The Diaspora of Hip-Hop Culture [BCM310]

For those of you are unversed in the world of Hip-Hop music, this blog post will hopefully clarify some of the unknown facts about the truly unique art form. Created in the streets of the Bronx in 1970’s through the use of sampling and cutting up old records, Hip-Hop created a rich music environment, with freedom for creative expression, often used to voice the opinion of the lowest common denominator.

Its rise to the top was something traditional musicians could never understand and soon Hip-Hop had become not only a new genre, it had become the voice of the people. Much the same way as Dylan was the voice for white America, Hip-Hop artists such as DJ Kool Herc & Coke La Rock were the voice for the African American. By the end of the 1970’s many artists saw hip hop as more than merely a platform- a way of life and a microphone for voicing their opinions. Hip-Hop had given the voiceless a megaphone and there was nothing or nobody in the way to turn it off. The spread of the Hip-Hop sound was imminent. From New York, to Paris, Tokyo, Sydney and localities in between, hip-hop cultures are Diaspora spanning ethnic, linguistic, and geographic boundaries (Motley 2008).

One key element to the culture of Hip-Hop is the ‘breaks’ dance style. How many of you would have guessed that Samoans’ were some of the first break-dancers in the world? In a reading by Henderson he examines the connection between Hip-Hop culture and the influence that the geographical positioning of Samoa and American culture. For the Samoan culture, dance had become a way to tell a story; just the same as an MC would ‘spit’ a rhymes or DJ manipulates a beat or takes you on a journey during a DJ set.

Fast-forward to the current day and the Diaspora of Hip-Hop culture is very much alive and well. With more than 50 million hip-hop fans in the United States and 100 million worldwide consume some form of hip-hop, making hip-hop consumers a lucrative market to understand (Motley 2008). Making Hip-Hop a truly global force to be reckoned with.

Here is a video I made in my first year – A minute and half look at the Diaspora of Hip-Hop Culture


References

Henderson, A.K. (2006). Dancing Between Islands: Hip-Hop and Samoan                 Diaspora. The Vinyl Ain’t Final: Hip-Hop and the Globalisation of Black Popular Culture. D. Basu and S. J. Lemelle. London, Pluto Press: 180 – 199, accessed 21st May 2014, Summons Database.

Motley, C (2008). The global hip-hop Diaspora: Understanding the culture. The Journal of Business Research. Vol 61, No 3, pp.243-253, accessed 21st May 2014, Summons Database.

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Regulators…Mount Up [DIGC335]

As the Internet continues to grow at more than one million new single pages a day, the issue of filtration of content remains an important issue in today’s modern world. Every day we leave our digital ‘footprints’ around cyberspace. These footprints, through every keystroke create a level of information that we can only being to imagine.

In this weeks discussion we examined the role of governments in ‘protecting’ users of the Internet, with some interesting conclusions. What was most interesting was the debate about the morality issue of filtering content on the Internet. With over 1.23 billion users, Facebook has fast become a presence that has bought countless morality issues into the public agenda.

“We work to foster an environment where everyone can openly discuss issues and express their views, while respecting the rights of others,” This is key statement taken from Facebook’s community standards. This community standards guide sets boundaries for content posted within Facebook and has recently been condemned for the use of use of third party, outsourced workers who have to sift through the millions of indecent material uploaded to Facebook every hour.

“They did mention that the job was not for the light of heart before hiring me,” said the moderator who quit after three weeks. “I think it’s ultimately my fault for underestimating just how disturbing it’d be.” This was a claim from a previous employee of oDesk who also described the millions of unsuitable content as “Think like that there is a sewer channel,” one moderator explained during a recent Skype chat, “and all of the mess/dirt/ waste/shit of the world flow towards you and you have to clean it.” As a user of Facebook, I know first hand some of the horrifying posts that escape the filter and couldn’t possibly even being to imagine the psychological impact that filtering this filth would have on an individual.

The right to upload content to the Internet is governed at a national level, with many Governments having different levels of control over user-generated information. In Australia our use of the World Wide Web is governed by ACMA (Australian Communications & Media Authority).

It is most interesting to note that ACMA at present is only in the business of investigating content that users deem as a breach of Internet safety, with most importance if the content is likely to harm children.

In China however, there is a level of control so powerful and precise, that content must adhere to strict Government regulations. Zhang defines these as;

  • Any information that goes against the basic principles set down in the Constitution.
  • Information that endangers national security, divulges state secrets, subverts the government, or undermines national unification.
  • Information that is detrimental to the honor and interests of the state;
  • information that disseminates rumors, disturbs social order, or undermines social stability (pp.266 2006)

As described throughout our discussion, the Internet is a “wild beast” and any attempts to filter or restrict content will always be issue high on the public agenda.

References

ACMA. (2014). Internet Regulation. Available: http://www.acma.gov.au/theACMA/About/The-ACMA-story/Regulating/internet-regulation. Last accessed 15th May 2014.

Chen, A. (2012). Inside Facebook’s Outsourced Anti-Porn and Gore Brigade, Where ‘Camel Toes’ are More Offensive Than ‘Crushed Heads’. Available: http://gawker.com/5885714/inside-facebooks-outsourced-anti-porn-and-gore-brigade-where-camel-toes-are-more-offensive-than-crushed-heads. Last accessed 15th May 2014.

Zhang, L 2006, Behind the ‘Great Firewall’: Decoding China’s Internet Media Policies from the Inside, Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, vol 12, no 271, pp.271-291, Summons Database

A Global Miss-Communication [BCM310]

Globalisation as defined by many cultural theorists can be referred to as  “the widening, deepening and speeding up of global interconnectedness”. According to Matos, globalisation is driven by communication technologies, as well as by the fact that expanding internationalism is producing more awareness about the similarities and differences between cultures and political systems (Matos, 2012). With the advancement of new media technologies, the notion of internationalism and global connectedness still remains an issue of great discussion throughout both the third and first world.

In the late 1960’s Marshall McLuhan stated that the rise of new communication technologies would culminate in the creation of a “global village”, one capable of enhancing initial understanding between people and forging new communities. This ‘global village’ as predicted by McLuhan is far from a reality. At best the introduction of new media has created an even bigger issue for media industries. Although the expansion of new technologies has had a major role in the globalisation of communication, there still remains a significant ‘digital divide’ in both the first and third worlds. Globally, there is a gaping digital divide between the ‘information rich’ and ‘information poor’. According to the latest Global Information Technology Report 2014 “Little progress is being made in bridging the digital divide between technology savvy nations and others. This stalling of progress is considered worrisome for emerging and developing nations, which are at risk of missing out on many positive impacts information and communications technologies bring, including increased innovation, economic competitiveness and greater social inclusion”.

With half the world population still to even make a phone call. Notion of “global village” still remains a distant reality. The issue of the digital divide isn’t just an international problem; it also remains an issue for many Australians. Despite an overall increase in technology access, there is evidence of a digital divide between parents’ education and job and a student’s preparedness for a digital future. With many parents reluctant to learn new technologies, there are a growing percentage of children who are failing to keep up with the demands of their digital environments. This issue if left unaddressed, could not only impact Australia socially, it could have a drastic economic impact for future generations to come.

References

Matos, C. (2012) “Mass media and globalization” in Wiley- Blackwell’s Encyclopedia of Globalization, Oxford: Wiley- Blackwell, pp.1329-1338

The Hope of Just Representation [BCM310]

Stereotype; .a fixed, over generalised belief about a particular group or class of people.” (Cardwell, 1996)

In part, stereotypes are vital for our brains as they allow us to respond rapidly to situations as we may have had a previous similar experience (McLeod, 2008). However, they also disadvantage us by makes us ignore differences between individuals; therefore we think certain aspects about a person/persons that might not be true. We create generalised perceptions of strangers based on our own learning’s, experiences and pre-conceived knowledge without even the blink of an eye. These instincts occur automatically and are most of the time help to cut down the processing time of messages in our brains.

No matter what form of media you choose to view there will be always be stereotypes. Whether it is via gender representation, ageist material or the depiction of race, the shear amount of stereotyping throughout the media landscape is highly alarming. A key example of the complex design of racial stereotypes used my media industries is the depiction of Muslim/Islamic culture throughout both television and film. Alsultany calls these “simplified complex representations” These are strategies used by television producers, writers, and directors to give the impression that the depictions they are producing are complex, yet they do so in a simplified way (2013, pp.165). These representations often challenge or complicate earlier stereotypes yet contribute to a multicultural or post-race illusion.

The question begs. If stereotypes are an automatic response by the brain based on our learning environment, can we change our perceptions of a specific race through channelling positive thoughts to combat what was previously once learned?

According to Brain Lowery, Associate Professor at the Stanford Business School, racial stereotypes can be reversible through the use of positive role models. This is exactly what a group of young educated African American teens are aiming to do through the use of social media. The group created a YouTube clip that portrays the average young African American male with strong moral values, a position that many media channels often are remiss to show. The group created the viral video as a response to the negative stories told daily in the media around their culture. “They don’t tell the full story about how young Black men are becoming leaders within our community schools.”

As use of technology grows across the globe, we should all remain hopeful that the use of new media could better provide a voice to those who wish to change the negative perceptions associated with the colour of their skin.

References

Cardwell M 1996, Dictionary of Psychology. Chicago IL, Dearborn.

Alsultany, E 2013, Arabs and Muslims in the Media after 9/11: Representational Strategies for a “Postrace” Era, American Quarterly, vol 65, no 1, pp. 161-167, accessed 6th May 2014, Summons Database.

McLeod, S 2008, Stereotypes, http://www.simplypsychology.org/katz-braly.html, last accessed 6th May 2014.

You’re Fired [DIGC335]

The trend towards a participatory culture has not only changed the way in which we interact with close relationships such as friends and family, it has also modified the workplace environment. What was once considered as just a small part of a companies’ technology policy, the growing trend for businesses to use social media has now reconfigured the role of both employer and employee. As Howard states this emergence of this sort of participatory or “self- produced media” has created both new opportunities and new problems for researchers of rhetoric and communication (2008, pp.491).

Across businesses nationally and internationally, the methods surrounding how businesses use social media has become an increasingly contentious issue, with many companies creating their own agendas for social media platforms. As a third year marketing student a key component of any product marketing involves the strategic use of social media. With eight of ten consumers making-purchasing decisions based on their interactions with social media, the need for a positive approach is vital for the success of any new or existing product.

However, we must also examine the idea of participatory culture and the negative impact that social media can have within the business environment. As all workers will attest, the end of a stressful day can often lead to frustrations about our workplace environment or our fellow employees. At times most have all said comments that were simply just ‘letting off steam’. Well for those who post these comments on social media, you may find yourself jobless and facing a lengthy arbitration hearing based on your actions. In the Fair Trading hearing between Linfox Australia Pty Ltd and Mr.Greg Stutsel, the defendant was successful in his bid to be reinstated by the company, complete with back payments owed due to his unfair dismissal.

With the issue of free speech high on the media’s agenda the rights of individuals to protect their own thoughts and opinions has never been more important. As users of social media we should all be aware of the ramifications of our actions. In an article by Tim Wilson of WA Today “Free speech, the public service and civilising behaviour”, he points out “Defending the universal human right of free speech is about the legal limits of speech. It is about when the law stops someone expressing his or her view. It is not about voluntary conditions we accept when we take employment. Conditions that are entered into through employment are not the same as the law” (Wilson, 2014).

This is something that I believe many workers are unaware of. The instrument we should all be using is our moral compass. After all, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t broadcast it into cyberspace.

References

Campbell T 2014, Linfox Australia Pty Ltd vs Mr. Greg Stutsel 2012 FWAFB 7097, http://www.my-workforce.com.au/legal-cases/linfox-australia-pty-ltd-v-glen-stutsel-2012-fwafb-7097, last accessed 5th May 2014.

Howard, G R 2008, The Vernacular Web of Participatory Media, Critical Studies in Media Communication, vol 25, no 5, pp.490-513, last accessed 5th May 2014, Summons Database.

Wilson, T 2014, Free speech, the public service and civilising behaviour, http://www.watoday.com.au/comment/free-speech-the-public-service-and-civilising-behaviour-20140408-zqs2t.html, last accessed 5th May 2014.

An Age of Cyber Enthusiasm & Scepticism [DIGC335]

Social Media. Most of us all use it in one way or another. Whether it is communicating with those long lost friends overseas, connecting with our current peer groups to organise group assignments or simply to gain some insight into someone’s life. It is a digital technology that has in part revolutionised the way in which we communicate.

Most notably though the media’s main focus has been on social media’s powerful ability to assist those seeking democratic change and the fight for the freedoms that they so dearly deserve. The intense media scrutiny on social media is highly unsurprising. The uses of certain technologies such as Twitter and Facebook have been linked as the key reasons for the demise of some of the world’s most benevolent dictators.

Wolfsfeld, Segev & Sheafer’s article introduces us to the idea of ‘cyber-enthusiasts’ & ‘cyber skeptics’ (2013, pg.117). In one-corner cyber-enthusiasts express optimism about the ability of the new media to empower people living in nondemocratic societies and to allow insurgents to adopt new strategies. In the opposing corner cyber skeptics downplay the significance of new technology, arguing that the Internet gives people a false sense of participation and keeps them from actually physically protesting.

Whether you sit on either side of the fence doesn’t matter. What is most important to us all is the ability of the Internet to share information. Newsom and Lengel argue that this is the key reason for the value of information is often mediated by historically powerful entities, though social media can sometimes change that hierarchy (2012, pg.38). However they also argue that the metanarrative structures of social media also act in the same role as the gatekeepers of that historical power.

As I currently browse through my social media platforms I am bombarded by friends and groups asking me to sign up for ‘this’ program or register for ‘that’ petition. Although I am highly unlikely to ever choose either, according to Charles, whilst most still do not participate, they are changed by the fact that they can (WordPress, 2013). User empowerment and a greater understanding of social media has led to the redesign of social activism and a brighter future for generations to come.

References
Charles 2010, The People formally known as the audience = The Community, accessed October 10 2013, http://yousaiditblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/23/the-people-formerly-known-as-the-audience-the-community/.

Newsom, V, Lengel, L 2012, Arab Women, Social Media, and the Arab Spring: Applying the framework of digital reflexivity to analyze gender and online activism, Journal of International Women’s Studies, vol 13, no 5, pp. 31-45, accessed 1st May 2014, Summons Database.

Wolfsfeld, G, Segev, E & Sheafer, T 2013, Social Media and the Arab Spring: Politics Comes First, The International Journal of Press/Politics, vol 18, no 2, pp.115-137, accessed 1st May 2014, Summons Database.