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The NetComs Finale: The Web Is What You Make Of It May 26, 2011

Posted by andyng87 in Informal Blog Post.
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I came across this very interesting video of how Google Chrome and Lady Gaga utilized the web to create a very successful marketing spectacle.

A brief introduction as taken directly from YouTube:

“Lady Gaga builds one of the world’s largest fan bases by using the web to talk directly and openly to her community.

This film celebrates Lady Gaga’s special and unmediated relationship with her fans, the Little Monsters. The making of this film is a demonstration of the power of the web in its own right. The entire project, beginning with Lady Gaga’s shoot in NYC on May 8th, to shipping materials to the television networks for air, took 10 days. Within hours of the release of her new single, “Edge of Glory” on May 9th, fans began uploading videos on YouTube, making their song their own by dancing to it, singing it and playing it on all kinds of instruments. Lady Gaga then posted a message on her website asking for more videos to be used in the film project. Fans responded within minutes and uploaded hundreds more videos. Back in the editing room in real time as fan videos streamed in, editors were putting them into the film. The film was completed on May 18th in time to air during Lady Gaga’s performance on the season finale of Saturday Night Live, and to also live on the web.”

Throughout the whole Netcoms course, we have learned about how big, significant and influential the web is today. I reckon this example of Google Chrome and Lady Gaga has probably just summed it all up. The power of the web is MASSIVE.

“The web is what you make of it” reads the parting text in the video. I guess this theme fits in very well with what the video is all about. Lady Gaga, by communicating with her fans on the web, the Little Monsters, has in a way created a path for stars and brands to get inventive with the ways they use digital and social media to promote themselves and connect with fans. It has generated very positive publicity and therefore a successful marketing campaign.

Sometimes, celebrities don’t just become popular overnight. More often than not, social media comes into the picture. They complement each other, to say the least. Some Lady Gaga facts for you: in the past year, she was the first artist to reach 1 billion views on YouTube; she beat President Barack Obama to 10 million Facebook fans (she’s now closing in on 35 million) and most recently, she was the first Twitter user to acquire 10 millions followers.

We could perhaps learn something from Lady Gaga and her marketing team: the importance of integrating and incorporating new & social media with traditional media, engaging audiences in real-time, and most of all publishing content that is worth people’s attention and worth spreading.

This, I feel, embraces the current net communication trend and encourages a constant positive change. Only with that can we seek to use social media to our advantage and in turn improve our new age society.

The web is indeed what YOU make of it.

Signing off now.

Yours sincerely,

An avid social media user.

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Main Blog Post 5 (Week 11) – The Pros Of Piracy May 24, 2011

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B) Medosch argues that: “piracy, despite being an entirely commercially motivated activity carried out in black or grey markets, fulfills culturally important functions” (Reader, page 318).

Discuss this argument while giving an example online.

Piracy is illegal, yet so many people are participating in it. For obvious reasons, cost is one of the main concerns. Take for example the option between paying 10 over dollars to watch a movie and downloading it for free, the latter will still be a more popular choice amongst consumers. Having said that, it isn’t always about costs, more often than not it fulfills culturally important functions in society as well. I agree fully to this argument because from what I learn, there seems to be many advantages as opposed to disadvantages.

First, piracy, particularly in the form of illegal downloads, gives people access to banned content or content that are simply not available in their country. As Medosch (2008) states, in markets such as China, piracy not only serves to provide access to the products of mainstream commercial movie industries, may it be Hollywood, Bollywood or Korea, it also fills gaps in provision and provides access to art movies and more difficult fare which does not get official distribution for whichever reason. Piracy thus becomes a specialized ‘trade’ to cater to this very need. Furthermore, with access to these content, people gain more knowledge and as such, opens up their perspective. It is ultimately a form of learning which wasn’t previously available to them.

Second, piracy in fact bridges the poor-rich divide and the technological divide. This is more evident in third world countries like Cambodia for example. What this essentially means is that the poor can now afford to get access to media content which were originally too expensive. Taking into account that they might be too poor to afford computers and the Internet even, with pirates selling content like DVDs at a very low price, they now have a chance to view these movies. Speaking of computers and the Internet, this also in turn closes up the technological divide. Anybody, rich or poor, can have access to media content as long as there are pirates around.

Third, piracy creates jobs. Lessig (2005) says that many kinds of “privacy” are useful and productive, to produce either new content or new ways of doing business. Relating to the point about illegal vendors again, it is a form of job creation for the poor. These people might be uneducated and as such, they had to resort to selling pirated DVDs. But if we think about it, they don’t really have much of a choice. On the other hand, artists do not actually lose their jobs. True that with piracy, they may lose a substantial amount of revenue, but on the brighter side, piracy also is a form of publicity for them. And with publicity, more people will buy their product. Even if they continue downloading and not purchase, with the achieved publicity the marketing team of these artists can look to other outlets of income, for example selling merchandise. All in all, it is rather a win-win situation for everyone.

In relation to piracy online, I mention BitTorrent.com. Its tagline is “Delivering the World’s Content”. Quite self-explanatory. It works on the basis of peer-to-peer files and content sharing, illegal and pirated. Nonetheless, we must note that only with this sharing, the world can become more connected. From what I see, file sharing sites like BitTorrent keeps people together. Without them, media content is fairly restricted within the country of origin, and countries which don’t get distribution rights, they just lose out. In turn, the world becomes more segregated in many ways, be it racially, socially or technologically.

Thus, I strongly agree that though piracy is illegal and constantly not encouraged, but it does fulfill culturally important functions in our society.

References:

Medosch, A 2008, ‘Paid in Full: Copyright, Piracy and the Real Currency of Cultural Production’, Deptforth. TV Diaries II: Pirate Strategies, pp. 73-97.

Lessig, L 2005, Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity, Penguin Group, New York, New York.

Twitter – Only Just Slower Than The Speed Of Light May 23, 2011

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photo credit to The Daily Mail

The above article shows how massive Twitter traffic really is, and how fast people get access to news nowadays.

Pretty amazing, huh?

I guess to be a public figure, all the more you need to be wary of the things you do, because one small action can escalate into the biggest news on the Internet. This shows the evolution of media as well; traditional media would never have been able to disseminate news as fast I reckon.

The Tweet bird flies fast, extremely fast.

Main Blog Post 4 (Week 4) – Bloggers, Credible Information? May 23, 2011

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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.

The trend of journalism has always been evolving throughout the years and even more so recently. Nowadays, citizen journalism is a very big thing on the Internet. In particular, blogging has even ‘threatened’ to take over online news. On the contrary to the question posed, I do not agree that bloggers can inform the public more effectively, simply because their sources might not be credible.

To illustrate this, I shall give an example of a very famous blogger in Singapore, Mr. Brown.

Mr. Brown is a Singaporean blogger well known for his social and political commentary on the issues that Singaporeans face, more often than not due to the tight media restrictions and governmental control. Due to him echoing the views of fellow Singaporeans, he has gained massive popularity. This brings me back to the question, first, he has editorial independence by voicing his own opinions, second there is collaborative structure because in a way he unites the whole country and third, because of how his comments reflect the views of readers, he has gained merit and in turn popularity. But is the content that he publishes credible? As Scoble & Israel (2006) explains, the legitimacy of the blogger is enhanced by the personal passion and devotion to the communicated content, especially when the blogger has authority about the knowledge to audiences who care. However, without an accurate measurement of credibility, the management in credibility is hardly feasible, which is to say that content that Mr. Brown publishes might be false.

Russell (et al.) (2008) questions how the public will get the information it needs to participate as citizens, concerned that the individualized new-media environment will serve less to weave society together than to break it apart. What this means is that even though blogger probably unites people as one view, but it is no point if the information they get is not credible, which defeats the whole purpose of informing the public effectively.

Another example I would like to give is Crikey.com, which I had previously mentioned in one of my posts. Crikey is an independent Australian news/magazine website which has a section specially dedicated to blogs, where bloggers are free to post their content. There are many different categories of blogs available on Crikey, namely politics, culture, travel, just to name a few. In my opinion, these blogs are very subjective in the sense that it only reflects the views of the bloggers themselves. More often than not, I read what they write and when I compare their content with mainstream media, they are two different things altogether. This makes me wonder, if one blogger can have one opinion, many bloggers can have many different opinions. Who do we trust then?

In short, I still subscribe to the notion that mainstream media like news websites are still more credible as they go through content checks before they are published, whereas in blogging there is no restrictions and people can post anything they desire, even if it’s not true. Hence, bloggers do not effectively inform the public, their content is merely just opinion and not hard facts.

References:

Russell, A, Ito, M, Richmond, T and Tuters, M 2008, ‘Cuture: Media Convergence and Networked Culture’, in Varnelis, K, (ed.) Networked Publics, pp. 43-76.

Scoble, R and Israel, S 2006, Naked Conversations: How Blogs Are Changing The Way Businesses Talk With Customers, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey.

Facebook Under Attack! May 21, 2011

Posted by andyng87 in Informal Blog Post.
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I think that there is a phenomenon going around on Facebook lately. It is, to say the least, being infected by spammers and in a way it’s going viral, even without the knowledge and consent of users.

To explain things clearer, let me give an example. Recently, there has been a fake video link going around titled something like “Woman has orgasm on rollercoaster”. I choose not to post a screenshot of people who posted so as to protect their identities. (privacy issue there!) In short, it is a fake video link that appears on News Feed, and humans being humans, we are naturally curious about what a video like that is about. So, we click on the video link ‘posted’ by our friends. The result is that it does not show you any video, yet at the same time it reposts the video automatically under your account on News Feed. We do not know that we ‘posted’ it unless we check the News Feed.

Below is a page that is created for the video. As you can see, when you click on the video link, it asks you for security verification. Many of us will just click it because we just presumed that in order to watch the video, we must certify that we are ‘human’, that’s what many of these security verifications are about. Unbeknownst to us, keying in the security verification, we are ‘allowing’ the video link to be reposted through our accounts.


photo credit to facebook.com (I actually am unsure if I should credit Facebook because after all, this is a ‘virus’.)

In my opinion, I term this as a form of virus and a breach of privacy. Referring to what Mark Zuckerberg has said about enhancing privacy issues, I feel that this is a matter that he should look into as soon as possible.

Lecture 2.0 – W.4 Participatory Networked Cultures – Twitter, Boon or Bane? May 21, 2011

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http://carissaugustinahong.wordpress.com/2011/05/15/speaking-up-in-class-silently-using-social-media/

This post by a fellow classmate talks about how an English teacher employs the use of Twitter to aid in classroom discussions. Carissa argues that the use of social media like Twitter can entice students who rarely raises a hand to answer questions in the sense that they would feel more comfortable expressing their views through social media.

On the contrary, I feel strongly against this view though, which is why I chose this post as well. In my opinion, it’s fine if we students utilise social media to exchange views outside of the classroom, i.e. at home where we don’t see each other. However, when it comes to classroom discussions, it is rather pointless if we still have laptops on our desks and we communicate through them. It makes the whole point of going to class redundant.

Main Blog Post 3 (Week 10) – Creative Commons May 15, 2011

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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.


photo credit to Creative Commons Website

In my opinion, Creative Commons is a subset of Copyright. Copyright means “all rights reserved” and the rights of the content is sorely for the author or owner, nobody else can use the content without he or her permission. On the other hand, Creative Commons has an exception to this right. People can use, edit, modify and thereafter publish the content when it has a Creative Commons license instead of Copyright. However to note, it also depends on the kind of Creative Commons license.

Garcelon (2009) states that Creative Commons has devised a novel strategy giving current copyright holders the option of making creative work available for copying and distribution by granting various exceptions to the rights they hold under copyright. Thus Creative Commons needed no legislative action to legally enable its licenses and it emerged as a counterpoint to open-ended copyright pushed by commercially successful creators and large media corporations.

Why do we choose to have a Creative Commons license instead of Copyright then, when the content we publish is completely of our own? Why do we want to share? One of the main reasons is to gain publicity, which I will talk about.

First, the Creative Commons license I have chosen for my blog is the Attribution-NonCommerical-ShareAlike license. In short, CC BY-NC-SA. This license lets others remix, tweak and build upon my work non-commercially, as long as they credit me and license their new creations under the identical terms.

The reason behind my choice is

1) It’s an academic blog after all and due to that, I feel that it should not be used for commercial purposes. The content that is written is made for academic purposes, to give my own opinions on the topic of net communication, to learn from it all and that should be the main purpose. In a sense, I attribute my content to the University of Melbourne, an educational institution and not a commercial organization. Hence, academic reasons will overwrite commercialism and it is made non-commercial under this license.

2) That said, I would like others, namely fellow bloggers in net communication, or even people externally to view, comment and share my content. Through that, I can get a better understanding of differing views and improvements to my content. Opinions are always subjective, and therefore it would be beneficial if I can learn what others think of my content and how they would change it. Under this license, they are then able to remix, tweak and build upon my work or in other words edit it.

3) However, after they have edited my work, I would still like to be credited for it because ultimately, the original work still belongs to me and for selfish reasons, I still want to remain the originator of the work. Thus, people who have edited my work have to credit me for where they got their source from.

4) When people have edited my work, made it their own with a new creation, credited me, they are still bounded by the license to share only under the identical license. This means that other people can only do to their content what they have done to mine, in the exact same form. This will mean that the newer content is still not made commercial, which is important, and crediting is still a must, be it to me or the people who have edited my work. On the other hand, sharing after editing is still applicable because I feel that once people have edited and made a new version, it’s their liberty to share. Sharing is also how we can learn from one another.

With all that reasons in mind, I think that the CC BY-NC-SA license is the best choice for my blog.

References:

Garcelon, M 2009, ‘An Information Commons? Creative Commons and Public Access to Cultural Creations’, New Media & Society 11.8, pp. 1307-1326.

Main Blog Post 2 (Week 9) – YouTube Celebrities May 8, 2011

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Discuss ONE of these arguments giving an example of a YouTube video (embed it into post). Specify chosen argument in your answer.

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).

To answer to this statement, I shall first give an example of an ordinary person turned popular through the use of YouTube.

A brief introduction:

Clara Chung is a Korean born in the United States and she plays a number of musical instruments and is also a singer-songwriter. Originally just a face and a voice on YouTube, she gained much popularity due to her talents and she quickly rose to fame when she won Los Angeles’ Kollaboration 10, KAC Media Juice Night and ISA 2009.

More often than not, people have this perception that when someone is famous on YouTube, when their videos go viral and gathers a lot of views, they automatically become celebrities. This is a misconception and as Grossman (2006a, 2006b) states, a common assumption underlying the most celebratory accounts of the democratization of cultural production is that raw talent combined with digital distribution can convert directly to legitimate success and media fame. This point supports Burgess and Green’s view that it is not true.

Personally, I agree with Burgess and Green’s viewpoint. It is not true that YouTube translates to mainstream media. For example, in the case of Clara, she can be very popular on YouTube due to her singing talent, but that doesn’t make her a celebrity. In a sense, she does not have a recording contract from a recording company which will make her a professional singer. Only by being a professional singer whose aim is to entertain and be a role model will it then relate the singer to mainstream media. As Burgess and Green (2009) explains, the marker of success is measured not only by their online popularity but by their subsequent ability to pass through the gate-keeping mechanisms of old media – the recording contract, the film festival, the television pilot, the advertising deal. What this means is that although one can be creative in their YouTube content, they are still bounded by the prerequisites of being an official celebrity, or in the words of Burgess and Green, the system of celebrity. They do not become celebrities overnight just because they gain popularity on YouTube, and they still have to go through ‘tests’ in order to become a celebrity. What all these YouTube sensations have essentially done is just using YouTube as a social media tool to gain popularity, whether or not they become real celebrities is another thing altogether.

To make things even clearer, I will relate it to really amateur videos which have gone viral. For instance the “Charlie Bit My Finger” video.

This is a very short less than a minute video but it has over 300 million views. Popularity – checked. However to note that all in all, it is just a one-off video that has gone viral. Do the two kids in the video become celebrities that mainstream media talks about all the time? The answer is no. They can be the most watched kids or ‘celebrities’ on YouTube but they are not really celebrities who are broadcasted through mainstream media. It is the same case for Clara, she has yet to receive a recording contract and gone through the proper training to become a celebrity, therefore she is still only just a YouTube sensation.

Hence, I agree with Burgess and Green’s argument that ordinary people who become YouTube sensations are still very much being bounded by the requirements of being a real celebrity and more importantly, mainstream media has absolute power and control over which of these YouTube sensations can really become a celebrity.

References:

Grossman, L 2006a, ‘Times Best Inventions’, Times Magazine.

Grossman L 2006b, ‘Times person of the year: You’, Times Magazine, 13 December.

Burgess, J and Green, J 2009, ‘YouTube and The Mainstream Media’, in YouTube: Online and Participatory Culture, Polity Press, Cambridge.

Ben & Jerry’s – Maximizing The Use Of Social Media April 25, 2011

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Everybody loves ice-cream, don’t we all? Well, at least most of us do. But when it comes to choosing which brand or which flavour of ice-cream we buy, it’s quite a difficult choice isn’t it? Especially when all flavours are good, or it doesn’t make much of a difference which brand you buy. What makes a brand stand out then? To put it very simply, more often than not it’s the marketing and promotion campaign.

Back home in Singapore, Ben & Jerry’s is very prominent because of how much they invest in advertising. Imagine their famed cow mascot, Woody, turning up in your office one random day, moo-ing and dancing while dishing out samples of their new ice-cream flavour, Clusterfluff. The next moment, everybody has a cup of Clusterfluff in their hands.

How did this ‘invasion’ of Woody start out then? As part of Clusterfluff’s launch in Singapore, Ben & Jerry’s employed an ad agency, RIOT, where my friend is working at, to come up with this idea of the ‘Cowmobile’. The Cowmobile will then go to specific locations based on “moo” requests on Facebook. There you go, social media for you.

My friend was telling me that for Ben & Jerry’s fans, all they needed to do was to “like” Ben & Jerry’s Facebook page and send their request for a stopover via a specially created application for the Cowmobile on the page. And whoever gets more “moo”s will stand a higher chance of the Cowmobile stopping by at their place for free sampling.

Here comes the statistical part. In just 5 days, 784 requests were made and the amount of Facebook likes increased massively, by more than 28% (1,412). Ben & Jerry’s twitter page had its followers increased by over 15% (155) with 186 mentions and re-tweets. The Cowmobile went to 31 different locations and gave out 5,960 scoops of Clusterfluff.

On top of that, Ben & Jerry’s also came up with a Free Cone Day on 12th April this year. With the use of Facebook and Twitter, its two main social media platforms, the Free Cone Day resulted in an additional 592 likes on Facebook and 270 mentions and re-tweets on Twitter. It even “trended” as a top tweet.

photo credit to: twitter.com

Based on RIOT’s overall statistics, for the campaign month April as compared to March, Ben & Jerry’s experienced an

  • increase of 912% in new Facebook likes
  • increase of 1490% in post feedback
  • increase of 486 Twitter followers
To conclude, Ben & Jerry’s has indeed generated a whole lot of buzz on social media, namely Facebook and Twitter. And truth be told, this is a massive boost for its publicity. Very amazing use of social media to its advantage there.

Debating Web 2.0 – User-generated Content April 24, 2011

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Just the other day I was reading up on user-generated content (UGC) and I came across this study by Claire Wardle and Andrew Williams of Cardiff University in the UK titled “Beyond user-generated content: a production study examining the ways in which UGC is used at the BBC”.

What this case study of the BBC talks about is basically finding out the attitudes of its news workers towards audience material, or as it is more commonly referred to as user-generated content (UGC).

Why is it important then to know the views of news workers with regards to UGC? The reason is simple. The study wants to know if news workers’ vision of their audience being consumers or also co-producers will shape the adoption of multimedia and interactivity in online newsrooms, how will content change. For example, if audience are perceived to be co-producers with their UGC, they have the power to enhance and influence journalistic output.

In the case of the BBC, they have a UGC hub specially set up for audience participation in the form of sharing comments and engaging in discussions. Its primary role however, is being a powerful information filtering tool, where the BBC can pick out the most useful audience footage, comments and case studies to be used for publishing content. The creation of the UGC hub means it is positioned as the center of UGC activity at the BBC, which shows its significance and how audience participation is key to news production nowadays. It is also said that certain editors have developed and maintained strong links with their audience, both with and without technology.

In my opinion, when everybody can be a publisher or a ‘co-worker’ in news production, journalists may be finding it a threat. Or as the study states that journalists are vulnerable to losing their franchise as gatekeepers of news. Participatory journalism may one day become a major broadcasting organization with the advancement of technology today, therefore it is rather exciting to see how this trend will continue and develop in the near future.

Nonetheless, we learn that the culture of participatory journalism and UGC is very prominent and significant in today’s context, thus we must know how to embrace it well and make the most out of it to our advantage.