Decisions, Dissertations and Dread

11 Nov

I hope this Dissertation is going to follow the theme of the song ‘The First Cut is the Deepest’. I live in hope that this is the most difficult part of a Dissertation. If it’s not, I’m not sure what I’ll do.

It’s just so hard to chose a question and topic now that you know you’ll still be interested in and excited by months down the line. I have been luckier than some thought, I have known for a while what topic I’ve wanted to cover, but that’s about all I’ve decided.

I know I want to write something about Twitter, but I believe there are so many interesting questions that can be asked about Twitter in regards to news gatheringcitizen journalism and freedom of speech. The tricky part is choosing what area I really want to concentrate on and what I really want to ask in this Dissertation.

I think I’m mainly torn between two ideas. The ideas surrounding how Twitter could be affecting freedom of speech and also howthe first ‘Twitterchanged the whole experience worldwide. I understand these are very rough ideas with broad spectrum’s which need focusing on. I hope after reading some more of the literature surrounding these ideas I hope this willhelp me come to some kind of a decision as where to go.

There is clearly so much to write about within both of these subjects and I believe that’s part of the problem. I’m just so interested in both aspects of Twitter andI may look into a way to combine these two ideas by possibly looking at how Twitter affected freedom of speech within the context of the London 2012 Olympic Games. With examples such as the hurtful Tweet sent to Tom Daley and the growing debate of ‘to Tweet or not to Tweet’ facing many of the athletes throughout the games.

I believe the topic of Twitter in general is extremely important to research not only due to its currency but also due to it’s worldwide effect and the power it has to change the world.Cheesy I know, but true. We have seen people fighting for freedom and using Twitter as a tool to do so. I mean that’s pretty cool. Surely that’s reason enough to study it. But more specifically, the Olympics in conjunction with Twitter,  it’s important because of how Twitter changed the whole Olympic experience not only for people here in the UK, but worldwide. The table above created by the BBC demonstrates how the first real ‘Twitter Olympics’ really changed things and the enormity of the social media tool in worldwide events.


A 241.2mm x 185.7mm black box

25 Apr


The idea of the ‘black box’ has always stuck in my mind, and the convergence of technologies in creating this ‘black box’. If we look around us today it is clear that even in the past few years technologies have converged in a way I don’t think anyone could have imagined.

The latest piece of convergent technology, and the most impressive to date (in my opinion), is the iPad. It has so many functions and pieces of convergent technology crammed into one stream line ‘box’. The possibilities are pretty endless, the internet at your finger tips, newspapers (some created specifically for the iPad), listening to music, taking pictures, watching videos, writing, e-mailing, and so much more! If you don’t believe me take a look for yourself, here’s a video which takes you through all the functions and amazing-ness of the iPad.

Pretty cool no? I think so anyway. But to be honest, when I first saw the iPad, I initially thought that it was not going to be popular. I thought why would anyone want what looks like an over sized iPhone, but throughout this module different topics of convergence keep bringing me back to the iPad. For example, when I was studying convergence and media industries for my presentation and I was looking at news, the example that stood out to me was ‘The Daily’ for the iPad. This is a perfect example of convergent media, a newspaper specifically created for the iPad, so there is no longer any need to go to the shop and buy a newspaper. It will appear in full form on your iPad. What surprised me most is although there are free news websites available to all online, e.g. BBC News, some people are still choosing to pay for this newspaper form on their iPad. This could be because they don’t like being bombarded with news and having to trawl through the endless links to find a story relevant to you. Here’s an article by the BBC which talks about ‘The Daily’ in a bit more detail, and what it might mean for news and here’s one by the Guardian reviewing the App.

Whether the whole theory that we as a society are looking for one ‘black box’ for allour media needs is debatable. I personally think we are looking for as many black boxes as we can get our hands on, well nowadays they are usually streamline, silver boxes. Even people who have iPad’s who I have spoken to still have phones, camera, mp3 players, read newspapers, watch television, and to be honest I don’t think this will change in the near future.

Flickr – more than just photos

25 Apr

When I started this project on Flickr I was a true Flickr sceptic. I had used it in the past for uploading and sharing photos and just assumed it was a one trick pony. I just understood it as a place to upload pictures to – and sure that’s great. As a family we share photos through Flickr with relatives in New Zealand and that’s how we keep in the loop. I never thought of Flickr in the terms of a social networking site and didn’t realise how interesting this project could be. With the realisation of ‘tagging’ and ‘groups’ I soon realised that this was something completely different and a lot more than just something used to upload photos!

Initially I found it difficult to find photos to put up on my Flickr, so I tweeted about this. And through the power of twitter and thanks to the mighty hash tag, Graham saw this tweet and sent me a few helpful links. The one I found most helpful was this website, which offers various sources of reusable media, not only images, but also music, sound effects and videos. The site I found the most helpful with finding images (which I got from tamaleaver) was Picture Sandbox. You type in your search and it brings back results from Flickr, Stockxpert, Fotolia, Dreamstime, SmugMug and WebShots. If you don’t find a result here, I don’t know what you’re searching for! A few other people I know from this course were finding it difficult getting hold of relevant images so I sent this link on to them, and they all said they found it helpful.

Once I found the images I wanted to use I could upload them to Flickr with ease and arrange them into sets. It took me a while to decide what to name my sets. In the end I settled on ‘Convergent Media’ and ‘You are what you share…’ I chose these because they represent some of the sections of this module that I found most interesting. During the uploading section, one of the best things I found about Flickr was the ‘organise & create’ section of the site. This is a great piece of software which allows you to add photos to sets, re arrange them, tag them, add them to groups, delete them, with complete ease! It was so easy and effortless, I was really surprised.

The biggest surprise of the whole project though was the use of tagging and the groups. Once I got the hang of this, I realised that Flickr is a lot better than I initially gave it credit for. I always admired it as a worldwide renowned site for photos, where you could search any word and find photos of that thing. But I never admired it as a worldwide social networking site through photos before. It’s amazing really, because unlike other social networking sites, there is no language barrier. Photos are universal and they can make everyone laugh, smile or cry, it doesn’t matter what language you speak. 

A 5 year old making history…

25 Apr

I have used Twitter for quite a while now, and found this aspect of FMS9A4 quite easy as I use my Twitter in my day to day life anyway. I use it as pretty much a source for all my information. From news, to journalism stuffmedia things and the odd celebrity tweet now and again. I personally believe when you start using Twitter to it’s full capacity, sharing links, photos and videos it is very addictive.

Twitter recently turned 5, and it is definitely a 5 year old which is making and changing history!

To celebrate the 5 year anniversary, Twitter released the following video, which I think explains some of the amazing things which can be achieved through Twitter.

I say Twitter is changing and making history’ because of many reasons really. It is making history due to the fact that it is the only form of micro-blogging (as far as I know) and it has grown insanely popular with people all over the world. Recent examples show us how Twitter is changing and shaping history, for example, in recent weeks it has played a central role in toppling numerous hate figures around the world, for example, Zine El Abidine Ben AliHosni Mubarak and Muammar Gaddafi.

Although there are many positive aspects to Twitter as mentioned above there are many negatives. When it comes to toppling hate figures, we have all experienced the power of Twitter with one figure in paricular. Rebecca Black. A 13 year old amateur wannabe pop star who’s parents paid for her to have a music video made. The result = Friday. Before long 40 million people saw it and 100’s of thousands of these flocked to Twitter to complain to 13 year old Rebecca directly. Comments varied, well not really, they were all pretty negative, and some of which urged her to commit suicide. No joke. We all may hate the song but not THAT much. Basically Twitter was used as a platform to host the largest act of bullying possibly EVER. An interview with

Rebecca Black on Good Morning America shows the effect some of the comments had on the teenager.

Thanks to this high tech hate mob which spread the video like wildfire, Rebecca Black is now a superstar in America, appearing on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

Therefore the power that Twitter can give a group of people os unquestionable, it is extraordinary. But what those people use it for may be a little more questionable. I thought this was a great example of how powerful Twitter is as a social networking tool. It can connect people from all over the world in real time.

In response to Leadbeater’s comment “You are what you share” – I believe this is very true, we live in a ‘share’ culture. We are continuously asked to share one thing or another on every site we visit. I believe in some ways we are judged greatly on what we share with others. I try and follow people who have interesting things to share with me, not just what time they woke up this morning, and what they had for breakfast. Then you realise well if you want more followers, what kinds of things should you share outwards with other people. I try and share any links I find interesting, along with a few images and so on. The tweets David Silver categorizes as ‘thick’ in his blog. But the odd few thin tweets concerning what episode of the Sopranos I’m on do slip in there now and again. I think we as a society just love to share, increasingly so.

Me, me, me!

25 Apr

I googled myself this week, and what a scary experience this was!

I must admit I have done this before just out of curiosity and have always been pleasantly surprised to find a nostalgic MySpace and Bebo account.

This time it was very different. There are pieces of information about me scattered through 5 pages on Google. MyFlickr is now visible, along with myTweets and the YouTube video my group made for our presentation. Some of the links are harmless, such as an article from my old school newspaper and old blogs which I started when I was 14 for a week and then gave up.

Although there are harmless links out there, I found the majority of them really intrusive. After clicking on the first link alone ( my current address is available for all to see along with who I live with at the moment (and in previous years). I always knew people could find this information, but I never knew it was THAT easy. From the first 4 links alone people could discover almost everything there is to know about me. From date of birth, relationship status, hometown, current address, what I look like, who I’m friends with, my hobbies, what I study, where I work, what music/films/books/television programmes I like and much, much more!

I found two sites which scared me the most, one of which is called Geni. Somehow this allows people to find out my parents names, along with my siblings. Quite scary thinking that there is information about my 13 year old brother available for all to see. Another site was 123 people, which shows 3 images of me, 1 from Facebook, 1 from Twitter and the other from an old MySpace account. It offers links to my Twitter, Facebook and MySpace pages, along with links to ‘related people’ my friends’ Facebook and Twitter pages.
I think much of this could be controlled better by me, but until you take a step back and look at the imprint you’re leaving behind it’s hard to realise how much information you put out there for all to see. It would be easy enough for me to delete old accounts, old blogs and this would significantly minimise my visibility online. I could also hide allot of my information on my Facebook and I could make my Flickr more private.

Compared to some friends names that I googled I am extremely visible online, and if I was trying to promote some kind of brand this would be fantastic but as an individual it’s not great. I think this is a wake up call which will be leading to some change in my privacy settings!

I have the right to remain a geek!

25 Apr

WARNING… Possible geeky post ahead… It’s about Star Wars. I know, showing my true colours, right?
I’m just going to try and enlighten you to the world of ‘Star Wars Uncut’ (I swear, it’s not as bad as it sounds, give it a chance!) Being a fan of the films anyway, I found this site really interesting.

To sum up what this site is all about, it’s basically fans from all around the world joining together to recreate the classic film Star Wars: A New Hope.
Star Wars Uncut was thought up by Casey Pugh who was working as a developer at Vimeo when he became interested in the internet as a tool for user content.
What Casey Pugh decided to do was cut up the film Star Wars: A New Hope into 15 second clips, then members of the audience claim which 15 second clip they want and re film it themselves however they want. Then the Uncut team put the best of the clips together to re create the film. What’s even better is that the 15 second clips are all rated by the fans themselves and whoever visits the site, so this is really user generated content (UGC) on every level. The content here has been clearly shaped by the audience, through the re creation of an entire film by strangers from around the world.
It even won a 2010 Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Creative Achievement In Interactive Media – Fiction.

Here’s the trailer for the film, enjoy! The entire film made up of the top rated 15 second clips is available from the Star Wars Uncut website, definitely worth a look – even if its just for the lolz!

A little help from Mike Wesch…

25 Apr

This week, I thought I’d try and find a bearable online resource that could educate and also be quite entertaining! So I thought I’d share the YouTube channel of Mike Wesch. Mike Wesch is the Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Kansas State University and also the creator of the video that we watched in our first week on this course – ‘The Machine is Us/ing Us’. I first looked at his YouTube channel when I first watched this video, and have returned to his page numerous times since then. I have always left his YouTube channel, after watching a few videos, learning something new about some form of digital media or another.  There are some really useful videos on here and although some of them are rather long (generally as long as a lecture) they are definitely worth a look because they are really entertaining and educational. I really enjoyed the one called ‘An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube’. Has some really interesting statistics in it and I found it a really compelling lecture!

I’m not quite sure if it is right to call a person’s YouTube channel an ‘educational online resource’ but I guess that’s the day and age that we live in, where lectures are put online for everyone to see and make use of.