Reflection – [BCM240]

Across the first ten-week period of my Media, Audience & Place subject students were encouraged to post relevant pieces that were connected to the topic/s covered each week. This meant listening, researching and learning the materials on our own terms. Putting the onus on the student to further develop their understanding on how different media has impacted our relationships and behaviours as audiences over the space of time. Too some, this seemed like an arduous task. Having to blog on a weekly basis doesn’t seem like a constructive way to learn the course material. However, I am a big advocate of the blogging component of the course. Not only does it motivate you to find further relevant sources to add to your arguments it forces you to give an opinion and be interested. For those who had previously completed other BCM subjects, the course at times and the topics did feel a little too familiar yet, as someone who learns through the power of repetition revisiting the issues of copyright and media technologies further broadened my opinion and scope on the issue. As blogging creates and facilitates student interaction through commenting, the help of my peers and their own opinions on each week’s topic/s further improved my knowledge.

As a collective it would be fair to say that the engagement between students throughout the blogging period would be considerably low. At the start of the subject many were tweeting and commenting on each other’s blogs, some at great length. Towards the end of the task, as work loads from other subjects increased and involvement dropped off, the commenting component of the course became less of a tool for further engaging in the materials and more of a weekly chore. However, there were some students that saw this as an opportunity to discuss their thoughts on each week’s topics and also deliver praise to those who put in the effort to keep up with the materials each week.

I will be the first to admit that each week I have sat at my desk, starring blankly into my computer screen wondering what to write about. Do I write something that has some relevance to the topic, yet takes another the issue in a different direction? Should I write something informational? Something witty? Eventually my fingers hit the keyboard and I have found myself in the ‘long tail’ of the Internet. Searching through countless stories, journal articles and literature all relevant to this week’s topic/s. This exploration of the Internet is what makes blogging so beneficial to the BCM experience. Blogging allows students the chance to incorporate their own ideas and lifestyle into the topics to further create an understanding of the course materials. From discussing relevant examples of media past and present, students are actively engaged and communicating their thoughts, opinions and personal experiences. As convergent media platforms such as WordPress allow our student blogs to be seen by global audiences, I was pleased to discover just how far and wide my thoughts and opinions had travelled across the globe.

After reviewing my blogging statistics I was personally surprised by the amount of global attention my blog had received from countries in both Asia and Europe. As much as I would like to contribute this to my writing style I am certain that it has to do with a few key blogging components such as tagging relevant topics and categorising the related posts.

StatsThe image above further proves that although many of believe that we are only writing these blogs to either assist other students or pass the subject, our posts, through the power of the Internet are being read in the homes, schools, workplaces and universities across the globe. As a mature age student, to think that two years ago I was stuck in my nine to five job, hatting my life and now not only do I have a collective of supportive peers contributing to my work, I also have have people engaging in my opinions from all corners of the globe [sight exaggeration].

After nine weeks of deciphering topics, talking to others in my life about their experiences with media and examining the role that media plays within my own life I have come up with this conclusion. No matter how much I think I may know about an issue or topic, I have barely scratched the surface. Media is such an intrinsic part of our lives that to try and define it in nine weeks seems almost laughable. As technologies advance and we continue through the information age the ways in which we develop, learn and interact with media are frequently changing. The need for greater understanding into the concepts and theories of media creation will always remain a constant and vital aspect to the future development of media practices.

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

Transcending Television: Public Media Screens – [BCM240]

As we continue to move forward through the information age and technologies become faster, smarter and cheaper to produce, so too does the number of public media screens that consume our attention on a daily basis. Everywhere you look, it seems as though, what was once just an activity confined to one room of a house or shop front, has now become a social norm amongst society.
Since the 1980s, the rollout of digital networks, the proliferation of mobile phones and the installation of large electronic screens in urban centres have created novel forms of mediated interaction within the public sphere (Maguire, 2009). From creative advertising to simplest forms of delivering information, public screens have fast become increasingly relevant amongst society. As I walk through the city centre of Wollongong, I am bombarded with screens all trying to capture my attention. From ads selling big and expensive high involvement products to even the smallest screens directing citizens to the nearest railway station. Public screens occupy each end of the spectrum.

It was interesting to note that although there were countless media screens bombarding my brain trying to cause a sensory overload, very few of them actually received my full attention. Although I have never visited the media screen spectacles of New York’s Time Square or Tokyo’s Shibuya, these two places typify how powerful media screens in public places can be. If you were to recount a list of landmarks that you wish to see in New York, Time Square with its monumental media displays would be as equally as high on the list as Madison Square Garden. These electronic screens have been used to extend and amplify the notion of the urban spectacle. We are all so immersed with content on televisions and media devices in our homes that we just accept that the spectacle will spill out into every aspect of our lives.

For some the proliferation of media screens throughout society can be seen to increase social engagement.

At present count my work place contains 42 television screens broadcasting a comprehensive array of sporting events, gambling advertising and club promotions. However, at 5:30pm Monday to Friday the main media screens are all tuned into one station to watch the Channel 9 game show, Millionaire Hotseat. Club members (mostly 55 to 90 year old males) gather around their tables enjoying a few brews after a hard days work to sit and analyse as a collective, which answer it could be. To some this could be seen as a very uninteresting aspect of work life however, the way in which each question stimulates social interaction and generates discussion about issues within the public sphere is a very interesting occurrence. At 6pm the news is shown, generating more debate and conjecture. In its simplest form this form of social interaction through public media screens, to those who are seeking social interaction at the last half of the ‘innings’ is priceless.

Here are a few example of media screens that I took around my workplace. As you can see the gambling industry has capitalised on the shift towards the proliferation of media screens and media content.

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

The True Success of Twitter – [DIGC202]

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As an avid lover of the social media platform Twitter my fascination stems from the social nature of the media platform. For those of you who unaware or blatantly ignoring the social media, Twitter is an online social media platform that allows users to aggregate, discuss and share news/entertainment and basically any content through a user name identity, using 140 characters or less. From posting tweets about your thoughts on your latest album purchase, to discovering vital information and statistics about the recent government elections, Twitter has all bases covered.
The success of the platform lies in how content is aggregated and filtered by the actions of its audience. Although each separate tweet may seem irrelevant to the discussion, Johnson (Time, 2009) believes that Injecting Twitter into the conversation fundamentally changed the rules of engagement. Users are given the power of social networks, live searching and link sharing which enables the processing of information and ideas at a much faster rate than that of Google’s searching abilities. As technologies continue to push the boundaries of social interaction, the question raised by convergence experts is “Will Twitter Survive?”

With the company set to become a public offering in the near future, many are asking how much growth and space does the platform have to offer? Looking back at the history of the platform may just provide the answer to this question.

From the early onset of the birth of Twitter users have been shaping and redefining the platforms role in society. From creating conversations by using the ‘@’ symbol throughout tweets, to aggregating discussion by using hash-tags (#) user involvement and creativity has spawned the dynamic platform we all use today.
Industry experts believe that the future success of Twitter lies within the advertising revenue it can produce as it moves from a niche to mainstream media outlet. With over 250 million active users, Twitter has fast become one of the world’s leading data collectors. Using the social media business model (you’re not the customer, you’re the product) the platform has essentially turned the art of socialising online into a multi billion dollar advertising aggregation machine.

As with many social media platforms the success of the product isn’t measured by the opportunities of social interaction, it measured on power, wealth and greed.
As powerful as social media platforms are in destabilising corrupt governments and changing political landscapes it seems as though the only true measure of the success and future of social media lies within how much information they can extract from our day-to-day conversations. An interesting thought to reflect on next time you are browsing your Twitter feed.

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References

Johnson, S. (2009). How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live, Moodle Database, accessed 18th September 2013, https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/94787/mod_resource/content/1/Johnson%20-%20How%20twitter%20will%20change.pdf

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

 

The Long Tail to Success – [DIGC202]

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The emergence of digital retail networks has seen a structural change in the distribution markets for cultural goods (Benghozi, pg.43). As the music industry comes to terms with this movement, many bands/artists are revelling in the social/entertainment aspect of their craft. As mentioned in previous posts the goals and motivations of real musician’s aren’t stardom or notoriety. They are simply learning, practicing and sharing their passion for the art.
Whilst many of the major record labels ‘scratch their head’ at the distribution methods of independent artists, it seems as though the independent labels are beginning to understand the value between abundance and scarcity economics.

As music as digital product enjoys an almost zero cost of production and distribution, many artists are profiting through live performance. Various artists and bands are seeing the value of creating scarcity in their products. By giving away their music and content, many fans are repaying the generosity through record numbers at live shows and festivals globally.

By realizing the scarcity of live performances versus the abundant nature of digital downloads, many artists and bands are not only fulfilling their dreams and aspirations on a weekly basis, they are profiting from the new structured business model.
As a music lover, my biggest monthly outlay for music content is the purchasing of concert or festival tickets. As a consumer I am always grateful for the kindness of artists who wish to share their tracks at little to no cost. Anderson states “ In an era when digital products are commodities, there’s a premium on experience”. It is through this experience that scarcity is born.

A survey conducted by Tourfilter (an application for iPhone and Android that notifies you of artists/bands touring in your area) highlights the true extent of the ‘long tail’ of the music industry. For those unacquainted with Chris Anderson’s theory here is basic info-graphic to explain his philosophy.


The study concluded that only 22 of the 13,000+ bands were tracked by 1% of the user database. The acts included the likes of The Arcade Fire, Sigur Ros and Radiohead. The survey concluded by stating Most of the people out seeing music on any given night in America were seeing long tail bands.

As content continues to be delivered online the need for aggregation has become vital for the success of both amateur and professional artists alike.
Bandcamp is a company that offers artists the ability to manage social media profiles and structure the pricing of their content based on their own values rather than the highly priced iTunes-scaling model. At present, most of the content is valued at ‘nominate your own price’. It is this new model which allows artists the ability to organise their own recordings, promote them on Twitter, Facebook and SoundCloud, sell them via Bandcamp, and generally take care of the promotional aspects, once reserved for band managers and music labels. It is this disintermediation that allows artists full control of their own works.

References

Benghozi, PJ, Françoise, B. (2010). The long tail: myth or reality?.International Journal of Arts Management. 12 (3), 43-53.

Images

 http://crossoverhealth.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/long-tail1.png

Here is a plug to one of my favourite artists using Bandcamp at the moment.

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

Chillin’ At The Altar Of Convergence – [DIGC202]

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As we advance through digital age, the role of convergence has become far greater than we could ever have imagined. It has provided us with a more efficient and effective way to create, communicate and distribute content with all most endless possibilities.
The term “convergence describes the flow of content across multiple media technologies” (2006, pg.1). Generically speaking, Jenkins describes convergence as a place “where new and old media collide” (2006, pg.2). Digital convergence is seeing a shift in the way we value digital content. It is powering social evolution, aiding creativity and the idea of a “read-write” (Lessig, 2007) culture and most importantly, creating technologies that have the ability to change the world.

Convergence allows audiences to play a significant role in the creation of digital content. The audience is transformed into an integral part of the technology and the catalyst for a more dynamic media platform. As a music producer convergence has not only enhanced my tools for creativity, it has created an economically sound way to deliver content.
Considering SoundCloud, convergence removes the monolithic structures of music distribution replacing it with a dialogic structure that allows the consumer to be apart of the collaborative production process, distribution and consumption of media content. In-tern this creates active communities that facilitates social awareness. This is terribly problematic for industries as convergence negates the need for gatekeepers and control. For decades, electronic music was known as an expensive art form but the door is now open to “academics and professionals, hobbyists and chancers” (Battle, 2012). This is no longer a point of difference with the help of convergence.
“In a world where media is global, social, ubiquitous and cheap” the ability for users to publish their ideas has never been more efficient. Convergence makes things easier. Audiences can create, share and communicate together on a global scale without the negative limitations of inflated costs of production and control from industries.

Because the power of convergence creates a participatory culture, we must consider the role of the user and the advantages and disadvantages of digital media. We must also examine to which extent social networking sites have enhanced the ‘‘do-it-yourself attitude to music promotion and distribution” (Paschal, pg. 13, 2011).
Oasis front man Noel Gallagher believes that the way we consume media has changed profoundly. We no longer consume content on physical mediums such as compact disks (random) or vinyl (sequential) and instead, prefer the convenience of digital downloads (hypertext).
As a lover of music I for one would would argue that there is still a place for each medium, it just dependant  on the attitudes of the audience. For those who love the nostalgic value of dropping a their favourite vinyl onto a turntable or others who simply prefer online music streaming services such as Spotify, there is a medium for every audience.

References

Battle L, (2012) “The Shape of Sounds to come”, The Financial Times Limited, London

Jenkins, H. (2006). “Worship at the altar of convergence”: A new paradigm for understanding media change. In H. Jenkins, Convergence culture: Where old and new media collide (pp 1-24). New York: New York University Press

Lessig , 2007, The Law is Strangling Creativity – TED, accessed 22/05/2012, http://www.ted.com/talks/larry_lessig_says_the_law_is_strangling_creativity.html

Paschal P, Rogers, J, (2011) “Social networks, legal innovations and the “new” music industry”, info, Vol. 13 Issue: 6, pg.13, Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Convergence – Music – Amazingness

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

I’m Your F.A.N – [BCM240]

When you think about fan culture you are immediately drawn to remember those peers you went to high school with. The one’s that dressed up as their favourite characters, collected all the books, DVD’s and what ever remaining merchandise that had their favourite characters emblazoned upon it. Having been at high school from the early half of the ‘naughties’, I remember the biggest trend that drew a tremendous amount of fanfare was the Harry Potter craze. Students and staff alike were not only engaging in talking about the series, it had almost become a part of our curriculum.
Just as the Harry Potter obsession raged through my school, the history of fan culture has a long and interesting story. In particular the early nineteen seventies ‘doowop’ rock and roll era. For those of you who are unaware of what a fanzine is, it is a publication put together by fans of a particular interest.
Prutner explains, that at the beginning of the 1970’s the fanzines were created “to meet the needs of the fans of music that were not being expressed by mainstream media” (1997, pg.11). “They created the magazines because the real story of rock and roll wasn’t being told” (1997, pg.11). Again in the early 90’s grunge era, fans were creating their own publications to tell their stories about the artists and bands they admired.

Fast-forward to today’s current fan culture and you will find the same publications with one exception. They are now digital, with content strewn throughout blogs, Facebook fan pages, aggregated story telling domains and devoted fan websites. If there are dedicated fans, you can be assured to find related content on the Internet.
Pearson states “The digital revolution has had a profound impact upon fandom, empowering and disempowering, blurring the lines between producers and consumers, creating symbiotic relationships between powerful corporations and individual fans, and giving rise to new forms of cultural production” (2010, pg.84).

However, what the Internet giveth, the Internet taketh away”.
Jenkins reminds us “The differences between the ways corporations and fans understand the value of grassroots creativity has never been clearer”. As always at the heart of the debate is the economic value of fan works. Should the incredibly talented authors/illustrators and lovers of a particular show/film/artists have to pay royalties to the creators of the original works? After all these are adaptations of story lines created by someone else. As Jenkins points out in the article above, most fan fiction is “a labour of love; they operate in a gift economy and are given freely to other fans who share their passion for these characters”.

Until media industries begin to see the real value of user generated content, the debate about copyright and fan fiction is sure to be a point of great interest through many eras One Direction, Miley Cirus to come.

References

Pearson, R 2010, ‘Fandom in the Digital Era, Popular Communication: The International Journal of Media and Culture, Summons Database, viewed 5 September 2013.

Pruter, R 1997, ‘A history of Doowop fanzines’, Popular Music & Society, 21, 1, p. 11, Humanities International Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 5 September 2013.

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

Trouble In Harlem – [DIGC202]

It is undoubtedly one of the most popular songs of 2013. Its catchy hook and verse had everybody shaking their bodies in a cataclysmic state. Constructed in the grimy bedroom of a young music producer from New York City, the track has gone on to claim top 10 successes in over 25 countries and even won the prestigious ‘Dance Track of the Year’ at the 2013 Billboard Music Awards. Any guesses? If you said the Harlem Shake give yourself a pat on the back or some ‘Free Internets’.

The young upstart that combined hypnotic bass music with the vocals of an old reggaeton vocal sample goes by the name of Baauer.

As it stands the track was released by the Mad Decent label on the 22nd of May 2012 but wouldn’t receive extreme notoriety until late February 2013 when it started its viral global rampage. I am sure you can all remember the hilarious scenarios that the song was used as the backdrop for. There wasn’t a day through the whole of March where my Facebook news feed was cluttered with people’s attempts to create the craziest dance moves ever.

It is interesting to note that as it stands Baauer is currently being sued by two parties who both claim that he used unlicensed sample to create his no 1 smash hit. What is even more interesting is that the parasites gentlemen are suing for a sample used that is less than 3 seconds in length. According to the New York Times “reggaeton-artist-turned-evangelical-preacher Hector Delgado and Philadelphia rapper Jayson Musson both claim that the song samples their vocals without permission and they are now seeking compensation. “It’s almost like they came on my land and built a house.”
As a young music producer I find these comments are incredibly unjustified. These two musicians are well within their rights to sue for damages and royalties. My question to them is would they have sued if the song had remained an underground trap anthem and not reached the viral popularity that the track created? The answer to this question is a resounding No! The cruel nature of music copyright legislation deems this use of unlicensed sampling as a breach of intellectual property rights.

Legislation such as SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) inhibit the natural evolution of learning. To understand and develop your craft you must use the content of others to appreciate and construct your own ideas, strengths and weaknesses. As for the Harlem Shake case study Baauer has openly said himself that he never imagined to success the song would actually have.
Baauer is 24 years of age. He, much like myself has grown up in a technology driven economy whereby the Internet has given us the every opportunity to unlock our creative potential. We can edit tracks, post them on SoundCloud, receive real time advice and suggestions from those alike, stream new music content, cut, paste and sample to our hearts content. The only catch is if you create a global dance floor destroyer make sure you keep it to yourself.

Sounds incredibly senseless doesn’t it?

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