Saturday, November 6, 2010

Reflecting on reflections

Overall I would say keeping a blog for DMC was a positive thing. The main reason for this is just the way that having to do a small amount of writing each week, even if it was about Stephanie Rice, made me start thinking about some of the things I could research for my essay. My approach to an essay is usually to go over some ideas in my head in the months leading up to the due date, which I would then forget by the time I went to sit down and actually write something. So, actually sit down once a week to think over some things AND write them down was good for me.

The wiki, on the other hand, didn't work so well for me. I generally find group exercises somewhat frustrating and a group exercise online was really no different.  Everyone seemed to have a different idea of what should be included and I think that as an overall wiki it ended up being quite messy and a bit unorganised. I know the idea is that we are supposed to edit each others contributions but I don't feel right going in and changing other people's writing after they've been working on it.

On the whole, though, I thought Digital Media Cultures was a really interesting subject.

Monday, September 13, 2010

"Dumb bitches don't drive jaguars."

The above statement came up in my Facebook News Feed on Wednesday night, accompanied by a link to a news article about Stephanie Rice's public apology, after she acted very unwisely on the internet on Sunday. The Australian Olympic swimmer tweeted "Suck on that faggots!" after the Wallabies won over the Springboks, causing a media frenzy, with ex-Footballer Ian Roberts calling her an "idiot".

Personally, I don't really care about her as a swimmer or a celebrity at all, but in looking at the events, I think she definately acted idiotically. Firstly, as an Australian sporting icon, she would have to have been aware that her tweet was capable of reaching people other than her friends, including the eyes of the media. For her to post anything at all on Twitter without seriously considering who can read it, and whether it could offend any of those readers, is an incredibly dumb thing to do.

While Rice has deleted the contentious tweet, the rest of her Twitter comments are still available for any one who wants to read them to see and she hasn't been holding back in terms of quantity. I don't really understand why some one with a public identity, such as an Olympic swimmer, would want to use Twitter to say things like "Happy birthday my best friend @laurauhlmann" or "HAPPY FATHERS DAY WAZZA". Maybe it's just me, but it seems that these kinds of  comments would be much better suited to a Facebook status update. What's the point of making them available to any one who wants to look for them, instead of them being on a private Facebook account? Especially if you run the risk of losing the support of fans and your flashy car if you present yourself as anything other than a morally upstanding citizen.

If I was her (or any other celebrity for that matter), I think I’d be too scared to tweet anything and I’d be making sure my privacy settings on Facebook were as private as possible.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Can I just get some detergent, please?

If you saw The Gruen Transfer on ABC on Wednesday night, you'll know about a crazy promotion that laundry detergent company Omo decided to try out in Brazil in August. The idea was to put GPS devices inside 50 unmarked Omo packs which would allow a team of Omo representatives to follow the unassuming purchaser home to award them their prize - which included a pocket-sized video camera and a day of "trying new things". The pretence that Omo is using to justify this promotion is that they're pushing new boundaries in advertising by taking risks, however, I think they may have pushed those boundaries just a little too far with this one.

The thing that worries me about this promotion is the fact that you have no say in whether or not you get followed home. You never ticked a box that says 'I agree to the terms and conditions'. You never signed up for anything. All you did was buy laundry detergent! Gruen Transfer panellist Russel Howcroft commented that he thinks advertising agencies are increasingly making the assumption that "there's no such thing as private". This has a lot to do with the popularity and increasing use of social networking sites like Facebook and the fact that many people are willingly putting a lot more information about themselves out there than ever before. However the difference is that even with Facebook (who recently changed their automatic privacy settings to make more of user’s information freely available), is that user’s still have the option to set their profiles to private. With this promotion there’s no button you can click to say ‘Don’t follow me home’, because you don’t even know that there’s the possibility of being followed home! That is, unless you’ve been endlessly trawling the millions of videos on Youtube and happened to stumble across this one.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Do you (cyber)trust me?

There are a lot of things we use the internet for that require a certain degree of trust between users. For example, when we're downloading something we have to trust that the file is what the uploader says it is. Or, if we have doubt, we look to fellow downloaders to confirm this, which then requires us to trust that they're telling the truth.

We also trust websites with our email addresses and personal information and when tweeting, or writing a blog, or posting a status update we're also trusting that the numerous people with the ability to read them are not going to tear us apart for whatever we write. That's a lot of trust going around!

When you think about, it makes you wonder why it is that we're so comfortable putting so much information about ourselves out there for anyone on the net to see. It seems to be that privacy is being viewed more and more as an outdated concept. On Facebook, Twitter and Myspace etc. people are increasingly putting more of their personal information online, whether it be through photos, comments or status updates, they are continually creating an image of themselves that exists on the net for anyone to see.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

File-sharing or file-taking?

When I think about the popularity of file-sharing technology, the first thing that I assume is that the motivation for the users of these programs most likely lies with the desire to have access to things they otherwise wouldn't, ie. movies and music that they would usually have to pay for. But in assuming this, I'm forgetting about the fact that for file-sharing to work effectively it relies on the users to not only download the things they want, but to also make those things available to others users. This leads me to Kevin McGee and Jörgen Skågeby's question, 'Could the ability to give be one of the central features that determines the popularity and success of computer–mediated "sharing" activities, communities, applications, and services?'

As someone who does use file-sharing software, I think it's a very interesting idea that McGee and Skågeby suggest, especially considering my use of file-sharing is based solely on taking and never giving - simply because I don't like the idea of a file that's stored on my computer being made available to anyone who wants it. Even so, there are countless users out there who don't feel the same way as me and regularly share files and thanks to the vigorous enthusiasm of those sharers it means people like me are able to jump on the computer and watch the latest episode of True Blood, or whatever else, just hours after it's screened in the US.

The speed with which these uploaders get each new episode online, to me suggests that there might be some validity in McGee and Skageby's theory, because I can't see why else anyone would feel such a need to do that (unless it's their way of sticking their fingers up at the people who say file-sharing is a breach of copyright). Another thing that makes me think it might be true is the growing popularity of sites like Yahoo!Answers, where anyone can post a question and be almost guaranteed numerous answers within hours, from complete strangers in various places around the world. There's no reward for answering someone's question (except for the possibility of being awarded Best Answer), yet the idea of  being able to help someone else out by answering their question seems to compel people to write very serious and detailed responses.

It could be possible, however, that people do these things with the pretense of their actions eventually being reciprocated, by way of other files being made available to them or someone answering one of their own questions and therefore meaning it would not be just for the pleasure of giving. But I think it's nice, even if just for a while, to believe that people really do enjoy the happiness of others enough to do these things completely unselfishly and purely as a 'gift'.

Monday, August 9, 2010

500 Million Friends

Social networking sites aren't limited to the internet anymore, they're now the basis for a number of films as well. When I say "social networking sites", what I really mean is Facebook. Apparently the site is about to reach 500 Million users, a figure that's somewhat shocking and hard to believe, but when you consider that number, it's really no surprise that filmakers are seeing the potential in making a film about a website that half a billion people use.

The two films couldn't be more different in their approach, but they do both show very interesting aspects of the phenomenal site. The first is a documentary by two New York filmakers called Catfish. And I really don't want to give too much away because I don't want to ruin the experience for any one, but basically a guy falls for a girl on facebook, he decides to go and meet her and then things get really weird. It's a timely reminder that the internet is not the same as real life and there are privacy and safety concerns that come with it.

The second film is based on Ben Mezrich's book, The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, a Tale About Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal, about Mark Zuckerberg, the website's founder.

According to the official Facebook page on Facebook their mission is " give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected." However, this raises a number of questions as to whether or not making the world more open and connected is infact a good thing.