I DON’T KNOW WHAT WE ARE YELLING ABOUT!

The Apple vs Android debate has caused one of the biggest first world problems of our time. Your phone is no longer just a device on which you make a phone call…it’s a lifestyle.

The ‘Great Debate’, as it has been dubbed, has grown to epic proportions with the Apple and Android brands seemingly having developed personas along the way. With Smart Phone Camera ‘Shoot Outs’, ‘smack downs’ between Google voice search vs. SIRI and reports of SIRI and the iPhone 5 vs the world – things seem to be getting a little over dramatised and out of hand. In this weeks reading, Andy Rubin himself said that the Android device ‘would have the spirit of Linux and the reach of Windows’.

So apparently technology now has spirit… has society forgotten that we are discussing electronic devices?

The two companies have taken entirely different approaches to the mobile war, however in my opinion, people are buying into the brand, as much as they are into the technology. Apple’s iPhone’s allow only Apple-approved applications (apps) on the handset. By contrast, now that it has moved into the phone business, Google gives Android away—it does not sell it—to be installed on dozens of phone models made by a host of phonemakers, including Sony, Motorola, Samsung, LG, HTC and others. Android’s code is open, and the phonemakers can tinker with it to suit their needs (though Google tries to maintain a basic set of standards, so that an app built for one Android phone will work on another). Anyone who can create an Android app can get it into Google’s Android Market, the equivalent of the App Store. Apple is renown for its sleek sophisticated and trendy style, but far more sealed and controlled.

Appleism isn’t quite a religion, but it features almost a God-like leader, the late Steve Jobs, who millions of individuals praise every day. On the contrary, the ‘Googlers’ or ‘Droids’ of the world worship at an entirely different alter, and I am sure, wouldn’t have it any other way.

I myself, am a fence sitter. I have found myself caught somewhere between the ‘smack downs’ and ‘shoot outs’ of this first world problem and will either have to ‘Google’ or ask SIRI how to get out.

Reference:

Roth, D. (2008) ‘Google’s Open Source Android OS Will Free the Wireless Web’. Wired, June 23. [URL: http://www.wired.com/techbiz/media/magazine/16-07/ff_android]

Image sourced from: http://cdn.memegenerator.net/instances/400x/26682592.jpg.

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Activism 2.0

The use of social network sites is growing at an exponential rate. However, the growth that is occurring cannot merely be perceived on a subscription level. The increasing functionality of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube is leveraging growth in the ways which society use social media. This increasing functionality is in effect, developing a foundation upon which future possibilities of the internet and the philosophies which extend from it are created.

I agree with Maria Popova’s (2010) statement in that the hierarchies which exist within the social web of the internet, are particularly useful in promoting an understanding of causes. While awareness is certainly not a sufficient condition for activism, it is a necessary one, and the social network platforms available in modern times offer a place in which to draw attention to an issue and convey the messages to a far wider audience than ever before.

In reflecting on the use of social media in the Arab Spring in the article by Morozov (2011), it is of my perception that social media was employed as a tool to assist the movement, however it was not the reasoning behind it. The use of platforms such as Facebook and Twitter during this time were essentially an effective aid to help carry the notion of engagement with political institutions and reforms. However, activism, whether online or offline requires reasoning and passion and desired for change by those involved. These three motives are what drive a reform and a revolution. From a marketing perspective, it could be seen that social media is the execution or strategy which is used to reach an objective. This is not to say that the role of social media in such movements is not valued. In fact, my view is quite the contrary. As our society becomes ever increasingly saturated in technology, the ways of life, including standing up for what you believe in are consequently becoming more prevalent online.

Social media is the tool which carries the voice. It is the users which create the message.

Reference:

Morozov, E. (2011) ‘ Facebook and Twitter are just places revolutionaries go’ The Guardian, 7 March. [URL: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/mar/07/facebook-twitter-revolutionaries-cyber- utopians].

Popova, M. (2010) ‘Malcolm Gladwell Is #Wrong’ Change Observer, 10 June. [URL: http://changeobserver.designobserver.com/feature/malcolm-gladwell-is-wrong/19008/].

Legalised Cybercrime?

As a combination of hacking and social activism, hacktivism can be perceived as the use of digital tools in pursuit of political ends (Mitwew 2012). The notions of hacktivism are cast throughout society with negative connotations and little understanding of hacker ethics. My personal opinion is that hacktivism shows just how fragile an underbelly most enterprises and governments have, as well as much of the security industry. Benkler’s (2009) article justifies this in the detailing of the revealing of the Collateral Murder, Afghanistan and Iraq in April-October 2010 through Wikileaks. Lately, however, the hacktivism term has been applied to protests against multinational organizations, governments, and even rural law enforcement agencies, and the tactics now include DoS attacks on sites, as well as leaks of confidential documents to the public.

Today’s hacktivism creates a high level of embarrassment that goes beyond corporate press releases about data breaches, or identity theft. When the information is released it can be very public and quite dangerous, not only to the institution being hacked, but, by collateral damage, to innocents. But what about the other side of the argument? Some politically motivated data breaches have inspired full-blown revolutions. In the spring of 2011, thousands of protestors took to the streets in the Middle East, rallying against their governments, some of which had been in power for decades. They were emboldened by, among other things, technology. For some, WikiLeaks and a decentralized online organization known as Anonymous created the environment that gave rise to the “Arab Spring” by posting secret government documents online.

In this sense, could hacktivism be perceived as ‘legalised cybercrime’? Could society draw a clear distinction between crimes committed strictly for money (identity theft, fraud, extortion, embezzlement, etc.) and crimes committed for the sake of theoretical anarchism, peer prestige, vigilantism, or laughs? Or should they be labelled as ‘materialistic crimes’ and ‘sociopathic crimes’? Either way, there is bound to be leakage.

Whether hacktivism is a crime may be debated. Opponents argue that hacktivism causes damage in a forum where there is already ample opportunity for non-disruptive free speech. Others insist that such an act is the equivalent of a protest and is therefore protected as a form of free speech. What ever the case, hacktivism has revealed just how poorly many companies handle the process of securing data, much of which belongs to consumers. I think consumers should be asking the companies that hold their data, ‘How well are you really protecting my info?’

Reference:

Benkler, Y. (2011) ‘A free irresponsible press: Wikileaks and the battle over the soul of the networked fourth estate’, p. 1-33 [URL: http://www.benkler.org/Benkler_Wikileaks_current.pdf].

Khatchadourian, R. (2010) ‘No Secrets: Julian Assange’s mission for total transparency’ The New Yorker, June 7. [URL:

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/06/07/100607fa_fact_khatchadourian].

Mitew, T 2012, Counter Networks, DIGC202, Global Networks, University of Wollongong, delivered 17/09/2012.

Twitter: The millennial megaphone

A bridge made of pebbles is an excellent analogy used by Johnson (2009) in describing the use of short Tweets to create something so large – an atmosphere of constant awareness. I feel that this analogy could be applied to many aspects of the internet. The plethora of information which is available online creates the notion of what we know as the internet or cyberculture itself. This overabundance of information, which has been aided by the rise of mass ameaturisation, has developed the organisational habit of sorting.

The previous communication models where the audience is considered passive and absorbent are now being literally rewritten by society. The interactive nature of online content, through selection and sorting of relevance had developed the emergence of a participatory culture. This culture has not only created effects online, but also offline through the advance of new ethics, credibility and collective intelligence. In this world, consumers become prosumers, where participating has its own rewards. However, the ease of creating online content has vastly altered the power balance between traditional news outlets and the emergence of new information hubs. Consumers can now actively seek information and furthermore, critically analyse and evaluate an issue beyond the normative agenda setting of the industrial news outlets.

Bruns (2009) refers to the notion of ‘gatewatchers’ as ‘guide dogs’ who may point their users to useful reports in conventional news publications as well as to first-hand materials from official or unofficial sources or to insightful commentary and analysis; in other words, they watch the output gates of other sources, and further publicise the material published allowing people to compare and contrasts news with only a few clicks. The focus here has shifted from first hand investigation, to the development of retrieval and analytical skills. I think the concept of ‘gatewatchers’ is reoccurring in many facets of the internet beyond citizen journalism and is a reflection of the increasingly critical society which we are a part of.

Reference:

Bruns, A. (2009) ‘News Blogs and Citizen Journalism: New Directions for e-Journalism’ [URL: http://produsage.org/files/News%20Blogs%20and%20Citizen%20Journalism.pdf].

Johnson, S. (2009). How Twitter Will Change The Way We Live. Time [URL: http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1902604,00.html].

Mitew, T 2012, Social media and the rise of gatewatchers, DIGC202, Global Networks, University of Wollongong, delivered 10/09/2012.

Image sourced from:

http://ukwebfocus.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/twitter-wordle-20100809.png.

Is this post worth your attention?

 

Kevin Kelly (2008) states:

‘In short, the money in this networked economy does not follow the path of the copies. Rather it follows the path of attention, and attention has its own circuits.’

In the world of advertising, the trick to being successful is to break through the clutter to sell your product in a way that stands out from all the others. In my opinion, the developing concept of the attention economy within cyberspace could certainly be seen as an interchangeable process with this. While the principle remains the same, the scope of the message goes far beyond the selling of a product. It in the digital sphere, the clutter could be perceived as the plethora of online content, whether is be amongst the millions of daily Tweets, the hundreds of play-by-play life posts by people within your Facebook newsfeed, the incredibly varied points of view expressed through the exponential number of blogs or the hundreds of news stories churned out each day. Each separate piece of content within these networks – of which there are billions – are all competing for the consumers attention to convey a message.

In the long running love affair between advertising and media, things are very complex (as is the case with most love affairs). Advertising is not a very faithful lover, prone to frequent changes in its lovers. Whenever a new and promising medium comes along, advertising flocks to it. This was the case when TV came along and usurped everyone else. But the other media, like radio and print, didn’t die out – instead they carved out their own niches.

Could this analogy be applied to the attention economy of the internet? I certainly think so. For example, Myspace was once the central platform of social networking amongst my group of friends. Everyone was competing for the attention of others through a ‘cool’ background, competition to be in someone’s ‘Top Friends’ was fierce and having the same layout as another person was practically social suicide. But what for? Myspace for many of us is now merely a distant memory, but for others such as those involved in the music industry, it is a key gateway into a world of opportunities – a world of competing for the attention of others.

‘Where there is abundance of information there is scarcity of attention’ (Mitew 2012).

Thus, the moral of the story here is to pay attention to where you pay attention.

 

Reference:

Anderson, C. (2004). The Long Tail. Wired, 12.10  [URL:  http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.10/tail.html]

Kelly, K. (2008). Better Than Free.[URL:http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/kelly08/kelly08_index.html]

Mitew, T 2012, ‘Into the cloud: the long tail and the attention economy’, DIGC202, Global Networks, lecture, delivered Wollongong University, 3rd September.

O’Reilly, T. (2005) ‘What is Web 2.0’ O’Reilly Media.[URL:http://oreilly.com/web2/archive/what-is-web-20.html]

Shirky, C. (2002). Weblogs and the Mass Amateurization of Publishing. [URL:http://shirky.com/writings/weblogs_publishing.html]

Image sourced from: http://www.findwaldo.com/fankit/graphics/IntlManOfLiterature/Scenes/DepartmentStore.jpg. 03/09/2012.

Convergence Culture = Convenience Culture

For our generation, convergence has become normality in the technological sphere which could position us as either the cleverest generation or the laziest. Convenience is everything these days. It seems that greater the functionality of a device, the more fondly it is perceived. An example of this is the mobile phone. This device – coming from humble beginnings – now goes far beyond the ability to make a phone call. The reality is, these devices are now considered a central information hub for consumers.

I read a surprisingly relevant Tweet by Megan Fox (2012) this week which stated:

We live in a society where losing our phone is more dramatic than loosing our virginity

With the increasing convergence and convenience of technology, comes the increasing importance of these items, which go far beyond your average telephone call. Personally, my phone is my central mobile web surfing device, my music player, my internet banking device, my photo gallery, my USB stick, my camera, my calendar, my GPS system, my address book, my social media hub, and I occasionally use it for a phone call.

However technological devices are not only undergoing convergence, they are also facilitating it. This circulation of media content—across different media systems, competing media economies, and national borders—depends heavily on consumers’ active participation. Henry Jenkins (2006) makes an interesting point in stating that each of us constructs our own personal mythology from bits and fragments of information extracted from the media flow and transformed into resources through which we make sense of our everyday lives. When reading this, the first concept that came to mind was the Encoding/Decoding Model of Communication. Producers of content acting as the ‘sender’, encode a message with meaning, however the decoding of these meanings is highly influenced by the noise and the personal field of experience of the receiver. Having said this, the emergence of convergence has caused the distinctions between the sender and receiver in this model to become blurred with the surfacing of ‘produsers’ – the convergence of the ‘producers’ and ‘consumers’.

So having noted how convergence has heightened technological experience, increased importance of devices and shortened words; which side of the clever/lazy argument are you on?

Reference:

Deuze, M. (2007) Convergence culture in the creative industries, International Journal of Cultural Studies, 10/2, 243-263.

Jenkins, H. (2004) The Cultural Logic of Media Convergence, International Journal of Cultural Studies, 7/1, 33-43.

Jenkins, H. (2006). ‘Worship at the altar of convergence: A new paradigm for understanding media change’. In H. Jenkins, Convergence culture: Where old and new media collide (pp 1-24). New York: New York University Press. [URL:http://www.nyupress.org/webchapters/0814742815intro.pdf].

Megan Fox 2012, Twitter, accessed 31/08/2012, https://twitter.com/ReaIMeganFox.

Image: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-OSNVbkd29xE/TzECENQZd7I/AAAAAAAAABk/6RtMBRj5xiQ/s1600/iphone-converge.jpg

Copy – right or wrong?

The main point I took away from the readings this week is that defining intellectual property – especially with regards to intangible material online – is difficult. Wherever one point of view is created, there is always an alternate perception on the matter. Boldrin and Levine (2007) made an interesting point with regards to the analogy drawn from the emergence of the steam engine. The functionality of copyright, as expressed through James Watt’s invention and resultant attempt to eliminate competition through his innovation and patent of the steam engine. They note that once Watt’s patents were secured and production started, a substantial portion of his energy was devoted to fending off rival inventors.

 

“The wasteful effort to suppress competition and obtain special privileges is referred to by economists as rent-seeking behavior.”

 

This point caused me to think, that perhaps instead of finding ways to suppress information within the ‘free-flow information economy’ that is the Internet – more measures could be taken to ensure both the producers and users benefit from the sources which are created by and available to consumers? But this would most certainly erupt in a debate of opportunity cost with the producer and consumer, which would seemingly take us back to square one – or in the case of Apple and Samsung – rectangle one.

 

Lessig (2004) points out that scientists build upon the work of other scientists without asking or paying for the privilege, as one does not have to ask to borrow an established theory. However, one would acknowledge the use of this work in a reference. Consequently, could a reference be perceived as enough? Could the downloading of a song and its reference being its ‘title’ be considered a reference to the content? Does it not hold value for both the producer and consumer in this sense? And the cycle starts again…

 

 

Reference:

Boldrin, M., and Levine, D.K. (2007). Introduction. In Against Intellectual Monopoly (pp. 1-15). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press [URL:http://levine.sscnet.ucla.edu/papers/anew01.pdf].

Lessig, L. (2004). Creators. In Free Culture: How Big Media uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Strangle Creativity (pp. 21-30). New York: Penguin [URL: http://www.authorama.com/free-culture-4.html].

Snapper, J. W. (1999). On the Web, plagiarism matters more than copyright piracy. Ethics and Information Technology, 1, 127-136.