. So how then, is there any way the world can becomes open and connected when people are sharing more but hiding information?

It appears that this statement is empty of meaning, and use of words and phrases like “sharing”, “open”, “connected”, “we face together”, and “easier to solve” merely seek to convey lofty world visions which aim to distract from the real fact of the matter. That nothing online, and more specifically in Facebook, is private anymore.

In an article by Yoder (Business Insider), Zuckerberg’s statement can be interpreted to mean that since the societal norm these days is that of an “open and connected world”, everybody should subscribe to this school of thought. Hooray for Facebook spreading its digital archives wide open and spreading your information to every corner of the World Wide Web! Okay, I’m exaggerating but you see what I mean.

One particularly memorable bit of Yoder’s article was when he said “essentially, this means Facebook not only wants to know everything about you, and own that data, but to make it available to everybody” (Yoder, 2010).

In other words, Zuckerberg’s statement about how the world would open up via connections like Facebook and band together to work together on solving problems is just PR speak about how it’s inevitable that private information would get leaked out to numerous sellers of products/services, and I can’t do anything. The whole promotion about better privacy controls then seem to be a stalling mechanism, implemented in hopes that users get diverted from the issue of privacy and get off Facebook’s case.

Just by the sheer fact that this extract is from a video whereby Zuckerberg supposedly responses to users’ needs for privacy is strange. Seeing how the whole point of the main video was to explain how new privacy controls would better safeguard our information, what he says is plain ironic. While promoting stronger privacy controls, he goes on to say that an open world would be better since it allows us to solve more problems. Forgive me for being selfish, but I don’t think my personal information (which allow for bizarre sale pitches like “Weird Celebrity Dolls: It’s Britney, Bitch!”) would really make “many of the biggest problems we face together will become easier to solve”.

While I appreciate that Facebook is doing something, as compared to simply ignoring us, it really does need to work harder at convincing the cynical netizen.

References

Tubechop. 2011, ‘Extract form Mark Zuckerberg on Making Privacy Controls Simple’, Tubechop, viewed 25 April 2011.

Yoder, D. 2010, ’10 Reasons To Delete Your Facebook Account’, Business Insider, viewed 25 April 2011.

theofficialfacebook. 2010, ‘Mark Zuckerberg on Making Privacy Controls Simple’, Youtube, viewed 25 April 2011.

This post will draw upon lecture content as well as readings from Week 4. The question to be discussed is as follows: Russell (et al.) compares elite media and institutions with bloggers and ponders the following question: “Do bloggers, with their editorial independence, collaborative structure and merit-based popularity more effectively inform the public?” (Reader, page 136). Do you agree? Use examples to illustrate your point of view.

While it’s true that mainstream media is not the only source of information, I still hold that mainstream media still more effectively informs.

In recent years with easy-to-use blogging tools like WordPress, Blogger, LiveJournal, and even Tumblr, mainstream media institutions have lost audience, mostly the generation who grew up with technology.

Russell, Ito, Richmond, and Tuters wrote that this occurrence is an unavoidable side-effect of the need for freedom of speech. In a society whereby only mainstream media producers get their views published, the average citizen is sick of this constraint and turns to blogging.

As discussed here and here, anyone with Internet and basic computer and writing skills can set up a blog.

Beside these obvious benefits, the blogger acquires “editorial independence”, through “collaborative structure” and “merit-based popularity”, which serve to inform and educate with information that may be an exposé of mainstream media news or a new news angle (Russell et al., 2008, p. 67).

Bloggers generally don’t have to answer to any higher management. An example is A Disgruntled Republican. He criticises the US government openly and is a prime example of how freedom of speech have led to a shared sense of community and merit-based popularity which is evident by this blog’s position on a list of best political blogs.

Another political blog is The Temasek Review. It’s an example which informs publics more effectively than state-run media simply it has editorial independence to publish news that wouldn’t be published in mainstream media i.e. news about Opposition parties, criticisms of the government, analysis of policies, etc. Despite attempts to shut this website down, it’s still continuing due to public donations, and ongoing support from netizens who want “an alternative to SPH” which is pro-government (Tan, 2011).

While such websites are relatively credible, there’re also blogs with inaccurate and untrustworthy information. However, some experts still believe that blogging is best. Andrew Nachison, Director of the Media Center, a US-based think-tank believes “blogs have become independent sources for images and ideas that circumvent traditional sources of news and information” (Belo, 2004).

The correct phrase to use in describing this phenomenon is “transition” (Belo, 2004). While it’s true that mainstream media has lost some potency, impartial reporting, the hallmark of traditional media is still not strong in blogs due to editorial independence. This leads to serious consequences like spreading incorrect information which is made more severe by the Internet’s dissemination speed.

Tthe advent of mainstream media blogs threaten independent blogs. For one, mainstream media blogs are perceived to be more credible. Secondly, teams of newsmakers behind the production of mainstream media blogs (and also in top independent blogs) show that manpower is necessary for the formation of good news (Owyang, 2008). Also, mainstream media blogs are still foremost in producing “deep, multi-source digs into a particular topic” (Sullivan, 2008). Sullivan cites these blogs for their insight:

1. Google and China

2. Google and USA

Thirdly, the lines between mainstream media and netizens blur, “mainstream media rejoins the people”, resulting in a completely different medium (Associated Press, 2006; Owyang, 2008).

As a Pew Research Centre paper found, blogs and mainstream media “embrace different agendas’ (Pew Research Centre, 2010). Blogs were also found to rely heavily on mainstream media information. 90% of blogs use mainstream media sources; 80% of blogs linked stories coming exclusively from major media outlets like BBC, CNN, New York Times, Washington Post (Pew Research Centre, 2010).

Hence the future lies in mainstream media blogs which combine credibility, budget, and freedom. I hold that mainstream media still more effectively inform the masses.

References

A Disgruntled Republican. 2011, viewed 24 April 2011.

Associated Press. 2006, Bloggers Join Mainstream’, Wired, viewed 24 April 2011.

Auletta, K. 2008, ‘The Search Party: Google squares off with its Capitol Hill critics’, New Yorker, viewed 24 April 2011.

Belo, R. 2004, ‘Blogs take on the mainstream’, BBC News, viewed 24 April 2011.

Blog Catalogue. 2010, ‘Politics by Award Winning Independent Political Bloggers in their Blogs’, BlogCatalogue, viewed 24 April 2011.

Owyang, J. 2008, ‘How Popular Blogs and Mainstream Media Appear The Same’, Web Strategist, viewed 24 April 2011.

Pew Research Centre. 2010, ‘New Media, Old Media: How Blogs and Social Media Agendas Relate and Differ from Traditional Press’, Pew Research Centre Publications, viewed 24 April 2011.

Russell, A. Ito, M., Richmond, T., & Tuters, M. 2008, ‘Culture: Media Convergence and Networked Culture’, Networked Publics, ed. K. Varnelis, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, pp. 43 – 76.

Sullivan, D. 2008, ‘Blogs & Mainstream Media: We Can & Do Get Along’, Daggle, viewed 24 April 2011.

Tan, A. 2011, Ex-Singaporean sponsored an additional server for The Temasek Review’, The Temasek Review, viewed 24 April 2011.

The Temasek Review. 2011, viewed 24 April 2011.

Thompson, C. 2006, ‘Google’s China Problem (and China’s Google Problem)’, The New York Times, viewed 24 April 2011.

This post will draw upon lecture content as well as readings from Week 3. The question to be discussed is as follows:

While discussing YouTube, José van Dijck argues that the site’s interface influences the popularity of videos through ranking tactics that promote popular favourites (Reader, page 94). How do ranking tactics impact the formation of online ‘communities’?

Firstly, a very brief description of Youtube. Founded in 2005, the video sharing and streaming website has an average of 24 videos uploaded per minute and exceeded two billion views as of May 2010 (Youtube, 2011). Visitors to Youtube only have to search or watch videos of a certain genre before automatically being offered or suggested videos that Youtube’s programming thinks they might like by their second visit. For instance, on my first time surfing Youtube, I searched for and watched videos of Radiohead’s live performance of Creep.



On my subsequent visits, I found under the Recommended For You tab, there was a list of videos relating to Radiohead because Youtube deemed me to be interested in the band along with this message.



As this Recommended For You tab was placed prominently at the top half the Youtube’s homepage, my eyes were drawn to it immediately and this resulted in the higher chance of me clicking on it. Thus, this shows that José van Dijck’s theory that site interface does affect the popularity of videos is proven. Via methods Youtube has utilised like a front and centre Recommended For You tab, promotion of Most Popular videos, suggestions for other videos while watching a particular video, as well as featured videos, site interface is very important.

Communities in this case refer to online communities which exist on Youtube. These groups are set up by netizens who may or may not be produsers in order to devote full attention to a certain interest. Youtube itself is a giant community which serves the needs and pursuits of produsers and passive users who are interested in watching videos, streaming them, commenting on them, contributing them, and disseminating them.

Online communities on Youtube generally are hobby or interest groups. More often than not, these groups are ranked according to popularity, the number of comments they garner, the number of subscribers, or even the amount of advertising fees paid to Youtube in exchange for greater prominence/exposure (Dijck, 2009). With the factoring of money in, online communities now might be formed not purely out of interest, but of financial reasons.

Hence, it also means that the popularity of certain online communities might be boosted by cash injections and not a real indication of its widespread appeal amongst netizens. While this allows a new form of advertising to emerge, it is a blow to amateur netizens and produsers. With eyes and potential votes of ‘confidence’ being steered away from them to the big guns in the industry, exposure will be extremely hard to get.

Should capital continue to be a big, or even deciding factor in the formation of online communities, home users and produsers will be subject to a stifling of creativity and opportunities to present their own material which might be vastly different from mainstream media. As in the case of the remix culture which I highlighted here, amateur producers who are also users and netizens in the World Wide Web (WWW) are important when alternative views are needed to balance out the avalanche of media mainstream media production companies are heaping on consumers.

References

Dijck, JV. 2009, ‘Users like you? Thoerizing agency in user-generated content’, Media, Culture & Society, Vol. 31, No. 1, Sage Publications, Los Angeles, London, Singapore, New Delhi, pp. 41 – 58.

touchmyeggs. 2010, ‘Radiohead – Creep (Live @ Reading Festival 2009)’, Youtube.com, viewed 23 April 2011.

Youtube. 2011, ‘About Youtube’, Youtube.com, viewed 23 April 2011.

Youtube. 2011, ‘Most Popular’, Youtube.com, viewed 23 April 2011.

Youtube. 2011, ‘ Recommended For You’, Youtube.com, viewed 23 April 2011.

Just a post about my experiences with WordPress again. This time i was bored with my past theme and set out to find a spanking new one!

As a person obsessed with straight lines, things fitting without weird, unnecessary spaces, and things being exactly where I want them to be, it really irks me when I don’t get what I expect. For instance, with a WordPress theme, I’d want my sidebars to be on the right column, my posts to be fully justified, aligned in the centre and so on.

Hence, the logical thing to do would be to apply a theme which fits my criteria. And the thing good about WordPress is that it lists out its themes’ features. For example, two sidebars, one footer, fixed widths, and things like that, it’s really nifty I have to say. Settling on one theme I liked, I proceeded to my home page to check how it looks. Lo and behold, things were definitely not good.

My promised “fixed width, right-aligned sidebar 1” was all the way at the bottom of the page. And the sidebar didn’t even have the decency to I don’t know, spread out a little and resemble a footer. Maybe I have unreasonable demands, probably the CSS code isn’t even equipped to handle unexpected problems like that, but it is very irritating nevertheless. Furthermore, previously in my dashboard, I have re-dragged all the widgets I want to have in my sidebar already, and when my sidebar promptly decided to move to the bottom of the page, only two out of my five widgets appeared. This phenomenon is something that irritates me to no end.

Maybe there is some way to prevent this and I being an IT noob just don’t get it, but it does seem that everytime I change my WordPress theme, I have to re-insert all of my widgets into my new sidebar? All my widgets end up in this table at the bottom of the dashboard page, labelled as ‘Inactive Widgets’. Is this supposed to help me? Is this supposed to make my life easier? Although it is not a big problem to scroll all the way down to choose my widgets again, isn’t the point of the Internet to facilitate matters, and make it generally easier to go about things?

One suggestion I would like to make to WordPress is either:
#1. reverse the order of the widgets tables, put my previously used widgets up at the top of the page so that I can re-insert them into my new theme’s sidebar easily and quickly
or
#2. Do not even take my previous widgets out and stick them in a table called inactive widgets at all! Why can’t it just be an automatic process where the widgets I choose are already in the new theme’s sidebar, then should I want to add or delete anything, I’ll do it manually?

Back to my point about flexibility now.. After fiddling for over half an hour and choosing numerous themes to try to solve the issue of the wayward sidebar, I gave up. At that point, I was basically fine with any theme at all, as long as my sidebar got back to where it was supposed to be. Function over form for me I suppose. Not one theme came close to putting my sidebar where it belonged, so out of desperation, I turned to the ever trusty Google.

In a matter of minutes, I discovered the answer. Ironically, in a WordPress forum which then led me to a Help page filed under the WordPress Support section. The problem of a sidebar gone astray is apparently the small issue of html coding. As mentioned, I am a horribly anal-retentive person when it comes to certain things. My downfall was the code I used for justifying my posts. Just because I did not add a closing code to the end of my previous post, everything went haywire. Upon adding that simple function at the end, everything went back to normal.

After heaving a great sigh of relief, I started to ponder about this so-called flexibility options offered. While it is highly useful to those who know more to be able to customise according to personal preferences, for laypeople i.e. noobs like myself, this could be frustrating.

I would really be grateful if someone could add into the WordPress code some action that forces the layout of the theme to remain unchanged unless someone specifically requests to customise it. Additionally, WordPress can also implement options for left, right, centred, or justified alignments. While it might take away true flexibility, this will afford users some measure of customizability.

This article here is chocked full of information. While really pretty lengthy, I feel that the content is quite useful and true. Having used some of the tools as illustrated in the article. I confess that I have never had a hyperlocal blog before, so I cannot tell at this stage if using WordPress enables me to add “power, flexibility, or professionalism” to my curent space. I’m open to comments though!

References

Google. 2011, viewed 23 April 2011.

HyperLocalBlogger. 2009, ‘How Do You Define Hyperlocal?’, HyperLocalBlogger, viewed 23 April 2011.

Online Journalism Blog. 2011, Which blog platform should I use? A blog audit.’, Online Journalism Blog, viewed 23 April 2011.

Urban Dictionary. 2011, ‘Noob’, Urban Dictionary, viewed 23 April 2011.

WordPress.com Forums. 2011, ‘My blog side bar has fallen down, help Pls!!!’, WordPress.com, viewed 23 April 2011.

WordPress.com Support. 2011, ‘Appearance: Theme>>Layout Issues’, WordPress.com, viewed 23 April 2011.