The Rise of Produsage: The Arab Spring

In February 2011, Egyptian President Mubarak resigned following weeks of protest against his regime. The Egyptian Revolution, A.K.A the January 25 Revolution, was sparked following “calls for protests from online youth groups.” The protests, organised solely via social media, specifically Twitter, led to clashes between security and dissidents, causing 846 casualties and over 6,000 injuries. Social media played a key role in these demonstrations across the Middle East and North Africa, which became known as the Arab Spring, effectively leading to the overhaul of governments in countries inclusive of Egypt.

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Credit: Justiceinconflict.org

In recent times, there has been a paradigm shift from consumption to production, with the term ‘Produsage’ becoming popularized. Produsage can be described as ‘the writing readers’ or ‘the viewers who picked up a camera”. It is all about giving media users the ability to produce content, and in the case of the Arab Spring, the personal use of social media in order to spark a revolution.

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Orignal Meme

Social media users have initiated the transition from Monologic media, such as television, whereby the process of receiving information comes in the form of dissemination, to the use of Dialogic media, like Twitter, that allows for the transformation from dissemination to dialogue and conversation. This shift allows for such insurgent activity as the Arab Spring to spread both rapidly and successfully.

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Credit: Thedailybeast.com

Down the Rabbit Hole

When it comes to media consolidation, there is vast anxiety surrounding the diversity of media ownership, which seems to have declined both globally and within Australia. With a multiplicity of media sources it would be expected that those who control the media would also be variegated. However, when considering media ownership within Australia alone, the concentrated possession of media outlets is made evident.

Australian media mogul, Rupert Murdoch’s company, News Corp, owns 44% of the Sky Network, and some 150 national and local newspapers in Australia alone. The Sky Network also owns 50% of the Premier Media Group, which operates nine Fox TV channels in Australia. Murdoch’s companies also own stakes and shares across Asia, Europe, the US, and the Middle East. Murdoch’s ownership of such a large variety of media sources, iterates his editorial and ideological control of a large portion of the world’s media interaction, providing a, therefore, significantly one sided and prejudicial viewpoint on all news and media presented to the public.

It may be considered bold to make the comparison between Rupert Murdoch and Adolf Hitler, yet when taking into account Hitler’s use of propaganda during Nazi power and his employment of Joseph Goebbels as his ‘Propaganda minister’, we expose the correlation between the two. The journalists that Rupert Murdoch employs at his various news corporations are merely publicizing propaganda of Murdoch’s choice to the, ill aware, masses. That being said, we begin to comprehend the abuse of media power upheld by Murdoch, much the same as Hitler and the Nazis in the 1930’s, who successfully indoctrinated the German public to concur with Nazi beliefs. Whilst Rupert Murdoch is no Nazi, he is, however, subtly forcing his opinion upon those who consume the media sources he owns, therefore, engaging in Nazi behaviour of sorts.

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Source: Adolf Im Whanderland – James Dyrenforth & Max Kester

With the modern world lacking in pluralism and, in an effort to subdue the apparent abuse of media power, Produsage has become a popular form of media expression as users can also produce their own media content, perhaps in an effort to overcome media consolidation and allow for self-expression. Produsage can potentially combat the mindless media consumption that we, as members of the public, endure, by way of providing an outlet for individual thought and encouragement of research in order to publish fact driven information.

So with these ideas in mind, I pose the questions, who owns and controls the media you use to access news sources and how do you know if you can you trust them?

 

 

 

Bieber Fever vs Fanloids

Last Wednesday, I attended, for the fourth time, Justin Bieber‘s Australian tour. As a 13 year old in 2011, I was mesmerised by the pop star, labelling him a genius. Now, as an 18 year old, I have come to realise that, perhaps, this is not the case.

An accurate depiction of my opinion then vs now:

When comparing Justin Bieber (a mainstream pop sensation), to the likes of Japanese Vocaloid, Hatsune Miku (the result of object animation), we begin to recognise the difference between craft and commodity. Justin Bieber is, very much, a result of mass production and commodification, having become somewhat more of a brand than an individual. He is surrounded by entities that exercise control to, ultimately, profit from the brand, that is, Justin Bieber himself. This trend of the ‘assembly line‘ results in the production of certainty, leaving little room for creativity and consumer engagement.

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Hatsune Miku is an open source that allows for infinite customisation through collaboration, the result is the production of risk and uncertainty in the name of craftsmanship and advocation for the changing meaning of craft in a time of digital mediation.

Thus, when a product is standardised it is targeted at the masses and loses the value of craftsmanship, but when a product is customisable, it is for the individual.

Ceci n’est pas une pipe

Culminated by Ferdinand de Saussure and Charles Peirce, Semiotics is defined as the study of signs as elements of communicative behavior. It presents us with the ability to interpret the complex images encountered within the media. Through utilising Semiotics to interpret complexities, we are able to comprehend both Signifiers, of which, are encoded with messages, and Signifieds, which are understood, only after decoding these intended meanings.

Alternatively, this same idea can be explicated through denotation, that is, the literal meaning of something, and connotation, which is concerned with what is evoked conceptually. These methods allow for arbitrary signs to be understood through the possibility of more obscure meanings, in association with a particular image.

René Magritte’s, The Treachery of Images, is of utmost importance when attempting to exemplify the intricate proposition of Semiotics. Depicted, is, what seems, a foolproof image of a pipe, when in fact, it is merely the representation of a pipe. This is where the famous, ‘This is not a pipe”, originates. Semiotics, therefore, assists us in understanding this somewhat unsettling notion.

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Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Treachery_of_Images

When attempting to make sense of an image, we frequently skip the denotations as they are often transparent , leaving us vying to discern the intended meaning. The knowledge of an individual may influence one to interpret an image quite abstractly in comparison to others. This notion is enhanced when exploring my personal interpretation of, a said, ‘complex image’.

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Above is an image by Eric Drooker for The New Yorker, published on December 14th 2015, titled, ‘Shopping days’. The signifiers appear to be a man and a woman displaying merriment whilst grocery shopping, made evident by the trolley, of which, contains a carton of juice and some unexpected items, inclusive of machine guns. In the isle, the woman is selecting a gun whilst the man has one slung over his shoulder.

While the signifiers seem quite pellucid, it is when we take into account the Signifieds that complexity begins to arise.

I interpret this image to be a resounding comment on the constant controversy surrounding Americas contentious gun laws. This image, to me, represents how easy it is to purchase a gun, as if you were doing the groceries.

Whilst similar, my interpretation is not exact, to that of artist Eric Drooker’s explanation of his work. He questions, “What would it look like if I took America’s obsession with firearms to its logical extreme?” The image portrays the proliferation of guns and the too-easy access to military-grade weapons.

Thus, having varying knowledge allows individuals to produce different interpretations of any one image, and it is Semiotics that helps us to engage with complex images in a vast and meaningful way.

Everything can be fixed with a hammer

The medium is the message” a simple, yet profoundly appealing phrase.

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Marshall McLuhan, an actor turned sociologist, published, in 1964, ‘Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man‘, from which, the above quote is extracted.

Fascinated by print and newly invented television media, he asserted that the message is not the content of the television shows but, the way in which, innovative forms of media expressed something about man’s character and psyche. This rings true with today’s media platforms, inclusive of Facebook, Snap Chat and Netflix, of which, provide the idea that man is constantly striving for convenience with the production of new mediums.

In ‘Understanding media’, McLuhan uses the hammer as an example of a tangible object (medium) by which, man has been able to express himself beyond the physical limitations of the body. That is, his body could not hammer a hard nail into a piece of timber, but his mind could convey such things. Thus, the medium of the hammer represents the message, of which, is the determination of man to build and dominate his surroundings.

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(THE WORLD MAKES SENSE AGAIN)

Likewise, TV and print mediums portray key elements of man’s desire to express self and communicate to a broader audience. Considering the technologies available in McLuhan’s lifetime, imagine how he would have felt about YouTube, Snap chat and, of course, the proliferation of Facebook.

Hey Macklemore! Can we go thrift shopping?

When it comes to the prospect of the Digital Artefact, i have been struggling to fabricate a concept that i can see myself being able to spend an entire semesters worth of time on without ultimately becoming bored and/or hating it.

In consideration of topics that both interested me and were appropriate to base a digital artefact upon, i formulated a list of my favourite past times and hobbies inclusive of:

  • Makeup artistry
  • Fashion
  • Animals
  • Sight Seeing
  • Watching movies
  • Listening to some good tunes

Taking into account, the fact that each of my interests already had a large online presence in the form of already generated digital artefacts, I chose to steer clear of these ideas and have settled upon something i believe could do with more media coverage.

For a number of years i have participated in the nonchalant art of Thrift Shopping a.k.a Op Shopping.  Buying recycled clothing has never been as much fun as sifting through masses of musky smelling t shirts and over warn levi high wasteds or “Passin’ up on those moccasins someone else’s been walkin’ in”

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On average i would usually visit my local op shops around once a month. With the digital artefact in mind, i hope to visit one thrift shop each week and portray how easy it can be to dress fashionably on a uni student budget.

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Each week i will post a segment on whatever platform i decide to use, whether that be youtube, Instagram, Tumblr or a website, titled Thrift Haul Thursdays on which i will post images of the purchases i make at each store and review the store, pricing and range of items to choose from. I also hope to list a range of thrift stores around my local area and greater Sydney in order to create exposure for the thrift store trend. These segments may have themes in terms of what particular items in am shopping for, for example; winter items, clubbing items or summer fashion items. Despite believing you should never go to a thrift store looking for something particular, I believe having certain categories will entice more interest and make my platform/ digital artefact easier to navigate.

I am hoping to decide upon a platform and a name within the next week, and with that, i bid you farewell my friends.

Wish me luck on my digital artefact endeavours.

From Production to Produsage: From Social to Anti-scoial

Social media is the ultimate equalizer. It gives a voice and a platform to anyone willing to engage”  – Amy Jo Martin

In light of the above quote, I pose the question; do we as a collective audience use social media in the interest of engaging or withdrawing?

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It is indisputable that the nature of media audiences has changed over time, not only as a result of technological innovation but also due to the growing usability of media platforms that allows individuals to become ‘Produsers’, ultimately leading to the increasing prevalence of user-led content production. But how does this relate to the prevailing absence of somatic interaction?

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It can be said that we as human beings, place grave valuation on the concept of face-to-face contact and socialisation. At least…I know I do.  Yet with the rapid development of produsage in the modern world, the notion of social interaction without intervention of technology is fast becoming obsolete.  Produsage, a concept devised by Australian media scholar Axel Bruns, suggests media users play the role of producers whether they are aware of this role or not.  In doing so, people have become engrossed with creating and maintaining an online presence, paving the way for the domination of social media, in comparison to the growing subordination of corporeal interaction.

Subsequently, the evolution of media platforms, from the first black and white television set to, the ever so fashionable, smartphone, has allowed for the current lack of barriers surrounding the usual working day, thus, providing influence upon social interaction, or rather, the lack there of. Now days, those who work in media/ technology based jobs are given the opportunity to take their professions home, in turn, creating a decline in gregarious interaction within the household.  This concurs with, and reinforces the idea, that development in forms of media does so happen to impact upon the need for physical networking.

It is the utopian viewpoint, that a strong connection to media sources, whether that’s television, radio, print, or social, creates a sense of enlightenment amongst a modern audience. This view can, however, be scrutinised when considering the dystopian alternative that suggests an addiction to media outlets is somewhat of an unhealthy obsession.

With all this in mind, it is up to you my friends; to decide what stance you will take. Will you let the rapid advancement of produsage turn you into an anti-scoial media user? Or, will you be a social butterfly and conversation producer?

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