Wednesday, December 3, 2008
The best example of this process is the new media phenomenon of Podcasts and Podcasting. What is it? Podcasting refers to the distribution of an audio or video digital media file over the internet, which can then be downloaded to a personal computer, and further, to a portable media player. What separates this from other digital media formats which stream the same content or make it available for download, is a Podcast’s syndication, and subscription, which allows for it to automatically download when new content is added from the host. The word ‘Pod-Cast’ was coined from the words ‘Ipod’ and ‘Broadcast’, with the Apple Ipod being the first portable media player in which the first podcasting scripts were developed. These scripts allowed the web feeds to be automatically transferred to the mobile device after downloaded onto the personal computer. The term Podcast has been redefined since the advent of mobile devices on the market, other than the Ipod, which were able to synchronize podcast feeds as well. Today, many refer to Podcasts as ‘Personal On Demand BroadCasting’.
Like some other Web 2.0 technologies, Podcasts were born out of some other experimental digital services designed something else. The funny thing is that Podcasting was actually conceptualized before Web 2.0 theory or the World Wide Web. As early as the 80’s, the RCS(Radio Computing Services) provided music and talk related software to radio stations in a digital format. Educational and Research institutes would use the Mbone multicast network to distribute audio and video files. After the rise of home computers in the early to mid 90’s, websites and jukeboxes provided systems for sorting and selecting music and audio files, and offered subscriptions to audio services.
The popularity and the eventual discontinuation of Napster, the free software which aggregated music while bypassing the service subscription, is what brought the development of downloaded music to a critical mass. This is brought on a rush in the manufacturing of MP3 services and players by many companies. Today, Podcasting is mostly done with the XML based RSS syndicated aggregate format, but these outdated MP3 services are a close precursor. Some of these include the Compaq companies 1999 music download system Pocket DJ, launched as a service for their Personal Jukebox, the first hard disk based MP3 player. The 12Go company, makers of the eGo mp3 player, introduced their digital news service in 1999, Myaudio2go.com, offering daily audio news feeds which could be downloaded to any mp3 player.
“Open the Pod bay door! Ha!” This famous line from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey(1968)was all freelance copyrighter Vinnie Chieco thought of when Apple showed him their prototype for their new line of MP3 players and software. Apple’s original Ipod line played a variety of audio file formats, and later the Ipod photo introduced the ability to display JPEG, and other image file formats. Although with restrictions on dimensions, encoding and data rate, the third and fourth generations of Ipod Classic, and the Ipod Nano held the capability to play MPEG-4 and Quicktime Video formats. The only hump Apple had to hurdle over to fully take over the market is to bring in the PC demographic. Itunes second generation model software launched with a Windows version with a converter for WMA format, making Itunes compatible with their rival Microsoft. This made Itunes and the Ipod, the standard tool for portable digital media. During this era of digital convergence we also saw the birth of blogs, and the expressing of opinions of the common citizen became a commodity to the net world. It wasn’t long until the blogging went audio, broadcasting via RSS, dawning the beginning of Amateur Digital Radio.
How exactly do you make a podcast? We’ll for starters, relatively anybody savvy with computers and audio equipment is capable of making their own Podcasts to be fed to the web, and made available for subscription and download. All that is needed is a computer, a microphone, and a website in which to post your cast. Also, a program capable of recording voice is required, something as basic as Windows Media Player, to the more sophisticated software like ePodcast Creator or Audacity 1.2.3. These programs allow you to modify the sound in which you record. Next of course, is your idea, what you have to say whether it be a story, a how to, or your views and opinions on whatever topic at hand. Lastly, upload your MP3 file to your website. To reach larger audiences, you can publish your audio file as an enclosure on blogging websites like our very own Blogger.com, or share them on large scale sites like Podcast.com or PodcastAlley.com.
Like all technological innovations, the questions commonly and appropriately raised for podcasts are why to do it? How did this become such a popular form of Media? What are the advantages and benefits for those who subscribe to podcasts, as well as for those who broadcast them and feed them to the web? For starters, Podcasts are a user based technology which gives the average person a chance to hear, see, and appreciate the vision, views, and content of other net users, who have something either educational, or entertaining to offer.
Podcasts were popularized for the common net users from out of the blogosphere, which we have discussed in great length and which I am a part of right now. The last decade has brought on a considerable change in the media sources in which people receive their news. We as a society have come to appreciate the convenience of the Internet, as well as the freedom to personally deliver news and express ones view, as well as see the views and expressions of others. The word podcast stuck to the new medium after Ben Hammersley’s coined the phrase in an article of The Guardian, in reference to the surge in amateur internet radio. "...all the ingredients are there for a new boom in amateur radio. But what to call it? Audioblogging? Podcasting? GuerillaMedia?(2004)"
The convergence of Podcasts has come into our lives at the same pace that the blogging world has, and is simply a continuation of our democratization of society through the online community. Aaron Barlow(2008) discusses this in his book Blogging America, in relation to consumer control in mass or popular culture, that it was inevitable for consumers to eventually take an increased, more active role in the consumption of their products(pg. 116). Consumers have grown tired of the same old broadcasted media content controlled by large corporations. Podcast, unlike other Web 2.0 applications like Youtube or flickr, was designed out of and for convenience. However, what it has done, like the other Web 2.0 technologies, has unified the world and brought people together on personal and entertaining levels.
Take for instance this article by Scott Sigler published in the November 2008 edition of Writer. Scott Sigler was a struggling author, who’s novels had been rejected well over 100 times by publishers. Throwing the publishing industry a serious curveball, Sigler decided why not just give the things away? Using a $200 microphone, and a $300 mixer running into a Mac, Sigler recorded his novel into audio chapters, later editing out any stoppages or mess ups. Earthcore, a horror/thriller, was released in 2005 in 21 weekly chapters, running 30 to 45 minutes long. By the books end, he had 10,000 people listening, and a print deal with Dragon Moon Press. Sigler’s audience grew to 30,000 a week with his second novel Ancestorin 07, but it was when the book went to press that it reached No. 7on the Amazon.com charts without Sigler spending a penny on PR or advertising. By the time he finished Infected this year, Sigler had a bidding war for the right to publish, and was signed to a 3 book deal with Crown.
What happened? How did a man with over 100 rejection letters after 15 years of submissions and conferences have a bestseller and a book contract? “I had made a connection with an audience. These people listened to my voice and stories weekly, developing a connection that went far beyond me simply reading aloud to them. They heard about my hopes and frustrations. They interacted with me via blog posts, e-mails, instant messaging, and even voice mails that I'd put into the podcast. The podcast meant I wasn't just another author; I was a friend who wrote good books. And those books were exactly the kind of stories my regular listeners wanted to hear--they created fans who wanted to help me succeed (pg. 14)
Better than fictional novels for free, Podcasts offer free education and information. For instance, a site like Chinisepod.com, offers offer 1,500 lessons on how to read and speak the Chinese language. EPN, the Education Podcast Network, bring together a wide range of educational podcast programming under one forum, to help teachers looking for content to teach with and about. Apple.com site navigates to the link for Apple-Education providing to you thousands of educational podcasts from K-12, and higher educational content.
The last thing which must be discussed is how Podcasted Media has changed and affected the bigger market companies and media conglomerates. Today, Podcasts have shifted from being an additional commodity for some networks websites, to a professional necessity for all. All the major news networks across America, such as CNN, ESPN, and MSNBC, hold thousands of web feeds on their sites, and offer daily and exclusive podcasts from the majority of shows and anchors. ABC and NBC have a link to ‘Mobile’ on the homepage bringing you to downloadable episodes of your favorite shows. These networks also web feed deleted scenes, outtakes, mini episodes and cast interviews. Newspaper companies hold online podcasts for their readers to listen to, such as the New York Times or online Slate magazine. This is all done in order to compete in the open market. Once one networks podcasted their media the rest followed in dominos, hiring more producers and web programmers, adding additional to additional work assignments to staff, shooting extra footage, and programming more to the Network website. ESPN for example has just introduced a strictly online show, no television required. The hands of the publishing Industries were forced by people like Scott Sigler, to level the playing field and offer audio novels for online purchase.
Picture this scenario. Your friend, bored in class one day, uses his garage band application on his IPhone and records a funky beat. After class, he goes home to his laptop and uploads that beat from his phone to his blogging website. You, currently sitting in class, feel your IPhone go off. You, having already subscribed to your friends blog, has just received the automatic download of your friends garage tune. After listening, you go to your friend’s site right from your phone, and respond to his post, telling him how bad his tune was perhaps. This is an example of the full circle chain of events that reflects the growth of digitalization in this generation.
We started this course discussing things like the virtual commons and early chat groups that began to bring us closer together through the new Web world. We end it with a complete understanding of the new age media concepts of Web 2.0, Hypertext Markup Language, and Digital Convergence, which have all helped turn our society into one in which people are never completely disconnected from one another. Podcasts, along with all technology, are surely to continue evolving quickly, and the day is soon to come where society will have changed from the day I wrote this. Let’s just hope it continues to change for the better.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
This is because these ‘small world’ incidents, such as meeting a person on a plane who turns out to be a friend of a friend, can really be stripped down to the relative reasons you two would know each other. Going to and coming from the same locations, working in careers that demand or allow you to travel, even sitting in seats of equal price range might increase the chances that you two are distantly connected. Even low connected people are bound to share a highly connected contact, such as all the acquaintances of Joi Ito, who then formed direct relationships through IRC channels.
Although social networking is a theory of communication which has existed as long as class systems, the difference today is the social networking tools which work to connect certain people or groups of people. Dodgeball for instance, designed for mobile phone use, bringing together people in the same place at the same time, sharing the same social contacts. There is also networks who bring together those with similar values or passions, like dogster for dog owners, or asmallworld, a social network for the socially networked.
There is one aspect of communication that networking increases which was overlooked in this chapter. This is what it does for those outside of social circles, who could share as many of the same characteristics or even stereotypes as those heavily involved in social circles share. Clay touched on this idea in Here Comes Everybody, when discussing weblogs (2008). “The most connected weblogs are thousands of times more connected than ordinary weblogs are, while ordinary weblogs, with a few readers, are far more likely to be part of a densely connected cluster”(Pg. 218).
On a personal note, I once hit it off with a girl in my class after we both discovered neither of us had facebook. We both felt comfortable knowing neither of us were dedicated to superficial social networking, and valued direct relationships and face to face communication. It’s important to remember that social networking doesn’t stop at the networks alone, or the tools we use. We all network one way or another.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
To represent this theory that blogging is bringing the discussion back to the popular control, you can look at a site like Profootballtalk.com . Profootballtalk is a news and rumor site focused on the National Football League. The site has only one creator and editor, Mike Florio, a lawyer and former employee of ESPN.com. Florio claims to “Hate all NFL teams equally”, which in return, gives to us his unbiased, relentless coverage of all teams and players, with no exceptions. Florio, as he’s known on the site, has no affiliation with the NFL. Through a network of league sources he covers all news on any NFL affiliates, from players and coaches to cheerleaders and front office officials. The sight is reportedly read by many NFL insiders and also acts as a watchdog for the league, reporting on inaccurate or biased stories from other media outlets. The sites feature ‘turd watch’, is a yearlong open NFL crime tally and competition, ranking teams based on the criminal activities of their members. The site also holds weekly live blogs for NFL games, provides a section for funny photo-shopped images, as well as providing a link to individual team news. Profootballtalk is highly active in users, and also well respected by other prominent sports columnists, most notably Peter King of SportsIllustrated.com.
Profootballtalk, underneath every broken story, offers an open blog for all net users and football fans to comment, a feature that is not offered by the hierarchal NFL.com or ESPN.com. These strings of conversation often spark commentary, arguments, and sometimes further elaboration or coverage from fans. The site is saturated with regulars who take it seriously and insist on commenting on every article covered by Florio. It’s also filled with diehard fans who strictly go to their teams news and information and comment strictly on their teams related stories.
Besides Profootball talk being fast to deliver information before other sources, it has also been known to cover on controversial issues first, while the NFL sanctioned news outlets are hesitant to. For instance, a New England Patriot cheerleader was kicked off the squad due to degrading pictures posted on her face-book page. This story was up and commented on before NFL.com and the Patriot official team site, while ESPN.com didn’t report it at all.
Profootballtalk is just as careful of protecting the NFL’s good name as the League itself, but does so in a more open and democratic venue. Rather than protecting it by withholding stories that would decrease the leagues face, Mike Florio and the users try to improve upon the league by providing feedback for and from fans on all issues surrounding it. The truth is, there are more way important matters in this world than football players and Sunday games, that blogging now allows us take part in. Politics and economics are just some topics that now, through getting the voice of the people into the discussion, we have broadened the terms and ideas of democracy. But outside of our everyday struggle as low, middle, and mid upper class citizens to fight the established order of things, we also have a right to get the most out of the things we derive pleasure from. Football is entertainment, and through Profootballtalk.com, we as fans are offered yet another time consuming way to entertain ourselves with that forum. Because Sunday and video games just wasn’t enough.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
I looked at the posts for the ‘Chiefs go for win, but fall short’ article. I assumed it would be a divided opinion because the game went down to the controversial call to go for two points and the win at the end of the game. It was, half in support of the coach and half ridiculing the decision. I posted on this article. ‘PhininCanada’ asked how Herm Edwards has a 2nd head coaching job. I told him it’s because he kept putting the Jets in the playoffs, and that he should stick to the Canadian Football League. Why not?
Another article today the sounded off controversy was one dealing with the issues of the struggling Cleveland Browns. Things got argumentative between apparently big browns fans, when ‘clevefan1’ and ‘bleedbrown’ posted long carefully constructed blogs with different viewpoints for fault. It’s apparent that on this site, it’s common for a particular fan of a team to be the driving force of one article, and not comment on any other. On the other hand, I frequently see names like ‘shadylampz’ and ‘joesixpack’ getting their two cents in on everything.
While the Machine age during the two world wars captured the imagination of Americans, the referenced books and films had foreseen the wonders, and possible ramifications of technological advancement, by portraying it through Utopian societies. The later pages of this chapter deal with blogging in the new age of popular culture directly, and how bloggers or fan input can now have influence in media. Barlow references the atrocious movie ‘Snakes on a Plane’, and how bloggers had direct influence in the movie retaining that title after a considered change, in order to get his point across.
Another main theme of Barlow’s chapter 5 is his discussion of consumer control in a world of increasing mass or popular culture. Through quoting Dwight Macdonald, Herbert Gans, George Orwell, and their views on consumption, Barlow supports his underlying claim that it was inevitable for consumers to eventually take an increased, more active role in the consumption of products. Other touched upon themes include issues between amateur and ‘Professional’ bloggers, issues the older generation have with media change, and problems of authenticity due to fan based information playing a big role on the web, for instance Wikipedia.
To me, this chapter made the coarse material from beginning to end come full circle, and made me ask myself if the communication on the internet increased or lessened our freedom, individuality, and sense of community. Barlow references the movie V for vendetta, in relation to blogs giving people control over the centralized communication system rather than the rulers. But I would argue, that it was only by letting the volume of popular opinion increase that the real rulers were able to monitor everything, as discussed in Michael Zimmer’s reading on Issues of Privacy and the concept of Search 2.0. Barlow quotes blogger ‘Nicole’ on the blog With Hands Held High, in relation to 1984 and contemporary society, “If the government can legally listen to your phone conversations, search your things without warrant... what does that say about this so-called democracy? How is that any better than Orwell’s depiction of a similar society?”(Pg. 117) Did we trade our freedom of privacy for freedom of speech? And if so, are we okay with it because we can speak about it? We shouldn’t be.
One big flaw of this website I find, is its appearance and lack of easy accessibility to articles. The homepage of the sight displays the latest 5 post by Florio. However on Saturday, Sunday and the early days of the week, he posts 15 to 30 short articles a day. And when you go to the ‘Rumor Mill’ to search the latest stories, there all on one long string, making it difficult to sift through. I’m assuming the lack of dress up in the site (No pictures of players, or NFL gear), is due to Florio not being sanctioned with the NFL union, a probable reason for the sights onus on player behavior watch as well. Comments on game results in the upcoming days should be interesting, and perhaps ill contribute.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
One of my first impressions of the sights was that of a soft commentary without much retort from blogger to blogger. As it turns out, things can get a little aggressive sometimes. People using phrases like “Do your homework” and “I want to correct a few people”. I decided to ‘Go Rogue’ myself, and speak out in criticism over one guy’s blog on a September 4th NFL Headline Fins Fire Hagan. I commented back to a blog left by Aka ‘Sprovo’, saying, “You out of your mind” in my disagreement with him. He responded boldly, defending his ideas in a pretty long, thought out blog which took at least 15 minutes to write.
There’s a good amount of advertising on this site, mainly ‘Sprint’, ‘NFL SHOP’, but for every article posted, there’s a box right underneath the story bought out by some company, from M&M’s to acne cream. It’s not the prettiest sight, but it’s highly reliable for the most part, except for an occasional screw up. Florio sometimes jumps the gun on breaking stories like the releasing of some players, and he outwardly guaranteed a Patriots victory over the Giants. MWAAHAHAHA!
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
I chose profootballtalk.com for a few reasons. One, it has been around for 5 years now, and is notably rising in popularity, accredited my many prominent sports columnists from Sports Illustrated.com and ESPN.com. The second reason to use this particular sight is that it is not affiliated with the National Football League itself. The sites creator, main editor and contributor is Mike Florio, a lawyer and former employee of ESPN.com, who claims to hate all NFL teams equally. The sight acts as a watchdog for the NFL, keeping an eye out and reporting on players or incorrect, biased stories written by journalists and media outlets. There’s even a section on the site called ‘turd watch’, which tracks any and all arrests or misconduct from any employees of the NFL whether it be players, coaches, or front office employees. Florio often plugs the site on Radio and Sports television shows, conducts live blogs for games on Sunday, and often gets contributions to the site from former NFL affiliates.
The sight is updated with news stories often, everyday, at least during the season. And all reported stories quickly are commented on by multiple users. The one problem I have with the sight is the comments of the users themselves. Often short reaction blogs from relatively uneducated writers giving their simple non-argumentative opinion on whatever Mike Florio posts. So it appears I will have to be the Pariah of the site, and start some of the controversy myself. I will post a blog on an upcoming story and will write it such that it is sure to stick in at least one user’s craw, and they will hopefully lash back. Go Jets/Giants!
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Faced with the struggle that it is easy and anybody can do it, leading more often than not to biased, uneducated opinionated editorials from non-relevant sources, bloggers regularly find it difficult to be taken seriously by a population of cyber people who either share opposite perspective, or just lack knowledge about them.
However it is not always unjust when blogging is looked down upon. After all, the very idea of blogging is to opinionate on a topic of discussion geared towards 2 audiences, those who agree and those who disagree. So the fact that some bloggers such as Kathy Sierra have had critics go as far as to threaten her life often she wrote on controversial issues isn’t overwhelmingly surprising. However, this very incident that Barlow discusses is a prime example of why the way a blogger shapes his argument could be looked down upon. There’s little talk about the words and content that Kathy Sierra or Chris Clark spoke out about, which very well could have been colorful or aggressive enough to be lashed back it with not death threats, but at least cognitive defense.
Then again, a threat, no matter how dangerous, is in a sense one of the benefits of blogging, in that response and communication among readers and authors is encouraged. Even the differing views from Clark and Moulitsas, whether or not blogging itself is a real world or cyber world practice, doesn’t change the fact that they are still part of the same community of free thinkers and intellectuals. Overall, bloggers should encourage response, criticism, backlash, and all other form of exposure like you would in any other practice. And with over 75 million tracked on the net, there’s no end in sight for this new news medium.
Monday, October 20, 2008
This is a newer technology, so when I went to the search engines, like Com-Abstracts made available through the University at Albany’s libraries, I didn’t find many scholarly journals or works that were helpful. So to find out the benefits and usefulness of pod-casts, and why they are so popular, I found it best to go directly to places which offer them through subscription or free download by the thousands. I went to Google and typed the word ‘Podcast’ into the search engine, which brought me to helpful sites. Podcast.com, Podcastalley.com, NPR's (National Public Radio) database, and of coarse Apple.com all gave good clarification for what Pod-casts are, how they work, the software you need in order to download them, the information you give in order to subscribe to the websites, and of course, the content that make up most Pod-casts. Some of these websites even pulled there definitions on the about page from Wikipedia, so I felt even better about that being my starting point.
After Google, I went to browse over the content on the Yahoo search engine. Kaye and Medoff refer to Yahoo in their 2001 reading on ‘how search engines work’ as “The mother of all portals” (pg. 2). So I found it necessary to compare the Google and Yahoo searches and see which links came up first in both. If certain links show up twice within the first or second page unsponsored, I know I could consider them credible and resourceful. Sure enough, the links to Podcast Alley, Podcast dot, and Apple were all on the top search results for both sites, along with podcast links for Slate Magazine and the New York Times which I just haven’t used. In the final essay, I plan to discuss how the amount of podcasted content continues to grow by the thousands every day. To explain or confirm the growth, I visited the sites of major news stations which are now offering new Pod-casts daily, like CNN, MSNBC, ESPN, and CBS. I’m citing the web-page, Chinesepod.com as a useful recourse in showing how pod-casting can be educational, offering over 1500 language lessons on how to speak Chinese. The last website I visited for pod-casting news was ironically, PodcastingNews.
The only problem I ran into during my research was when I wanted to find sights or articles that gave information on the history of Pod-casts. When I went to search engines like Google, and typed in the words ‘Podcast’ and ‘History’, the first link to come up was the History Channels web page, and their available pod-casts. All the links below it for the first two pages were similar history sites, which were simply offering them, rather then sights offering the history of them. In the later point in my searching, I began using Ebsco, my last hope for finding some scholarly analysis on Podcasting. Instead of finding a journal of some kind, here I found something I think is better. This article published by author Scott Sigler, who after 100 rejections by publishers was able to podcast his novel to popularity, receiving a 3 book contract from Crown Publishers. This article not only gave insight to what podcasting can do for exposure in the online community, but the positive and negative affects it could possibly have on other forms of media and entertainment.
At this point, I feel that I have enough knowledge on the technology that I can successfully give an accurate and thorough description of the medium with clarity and quality for the final essay. I’ll be able to state the positive and negative implications of the Medium, and ill form my own opinions and thesis on podcasts based on credible sources. I’m actually looking forward to shedding light some light on them.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
These are the advantages and the flaws of the "Search 2.0" concept. There is a fine line between what the web would call "Personal Information Flows", and what i would call, a stalker, tracking my personal online and search behavior. In a sence, i do fully understand the benefits of being monitored. In the case of catching a murderer by surveiling the beb sights he has visited, or a pedofile, or a terrorist, its hard to make a case against it. But then hearing the the governemnt ordered google to turn over the records of millions of their users search queries, and knowing theres an easy chance on of those users was me, these search engines become intimidating and questionable. Overall thought, i feel that it is a users responsibility to conduct his or herself in an appropriate, even proffesional manner when using the web. I think that most people are candid in the way they conduct themselves online. And a company has every right to use the tools at their disposal for making hiring decisions, including googleing your name to see who you really are. I know that for me personally, i dont have any scandelous pictures, or opinionated blogs out there on the web. Ive been hesitant to show myself doing anything stupid on facebook after i heard that a college refused to give a girl her degree after graduating due to how she showed she was conducting herself via Facebook. Every user is responsible for their web activity, and if you truly have nothing to hide, the concept of search 2.0 wouldnt not bother you.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
It would be an understatement to say that communication on the internet has come a long way in that last 30 years. Going back to the early days of the Usenet, internet communication has gone from a privilege to some, to a norm for all. With that inevitable change of guard due to digital convergence and massive technological expansion over the last 2 decades, there is no doubt that as internet communication expands and changes, so do the actions, values, and tendencies of the net users. MUD’s IRC’s Usenet Emails and other forms of pre-web internet communication faced problematic endeavors for the users often when some of them would engage in their own personal geared discussions. However, today, with the limitless amount of volume that’s persistent on the web, and the freedom to surf it so widely on almost any topic imaginable, it is my belief that the Free Rider issue is no longer the problem it was for Pre Web users.
The Usenet, born in 1979, is one of the original communication systems mediated through the internet. The Usenet was an online bulletin board consisting of a few hundred discussion groups, or newsgroups. A few hundred groups would become a few thousand. Today, it’s hard to monitor how many discussion groups available not only through the Usenet, but all across the web. The Free riding issue faced by early Usenet users was much more of an inconvenience to the internet community. Kullock and Smith(1996) explain in their article ‘Managing the virtual commons’ that Boundary and bandwidth restrictions would have a direct effect on each user of the group, by the Free Riders of the group (Pg. 116). Meaning they would be argumentative and opinionated in their retorts, ask unrelated questions or post unrelated news and information, and pretty much have a problem staying on the topics of conversation. Today, although the ever growing population of web users and web pages creates more nonsensical material on the net, it also becomes easier to ignore and neglect all the bull.
Taking for instance the Usenet group I monitored and observed this past week, Alt.movies.Kubrick, part of the Google groups chat forum, available through Usenet. A discussion group dedicated to the fans of film director Stanley Kubrick. I chose this thinking it would be hard to be off topic in this group. I mean it’s one man, his life, and the movies he made. As it turns out people can get way off topic with just about anything anywhere. About 50 percent of the messages that had been posted within the last 2 months dealt mainly with the political campaigns going on at this time. For every Kubrick based discussion post that was put up, there were 2 or 3 posts that were nothing more than links to news clips about Barrack Obama with a heading saying, “Check this out”, or “Obama for President”. Some take the Free Riding a step further from non-related political posts to straight spam. One that sticks out is a string of Photo-shopped pictures of John McCain. One with a funny mustache, one with lipstick and mascara, and my personal favorite, a monkey standing on his shoulders excreting onto the presidential candidates bald head.
The reoccurring messages of nonrelated topics were inconveniencing, sometimes ridiculous, but most of all, made the group seem non-legitamate and unprofessional. The catch to all of this is that all of the posts that aren’t related were ignored by all other consistent users. Nobody commented on the John McCain photos, or on ‘Bill Reid’ and his biweekly broker’s column he leaves, or on the rest of the non-Kubrick related conversation. Then, you can look and see a string of 14 messages on the post about a possible Spartacus remake, or a string of 10 messages on the discussion post about the death of film-maker, Michelangelo Antonioni.
One Free Rider, aka ‘StalePie’ proved my theory just this evening. StalePie has been leaving garbage on this site for over a month. The earliest I found was an uncommented on August 29 post ripping on Colonel Pat White. Another was a September 2nd message where he or she wrote a big paragraph consisting of one sentence, “The body of your message must contain some text”, over and over again. Trying to make a humorous reference to The Shining’s “All work and no play makes Jack a full boy”, which nobody else found funny either. Another September 18th post has the message heading, “Bad time to fart”, with a You-tube link underneath, which got no responses. Finally today, the 23rd, StalePie left a post saying “Don’t want to post here anymore..Bye..”
Even with the persisting junk that this Free Rider, and others will leave on the site, this didn’t stop ‘DC’, ‘Harry Bailey’, ‘Ichorwhip’, ‘Wordsmith’, and others from engaging in educated message strings that were informative on the topic of Stanley Kubrick and other events going on in the world of cinema. Sometimes the junk just can’t be avoided but it can always be discarded. A Free Rider is easy to spot and easily ignorable. It says a lot about somebody’s personality to be so off base all the time. A free rider by being so rebellious is to me, trying to show their versatility and their ability to be resourceful in multiple fields of discussion, when in truth it has the opposite effect of seeming lazy, uneducated, and unwilling to participate and coordinate with the community at hand. Internet is supposed to be, a cyber community where those who wish to participate accordingly and properly can and will. If you don’t wish to do so, talk to the mouse.
Kullock and Smith (1996) Managing the virtual commons: Cooperation and conflict in computer communities pg. 109-128
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Another interesting post was somebody leaving a little tid-bit of information on the death of Michaelangelo Antoinini and how he elegedly starved himself to death. This opened up the floodgates to a highly morally geared convo about wheather or not death at a late age is even a sad thing. I personally know one thing from this site, and its that i would not get along with any of the people who take such an active part in this group. It not only bothers me, the amount of care and searching they do for topics non-related to Stanley Kubrick, but they all have a reall smug sense of arogance for being able to show off what they know about ohhhh Antoinini's suicide. Get a pet to take care of....
So why does the Internet aid in the political democratic process? Its simple. Convenience. Besides those who act as political elites and are directly interested in searching the internet for political gargin, naturally the net increases the amouint of people who will be intrugied by political issues. Professor Galley states on the first page of this reading that the average person does not behave politically in daily life, but rather only when moves to do so for self-interest. To me that means that political campaigning forces politics to become self-interests when done so on the internet. You become part of the process when the process is brought to your self interest of browsing the web. The issues of politics of very much forced upon the cyber community. However, as stated in the reasing, “Community grows out of participation and at the same time makes paticipation possible.”(37). As long as the process of political campaigning on the net is equally favorable to both candidates, as well as the voters, then it surely holds the essence of democracy. Only time will tell if internet campaining will prove to show netusers resolving political conflict, and transending the idea of ‘Stong Democracy’.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Our reading on new media and web production offers a great deal of explanation to the various components that make up digital production and digital convergence. The technological process of digitizing, text, sound, and still and moving images is process that brought the state of the World Wide Web to where it is today. There is a great deal of explaining and teaching going on in this reading than there is in our previous ones from the coarse packet. Here, we are walked through all the different components of digitizing technology on the web, from early photography, to digital imaging. From initial webcasting and broadcasting of video and audio, to completely fluent and streaming media, the breakthrough and up-rise of DVD’s and MPS’s in the late 90’s, and a brief but confusing lesson in Web design, XML, and other textual language.
So what is there intellectually and philosophically to take away from this reading? I feel that any and all theory to come out of Jason Whitakers chapter 3 of The Internet: The basics lies in the first few pages. On page 61, referencing Roland Barthes argument that “The author is dead”, is an idea that can apply to much more than just the world of hypertext, and inter-textuality. The quote is a thesis to the idea that the internet had decentred the book if two readers will never end up in the same place. But the author being dead works for many of the themes of this reading
For instance, when they talk about how photography, the alchemical process of capturing images which transformed the way we look at art and society in the last century. Now, through digital imaging, the process of photo retouching is standard, corrupting truly re-creating time and space. The breakthroughs of DVD’s and MP3’s were quickly matched by copyright infringement digital programs such as Napster and WinDVD. The author is dead, The musician is dead, The film-maker is deal, The Studio or Label is dead, When there are so many different unwanted sources for obtaining their work and creations.
However, this is the very nature of digital convergence, and the WEB. The linking of all the different forums of media into one larger mega-median creates the most important thing for the web-user, convenience. The Web user does not take into consideration other factors, like the fact that the whole world has not yet broken itself from the classical 20th century from of commerce, going to the store and paying for something.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Kullock and Smith’s article and the cooperation and conflict in computer communities dealt mainly with the advantages, and the problematic issues that came with increased communication through cyber networking. The Usenet, an early 80’s alternate for the Arpanet linked together thousands of discussion groups together to create an information exchanging world. One interconnected with several hosts, leaving no central authority, no commercial funding, and limited control.
I find the Usenet to be so interesting because it had an existing element that nobody had ever seen before. That is the responsibility of the user or member, to stay true to the purpose of this forum of networking, to share and gather information without overstepping ones boundaries. No free riding, no biting information, and no uninformative voicing of one’s opinion. I look at it as nobody can be a leader or a follower in this kind of community. Everybody must be a player, no more, no less.
I find the Usenet to be very ahead of its time in the negative sense. That is, for its time and place I don’t see much use for the common person to have a hand in it. With the responsibility to respond to others needs, stay on topic, and post responses with an educational and professional tone, I find it’s an engine that would have run better if left strictly for the scholarly or journalistic. It would have left groups smaller with more common interests, and the need for ‘kill files’ wouldn’t even be necessary. I’m taking into consideration that this was nearly 10 -20 years ago that the Usenet was prominent. Fast forwarding to my generation, the WEB is so WORLD-WIDE, that social forums for voicing personal opinion is more acceptable.
This article relies heavily on the introduction where they talk about how computer mediated communication systems are believed to have such powerful affects on social relationships. How networked communication dissolves social hierarchies, candor and merit are of higher encouragement. That diffidently holds water on the professional level. But on personal and social grounds, i can’t say I fully agree. Even Professor Galley talked about somebody she interviewed, and there limited respect from fellow discussion members due to her being a woman. I know that when I look at my generation, face-book, AIM, and text messaging has diluted our ability to communicate to each other openly and honestly, without checking up on their social profiles to know where they stand on a social level of acceptability. Anybody agree?
Monday, September 8, 2008
It’s an extremely difficult task to narrow down the 4 most important innovations that lead to what we now know as the internet. Not only is the Internet a technological breakthrough in the making over the last century, but it’s an always changing systematic network that continues to expand on a day to day basis. Things change so quickly, that it’s nearly impossible to keep up on the next breakthrough in nano-technology and convergence, so it’s interesting to take a step back and look at the historical time-line of innovations that make up the tool that I’m using to write this here essay.
Dating back to the earliest innovations for the computer, or computing, the vacuum tube might be the most important creation since the abacus. The science behind it was the amplification of an electronic signal, and the controlling of electrons in a low pressure space. This was the critical theory behind the development of electronics technology. The earliest vacuum tubes were of course bulky room sized enormities, which made up the earliest ‘colossus’ computers. But its technologies would eventually lead to transistor based electronics. Those transistor electronics would lead to what we now know as the microprocessor, making size and cost of computers moderate, while increasing their speed and reliability. This is what made it possible for home computers to now be standard in the household. Cathode Ray tubes are only this decade being replaced by LCD and other flat panel displays as the standard device in television sets.
If the Vacuum tube was the beginning stage of what we now know as the home computer, then the same can be said for the Arpanet from what we now know as the internet, for its being the first Internetworking computer system. As early as 1950’s memos were being passed around in the scientific world with the ideas and concepts for an Intergalactic Computer network. In 1968, America launched its effort in a computer mediated communication infrastructure. The Arpanet originally only linked the first 5 across the west coast, RAND UCLA Stanford, UCSB, and Utah. It’s goals were originally dedicated to the advancement of military technology. However, the Arpanet made such crucial steps in furthering interpersonal communication between researchers. Soon the military financed project of the Arpanet found itself transmitting almost all personal e-mail, making it a social forum, than a research network
1991 would make way for the next beg step in Internetworking as we know it today. Tim Berners Lee development of the World Wide Web brought the sharing of textual and visual document accessing to a universal level. Using Lee’s Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), and Mosiac, the first web browser designed by students at the University of Illinois, instantaneous access to documents all over the internet was now available to the home user. This would go from simple documents, to spreadsheets, pictures, and audio and visual files.
After Microsoft’s Windows 95 was launched, and home computers had full standard access to the World Wide Web through Internet explorer and AOL, the net has yet to stop growing at a rapid pace. Although the next contribution to the web can’t be labeled or categorized to a time or level in which it took full affect. However most would have to agree that the most important concept to today’s growth is due to media convergence. The different digital products which we each use on a daily basis are now all, by the doing of media conglomerates and manufacturers, attempting to become one and the same.
Our text/Instant messenger, Phone call maker, music listener, movie watcher, web browser, and picture taker, can be purchased all in the same product, and fit snuggly in our pocket. For consumers, the convergence race of different companies with their different products is all about convenience. More features, less space, equals happy consumer. While for the companies, it’s become a continuous competitive struggle for market dominance. In our phones, in our cars, in our game consoles, if you can’t WEB IT, you’re not with it.
The craziest part about this essay, is that 5 years from now, the list of innovative contributions that will have lead to that days internet might be completely different. Nobody knows what the future can bring us how fast technologies will come, and if we the common people can even keep up. But in my future, I see LCD screens on my cell phone, and access to the web through my car stereo. Maybe even my computer and Television set can be one in the same thing, please.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
A big part of this reading was trying to put a name or identity to the kind of communication medium that the internet is, flipping between being an interpersonal medium or a mass medium. I really like the term that was used, Meta-medium, or a medium for media. The convergence that has taken place over the last few years has linked everything now to the World Wide Web. It’s almost as if you, or your business is not part of the phenomenon, you have ultimately limited your relevance in our society. It’s a hard concept to put a label on because of its constant change and growth. I can sum up the innovations throughout the years to the internet’s reliability, speed, and distribution in one short timeline.
When I first experienced the internet, dial up status like in class, I was glued to my oversized desktop computer in my basement, now with no phone-line to communicate through. It was almost as if you had to disconnect yourself from the world even further in order to have the world ironically at your fingertips. 5 years after that, I had to sit at my laptop on the phone with a linksys support technician trying the figure out what the hell is wrong with my wireless router. Now, I sit next to my friend in class. And through his ipod, he goes online, and has full conversations with me on my laptop via instant message. This is a prime example of not only the convergence we discussed, but the digitalization of our technology as well
I can’t even begin to say how telling I found the initial cartoon to this reading to be. In essence, the growth of the internet has both increased and decreased human interaction. While communication to mass audience has become a worldwide phenomenon, interpersonal communication has become damn near extinct. Only time will tell with this theory, but I truly do believe that my generation is slowly loosing its ability to interact with each other on a one on one basis. It’s becoming an uncomfortable form a self disclosure, the whole face to face thing. When now a days you can simply break your thoughts down to a text or instant message, why sugar coat things with truly in-depth conversation and sincere reciprocity? That’s just silly.