A Reflective Perspective 2.0

Hi Digital Diary Followers

As the blogging adventure comes to an end it’s always important to reflect on the experience. It is easy to say that this assignment has allowed me to gain new insights not only on topics relating to the course but on my own writing and reflecting skills. Looking back, I consider these three posts as my best blog entries.

YouTube and Copyright
Not only did this blog post reflect on the lecture/tutorial theory, it also incorporated the platform I was following. I was able see where my platform fit in in regards to the issues surrounding copyright and now I can draw on this content for my final essay.

Slack Audiences on Active Issues
Within this blog post I drew upon the example of CTFxC. Because I was really familiar with the example, because I am a regular follower of CTFxC, it made it easier to write the blog post. It was also interesting because I was able to relate my university work to something I consumed in everyday life. This blog post also uses a combination of in text links, videos and graphics in a way that complimented my blog and allowed for further investigation and engagement for the reader.

From Transmedia Storytelling to Transmedia Activism
I felt that within this blog post I moved away from the direction of the lecture/tutorial theory however I found the issues surrounding the topic of transmedia activism enlightening and interesting to blog about. I feel that the blog post shows the development of my critical research skills through the links and quotes.

Overall there have definitely been times where the blogging experience was frustrating and time consuming however it was a rewarding experience which allowed me to be able to develop a digital portfolio and skills in both critical and reflective thinking and writing.

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“If They Don’t Ignore You, They Attack You” (Moore, 2007)

Hi Digital Diary Followers

Anita Sarkeesian describes herself as “a popular culture critic, feminist, and woman” and is most famously know for her YouTube series Feminist Frequency

Taking a personal interest in the oppressive portrayals of women in video games Sarkeensian launched a crowd funded campaign on Kickstarter to make a web series which looked to deconstruct the representation of women in gaming culture. However the entrepreneur soon became a target for a massive online hate campaign much of hate being targeted toward her gender. Her social sites were inundated with threats of rape, violence, sexual assault and death. Pornographic images of her were created and there was even an online simulated game which portrayed Anita being beaten.  (Sarkeesian, 2012)

Users were working together, coordinating and communicating their raids, bringing them back to message boards as evidence to “show off to each other” (Sarkeesian, 2012). It depicts that the collaborative, participatory experience can sometimes be host to vicious crimes of anonymous hate.

The Internet boasts of the idea that there is a “zero cost” when it comes to production and distribution of content (Mitew, 2013) however with situations like Anita’s it is evident that Internet usage can come at a considerable personal and social cost, especially if you are a woman. Ultimately, for Anita, the situation worked in her favour – her Kickstarter rose twenty five times what she initially asked with 7000 individuals contributing to her cause (Sarkeesian, 2012). She was also inundated with public encouragement in the form of videos, fan art, comics and blog posts and now she dedicates her time using her personal story to give talks on online harassment faced by women in the game space and on the Internet (Sarkeesian, 2012).

However there are individuals who haven’t been as successful as Sarkeesian. TV host Charlotte Dawson is a recent example. Dawson attempted to end her life and was consequently hospitalised after receiving vicious abuse from Twitter Trolls.

These cases can be seen as examples to question the extent of freedom that should be allowed over the Internet, especially if people use it as a way to facilitate unnecessary, misogynist hate speech. Zack Whittaker describes that online there is a severe lack of regulation and moderation at the best of times and although we do have the right to express freedom of speech we should be nice about it.

A Celebrity Call To Arms

Hi Digital Diary Followers

“The NOH8 Campaign is a charitable organization whose mission is to promote marriage, gender and human equality through education, advocacy, social media, and visual protest” (NOH8 Campaign, 2009).

This campaign, created by celebrity photographer Adam Bouska, is a silent protest via photography where subjects duct tape their mouths and write “NOH8” on their cheek to symbolise how people voices are being silenced by same sex marriage legislation. The images will eventually be compiled and be used in a large-scale media campaign (NOH8 Campaign, 2009). The group also offer social media such as Twitter and Facebook as a way to spread their message and gain support. This example however serves as a way to show how social media and activism can exist in two separate realms.  Although the campaign moves towards a good cause it doesn’t ask its participants to commit to any material risk. It deems it as another example of what I’ve identified in previous posts as “Slacktivism”.

Organisations such as NOH8, for me, also raise questions about using celebrities to promote campaigns related to political concerns, particularly in relation to youth. There is a concern about entertainment intruding into politics and the hijacking the Hollywood publicity machine for political ends (Jenkins, 2012). The NOH8 campaign is associated with celebrities such as Josh Hutcherson, Avan Jogia, Corey Monteith, Jane, Lynch, Pete Wenz, Kim Kardashian and Megan McCain to name a few. By using the power of celebrity status it allows for the message to be potentially spread to youth who perhaps do not associate with conventional political rhetoric (Jenkins, 2012). However, although celebrities offer the ability to spread the message to a larger audience it doesn’t guarantee the ability to get youth to drill deep into the political issue (Jenkins, 2012). Jenkins describes it as a “more sociable style of civic participation”.

Making Rape Funny?

Hi Digital Diary Followers

YouTube today seems to be one of the largest, host facilitators of the remix culture.

A famous example of the remix culture, which comes to mind, is the YouTube series Auto-Tune The News by the Gregory Brothers. The musical group take popular footage of news stories, anchors and politicians and digitally manipulates the voices to make the figures appear to sing (Claire Suddath, 2009). The group is responsible for the popular viral remix the Bed Intruder Song which is a remix of footage shown on WAFF 48 News of angry citizen Antoine Dodson, who was giving his opinion about the attempted rape of his younger sister in their Alabama home.

The video is an example of detournement, which is described by Andrew Whelan as a change in direction or derailment and can be used in a way to subvert or undermine meaning. The remix is used in a way to satirise and re-contextualise the serious tone of the news.

The rise of this video however was accompanied with discussion about the appropriateness of taking Dodson’s original TV news interview and reinterpreting it into a song. The Gregory Brothers were highly criticized by many blogs and articles because it overlooked the serious issue of the attempted rape. It raised questions about the remix culture being used in a way that was exploitive (Larry Kless, 2010).

However Michael Gregory, one of the members of the group stated, “I think people who think it’s exploitative are filtering it through their own perceptions. What Antoine did was send a message of strength and anger, and we translated it into a song” (Larry Kless, 2010)

The remix culture can raise the “how far it too far” question. However Kenyetta Cheese sums up the argument quite clearly when she states “They made it more participatory, which increases the value of the original work. They embraced the remix culture and understood they have to contribute back in order to make it spread even further.” This can be seen in the countless remixes of The Bed Intruder Song and the release of an App for the iPhone and Android known as Songify This. It shows that the project is now never ending and continually collaboration of a number of participants.

From Transmedia Storytelling to Transmedia Activism

Hi Digital Diary Followers

With the recent launch online interactive fan experience The Capitol Tour it is easy to see how the Hunger Games falls into the category of Transmedia Storytelling. Starting with the success of book trilogy we have seen The Hunger Games empire grow across media channels spanning into four movies, the online experience, mobile applications and Facebook games.

However it seems that Transmedia Storytelling has also given way to a grassroots movement coined Transmedia Activism. Jenkins describes Transmedia activism as the effort to promote social change, like Transmedia storytelling, by sharing media messages across multiple platforms. Activist fan organizations tap into the myth-making capacity of transmedia franchises to motivate social and political change.

Sticking with the theme of The Hunger Games this grassroots style of activism was seen when the movie was released last year. Oxfam America used hundred of volunteers from the Imagine Better Project to blanket movie theatres during the opening weekend to promote the campaign “Hunger Is Not a Game” which sought to battle world hunger. Using the hype around opening of a new transmedia channel the organisation attempted to make a change explains Vicky Rateau who was the manager of the campaign (Dylan Stableford, 2012).

It is not the first time transmedia storytelling has been used to attempt to promote social change. In 2007 a similar campaign was launched known as The Harry Potter Alliance which used parallels from the book to alert people about the effects of global warming, poverty and genocide (Dylan Stableford, 2012). Looking on the Imagine Better website it states It is a place where we take all of the stories and communities that excite us and turn them into fuel for a better world” (Imagine Better Project).

However it seems these heart-warming stories of social change do not have a happy ending again due to this idea of conglomerate control. After the launch of the Hunger Is Not a Game campaign it did not take long for Lionsgate to ask Imagine Better to remove all references to the movie and threaten to take down the site due to copyright (Steven Zeitchik, 2012). A spokesperson also stated that the campaign came into conflict with deals that the studio made with other anti-hunger groups (Steven Zeitchik, 2012).

Evan Dehavan of Ignition Interative sum up the idea well when he states “we want to bring things to life and allow people to tell stories through technology rather than telling people to live within these boxes and these rules while they’re making something. Now we’re just looking forward to fans and the world seeing what we’ve created.”

Slack Audiences on Active Issues

Thinking about the idea of the audience it drew my attention back to an example I briefly touched on in one of my initial posts – YouTube’s CTFxCinemea run by Alli. Alli Trippy is an example of a user who is participating in the dialogical context. Alli basically reviews movies each week however she calls on her audience to be a part of her experience.

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Not only does Alli give her own opinions about the movies within her videos however she also features her users video responses. Alli seemingly generates a massed conversation on her channel and facilitates the sharing of content and opinions with anyone being able to contribute and participate.

The channel Alli, which is responsible for CTFxCineama, is also tied to other channels including charlestrippy and CTFxC. Alli and her husband Charles have quite untraditionally become popular media personalities through dialogic media with CTFxC alone entertaining almost 700,000 subscribers with over 340,000,000 video views. Alli and Charles are an example of how the new prosumers are using the media in extraordinary ways.

However due to the rise of the prosumer, the many individual perspectives and the ease to which these perspective can be voiced it can result in the message losing it’s meaning.  This can been seen through the idea of Slacktivism.

“Slativism is like a first kiss, you can’t make a baby by kissing just like you can’t end poverty or elect a president or gain civil rights by joining a Facebook group or tweeting or forwarding an SMS” (Mary Joyce, 2011).

A most recent example of Slacktivism is people posting red equals signs to social networking sites in favour of gay marriage. The photo, which been reported to have been uploaded more than 2.7 million times to Facebook, (The Oracle, 2013) coincides with the Supreme Court beginning hearings on Proposition 8 and the Defence of Marriage Act in Washington. The photo however clearly means little in regards to an individual’s commitment to working toward equal rights and can be seen as casting false positive light. (The Oracle, 2013). The red equals sign has also immediately fallen into the Internet memes sensation showing the desensitization of the issue of homosexual rights because of this campaign.

This example demonstrates that the role of the seemingly active audience is having a very passive effect on current issues within society. However empowerment of the audience has also had some seemingly very interesting impacts on the way society works and how the audience uses their meaning to convey their messages.

Open for the User

Hi Digital Diary Followers

Think of all the possibilities that could be available to the consumer if only we had a “magic phone”. However it seems that today we do have this opportunity with the idea of open, generative technologies.

“Generative technology, as defined by Zittrain, is a technology that allows third parties to innovate upon it without any gate-keeping” (Cathryn Ploehn).

The leading example of this type of technology is the Android Smartphone. Users are able to able to tweak their phones to align with their interests and take advantage of what the handset has to offer (Open Handset Alliance).

They can swap out the phone’s homescreen, the style of the dialer, or any of the applications. They can even instruct their phones to use their favorite photo viewing application to handle the viewing of all photos” (Open Handset Alliance).

This is only the beginning of what an open platform can do. Other nifty things Android can do include using a PlayStation 3 Controller to play games on the device.  Open devices such as Android empower their users to actively contribute in the development of a product. By using the idea of collective contributing it can allow for a continual mutation of technology and a user driven experience.

However it seems with all these possibilities people are still scared into using closed platforms. Alex Kessinger suggests the reasons for this are that consumers feel open platforms are inferior to paid software, they feel there is no support and generally they are insecure about open devices. With media warnings about hacking threats such as SMS Trojans and “Cold boot attacks” it is no wonder people are more inclined to use closed devices such as IPhone.

Convenience and risk seem to be key players in the success of a product and closed products offer this convenience at low risks. Closed devices however work on a permission culture tethered to a closed ecosystem (Ted Mitew). It is obvious that the ideological permission culture is slowly fading in today’s convergent society. Active consumers, who are becoming bored with being formatted, move to new and exiting generative technologies where they are able to format the experience for themselves. This can be seen in the Gartner Q2 2012 Mobile Sales Unit Report. Of the mobile devices sold, over the past quarter, 64.1% are powered by Google’s Android and 18.8% are operated by Apple’s iOS (Darcy Travlos).