WordPress Wins. My Number One.

June 4, 2011 1 comment

WordPress is my number one. My numero uno.

(this post is directed towards my tutor Nicole just in case you aren’t her and you’re wondering why I’m talking about this)

You know how internet browsers these days like Safari and Internet Explorer keep a list detailing your most visited websites so that you don’t even need to type in the website address, you just open a new tab and a list of your ten most visited websites are right there ready for you to click on.

Well, for the last few weeks, I have been seeing WordPress making its way up that ranking. it started at number ten. Then made a massive leap to number six. Then to number five, and then it went to number four!

The point is, as of right now – WordPress is my most visited website. The big kahuna, the big cheese, the big enchilada.

See ya Facebook! Bye-bye YouTube!  Move Over ABC Iview (its presence in my top two websites indicating how I manage to procrastinate during SWOTVAC week). even Google has lost its metaphorical arm wrestle with WordPress, sliding down the ranking into 5th place – a dramatic fall from grace.

WordPress now rules my life, it haunts my dreams and lingers in  my thoughts while I’m awake. And now, as the ultimate sign that I have become a slave to my blog – it’s my most visited website.

I just thought you’d like to know how hard I’ve been working.

WordPress Wins!!

Time for Web 3.0?

May 31, 2011 1 comment

In February of 2009, John Markoff published an article in The New York Times called Do We Need a New Internet?

Effecively, Markoff suggests that the internet as it exists today is a sick entity. Prone to cyber attack whilst we use it, prone to viruses, at risk of accidentally passing on our banking details to fraudsters – the internet is a very unsafe place to be. Markoff proposes what some have said before him – that security and privacy on the internet have become “so maddeningly elusive that the only way to fix the problem is to start over”.

©2002 The New Yorker Collection from cartoonbank.com. All Rights Reserved.

This would require a new internet, and although this seems like a Mamoth task, people are already seriously considering it. After all, the internet that we use now was a first go, a shot in the dark that happened to catch on. The internet’s first designers never foresaw that the military and academic research network which they wrote the protocols for would one day carry the world on its shoulders, bearing the burden of carrying the brunt of international commerce and communications. “There was no one central control point and its designers wanted to make it possible for every network to exchange data with every other network. Little attention was given to security”.

While the form the ‘new internet’ should take remains a debated topic, it is generally agreed that it will function much in the same way asthe current one, as a web of servers with  no central heart which feeds life into the system.

One of the major problems with maintaining internet safety with our current system is the ability to remain anonymous in your activities. An Internet attacker can route their connection through a number of different countries to confuse those trying to establish their location, which may be from an account in an Internet cafe purchased with a stolen credit card.

To combat this, some have suggested the new Web should take the form of an online “Gated Community” where a user’s anonymity on the Net would be given up in return for the safety while using it. The current Internet could “end up as the bad neighbourhood of cyberspace” where the hackers and cyber-hoodlums hang out as civilians and corporations alike flood to the new web for the safety it allows.

I’m interested to know what other people think about this prospective Internet – I can’t decide. It seems to me that forced identification on the Web may begin a cycle of censorship which then acts to ruin what the Internet stands for at it’s core. But it does seem that something must be done to mend the current system. As Rick Wesson, Chief Executive of computer consulting firm, Support Intelligence said, with our current Internet we’re heading “for a digital Pearl Harbor [and] have the Japanese ships streaming towards us on the horizon”. A strong image, but probably an accurate one too.

Do you think it happens to Obama too?

May 16, 2011 2 comments

I have spent the last six hours – so effectively since I woke up today – trying to get a sustained internet connection in my home.

Unfortunately, my IT experience does not extent far beyond what I have picked up on watching the IT Crowd, and as a result the last six hours have been spent furiously switching the wireless router in my house “off and on… off and on… off and on”.

Each time, the internet connects for a moment, enough to download three minutes of youtube video or to get to the hotmail login page, before promptly ceasing all function.

Off and on.

The process repeats.

So, this experience has got me thinking, does this happen everywhere? The internet – as much as we rely on it – is a fickle beast. Many times, it has inexplicably stopped working for hours on end. It has happened to me, to countless friends and has even happened to the University of Melbourne three times since I’ve been there.

But, I wonder – for example – if the White House has this same problem? Do you think President Obama has to field off the cries of his children to reset the wireless router when the internet stops working? Do you think he has ever been having a Skype call to a foreign diplomat or head of state to have the screen freeze mid-sentence, and then have to send a text to the other party, explaining to them the internet has ceased up?

I wonder…

5: Want to work together? (or) Don’t Compete, Collaborate!

Following week 10 tutorial’s exercise, explain why you chose the Creative Commons license that you added to your blog and discuss the relevance (or not) of adding the license.

The vision being pursued by Creative Commons is to “achieve universal access to research and education, full participation in culture and driving a new era of development, growth and productivity” (creativecommons.org). It was with this vision in mind that I settled upon my chosen form of CC License, the legal specifics of which are shown here: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia License.

Video Credit: “Wanna Work Together?“. Uploaded to YouTube by

The basic crux of my license is that individuals may take my work and freely “share” and “remix” it as they desire, but with the provision that the original work is attributed back to me, and providing that the remixed form of the work must be licensed under the same/similar license as the original piece.

Importantly, by the creative commons license I have applied to my work, I am getting my idea ‘out there’ into the melting pot that is the general community and “substantially gaining increased awareness” (Abrahams, 2010: 1). It will be out in the commons, in the democratic public domain from which anyone can draw (Lessig, 2005: 352). Applying great restrictions to my product such as preventing future collaboration without seeking my express consent would effectively cordon off my work from the general community. It would become a museum piece which nobody may touch as it slowly gathers dust in the corner and becomes irrelevant.

“In any intellectual field, one can reach greater heights by standing on the shoulders of others” (Stallman, 2002: 128)


Contribution of this kind is central if the product I create is to remain current. Unless I dedicate myself to constantly updating it and progressing it as society/ expectations/ technology/ information progresses, it will fall behind the times and seep slowly into insignificance.   Third party contribution ensures continuous growth.

“The total contribution of [an idea] to society is reduced by assigning an owner to it” (Stallman, 2002: 124).

Fundamentally, the case for openness in products is that that it is not only morally right but practically beneficial, as open systems work more effectively than closed, centralised systems of development & innovation (Abrahams, 2010:2).

Consider the Xbox Kinect – the motion tracking  hardware and software made for Xbox. Upon developing the Kinect, Xbox published a press release actively encouraging people around the world to develop uses for it which “go  beyond gaming”. Since then Microsoft has been stunned by the remarkable variety of inventions and developments made possible through open and unrestricted tinkering with their technology and repurposing of the device (Hoffman, 2010: 1).

Programmers, robotics engineers and technology students from Australia to the USA and Germany have all been able to develop and build upon the platform which the Kinect gave them, a platform they may use due to the open and unrestricted nature of the CC license attached to the technology. The motion tracking sensor of the Kinect is now helping blind people navigate and being used in a robotic helicopter, allowing it to sense moving objects and navigate away from them.

Had the product been placed under lock and key, and modifications to the technology had been prevented and punished with punitive action, the world would have been robbed of these new technologies and product development would have ceased. The Kinect would have been at the forefront of gaming for a time, and then eclipsed by something else; such is the nature of technology. By allowing others to take the product and run with it, to splash a new perspective, idea or concept onto the existing technology, Xbox has illistrated an acknowledgement of the power of progress and specifically – how sharing equates to growth.

This reflects an ideology espoused by Stallman (2002: 128), that software development [and development more generally] is an “evolutionary process”. Many minds will work better than one, and the multitude of perspective that this contribution-based form of creation provides will always be more effective than one mind working alone.

The idea that one must lock up their work so that nobody can ‘steal’ it is one grounded in selfishness. Ultimately what you receive from this is an imperfect product and a system in which people contest for sales or views, spending their energy in competition rather than collaboration. If the contest for significance would cease and information was shared, the result of the collaboration would be better ideas, faster programs and greater understanding.

As Lessig (2005) suggests, an idea is the property of everybody. Once the idea has been divulged, “it forces itself into the possession of everyone” (Lessig, 2005: 353). I have tried to allow my CC License to reflect this ideology by opening it up to the contribution which could never be achieved if it was kept behind lock, key and copyright lawyers.

References:

Abrahams, D (2010), “How Creative Commons Licensing benefits Industry”, <http://davidabrahams.wordpress.com/2010/06/25/how-creative%C2%A0commons%C2%A0licensing-benefits-industry/> accessed 13/5/2011

CreativeCommons.org,About”, < & http://creativecommons.org/about/&gt; & <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/au/legalcode> accessed 13/5/2011

Dutton, F (2011), “Kinect Helps Blind People Navigate”, <http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2011-03-17-kinect-hack-helps-blind-people-navigate> accessed 28/5/2011

Hoffman, S (2010); “Microsoft Gives Green Light to Kinect Hackers” <http://www.crn.com/news/security/228300410/microsoft-gives-green-light-to-kinect-hackers.htm;jsessionid=3RlE7y5+IanOMG9FEOEOUg**.ecappj02> accessed 28/5/2011

IGN.Com (2010), “Best Kinect Hacks We’ve Seen So Far” <http://au.xbox360.ign.com/articles/113/1137920p1.html> accessed 28/5/2011

Lessig, L (2005), “Open Code and Open Societies”, in Joseph Feller, Brian Fitzgerald, Scott A. Hissam and Karim R. Lakhani (eds), “Perspectives on Free and Open Source Software”, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp.349-360

Richard (2009), “The benefits of Creative Commons licenses”, <http://www.spreadingscience.com/2009/03/05/the-benefits-of-creative-commons-licenses/> accessed 13/5/2011

Stallman, R (2002), “Why Software should be Free”, in Joshua Gay (ed.) “Free Software, Free Society: Selected Essays of Richard Stallman“, Boston: GNU Press, pp121-133

Video: “Quadrotor Flight Control Using Hough Transform and Depth Map from a Microsoft Kinect Sensor “ <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PSOU_es1EM> uploaded to YouTube by , accessed 28/5/2011

4: Didn’t I see you on YouTube? YOU MUST BE FAMOUS

Burgess and Green argue that: ordinary people who become celebrities through their own creative efforts “remain within the system of celebrity native to, and controlled by, the mass media” (Reader, page 269).

We’ve all heard someone utter the line, “back in my day” as they reflect longingly on their past, the way things used to be and how much things have changed. In few areas of society can these societal changes be more readily realised that in the mercurial notion of ‘celebrity’.

To be a celebrated individual, it used to be that one began their journey in the mainstream media, for example through appearing in films, and then simply grew to greater prominence within the media form in which they began. The advent of YouTube culture however has seen this journey to celebrity change significantly. To be a celebrity now what you need is ‘views’.

According to Burgess & Green (2009: 21-25), YouTube acts as a vehicle capable of propelling the most ‘ordinary’ of people into great popularity. All you require is a video camera, a computer and an internet connection, then toss in a dash of ‘wierd’ or ‘unique’ and you’ve got yourself a YouTube DIY Celebrity hit.

Yet simply having a few thousand (or million) views does not in itself make you a celebrity. ‘YouTube Sensation’ would be a more appropriate term for someone in this situation, according to Burgess & Green (B&G). In their article, YouTube & the Mainstream Media (2009), B&G recognise and engage with the line of separation which distinguishes a celebrity from a ‘hit’. To breach this line, they suggest, what you require is consistency, skill and dedication to your particular art. According to Burgess & Green, those who constitute youtube sensations are those who are “famous for doing something in particular very well, even if that something is unlikely to accrue prestige in the traditional media or arts industries (Burgess & Green, 2009: 24). Just because one is able to attract an online following, does not make them a celebrity.

Consider the utterly unexplainable Brandon Hardesty, a prominent YouTube poster whose videos of him making funny noises in front of his laptop have accrued in excess of 10 million hits. Keep in mind that for an album to be considered a platinum record, it must sell only one tenth of the number of hits Brandon has achieved:

 

Video Credit: “Strange Faces and Noises I Can Make IV“. Uploaded to YouTube by ArtieTSMITW

Video Credit: “Extreme Toothbrushing“. Uploaded to YouTube by ArtieTSMITW

 

Brandon has his own Youtube Channel,

 

He has his own Twitter [not pictured], and his own Website (with advertisments to boot – indicating that he is able to make money from his *ahem* talents)

*Click on the image for a link to the site*

Yet despite the large following he has been able to achieve, we would not generally consider him to be a celebrity in the way that we understand ‘Sting’ to be one (I dont know why I chose Sting as an example), because Brandon’s act has not been able to permeate the mainstream media bubble. It remains in the hazy grey area of celebrity that is YouTube.

As suggested by Burgess & Green, without breaking into the mainstream media in some way such as through featuring in a popular film, on chat shows like Oprah or even on the Radio, we cannot consider Brandon to have “passed through the gate-keeping mechanisms of the old media” (Burgess & Green, 2009: 24) which operate almost as an initiation ritual into the halls of ‘celebrity’.

 
He must follow in the path of other internet hits like OK GO, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and maybe even the talentless Jessica Black. Youtube is more of a launchpad for prospective celebrities, a way to literally “broadcast yourself into fame and fortune” (Burgess & Green, 2009: 22). 
 
White YouTube may be a part of the New Media world, but it seems in the eyes of Burgess & Green, the idea of celebrity is very much defined by Old Media standards.
 
 
References:

Burgess, Jean, and Green, Joshua. (2009) ‘YouTube and the Mainstream Media’, in YouTube: Online and Participatory Culture. Cambridge: Polity Press.

3: If centralised media organisations are a symphony orchestra, the blog is a one man band.

April 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Bloggers are “creative nihilists” who “celebrate the death of centralized (sic) meaning structures and ignore the accusation that they would only produce noise” (Lovink, 2007: 22).

Image Credit:  Batchainpuller78

The “noise” (Lovink, 2007: 22) that Lovink refers to in this quote appears to be ‘white noise’, an incessant, meaningless drone from which no particular train of thought or meaning is able to be derived. This is how he understands the world of the blog. The alternative seems to be centralised media organisations, for example broadsheet newspapers, news radio and others of the like. Centralisation implies knowledge, and knowledge brings with it a right to expression, thus giving centralised media outlets a right to speech and a right to inform. This right, in the eyes of Lovink is obviously not one shared by the blogging community. As a consequence of their lack of centralisation, blogs appear to lack the fundamental implied knowledge and significance which would give them the right to be real ‘media outlets’. What they produce therefore is nothing of meaning, only white noise.

While I would argue [and have done in an earlier post I encourage you to read] that this would apply to certain individualised media forms such as Twitter, I don’t feel that it applies in the same way to the blog. The very reason why I have chosen not to create a Twitter account, and why I have not provided links to one on this blog is because I understand it to be a thoroughly nihilistic medium resulting only in narcissism, self absorption and a white noise of uninformed opinions. Yet the depth provided by the blog makes it excempt from this harsh critique.

Alternatively, in the cyber-world that is the blogosphere I am able to see a significant degree of meaning which contests Lovink’s estimation of the medium as fostering and feeding of an ideology of nihilism. While Lovink is correct in his remarks that  the blogger is celebrating the demise of the mainstream media, they are not doing so at the expense of meaning! Rather, through their celebration of mainstream media’s demise, bloggers celebrate the rebirth of their individuality and their ability to express. The charge levelled by Lovink at the blogging community of being nihilists simply incorrect.

The fact that Lovink associates the fall of mainstream media with a sense of meaninglessness and purposeless sees him placing perhaps an over-emphasis on its importance. It demonstrates an absolute dependence upon superior knowledge sources to tell him information which then becomes fact. To see the fall of the mainstream media as a fall into nihilism demonstrates a dramatic over-reliance upon the medium in lieu of utilising his own knowledge. This is what the blog does, it provides an avenue for individual knowledge to be expressed.

The blogger rather turns the tables on nihilism, not revelling in meaninglesness but creating their own meaning through themselves, and expressing it to others. This suggests that rather than an absence of meaning, that bloggers rediscover meaning and purpose through finding their own voices and having them heard.

Consider for example a blog that WordPress led me to, The Domestic Man.

Dedicated to spreading information on gardening and wholesome cooking , but also dabbling in other areas of domesticity, Domestic Man feeds off the manner in which “we’ve become domestic” and capitalises upon it. It states it purpose as to “document [the blogger’s] desire to reconnect with nature through dominating territory (gardening) and developing traditional and affordable cuisine”. This does not represent the white noise of nothingness which Lovink suggests is present in blogging, but alternatively indicates a specific knowledge source, with a defined intent and whose purpose is not simply to spew nihilistic, narcissistic trash, but to inform.

Gianni Vattimo’s understanding of nihilism would apply here; that nihilism is not the absence of meaning, but a recognition of the plurality of meanings (Lovink, 2007: 22). The voice of knowledge is no longer centralised in media institutions, but it is everywhere we look. People may and are spreading their own knowledge, they are using their own voices. This is symptomatic of a growing mistrust of and disillusion with large media corporations and the endless spin provided by politicians and journalists alike through their highly censored airwaves.

Questioning the message and not trusting it was no longer enough, and so those who choose to are able now to create their own message to spread into the community – the blog lets this be so.

References:

Lovink, G., (2007), ‘Blogging, the nihilist impulse’ in Zero Comments: Blogging and Critical Internet Culture, London, UK: Routledge

Russ Crandel, (2011) “The Domestic Man” <http://thedomesticman.com/> 23/4/2011

Are you blogging this?

April 12, 2011 1 comment

I’m sure some of those kids (and adults) out there who did Culture, Media & Everyday Life last year will remember this little diamond.

As terrible as this song and video is, it really does get stuck in your head.

Video Credit: “Web 2.0 Song, Are You Blogging This?” uploaded to YouTube by daweedrex