Adventuring in Virtual Reality

I talk a lot about comics and superheroes on this blog because I happen to know a lot about them. Well, I know a lot about the comics and superheroes that I like. This includes the show Young Justice. As well as producing a TV show, there is a comic book series that comes out every month. In addition to the show, fans can read the comics to see more of the heroes’ lives and adventures. There is also a video game coming out called Young Justice: Legacy and it is set in between the two seasons of YJ.

Henry Jenkins describes transmedia storytelling as

Transmedia storytelling represents a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience. Ideally, each medium makes it own unique contribution to the unfolding of the story. … Most often, transmedia stories are based not on individual characters or specific plots but rather complex fictional worlds which can sustain multiple interrelated characters and their stories. This process of world-building encourages an encyclopedic impulse in both readers and writers.

Young Justice is an excellent example of this (as is Harry Potter and the Matrix) because of the rich history of comics that the writers can draw from. The complex world of DC provides an amazing array of characters and plots as well as new ideas. In the 2nd season finale of YJ, Kid Flash is killed off pretty suspiciously and it has lead to many fans speculating whether he is truly gone as an integral part of the Flash is his access to the speedforce – the force from which he draws his powers from. In many previous story arcs, various Flashes have gotten lost in the speedforce and come back to life and this has all the fans wondering: will Kid Flash come back?

In the end, it is admirable at how complex and creative the writers and producers of TV shows, comics, books and movies are. They create these worlds which the fans can immerse themselves in and that takes effort. J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore took a long time to go up and it lets the fans become virtual wizards so they can create potions, duel and discover the world of Potter through the books. Young Justice fans can discover what happened during those five years that we’ve only gotten flashes of in the TV show. It has never been so good to be in a fandom as it is now.

All It Takes is a Click

So you’re walking down the street and then you see some dingy old high school start burning. Well, you pull out your phone of course, and start filming it. At least this is what this YouTube user did:

That happens to be my old high school by the way. I graduated last year (class of 2012 woo!) and was quite glad to be rid of the place, so seeing it burn was quite satisfying. Anyway, what happened was the old campus hall burnt down due to arson (at least that’s what the authorities think) and I got this news via Facebook and Twitter pretty much five minutes after it happened. The Leader had an article about it later but the way most people came across this news was via social networking. This is what citizen journalism is: the general public publishing images and information all across the Internet, specifically of current events that are happening.

Nadine Jurrat says:

Citizen journalists have become regular contributors to mainstream news, providing information and some of today’s most iconic images, especially where professional journalists have limited access or none at all.

Another example which is quite iconic and has to be one of my favourite images is the couple captured kissing during the Vancouver riots in 2011. The riots that were caused by a hockey team losing. (People really can get too into sports.)

Whilst not exactly citizen journalism, this image was captured by a photographer who was caught up in the riots and saw this couple kissing and snapped a photograph. It went viral and shows just how effective the Internet can be. Literally millions of users with the power to spread with just a few clicks of the mouse. Our society today has access to smartphones and anyone can upload anything onto the Internet, which leads to the dying out of traditional journalism. Every journalism student knows how hard getting a job will be because of this new age of technology – I’m quite surprised people still pursue that dream.

Learning more about citizen journalism has me questioning whether it is better than traditional journalism: why pay for our news when we can easily come across blogs, Tweets, Facebook statuses and other sources that tell us the same thing and sometimes even more (due to no censorship)? I personally think there should be a balance between the two, because whilst I enjoy seeing new angles of the story evolve I also do enjoy reading the news from professional sources.

Are You There, Moon? It’s Me, Alice.

It’s due for a reflection post about what I’ve learnt, kind of like the end of all the episodes in kids TV shows, like Bear in the Big Blue House where he talked to the moon about what they’d learnt that day, only this is about what I’ve learnt in the past two months of blogging.

I really enjoy blogging for BCM110 because it lets me blog about things I’m passionate about. I mean, I blogged about a lingerie company and my favourite TV shows! My last blog post is about superheroes. Apart from the fun of blogging about the stuff that makes me happy, I’ve blogged about the more series issues like the media not being very honest with us. I learnt to be more wary and cautious of what the media tells us all and I’ve learnt to research deeper.

I’ve also become far more aware of the important issues concerning the media, such as last week when we talked about the public sphere and how it wasn’t so much ‘public’ as it was ‘rich, white guys’. As well as that, I delved into the topic of censorship and what could have happened in some idiots passed a bill that let the government have a lot of control over the media. Not pleasant, let me tell ya.

In short, BCM110 has really opened up my eyes to what is really going on and what is being hidden or twisted by the media. I’ve also just had fun along the way and enjoyed the freedom that I got with my blogging, as I really hate being given a topic to write about. Thank you Sue, this really made BCM110 fantastic. 🙂

Sharing is Caring!

Since we talked about the ‘public sphere’ in our lecture and were asked to share a popular media text and talk about it, I thought I’d do just that. The ‘public sphere’ is a ‘place’ where people can talk about stuff. It’s been likened to an ’18th century coffee-house’. So, since I’m a lovely person, I thought I’d share and talk about something I really, really love: superheroes. Mainly the comics because the movies don’t feature my favourite character, which is The Flash from DC Comics. Wally West, in particular, but you all must realise that because my Twitter handle is “Mrs Wally West”.

I wouldn’t call myself a huge comic nerd – I mean, if some person went up to me and said “tell me what happened in Flashpoint/The Blackest Night/etc”, I would be all “Sorry mate, no clue.” I WILL have a clue about Flashpoint soon because DC is coming out with an animated movie – yay! Finally a Flash-centric movie. Though I have heard that Flashpoint isn’t the best story arc to use.

Anyways, what I want to talk about is why I like comics and why you should like them too. What I love about the comics is how old they are, which means there’s plenty of reading material. The plots are usually pretty cool, though DC’s really screwing up their New 52 reboot by erasing some characters (*cough* MY HUBBY WALLY *cough*) out of existence. When I ordered a couple of vintage Flash comics off eBay and was excited to get them, my parents thought I was CRAZY. Comics aren’t just for tweens. I mean, some of these comics get really dark. They killed the current Robin, Damian Wayne, last month, bringing about a huge debate on killing children.

My point is that the comics deal with a lot of things that make them interesting to an adult audience. In the ’80s, I think, there was a Green Arrow and Green Lantern crossover where Green Arrow’s sidekick Speedy was a drug addict. The art for some comics is also pretty fantastic. Francis Manapul draws the Flash comics and I think Flash fans got so lucky! His art is amazing, much better than New 52 Green Arrow’s in my opinion.

Guys, just LOOK at how gorgeous Manapul’s work is!!

So yep, those are some of the reasons why you guys should try and check DC comics out! Comixology have awesome apps for your iPad, iPhone, Android, Kindle and Windows 8, which makes the comics really accessible! Here in Australia comics are pretty expensive and the latest issues are really hard to track down sometimes, so this app is a blessing. Because I don’t read any Marvel comics, I just downloaded the DC Comics app and use that, which I also recommend. If you login on the Comixology app with your iTunes account (I use my iPad), it will sync your comics, so I can read my Flash comics on both DC and Comixology. Super easy!

On Making Our Mark on the World

Let me introduce to you Amanda Hocking, who wrote books about glamorised trolls. I read the first two and then was pleasantly surprised to see her discussed in my lecture. As a massive bookworm, I love it when people reference books that I’ve read or just books in general. Amanda’s books are pretty cool too, but not good enough for me to pick up the third on.

Amanda was self-published and her Trylle trilogy got really big – big enough for a publishing house to notice. Before this, Amanda was rejected from every publishing house she sent her stuff to and thus resorted to self-publishing using Amazon. Amanda’s one of the lucky few who get big via self-publishing (another author, though really bloody terrible in my opinion, is Abbi Glines, whose books I want to burn). Congrats to Amanda for utilising the technology we have available to get her work out there and being successful!

And so I will segue into the topic discussed this week in my BCM112 lecture: how convergence has affected the relationship between media technology and audiences. No longer do we need to go through locked doors to get our work out there in the world. With the Internet, we can create anything we want and upload it. Take self-published authors. So many people submit their manuscripts to publishing houses and only a very small percentage get picked up, which means authors who want people to read their writing resort to self-publishing.

What about web series? YouTube is chock full of small companies producing web series and uploading them there. A fantastic web series is the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a modern take on Pride & Prejudice – the co-creator is Hank Green, John Green’s brother and co-owner of the very popular YouTube channel VlogBrothers. The LBD videos have been so popular that a Kickstarter fund was started to make them into DVDs to sell. The Kickstarter campaign got so many donations that they are now making the DVDs PLUS the director of LBD is able to make three more web series, one of which is a spin-off of LBD.

The Internet has changed our relationship with the media so much because we now have so much freedom. With this freedom we are able to communicate faster and easier – and yes, whilst this has its downsides (such as the fact that people get bullied over posting simple opinions, rumours are able to spread like wildfire and politicians who make stupid remarks stand no chance) the upside is that there are people all over the world who are benefiting from this technology, who are able to make money off their creations, who are able to help people (online charities and petitions) and who are able to enjoy the freedome the Internet gives.

Whilst Windows Phone Sits in the Corner and Cries…

Talking about the fact that the iPhone is a ‘closed’ system whilst the Android phone is open and thus allows anyone to mess around with it (rooting – clearly an Aussie didn’t name this process) and the fact that I really don’t understand why someone would want to customise their device. A phone is a phone is a phone. Smartphones are a bit more but really, I don’t understand why someone would want to bother with the effort of fiddling around and tweaking their phone.

Fun fact: the Windows phone is a closed system and since I own one (and probably some of you guys do?) I thought I’d let you know. PC Advisor calls Windows phones “the jokers” in the battle of iPhone vs Android va Windows phone. It’s true. When are we getting Instagram? SHEESH. It’s also got a good article on which phone to buy if you’re looking for a smartphone and recommends the iPhone. To support the jokers comment, here is a great comparison of the three operating systems. Please note the fact that the number of apps, in comparison to Apple and Android, is like five.

In the lecture it was discussed how the Android phone is getting much more popular and is slowly surpassing Apple’s sales. Considering that so many companies now make Android phones (Samsung, HTC… okay, more than that but these are the only two that pop into my head) it’s easy to see why the sales are growing. Plus, Android phones are cheaper and some have bigger screens than iPhones. When I was in America, I saw people that own mobile phones the size of iPad minis and my friend owns a Samsung Galaxy II (I think) and it’s the size of a small brick. Personally, I don’t understand the point of owning a phone that won’t easily fit in your pocket. 

But back to the point: the fact that Androids can be customisable whilst iPhones can’t is apparently a big selling point? There are so many apps for iPhones that people don’t need to customise it or mess with its operating system. Android’s cool for letting us do whatever we want (freedom, yo) but again, so many apps! The gesture is nice, but I also feel that messing around with your phone’s operating system means risking completely and utterly screwing it up.

My choice of phone ijn this ongoing battle: a Nokia Windows Phone. It combines a pretty okay (but appless) smartphone with indestructibility. What more could I ask for?