Girls and Games: women’s treatment online

A “troll”, in internet slang, is someone who deliberately upsets others by starting arguments or posting unnecessarily inflammatory messages online. In recent years, trolling has increased and forced online websites such as YouTube to develop ways for users to moderate their video’s comments section. Popular Science also followed suit and shut down its comments section entirely. Indeed, for trolls, the anonymity of the internet is the perfect playground. (Lewis, 2014)

The rise of the online community over the years has risen to new heights and the targeted audience has adapted to all ages and genders. Female’s online have increasingly been on the receiving end of sexist, abusive and violent threats. Take for example 23 year old student Jenny Haniver who regularly plays online multiplayer games where players have the ability to communicate via headsets. Haniver is regularly abused online by males for being a woman and has even received threats to rape or kill her and her family. (metrowebukmetro, 2012)

When a person is online they can be required to create a username. This username is normally a nickname and therefore places the person behind an online screen which hides their real name and identity. With this screen in place any actions online are not directly related back to the user so a sense of anonymous is created.

Karalee Evans states that “Trolling is not a new thing, it existed even in the days of MySpace and GeoCities. What seems to be on the rise, is compliance trolling and the phenomena of anonymous digital misogyny. When did faceless men decide it was acceptable to take it upon themselves and threaten women online with death threats, rape threats, violence and sexism?” (Evans, 2011)

Online trolling is essentially attempting to take away women’s voice in the online public sphere. Female journalists and gamers who are constantly faced with a barrage of sexual abuse and violent threats are becoming less reluctant to post their equal opinion online due to trolls. Anonymous trollers online need to be educated about their actions and the consequence which can result from trolling.

Reference List:

Evans, K. (2011), Men call me things: it’s not as romantic as it sounds, abc.net.au, http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/3659712.html, Accessed 15th May, 2014

Lewis, J. (2014), Internet trolls are also real-life trolls, The guardian, http://www.theguardian.com/science/head-quarters/2014/feb/25/internet-trolls-are-also-real-life-trolls, Accessed 15th May, 2014

Metrowebukmetro, (2012), Under fire: Women who dare to play video games, metro.co.uk, http://metro.co.uk/2012/09/28/under-fire-women-who-dare-to-play-video-games-587905/, Accessed 15th May, 2014

Thorpe, V., Rogers, R. (2011), Women bloggers call for a stop to ‘hateful’ trolling by misogynist men, The guardian, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/nov/05/women-bloggers-hateful-trolling, Accessed 15th May, 2014

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Clicktivism

The digital age has opened a new era of activism that offers the next generation new avenues into broader political participation. Critics who contend online activism offer only superficial engagement miss the fact that many of these groups are building ground-level organizations from their digital platforms. The online community needs to be better educated in the critical thinking and media skills needed to fully defend their causes. (Jenkins, 2012)

Kony 2012 was created by an American human rights organization called Invisible Children. Invisible Children released a 30-minute video about the tragedy of child soldiering in Uganda. The aim of the video was to reach half a million viewers over a two-month period which would then in turn raise awareness about the issue. The viral video encouraged people to spread the message Kony 2012, sign a pledge, buy a Kony 2012 action kit and donate to Invisible Children. The video remarkably received 70 million viewers in the first four days, and over 100 million over the first week. ‘Hunger Games’ which is a top grossing film was released in the same week as Kony 2012 and only had an audience of 15-20 million viewers showing the mass audience that Invisible Children was able to reach. (Jenkins, 2012)

The video was well edited and had serious production values adding to its popularity. The film became an instant viral success, dominating Twitter and Facebook worldwide and having one of the fastest ever take-offs on YouTube. #stopkony had hundreds of thousands of tweets, and millions of people were exposed to the video. (Curtis, McCarthy, 2012)

The campaign was adopted by youths and many donated money to buy action packs and spread the Kony 2012 message. Due to this buying frenzy people looked deeper into the company and there became scepticism around the campaign. Figures began emerging about where the money is actually going. Its overall revenue for the year, made up from various sources including the Kony 2012 campaign, was $31.94 million. Its total expenses were $15.98 million. Of that, the company spent 81.48 per cent on “media, mobilisation, protection and recovery”, according to their annual report. (Shepherd, 2013) While the campaign still remains sceptical and members of the public are still unsure on whether or not their donations helped children or profited the company, it is a perfect example of youth’s participation via social media on political world issues.

In some cases, youth’s first political exposure might come from a video (such as Kony 2012) forwarded to them by their friends or classmates. According to the MacArthur survey, 58 percent of American youth forward links or share information through social networks at least once a week” (Jenkins, 2012)

Reference List:

Cutis, P., McCarthy, T. (2013), Kony 2012: what’s the real story?, The Guardian, http://www.theguardian.com/politics/reality-check-with-polly-curtis/2012/mar/08/kony-2012-what-s-the-story, Accessed 10th May, 2014

Jenkins, H. (2012), ‘The New Political Commons’, Options Politiques, https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/152365/mod_resource/content/2/jenkins.pdf, Accessed 10th May, 2014

Paine, C. (2012), What is KONY 2012? Inside the campaign that stopped the world, News.com.au, http://www.news.com.au/world/its-all-over-the-webs-but-what-is-a-kony/story-e6frfkyi-1226292956990, Accessed 10th May, 2014

Shepherd, T. (2013), Remember Kony 2012? Well, it’s 2013. What happened?, News.com.au, http://www.news.com.au/world/remember-kony-2012-well-its-2013-what-happened/story-fndir2ev-1226550575923, Accessed 10th May, 2014

High Time for the Mash-up Industry

A remix is made when separate media elements are joined to form a new, different piece of media with an entirely different meaning than the original“. (Kreisinger 2011)

When audience’s think of remix the first thing that comes to mind is generally music or video mash-ups plastered all over YouTube or Facebook. Besides music and video remix culture is actually a part of our everyday lives whether it be news, art, literature or documentaries all are prone to the mash-up. The remix occur across several medium and effects all content with no boundaries, the rise of remix culture over the past years is best described by Axel Bruns.

What has really happened is that the increasing availability of symmetrical media technologies – of networks like the Internet that afford their participants an equal chance to have their message heard – has simply amplified the existing cultural activities of independent fans and artists to an extent that they now stand side by side (and sometimes overshadow) the cultural output sanctioned by conventional publishers“. (Bruns, 2010)

Harvey Edward Streten more commonly known as Flume is a Australian DJ who produces electronic sounds. He is well known for his remixed songs published to YouTube. His success came about after he submitted tracks online to the Australian Record Company. (MadCowDzz, 2014) Streten is a great example of remix convergence and the availability of symmetrical media which allows the public’s message to be heard. He is part of the production and reproduction of his own material and others he has used.

With the ability to now quickly and regularly post your mash-up onto social sites such as YouTube or Facebook artful, clever and simply funny mash-ups about news or current affairs which is spread by word of mouth, may now attract as much or even more attention as the original source material which they draw from, comment on, or send up. (Bruns, 2005)

So is mash-up culture helping the music industry or degrading it? Bruns believes that the likely eventual collapse of the mainstream music industry model as we know it also holds within it a substantial opportunity for real change that may deliver a new and more sustainable arrangement between fans, artists, and labels than has existed for a very long time. This being the case “It appears to be high time to mash up the music industry” (Bruns 2005).

Reference List:

Bruns, Axel (2010) Distributed Creativity: Filesharing and Produsage, https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/152360/mod_resource/content/2/Bruns%2C%20A.%20-%20Distributed%20Creativity%20-%20Filesharing%20and%20Produsage.pdf, accessed 4th May, 2014

Kreisinger, E., 2011, What is the remix exactly?, http://elisakreisinger.wordpress.com/2011/09/23/what-is-a-remix-exactly/, accessed 4th May, 2014

MadCowDzz, 2014, Flume Biography, last.fm.com, http://www.last.fm/music/Flume/+wiki, accessed 4th May, 2014

Transmediality

Transmedia storytelling represents a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience. Ideally, each medium makes it own unique contribution to the unfolding of the story” (Jenkins, 2007)

Transformers is one of the most well known Transmedia success stories. Transformers started out as kids action figures. They then decided to direct content flow multidirectional. This rapid flow of content allowed Transformer to spread across cultural borders. Originating in Japan; comics, cartoons, websites and blockbuster movies were then further produced and expanded the world of Transformers specifically targeting the western market. This integration into different media types allowed the Transformers brand to diversify and breakthrough into the global market.

Transformers started in 1984 with the release of the first comics and toys for the G1 line. Hasbro started out by releasing in North America toys which had been available for a few years in Japan but had previously sold poorly in the USA. The following year, the line was launched in Japan, where the American year one and two toys were smooshed into just one year of releases. Later in its life, the Transformers G1 line began producing new products which were specifically designed for it, ending (in North America at least) in 1990 amidst an avalanche of Micromasters and Action Masters“. (Stonebraker, 2005)

BitTorrent is able to supply through its peer to peer sharing, a distribution channel that allows Transformers, a transmedia narrative to reach its intended audience. Transformers movies, comics and images are all available to download off BitTorrent’s site. This media platform targets specifically the movie franchise of Transformers and allows the widespread distribution of the film. There is however a negative impact of this distribution, BitTorrent breaches copyright issues and therefore the movie is available to download for free. Whilst the franchise increases its popularity, it is also losing profit.

Reference List:
Jenkins, H. (2007) ‘Transmedia Storytelling 101’, http://henryjenkins.org/2007/03/transmedia_storytelling_101.html, Accessed 28 April, 2014

Attribution-ShareAlike (2014) ‘Transformerswiki’, http://tfwiki.net/wiki/Main_Page, Accessed 28 April, 2014

Stonebraker, S. (2005) ‘Steve-o’s Transformers FAQ Business and Franchise History > Franchise History’, http://www.physics.ohio-state.edu/~sstoneb/tf/faq/history/franchise.php, Accessed 28 April, 2014

BitTorrent’s Produsage

Produsage.

Produser

Is the collaborative and continuous building and extending of existing content in pursuit of further improvement (Bruns, 2007). There are four key characteristics for Produsage outlined by Bruns; organisation shift, fluid movement, permissive, and unfinished (2007). These characteristics are incorporated in BitTorrent, which is why it is such a successful convergent media technology.

“Organisation shift is a shift from dedicated individuals and teams as producers to a broader-based, distributed generation of content by a wide community of participants” (Bruns, 2007) BitTorrent and torrenting in general was originally for people from a technological background, and was often regarded as hacking or pirating. The fluid movement of produsers between roles as leaders, participants, and users of content enables produsers to have backgrounds ranging from professional to amateur (Bruns 2007). BitTorrent is easily accessible on the web, anyone with a internet connection is able to access the content that it provides. A larger audiences is targeted, with the help of popular media, users are able to watch the latest content instantly anywhere in the world.

“Produsage is based on permissive regimes of engagement which are based on merit more than ownership: they frequently employ copyright systems which acknowledge authorship and prohibit unauthorised commercial use, yet enable continuing collaboration on further content improvement” (Bruns 2007). Users can download a media file from BitTorrent then edit the program and re upload then new content enabling further content improvement. Bruns states that “artefacts generated are no longer products in a traditional sense they are always unfinished, and continually under development such development is evolutionary” (2007)

BitTorrent directly engages with Bruns four key characteristics of organisation shift, permissive, unfinished and fluid movements. Engaging in all characteristics allows BitTorrent to converge and survive in the digital age.

References:

Bruns, Axel (2007) Produsage: Towards a Broader Framework for User-Led Content Creation. In Proceedings Creativity & Cognition 6, Washington, DC https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/152352/mod_resource/content/2/6623.pdf

Image Sourced From:

http://produsage.org/produsage

BitTorrent’s Audience

BitTorrent is a protocol (a set of rules and description of how to do things) enabling users to download files quickly. Users downloading the file can also upload (distribute) parts of it simultaneously. BitTorrent is often used for distribution of very large files, very popular files and files available for free, as it is a lot cheaper, faster and more efficient to distribute files using BitTorrent than a regular download“. (BitTorrent, 2014)

BitTorrents targeted audience is everyone that has access to the internet. It works as a peer to peer sharing system, a user puts up a link or file to be downloaded, another user downloads this file whilst also uploading it too. This process called ‘seeding’ allows quicker downloading of popular files. Peer to Peer sharing creates a strong relationship between consumer and technology, one cannot function without the other. Janey Gordon explains the use of peer to peer sharing during the SARS outbreak; “During February and March, the people of Guangdong exchanged information via their mobile phones about the location of outbreaks of SARS and possible ways of alleviating the symptoms…Those who received information passed it on to other family and friends, thus dispersing the information widely“. (Gordon, 2007)

Recently torrenting has targeted the academic sector, now not only targeting popular material but also accredited sources. AcademicTorrents allows researchers to upload datasets, articles and other research material. The site runs its own tracker and supports web-seeds as well, which guarantee that files are available at all times. (Mesko, 2014)

Gatekeepers target websites such as BitTorrent and try and regulate the technology from sharing breeched copyright material. The media industry (film, television and music) try to regulate the illegal downloading of their material. Despite this, the gatekeepers are weak or non-existent.

Anyone can broadcast any message or file directly to BitTorrent. BitTorrent states “BitTorrent is purely a content distribution method, just like a web browser, and similarly, does not incorporate any technology to monitor or restrict your activity. There is also nothing in BitTorrent that prevents anyone from seeing your IP address. Take care to follow your country’s laws concerning copyrighted content“. (BitTorrent 2014)

References:

BitTorrent, beginners guide, viewed on 3/4/2014, http://www.bittorrent.com/help/guides/beginners-guide

Mesko Bertalan (2014), Torrent Site For Academics: Brilliant!, viewed on 3/4/2014, http://scienceroll.com/2014/02/03/torrent-site-for-academics-brilliant/

Gordon, Janey (2007), The Mobile Phone and the Public Sphere: Mobile Phone Usage in Three Critical Situations, Convergence 13/3 Pages: 307-319, viewed on 3/4/2014, https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/152347/mod_resource/content/2/Gordon%2C%20J.%20-%20The%20mobile%20phone%20and%20the%20public%20sphere.pdf

BitTorrent – An open platform

Media platforms are classed into two sections; locked appliances and generic platforms more commonly referred to as open and closed platforms. Closed platforms have complete control over the platform, users and content. Open platforms are as their name suggests free and open. Users are allowed, even encouraged to change, adapt and develop new software which can then be integrated into the platform.

Closed platform’s are safer for company’s as consumers have no say in the development of the platform, whereas open platform are more exposed. Users can embed code in the platform that can hack other users or shut down the platform entirely. “Consumers are learning how to use these different media technologies to bring the flow of media more fully under their control and to interact with other users” (Jenkins, 2004).

The most well known closed platform is Apple’s IPhone. “Rather than a platform that invites innovation, the iPhone comes preprogramed. You are not allowed to add programs to the all-in-one device that Steve Jobs sells you. Its functionality is locked in, though Apple can change it through remote updates. Indeed, to those who managed to tinker with the code to enable the iPhone to support more or different applications, Apple threatened (and then delivered on the threat) to transform the iPhone into an iBrick” (Zittrain, 2008). Apple do not allow the user to change their devices and if a user is caught modifying their IPhone, Apple simply switches off the device and it is useless.

BitTorrent is an generic platform that allows user to download whatever content is online via peer to peer ‘seeding’, but users are also allowed to tamper with code. Being an illegal downloading site, BitTorrent is therefore more prone to being disengaged from the internet. BitTorrent has previously been shut down by the United States Homeland Security Services because they gained access to the coding system and were able to shut down the platform.

seized

US-Goverment-Seizes-BitTorrent-Sites

Despite being shut down, the open nature of the platform allowed BitTorrent to be re-establish in a matter of days by changing around the HTML code. Company’s especially in the digital age where convergence is vital, may need to look at open platforms that encourage peer to peer sharing like BitTorrent in higher regard. “So far, the recording industry has responded to the emergence of peer-to peer technologies through legal action and name-calling rather than developing new business plans or reconceiving consumer relations” (Jenkins, 2004). Open platforms despite the negativity are becoming more and more popular, whilst the demand for a closed platform decreases.

References:
Jenkins, Henry (2004), The cultural logic of media convergence, International Journal of Cultural Studies, Volume 7(1): 33–43. viewed on 29/3/2014, https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/152342/mod_resource/content/2/Jenkins%2C%20H.%20-%20The%20cultural%20logic%20of%20media%20convergence.pdf

Zittrain, J. (2008) “Introduction”. In J. Zittrain The Future of The Internet And How To Stop It (p. 1-5) New Haven: Yale University Press. viewed on 29/3/2014, http://yupnet.org/zittrain/archives/6

Images sourced from:
http://www.geeky-gadgets.com/us-government-seizes-bittorrent-sites-27-11-2010/
http://torrentfreak.com/bittorrent-site-owners-fear-european-domain-seizures-121127/