The Power of Free Press – [DIGC202]

When I think of the word “hacker” I am automatically reminded of a group of youths at my local high school that used to claim they had infiltrated government and private websites. “I hacked the Pentagon” one used to say. Now after almost two years of tertiary education learning about digital networks and privacy, if these so called “hackers” had achieved what they broadcasted throughout the school, I think these boys would have been visited by some heavy handed Government officials during our Information Technology classes.
To me this just sounded like fun and games. A couple of teenage kids with some source code, ‘trying’ (I think they were more into playing Counterstrike to be honest) to access government information. Little did I know that there was a movement going on at the time that would reveal documents that expose the world to some of the greatest injustices by governments in recent history.

Wikileaks Timeline of Events

For those of you who haven’t heard of Wikileaks essentially it is non-for profit media organisation that brings important news to the public. Essentially creating greater transparency between governments and those who are governed. Julian Assange the mastermind behind Wikileaks and what many media and technology theorists call the ‘Fifth Estate’, which essentially means that now instead of the older ‘Estate’ models, the production of news according to Jay Rosen has become a combination of professional and amateur content.
Since Wikileaks inception in 2006 the site has been responsible for uncovering some of the largest news stories in recent history. From war, killings, torture and detention to government and public corruption the aim and efforts of Wikileaks and its small diverse team of likeminded individuals continues to push the boundaries between delivering the truth and causing mass disruption and unrest between warring nations.

It is interesting to note that of late, Wikileaks has been remarkably quiet, some would argue almost too quiet for an organisation that was established to continuously question the truth. In the direct words of Wikileaks “Better scrutiny leads to reduced corruption and stronger democracies in all society’s institutions, including government, corporations and other organisations.
Julian Assange himself has also come under intense inspection; accused of the sexual assault of two women in Sweden and releasing classified US military documents, he is no hauled up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, fearing that Swedish officials and the United States government will arrest him over each issue.

To talk about the Wikileaks story in-depth I would almost need to start another blog on the topic. There have been far too many subplots and twists and turns throughout the life of Wikileaks to cover in one 500-word posting. However, the key concept from the Wikileaks story is the notion of free press and our democratic right to know the truth on matters that concern not only us, but also our fellow man/woman around the world.

At the start of my tertiary education I was a sceptic of the Wikileaks phenomena. I, like many others was afraid that the information being leaked could be used for greater evil if it made its way into the hands of the wrong groups or individuals. I was brainwashed by mainstream media into believing that there was an injustice against governments with this information being leaked. I have since radically changed my opinion. Fenster believes that “Publishing [leaked material] improves transparency, and this transparency creates a better society for all people. A healthy, vibrant and inquisitive journalistic media plays a vital role in achieving these goals. I now have to agree. With the current media landscape the way it is at the moment. We need institutions like Wikileaks in light of a better term “to keep the bastards honest”.

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

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The Long Tail to Success – [DIGC202]

long-tail

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

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?

Images 

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

Define: Soon? [DIGC202]

 

obama-cyber-security

“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.

800px-Sydney_Wikileaks_2010-Dec-10

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.

Images

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