Democramedia?

What role should the media play in democracy?

We live in a media saturated world. Everywhere we turn, the media is there. There to deliver messages, there to entertain, persuade, demonstrate, inform, and most importantly – there to earn.

In a world where time seems to become more and more precious, media is somehow swimming against the tide and providing us with 24hr access to the world around us. Unfortunately, the tides of change in the media are treacherous, and many companies are finding their business plans to be less protection of their gigantic empires than an umbrella in a cyclone.

Nevertheless, the media is always active, and we are finding less and less time to engage with it. So what’s this leaving us with? If I may hypothesise, the capitalistic 24hr lifestyle we now seem to be engaged in has left us with precious little time to analyse things the way we used to.

For many people, their daily routine looks a little something like this:

– Early Morning: Get ready for, and arrive at work.

– Noon: Pay bills or run other errands and shovel food into your body before walking back into work.

– Late afternoon: Leave work and travel home

– Evening: Walk through the front door, turn the TV on, select favourite channel andand make dinner with the news on in the background .

– Night: Clean up after dinner, TV blaring in the background with your favourite form of entertainment on. Offspring, The Footy Show, Breaking Bad, re-runs of New York set TV Shows filmed entirely out of studios in California, whatever. Indulge yourself for a little while.

– Late Night: Get ready for the next day, head off to bed.

Now that’s a fairly simplistic view, but I doubt that many adults in Australia couldn’t connect with the routine in some general form.

So what do we take out of that? It would be fair to say that many Australian’s are stretched for time these days, yet are still keen to be up to date with news and current affairs around them. So, they blindly trust media organisations to keep them informed and aware of the world around them. However in that daily routine, many are finding it difficult to analyse, compare and evaluate the arguments and perspectives presented to them. People don’t have time to do that like they used to. No longer will the average Aussie gather various sources of news media and consume all of them, evaluating each article, analysing the commentary and most essentially, exposing themselves to a variety of opinions and ideals on the topics of the day.

We trust the media, completely and utterly blindly.

Therefore, the media’s role in democracy is rather complicated. But on a basic level, the media should at least ensure that it presents news and commentary separately, informs the audience, represent arguments and debates of public policy and other matters in accordance to their representation in society, and most of all the media should shed light on the dark.

But the media is there to make a profit. So that doesn’t always happen, because, well, in media, profits are often made by following the tide. Nobody should be surprised to see the mastheads of major daily newspapers taking an angle on a story which the majority of their readership would be reasonably expected to take, and running it across the front page. It might incense many of us, but wouldn’t it be their democratic right to free speech to publish their angle?

The media, and it’s role in democracy is extremely complex.

Instead of relying in the media all the time, we need to be less trusting and more independent. There are many options in the marketplace. Maybe we should start making time to survey them all. It’ll only help us to make better decisions.

Semester 2, Yo.

Oh my.

What a first semester! Never thought I’d have been so enlightened in such a short time!

Well, after a long break in which I indulged in doing pretty much nothing, it’s time to get back into the swing of things, with Semester 2!

This Semester I only have one subject which I need to post to doyouevenbcm for! Not sure if happy or sad though. . .
ANYWAY! The subject for which I will use this blog as the primary place to track my development throughout is BCM111 or International Media and Communication! YAY!

Also also also! I’ve decided that one of my other subjects is worthy of gracing doyouevenbcm. THIS, DESPITE IT NOT BEING A SUBJECT WITH THE CODE BCM! You know something’s got to be absolutely mint, if it can make doyouevenbcm without even being a subject with BCM in it’s name.
Therefore, I present the news that this Semester PHIL106 will also get a run on the blog! YAY^2

It just seems like such an interesting subject! Hopefully it makes my opinions on the media seem more coherent. It probably won’t though. You’ll all sit there like. . . “Wtf, last semester his position was this, and now it’s this. Why. How. Ugh”
Yes, those responses are what I’m expecting.
Alas, this is what happens at University it seems. . . . .
“Oh hey. Here’s all your existing beliefs and preconceptions, and here’s the list of subjects you have this Semester. Watch what happens when we mash them together!”
Yep. Exactly what Semester 1 felt like. Believe me.

Should make for an interesting 16 weeks though!

So! That’s the news, and the update on what’s happening now!
Looking forward to Semester 2!

Australia – Take Initiative

Humanity has come a very long way. Racism, Sexism, Inequality. All features of societies gone by, and all ideals the world has sought to eliminate from modern societies, to ensure that life is fair, equitable and enjoyable for all humans. We’re not there yet, certainly, we have far to go.

But at least in the real world, there has been some progress.

So why does the online world not reflect this? Why are people bullied online and who’s responsibility is this? After the lecture in Week 10 introduced us to the uneven balance against females in computer science education through the infamous “brogrammer culture” and our tutorial lead us through the terrible online bullying cases which many students were familiar with, having been victims of similar atrocities themselves, a question made itself apparent. Should the Government play a role in addressing these issues?

Despite the complexities of an online environment which traverses many jurisdictions, making it difficult to police and legislate for, Australia has a supreme responsibility towards it’s citizens. If we feel that these behaviours and anti social attitudes are unwanted within our society, than we must be active in ensuring that acts of this nature which occur in the online sphere are treated seriously by our nation – just as seriously as similar atrocities which occur in the real world.

Thankfully the Government thinks the same way. In a week which saw it’s first budget pulled apart, the Australian Government launched funding for new online safety educational programs in schools, as well an extra $2.4 million in funding towards the establishment of the Office of the Children’s e-Safety Commissioner, with a further $100,000 in research and information campaign grants provided. Whether this will actually change the nature of online bullying in Australia remains to be seen – But I think it is important that education is at the centre of this issue. If we want to stamp out real issues such as children committing suicide over online bullying, than we must take initiative.

Let’s Swarm.

Swarm.

If this thing takes off, activism could become just that little bit more powerful.

Most people reading this will have heard of Foursquare – The check-in and business directory app, which provides suggestions on local restaurants, things to see and do and shops to scour through when a user tags their location and “check’s in”. Foursquare have had some trouble recently and learnt that users want to change the way they make their location available, and aren’t as interested in an app combining the functions of local directory and social media platform. The response?

Swarm, the new location based social network app by Foursquare Labs. Foursquare have essentially split their original app in to two separate apps and Swarm is a manifestation of that. A rethought and redesigned location based social network.

So, what’s this got to do with activism?

One way to look at Swarm is that it now provides activist organisations with a fast and simple way to keep track of their members during a protest, or an easier way to organise protests in the first place. It can allow protestors to become aware of the location of each other during activist demonstrations, and help to organise the effort much more efficiently. This app has serious potential, demonstrated through it’s “I’m interested” feature.

Screenshot 2014-05-16 13.09.20

Users can post that they are interested in meeting up or catching up (or even that they are interested in opposing a new piece of legislation during their lunch break), and those who have seen the post only need to hit “I’m interested” to signify that they too want to get involved.

Users can see who is interested and who of their friends are planning to attend the gathering, making it powerful for activist organisations who are currently stuck to the sometimes cumbersome Facebook events, which don’t allow for spontaneity.

Swarm allows for spur of the moment, quick, grassroots action based on those who are available and around and could seriously accelerate the rate at which activist demonstrations or protests can be organised.

The Internet is the Enabler.

The web was to remix culture what the wheel was to transport.

An enabling factor.

The web, is a distribution technology. The idea that technological advances in music distribution brings about shifts between genres is that of Dr Andrew Whelan.

His argument makes a lot of sense, and in regards to the web, has spawned the growth of an entire genre come industry dependent upon the progression of remix culture.

DJing.

DJing has come a long way over the past decade. Certainly, it is a more complex art than it ever was, and now encompasses the idea not only of “mashup”, but of musical production. To be an exceptional DJ in 1999 was to be brilliant at finding tracks with a similar chord progression, with the ability to weave them together to create a patchwork of musical harmony – or chaos, depending on your preference! Here’s one of my favourites of all time, Love Don’t Let Me Go (Walking Away) – David Guetta vs. The Egg. A mashup of Love Don’t Let Me Go by David Guetta and The Egg’s Walking Away.

DJing in 2014? It’s so much more. DJ’s are now producers. The mashup? A mere tool in the belt of the new dance floor virtuoso. A good mate I went to High School exemplifies this. His name is Trey-V and he started out using a mashup app on his iPod Touch, remixing songs in his room after matches for a state hockey tournament in Bathurst. Now? He’s an up and coming producer/DJ in Sydney, with residency at Hostage X in the ‘Gong, Candy’s Apartment and 169 Oxford Street in the City, The Roxy in Parramatta as well as Hype Fridays at Macarthur Tav in Campbelltown and a once a month residency at Moose Heads Nightclub in Canberra.

But how did all of this happen? What enabled the change from mashup master to production pro?

Trey-V says, “Without the internet I wouldn’t really be able to succeed.”.

He distributes his music through SoundCloud because it is “The most accessible and practical way to access and find and download music”, while using production programs like FL Studio and Ableton, to complete his work. All accessible through the internet.

Ara vs. X – Transmedia Storytelling

Transmediality: Is your technology capable of supplying distribution channels that could contribute meaningfully to a transmedia narrative?

Yes. But to differing extents.

These devices are designed to enable people living in third world nations to participate in the conversation. To learn. To consume. To produce. To prosume and to produse.

This is abundantly evident just by looking at the capabilities of the devices.
Ara’s capabilities are up too it’s produser, but the ability to create a powerful machine capable of connecting to the internet, enables the delivery of transmedia narratives through a variety of channels.

Nokia X is not too shabby either, but a less powerful device overall. Its weak specs and lack of access to Google’s services natively work against it when awarding points. However, a hacked Nokia X can in fact sideload certain apps and download directly from the Google Play store once the enabling applications have been installed, opening X to the litany of delivery channels Ara enjoys as part of it’s most standard experience.

Google Play is the key for both devices. It’s the factor which enables the devices to connect to the delivery channels of transmedia storytelling. Google Play provides access to Books, Movies & TV Shows, Apps & Games and Music.

Additionally, pre loaded internet browsers allow the users of these devices to harness the power of the internet, while providing the publishers of the transmedia story with another entry point. Users can engage in prosumption and produsage through these devices, and add to the world the transmedia story creates through internet forums and dedicated social networks – sharing and distributing remixed, reworked pieces of the story to add to the universe through collective intelligence hives.

Clearly, they can both deliver complex, coordinated mass scale transmedia stories across various mediums. X is good, but only once the software has been heavily modified. As such, Ara is far better at providing distribution channels which contribute meaningfully to a transmedia narrative.

Let X equal product, and Let Ara equal Artefact.

Ara and X.

An Artefact, and A Product.

Project Ara, by it’s very nature is a temporary artefact. Considering Brun’s four key characteristics of produsage (Bruns 2007), a Project Ara device is an artefact which is always unfinished, evolutionary, iterative and palimpsestic. It’s a device, built using many different electropermanent magentic modules on a skeleton, and it is forever changing, responding to the feedback of the consumer constantly. It is produced by it’s own user, tested by the user, and continually readjusted by the user.

DSC_4824-2040_verge_super_wide

In the image above (Bohn 2014) is a Project Ara device displaying it’s exposed skeleton and a displaced module.

There is an SDK for Developers to develop modules. Google has opened the entire Project to everyone, and it runs the most open mobile OS of them all – Android. This is a medium, a media platform which in it’s own right is completely and utterly lending itself to produsage.

In contrast, is Nokia X. This is a device which is closed in it’s development. Nokia controls everything. There is no open source collaboration, no evolutionary “ever changing” nature, no movement of produsers between roles of user, participant & leader, and no community wide development shifting away from dedicated teams. This is commercial. A consumption device.

However, what does it lend itself to? Sure these are two different approaches. But, their real value lies in their enabling power. What do they allow people to do?

Essentially they are both designed to be a cheap way for people in third world countries to take part in dialogic, new media. To open up the world, and allow people to participate. To come into the conversation.

References

Google 2014, Project Ara MDK, projectara.com, viewed 28 April 2014, <http://www.projectara.com/mdk/&gt;.

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

Bohn 2014, Building blocks: how Project Ara is reinventing the smartphone, http://www.theverge.com, viewed 28 April 2014, <http://www.theverge.com/2014/4/15/5615880/building-blocks-how-project-ara-is-reinventing-the-smartphone&gt;.

Bohn 2014, DSC_4824-2040_verge_super_wide.jpg, image, http://www.theverge.com, viewed 28 April 2014, <http://cdn3.vox-cdn.com/entry_photo_images/10115069/DSC_4824-2040_verge_super_wide.jpg&gt;.

Nokia 2014, Nokia X Products, nokia.com, viewed 28 April 2014, <http://www.nokia.com/global/products/nokia-x/&gt;.