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.

Advertisements

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;.

Give them a voice. Give them Convergence.

Project Ara and Nokia X are both dialogic technologies. And, considering their intentions, they are about to contribute to the conversation immensely.

For non-followers of the BCM112 category of this blog, the two media platforms followed on doyouevenbcm.wordpress.com are both intended for use in the emerging markets of China, India, et al.

Two dialogic technologies, entering markets where the potential for conversation is varied.
An interesting situation to observe.

China may present issues for these devices, as demonstrated by Gordon (2007), through it’s Golden Shield. The huge Chinese censorship effort largely limits the ability of dialogic technologies to exercise the participatory elements they encourage.

On the flipside is India. While there have been instances of Internet Censorship in India, the nation does not hold the same philosophy as China or engage in any large scale censoring similar to the Great Firewall of China or Golden Shield. Which makes the society ripe for the introduction of dialogic technology for the purpose of prosuming, and participatory culture.

The power of this tech is unbelievable, and for the citizens of third world nations, is revolutionary, and that is plain to see just from observing the achievements dialogic technology has already attained.

An entire revolution occurred in Egypt. Not solely because of the use of social networks – But they certainly helped. Ali (2011) describes Facebook as an “accelerant” to the revolution while Twitter and Youtube are deemed as “amplifiers”.

Giving the power and abilities of convergent technologies to people right around the world through economical devices aimed at emerging markets is only going enhance the conversation. Participatory culture is huge in the Western World, despite the attempts of Copyright owners to diminish it’s spread. Dialogic technology is spreading, fast. And that will only add to the conversation.

References:

Project Ara 2014, Project Ara, projectara.com, viewed 3 April 2014, <http://www.projectara.com/#project-ara&gt;.

Nokia 2014, Nokia X Products, nokia.com, viewed 3 April 2014, <http://www.nokia.com/global/products/nokia-x/&gt;.

Sam Gustin 2014, Social Media Sparked, Accelerated Egypt’s Revolutionary Fire, wired.com, viewed 3 April 2014, <http://www.wired.com/2011/02/egypts-revolutionary-fire/&gt;.

Open takes the lead.

Does the unanimous decision of Nokia and Google to fight the Emerging market war using open weaponry spell the end of the closed ideology?

Nokia X and Project Ara. Two completely separate products which will, when released, compete for the same market share.

In an interesting PLOT TWIST, both devices will be open. . . .

Google’s Project Ara is the most open of the two. The entire product is brimming with the ideology of Openness. The idea of a modular smartphone has been taken by Google, and put through their intense ideological pressing machine.

Google have invited a wide variety of developers and hardware companies on board to help them build this product, and the modules which it’ll use. This won’t be a closed product, like any purported Apple modular smartphone – Or even Nokia X.

Nokia X, is a product which is confusing at first. A (soon to be) Microsoft company, using the OS of it’s main competitor to sell phones in the emerging markets? Hmmm. Make no mistake though, Nokia have totally embraced Android through X, despite their new overlords pushing the closed message through Windows Phone – Yes, that’s right. FROM THE COMPANY THAT BROUGHT YOU THE OPEN PC, HERE’S OUR NEW CLOSED SMARTPHONE! *EXCITED* xD

Seriously though, X is entirely open. Here and here, are examples of the phone operating in just the way Android should. Side loaded alternative app launchers, shown by Phone Arena (2014) and even talk of loading custom ROM’s, courtesy of Android Guys (2014) – This is android as it should be. Open.

So what does this mean for closed?

Wouldn’t the thinking be, that when introducing a technology to a new market, taking a closed approach would be far safer? Then your customers get a secure, enhanced and consistent experience. Maybe. But perhaps that thinking is out-dated. People want to customize things, and they want to learn by doing. Not by being told what to do.

Emerging Markets Scoreboard

Open 1-0 Closed

References:

Dan Bartram 2014, Nokia X gets rooted bringing custom ROM and Google Services, androidguys.com, viewed 1 April 2014, <http://www.androidguys.com/2014/03/01/nokia-x-gets-rooted-bringing-custom-rom-google-services/&gt;.

Victor H 2014, Can the Nokia X run a custom Android launcher? Yes, and here is a video proof, phonearena.com, viewed 1 April 2014, <http://www.phonearena.com/news/Can-the-Nokia-X-run-a-custom-Android-launcher-Yes-and-here-is-a-video-proof_id53227&gt;.

Phone Arena, 2014, Apex Launcher running on the Android powered Nokia XL, (online video), 26 February, Youtube, viewed 1 April 2014, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHIae6ZxviA&gt;.