A still from Uncharted (left) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (right). An example of how games and cinema are not vastly dissimilar. SONY entertainment © and Paramount Pictures © 1989

If I ever get any spare time, one of things I occasionally like to do is play video games. One game that I have been following closely, is the upcoming release – Uncharted 3 for the Playstation. Due to come out later this year, Uncharted is a fantastic example of just how far the medium has come.

One topic that Henry Jenkins often speaks about is the convergence between gaming and cinema (Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: New York University Press, 2006). Games are increasingly becoming more and more like films. From their production methods, the way they are filmed (both virtually and physically) and also in the actors that are used. Game developers are investing a lot of time and money into creating ‘cinematic’ gaming experiences for their audiences. Looking at this behind the scenes footage of the production of Uncharted, you could easily be mistaken for thinking it is the set of James Cameron’s latest CGI-based film, or another similarly big budgeted hollywood film. It is no wonder that many videogames are now being adapted into films, and vice versa.

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Internet fame pt.2

June 4, 2011

Following on from my previous blog post regarding the notions of internet fame, I thought this video would be quite poignant.

http://hungrybeast.abc.net.au/stories/dont-be-internet-celebrity

It is from a segment on the ABC show, The Hungry Beast, and talks about the potential downfalls of becoming famous through an internet medium such as YouTube. It actually crosses over a number of the points that I raised. But the graphics do help explain it a bit better than myself!

Internet SECURITY

May 19, 2011

In the wake of the Playstation Network’s security breach which surrounded the credit card details of it’s user base to thieves, I thought this recent guide was worth a mention.

http://lifehacker.com/5806487/top-10-simple-privacy-tricks-everyone-should-use

I particularly thought this comment beneath the article was quite funny

acutelyaware
“I always make my questions something that is easier for me. i remember years ago having to call virgin mobile and the rep making sure it was with me the question “what color is your hair?”, and i had to answer over the phone “pretty”.

Tweet Me!

May 19, 2011

Remember to Connect with me on Twitter for further discussion on any topics I have touched on in the blog!

https://twitter.com/DCollinsNetComm

Image from travelyogalife.blogspot.com

Photo sourced from Tyler Stefanich (http://www.flickr.com/photos/tylerstefanich/2117607887/)

Week 10: 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.

This week we talked about Creative Commons (CC) and the way it works. For anyone not up to speed, these helpful animations give a good overview of CC.

The license which I added to my blog was the ‘Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)’ creative commons license. Bit of a mouthful isn’t it? After doing some reading I concluded that I would treat my blog like anything else I own or produce in my life. Say if I was to produce an artwork such as a painting. How would I like that painting to be used and distributed? Well going back to the Creative Commons license on my blog, the first condition is: Noncommercial – that it cannot be used for commercial purposes. Would I like my artwork to be used on a billboard without my consent? No. This one is fairly straightfoward.

The second condition is: Attribution – my work must be attributed. If my artwork was included in a magazine for example, would I like to be credited? Of course!

And the last condition was: No Derivative works – my work cannot be altered, transformed or built upon. I feel that if a work is in someway altered it can lose the original meaning that was intended. The way I might have intended my artwork to be seen will change if someone paints something on top of it. No derivative works ensures that what I post will not be used to misquote or misuse what I say.

So this fairly basic way of determining what I wanted for my blog was how I came to decide which CC license to choose. Perhaps it may be of some help with your own decisions!

 

Week 9: Youtube Fame

May 12, 2011

A) 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).

Burgerss and Green make an interesting point. Even though Celebrities have huge teams devoted to managing their PR, even the biggest celebrities are largely helpless in our now globalised world. For YouTube stars, trying to manage their fame is even harder.

Take the video commonly known as Star Wars Kid for example. When a young boy filmed himself recreating a light saber battle from the movie franchise Star Wars he did not know what was to come. The video was distributed without his consent, before being posted on YouTube and becoming a viral hit. Estimated to have been seen by approximately 900 million people, the boy has became somewhat of a celebrity. But he is not a celebrity in the traditional sense like a footballer or a celebrity. He may be famous, but ultimately he has no control over how his image is portrayed in the media. His likeness has now been used in popular culture many times, including appearances on South Park and American Dad where he was mostly made fun of.

The Mass Media and the general public have caused the boy significant anguish and have potentially caused lifelong damage. And yet do we each lend our hand to support him? No. Collectively we are the part of the problem, but are we individually responsible for the teasing that he has received because of the video? The Mass Media is responsible but it is unlikely that we will ever see any form of repent.

Week 5: Analyse critically the following statement by Mark Zuckerberg while comparing it to privacy issues raised by online social networking collaborative practices: http://www.tubechop.com/watch/146252

Recently facebook’s privacy settings came into the spotlight with the creation of a facebook group called the Brocial Network. Established by an anonymous user known only as King Brocial. The network advocated the circulation of images found on facebook which showed scantily clad women. The result was a database of almost 800 photos which users would then share, comment on or ‘like’ without the women themselves knowing anything. Jade who is quoted in the newspaper article says that she thinks the site is “perverted and disgusting and wrong” which is correct. To know that your photos are being gazed upon by thousands of unknown men is unsettling for even the most public people.

In response to the furore created by the Brocial Network. Hugh Munro posted an piece on his blog basically saying that there is nothing about the group that is illegal. Furthermore he contends that the group is just an extension of what we all do on Facebook anyway. Playing the devil’s advocate I have to say that I agree with most of what Hugh Munro is suggesting. For anyone that has read about or watched the Social Network they will know that Facebook in essence was created as a site to rate the attractiveness of girls at the University Mark Zuckerbeg was studying at. The Brocial Network is not far removed from this notion. As Munro also says, we are all no doubt guilty of looking at some racy or slightly revealing photographs of a friend of a friend. It is our natural curiosity.

On one hand the Brocial Network is indefensible. It was quite inappropriate and ignored the privacy of many girls. But on the other, these women willingly put up these photos of themselves onto the internet, most knowing full well what they were doing. As one of my friends said, if a girl puts a photo of herself in her bikini as her profile picture, she wants people to see it. If she didn’t want anyone seeing it, she would simply keep it to herself. So it is hard to know where to stand on the issue.

I suppose the one big criticism I have of Facebook’s privacy policy is that the default settings when you initially set up your account are very public. For those who are not tech savvy, they may fall into the trap of sharing more information than they intend. The website AllFacebook has a tremendous post which graphically shows the history of Facebook’s default settings. To sum it up, we have gone from this in 2007, to this which we have currently. In essence this means that if a 16 year old child was to sign up to facebook today all their information, including their photos, birthdate and information about themselves would be accessible by not only their friends, but simply people who are on the same network which could be any number of thousands of people.When Zuckerberg spruiks the benefits of a more open world in the video posted above, does he also realise the damaging impact that this could have on people’s lives? Maybe a young child could unwittingly be cyber bullied, with photos they thought were private being circulated at school. I strongly believe that when your first access Facebook, the default settings should be to share nothing. Then as you decide to release more information you can choose too.

Still image taken from The Simpsons © Fox Broadcasting Company

Week 4: Russell (et al.) compares elite media and institutions with bloggers and ponders the following question: “Do bloggers, with their editorial independence, collaborative structure and merit-based popularity more effectively inform the public?” (Reader, page 136). Do you agree? Use examples to illustrate your point of view.

In their article, Culture: Media Convergence and Networked Participation, Russel, Ito, Richmond and Tuters discuss the growing popularity of new media and the emergence of blogs in the news landscape. As a regular user of online media myself I have noticed a shift from traditional forms of media such the newspaper or television to websites and blogs to obtain information. Interestingly, I would say in the past 6 months I have found out many of the years major news stories via online mediums over any other. The speed and efficiency of the internet’s globalised networks means information is shared around the world instantly. I am not able to read a newspaper every morning or tune into the television every night, but I have my phone in my pocket every day. A couple of clicks will take me to any number of my favourite blogs such as Kotaku (videogames), The Roar (sport) or Crikey (news, politics and current affairs) where I can not only receive up-to-the-minute news, but also opinions and discussion on these topics – features that may previously have existed around the dinner table or lounge room.

Bloggers are not accountable to anyone. While traditional forms of media such as television or the newspaper have a responsibility to tell the unbiased truth to their audience of thousands, in contrast bloggers are radicals that can post what pretty much whatever they want with little in the way of recourse. For example a little while ago, ‘Bill Cosby is Dead’ was the number one most discussed topic on twitter, leading to a outpouring of emotion from fans. Many news networks even picked up on the story, believing it to be truthful. In this case, social media was wrong. The news of Cosby’s demise turned out to be just a rumour started on an online blog masquerading as an official news announcement. This demonstrates the dangers of internet media.

When I think about anonymous blogging, my mind (as it often does) drifts off to an old episode of The Simpsons, where Homer gets his first computer. After making a website that receives no visits, he decides to create a blog where he posts rumours and gossip about the residents of Springfield. But rather than attach himself to these damaging posts, he decides to go under the guise of Mr. X. What ensues is a very funny  episode, but it does raise some good issues. The nature of the internet means that people will do whatever they can to be popular. Perez Hilton built an entire reputation for posting online gossip, rarely using sources and frequently being shown to be wrong and incorrect with his facts.

Nevertheless, I think the positives of blogs and social media far outweigh the negatives. Blogs give a voice to the common man. Furthermore the blogging promotes active discussions that can lead to real life change in the real world. When reading blogs you have to have a discerning eye, but if you follow particular sites that you know are legitimate then the experience will be a positive one. 


Digital image created by David Collins. Youtube logo - Youtube LLC, 2011 ©

Week 3: While discussing YouTube, José van Dijck argues that the site’s interface influences the popularity of videos through ranking tactics that promote popular favourites (Reader, page 94). How do ranking tactics impact on the formation online ‘communities’?

No doubt many of us who have dabbled in using the website Youtube have asked the question – why is Charlie Bit My Finger one of the most viewed videos in the world? Why do Justin Bieber videos attract millions of hits whilst my favourite band doesn’t? And why do the videos I upload only have 190 views. The answer lies in YouTube’s ranking system.

In his article ‘Users like you? Theorizing agency in user-generated content’, José van Dijck notes the impact the part that Youtube plays in promoting and ranking videos. It is not by some random chance that particular videos become popular. YouTube has a complex ranking system which is designed to optimize the ‘best’ and most ‘relevant’ videos. As explained by Jeff Johnson on his weblog, features such as the title of your video, description and tags that you assign to your video all have an impact on where it will show up on YouTube.

As a frequent user of Youtube myself, I too have experienced the vagaries of the site’s ranking system. Take for example this video I uploaded some months ago. For anyone who follows popular culture, you may remember the last year’s season finale of the popular reality show, Australia’s Next Top Model. The 2-hour special was not a particularly memorable affair and for the most part went according to plan… that was until the very final minutes. The host of the series, former supermodel Sarah Murdoch was tasked with seemingly straightforward job of announcing the ultimate winner of the show. However in a unfortunate series of events, Murdoch mistakenly named Kelsey the winner only to have to withdraw her statement and give Amanda her rightful crown. The embarrassing gaffe was broadcast live across Australia and instantly blew up on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Having just witnessed this incredible moment, I quickly transferred the footage from my TV to the computer and uploaded the video on Youtube. Within a few hours I had several hundred views, then a few thousand. By the end of the week I had over 350,000 views! This is a huge number. There are many frequent Youtubers who might not get that many hits in a year, let alone a week. And yet, I was still slightly disappointed, all because of one user – KillerEsque. Unfortunately for me, they uploaded the exact same moment onto Youtube, just a few hours before me. Naturally, being the first video online it accumulated views at a rapid rate, while mine remained second choice. Despite the fact that KillerEsque’s video was shot on a camera phone it has currently accumulated 1,481,704 views, while my video, a direct High Definition conversion, only has 469,542 views. Such are the inadequacies of the Youtube ranking system. Youtube doesn’t take into account video quality, but rather, it moves with the people. Popular videos take the top ranking spots in searches and seemingly become more popular. However, as Jeff Johnson explains, there are tactics you can use to give your video the edge. “Be sure to create unique titles, descriptions and tag sets for each video… doing so will create “unique content for other engines to find, and help you create ‘long tail’ phrases that occur naturally in your writing”. So don’t be despondent if your video only has 500 views, who knows, it might become viral and become the next Charlie Bit My Finger.

What features can you identify in WordPress that define it as a Web 2.0 application?

  • WordPress is a website that allows users to produce their own blogs on various different topics and issues.  In this way it is able to “reach out , not just to the center” but “to the long tail and not just the head” (O’Reilly 2005).
  • Users add value to WordPress. Without users there would be no individual blogs or content. Therefore WordPress makes it easy for new users to sign up to the website and create content. Ultimately a website’s success will be judged by it’s popularity. In order to maintain dominance in the blog market (blogspot.com, tumblr.com etc.), WordPress must maintain a healthy user community.
  • Only a small percentage of users will go to the trouble of adding value to WordPress. There are likely to more users reading various WordPress blogs, rather than participating and creating their own blogs or commenting on the website. Therefore, WordPress has many prompts on the website, encouraging users to “Sign up now”, “Tell us about yourself”, “Leave a comment” and “Express yourself. Start a blog”. These are all designed to promote involvement in the website.
  • WordPress allows for flexibility and ‘remixability’ in the way that you can share, edit and post information. There is little in the way of license and copyright restriction and instead there is the ability to post content with few barriers.
  • WordPress doesn’t limit itself to just one platform. iPhone, iPad, Mac and PC integration are all promoted on the website’s front page. There is also the ability to be able to sync your Facebook, Twitter and WordPress accounts.

How does it manage to be a sustainable model while also empowering “produsers”

  • In order to use several features of WordPress such as – unique themes, custom CSS and HD video integration, you need to pay a ‘premium fee’. It is likely that these features were indeed initially driven by the user community, however now WordPress harvests this content in order to maintain sustainability.
  • Themes are a great example. WordPress encourages users to create their own themes and designs for their blogs. However, there is a chance that these may be adopted by the website and turned into ‘premium themes’ (which come with a price tag $$). WordPress works with its community and content to maintain participation but also make profit.

Hello!

March 17, 2011

Welcome to David Collins’ Blog for the Net Communications subject. In this I hope to develop a WordPress Blog that builds on many of the ideas explored in the subject. You can also follow my twitter account for the subject here: http://www.twitter.com/DCollinsNetComm