12 weeks in Net Communication class has flown by. My takeaways from the class are many.
I have learnt about:
- The history of New Media
- How software and code is controlling our lives
- Web 2.0 and the ‘produser’
- Participatory networked cultures
- Privacy and ethics issues
- WordPress (in which I am the most familiar with as I am now an avid blogger!)
- Blogs and citizen journalism
- YouTube and its system of celebrity
- Creative Commons license
- Piracy and sustainable cultural production
Facebook has quietly expanded the availability of technology to automatically identify people in photos, renewing concerns about the privacy practices of the world’s top social networking service.
The feature, which Facebook automatically enabled for Facebook users, has been expanded from the United States to ‘most countries’. Its Tag Suggestions feature uses facial recognition technology to speed up the process of labeling friends and acquaintances that appear in photos posted on Facebook.
Internet security consultant firm Sophos published a post on its company blog on Tuesday saying that many Facebook users are reporting that the site has enabled the facial recognition option in the last few days without giving users any notice.
Yet again, it feels like Facebook is eroding the online privacy of its users. And this time without consent.
Newsflash: Julian Assange has been announced as the winner of the 2011 Martha Gellhorn Prize for journalism.
And I quote the article:
The prize was first given out in 1999, and was established in the honor of renowned war correspondent Martha Gellhorn. It’s awarded to journalists that challenge ‘official drivel’, as Gellhorn herself called it, and it
“celebrates journalism that challenges secrecy and mendacity in public affairs and raises ‘forgotten’ issues of public importance, without fear or favor, working against the grain of government spin.”
It’s difficult to think of a more fitting winner for this award, in light of Assange’s Wikileaks revelations in the past twelve months. Indeed, Wikileaks published a huge assortment of military records, and the US diplomatic cables leak later in the year made world headlines when it published countless classified leaks from within the US State Department.
The judges said of Assange’s prize:
“WikiLeaks has been portrayed as a phenomenon of the hi-tech age, which it is. But it’s much more. Its goal of justice through transparency is in the oldest and finest tradition of journalism. WikiLeaks has given the public more scoops than most journalists can imagine: a truth-telling that has empowered people all over the world. As publisher and editor, Julian Assange represents that which journalists once prided themselves in – he’s brave, determined, independent: a true agent of people not of power.”
I am still not sure whether Assange deserved a prize for journalism. Wikileaks may have “worked against the grain of government spin” but my personal opinion is that the information being published isn’t quite in the same context as good journalism as Wikileaks sometimes publicize information which is skewed by personal opinion and without credible sources. Yes he deserves an award for being so fearless in pursuing the (questionable) truth, but not this particular award.
But congratulations anyway.
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).
When we talk about piracy practices we often only focus on the negative sides to it. Most of the time piracy often refers to the unauthorized reproduction of copyrighted or patented information such as music, software and movies. Therefore, the term “piracy” has the connotation of stealing and is looked upon as an unethical practice. While this is one way to look at it, Medosch (2008) argues that “piracy, despite being an entirely commercially motivated activity carried out in black or grey markets, fulfills culturally important functions” (2008: 81). This statement by Medosch aims to illuminate another side of piracy to show that it can be also regarded as a source to fulfill important cultural aspects by giving people “access to information and cultural goods they had otherwise no chance of obtaining” (2008: 81). I will contend to this argument and agree to Medosch’s notion by discussing it in the context of software piracy in video games.
Piracy has always been a part of gaming culture and is especially strong on the computer side where the open architecture and Internet connectivity makes it easy to copy and share games (Dyer-Witherford 2009; Peuter, 2009, 85). According to Apperley (2007), the role of software piracy in videogames enables participation from groups that would otherwise be excluded from accessing videogames due to economic factors (2007: 286). Apperley suggests that piracy in the context of videogames can be shifted outside of a criminal regime and into one which is concerned with the ability to participate in a global economy as both a consumer and a citizen (2007: 286). One reason that Apperley states is that pirated games usually cost less, or none at all when downloaded, which makes these games more accessible for purchase and distribution (2007:289). The use of copied games also enables users to explore a variety of games. In a case study of a third world country which Apperley conducted an ethnographic study in, players would download pirated versions of games and distribute them to neighbourhood cyber cafes to make sure that they would be installed in the computers there (Apperley, 2007: 289). This flexibility in purchase is thus transferred across the community of gamers allowing anyone to sample new or obscure games in the cyber cafes. Therefore videogames is a key area in which these citizens are able to participate in new and global media cultures through piracy (Apperley, 2007: 290).
In the industry, videogame company Electronic Arts (EA) has acknowledged the issue of piracy and instead of combating it, have embraced it with a marketing strategy to coexist with the cultural landscape (Dyer-Witherford 2009; Peuter, 2009, 51). In various Asian markets where console ownership is low and piracy is rampant, EA’s strategy to market the new FIFA Online game was to make the game freely available for download (Dyer-Witherford 2009; Peuter, 2009, 52). Central to this are microtransactions in which EA uses the free game to get players hooked and for less than a dollar, the company offered “for sale ways to gain and edge over the opponents” (Dyer-Witherford 2009; Peuter, 2009, 52). Piracy has led EA to an online business model that has proved extremely lucrative and EA proceeded to release other game titles such as Battlefield Heroes in the same way (Dyer-Witherford 2009, Peuter; 2009, 52). In this case study, EA seeks to use free game downloads as an entry point for new players by addressing the issue of accessibility and economic factors, such as price of the games, that would otherwise deter people from playing the games.
-photo credit Carissa Hong
In a global economy based on knowledge and networks, exclusion equals poverty. Piracy in the videogame context enables inclusion in the economy rather than the reproduction of poverty. Therefore I agree with Medosch, that “piracy fulfils an important role by giving access to cultural goods which otherwise would be completely unavailable to the vast majority of people” (2008: 81). In view of videogame piracy, the notion that videogames as an entertainment medium is not simply just a dream of a luxury but is one that allows participation in the global economy by giving people a more equal access to these games.
- Apperley, T.H. (2007) ‘Piracy of the Caribbean: The Political Stake of Videogame Piracy in Chavez’s Venezuela’, Authors and Digital Games Research Association, (1)1: 286-291.
- Dyer-Witherford, N.and Peuter, G.D (2009) Games of empire: global capitalism and video games. University of Minnesota Press.
- Medosch, A (2008) ‘Paid in Full: Copyright, Piracy and the Real Currency of Cultural Production’ pp. 73-97 in Deptforth. TV Diaries II: Pirate Strategies, London: Deptforth TV
Just saw this screening event back home in Singapore entitled Twittamentary and I thought that it was an absolutely FANTASTIC idea.
Twittamentary looks at how lives connect and intersect within the Twitter community as the real-time web accelerates serendipity. A year ago, Director Tan Siok Siok set out on a whirlwind road trip across America to discover and document the effects of the social media phenomenon, Twitter. She interviewed a wide range of Twitter’ers, from a travel journalist turned “twilebrity” to a homeless woman who uses twitter from the public library, from a stock trader and a prostitute who uses twitter as her personal GPS.
Check out the teaser ad:
What an interesting way to show and proof how Web. 2.0 is consuming our lives. It also illustrates how some people are overly reliant on technology and the fact that there are people on the other end of the spectrum – those who abhor Twitter and technologies – managing to exist in the same culture. One issue i hope the show covers is Twitter’s participatory network culture which inherently leads to citizen journalism (something which happened to the Mumbai Bombings in 2008).
Can’t wait to see it!
From fellow netcommer, Andy’s blog:
In this post, Andy writes about ice-cream company Ben & Jerry’s success in social media marketing. In a bid to make their brand name, Ben & Jerry’s, stand out amongst the clutter of other ice-cream companies, Ben & Jerry’s employed innovative marketing tools such as the Cowmobile which their mobile cow mascot promoting their ice-cream in any location.
It was an intriguing case study on how Ben & Jerry’s effectively utilized tools in the social media realm to market their products and most importantly, created a whole campaign which was synonymous to the “fun” and “youthful” image it wanted to portray.