Closing Thoughts

Much of our focus after the first test switched to social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter; from their impact on society and the younger generation’s interaction with one another and the world, as well as how they allow a frightening amount of personal information into the world wide web. Privacy has changed, and might not exist in the near future. In Betancourt’s article, she discusses how information is gathered, data mining, and what companies do with it. Much of this was familiar, and I was aware of the tracking that goes on with most all actions and keystrokes online. No surprise that everyone’s ads are tailor-made for their likes and interests. Papacharissi’s article, “Privacy as a Luxury Commodity” brought key issues into focus on the topic. I never saw personal info as a currency, but it definitely is. We continually trade it for access to pretty much everything online; Facebook profiles, access to others’ information, you name it. Papacharissi brings up this notion of privacy struggle and that it is nothing new, but rather lies simply within a new medium. “This balance between privacy and sociality has always existed; what is upsetting to many users is that it now rests upon a social plane that digitally records, archives, and tracks social behaviors by default.” How long will companies keep our information that they store in databases? My take on privacy is much in the way of other ‘digital natives’ in that I am quite comfortable with how intrusive the internet is. Creepy at times, I feel that younger people are okay with it for the most part, and I am aware that nothing is 100% private online.

I really enjoyed the last few weeks discussing sampling, DJing, copyright, and what makes the remix culture so interesting. It is a testament to digital natives’ need for remixing and creating new things out of the old. However, even though many see this as thievery, it is simply what other artists and musicians have done for years prior, but rather on a new medium–the internet and highly advanced technology including computers and sampling hardware. DJ Spooky compares literacy with music in “DJ-ing is Writing, Writing is DJ-ing.” Many writers use the exact same words that a previous author may have, but they switch them up and remix them, making something new, creative, and labor intensive out of a previous work. My favorite quote to exemplify DJ and sample-based music is that “the voice you speak with may not be your own.” Few things today are 100% original, but this by no means is worrisome. Embracing it will let creativity flow, instead of every amateur creator out there being afraid to try new artistic endeavors in fear of nasty copyright infringement laws and the dreaded YouTube copyright school.

Following the DJ/Sample culture was the man who could possibly help all this copyright hoopla cease–Lawrence Lessig. Remix culture could breath again, reminiscing in the days of Public Enemy and De La Soul, when as Mix Master Mike puts it, “the sample police didn’t roll as thick.” Lessig drives home the point that the younger, remix culture of today shouldn’t be seen as criminals, punished for every YouTube mash up they make of their favorite songs which are immediately torn down from the site. We are not criminals, and have simply done what other artists before us have done, using the latest technology we have at our disposal. Lessigs “Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy” could single-handedly shape the most effective rebuttal against copyright laws, and hopefully make the remix culture less repressive and money hungry, allowing it to be more creative.

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Post #5 Sampling

I have always loved hip-hop and rap music, and love music in general. I’ve been playing the drums since 7th grade and have recently been exploring other similar realms of music creation in the past year or so. I have a turntable and have been scratching for a few months, and I’m always looking for cool beats and things to use as samples with which to create entirely new music from.  On the electronic side, I really love techno, dubstep, and really most electronic music, which takes from a lot of different styles of music, and even grabs from other digital media that wasn’t even made as music, or even thought of as being able to make music with. I feel sampling and beat-making using previous musicians is a great thing, and love DJ Spooky’s use of Emerson’s quote, “it is as difficult to appropriate the thoughts of others as it is to invent.” To me this really sums up DJ-ing and sample-based music. Some see it as stealing, but I feel that to create, one must look at what inspires them and sounds good to their ears in order to know what they want to make not just musically, but in anything, whether it’s art, poetry, writing, etc. Looking to this quote, one can easily see that sampling is no stealing, and is as creative as making ‘original’ music(I can’t say this exists, but that is an entirely different discussion altogether). Moving from sampling straight music, whether that is a chorus, drum beat, words, or phrasing from songs, I really like artists that sample things not even used for music in origin. A big thing lately is using youtube clips and then going and sampling words from random videos. Many artists have began doing this, and some of my favorites that come to mind are silly videos of people going crazy, and for whatever reason then posting themselves doing so online. Gotta love youtube. The song I chose was “First of the Year” by Skrillex.  He is an electronic artist that is quite sporadic in his music, but some of it is pretty good. For the most part, he makes his own beats and has an interesting style. But the key here is that a lot of his samples are from these random youtube videos he finds of people just talking, or yelling in this case, which he then samples, edits, and messes with time-wise to fit with his crazy electronic sounds. This is really exciting to me because these clips, unlike previous sample-artists, weren’t even originally music. Artists which use these simply like whatever that random uploader on youtube said and then made it work quite creatively for their songs. This adds another layer to what some people think as simply stealing in the sample-based music scene. Hope you enjoy!

http://www.whosampled.com/sample/view/118248/Skrillex-First%20of%20the%20Year%20(Equinox)_Ebaum-Crazy%20Screaming%20Lady%20in%20Parking%20Lot/

Privacy, or lack thereof

This weeks readings were interesting, but a few came as no surprise to me. Facebook’s security and privacy settings never cease to amaze, as they get ever more creepy and intrusive. In Betancourt’s article, she discusses how information is gathered, data mining, and what companies do with it. Much of this was familiar, and I was aware of the tracking that goes on with most all actions and keystrokes online. There is a reason every ad on anyone’s computer is tailored to them individually…THEY ARE WATCHING!!! Now, Papacharissi’s article, “Privacy as a Luxury Commodity” was quite interesting, bringing to light key issues on the topic. I never saw personal info as a currency, but it definitely is. We continually trade it for access to pretty much everything online; Facebook profiles, access to others’ information, you name it. Another great thing Papacharissi brings up is that this notion of privacy struggle is nothing new, but rather lies simply within a new medium. “This balance between privacy and sociality has always existed; what is upsetting to many users is that it now rests upon a social plane that digitally records, archives, and tracks social behaviors by default.” That is the key to why invasions of privacy are such a big deal now. Companies not only have access, but they store the information away for who knows how long until they need or want to use it. Finally, she mentions a privacy divide in which class defines how much privacy one has. I also never looked at it this way, but it makes total sense. Just as with many other aspects in life, privacy too is bought and sold. Those with more money have greater access online, as well as usually more tech knowledge to set up privacy and access settings. The last reading from Angwin, Raice, and Ante about Facebook’s retreat on privacy touched on many of the things I’ve heard in regards to privacy. However, they brought up a great point. Many of us sign up for numerous different accounts online, and always blindly click ‘I agree’ to documents on user agreements that even lawyers struggle with sometimes. The article states, “it’s getting more and more important to be increasingly clear and give people those controls,” and I agree with this. People need to know how their privacy is being handled in a concise and easily readable manner, as well as have relatively easy access to and understanding of how to go in and edit privacy settings.

My take on privacy is much in the way of other ‘digital natives’ in that I am quite comfortable with how intrusive the internet is. It can get creepy at times, but I feel that younger people are okay with it for the most part, and I am aware that nothing is 100% private online. Even with the best security setup, if someone really wants any bit of info on you, they will find a way to get it. That’s just how it is being being such a collaborative and interactive space.

ESPN: Utilizing Social Networking Sites

Many businesses now days understand that surviving in the market involves being accessible to customers, and keeping in constant contact with them to ensure they are happy.  Not too long ago, this meant that if a business was serious they would have a website available for the public.  Now, hardly even a decade later, if all a business has is some random website, no matter how good, they could quite possibly be left behind when put alongside businesses embracing web 2.0 technologies such as Twitter and other social networking sites.  The interaction these sites allow between customer and business is astonishing, and many companies have reaped the benefits.

One of the best examples is ESPN.  They have many great websites, but they also have multiple social networking sites, including Twitter and Facebook.  Not only do they have them, and use them frequently, they are quite effective in how they go about it.  ESPN is all sports, all the time.  Most everyone knows this, and therefore makes their job quite easy in that they do not need to figure out what to tweet about.  Their followers are sports fans, craving the latest trades, stats, you name it.  They want it fast and ESPN delivers.  They tweet quite a bit throughout the day, and use a manner or tone of voice that is reminiscent of sports announcers on TV, and sometimes even feels as if your buddy next to you on the couch hopped up on the keyboard at ESPN’s office and tweeted the latest Kobe or LeBron highlight.  They are very aware of their audience and cater to what the fans and athletes want to see and hear.

The growing collaboration between internet users and creator/designers directly translates to that of fans and athletes.  ESPN has capitalized on this, giving its fans and followers copious amounts of access one could only fantasize about ten years ago.  Fans can directly talk with their favorite athletes, coaches, and even sports analysts and other fans, all by simply hopping on ESPN’s Twitter page and making a few easy keystrokes.  ESPN has effectively embraced this by constantly posting to their feed directly, as well as re-tweeting relevant sports information from athletes and other analysts to their feed.

This has expanded ESPN even further, allowing fans access pretty much wherever they go.  One of the most interesting tactics they have adopted was to not only have a Twitter account for ESPN, but to also have a live feed of their account constantly updating on their actual television broadcasts.  It is a genius idea that brings you that much closer to the athletes and coaches and the entire sports world.  By doing so, ESPN can bring up their Twitter wherever relevant.  Whether it is a recent trade that happened only 15 minutes ago, or an athlete personally tweeting about a play they made in last week’s game, it all entices fans while spreading the word that ESPN is using social media very effectively.  They are aware of their audience, and continue to fulfill their needs with more and more access to the sports they love every day.  ESPN is imagining their audience, and doing quite well.  Most fans are die-hard, and know where to look for the most up-to-date stats at ESPN.  This explains why they can constantly tweet the same things and stay successful, because fans cannot get enough of their favorite teams and athletes.  Knowing this, ESPN uses Twitter because “tweets can be posted and read on the web, through SMS, or via third-party clients written for desktop computers, smartphones, and other devices. These different access methods allow for instant postings of photos, on-the-ground reports, and quick replies to other users,” (Marwick & Boyd 116) allowing a real-life example of convergence and participatory culture discussed in greater detail by Clay Shirky and Henry Jenkins.  Shirky also explores what he has coined “cognitive surplus,” or excess time we are allowed now, in which we decide what and how to do with as we choose.  He compares things which have civic value, such as LOLcats, with more heavily weighted communal value, such as Ushihidi, which aid the entire population regardless of direct participation.  All of this relates back to ESPN’s use of Twitter and other social media.  The surplus of time we now have led many to invest in things that, when boiled down, do not really matter at all.  Hardcore fans follow teams so closely, almost more than the players themselves.  And this is all due to excess amounts of time we currently have at our fingertips.  The entire realm of professional sports in general does not present much in the way of typical communal value.  However, it has great civic value in that participants bond and feel connected with players, coaches, and other fans, making it worthwhile regardless of it falling short in comparison with more serious communally valuable projects such as Ushihidi.

There are many benefits to businesses utilizing social network sites such as Twitter.  However, like all new technologies, there are many possibilities for failure, as well as unforeseen consequences.  The intimate environment created with direct contact between fans, coaches, and players through the sites has manifested a new interaction which is much closer than ever before.  Many athletes in the sports world, and anyone using SNS’s really, should take caution while using them.  One wrong comment or photo could inadvertently lead to a suspension or fine, or numerous other real-world consequences outside of the digital realm.  Former Alabama tight end William Vlachos has more than 16,500 followers on Twitter, and understands the audience on it, realizing that “you’re under a microscope.  You have to watch what you say” (Scarborough 1).  He goes on to state that common sense is always a good plan, and that the school had quite stringent policies regarding social media.  Obviously anything in locker rooms or team meetings was, for the most part, off limits, and most players were very aware of this.  Besides players, coaches and sports analysts also have to be careful—they too are under that very same microscope.  Bill Simmons, ESPN’s prolific columnist and New York Times bestselling author, is serving an ESPN-imposed 2-week suspension from Twitter for tweeting an angry message to a Boston radio station that is currently partnered with ESPN, breaching the much discussed social media guidelines (Krakauer 1).

Although the emergence of technologies such as SNSs and convergence culture implementation of them allows for great collaboration and growth, we all must be careful and cautious of what we post.  Imagining intended audiences as well as being aware of unintended ones is crucial for effective use of interactive sites such as Twitter.  ESPN is utilizing its social media very well, and I do not see them slowing its use in the near future.

 

 

Sources:

 Clay Shirky—TED talk on Cognitive Surplus

Marwick & Boyd, “I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately:  Twitter users, context collapse, and the imagined audience.”

Alex Scarborough, “Tide players cautious on social media.”

<http://espn.go.com/colleges/alabama/story/_/id/7506944/former-alabama-crimson-tide-players-brad-smelley-william-vlachos-use-twitter-responsibly>

Steve Krakauer, “Bill Simmons Suspended From Using Twitter Under ESPN Guidelines.” <http://www.mediaite.com/online/bill-simmons-suspended-from-using-twitter-under-espn-guidelines/>

 

Coalition Against Hunger

This is a community-based program for greater Philadelphia to help prevent people from going hungry.  They have three programs which they use to accomplish their goals: Hunger Fighters Network, SNAP (food stamp) Campaign, and the Policy Center.  They also have at the bottom of their site, like many others these days, links to social media they use in an attempt to further their reach and support their cause.  They currently have a Facebook and Twitter account.  After looking over these, I am still not sure whether social media can spark a ‘true’ activist revolution of such impact as the sit-ins at Woolworth’s in the 1960’s.  I agree with Gladwell that face-to-face interaction is the most pure form of inspiration and gaining followers for a cause.  His idea of strong vs. weak ties really makes sense.  However, I also feel that even though social networks are purely based around weak ties, this is a great way to expand any reach a certain group or individual may have in order to gain support for a cause.  Like Shirky proved with the Sidekick story, if there is a plausible promise, the likely outcome is a lot of support.  Looking at an organization like the Hunger Coalition, we see that most of the posts on their Facebook are by them and are letting people know important dates or shout-outs to people in their community.  But at the same time, social networks such as these also enable them to get out of their community and gain support from vast cities as well as other parts of the world.  This is where I feel Gladwell bashes social networks too much.  The vast weak ties found on them can and usually are great assets for the individual as well as the group, organization, or business to have throughout their lives.

Week 4: Readings up ’til now.

The readings we’ve gone through so far have been quite interesting.  I enjoy learning about relevant topics, and starting out with the internet and Web 2.0 was just about the most relevant topic I can think of for someone like me, always intrigued with technology and the way it affects human interaction.  Thinking about the web as a platform was a crucial piece of the puzzle for the first week of reading.  It has become essential in the sharing of everything online, and has really separated web 1.0 from 2.0.  Now, seeing the web as a platform with which to share information and ideas rather than specific programs has gained massive followers and has shed a new light on the internet.  Companies like Google have embraced this idea and I have personally found it very exciting and convenient.  Google isn’t just a search engine anymore.  Google docs, music, gmail, the normal search, and Google+ among many other things are all available to users through a single Google profile.

Web as a platform was then followed by its supporting idea of convergence and that we now live in a convergence culture.  Clay Shirky used a great example at the beginning of his book, “Here Comes Everybody”, in which he described a girl who lost her phone and a valiant friend who used all sorts of technology and media and ended up getting the girl’s phone back.  This was a great way to show just how connected we are in today’s ever techno-expanding world.  We can connect to the internet with so many devices nowadays: iPads, home computers, laptops, tablets, phones, the list goes on.  However, even just in a single device such as a smartphone convergence culture has been captured.  The coming together of all these technologies is a great example of media and technologic convergence, as well as the way in which web 2.0 has and will continue to grow in the future.

Alongside convergence, Henry Jenkins plays an interesting role as he discusses what he calls participatory culture.  I felt this was a great addition to convergence.  Jenkins went back to other inventions and technologies which were seen to degrade the generation which would come to use them regularly, which he used in response to many adults seeing internet and the like as bad for my generation.  Participatory culture merely states that people and their participation in creating and supplementing ideas for products (eg. web as a platform) is key to expansion and has and always will occur in society.  He embraces digital natives such as myself in using the web and every other technology intertwining all of us together in our converged and participatory culture we live.

The most recent reading with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Whales was also a great example of these two ideas of culture: convergence and participatory.  Wikipedia is based on the idea of participatory culture in that if nobody participated, it wouldn’t exist or be beneficial to anyone.  It also is a convergence of many things and can be accessed by anything which can access the internet.

Lastly, the readings covering crowds and crowdsourcing were something I had never really looked into a whole lot.  I always felt that if  most people agree on something, then it will most likely turn out more beneficial than not.  This might be optimism or ignorance, however, I still enjoyed reading about ways in which companies use, and even abuse, the crowd.  Many companies are now able to ask their customers directly any question they would like.  Due to our convergence culture, they can see what people want from their company, as well as going so far as answering that company’s hardest questions.  The gold mining company that asked the ‘crowd’ on the web where to look for gold landed them over three billion dollars in new found gold, all by simply asking the public web.  Crowdsourcing is extremely valuable, and I feel that if it is used correctly, can be extremely beneficial to not only the companies which employ it, but also the customers that partake.  They feel more connected to a company, and therefore trust and stay with that company for longer.