Pyramid of Mediation (Rachel Blady)

Reflections on All Things Media by a Social Media and Entertainment Junkie

A Full Commitment’s What I’m Thinking Of

Posted by rmb287 on May 4, 2011

Ito’s 4 aspects of networked publics are all fascinating and prevalent in their own ways, but I think one of the most exciting ones is aggregation. The process of aggregation of course has historical precedent (as do all of the concepts we learn about new media), but the really cool thing about aggregation to me is the constant connectivity we have never experienced before.

I am writing about the impact of new media and society on television content. I think the key thing to remember about aggregation is the dynamic tension between the network and the self, and this most certainly holds true in the case of television. Channels like Hulu, Netflix and iTunes, as well as other outlets like DVR and portable digital devices all serve as new locations for the individual to create a stockpile of their preferred content without having to deal with television as the intermediary.

The constant presence of these alternate options, as well as the constant possibility of connectivity to a greater collection or body of content, allows users to customize what they are subjected to. Search engines and aggregation sites or services provide users the opportunity to find whatever they would like.

Particularly and especially beneficial to society is the ability for everyone to contribute whatever information or footage they have possession of, which provides the chance for a larger body to aggregate. User-friendly sites now can trace use, find trends, and use collected information to see layered information. There is a risk in allowing everyone to contribute: losing the credibility or trustworthiness in the source being original (and oftentimes legal). But the benefits of having a great body of content to most users outweighs the moral questions over how the content got there in the first place.

The most admirable aspect of aggregation in today’s new media age is the commitment of all users to a greater whole. Creating large bodies of content takes cooperation from users, producers of television programming, owners of media companies, and the sites where the content is hosted. This commitment to making it simpler and more appealing for users to access their preferred content is a great part of this increasingly networked public.

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You Wouldn’t Get This From Any Other Guy: Assange – JournoHacker?

Posted by rmb287 on April 27, 2011

Wikileaks certainly could be considered a model of the collaborative, somewhat anonymous Wikipedia (only with classified information rather than “public knowledge”) and I’m sure you could consider it file trading from one person to another.. But that’s as far as it goes with those two. Even if they do resemble these models, I’m not sure that means it is trying to be as much of a comparable program as the other two options (online journalism and hacking).

Here’s where I have to take issue with the provided question: I believe that online journalism practically entails hacking these days, as it is quite inevitable that no matter how much journalistic integrity your work tries to preserve, once you open a can of worms online about a controversial topic, someone is going to dig deeper — and Julian Assange is certainly not one to hold back on the digging.

In order to respond to this blog prompt, I decided to take a look at how wikipedia defines “hacking”, and it gave a few options, but the one I deemed most appropriate was the one about “computer security” (I’m pretty sure the key issue, after all, is information security). Wikipedia tells me that a “hacker” is “a person who breaks into computers and computer networks for profit, as protest, or sometimes by the motivation of the challenge.” This sounds exactly like how Wikileaks was described to me. The documentary even began by discussing how Assange began hacking as a kid in Australia, going so far as to include NASA in his targets. He apparently wanted to correct injustice and create a worldwide movement and political weapon, which (according to Wikipedia’s definition of a hacker) sounds something like a protest or a challenge to the rest of the world. Assange certainly made use of the most talented hackers in the world, many of which were at his disposal.

However there is still the journalism aspect, which I am sure cannot go unmentioned. Certainly all four options closely compare to Wikileaks, but the documentary continued to hammer in the idea that Wikileaks was motivated by some sort of overarching journalistic mission. It was a fight for free access to information. His choices in what and where to publish his information were quite grounded in freedom of information laws, leading to his decision to go to Sweden where the law permitted publication of a lot more than most nations – making it a sort of safe haven from which he could publish his information. Freedom of the press in Sweden compared to most nations was, in a word, freest. In a way this was a battle against censorship, a battle against what the press is allowed to know or say. Wikileaks was shrouded in secrecy because it realistically was a threat to national security.

This may be a sign of a new revolution in media: a new intense desire to have open access in journalism – no secrets, no reliance on traditional, tired stories. Assange and Wikileaks were able to get “more scoops than the Washington Post in the last 30 years” according to Daniel Domscheit-Berg. If the former spokesperson of Wikileaks refers to their information as “scoops” then I don’t know how anyone else could not refer to it as journalism or news. They have apparently released more stories in the past three years than all the news agencies in the world.

So here’s where the hacking comes into play… how about we just combine the two into one new theory — that journalism can’t exist in the future without a reconstruction of its standards, one that calls for a reevaluation of what it means to hack, and what methods of accessing information are realistic vs. unethical.

The “power factor” in the new media landscape is a tremendous one. The helicopter footage got the attention of some of the biggest players in the news industry, and the business itself was able to help distribute the rest of Wikileaks’ material. Wikileaks was able to contact some of the biggest names in news (The Guardian, NY Times) and have their material published in a coordinated fashion, with them pulling the strings. Competitive organizations would otherwise be rivals to access this information, but in a way with this separate, non-respected “journaistic” entity feeding the information, it made for a tamer way of the main organizations accessing the stories.

Assange was able to use a network of experienced journalists to put out his next publication. Though the US claimed that this wasn’t an act of journalism or transparency but a political war against us, the information was released in a way very treated somewhat similar to any other breaking news story in the media. However the fact that the American hackers were detained, questioned, and had their computers confiscated, was a sign that this event was quite different. News reporters would be treated quite differently, and that’s why these “sources of information” were treated as hackers rather than journalists.

Wikileaks certainly functioned like a news organization in the fashion they decided to release information (and they are rethinking it now). Rather than, as Domscheit-berg suggested, leaking information step by step and growing the project, the biggest releases were just thrown out there in order to get attention; all of the effort and resources were put into producing these releases. When he eventually started OpenLeaks, it was meant to serve that journalistic purpose: an aggregator or online distribution service to distribute material online to the media. He wanted it to be a service provider for third parties looking to distribute material through anonymous online sources.

I think if Wikileaks is going anywhere (besides being a political lightning rod, which it certainly does enjoy), this is what it is. At the very least, it is paving the way for journalistic organizations to attempt new ways of accessing important information and new standards for what should reasonably be protected under freedom of the press. Hackers are certainly looked down upon now, but it is inevitable that they will hold all the cards in the future.

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The Digitization of Television

Posted by rmb287 on April 18, 2011

I am interested in looking at the new possibilities of television consumption for my research paper. Here is one source I found that discusses a bit about what the future of television might hold. I think it is a great article to use because it integrates the idea of the long tail model for business. One of the most important things to remember in constructing my paper is that just because television content can be made available across more platforms for viewers, doesn’t mean that in the future the same genres and structures of shows will be successful. Especially because so many people will be able to access programming on the internet, appealing to niche audiences is a business move not yet pursued fully, but possibly one that could be particularly successful. With strict standards comparable to that of network television content (standards in terms of a general wide appeal as well as wide availability) not serving as barriers to what is available online, the entertainment experience will be very different. Increased content available in digital television will generally be helpful to the information society.

Summary:

The article praises the adoption of digital television services as a way to access more content. The information society would benefit by gaining a larger forum for discourse. It encourages interactive media as a source of autonomy, freedom of choice, and new possibilities for the citizen-user. It goes so far as to call it a “motor for democracy.” The article does, however, raise concerns about digital exclusion by pushing digitalization. The long-tail business model allows for market demand to be fulfilled in many ways. The article is optimistic that the public has an interest in watching and paying for specific content. Cultural participation in programming typically piques public interest as well. The article investigates various marketing strategies for user experiences on different platforms of media, with different brands, and certain niche content. User-driven models offer users the possibility of being part of a social network of their own content.

Evens, T., De Marez, L., Hauttekeete, L., Biltereyst, D., Mannens, E., Van de Walle, R. “Attracting the un-served audience: the sustainability of long tail-based business models for cultural television content” New Media and Society 12(6), 1005-1023.

Abstract: Digital television services not only provide promise for interactive services, but also for long tail-based business models in terms of tailor-made content. As the share of culture in total linear television programming is diminishing owing to the supremacy of audience rating concerns, digital television services could act as an alternative gateway to deliver culture to a wider audience. This article presents the results of a market pilot study using the established video-on-demand (VOD) platform of Flanders’ main digital television operator for the wide-scale delivery of performing arts videos. Despite the promising pilot study results, we doubt whether the long tail principle is applicable to the delivery of avant-garde material to develop a viable digital television service.


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You Know the Rules (and so do I)

Posted by rmb287 on April 13, 2011

I’ve always considered myself an unabashed fan of the activity known as “people watching.” Try hanging out in the Commons sometime and you’ll understand. I happen to work on campus as a kosher supervisor at Appel’s North Star dining hall, and consider my perch at a little table next to the kosher station some prime territory for people watching. There is perhaps no space more public than a dining hall, and the intersection of lives around this central activity of eating is a perfect place to witness the comings and goings of Cornell students. It is also quite a social experience, but one that I firmly believe is different than it may have been about a decade ago. Spending three hours at meal time watching students eat and socialize can make one dizzy on occasion. The noise is certainly indicative of a large social network at work.

But the network may quite possibly be the last remnant of previously common informal, physically co-present social interactions. More specifically, I believe the chance for this generation to join together regularly in a social setting, and interact for the sake of interacting, is slowly dissipating. As a parallel, it is possible to argue that a public space like a dining hall will only still exist because, quite simply, students need to be fed in the most efficient way possible (not because they desire social interaction). If not for the enormous, life-supporting factor of food, it may not at all be necessary for people to gather and spend a purely social hour.

There is a bit of a divide in a dining hall, and it is quite comparable to that Varnelis and Friedberg experienced in their trips to Starbucks. On the one hand, those who come to dine with friends inevitably have a very social dining experience. But due to the stigma associated with dining alone, those who are by themselves often have headphones, cellphones, laptops, newspapers, or books to accompany them. The act of dining does not exist on its own. Rarely does a person (though I have seen my fair share of them in the large pool of Cornell freshmen) dine alone while simply staring into space. This activity cannot exist by itself; it is nearly essential that it is one part of a larger multitasking session. No matter what though, these people are in this dining hall because they need to be fed, not for any other reason.

Building on this, I take slight issue with the way Varnelis and Friedberg decided to portray Starbucks. Not that I can say I’ve experienced old-school coffeehouses, but to me going to Starbucks has a central purpose: buying coffee. Sure, if I have time to kill or something to get done, I’ll do it there too. But the reason I am there to begin with is not at all social (unless I actually need a physical place to go and hang out with someone I already know, which is a different conversation altogether); I just want some coffee. The way they describe Starbucks as a place to gather to “establish an ambient visual experience of bodies in near proximity” (17) seems to misrepresent the purpose of such a place. I think if this effect is desired at all, it is at least not the main goal.

Varnelis and Friedberg do acknowledge the history of the social connotations of location, and it appears that social behaviors continue to evolve. This is a crucial thing to understand: I believe that the evolution of social behaviors is due to the evolution of personal necessity. Though they argue that “places are filled with individual identities, language, references, and unformulated rules; non-places are spaces of solitary individuality,” the fact that non-places are tied to individuality does not require a “vice/versa” approach be entailed (i.e. just because ‘non-places’ are ‘personal’ doesn’t make ‘places’ ‘public’). A public place, though it may require certain social etiquette at times, does not force a person to “be social.”

Their argument that “public sphere was being evacuated” may not be the right approach. Perhaps it would make more sense to argue that, rather than saying public spaces are “disappearing,” to redefine “public spaces” altogether. It is fairly obvious that private space is moving into environments previously perceived as social forums. Now we must understand how social interactions are meant to work. I believe the integration of personal devices in our lives has made social communication more efficient and effective. They remove the unnecessary details of physically co-present interactions and strip communication down to its core. While they suggest “we still have an urge to gather together, even if in our solitude” (20), it is possible that such a generalization of human desire for interaction should not depend on physical location. The Internet is increasingly serving this urge, and use of public spaces to interact is most likely dependent on the convenience of those locations. Just like the telephone, as mentioned, provided intimacy from a distance, the Internet and personal devices do the same (they serve as extensions of our personal selves, as Varnelis and Friedberg mentioned). This leaves public spaces as ways of filling other, non-social needs (being fed, working, acting as consumers).

The perception of space as a medium of its own is one that, while it can always hold true, does not necessarily entail specific social connotations. Space “open” to the public does not have to be “public space.” The fact that “society is moving toward more networked forms of organization in production, power, and experience,” as Castells said, is the perfect way of understanding this shift in the perception of space. Whereas public space was previously an essential forum for important organizational interactions, new networks are replacing the need for this type of forum. When online sites begin to feel like actual places, one no longer needs the physical public space.

It seems to me that a place like a cafe or dining hall serves personal needs without necessitating social interactions. An improved understanding of the fundamental motivations for societal interactions will help explain this shift in the location of social interactions.

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Apple Killed the Radio Star

Posted by rmb287 on March 30, 2011

I can’t say I know the song “Video Killed the Radio Star” – though I’m sure if I heard it on the radio I’d recognize it and attempt to sing along. Problem is I never listen to the radio anymore. Ever since I got my first iPod in seventh grade (yup, the one with the four buttons on top and the scroll wheel in the middle), I haven’t really had any need to switch on that AM/FM static magnet. I’ve had the privilege of listening to only the songs I love, however I want, whenever I want. I have immediate access to a seemingly infinite number of songs, which I can purchase for next to nothing.

With Apple’s superior technologies and access comes controversy, of course. iTunes has been criticized for dominating music sales, and changing how artists attempt to profit off of their music. To me, this has been one of Apple’s biggest issues in recent years – more so than the growth of any of their computers, and possibly more so than their personal, portable idevices just because they seem to monopolize the music sales industry even more than that of any tech product.

Whereas we formerly paid for albums at a time, Apple’s ability to digitally sell individual songs has revolutionized the way we consume music. It seems, then, that if musicians want to be able to sell their music in larger quantities, for higher value, they must rely at least in part on what iTunes can do for them. The idea of “owning music” is something that it is arguably up to iTunes to define. (“Can Apple Save the Music Industry, Again?” – Rick Aristotle Munarriz 9/4/08  http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2008/09/04/can-apple-save-the-music-industry-again.aspx ) The industry, it is argued, must accept that they can no longer rely on selling albums as long as alternatives exist that are either more profitable to the artist or enticing to the consumer (ticket sales, file sharing, individual digital downloads/purchases). Record labels need to understand this and adapt. (“iTunes Inspires Changes in Music Industry” – Janet Meyer 8/29/06 http://www.applematters.com/article/itunes-inspires-changes-in-music-industry/ ) The ability to purchase individual songs, digitally (thus no physical effort is required), and have it be portable and readily available for whenever one wants to consume it has revolutionized the music industry. (“Three Ways iTunes, and its 10 Billion in Sales, Changed Music Industry” – Mark Guarino 2/26/10  http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2010/0226/Three-ways-iTunes-and-its-10-billion-in-sales-changed-music-industry )

Wikileaks has displayed a key fault in the way the government functions. Decentralization can be debated endlessly, but when a situation arises that indicates how little we know, this is when the conversion becomes more serious. It is clear that we need to establish new rules for the limits of censorship in the digital environment. The Internet provides the unique opportunity for users to spread information and avoid censorship more easily than before. What the government now needs to figure out is how much public information is too much, and at to what extent they want to have legal control over information that gets leaked. It is the citizens who do not want to be kept in the dark wrestling with a government that doesn’t want to risk too much knowledge escaping.

“Wikileaks and domain seizures show need for decentralization” – “wconeybeer” 12/18/10 http://www.myce.com/news/wikileaks-domain-seizures-show-need-for-decentralization-37854/

“Lessons from Wikileaks: decentralize, decentralize, decentralize” – Glyn Moody 12/21/10 http://www.h-online.com/open/features/Lessons-from-WikiLeaks-decentralize-decentralize-decentralize-1153977.html

“Wikielaks, decentralized distribution, and the lack of meaningful remedies for unauthorized disclosure” – Evan Brown 12/9/10 http://blog.internetcases.com/2010/12/09/wikileaks-decentralized-distribution-and-the-lack-of-meaningful-remedies-for-unauthorized-disclosure/

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A Crazy Example of “Stolen” User-Generated Content

Posted by rmb287 on March 10, 2011

The Stolen Scream: A Story About Noam Galai from FStoppers on Vimeo.

Here’s a video about a guy who posted a picture of himself on Flickr and later found out it had become an international icon – and is being used everywhere without his permission or benefit. I actually had a different take on user generated culture in my earlier blog post (that web content is usually of the ‘throw it at the wall and see if it sticks’ variety – and we shouldn’t complain if it goes viral.) But I never thought something could go so far and violate so many assumed personal rights – it essentially betrayed the confines of the ‘shared web environment’ and became published on books, tshirts, magazines, etc. without any reference to the original creator.

Source: http://gizmodo.com/#!5780407/the-photograph-that-became-an-unintentional-cultural-icon

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Illiteracy vs. Exploitation

Posted by rmb287 on March 9, 2011

It is easy to assert that we are not to blame for failing to defend and privatize our own web content. Take Gizmodo, one of the most popular blogs on the web. Just today they posted a rant entitled “You’re Being Tracked and No Law is Going to Change That,” where they called privacy an illusion and explained that, for all intents and purposes, it is impossible to “opt out” of having your online information tracked. (http://gizmodo.com/#!5780133/youre-being-tracked-and-no-law-is-going-to-change-that)

With this in mind, we have to ask… how many of us are “media literate” enough to have understood what cookies were from the time we started to use the Internet? If Gizmodo had to post a little blurb explaining this, then we must take that as a sign that most Internet users are not even close to the point where they know who their content is being distributed to — begging the question: how do we educate internet users? If the issue is essential enough that every single person with internet access needs to be aware, there might need to be some sort of “barrier to entry” involved.

Scholz and Deuze debate the concept of the importance of membership. We technically do not have complete autonomy; nor do we have complete awareness of what level of surveillance we are subjecting ourselves to. It seems to me that even though I may not have always known what a “cookie” is or how directly Google or Facebook could grab and take advantage of my information, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have been careful. I believe it is nearly instinctive in most people that no matter where we throw our content up on the web, it could inevitably come back to bite us sooner or later. Most people exercise good judgment in that respect, but the next generation might not be as careful given how prevalent the Internet will become. If and when that situation comes about, it may be considered exploitation just based on the lack of education.

Some sort of psychological foundation must be ingrained in society eventually. People need to be made aware that their content could be distributed in ways they didn’t intend (and that they must be ok with this if they are determined to put it up anyway). They do not typically put up the content to receive any direct benefit, so I don’t believe it should be “worthy” of any type of monetary or other reward – just based on the fact that it was not expected to begin with. Amateur contributors in an online environment put their content up for reasons other than money (clearly – otherwise they would seek other outlets to distribute their content to receive this direct benefits).

When we post a picture of someone with a clever comment (exhibit a: [yes, I just google-image-d “hilarious picture” and picked one of the first ones to pop up),

of course we do it for the views and popularity. But unless we want to put in the effort to pursue more rewarding outlets to distribute our content, we should not blame the web for taking advantage of it.

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Access, Favor, or Discretion?

Posted by rmb287 on March 2, 2011

As a longtime reader of the Gawker sports blog Deadspin, I find there is an endless amount of material and controversy that they create. The Brett Favre controversy, the Rex Ryan saga, the endless athlete photos they release, all contribute to their notoriety. But there is something deeper to the site than their reputation for stirring up dirt on athletes and sports media stars. They have developed into one of the most controversial sources of sports news and criticism. Putting aside their genuinely good writing and critical eye over the rest of the sports media industry, Deadspin needs to be investigated for their status as a tabloid – essentially the TMZ of sports – and their existence as an “anything goes” setting. Their desire to be a watchdog, a no-boundaries forum, and a voice of the fan, makes for a dynamic that is difficult to balance.

Blogs have never had the greatest amount of respect. Jenkins wrote about “a world without gatekeepers [vs.] a world where gatekeepers have unprecedented power.” It seems there is some difficulty in defining what role the blogosphere serves, and we are now struggling to judge how much we should trust this new form of media. Deadspin serves as an example of this emerging powerful sports watchdog, an Internet overlord over the sports industry if you will. While they are able to address sports “without access, favor or discretion,” they oftentimes take advantage of the latter and post with no limitations.

I would like to specifically refer to one interview Deadspin editor Will Leitch did, which encapsulates the controversial nature of the site (watch below, or scroll down for a summary along with my commentary):


Will Leitch On Costas Now
Uploaded by Machochip. – Discover the latest sports and extreme videos.

When Buzz Bissinger, a respected sportswriter, was given the chance to address this new sports “gatekeeper” on Bob Costas’ show Costas Now, he went on a full-fronted attack, more full of hostility and expletives than structured criticism. The only sportswriting people of his generation know is the descriptive, fluff-filled, artistic portrayal of games. The words Bissinger used to describe Deadspin’s writing were glib, profane, quick, despicable. In addressing Will Leitch, the site’s editor, he indicated he thinks Deadspin believes “facts inhibit me so I’m gonna sit in my little room and give my nebulous fan’s voice…. You are perpetuating the future, and the future in the hands of you is gonna dumb us down.”

Leitch responded by saying that a newer perspective must be understood by Bissinger’s generation, a “group of people who have been doing this a long time can say I find this palatable; I don’t find this palatable.” But they do not understand the true dynamics of the blogosphere, which Leitch referred to as a meritocracy: it is hard work to become a successful and widely read blog. Costas responded by critiquing the abusive tone of many blog posts: “the reasonable criticism is of the tone of gratuitous hotshots and mean-spirited abuse.” He believes this is leading to a “gathering storm” among sportswriters and a nervousness in facing the future.

Deadspin’s main defense was in their own tagline, “access, favor, or discretion” – with the capabilities and access that most sports media has, they would find it more difficult to respect their own  work. One Deadspin writer, AJ Daulerio, wrote “privileged sportswriters experience sports a different way than normal everyday fans” — and Deadspin hopes to preserve this voice. Leitch said “the minute I get a press pass, I start writing for the other people in the press box. I benefit by having distance… don’t owe anything to anyone but the readers.”

At the same time, though, the lack of censorship or boundaries leads to an anything-goes attitude. Football player Braylon Edwards complained about the fact that “anywhere you go, you have to be careful because people are taking pictures.” The fact that Deadspin will not hesitate to publish anything, as well as the abusive comments many readers leave, often makes for a controversial site.

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Google: Taking Over the World?

Posted by rmb287 on February 23, 2011

Vaidhyanathan argues that Google serves as a sort of controlling power over the Internet, making it safer to browse, rewarding and prioritizing well-formatted sites, and effectively cleaning it up for users. He says Google has quietly taken a governing position over the Web, and this is all for our benefit. Though advertising is its main source of income, clearly its main use is still the search engine for most people. In delivering content they have overtaken many other content providers to be one overarching source. Its becoming a software company as well adds its control over most of the steps involved in our interactions with technology. It is so powerful over any other sources of competition that it is difficult to grasp just how much control they have over the market in general.

In a way, Vaidhyanathan argues, regulation is needed to keep Google from dominating many parts of the information industry, though they argue that in the climate of the Web it shouldn’t be difficult for a new service to come along and displace them. Google cannot and should not be considered a typical “monopoly.” Google has been a leader in making search engines effective and accurate, predicting how people will enter their queries so that it can generate the most accurate responses. Because Google continues to be so good at what it does, competitors can’t manage to wrestle away users. Google collects information about its users in order to run effective advertisements, and it is there that they profit. Customization of ads from different vendors, targeted for specific people, allows them to make money from so many different sources that it adds up quickly. There are so many aspects of the process that lead to the prioritized search results that Google has control over, its method pleases everyone to a certain extent.

The concern that Google is “free riding” off of the work and content of all the Internet’s users and perhaps violating certain copyrights is a huge controversy. Reusing materials has made the original sources angry, but Google is teaming up with certain sources and it does try to make sure certain copyrights are not violated on their sites like YouTube and they do try to ensure some amount of sensitivity and protection. The “free riding” concern could become a tremendous societal issue, as more and more journalistic companies, content providers, and information distributors can take issue with the way Google takes advantage of their content. If they are unhappy with the way their content is accessed without them gaining maximal profit, the whole information exchange dynamic could be destroyed. It is difficult to figure out where society would be if this dynamic was ruined.

Google also feels a huge amount of corporate responsibility to do good things with their power. This feeds directly into their motto, “don’t be evil.” It is very careful to cover all its bases in terms of regulations and copyright rules. But it is difficult to determine just how much regulation is needed given their huge amount of control. They do know that they must take responsibility for the content that they feed to the public, and they are careful. This provides some amount of reassurance that they will find a way to balance the distribution and creation of content while still rewarding all parties involved with what is assumed they traditionally “deserve” from their efforts.

While all of what Vaidhyanathan has to say is well and good, the greatest thing I must take exception to is something that Zittrain got me thinking about it. Zittrain argued that the Internet is generative, meaning it is all up to the users to develop what becomes our Internet. The design of tools and circulation of information makes the Web a constantly-evolving place. But Vaidhyanathan’s argument places some obstacles in front of this idea. If Google has so much power as the sort of gatekeeper of all Web content, we are not as free to create or disseminate our own content. I wouldn’t necessarily say that I disagree with the idea that Google’s tools are the most oft-used and convenient, but I do think that at a certain point the users of the Web have enough control to decide what they want to be distinct or popular or important, etc.

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The Sad State of the Movie Industry

Posted by rmb287 on February 22, 2011

I came across this article by Mark Harris today that was in a way mourning the current state of the film industry. Harris mentioned something related to what we discussed in class about the economics of media and how companies try to take the easy way out to sell their products. He discussed the variety of movies that tend to get released and the way they “catch” their audiences. This is typically done by building on a concept or brand that was already seen as successful. Laziness + convenience + business savvy = easy way to net a few million dollars. Here’s a great (but sad) quote about what you can expect from the movie industry:

let’s look ahead to what’s on the menu for this year: four adaptations of comic books. One prequel to an adaptation of a comic book. One sequel to a sequel to a movie based on a toy. One sequel to a sequel to a sequel to a movie based on an amusement-park ride. One prequel to a remake. Two sequels to cartoons. One sequel to a comedy. An adaptation of a children’s book. An adaptation of a Saturday-morning cartoon. One sequel with a 4 in the title. Two sequels with a 5 in the title. One sequel that, if it were inclined to use numbers, would have to have a 7 1/2 in the title.

Read More http://www.gq.com/entertainment/movies-and-tv/201102/the-day-the-movies-died-mark-harris#ixzz1Ejk2dVB1

(p.s. don’t worry, this isn’t my official blog post for the week; just something relevant to what we’ve been discussing that I thought I’d share)

Link to the full article: http://www.gq.com/entertainment/movies-and-tv/201102/the-day-the-movies-died-mark-harris

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Class Blog: New Media and Society