Big Brother is watching you… So is your employer.

“Time for your monthly Facebook check and drug test!”- Newitz, 2012

The use of social media is at an all time high. It is addictive. People love it. There are 1.11 billion Facebook users, Instagram has 100 million, Twitter with 500 million, and of course it’s all growing. The proliferation of participate”y culture and self produced media is all part of Tim O’Reilleys famously termed Web 2.0 that Robert Howard discusses in The Vernacular Web of Participatory Media.
Howard acknowledges that users or ‘prosumers’ can bypass traditional institutions and offer their “vernacular creations” directly to internet users. This is extremely useful when it comes to work such as an author wanting to publish a novel. Instead of going through a traditional publishing house which is hard, competitive and time consuming, the author can use one of numerous online self publishing websites and publish their book straight to users and set their own price and distribution rates.
But as we have seen this week, combining work and social media can not be all that positive.

Instead of the good ol’ background check, it’s not a Facebook check. Employers are asking to access potential employee’s social media accounts to get all the information that they need. But you not only need to take be cautious when applying for a job. But when you have one too.

Like the hairdresser, in the Escape Hair Design vs Sally-Anne Fitzgerald case, Fitzgerald was dismissed due to her employers discovering her sarcastic comments towards the hair salon and her “no holiday pay” and “xmas ‘bonus'”. Although she didn’t mention the name of the salon, she was fired. However, if she is writing statuses about her work situation, she would most likely have who she works for on her Facebook profile anyway. Easy enough for friends to put two and two together.

It is very easy, too easy, to express your feelings via social networking sites, but the smart thing is to not do it. Even if you think everything is set to the strictest privacy settings, check again. Even better, don’t post negative work related comments at all.Of course this is hard for some people to do, or not do. As discussed in class, it may be appropriate for businesses to create some soft of social media policy tailored to their specific workplace __________________________________________________________________________________

Find user numbers for a whole list of social network sites on this link –> http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/resource-how-many-people-use-the-top-social-media/

Newitz, A, 2012, ‘Why Facebook is the future of workplace surveillance’, Welcome from the future, http://io9.com/5895095/why-facebook-is-the-future-of-workplace-surveillance, accessed 11/05/2013.

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The Vidding Community

Before I knew anything about the vidding community, only what they did, I assumed that it was mostly male. This was because of the nature of what it is and how you would create a vid. But from reading and listening to Katie Freund’s research, it is obvious that females are a large part of the vidding community. As we have seen, women create vids because they feel their gender is misrepresented in television shows and movies, and they want to create meaning or a story which they want to see between characters.Women and bidding is discussed quite in-depth in Francesca Coppa’s article ‘Women, Star Trek and the Early Development of Fannish Videos’.I would have thought that female vidders would be accepting of new vidders who want to ‘bridge this gender gap’. But there were contradicting views between the acceptance and openness of vidders in Rebecca Tushnet and Rachael Vaughn’s article and in Kate Freund’s work.

In Tushnet and Vaughn’s reply comment on behalf of the Organisation for Transformative Works, they mention that experienced vidders and new vidders have a good relationship. Before the new technology vidders use today, experienced vidders would teach new-comers in workshops and take on an apprentice like relationship. Tushnet and Vaughn say that the internet now allows new vidders to be welcomed to the community.

However, in the lecture Katie Freund gave, it was said that long time vidders can be un-inviting and critical of new vidders. But when reading her article, it is evident that their non accepting nature may caused by new vidders not keeping their work closed from the public because they do not have the same understanding of copyright as long time vidders do.

Articles mentioned:

MOOCs

 

When first hearing about a MOOC, or seeing an image like the one above, it would seem that they are a pretty good alternative. Being able to complete a course, online, for free, at the same time as thousands of other students around the world, and possibly having that course associated with a well known university. With the current convergence culture we are apart of, what could be better? But when you take a closer look, there are some problems facing MOOCs and students of the online courses, that were brought up in the lecture and tutorial.

One main problem is the very high dropout rate, with only about a 7% graduation rate. This is extremely low, and obviously wouldn’t be accepted by any physical institution. This could be due to the fact that users of MOOCs may find that they are overwhelmed by the pace of the course, or the fact that because everything is online, they don’t feel like they are committed to submitting assessments or keeping up to date, and cannot self-regulate their learning without the help of a tutor to contact.

One aspect that I find very questionable is the fact that assessments are peer assessed. This is because of the whole concept of MOOCs being massive and open, the person running the course cannot mark every students work. So how can you rely on peer marking? Especially if you the MOOC is offering accreditation to a specific University.

With the Australian government cutting funding for universities, I can see a situation in the future where the physical spaces that are universities turn back into that ivory tower situation because fees rise, so online universities are where the masses gather to gain a degree that is too expensive to study for at a physical university. If that is to be the case, then hopefully MOOCs overcome the current problems they are facing.

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Useful resource:

http://www.educationdive.com/news/8-questions-moocs-face-in-2013/75870/
This website briefly discusses eight situations and questions that MOOCs need to face this year.

Speeding up the Internet

Australia. Yes, we do have a great country, but I feel like in some areas were are being ripped off. We have to pay more than double the amount for consumer goods than Americans do (in most cases), we have to travel further to reach overseas destinations AND our internet speed is one of the slowest in the world. 30th, in fact (http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2013/01/which-country-has-the-fastest-internet-and-how-does-australia-compare/). And we have to pay to have access to these slow speeds, whereas people in South Korea, which has one of the fastest access speeds in the world, have access to wi-fi for free! Is that really fair?

So the Australian government wants to introduce the National Broadband Network (NBN) which they claim will speed up our internet and give better access to people in rural areas in terms of work, study and health. The labour government has proposed to do this with the use of fibre optic cables. Then there is the coalition who plans to use the existing (are ageing) copper cables, which will only double the current internet speed, and if a household wants the fibre optic cables to have the faster internet, that’s an added cost. Have they not noticed the trends? Internet usage is rising, and it will continue to rise and yet again, Australia will be left behind. If the coalition gain power, they will have to update the NBN when the copper cables can no longer be used.

 

But there’s also another problem that comes with NBN. The government is trying to offer better access to internet to people living in rural areas, and people from lower income families. This was great when the 1:1 high school student laptop policy was booming and when the laptops were new, but what happens when they become old technology, and the government isn’t allocating funds to repair or replace them? Is there a point to giving high access internet speed, but people not being able to afford the technology to properly use it?

Could Australia take on South Korea’s approach, and provide free wi-fi to everyone, anywhere, and with the money saved on accessing internet, people can update their technology?

 

Online Identity Construction

In my lifetime I have been a bandicoot, an italian man, a rich older version of myself, a purple dragon, a young African American man,   a wrestler, a Japanese fighter… and the list continues.
These are some of the avatars that I have ‘played as’ over the years. Maybe one day the online world will morph offline and like the dolphin in Johnny Mnemonic, we can do something similar and turn into a purple dragon? But I will save that discussion for another post, because I  think that the most important persona that we navigate with in the online world, is the one we create to represent ourselves on social networking sites.

I’m not saying that everyone creates an image of themselves online. Because not everyone has a Facebook, Twitter  or Instagram account. But for those of us who do, in one way or another, we are representing a version of our selves which may or may not be a true depiction. The pictures we upload, the statuses we write, even those hashtags. Admit it, you’re doing it for a reason.

In Larsen’s article about the social networking site Arto, the users mainly constructed their identity through positive affirmations from their friends. We can see this being done now on Facebook, with (normal quite young) users posting “like for like” statuses, where if somebody likes the status, the person will post on their wall what they like best about them.
Larsen showed that the Arto user community was a kind of ‘caring community’ looking out for each other. I can only relate this to what is constantly appearing on the Facebook news feed. “1 like = 1 prayer” or “like this to show your support”. Who doesn’t hate cancer or animal abuse? Are people really liking the photos because they think it will stop a disease, or is it to portray themselves as a caring person?

If it is being done purpose or not, online behaviour really does portray an image of someone which may or may not be factual compared to their ‘offline self’. But because so many people around the world are always conncected to their digital devices, does it even matter if we come across as two different personas? That topic is another blog post in itself.

The Interactive Audience. Here before, here now and here to stay.

In the lecture, it was asked if people actually want to or have time for interactivity. I’m going to say…. yes. And I think many other people would agree.

The other day I was reading an article in mX which contained a quote from a man named Ben Huh. He is the CEO of The Cheezburger Network, which includes a number of websites where users submit their own memes. In the article, Ben Huh noted that the success of his websites, with one of them receiving half a million hits per day, is due to the participatory nature of the internet and user-generated content. Interactivity. Ben may be the CEO, but the content of his websites is created by internet users who are altering and re-appropriating certain images and video. So the millions of people using his website have time for interactivity. What about everyone who retweets, posts, blogs, uploads, comments. Those billions do to.

In ‘Audience inter/active’, Cover points out that the interactive user is not a new trend, but a desire, that has always existed, by people to “participate in the creation and transformation” of texts. The internet has simply made it easier to do so, and provides a lot more options. There is the example of television. Once, audiences only had one option when watching television, and that was it, to sit and watch. Now we can decide on the outcome of shows by voting via our mobile phones or mobile and tablet apps or we can discuss with other audience members via the forums, Twitter and Facebook. A lot of shows now have a twitter feed on the screen, displaying tweets relating to the content. But has anyone else noticed how it is always really positive things? I think that this aspect may not be producers trying to foster interactivity with the audience, but trying to have some sort of control over the reactions of viewer. Or even just trying to keep the viewer interested in the show, because most of us will be on some sort technology looking at something else (lolscats, maybe?).

So, media companies, producers, authors and website designers, who are obviously reading this blog (what else would they be doing?)… don’t try and stifle interactivity. Embrace it and foster it. Users trust and like to hear the opinions of other users (think reviews and TripAdvisor.

The new media audience definitely has time to interact, and I don’t think that that is going to change. Do you agree?

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If you have been hiding from social media as of late, this is one of the most popular cat memes (lolcats) that’s circulating at the moment. Admit it, he is entertaining!

Is a Cyberpunk world closer to reality than we think?

The world of cyberpunk created by William Gibson is a very grey, urban and technological place. In the lecture, Graham described it as antiauthoritarian, libertarian and consumerist. From reading Johnny Mnemonic, we see that members of this dystopic society are involved in body augmentation and drugs, and there is a sense of ‘us against them’. Individuals against the authorities. The characters have a very strong relationship with technology. It defines who they are and their position in society.

Is this sounding somewhat familiar? Consumerism, plastic surgery, technology, … according to this article from Wired Magazine [http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2012-09/04/cyborgs], we even have cyborgs living in society today.

There are obviously many differences between the society we live in right now, and that Chiba City, but the similarities are lurking in the background. For example, when I read about Molly Millions “mirrored lenses” for eyes, I couldn’t help but think of the soon to be released Google Glass.

So they may not be surgically implanted into our eye sockets, but who knows, we will probably have people doing that in the future. But having a piece of technology constantly on us, enhancing (or not) how we act and live. This is bringing us closer to technology than we have ever been before.

As technology develops even more, and we may become even more attached to it, this idea of technicity, that is explored in the Tomas reading, may become relevant in our society. There are already digital divides between those who have access to technology, and those who have weak access, or none at all. Technology may start to “define social bonds”. We may start to connect and form new social groups defined by how our bodies are augmented and what we are capable of doing.

The Google Generation

Born in 1993 and have been using computers and technology since Kindergarten. Yes, I am definitely apart of this so called Google Generation. I like the fact that the CIBER paper debunks myths about the google generation, that are spread through society by the media… and many parents. Parents who ask their teenage children to explain every new thing about the internet, Facebook, how to upload a photo… and the list continues. But according to the CIBER paper, older generations are just as capable as using and learning about new technology as generation y.

The point that stood out for me the most is the fact that the google generation prefer interactive systems, and are no longer passive consumers. We are now ‘prosumers’, living in a participatory culture (Henry Jenkins). We have seen this in so many examples over the past years. Like the Arab Spring, and the rise of the blogger and slow demise of (sadly) magazines and newspapers. This then leads onto expecting everything to be on the internet, and to be free. Because blogs, YouTube, Twitter… reading, watching and participating in the conversation via these networks are free. So young people may be lead to these as an easy option over reading chunks of black and white text.

As the now google generation grows older, and a new generation connects to the internet, the patterns of skimming, flicking and horizontal reading, and therefore, bad research skills, will grow. Children need to be taught from a young age about proper online internet research skills, from their teachers. Who, if they are from the google generation, have hopefully learnt the skills themselves too!

Week 13: Looking Out to the Future- The Internet of Things

I am actually pretty excited about this concept of the Internet of Things (IOT). I can’t wait for objects in my future home (and the house itself) to be integrated with each other, and to me, having a conversation (like in the samsung vid in the lecture). By 2015, 15 billion objects are going to be connected to the internet (http://www.alcatel-lucent.com/new-thinking/market-growth/internet-of-things.html). But I can’t help than think that this will dramatically increase the digital divide between developed and under-developed/developing countries, communities etc. Like in some cyber sci-fi movie where the rich are interacting with robots and highly developed technology, and the poor are left behind,struggling to keep up and survive. But that might be a bit dystopian and taking it too far?But it does lead to the question of what are the implications of the IOT for human beings? It might save us time, like in this video from IBM But what about human interaction? Social skills? And if it’s just objects talking to other objects, how do we enter the conversation?

I think that the point of the IOT, and to make it beneficial for us is, as Bruce Kasanoff said, to not be fooled into thinking that it is only going  to link things to other things. The IOT is to link people, things and systems. Borders can be broken to to make our lives easier. Make life more efficient, innovative, intelligent and less risky. Very much like what is explained in the video below.

And this I am excited for.

How we (humans and objects) live and interact in the world is going to change dramatically, but subtly.

 

Reference

Kasanoff, B, 2012, The Internet of Things needs to Empower People, Not Machines, Digital Trends, http://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/the-internet-of-things-needs-to-empower-people-not-machines/, accessed 22/10/12