Are We ‘Friends’ ? – [BCM240]

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The other day as I was trawling through my social media empire I can across an interesting observation. As it currently stands I have just over 300 hundred friends followers Twitter (go me!). After some thought, I decided to look at some of my tweets to my gang of followers. It was the tweets to some of my fellow peers that sparked the most interesting reflection. After all these are people that I interact with on a weekly basis, yet the line of dialogue with most stops at the keyboard. We pass in the hallways, wait patiently out the front of lecture theatres and even share the same classes together and barely a word is spoken. Yet online we share witty remarks, favourite each other’s tweets and even share content with one another.

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It seems we are all comfortable to share our thoughts and opinions within the realms of digital space, yet we are cautious to do so person to person. I know that I am just as much to blame for the lack of upward communication so in no way am I taking issue with any of my fellow peers, I am just simply making an observation.

As a strong advocate of digital media and convergence this is a very interesting topic of discussion. Has social media inhibited our ability to communicate in the real world? Now I know this is a very broad statement and many of you will be sitting down reading this and promptly answering, “No, I have many friendships outside of social media”, however I urge you to consider and re ask yourself the question.

When asked about the impact that social media was having on our ability to comfort and interact face-to-face Dr Subrahmanyam proposed, “ I don’t think that youth are giving up face to face communication” (2010, pg.12). So is all this talk of ‘backwards communication’ regarding social media just a form of moral panic?

For every negative view of social media there is an equally opposing positive opinion. Just recently I came across a news story highlighting a study conducted in the USA about the negative effect and potentially life threatening dangers that social media and digital devices can have on us as a society. Now as someone who admits to walking into several telegraph poles, people and even a parked car whilst trying to tweet, I can understand the medias concern. All jokes a side, this can actually be a very dangerous occurrence. As a society it seems as though we are all trying to stay connected at all times of the day that we are forgetting simple cognitive functions.

Lazaros, Xu and Londt state that “ Text messaging while walking is a significant area for concern. The number of text messages sent is expected to be more than 8 trillion in 2012. The dangers of multitasking have hit the streets as people are becoming involved in more accidents while walking as they text on mobile phones” (2012, pg.88). So has social media destroyed our common sense? If you listen to some media reports you will most likely think twice before sending that driving ‘Snapchat’ or whilst texting and walking (I have the bruises to prove it is a bad idea).

As for my digital friends I promise to make more of an effort to engage in conversation in the real world. Apologies to all if I open the lines of dialogue with a ‘dad joke’.

References

E J, Lazaros , R, Xu & S, Londt (2012) Using an Activity to Simulate the Dangers of Multitasking with Technology while Walking, Science Activities: Classroom Projects and Curriculum Ideas, Summons Library, accessed 31st August 2013.

K Subrahmanyam, (2010), Teens, social media, and relationships: an interview with. The Prevention Researcher, Summons Library, accessed 31st August 2013.

Media

Luke Macdonald
2nd Year Media & Communication & Commerce Student @UOW
Majoring in Digital Communication & Marketing

Good Evening & Welcome To Television – [BCM240]

We take for granted the availability of television and media in this day and age. Information readily streamed into our own homes via broadcast channels working 24/7 to keep us all abreast and informed about the goings on both locally and abroad.
After recently speaking to my Grandpa I learnt that Australia’s affinity with television hasn’t always been the same.

Meet Ross Macdonald. Recently retired, family loving man, born in the quiet suburban streets of Sydney (Concord West). Yesterday I set up a Skype conversation to recall his first memories of television, his thoughts, emotions and his views on the current landscape of Australian television. Below is an excerpt from our conversation.

Pa: “When television commenced transmission in Australia in 1956 I was just 10 years old. Regarding the viewing of television, one of the shops in the strip was an Electrical Appliance and Record store and they had one TV in the store window, which was hooked up to a speaker outside the store just under the awning.

They used to have it turned on in the evening from about 6pm (just after the pubs closed) and the locals including my Mum and Dad, together with brother Malcolm (Mal was 4 years old) and myself would gather and bond outside the shop for about one hour to watch whatever was being broadcasted.

In the very early days in Sydney there were only 3 channels i.e. ABN Channel 2, ATN Channel 7 and TCN Channel 9. Most of the day all they transmitted was a Test Pattern until about 6pm when they usually broadcast the News and a few other programmes until about 10pm when they would close with the National Anthem. Nothing that would really excite a 10 year old.

However 1956 was also the year of the of Olympic Games in Melbourne. My Dad arranged for the family to travel by train to Melbourne (travel by air was ridiculously expensive compared to today) so that we could experience this “once in a lifetime opportunity” (if only they had known what the future would bring!).
There was no need to pre-purchase tickets as you could just buy them at the gate on the day, however most of the events were either shown live or filmed (no video then) and would be on the TV later that evening. The best thing that ever happened to increase the sale of Television sets in Australia during 1956 was the Olympic Games. They were not cheap but everyone wanted one!

During the first week of the games my grandparents purchased a HMV (His Masters Voice) TV, which I suspect they probably went into some sort of a hire purchase agreement to buy. The surge in sales together with the popularity of the games changed the whole dynamics of TV programming with longer hours including movies, serials and live variety shows starting to fill the viewing hours.

This was where the real excitement of TV began for me!!! It probably also spelt the beginning of the end for the Saturday matinee at the local movie theatre since pretty much what they were showing started slowly to appear on TV. When we returned to home after the Olympic Games the pressure was on for the purchase of a TV which I think my dad held out for about another 3 years when he finally rented one. By this time the programmes would start at midday (usually with a movie) and run until midnight still finishing with the anthem”.

Taking a look at the direction television has taken today my Grandpa summed it up very nicely; “well all you have is reality programs that aren’t a true reflection of reality”. When asked about the future of Australian television his response was “I think Australian television is coming to a defining moment in its short history. Technology is easily winning the battle. Very much the same as the matinee was destroyed by television, mobile tablets and high speed Internet are destroying television”.

Again these are statement that I agree with wholeheartedly.
The boundaries between audiences and spaces are being removed. “Family bonding” as my Grandpa described it is no longer part of Australian culture. As we become more reliant on convergent media and devices, we become less reliant on spending time building relationships around us.

Does this mean that all family values are forsaken? Probably not. However Hardenbergh describes the viewing of television as a “presentational environment” (2010, pg.171). No longer do we occupy and share the same spaces to view our media. As a prime example of this fundamental shift, currently two of my housemates and myself are all watching the same program in three separate parts of the house. We have a communal lounge area with a television; however the program we are watching is easily streamed online.

Hardenbergh’s statement regarding the superiority of television “ it was the greatest mass medium” (2010, pg.171) is a bold statement of which has some merit in today’s media environment. Technologies will inevitably come and go but the legacy that a medium leaves on a generation can never be forgotten. Television changed the lives and introduced many to the world.

As for my Grandpa’s thoughts on the best show on television at the moment. “It is still the 7pm ABC News Luke”.

Some old habits will die-hard.

What are your first recollections of television? Mine are the ABC educational/ entertainment programs, of which included Lift Off. Memory lane :). Feel free to leave a comment or tweet me at fluke_aus with your favourite TV memories.

References

Hardenbergh, M. (2010). The death of television. ETC.: A Review of General Semantics, Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA240918884&v=2.1&u=uow&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w, accessed 22nd August 2013

Luke Macdonald
2nd Year Media & Communication & Commerce Student @UOW
Majoring in Digital Communication & Marketing

Knowledge is Power; Information is Liberating [DIGC202]

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In a world where we have access to an abundance of information it is interesting to learn just how vital the Internet has become in our daily lives. In particularly the search engine Google.

Last Friday for a brief period of 5 minutes the Internet’s largest search engine remained useless. Incredibly during the outage web analyst’s estimated that 40% of global traffic was lost in the 300 seconds Google was down.
GoSquare developer Simon Tabor was quoted saying “this staggering drop in usage just proves how reliant we are on Google”. If there is something we don’t know we use the decentralised network of the Internet (and in particularly Google) to inform, entertain and broaden our knowledge and experience.

Mark Deuze, Professor of Media Studies at the University of Indiana states “In the world of knowledge and information work the dominant presence of Internet and other networked media cannot be ignored” (2006, pg.12) . Whether you are simply searching for a YouTube video to learn how to change a car tyre or researching for an academic paper, knowledge is knowledge, no matter how complex the activity.

This again relates back to the notion of the flow of information. No longer do we live in an era reliant on industrial work whereby work is to the rhythm of machines. We live in era where knowledge work is set by the flow of information.

Bradwell affirms the change between the industrial and knowledge work sectors stating, “Knowledge-based services grew 177 per cent between 1995 and 2005, compared with 52 per cent for non-knowledge-based services” (2008, pg.25). A dramatic trend that has continued to strengthen as International economies become intertwined, technologies become faster and networks become further decentralised.
We have moved away from an industrial age of which was once built on strength, dexterities and entities and transcended into an information age that is reliant on the concepts of power, creativity and relationships.

In an interview at the G8 Innovation Conference, British Prime Minister David Cameron stated in reference to the Digital Britain Report; “More than any time in history our world is being shaped by innovation, new ideas, new technologies and new companies. This is the story of the global economy… A global race is underway and it is waiting for absolutely no one.”

These innovative ideas have seen the creation of monolithic platforms that have forever changed the world. Dueze proclaims “The most successful businesses on the internet – like eBay, Yahoo, Google, and Amazon – share one fundamental characteristic: the product these companies deliver is connectivity, bringing people together to trade, communicate, interact and exchange knowledge, information, goods, and services” (2008, pg.36).

As the debate concerning censorship and governmental control of the Internet continues to put pressure on users, the whole argument supported by world leaders feels like an oxymoron. On one hand governments want us all to embrace the digital age, convergence and the knowledge economy. On the other, they (governments) want us all to adhere to their policies that effectively abolish creativity and network construction.

In a recent post I was all for the censorship of the Internet. After this weeks week’s readings and lecture I am not so sure.

What are your thoughts regarding the industrial vs. information debate? Comment below or tweet me at @fluke_aus.

References

Bradwell, P & Reeves, R 2008, Network Citizens, Power & Responsibility at Work, accessed, UOW DIGC202 Moodle site

Deuze, M 2006, Liquid Life, Convergence Culture and Media Work, accessed 21/08/13, UOW DIGC202 Moodle site

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Luke Macdonald
2nd Year Media & Communication & Commerce Student @UOW
Majoring in Digital Communication & Marketing

Cinema Experience – Streetfighter Style [BCM240]

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Today I sat down with one of my regular customers at work to discuss his recollections of his first cinema experience. His name is Brett Pierce. 47 years of age and a painter by trade, Brett’s favourite activities include ‘punting’ and consuming large quantities of his beverage of choice, which is the delightful repulsive amber fluid many Australian males (and females) refer to as VB.
Born and raised in the leafy eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Brett recalls his first memories of film and the excitement that entailed from the trip to the cinemas as a young boy.

Brett: “My first experience at the movies was as an eleven year old going to see the Charlie Bronson movie The Streetfighter with a friend of mine and his mother. It was an exciting time as this was the first time I had been in the city of Melbourne unsupervised by an adult as my friends mother had dropped us off at the cinema and went shopping, telling us that we would meet back up at a certain time to see the film.

The movie was great and remains one of favorites till this day. Over the years I must have seen it over twenty times and it reminds me of that period of my life”.

Brett’s first memories of cinema very much mirror my own. A young male with his mates allowed on an adventure in an unknown environment. The energy and excitement of the event, all most too much to bare. The chemical reactions occurring through sugar stimulation and the brief freedoms entailed add another layer to the ingrained memory of my first cinematic experience.

During our brief chat I could see Brett’s joy that came from sharing this experience with me. The smile, the laughter and the tone in his voice all strengthened as he shared each word. His thoughts transported back in time.

He continued his story with two anecdotes about a run in with the ‘boys in blue’ and a conversation he had with one of Australia’s (he is actually a Kiwi but we are blessed to claim him ours) most prestigious actor Russell Crowe.

Brett: “A funny thing happened when we were crossing the road to meet my friend’s mother in the park. A police on horseback was in the distance and my cheeky mate flipped him “the bird”. The copper rode up very unpleased and tore strips off the both of us. I imagined getting locked up and having to explain the incident to my father”.

Brett’s memory of the incident, to me highlights the incredible role of memory recall and the connection it has when discussing media and audiences.

After a few more complimentary beverages Brett told me about the time he introduced Russell Crowe to his favourite film of all time.

Brett: “Years later I was amazed that I was working at Russell Crowe’s apartment and told him about the film The Streetfighter and that he had never seen it before. This was just before he was set to start shooting for the film Cinderalla Man so I bought him a copy of it on DVD, and gave it to him before he left. Still to this day I am wondering whether he liked it as much as I did”.

In an age where we are spoilt for choice when it comes to media, this simple chat discussing cinematic experiences with a fellow human being makes me a little fearful that the connection and memories that are created by cinema are slowly dying.

In 20 to 30 years time in the BCM240 class of 2043 a student is asked to do the same task we are doing this week the answer could just well be.

Student: “What are you first experiences of going to the cinema?”

Respondent: Cinema? (Sighs deeply), “Haven’t you heard of the Pirate Bay”.

Noooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!

What are your first cinematic experiences? Feel free to comment below or tweet me at – @fluke_aus.

Luke Macdonald
2nd Year Media & Communication & Commerce Student @UOW
Majoring in Digital Communication & Marketing

Define: Soon? [DIGC202]

 

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“We will create a civilisation of the Mind in Cyberspace. May it be more humane and fair than the world your governments have made before”. This is the closing statement by John Barlow who wrote the Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace just over 17 years ago, which calls on all users of the Cyberspace to rally against the oppressive forces of governments and the industrial world to leave their legislative control and powers to convict away from the digital construction of Cyberspace.

Take a moment to think back 17 years ago. How old were you and what were your first recollections of the Internet? I myself was nine years old. John Howard had just been sworn in as Australia’s 25th Prime Minister and a Spanish pop group by the name of Los Del Rio were at the top the charts with their global smash hit ‘The Macarena’. At this age very little thought had been given to my legal rights concerning the Internet. However, within the next 10 years that was about to change.

Barlow states in his declaration that “In the United States, you have today created a law, the Telecommunications Reform Act, which repudiates your own Constitution and insults the dreams of Jefferson, Washington, Mill, Madison, DeToqueville, and Brandeis”. Today there are event more legislative controls regarding the Internet and Cyberspace. In America alone these are the Acts that control the freedoms of over 500 million users.

  • Cybersecurity Act 2012. Which maintains the integrity, confidentiality and availability of information shared across the Internet & Cyberspace.
  • Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (H.R. 624), which focuses onInformation sharing and coordination, including sharing of classified information
  • Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2013 (H.R. 756), which addresses federal R&D in networking and information technology, including but not limited to security
  • Development Act of 2013 (H.R. 967), which addresses R&D in networking and information technology, including but not limited to security; and Federal Information Security

It is interesting to learn that there are more bills that are being considered by the US government concerning the regulation of the Internet. In fact, of recent time there have been more bills passed by the Obama government regarding Cybersecurity than any other US President.

Barlow references these acts of legislation as ‘guard posts’ and claims ‘they will not work in a world that will soon be blanketed in bit-bearing media”. Now 17 years on from the declaration I am beginning to wonder what Mr Barlow’s definition of ‘soon’ may be.

Margaret Chon, professor from Seattle University School of Law states “almost every area of law that touches cyberspace is forced into the consideration of first principles. Just because familiar boundaries have dissolved does not mean that there are no boundaries in cyberspace”.

This is just a brief explanation of American legislation. Across the globe and even here in Australia governments are trying their best to control the realm of the Internet and Cyberspace. In 2011 Australia introduced the Cybercrime Legislation Amendment, which now enables greater enforcement of Cybercrimes and brings our laws up to standard along side 100 other nations who have also signed the Convention on Cybercrime.

17 years on Barlow’s thoughts and dreams either seem to be shattered or remain on hold. As technologies advance, so to does the legislative control of governments. The strange thing is our Cyberliberties are at stake and hardly anybody knows about it.

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What are you thoughts regarding your Cyberliberties? Are you pro or against the controls of government? Feel free to comment below or tweet me at @fluke_aus.

References

Barlow, J.P, 1996, The Declaration of Cyberspace. Available: https://projects.eff.org/~barlow/Declaration-Final.html, Last accessed 14th Aug 2013.

Congressional Research Service, 2013. Federal Laws Relating to Cybersecurity. Available: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R42114.pdf, Last accessed 14th Aug 2013.

Legalese, 1999. Learning Cyberlaw in Cyberspace. Available: http://www.cyberspacelaw.org/modules.html, Last accessed 14th Aug 2013.

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Luke Macdonald
2nd Year Media & Communication & Commerce Student @UOW
Majoring in Digital Communication & Marketing

Don’t Stand So Close To Me [BCM240]


sting and the police

Pretty sure that Mr. Sumner (aka Sting) and his rocking band The Police best described their desire for personal space when they wrote their 1980’s hit song Don’t Stand So Close To Me. For those of you who haven’t heard this piece of lyrical genius a link has been included for your listening pleasure.

We all have been accused of it from time to time and people may do the same thing to us regularly. Yes fellow people of the Internet I am talking about personal space. It is that invisible boundary of comfort that seems to be encroached by strangers and even your own friends and family when you least expect it.

It is always the same scenario. You’re just minding your own business, not bothering anyone when someone comes to sit in the chair next to you when there is a thousand other empty chairs in the lecture theatre. It just isn’t necessary. Out of obligation to be an upstanding citizen you grimace, breathe deeply and continue to take your notes.

This week’s lecture and tutorial were both about defining what is private and public space. One point that was made in the lecture is the idea that public versus private spaces is ‘consistently disrupted’ by new media technologies. In an article I found this morning on Mashable ‘Social Media Couples’ I was completely confused by this new trend that has been emerging throughout social media.

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Yes people, couples aren’t satisfied by vowing their lives to one another, they now must share their social media profiles as well. Call me a cynic, but surely this could only end in disaster.

The article states that “couples are foregoing social media independence and merging their accounts in order to feel closer to one another”. To me this idea seems like an invasion of personal space. If Facebook or any other social media platform wanted us to have joint accounts with our significant other, wouldn’t that have been an option when we subscribed? In today’s digital society a Facebook account to those who are immersed in digital technology is considered a valuable source of personal identification. Your own sanctity to post content that has relevance to your thoughts and ideas. It is your own personal space. Although most technological theorists would argue that by no means is Facebook a private space on the Internet, psychologically it is to us. Our own wall, photos and any other content we wish to post are exclusive to us or to anyone who wish to share it with.

So next time you are having the ‘let’s create a joint social media page’ chat to your ‘wifey’ or ‘boyfy’ take a second to think about your definition of personal and private space. If your still undecided check out Buzz Feeds ’23 Reasons Why Facebook Couples Are The Worst’.

If anyone does know of couples that have joint social media pages feel free to share your thoughts with me on Twitter or leave a comment on this post.
Tweet me at @fluke_aus.

Luke Macdonald
2nd Year Media & Communication & Commerce Student @UOW
Majoring in Digital Communication & Marketing

The Network Society [DIGC202]

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The Tron Network [2010]

There can be no denying that we all live our lives through networks. We network with friends, peers and even our own families on a day to day basis. They are intrinsically created, almost subconsciously. Without the practice of networking we simply couldn’t achieve the feats society has achieved today. I am reminded by an old aphorism that my Dad used to say to me on many occasions which was, “many hands, make light work“. Although this aphorism is a very simplistic view of network creation, It reminds us that if we all work together we can achieve greatness.

However Castell’s asks us to take an expansive view of the creation of networks and they role that microelectronics and software based communication systems have within our technologically driven society. He lists six main points of interest in his article, one of which is his interest in the debate of media spaces.

Castell’s describes the effect of media and networks as “The elasticity and interactivity of the media hypertext, its recombinant power, provide the media space with infinite capacity to integrate and to exclude, thus defining the boundaries of society in the material world of our minds and representations” (2004, pg. 223).

Like it or not, media networks define who we are and have the power to define the boundaries in the world we live in. Take for example the role of this WordPress blog for my educational studies. It is only bound by the limitations and the digital space provided by the owner of WordPress. If placed within another network with a greater credibility and a larger audience, new limitations and boundaries are created within the mediated space.

Castell’s argument that “n
etworks matter because they are the underlying structure of our lives” (2004, pg. 224) is a very profound statement, yet can be justified by taking a moment to think about your current actions whilst reading this post.

How many networks are you connected to whilst reading this sentence? At the time of writing, I counted four.

So is it the networks that have the power or the people within the network? Who governs these networks and what are the implications for the Internet, Cyberspace and the future of communications? The debate surrounding Internet censorship is a deep and dark wormhole of discussion and is something that almost sounds like an argument that could continue forever.

References

Castells 2004, Why Networks Matter, accessed 2nd August 2013, http://www.demos.co.uk/files/File/networklogic17castells.pdf

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Luke Macdonald
2nd Year Media & Communication & Commerce Student @UOW
Majoring in Digital Communication & Marketing