Week 4 Question: (the one about blogs, how ironic)

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.

As the Internet stands in its current amalgamation, it forms what could be interpreted as the purest form of democracy. Given that content is created and ruled by its users, more avenues of opinion are available for those who wish to interpret them (perfectly exemplified in a blog such as this). Given that I interpret this to be the case, it also seems logical for me to agree that bloggers are a more effective information source than traditional news media.

As Russell, Ito, Richmond and Tuters (2008) note, bloggers hold advantage over traditional media sources as they maintain a specific freedom from economic influences and restraint. Because of this, bloggers are able to operate in a media with high exposure, while often offering non-conventional information.

Though I am fundamentally opposed to many of his opinions, Andrew Boltserves as a good example of a blogger who is able to expose his views through the maintenance of a weblog (2011). While he is also an established journalist, the information available on his blog serves as a more direct and thorough method from which to spout his opinions, than can occur through traditional media. For Bolt’ followers, his blog serves as a highly effective source of information, free from the obvious bias that occurs within all other established news sources.

Ever.

dun-dun-dduuuuuhhhhh

Fortunately for the rest of us, Bolt can also be seen as representing a necessary counterpoint to established media truths (such as views on the stolen generation, climate change, etc) and therefore his blog finds a democratic purpose. So, because Bolt would not be able to express his full opinion in the established media, blogging gives him the opportunity to freely express his views and offer challenges to accepted connotations… even if he doesn’t particuarly deserve it. And really, isn’t that what democracy is all about?

While this works on a personal level, useful information that can be gathered from a blog is often difficult to find when considering the millions of pointless weblogs in existence. For this reason, blogs have yet to overtake established media sources in their consumer effectiveness. However, in regions of the globe where citizens are savvier regarding their news sources, organizations have been established to combine the content effectiveness of blogs, and the structure of established media. The Slovenian website Drugi Svet (2011) is an example of a site that congregates relevant blog projects from individuals and makes them readily available for consumers, thereby providing all the perks of blog sourced information with none of the disadvantages.

In Australia, the general consensus regarding established media is often regarded to be less cynical and more transparent than other nations around the globe (nobody gets surprised when The Age runs a story shamelessly paying out on social conservatives) so perhaps the need for weblog related media as a viable alternative to established media is not applicable yet. However, the effectiveness of blogs still remains prevalent in informing individuals whose interests lie beyond those regularly reported in established media.

Works Cited:

– Russel, A, Ito, M, Richmond, T & Tuters, M 2008, ‘Culture: media convergence and networked culutre’ in K Varnelis (eds) Networked Publics, MA: MIT Press, Cambridge, pp. 43-76.

– Drugi Svet 2011, Drugi Svet, Slovenia viewed 9 May 2011, <http://www.drugisvet.com/&gt;

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Pfft, if limewire’s so great how comes it’s dead?

When dealing with physical space, we choose to see some objects as having more value than others. In most instances, this is a logical relationship to share with our intimate possessions; a vase for example is a highly irrelevant object unless aged for 700 years and given a funny-sounding title. However, our interactions with online spaces serve as a direct counterpoint to our physical and sentimental attachments, as we rarely feel the need to preserve digital memory unless it serves a purpose.

In some aspects, I understand why this flippant treatment of the digital realm occurs. While a house is an object which will physically stand for a specific period of time, a humorous YouTube video only takes form when we demand it to, and therefore cannot request the same connotations of time, space and worth. However, as the Internet becomes a more integral part of our lives and the functionality of society, I believe it should demand at least some aspect of cultural heritage where appropriate.
Future generations will likely want to experience how the structure of digital media has changed over time, just as in the physical world we wish to experience how previous civilisations functioned and responded to change in their times. While information regarding a program such as Napster or any website layout prior to web 2.0 is easy to obtain in written form, actually trying to gain any of those examples in their original digital arrangement is significantly harder.

Given that these digital objects are a little over 15 years old (significantly younger than my desk, or the vintage ‘playboy’ sitting on my desk) and already fairly scarce to find, one can assume that in a few hundred years, practically nothing of their existence will be available for reference, besides written word. This is shame really, as it is so easy to store information in its digital form, yet important aspects of our digital history are destroyed on a daily basis, because they serve no purpose.

Ultimately, because digital technologies are so young, they are not yet seen as an important aspect of our culture to be conserved. Also, because progress and changes occur so quickly when regarding digital media, it is easy to regard any digital space as being disposable. Although it is with much joy that i contemplate the fate of MySpace, as it inevitably surrenders its last ounce of usefulness and is forced to sell its domain name to one of those ad sites, I also understand the necessity of this destructive process in the current online business model. I just pray that the same fate is not suffered by websites I actually enjoy.

End Rant.

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Dont Feed the Trolls.

The interactions that take place on the Internet have always intrigued me alittle, as the intimate societies and cultures that occur online often take on a form which generally would not occur in real life. For example when you go to a movie, you usually try to see a film that you think you might like (probably based on genre, actors and directors, etc.) in order to gain an enjoyable viewing expierence.
However when you watch a clip on youtube, the same selection does not particuarly occur. Alot of the time viewing media on the internet can revolve entirely around how eye-wateringly terrible something is. More to the point, real-world culural identity does not always apply when selecting media to participate in. Probably the best example of this, would have to be one of the numerous ‘screamo’ covers of Rebecca Black’s “Friday” that are availible for your viewing pleasure right here.

The aspect of this cultural confusion I find most intersting though, would have to be the phenomenon of ‘Trolling’.
Causing people to flip into bouts of  rage is a predicament most individuals do not wish to obtain in real-life (unless they enjoy having the crap beaten out of them), however doing so online usually has no such ramifications. As a result, the act of purposely causing anger or  discomfort in groups of individuals has become a some-what popular passtime in the virtual world, and is commonly known as ‘trolling’.
While trolling can be fun, it also raises some serious ethical issues regarding the nature of online communities, and the proper etiquette of interactions that occur within them. For example, while satirising a religious organisation can be interpreted as harmless and legal, insensitivly defacing a facebook page dedicated to deceased children will land you three years in the slammer.

The difference between the two stories above is obvious in the context of moral judgement, however our morality is mostly relative to the world in which we live, and is therefore subject to change (be it conscious or otherwise) when applied on the Internet.
For this reason, trolling takes on a ambiguous meaning when moving into the future. While we recognise acts of violence in video games to be isolated events occuring within the virtual world, abuse and mental anguish as delivered via virtual media only serves to blur the definition of what we understand to be a real interaction.

Ultimatly, the art of ‘trolling’ is likely here to stay, with the importance of being able to spot a troll even being stressed by istitutions such as the Idnianna University’s Internet Technology service. However, the main conclusion will eventually be how society deals with the cultural phenomenon moving into the future. Until then, remember… dont feed the trolls!

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