The Lonely Girl who really wasn’t

The development of Internet communication, specifically, social media has expanded the traditional notion of identity. Now, it is possible to craft online identities in addition to those in real life. These online personas can shape people’s interpersonal perceptions towards individuals in the real world.

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In 2006, ‘Lonelygirl15’ established a YouTube channel, on which, she posted regular vlogs. Bree, who featured in the videos, was a teenage girl who lived a seemingly normal life. It soon became evident that she was perhaps, lonely and bored, hence the creation of Lonleygirl15. The youtube channel and vlogs gained a massive international following and became extremely popular, in a seemingly short amount of time. Bree had become one of YouTube’s youngest and most popular stars. She reinforced this popularity, starting her own forum and myspace account.

However, after gaining a mass following, it was revealed that Bree and Lonelygirl15 were, in fact, fictional and the channel and videos were produced by a number of writers and actors. Fans, YouTubers and the media alike, had been duped by an artificial online persona, who, projected online, the parts of her life that the writers wanted viewers to see.

Is this so different to what we do each day when posting on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat? We post, often times, edited images of the most exciting parts of our lives, leaving out the mundane occurrences, in order to create the perception we want surrounding our name, image and brand.

To PC or not to PC: Locked vs Generative Platforms

I am, by no means, a gamer of any sort, but, looking into locked vs generative technological platforms, led me to the debate surrounding PC gaming, as compared to, console gaming.

There is fervent discussion about, both, open and closed technologies. Specifically, how closed technologies enforce ideologies that limit the generativity of audiences, by controlling the flow of content across channels. Simply put, this relates to the types of access provided by both open and closed source technology.

The intended result for locked appliance technology is that of pure consumption. This is evident, when considering console gaming. Sony’s Play Station and Microsoft’s Xbox are perfect examples of the iteration of products that lead to increased consumption, with the release of new models every few years. This ultimately creates technological obsolescence for old consoles, when a new model materialises. In contrast to console gaming, PCs give you the freedom to upgrade whenever YOU decide to, not when Sony or Microsoft decide to, rendering the PC, a generative technological platform.

PlayStation and Xbox both market games as ‘console exclusive’, yet, Steam provides these games, inclusive of; Dead Rising, Transitor, and Hotline Miami 2, online, for everyone, at a fraction of the price. Essentially, Steam is providing the same products as big brand names, like PlayStation and Xbox, in an open source environment, that is ultimately, cheaper and easier to access.

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Entry Points into the Happiness Factory

In 2006, Coca Cola created a TV advertisement called the Happiness Factory. It portrayed the animated world inside a soft drink vending machine. Following the global success of the ad, a 3-and-a-half minute film was produced. Various trailers were used, along with movie inspired posters, in order to promote the launch of the film.

Marc Mathieu, the Senior Vice-President of global brand marketing at Coca Cola has said, “Through the short film and other aspects that we have created, including promotional packaging and a brand new online element, we hope that people will have fun with the campaign.”

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Coca Cola collaborated with Xbox and made a Coca-Cola skin available for customised dashboards. They also enabled a free download of the Happiness Factory ringtone.

Not only were they able to increase revenue and popularity with this campaign, but, they were also able to reach a greater number of consumers, extending into multiple platforms and continuing to widen the influence of their brand.

Ultimately, this became one story scattered over many channels, creating different points of entry for different audience demographics that fit together to tell one pervasive story. This campaign, in itself, is the perfect example of Transmedia, which is the creation of a unified and coordinated entertainment experience, through the utilisation of various media avenues.

The ‘Blurred Lines’ of Copyright Laws

In 2015, musicians, Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams were challenged by the family of Motown legend, Marvin Gaye, in relation to a copyright infringement in their 2013 hit, “Blurred Lines”. The Gaye family claimed that the pair had stolen the tune form Marvin Gaye’s 1977 track “Got to give it up”.

However, following an appeal from the duo, the judge cut their copyright infringement verdict by more than $2 million. This occurred on the basis that  “a ‘groove’ or ‘feeling’ cannot be copyrighted”, as, was argued by Thicke and Williams. This case has transfixed the music world because it raises questions as to when a song can be considered plagiarized and when it merely serves as inspiration.

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The dispute brings about the notion of intellectual property rights. Before copyright anyone could freely copy, modify, or sell content. Before copyright, the notion of property related only to owning land with the thought of owning ideas considered absurd. Now days this is almost impossible, with industries and corporations seeking control over content, ideas and all possible uses of information, rendering the thought of a copyright free world, a thing of the past.

SoundScan to SoundCloud: Good artists copy; great artists steal

The production of Hip-hop has long been tied to the availability and progression of technology. Transpiring in the Bronx of New York City in the 1970’s, harnessing turntables and microphones, Hip-hop has continued to utilise technological advancements. Technology has allowed for the emergence of Hip-hop as a widely accessible commodity, allowing for user interaction and production of an insurmountable extent.

Remix culture is the encouragement of the combination or editing of existing materials to produce a new product. It is the process whereby content production has become democratised. In terms of Hiphop, the emergence of remix culture has allowed for the rise of break beat culture, EDM and Mashups. The creation of such genres brings about the idea of ‘Technology of self’. Despite being a collaborative process for the most part, Hip-hop production allows the individual to produce content without the interference of record companies or other stakeholders. This individualisation of production elicits a particular aesthetic within Hip-hop that has become extremely popularised.

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In 1991, Mike Fine and Mike Shalett introduced SoundScan. This system implemented a method of tracking record sales. Through this process, we were able to recognise that Hip-hop was on top of the sales charts. Now days, Youtube and Soundcloud allow for the recording of views on tracks uploaded by amateur Hip-hop artists who participate in the process of remixing music to create a completely new sound.

 

 

Extraterrestrial Intelligence > Collective Intelligence

Distributed media allows for a completely open process of continuous collaboration in the production of information, as opposed to centralized and decentralized forms of media, which rely heavily on dissemination. Collective intelligence is the default form of participation of said distributed networks and allows for mass participation on a vast scale.

In November of 2000, NASA configured a Web site called Clickworkers, asking for amateurs to assist in the mapping of the surface of Mars. The site provided a tutorial on how to classify Martian craters and identify them on photos of Mars. NASA then aggregated this data to produce a ‘Martian-crater map’.

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Whilst there was no financial payment for participants, over a hundred thousand people took part, accumulating more than 2.4 million identifications of the craters. The collective product of the amateurs was said to have been “virtually indistinguishable from that of a geologist with years of experience in identifying Mars craters.”

NASA’s crowdsourcing project sought to examine whether distributed volunteers were able to collectively perform mass image analysis. The project and results make evident, the power of collective intelligence and furthermore, citizen journalism and participation, in order to produce credible content.

BuzzFeed: The Democratic Revival

A theory is a supposition that has explanatory powers and attempts to provide plausible and rational reason for an observed phenomenon. When it comes to media, there is an array of theories that endeavor to explain how we communicate and discuss within the media, and how media involvement influences the outcome of said discussions. A theory that best describes this notion, by way of integrating democratic views, is known as The Public Sphere, coined by German Sociologist, Jürgen Habermas.

The Public Sphere aims to answer some of the following questions:

What is “the public” and what kinds of power does it have in a representative democracy?

-How does “public opinion” shape political power and policy?

Habermas’ Public Sphere was a place where individuals and government members could meet and produce critical debate over societal matters. This was done in physical, face-to-face meetings in coffee houses, cafes and public squares. Habermas saw the public sphere as a positive force for discussion and liaising between two opposing groups.

The original concept of the Public Sphere was a realm within social life, in which, public opinion could be formed and was accessible to all. The engagement within the public sphere, according to Habermas, was blind to class positions. This, however, was not necessarily the case, as almost all gatherings in the sphere were open only to men of the working class/ bourgeoisie, excluding women from any noteworthy discussion and also excluding lower class patrons from debate that could well have impacted them. Now days, the public sphere is open to anyone, regardless of class, race, gender, age and other such discriminatory factors.

Many Millennials would state that their public sphere revolves around Facebook and social media outlets. Whilst my public sphere is also on Facebook, I credit BuzzFeed as a significant platform, on which, social debate is circulated, being open to all and free of discrimination and seclusion. Although this particular public sphere is heavily mediated, like others, such as Insight and Q&A, both airing on SBS, it is at the forefront of increasing the accessibility of social debate. Covering topics inclusive of the LGBT community, HIV and sex, Buzz feed takes controversial topics and allows them to be discussed in an open and accepting environment, making evident the transformation of the notion of the public sphere since its founding in 1962.

Where is your public Sphere?