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 Creative Commons license I chose to use was titled “Attribution-NonCommercial CC BY-NC” this allows others to  remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.
This appeared to be the best suited to my posted work because I still would like my work to be credited to me, but it cannot be “cashed-in on”.

The other Creative Commons options were also suitable for this and other works but Attribution seemed a bit too broad, Attribution-ShareAlike allows work to be changed too easily, Attribution-NoDerivs is also a good creative commons option, but the idea that your can potentially be used to commercial gain is a bit of a turn off.

Advertisements

Alan Lui discusses the use of visual metaphors from older media in Webdesign and argues that such metaphors “naturalize the limitations of the new medium by disguising them within those of older media” (Reader, page 228). Discuss while giving an example of a website.


photo by ilinklondon, some rights reserved http://i.thisislondon.co.uk/i/pix/2010/03/timesonline415.jpg

Lui’s argument that by employing ‘old media’ metaphors in ‘new media’ forms, such as the internet, web-designers have a greater ability to “naturalise the limitations of the new medium by disguising them within those of older media” (Lui, 2004: 228). Lui adds that a successful web page are those that “recognise the spatiotemporal disturbances of the medium but then accommodate those disturbances through clever visual metaphors or coding techniques that create the facade of a whole harmonium” (2004: 227).

The Times Online presents a prime example of an old media metaphors disguising new media limitations. As the online version of London’s esteemed newspaper The Times, in many design aspects it mimics the daily newspaper itself.

Upon opening the ‘home’ web page, it can immediately be seen to draw visual parallels to the layout of a traditional newspaper. The arrangement of genre topics into sections is a metaphor alluding to old media styling. Much like the tangible newspaper, The Times Online has the sites heading at the top of the page, underlined by traditionally named sections such as News, Opinion, Business, Money, Sport, Arts and Puzzles. In the ‘older media’ newspaper, these same stories would have been confined to similar sections due to space restrictions and limitations set by the desired fluidity of design principles. Lui’s aforementioned “clever visual metaphors [and] coding techniques” (2004: 227) are again evidenced in this webpage by the fact that users are able to grasp an overview of the day in news (weather, breaking headlines, photo links) without having to leave the opening page; echoing the old form media with an obvious newspaper design metaphor. The spatial limitations of a single webpage are well disguised with traditional column formats, captioned images and subheadings.

New Media, like this website, and even this blog, need to ensure seamless functionality within a very limited space and a low bit-rate to ensure fast loading in order successfully operate (Lui, 2004: 225).

Lui’s concept of the naturalising effect of visual metaphors taken from older media (like the recognisable, traditional format of a newspaper) makes The Times Online appear more established in its design and layout, particularly in the ways that it arranges information. The evident parallels between The Times Online and its hard-print counterpart are significantly reinforced by Lui’s statement that “it is no accident that in describing cool design on the Web we should reach for a metaphor from an older medium” (2004: 227). The web-design of The Times Online quintessentially defines the extent to which traditional, ‘old media’ has influenced the new media designs of today.

WORKS CITED:

Alan Lui, ‘Information is Style’, in Laws of Cool: Knowledge Work and the Culture of Information, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004, pp. 195-230.

The Times Online (2011) The Times London Online website, http://www.thetimes.co.uk [3 May 2011].


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

Zuckerberg’s statement Facebooks updated privacy features states that;

When people have control over what they share, they’re comfortable sharing more. When people share more, the world becomes more open and connected. And in a more open world, many of the problems that we face together will become easier to solve.

This highly simplified and idealistic rhetoric essentially claims that Facebook users now have greater control over what they share thanks to new simplified privacy controls, which were introduced as a response to users feedback, indicative of Facebooks role as a ‘collaborative practice’. Ideally, users should now feel in greater control of their uploaded personal information and who can view it.

Similar Web 2.0 social networking applications have transformed the way we use the internet and the ways in which we socialise with others. It has also changed our control over privacy.

In some ways, sharing does lead positively to a more open and connected landscape, but in many other ways Zuckerberg’s statement is deeply flawed.

Zuckerberg’s first statement that “When people have control over what they share, they’re comfortable sharing more”; a statement that, at first glance, I personally find true. If I know that a social networking site, like MySpace, Twitter or Facebook, allows me greater control over what I share, I would be more comfortable to share private information. As TIME magazine’s ‘Person of the Year’ Zuckerberg said “The way that people think about privacy is changing a bit. What people want isn’t complete privacy. It isn’t that they want secrecy. It’s that they want control over what they share and what they don’t” (Fletcher 2010).

rights reserved by TIME magazine

photo by TIME magazine, rights reserved

While Zuckerberg’s statement is true that when people feel they have greater control they are often more willing to open up, an important point is that this ‘development’ of privacy control actually presents greater privacy concerns in that it makes our already available posted details more readily accessible through ‘improved’ News Feed functions. Despite the improved simplicity of the controls, the level of control we have as users is questionable. Most of us will not have read over the ‘terms and conditions’ of the Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities when we initially signed up to become users. It states that: “You grant [Facebook] a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook” (Facebook, 2010). So while Zuckerberg reaffirms importance of users in this ‘collaborative practice’, the company’s legal documents render this irrelevant.

Zuckerberg’s next important statement is “When people share more, the world becomes more open and connected. And in a more open world, many of the problems that we face together will become easier to solve”. This proclamation presents many flaws, not only for Facebook’s utilities, but also for all other Web 2.0 applications. Emitting personal information on to the Internet can create great personal problems. Being “open and connected” can have great consequence for ones private relationships, reputations and professional lives. Soloves articles aptly suggests that an “unconstrained flow of information on the internet might impede our freedom” (2007: 17) and make the individual vulnerable to misinterpretation and manipulation as a result of posted private information.

In conclusion, while Zuckerberg’s statement on the improved privacy controls may have been inspired by collaborative practices and initially appear positive and genuine, in reality the openness and connectivity he lauds has not appropriately considered the consequences of this ‘privacy’ on the individual user.

WORKS CITED:

Facebook (2010) Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities webpage, http://www.facebook.com/terms.php, 4 October, 2010 [1 May 2011]

Fletcher, D. (2010)  ‘Friends Without Borders’, TIME, 31 May: 16-22.

Solove, D J. 2007, ‘How the Free Flow of Information Liberates and Constrains Us’ in The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumour and privacy on the Internet, Yale University Press, New Haven, pp. 17-49.

WordPress “masks the database and creates a continuous blogging experience within the browser” (Helmond in Reader, p. 180), yet the database is rigidly defined and categorised. Discuss how this shapes the way we interact with the World Wide Web through blogging and how it affects user agency.

video from youtube, uploaded by

It’s that easy?

The creator of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, has been quoted as saying; “The job of computers and networks is to get out of the way, to not be seen… the technology should be transparent, so we interact with it intuitively” (Helmond, 2007: 53). Rarely is this truer than in the instance of interactive platforms, like blogging application, WordPress.

For many, the appeal of blogging comes from the feeling of creating your own space, unlike any other, that represents you and your ideas.  The freedom of content and design is something that attracts many bloggers in the first place, but ironically, they are moreover bound by the restrictive, pre-determined categories that form part of the applications database. Helmond defines WordPress’s database as an “automatic installation” (2007) that has been designed in a manner that doesn’t explicitly reveal its “rigidly defined categories” (Poster, 1990: 25). WordPress’s “continuous blogging experience” masks the fact that the changes imposed by the blogger only affects a single layer of the decentralised network, and does not affect the principal hardware. By writing posts and determining layout all within a set structured interface, the process becomes much easier than writing directly into the database using CSS or HTML coding (Helmond, 2007: 53). Andrew’s views ‘user agency’ as “a

psychological construct, [that defines] how much people believe outcomes are the result of what they do’’ (2005). This is directly relatable to the case of WordPress whereby users believe that they have creative autonomy of their blog. The overriding control of the database, however, affects user agency by defining specific features and categories to create a blog and that a users appearance in a search is defined by the database itself.

Despite these limitations, user agency remains positive in regards to the ease and simplicity of interacting with the database, and creating a finished product that is easily accessible. Today databases, like WordPress, enable us to become a ‘blogger’ just by supply a name and password. The YouTube video above demonstrates the ease of setting up a blog; an ease enabled by a “masked database”. Without a deep understanding of computer coding and web-design, bloggers will likely remain limited in the level of their ‘uniqueness and individuality’. Helmond draws attention to WordPress’s rigidity, noting “categories are restricted in size to 55 characters” (Helmond, 2007: 59), which again limits our online interactions in a manner that is controlled by user agencies and their databases because the general public does not possess the knowledge required to rectify these databases. Ultimately, this results in user agencies creating easy to use interfaces that are embedded into HTML codings, allowing the average user to access and use it.

For most bloggers, the freedom allowed by applications like WordPress is enough; but the control over rigidly defined and categorised databases that allow for our “continuous blogging experience” still needs to be taken into account as we post, publish and tag the days away.

 WORKS CITED:

Andrews, M. (2005) Michael Andrews Blogspot website  http://michaelandrews.blogspot.com/2005/11/user-agency.html, 6 November 2005 [May 2, 2011].

Helmond, A. (2007). ‘Software-Engine relations’, in Blogging for Engines: Blogs Under the Influence of Software-Engine relations, MA Thesis, Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam

Poster, M. (1990) The Mode of Information: Poststructuralism and Social Context. Chicago: University Of Chicago Press.


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.

With the rise of blogging has come a rise in debate over its ability to supersede esteemed media institutions. Many view new media such as blogging, the future of public information, and traditional media forms, such as print and television, increasingly as a thing of the past. Russell’s question raises issues about the democratic status of media institutions versus independent bloggers.

Russell aptly notes “The balance of power between news providers and news consumers has shifted” (Russell et al., 2008: 67). The way in which individuals consume news has shifted with the increasing status of the Internet. Bloggers provide the public with real-time, often specialized information, in comparison to the often limited views powerful media conglomerates. NewsCorp’s Fox News is often criticized for its anti-Democrat agenda, an agenda openly admitted to by Chairman Rupert Murdoch.

video from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0K2pLo8JV5Y uploaded by

With many of the worlds elite media sources reporting story with a bias skew favouring personal agendas and political opinions it is unsurprising that so many bloggers and ‘blog-consumers’ have sought alternative, democratic news sources. The collaborative approach and greater freedom of speech realised through blogging enables a greater extent of information democracy to be achieved. With this information I do agree that “editorial independence, collaborative structure and merit-based popularity” (Russell et al. 2008:67) succours their authority and purpose as informative, democratic news sources.

The audience and reach of prominent blogs are rapidly gaining on traditional media sources. Without the constraints of power moguls, blogging countenances unprejudiced opinions. This type of decentralised ‘civilian journalism’ challenges traditional media by generating credible news and information, often referred to as A-list blogs. This genre surpasses “ego casting” blogs that typically present narcissistic, self-promotional posts and instead creates a reputable, informative news source that can be accessed at anytime, with sporadic stories that often cater to a specific audience.

Bloggers are more effective in informing the public in several ways. Independent bloggers have no limitations of discourse or outlook based on ownership values and as such can retain less biased, conglomerated views. Russell et al.’s observation that “the balance of power between news providers and news consumers has shifted’ (2008) reaffirms the notion that blogs enable the public to be greater informed about topics that they are specifically interested in, such as fashion blogs like: The Sartorialist and New York Magazine’s The Cut. When grounding a blog based on merit, the audience is able to see how many peers ‘follow’ or ‘like’ the bloggers, resulting in reader empowerment through the ability to choose whose views they consume, giving them a “freedom of choice” (Russell et al., 2008), often disabled by mainstream media outlets. It is also the ability to comment on blog posts that warrants blogs as an informative media source. The level of interaction made possible by a ‘comment’ function allows a forum of discussion that again reduces the decisiveness of traditional news stories.

Two such successful blogs that inform the public are the often extolled Huffington Post and Global Voices. Both provide multifaceted blogs with posts from renowned journalists that are open to public contribution (Huffington Post, 2011; Global Voices, 2011). Both retain details often filtered out of mainstream media and remain as transparent as possible in all aspects of their postings.

[Opening page images, taken from print screens of http://huffingtonpost.com and http://globalvoicesonline.org/%5D

Global Voices specifically states that its emphasis is “on voices that are not ordinarily heard in international mainstream media” (Global Voices, 2011).

In these ways, blogs do effectively inform the public; they have no pre-mediated opinionative obligations and are thus editorial independent, they enable public commenting through a collaborative structure and their merit-based popularity reaffirms reader-empowerment; all key facets of what may be the future of the media.

WORKS CITED:

Global Voices (2011), Global Voices Online website, http://globalvoicesonline.org [1st May, 2011].

Huffington Post (2011), Huffington Post Online News website, http://huffingtonpost.com [1st May, 2011].

Russell, A. et al. (2008) ‘Culture: Media Convergence and Networked Culture’ pp. 43-76 in Varnelis, K (ed.) Networked Publics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

The Cut (2011), New York Magazine’s The Cut website, http://nymag.com/daily/fashion [1st May, 2011].

The Sartorialist (2011), http://thesartorialist.blogspot.com [1st May, 2011].

For me a bad website is an ‘angelfire’ style one filled with tasteless flash animation, gaudy WordArt and music that you can’t turn off..

For me a great site does incorporate the modernist design principles spoken about in the readings and lecture. My favourite websites are typically online-shopping sites, not just because of the product, but because they are designed entirely with the consumer in mind. They are clear, easy to navigate, simple and well formatted to comply with whatever server you’re using.

Not an avid blog follower, I came to this assignment with a sense of skepticism that, this week, has subsided a little. The ‘Uses of blogs’ topic covered in this weeks lecture and tutorial has won me over slightly. The idea of ‘citizen journalism’ evoked by Blog creators really appealed to my idea of small groups making a difference in the big picture. Wikileaks is obviously the prime example of small intel rivaling the giants, but I can understand that blogging empowers ‘typical citizens’ with a canvas to voice their opinions.

The concept of reporters being categorised into either:

–       Accidental journalist (“knee-jerk” reporter)

–       Advocacy journalist (“biased reporter)

–       Citizen journalist (“trained” and “unbiased”)

Makes a lot of sense to me and seems too greater clarify the subjective notion that all reporters fall into. Looking at opinionative, news focused blogs needs to be within this framework to keep its opinion relative. The idea of ‘INDYMEDIA’ as a democratic news source was new to me and inspired me to think more closely about the subjective nature of all I read (and post) on the net.

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’?

photo from googlesystem (http://googlesystem.blogspot.com)

Van Dijck notes that “’Communities”, in relation to media, refers to a large range of user groups, some of which resemble grassroots movements, but the overwhelming majority coincide with consumer groups or entertainment platforms” (2009: 45). It is in this way that many online communities, such as YouTube, are formed. These communities come to exist through the shared experiences and opinions of its members. Ranking tactics employed by many site’s interfaces can determine and influence the popularity of online videos and to allow more people to find and access links according to their interests, often suggested by ranking systems. YouTube’s employed ranking tactics can be seen to encourage online users to interact and voice their opinions about specific content, and to identify and promote already popular content.

Particularly in regards to consumption and participation, it is known that users learn from others (Cosley et al, 2005). Many YouTube users, like myself, will be far more likely to watch a video if its ranking and view-count is high, because this is evidence of its peer-approval. The emphasis placed upon the ranking of online content also provides an important guide as to what the desired elements of online content are, and how best to increase their own ratings and satisfy their ‘online community’. Vassileva and Cheng’s views (2005) imply that the key reason online communities, like YouTube, are so popular is because individuals want to make a connection with, and please their peers. Ranking systems provide evidence of their successes.

An important, and highly visible ranking tactic employed by YouTube is the ability to comment on and rate the video, to like or dislike it and even to post a video response to another users posting. These forms of feedback can often act to inform users as to its rank, or ‘worthiness’, as a facet of their online community. The discussion area below a video allows for users to form relationships with other like-minded users and potentially create a faceted community within a greater online community. YouTube’s ranking tactics like ‘most popular’ and ‘most discussed’ contribute to and form online communities by guiding users to previously peer-approved content that reaffirms their own content-savvy status (Van Dijck, 2009: 45).

In this manner, ranking tactics have a clear impact on the formation of online communities as they allow users to learn, from their own peers, what has been accepted and as worthy of promoting and sharing and what tenets or qualities they should display in their own video postings. It is justifiable to then say ranking tactics enable YouTube to be an online community, not just a group of online users (Van Dijck, 2009: 45).

Van Dijck’s quotation of Arthur’s statistics on the amount of users who actually contribute to the content that they consume on YouTube draws attention an important facet of an ‘online community’. He notes that “if you get a group of 100 people online then one will create content, 10 will “interact” with it…and the other 89 will just view it” (Arthur, 2006). This statistic suggests that a community’s formation is not always due to user ranking and interactions around posted videos. The technical aspects and algorithms that are used to determine rankings (Van Dijck, 2009: 45) are also crucial contributing factors that impact on the formation of an online community. It is not only user generated feedback and ranking, but content calculations and the placement of ‘recommended videos’, driven by YouTube, that impact on the online community who often find themselves connected by the direction of employed ranking tactics.

SOURCES CITED:

Arthur, C. (2006) ‘What is the 1% rule?’, The Guardian (Technology section) 20 July, URL (consulted April 2011): http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2006/jul/20/guardianweeklytechnologysection2

Cosley, D., D. Frankowski, P.J. Ludford, & L. Terveen, (2004). ‘Think different: increasing online community participation using uniqueness and group dissimilarity’. Proceedings of the Proceedings of the sigchi conference on human factors in computing systems (pp. 631-638). New York, NY: ACM.

Van Dijck, ‘Users Like You? Theorizing Agency in User-Generated Content’, Media, Culture and Society 31 (2009): 41-48.

Vassileva, J, & R. Cheng (2005). ‘User motivation and persuasion strategy for peer-to-peer communities’. Proceedings of the 38th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?arnumber=01385629 Accessed 20 April, 2011.

Having created a few blogs for various subjects, largely using the university created, basic system, WordPress is a clean, easily navigated, well functioning server that, should I continue creating a personal blog beyond this subject, I would have no hesitation to use.

When looking at websites, or blogs, I would not typically spend time looking at, or reading the content on one in which I did not find aesthetically pleasing. The template I have chosen on wordpress is one which I believe to be functional, clear in its intention and not overcrowded with unnecessary complications of layout, backgrounds and font. The purpose of this blog is to further discuss and expand upon my subject knowledge and I believe that this template and server allows me to do so.

License Copyright All rights reserved by Grubwart

Dear students, don’t blog too hard. Stay in touch with reality…