Putting Us In Our Place

The Internet hates women. A pretty bold statement, but in some corners of cyberspace it’s very true. Take Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist vlogger who wanted to do a series of videos on the portrayal of women in video games. She started a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for her project and was instantly vilified for it by male gamers. Ouch.

I have never received any hate on the Internet, but really, all I do is sit on Tumblr all day. I don’t try to offend anyone! What’s terrible is that in some cases, a person doesn’t have to offend anyone to get hate mail. Trolls are something that all Internet users have to accept and ignore. People love to hate. Something people love to hate it women. The way we dress, our bodies, our actions, our words. Anything is fair game because “it’s the Internet and we opened ourselves up to criticism the second we posted online”, as most people will tell you.

A screengrab from the above video of some of the hateful comments Anita received.

Women have definitely copped their fair share of mistreatment. A Twitter campaign titled #mencallmethings had women recounting the things said to them by men.Being called ‘sluts’ and ‘whores’ is some of the ‘cleaner’ stuff. I personally don’t understand what people gain from abusing fellow human beings in such a vile manner. In my tutorial we discussed the reasons and one of my classmates said that trolls could possibly come from an abusive background. I personally disagree because it doesn’t take a traumatic past to become a hateful person.

“Don’t feed the trolls” is a phrase that everyone knows but some people don’t abide by it. Xiaxue, a very popular Singaporean blogger, decided to share the Facebook profiles of people who posted terrible things about her and her friends on a photo album where she’s shown to be supporting a political party. Nothing stirs up a good debate like politics! Left-wring, right-wing, this politician sucks, another politician deserves more than bread thrown at her…

In the end, it’s very hard to change the treatment of women as the Internet is such a vast space and there will always be groups of people whose hearts are black as coal. The best we can do is stand up against the bullies and prove to them that they are worthless and have no effect on us. Of course, if these trolls cross the line, the police are a good place to visit because some people really are crazy and are willing to let out their hate in real life rather than behind an avatar on Twitter or Facebook! Be wary.

Would you be brave enough to ‘unmask’ your haters like Wendy (Xiaxue) did? How do YOU deal with hate?

Three Clicks and You’re Home!

Just kidding, this isn’t Wizard of Oz. What it is though, is clicktivism.

Clicktivism is the pollution of activism with the logic of consumerism. Activism is debased with advertising and computer science… Clicktivism neglects the vital, immeasurable inner events and personal epiphanies that great social ruptures are actually made of. The history of revolutions attests that upheaval is always improbable, unpredictable and risky. A few banal pronouncements about “democracy in action” coupled with an online petition will not usher in social transformation.


https://i0.wp.com/cl.jroo.me/z3/h/x/F/d/a.aaa-Joseph-Kony-Meme.jpgSo many online petitions now exist to help people in need and to support worthwhile causes, but so many fail because they’re not causes that touch us personally. Kony in 2012 went viral for a bit before quickly puttering out because people lost interest.

This week’s lecture focused on bringing political and economic issues to the attention of youths. Power to the people – especially those in their twenties. Henry Giroux says that the mainstream media “certainly see[s] them as disposable populations; young people are often defined in the United States as lazy, utterly self absorbed – it goes on and on.” A very true statement, but maybe this stereotype is perpetuated because older generations know exactly the kind of power our generation has and want to stifle it? Young people have a ridiculous amount of technology and media available to them as well as the numbers. There are now more millennials (1982-2003) than baby boomers! Oh the things we can achieve if we just focused and ripped ourselves away from Facebook, Tumblr and YouTube!

So yes, we youths are very important and we need to realise this. Many young people don’t vote in America because they don’t really understand politics or don’t want anything to change. In Australia it is mandatory to vote but I have several friends who don’t really care or have no idea who to vote so they vote for the smaller parties like the Greens. Why? Guys, we need to put great people in charge of our government. Of course, I like to take advantage of my friends’ cluelessness and recommend that they vote for the party I am going to vote for. 😉

Remixing and Renewing?

Learning all about remixing this week was quite interesting. I love to avoid remixes of Rihanna and Madonna songs by ‘DJ Squire’ or ‘Lil’ Pete’ (fictional, so don’t look it up on YouTube!) and I love to pretend that they don’t exist.

In this time where everyone is a produser, remixes are one of the easiest things to create as long as you have the right instruments and technology. One of my old school mates is now a DJ and I get regular Facebook invites to the clubs he’s playing at on the weekends. Being a fun sponge (and owner of ridiculously sensitive ears) I haven’t been, but he shares his music on SoundCloud. The fact that it’s so easy to create upload advantages budding artists whose works get shared around.

A few of my favourite remixes include Taylor Swift’s ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’ with the goat screaming plus 3OH!3’s ‘Starstruck’ lyrics “Nice legs, daisy dukes, makes a man go–” with various sounds tacked on at the end. It’s ridiculously fun to reinvent music and audio files because they can be so humorous. Another thing that caught my attention this week is this one guy feeding Ryan Gosling cereal but Ryan Gosling won’t have any of that, nuh uh.

What has really happened is that the increasing availability participants an equal chance to have their message heard – has simply amplified the existing cultural activities of independent fans and artists to an extent that they now stand side by side (and sometimes overshadow) the cultural output sanctioned by conventional publishers.

Axel Bruns

A positive benefit of this new remixing ‘culture’ is the way we connect. With so many ways to connect, remixing adds another element. Like-minded people can collaborate, can befriend each other through mutual interests and find connections to further their careers. The Internet is a great place to be ‘discovered’ on! In his era of technology, we are finding so many new ways to connect every day and why not enjoy warbling sound-bites whilst we’re at it?

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.

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?

Copyright Law, AKA Me and My Sister’s Weekly Arguments Over Stuff

This week we are learning all about copyright law, which as most of you guys know, is complicated, a TL;DR and means your YouTube videos featuring cool songs in the background will most likely be taken down within a few months of uploading.

A couple of different version of copyright were talked about, including current copyright law, DRM, EULA (End-user License Agreement), fair use and creative commons. For example: I already knew that the happy birthday song was copyrighted, which is why we never hear it sung in movies or TV shows, but I never knew exactly how strict all these laws were. To be honest, its getting to restrictive that soon enough we’ll be limited to using stuff only in the public domain, even if we use the ‘not mine!’ disclaimers commonly found in the YouTube butt bar. Speaking of YouTube, we were originally linked to a TED Talk video (they’re all usually brilliant)  but half an hour later, I was five videos away and landed on this gem, that I had to share:

What I took from our discussions was that people are really touchy about the fact that they created stuff and other people like that stuff and want to use it. Of course, if those people felt like stealing it, then yes I would be a bit peeved off, BUT most people do credit the creators/owners of the work, as they would in a YouTube video by writing “One Direction wrote the trashy song that I used in my video”. As an author or artist, I would want my work to be shared – and yes, it is inevitable that some people would pirate it or forget to add my name to it, but my work is OUT THERE and people are seeing it and those people will be curious enough to ask, “Where is more? I want more!” That’s enough for me, even with the negative aspects of how my work got out into the world.

Did we really need this or the other four movies?

Fun fact: I finally learnt about how the movie-making-and-marketing industry works and it’s not pretty. If we could spare making one movie a year and the money saved from that (an average of $100million) was used to help developing countries, then those countries would be in better shape in a couple of years! I am willing to forgo a few movies a year for that sort of cause. Are you?

I Change My Mind Far Too Often

For my BCM112 class we’re supposed to pick an emerging technology or media platform to blog, Tweet and write about. I had ended up picking something but decided that there wasn’t enough to write about so I binned that post and looked for something else to choose. Something that’s still quite new but is absolutely awesome and fantastic and has heaps of new discoveries going on all the time.

“Wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff” – The Doctor

Then it hit me, as I was watching Frankie Muniz’s Agent Cody Banks: nanotechnology. Why the hell not? We still have a heap to discover about it and it’s so cool and interesting! I was reading a news story about it a few months ago and I was blown away by how many things we can do with it.

So yes. Nanotech is my gig now. For those who want to know more about nanotech and aren’t pleased with the Doctor’s fairly accurate description of the technology and its process, here is a pretty good website you can visit.

We’re Not All Pros at This Thing Called the ‘Internet’…

I’m gonna go ahead and say this: I’m surprised at the large number of people who have no idea how to use Twitter and/or WordPress and need to ask really elementary questions about it in lectures. I’m pretty sure the last twenty minutes of my BCM112 lecture was spent with Ted (the awesome lecturer) demonstrating the most elementary aspects of blogging. I had to leave ten minutes in once I realised I knew it all and wouldn’t make my train home in time if I stayed – so someone can correct me if this didn’t happen drag on to the very end of the lecture.

Our lecturer is always telling us how lucky we are to have grown up in this time where the Internet is so popular and we have all this technology at our fingertips for effortless access. Then I look around on these websites and see how so many people are posting “New to Twitter, so confused!” or “Wtf is WordPress, how do I use it?”.

It seems to me that we’re not quite yet that much talked-about generation of tech-savvy teens who know everything to do with the latest gizmos and gadgets. You may say, “Alice, not everyone has a blog or Twitter, just like you didn’t get Instagram at first and don’t have SnapChat still”. (FYI: I have a Windows phone, and both apps aren’t available.) Well, yeah, some of us do have lives (hint: clearly not me) and what I’m trying to get at in this long-winded post is that I didn’t expect so many people to be ignorant of these platforms.

In the lecture this afternoon it was talked about how the cost of production of media has been lowered to zero, meaning we can upload whatever the hell we want onto the Internet and it will cost us very little – plus, if no one likes it or sees it, who cares? We are just another random face on the Internet. This sums up my entire attitude: it’s so easy to get our opinions and creations out there into the big blue sea but some of us don’t do it. Why not?

I’m going to leave a recommendation for you readers: go out there and join Tumblr. On there you will find an enormous array of fan art, gorgeous photos and personal opinions. Do you love a TV show? So do ten thousand other people. And guess what? Some of them write absolutely fantastic fan fiction and make the coolest photo- or GIF-sets or post  their thoughts about the latest episode. It’s its own world there because it’s not just about the hipsters, fandoms and fitness nuts. Just make sure not to scroll through your dashboard in class and come across a large photo of a very naked lady like I did this arvo.