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Time Flies

The blogging experience thus far has exceeded well beyond all my expectations. 10 or so weeks ago when I was told that our major assessment was a compilation of blog posts, I laughed and thought ‘Well, this should be a breeze!’

Little did I know…

Turns out thinking autonomously can be a real challenge, and as I sat to write my very first post I realised I wasn’t such a hotshot after all. Despite it being quite a struggle to come up with something worth reading, I actually enjoyed the challenge and looking back, I consider these my best three blog posts.

From King Arthur to Avengers

Let’s be honest – who doesn’t like the Avengers? Not that it’s the only element of this blog I deem to be decent. This blog covers the topic of transmedia and uses relevant, yet more obscure sources. In my previous blogs I limited myself to portray a very basic understanding of the topics, in this one, I purposefully intended to dig deeper in my research and I do hope that it has shown in comparison to it’s predecessors. Getting the opportunity to delve into matters of such a current nature, especially The Avengers, was a joyful experience, and discovering why transmedia allows for a positive audience response was not only eye-opening, but gave me a greater understanding of other global transmedia works.

Nothing is New

By this stage on the blogging expedition I was beginning to gain a better balance between reflection, discussion and definition of the topics covered in the lectures. The notion of a Remix Culture really interested me personally, and so it was no burden at all to research and explore the subject – in fact, I continually had to tell myself to ‘get back to the blog!’ before I lost myself amongst all the intriguing ideology and enticing examples. I think this blog is one of my favourites as it contains an extensive combination of video’s and text links, and refers to a variety of relevant sources.

Young Punks

This post would have to be one of my favourites as it is directly related to me as a young person. I personally feel the pressure that the media places on us, and so it was intriguing to discover others with the same opinions, and to further explore the notion of Clicktivism, and its relevance in today’s technology dominating age. This entry contained numerous articles relating to social activist movements and news reports, and so showed current examples of youths participation in fighting for injustices.

Not many things these days make us young ones think outside the box, so it made for a nice change getting to explore the never-before-seen depths of my mind. Cheers BCM112!

Keyboard Courage

There is a new phenomenon exploding beneath us, and it’s something I like to call Keyboard Courage. It refers to the ability to say things that, in face-to-face context, you wouldn’t normally say. It can range from anything between a shy guy texting a girl to see if she’d like to date him, to unfortunately more notably, cyber bullying.

Cyber bullying “is using technology to deliberately and repeatedly bully someone. It can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere and can leave you feeling unsafe and alone.” In short, it’s just not nice. It occurs most commonly in young people and every 1 in 3 adolescents receive online threats, with at least half of all adolescents and teens experiencing cyberbullying at some stage in their youth.

Keyboard courage enables these “bullies” to say what they want, when they want, without them having to undergo any consequences because they can remain anonymous, and essentially do not have a conscience in the online world. It takes the once already problematic matter of bullying to a whole new level. Not only can these insecure, faceless tormenters insult their target, but can also:

  • Send threats and insults instantaneously
  • Post hurtful or threatening messages publically on a persons Facebook etc
  • Steal a person’s account information to then break into the persons account and send more harmful messages
  • Be active in ‘sexting’
  • Spread rumours more rapidly and effectively online
  • Pretend to be somebody they are not

Psychotherapist, Susie Orbach provides her insight on the matters of misogyny against women writers:

“The deeper question is the disenfranchisement of men who find themselves in such depraved circumstances that all they can do is expel the fury that’s inside of them on to women. The reaction these men are having shows they are very, very threatened by something and that threat is to their masculinity.”

Although this is directed specifically at gender issues, the underlying message can be translated across multiple areas of concern, including cyber bulling. What personal circumstances or mess must these ‘bullies’ be drowning in that causes them to inflict hatred online to other young people?

As easy as it is to picture these people as young, childish boys giggling behind their computer monitor, and put the blame on their immaturity and cowardice, the truth is that it’s not that simple. These ‘bullies’ could be anybody, and that’s what gets me thinking. The anonymity of the online sphere creates a broad disconnection between the victim and the culprit. The Internet gives people a sort of, invisibility cloak. It allows them to snoop around unknowingly, and evokes a sense of invincibility into the users – if people don’t know my name, I am essentially untouchable (or so they think).

The dark side of the Internet is truly disgusting – why must people inevitably tarnish all that seems good? Just when we think the world is becoming a more egalitarian place, the insecurities of individuals force them to put on their mask’s, start up their computer, and let the trash talk begin! It really is far too easy for us to do, and it becomes hard to decipher whether it is wrong or not. How does one determine between bullying and, say, constructive criticism?

Blogger, Kristin Marie puts it blatantly: “If you wouldn’t say it, you shouldn’t text it. So either tighten up those thumbs or gain some courage!” – It’s essentially the old saying my mum would rattle off when I’d call my sister a nasty name, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. To that I say, amen! Either keep your mouths shut bullies, or at least scramble up the dignity to do it in person.

For further reference, please see below:

Young Punks

It would be an understatement to say that the view that the majority of society has of today’s youth frustrates me exhaustingly. Why is it that shows like A Current Affair and Today Tonight demonise the youth of today? They treat us like a bunch of young punks, then they wonder why we don’t want anything to do with politics and the like.

youth in the eyes of the media - mohawk and all.

youth in the eyes of the media – mohawks and all

In 2005, Today Tonight presented a story whereby they had invited 10 young people, aged 10-15, to stay at a house, liberated from the supervision of their parents. The intent of the segment was to illustrate to the kids how much their parents do for them, and to evoke a sense of appreciation towards the youth’s parents. Of course, the household inevitably became a mess, and Today Tonight proudly presented one of the most negative, yet common stereotypes of today’s younger demographic – all on public television.

Henry Giroux observed that many people believe that “young people in the United States are utterly depoliticised, self absorbed and incapable of engaging in collective politics.” The same can be said for those here in Australia. Reporter, Jason Sternberg reflected upon the “unique experiment” carried out by Today Tonight saying, “Like an abusive parent, Today Tonight placed the young people in a situation where they were doomed to failure and then punished them for failing.”

As a generalisation, it seems that there are only few that believe people under the age of 25 have the ability to take responsibility. Have no fear now; I bring a message of hope. Over the past ten years or so, the advancement of technology has brought with it an unprecedented power to the hands of the youth.

It makes sense that we hear more about young people making a difference in the community nowadays, because as technology advances, the ones to keep up to date with all the fandangle new gadgets will be the youth – not the middle aged politics, or our grandparents – it will be us.

A current example of youth’s rise to fight is the Out of Order Scheme. Earlier this year, Coca Cola sued the Australian Territorial Government over a law, which encouraged recycling. As an act of resistance to the company, young people of Australia began to stick up signs that read ‘Out of Order’ on Coca Cola vending machines, in hope to discourage people from purchasing their products. Photos of these signs would then be uploaded to social networking sites, particularly Facebook and Instagram. The work of these young activists has not been done in vein as it has gone global, with people taking part in European countries, such as Austria, and large justice companies, such as Greenpeace, have even gotten involved.

Young street artist Katso says, “What started as an action has kind of grown into a campaign. And we’re hoping to create more of a movement, like, a grassroots movement based on creativity and humor and social media, combining it with direct action, so we can create awareness about really what are really serious, important issues that affect everyone”.

Through social networking, the younger generation have found a platform on which to boldly voice their opinions. As American scholar, Henry Jenkins believes, the introduction and unravelling of participatory politics, through the means of social networking, “represents a powerful model for how civic groups might empower young people to deploy skills they have developed as fans and gamers to make a difference in the world.”

From what may begin as Clicktivism – the act of mindlessly clicking links, or sharing images that somehow, somewhere, are making a difference in the world – a much broader, deeper status may be met. Although “clicktivism neglects the vital, immeasurable inner events and personal epiphanies that great social ruptures are actually made of” it is a catalyst for the amazing things that the youth of today have the potential of doing.

For further reference, please see below:


Nothing is New

The expression remix may bring to mind the many Youtube mashup videos floating around in cyberspace, or perhaps an altered version of your favourite song, however the word remix, isn’t so much a word, as it is a necessity in cultural evolution.

Axel Bruns explains, “However complex, in its essence remix is, as Don Joyce described to me, ‘just collage.’” It is the art of collating together old elements, whether it is musically, or visually, to create something ‘new’. The sense of skepticism you are associating with the word ‘new’ right now is valid, for the entire suggestion of a remix culture demands that we question the notion of originality.

Henry Ford put it quite simplistically:

“I invented nothing new. I simply assembled the discoveries of other men behind whom were centuries of work … progress happens when all the factors that make for it are ready and then it is inevitable.”

Nothing is ever original, or fresh, and the chances of creating something entirely new only decrease with time. This is not a bad thing. As a people who have been bombarded daily with the strict business of patenting and copyright, we have submitted to the idea that creativity must come from within, and should we refer to, or build upon the work of those before us, we have essentially stolen. Yet thieves are not what we are! Everything that has ever been invented has drawn from its predecessors; the iPhone was not a sporadic invention that emerged from nothingness (as much as Jobs debated).

This video illustrates the point that multiple songs have an identical guitar melody. It is the same four chords repeated over and over, with the lyrics of 40 different songs layered on top. I believe it makes a statement that artists can sample from the works of those before them without ‘stealing’. In fact, remixing and sampling is integral in the creative process. Although the foundation is constant, what gets built on top is different and portrays a different meaning to that of a structure with the same foundation next to it.

Director, writer and editor Kirby Ferguson discusses the importance of remixing, referencing and reproducing. What Ferguson calls remixing, many call plagiarism. He endeavours to explain the necessity of remixing – anybody can do it, and it allows not only the artists, but the audience also, to actively engage with the content. It is a necessity in cultural evolution as it enables users to take a text, and as Andrew Whelan describes, intervene in the cultural or ideological flow.

As shown through the video, a little bit of tweaking here and there can transform the entire meaning of something. This is an example of détournement, something Andrew Whelan defined as derailment, or altering the direction of something. Through remixing, this serious, biblical based film has been made to appear as a contemporary comedy about a school student (Ten Things I Hate About You) – the meaning of the text has been reconstituted. Although in this case we assume it is just for amusement, remixing can be used to challenge the underlying messages of different texts or to enable others to engage in open discussion.

“As Johan Söderberg says, ‘To me, it is just like cooking. In your cupboard in your kitchen you have lots of different things and you try to connect different tastes together to create something interesting.’” (Lessig, 2008)

For further reference, please see below:

From King Arthur to Avengers

The once simplistic experience of sitting down, watching a film, and leaving the cinema with a solid grasp on the particular plot is now becoming a thing of the past. The expectations of the average consumer have been heightened, and audience members crave a definite sense of engagement, executed through the concept of Transmedia.

Transmedia is the process whereby ‘integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels’ (Jenkins, 2007). Elizabeth Evans, a lecturer in Film and Television Studies at the University of Nottingham, uses King Arthur as an illustration of the historical legacy of transmedia. Prior to the rapid technological advances of the past 20 years, the narrative of King Arthur has been told for generations through oral story-telling, paintings, books, plays, television, film and even places (eg. Tintagel, Cornwall, which is said to be the birthplace of King Arthur). Point being, transmedia is not necessarily a new notion, but is one that has simply become a more concrete narrative idea in more recent times (most likely because of the ease of collaboration, all thanks to Mr Technology!).

Transmedia means many things for its audience, but to sum it all up, we’ll use the word engagement. Implementing numerous formats to portray different segments of a narrative means that there are multiple points of entry. Unlike a movie, there is no finite end, and similarly, no definite beginning; there is instead openness. Stories are not tied to the channels delivering them to the audience (Mitew, 2013).

TransmediaFranchise

Let us look at Marvel, perhaps one of the most lucrative players in the transmedia game. TV Professor, Michael Niederman, concludes, “Marvel did a fabulous job. DC not so much” when referring to both organisation’s utilisation of transmedia. Marvel can be deemed successors as they established an entire outlet for collaboration of multiple media forms – they created a Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is a film franchise that encompasses not only a number of interwoven films, but exploits itself in comic books, short films and a television series. It has constructed the entire Marvel narrative that will only ever be complete when each piece is connected, as illustrated above. Niederman continues to elaborate: “It’s the fact that they said, ‘We’re going to create this universe, then we’re going to populate it with these pieces, that we’re clearly building toward this moment where we’re going to bring these pieces together.’”

It’s no wonder everybody fell madly in love with The Avengers – the ultimate compositional moment. The Avengers was a long-awaited project that integrated all those previously mentioned components into one, but why was it that transmedia made for a positive consumer experience? Engagement. The more points of entry available to the audience, the broader the demographic will be, which will in turn widen their market. More imperatively, the more points of entry, the more engagement the consumer can have with the content. Not only do the companies’ bank accounts scream ‘hooray!’ but so do we. Transmedia allows the audience to interact with content at their own pace – media is expositional, and is therefore, in a sense, untouchable, but transmedia is experiential. It places some of the power back into the audience’s hands – now that’s why everybody loves it so much!

For further reference, please see below:

Faith in Humanity Restored

I will be the first to admit that watching the 6 o’clock news each day is not something that appears on my list of priorities. It’s an astonishment that I have even a glimmer of insight into trending global affairs, however, with internet platforms – specifically social networks – acting as an open forum for individuals to broadcast their every waking moment, it’s no wonder I am able to stay in the loop. Those annoying friends who bombard your twitter feed can now feel a sense of pride; they’re simply a spanner in the works of Citizen Journalism.

Citizen journalism transforms us from being the once dormant audience (consumers) into being active participants, who both view and create content (prosumers). We are constantly collaborating with an entire network of other average citizens to create a news sphere that stretches beyond the means of traditional journalism. “Citizen journalism is discursive and deliberative, and better resembles a conversation than a lecture” (Gillmor, 2003). It isn’t bound by the constraints of authority or obligation, and so information can be published at a more rapid and personal rate, being delivered to our very own newsfeed or mobile phone at any second.

The BBC have taken the idea of Citizen Journalism and embraced it. They are currently undergoing a process of restructuring to enable full utilization of the content and resources that its average viewer has to share. You see, we are no longer merely being spoon-fed the news, but have an entire buffet of different spoons at our access, and if need be, can throw our own spoon in too!

BBC took note on July 7th 2005, when terrorists bombed a London subway, sending the whole nation into a state of hysteria. Prior to the onslaught of photographs, emails and SMS messages being broadcasted across the web, the explosion was deemed as nothing more than a “power surge”. It wasn’t until the story was taken into the hands of innocent bystanders that the full truth was revealed. Richard Sambrook, a BBC employee speculated, “when major events occur, the public can offer us as much new information as we are able to broadcast to them. From now on, news coverage is a partnership.

However, having the liberty of producing content and unmonitored access to home brewed news has caused the current demographic to become skeptical consumers. Instead of placing the entirety of their trust in the Newspaper, as was done so readily 20 years ago, the people seem to have more trust in those around them. It seems like an odd notion, especially when the giant media conglomerates were once prided in their unquestionable credibility, however this idea of – as lame as it sounds – restoring faith in fellow humanity is almost profound. It seems to me that Citizen Journalism is not only a matter of uploading a picture of a local traffic jam from your smart phone to twitter, but is a far more sincere attempt of regaining the hope and trust found solely in those that surround us… and if it had a cheesy tag line, I believe it would go something like: made by people, for people.

For further reference, please see below:

Aware VS Active

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KONY 2012. We’ve all heard of it, and if you haven’t, maybe go see what’s happening in places other than that rock you’re living under. It was a phase – a whirlpool of hype – that shook the country for little over a month. Everywhere we looked we’d see posters, or statuses, or videos. We really could not escape it. Essentially, the point of it all was to raise awareness over the issues of child soldiers in Africa, and to attempt to stop the ringleader of the whole ordeal, Mr Joseph Kony.

The promotions seemed reasonable, and were greatly emotive. They evoked anger into the hearts of many people. So much so, that people began to stir up and do radical things… like share the YouTube videos, or even like a facebook page here and there. I even heard of a few who were really controversial, who defiantly stuck a number of poster’s up in public arenas. The response to the whole campaign was overwhelming and really heartwarming. A revolution was in our midst!

(Now, I hope you picked up on my sarcasm)

All the shenanigans surrounding the Kony Campaign, personally, drove me up the wall. There is little more frustrating than people feeling as though they are doing the world some good by just clicking a few buttons here and there.

The swift advancement in technologies and social platforms has resulted in an indescribable change in its users. We have learnt to live our entire lives with our eyes locked to the screen. Today’s generation have become complacent in relying so heavily on hiding behind a keyboard and monitor, and although the evolution of technology has allowed us to be 25 times more informed and aware of the global circumstances, we are about 65 times less active*.

So, no, the real issue here is not Kony. What I am worried about is the wearing down of human emotion. With every day that passes that we use a social media platform we become more and more numb to the world around us. We protest that we have grown into participants, fighters for the cause, when really, we are only becoming more shallow, smug and content with what we have, that the only nerve we have is used to share a measly 30 minute video.

Take a look at the following images – they made me chuckle – but truthfully, they couldn’t be more spot on!

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It’s one thing to be aware, but a completely different thing to be active. Choose wisely.

*Figures made up for dramatic effect

For further reference, please see below: