Would You Say It To Your Mum?

The ability to criticise ideas and beliefs is an important pillar for societies and their citizen’s freedoms. But criticism based on race or gender is just plain stupid. To me it’s one of the more bizarre forms of ignorance, and one that I hope will disappear very soon. To criticise someone based on their ability is fine, but to sincerely believe that their ability is somehow impaired because they are a women is just deplorable. On a quick side note I’ll attempt to keep this blog G-Rated but it is difficult as there are certainly more colourful terms I could call these ignorant ladies and gentlemen.

 

Evans raises a simple but profound point about this thought process, and it’s a simple hypothetical question: Would you say it to your mother? Of course today the internet and other services has allowed for anonymity for people to post their beliefs and the easy way of avoiding having to say it to your mother is by not saying it to her. As a general rule if you are afraid to use your full name when insulting based on race and gender, it’s probably a sign you are a coward.

 

The goal should be to eradicate this thought process and ultimately create a society where a person is free to succeed or fail without it becoming a question of race or gender.

 

References:

 

Evans, K. 2011, ‘Men Call me things: it’s not as romantic as it sounds’, ABC, 11th November, viewed 16/05/2014, <http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/3659712.html>

 

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Slovenian Wisdom

Given the convergence of media technologies it has become exponentially easier and more difficult to make your voice heard. Easier as there is an abundance of platforms to voice your concerns, more difficult as there is an abundance of platforms to voice your concerns. Your message can become lost in the clutter, another speck in cyberspace.

 

Not that this has stopped anyone, its easier to find a plethora of Facebook pages claiming that a like or a share will cure cancer or halt poverty. For me this becomes an issue as this notion of activism, or slacktivism as it loves to be called is not how we should tackle the problems of society. It is kind of masturbatory when people claim to take an interest in bettering the world when all its simply done by the click of a button. Realistically the only person you are helping is yourself, by removing any cultural guilt.

 

Slavoj Zizek, a Slovenian philosopher discusses how today we are swept up in purchasing products that fulfil an ethical gain as well, a kind of “egotistical consumerism.” (RSA 2010) The act of giving to the poor may alleviate a small minority, but the problem still persists. This act of passive activism is not a solution, just a delay of the issue. Comedian Tim Minchin sings about the notion of charity in his usual style of not mincing words here.

 

References:

 

RSA 2010, RSA Animate- First as Tragedy, then as Farce, Youtube, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpAMbpQ8J7g>

 

Deadly Peaks

In terms of music, covering a song is arguably the simplest form of remix. It allows an artist to take the initial work and project their own emotions experienced from the original into a new experience. As technology evolved and laws changed remixing evolved as well with sampling from a variety of sources to create something unique, compelling or interesting.

 

It is of course not limited to music, Deadly Premonition is a game released in 2010 by cult games director Hidetaka Suehiro, or SWERY as he is commonly known by. A survival horror game at first glance, and not a particularly good one at that. However upon playing through Deadly Premonition a few things become apparent. Namely it is a blatant rip-off (or remix if you will) of the hit ’90s show Twin Peaks, despite SWERY denying this whenever he is asked. Character quirks are similar, such as the game’s protagonist Agent Francis York Morgan having a love for a good coffee, much like Agent Dale Cooper. The game itself is a lot more zany than the show, with incredible scenes such as this:

Remix is not simply musical, it is the manipulation of other ideas and content to create something unique and special. Or it can even be used to make a political statement, such as this remix of the infamous Coles ad.

Exaggerated Claims, I Choose You!

I think it is fair to say that on the 31st of March when Google Maps posted this video a global cheer occurred. Then a sigh of disappointment when we all realised we weren’t getting a fully realised augmented reality Pokemon Trainer experience. Still it was fun wasn’t it? This is the beauty of transmedia experiences, it can engross you in a way not possible by a single media platform.

Jenkins’ first point in Transmedia Storytelling 101 is as follows:

Transmedia storytelling represents a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience”

I won’t bother explaining the fundamentals of Pokemon, as you should know them, either through experience or osmosis. Anyhow, the Google Maps Pokemon Challenge attempts to capture one of the most rewarding parts of Pokemon; the discovery of new places and encountering new creatures.

Since the Android OS is an open system, I am anticipating developers will jump on this spark of gaming creativity and am looking forward to some interesting AR innovations to come. Here’s a quick pitch of my spark of genius, a military strategy game where geo-tagging is utilised to co-ordinate and defend an opponents missile strikes; a smaller scale DEFCON if you will. Make it happen Android boffins.

 

References:

Jenkins, H. 2007, Transmedia Storytelling, The official weblog of Henry Jenkins, 22nd March, viewed 16/05/2014

Android and Produsage (or Android 5.1 Gummy Bear)

The convergence of media technologies has paved way for a never before seen dynamic conversation between consumers and producers, and allowing for the former to merge with the latter. The population is now pinning, tweeting, booking and linked in. Whether they have read it, snapped it or tagged it.

This dissemination of platforms and technologies can be overwhelming, and so four characteristics have been identified to make sense of the storm (Bruns 2007) and better yet, understand the nuances of the Android OS.

Firstly is a shift in producers, which is encouraged by Android as the app development kit is free. This allows the users to become producers and flex their creative muscles, however as previously mentioned this allows for more nefarious deeds as discussed here. This bred an online community of avid developers sharing ideas and insights.

The nature of remix is seen with companies re working the base Android OS code and applying their own aesthetic and technical changes, such as HTC which runs their own skin of the Android OS. Or if you prefer you can run an iOS skin.

If you have happened to have read my previous posts you should understand that Android is an open OS, which is one of its greatest strengths and greatest weaknesses. The open nature allows for creative and unique apps that may be rejected by the Apple store, but as a result of this there is an organised chaos on Google Play. This puts the onus on the user to navigate this and deduce which apps are useful and which ones will steal your banking details.

Finally as a result of this fluid movement can occur between the people who work professionally for Android and to those who develop as a hobby. Alterations to the look and feel of the OS by a hobbyist may be how the next Android OS update actually is. Personally I think Gummy Bear would be a fun name.

 

 

References:

Bruns, Axel (2007) Produsage: Towards a Broader Framework for User-Led Content Creation. In Proceedings Creativity & Cognition 6, Washington, DC.

The Kids Will Love It

 

The media love to create a moral panic, and a hot topic of recent years has been the way children are being portrayed in the media, commonly certain advertisements which some view to have sexual connotations of young girls selling clothes. It difficult to point to a single causal factor, though most people (and the media) like to blame the media for the way in which a child has had its innocence stolen.

 

Looking back towards the ‘media effects’ model and its issues it seems unreasonable to blame the media for the sexualisation of children as there are numerous other factors to consider. Is this simply an evolution of our culture and the way in which children behave? Attitudes and behaviours of different social groups often happen, men change, women change so why not children? Or is this ignored as children are often separated from society and put into their own special category of people with no critical thought. Now while there is a greater prevalence of the media in society this doesn’t mean that as a result of this children are being sexualised, that is technological determinism and I think its a discredit to the nature of people that the way we behave is shaped simply by the evolution of technology. (Cana 2003)

 

Now semiotics and all the connotations that come with an image of a child that may be considered sexual. Is an image of a girl modelling clothing inherently sexual, or is that just one of the many connotations that can be taken from an image, what if it just connotes the misuse of a child in an effort for the parent to channel their dreams through? Now certain images intend to connote the child as sexual, like this one from 1959. But to claim an image as being sexual makes you view it as sexual, its the power of suggestion, forcing you to view it as if you were a paedophile. (Turnbull 2014)

 

However is this the intended effect by those controlling the circulation of these images and texts, is the desired effect to generate controversy which garners free advertising through various types of media exposure? There is of course some level of control that comes into this with the cultural divide of what is considered High and Low culture, an arbitrary divide. The way in which children are used in these two categories vary based on the perception of the medium in which they are portrayed. (Turnbull 2014)

 

Children will always remain an important subject throughout the public sphere, as most people have them. It calls upon a protective instinct of a parent to keep their child safe from the dangers of the world, and the potential threat of a paedophile upon your child is a frightening concept. Therefore the mediators, whether it be news anchors or talk show hosts, will facilitate a discussion and encourage participation through means of social media.

 

Upon reflecting on the issues that have been taught in this subject over the past 6 weeks, I have achieved a greater understanding of how the media works and how it works on us. I’ve held a cynical view of the media for a while now and thanks to BCM110 I have a greater level of education to support my view (Hopefully evident through my blog posts.) After being thrown into the deep end with blogging it’s an interesting feeling having it come to an end.

 

Cana, M. 2003, “Critique of McLuhan’s Technological determinism viewpoint or lack of one thereof”, infosophy, 21st October, viewed 13/04/2014, http://www.kmentor.com/socio-tech-info/2003/10/critique-of-mcluhans-technolog.html

 

Turnbull, S. 2014, “Relating Media theory to Media issues”, Lecture, BCM110, University of Wollongong, 08/04/2014

The Chaser’s War on Cancer

The boys from Chaser are no stranger to sparking a debate in the media and the general public, one of the most infamous was their APEC security breach dressed as Osama bin Ladin arriving in a Canadian official vehicle in 2007. But the particular skit I want to bring up is the “Make a Realistic Wish Foundation” from June, 2009. This sparked so much outrage that it got apologies from The Chaser, the Managing Director of the ABC and even from the then Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd. 

 

Reactions to the skit were overall negative with major coverage from the papers, TodayTonight, A Current Affair and most news channels. One reporter “thought Chris Taylor’s hospital sketch was hilarious” (Maguire 2009) showing at least somebody got a chuckle out of it and is willing to go against the grain. It’s not difficult to see why this particular skit gained a rush of airtime with its incredibly dark satire, it is so dark in fact it almost satires the genre of satire. Now the APEC skit I previously mentioned had an agenda, it wanted to demonstrate how ineffective all the money spent on security for APEC could be easily surpassed. This skit however aimed to be over the top in its distastefulness to the point where that becomes the humour, however due to either poor execution or other factors the joke just didn’t hit its mark.

Death can be a funny topic, even satirising terminal children can be as the sketch show “The Mansion” demonstrated with a similar premise of the Reasonable Request foundation which sparked minimal debate. Now is this that Comedy Channel show had low viewers, or was it because the sketch didn’t actually show the reality of the sick children like The Chaser did? Perhaps it was the apathetic tone conveyed throughout the sketch.

It sparked such controversy that ABC TV stated that the sketch will be edited out of the online streaming of the show and the repeat appearing on ABC2, a few hours after the premiere. Viewers joined in on the conversation with one father saying “I will now have to go and accompany my wife who is presently consoling our son in his bedroom about his pending fate and agonising death, which this show did nothing but exacerbate the issue.” (Cooper 2009)

This skit is a fine example of how its contributed to a debate within the public sphere, with the majority of the mediators condemning the sketch for being tasteless and some reporters, such as T. Maguire finding it funny in its dark absurdity. Now at the risk of re-igniting an old issue, what are your thoughts on the Chaser sketch?

 

References: 

Maguire, T. 2009, “The Chaser’s War on Funny”, The Punch, 4th June, viewed 12/04/2014, http://www.thepunch.com.au/articles/the-chasers-war-on-funny/asc/

Cooper, M. 2009, “‘They’re going to die anyway’: calls for Chaser to be axed over ‘callous’ skit”, Sydney Morning Herald, 4th June, viewed 12/04/2014, http://www.smh.com.au/news/entertainment/tv/2009/06/04/1243708544308.html?page=2

 

Plato’s Cave is Full of Freaks

Take the Allegory of the Cave. Rather than explain it all here have a look at a simple explanation of it. The prisoners that are in the cave staring at the shadows of objects perceive these objects to be real and take these shadows as the empirical truth of what they are. Now imagine if the prisoners are the masses and say Rupert Murdoch is holding a fox behind us. In keeping with the allegory we would perceive that the shadow of the fox is a reality, which isn’t the case showing us that if you control the shadows you will control reality.

 

That’s my analogy for the allegory in terms of control of the media showing that the media is a vital part of how we get our information. It is essentially how most of us form our opinions on what is going on in the world. Now despite a rise in the dissemination of information with the internet becoming an increasingly popular source of news, 9.5% use it for national news (Kerr 2007) the traditional media is still ‘mass’ media. Now the media is not all powerful and not everything presented directly influences people’s behaviour as shown by the failure of the media effects model. However its naive to think that it has a minimal effect. It certainly affects politicians, with the Rudd administration often expressing distaste for the attacks of news limited (MacCallum 2009).

 

So if a controlling interest in the media can help swing an election it becomes apparent why it matters who controls the media. Working under the premise that a controlling power can influence the power of politicians is a huge deal and can compromise a democracy to secure a media corporation’s profits. But as shown by the failure of the media effects model, the media isn’t always a direct influence or action and opinion. So how does a man like Rupert Murdoch who controls 70% of Australia’s print media influence an election (Horton 2013)? This article by the Independent Australia raises an answer. Now the article itself uses very emotionally charged writing, the headline itself is proof of this.

 

The article maintains that if 70% of the print media addresses an issue, such as the huge benefits of a new policy by Abbot, it becomes news, even if the policy is flawed. To point this out from another source of media appears to be an anti-government bias therefore allowing an attack on the credibility of the source of the story. This gives power to Murdoch, or his editors, to decide what the issue of the day is for print, radio and television media. While 20.5% of Australians get information from newspapers, 53.5% still get their news from television (Kerr 2007).

 

While this does sound slightly like a conspiracy theory, it is a valid explanation for the power of media control, and why a lack of diversity in Australian media is hugely detrimental to allowing citizens to become informed on what is fact and what is fiction. I leave you with a parody article that counters a Daily Telegraph headline, points to whoever can link the original.

 

 

References

Kerr, C. 2007, “Where do we get our news from?”, Crikey, June 28, viewed 08/04/13, http://www.crikey.com.au/2007/06/28/where-do-we-get-our-news-from/

MacCallum, M. 2009, “Rudd and the Murdoch Press”, The Monthly, September, viewed 08/04/2014http://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2009/september/1271316043/mungo-maccallum/comment

David H, 2013, “Rupert Murdoch’s journalistic cancer”, Independent Australia, 22 May, viewed 08.04/2014, http://www.independentaustralia.net/article-display/rupert-murdochs-journalistic-cancer,5346

 

Become a Gatekeeper

In the January quarter in Australia, phones using the Android OS account for around 57.7% of the market share (Sadauskas 2014). That’s the figure of Android’s audience in Australia. However an audience is more than just a number now, especially given the open nature of Android allows for a dialogic relationship with the user. It facilitates conversation with Facebook, Twitter and other social apps. It allows production of content with Snapchat and Instagram. You can create apps with a developer kit and sell them (if you pay a $25 USD fee).

 

With almost no gatekeepers compared to Apple’s iOS there are exponentially more innovations to be had with Android, even rather ironically run Mac OS 7 (Sherman 2013). It breeds a participatory culture (Jenkins 2006) for the audience allowing creative freedom (within the boundaries of copyright laws of course. This of course puts users at risk when used by the wrong people, such as in 2010 when an innocent enough wallpaper app was sending sensitive user data, such as passwords, to an unknown Chinese website (Newman 2010) (Android) .

 

There is a stark contrast in gatekeeping from Android and iOS. Apple won’t blatantly tell you what kind of data its apps are collecting, whereas Android in some respects makes its user the gatekeeper, telling you what kind of data on your phone is being accessed. Are you savvy enough to become your own gatekeeper for Android?

 

Saudauskas, A. 2014, ‘Apple iPhone’s Australian market share falls to around 35%, as Android establishes a clear lead in most markets except Japan’, SmartCompany, 28th February, viewed 2nd April,http://www.smartcompany.com.au/technology/trends/35819-apple-iphone-s-australian-market-share-falls-to-around-35-as-android-establishes-a-clear-lead-in-most-markets-except-japan.html

 

Jenkins, H. 2006, Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century (Part One), Henry Jenkins, 20th October, viewed 2nd April, http://henryjenkins.org/2006/10/confronting_the_challenges_of.html

 

Sherman, J. 2013, 5 crazy things you never knew you could do on Android, Digital Trends, 24th October, viewed 2nd April, http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/android-five-surprising-things-it-can-do/#!CBLz2

 

Newman, J. 2010, Android App Data Theft: Advantage Apple?, PCWorld, 29th July, viewed on 2nd April, http://www.pcworld.com/article/202165/Android_App_Data_Theft_Advantage_Apple.html

 

Android, Get Started With Publishing, viewed 2nd April, http://developer.android.com/distribute/googleplay/publish/register.html

Is Freedom Free?

As I quoted in my earlier blog the Android open source project confesses their ideology as follows: “We wanted to make sure there was no central point of failure so no industry player can restrict or control the innovations of any other.”

Which is the basis of the Android ideology, they wanted a phone that gave consumers higher customisability than any phone on the market. You can completely alter the user interface if you so choose. Contrast with Apple where its a very controlled environment, not even allowing you to put the Newsstand app into a folder; which is a strange design decision in it of itself. Android wants to give developers the freedom to innovate turning the right consumer into a producer of content to share. Corporations use Android to innovate its products because its code is free and flexible, Samsung has a range of fridges with and 8” touch screen to check the weather and write down recipes as an astounding example of convergence of technology:

 

Jenkins’ theory of convergence states that a point of negotiation is the regulation of media content (Jenkins 2004) and how it will alter media diversity. Apple is meticulous in regulating its content on its operating system, employing human editors to vet each app submitted. Android in keeping with its ideology of no restriction means that anything can be done to its OS. Meaning Google Play is a bed of chaos and network carriers can install anything to the phones they sell. For example my Android became pre-loaded with a TelstraOne app. This opens the opportunity for carriers to do whatever they want with the phones that they sell, potentially controlling your entire experience with the ‘open’ phone that you bought (Siegler 2012). This contradicts the quote at the top I know, but as Google has no phone network, it is essentially at the hands of the industry of phone networks. So does this ideology of no restrictions allow networks to employ their own ideology? Such as restriction.

 

You have your ideology and I have mine” Khalil Gibran

References

Siegler, MG. 2012, ‘Why I Hate Android, ParisLemon, 9th January, viewed April 1st 2014, http://parislemon.com/post/15604811641/why-i-hate-android

Jenkins, H. 2004, The cultural logic of media convergence, viewed April 1st 2014,

Welcome to the Android Open Source Project!, viewed 31st March 2014, https://source.android.com/