It all goes hand in hand

I have enjoyed this module, probably more than Media and Society last term, because of the immediacy, relevance and relatability of its content to everyday life. We’re constantly using the Internet and have been in direct confrontation with all of the issues covered over the weeks, and being forced to actually reflect on them has proven to be quite insightful.

The topic of online visibility really stuck with me, especially due to discussing with others and reading people’s posts, in terms of how little initial control we have over what gets out there and how big of a footprint we leave. While we might be able to install a VPN to hide our IP address – identity and location – and forgo certain ‘barriers’ of the Internet, even that is now detectable by sites such as Netflix. The reason for that is obviously copyright variations between countries, which proves that products of convergence doesn’t always demonstrate the same worldwide. Then, we resort to online communities such as Reddit to help us successfully navigate our way through new ends of the web.

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What I’m trying to convey is that it’s getting more and more obvious how increasingly entangled modern online issues are becoming. In our search for endless new content on the net, we will inevitably be faced with more obstacles as new regulations are set into place, both to protect ourselves and not to restrict our material. I feel like the media we consume will only become steadily more symmetrical – as in we’ll be consuming what other users produce and vice versa, worldwide and breaking barriers down even further, and it will be interesting to see development of that play out in the foreseeable future.future-past_thumb.jpg

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Flickr: Creative Commons

flickr.jpgFlickr is a well-known online picture sharing platform, and many of its users have chosen to share their work under a Creative Commons license, forgoing traditional copyright.

This allows for users to differentiate between the types of Attribution License, Attribution-NoDerivs License, Attribution-NonCommercial License, Attribution-ShareAlike License, and finally two forms of Public Domain for their work, leaving creatives in full charge of how they’d like their work to be hosted.

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Given the free features of the site and the obvious benefit unknown artists reap from getting their work spread and altered by other users, leading to “getting their stuff out there”, I’m a bit skeptical.

Looser copyright regulations, especially when it comes to visual artwork, can often lead to someone using your personal pictures for questionable purposes – even identity theft, or finding ways to capitalise on your work or altered versions of it. It would suffice to be uninformed about the different forms of licenses for someone to allow a mishap like that themselves, and accidentally pick the wrong kind of license for their intentions, which is why being informed about internet laws is vital.

Nevertheless, Flickr emphasises that it is a community, and seeks to aid and cater to all sorts of people in the creative industries, a concept which has definitely been working. They “want to help people make their photos available to the people who matter to them”, ensuring that photographers get their work spread in an adequate manner.

I don’t know why googling myself is such an uncomfortable thing to do – almost like you get irrational premonitions of something unfortunate coming up in the results. Luckily, I made sure this wouldn’t actually happen to me long ago, because I was aware of the embarrassing and concerning outcomes disclosing too much about yourself could have, be it purposely or unintentionally.

It might be due to having lived in various countries, where my surname was always butchered somehow, but surprisingly there is nothing to find about my sports rankings and achievements at school – which in retrospect is a good thing, because that sort of information can still reveal your whereabouts. When my then-underage classmate’s (absurdly famous) grandfather died a few years ago, Spanish gossip magazines managed to draw up profiles of her and her siblings without them ever having said anything, just based on Google search results and their activities at school, as well as Facebook pictures, which scared them out of their minds and ended in a lost lawsuit since the information belonged to the domains it was on.

Luckily Facebook now gives you the option of making your account untraceable on search machines, as well as regulate people being able to find you through other information (like your phone number, which is now mandatory to use the messenger), which I’ve definitely made use of. My Instagram and other social profiles don’t have my full name on them – except for LinkedIn.

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I guess we’ve all heard stories about people being denied jobs they were set for after getting their ‘background check’ done – because of “unprofessional” tagged pictures on Facebook or ever so slightly offensive tweets. Obviously I try for (the little) content I post to be unproblematic in the first place, but it’s always best to make sure and not mix private affairs and business to ensure our road to professionalism and security otherwise will go without bumps.

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LinkedIn – a professional network

I can’t really make an accurate estimate of how many people in this group have a LinkedIn profile, but I do, and while it’s currently hardly active I know that it will be helpful and interesting in the future – and here’s why:

Boasting more than 400 million members from more than 200 countries, LinkedIn is as diverse demographically as it is in its variety of industries. It is the largest professional network where people in any business can digitally list their skills, education history and work experience, building what is essentially a virtual CV. With colleagues and friends building your personal network, they can endorse your skills, raising your employability – indeed, LinkedIn is widely used by headhunters to roam networks and recruit the best possible candidate for a job without going through the hassle of hundreds of applications.

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Furthermore, you can follow businesses and brands you’re affiliated with, to create contacts in their network or simply keep up with them, and join groups relevant to your field. In our case, for example, Media & Entertainment Professionals, which regularly informs 170,000 members about industry news. There are also so-called influencers on the site, featuring high-profile people such as David Cameron or Bill Gates, who blog posts to spread their cause and mean to inspire followers to find success by listing their own CVs.

The fact that LinkedIn’s community is consistently growing and being used to widen one’s professional network from both the top and bottom of the career ladder tells us that it might come in handy in the future. And since we know that for example online dating is a very successful concept nowadays, why not give being matched up with a job or useful contacts a go? We might get lucky.

 

 

 

Wikipedia – a truly free encyclopedia?

The most infamous famous product of audience participation online is inarguably Wikipedia. We’ve all heard of it, we’ve all used it to look random things up, we’ve all been told off using it for academic purposes. Obviously this is because the freedom of anyone being able to edit articles, which many resort to in their free time out of boredom or other motives, makes information unreliable and compromises facts and narratives.

Nevertheless, many people have the Wikipedia app on their smartphone to look up trivia, or even gain a quick chronological overview of sociopolitical events. With physical encyclopedias having become nearly extinct to our generation, the organisation has achieved primacy in its cause. The diversity of articles is immense – there are more than five million english entries alone, and 291 different language editions of the site, which most certainly wouldn’t have been possible without the open contribution.

However, as of recent, editor Jimmy Wales has decided to steer away from quantity to ensure quality. Setting stricter guidelines which make it harder for people who are not yet recognised members of the community to make edits and protecting certain articles (such as the one about elephants) from non-official members entirely, might reduce the numbers of mishaps and pranks on the site. Yet making the community smaller and tighter will inevitably scare off new potential contributors, which the organisation will ultimately rely on in the future as information is stacking up every day.

Probably the most ironic thing about this decision, though, is the fact that this shrinking group of people being able to alter information which the general public takes at face value also enables them to twist and bend reality in favour of their agendas, in this case likely political or corporate after all. The democratic aspect, reflecting a true diverse society, is now bound to fade away. What do you think and prefer? Compromised information in the name of quality, or what might be a slightly chaotic yet steady growth of resources?mywikipedia.png

Cardless ATMs: in- or exclusive?

 

For my third blog post, I decided to make use of the resource I supplied last week, Wired Magazine, while doing my research for a good example of convergence. Unsurprisingly, I quickly made a find: we’ve all heard of Apple Pay (though most people aren’t quite convinced yet), and now ATMs are allowing for cardless money retrieval through scanning barcodes on one’s smartphone.web1_FIS480_CNB_ATM-Graphic_1.jpg

Like with many apps, it seems like a concept people need to warm up to over the years – we can agree that it took our parents awhile longer than us to get the hang of smartphones, less converting to using the gadgets for previously mundane tasks.           This is rapidly becoming the norm though: our own generation has experienced the fall of VCR and MySpace, witnessed how fast older forms of media come and go, and watched new technologies become the norm in a short span of time.

Cardless ATMs, however, pose a wholly different set of implications and issues: while they can definitely facilitate operations, help us multi-task with one single device, and spare us the risk of losing our cards carrying them around, cyber hacking is inevitably going to be a big concern. The whole concept might also indefinitely reduce plastic production, if cards ever become fully extinct, but the process is not looking too smooth yet.

New steps of convergence tend to only be available being if they are sufficiently funded – cardless ATMs have existed in Spain since 2011, yet needed sponsor JP Morgan Chase to make them a reality in the UK – which geographically and socioeconomically limits billions of people in the world from participating in the phenomenon due to global power imbalances.

Socialised convergence is what makes humans dependent on media – yet can technological convergence really be described as a fundamental part of society already, if so many are excluded from experiencing it? This might just be a sign of things converging too fast for the whole of humanity to keep up.

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WIRED Magazine

It’s possibly a fair assumption to say that many of us get a little tired of all those academic readings from time to time. Our information-hungry generation appreciates the ability of catching up with interesting news articles in the most relaxed way: digital, uniform, visual, and somewhat interactive. For last term’s module Critical Orientations, I was positively surprised to discover that one of the readings had been published in an actual magazine, namely Wired.

Clicking on its homepage, I took a liking to its variety and complexity of topics, yet casual writing style, getting me on board with the idea that this publication could be a good source for future essays, particularly when concrete examples must be provided or the most recent real-life issues mentioned. It has been published monthly since 1993 and belongs under the Conde Nast umbrella, yet its website wins with an easy-navigable layout.

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Based in San Francisco and New York, the magazine covers science, technology and culture topics worldwide – and how they correlate and affect society. Its official article categories are: Business, Culture, Design, Gear, Science, Security and Transportation – all of which tie perfectly into the contents of this module, seeing as technological breakthroughs, internet privacy and hacking, global mobility and updates on the business of our favourite social media sites are frequent issues in Wired.

With the media overlapping all of said categories, it is often the centre of debate – modern ethical concerns are discussed by columnists such as “How long should you wait before shutting down someone’s Facebook account after they die?”, and global social issues are raised in articles like “Donate your old USB drives to fight North Korean brainwashing”.

Furthermore, I have also found plenty of articles relating to my particular course, PR/Advertising, with topics such as ad blocking and the newest PR campaigns constantly being on Wired’s front page. A personal favourite: “Trump’s New Hampshire Rally is just like reading the comments”.

According to the magazine’s Twitter bio , “WIRED is where tomorrow is realized”, so do give it a follow! It’s definitely worth a browse.

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