The Creative Cycle

The creativity and voice of generations to come was changed forever due to the digital millennium copyright act of 1998.  The scales were tipped in favor of the past controlling the future of ideas through questionable approaches of utilitarian ethics.  Unfortunately our society’s dominant ideology of capitalism forces us into the comprehension of everything in our lives through a sense of production and consumption, while regarding anything outside that process as irrelevant and of no value.  This type of philosophy is what has driven the control of creativity and ideas into the hands of the distribution companies as the primary benefactors, and left the interests of the creators behind.   Unlike the utilitarian approach that dominates the west, the European deontological approach justifies copyright as a necessary recognition of the author’s identity and personhood.  Therefore it identifies ownership as an extension of the individual or the creator of goods.  The public domain, which is one of the tools we use to build, remix and develop ideas is more restricted now that it has ever been.  Copyright had a set amount of time for ownership that met the demands of all concerned before becoming part of the public domain.  However since the boom of the Internet and pier-to-pier files sharing software, the giant motion picture industries panicked, specifically when they confronted the wildfire like spread of piracy.   Instead of introducing a technological solution to the ethical question of piracy, the production and distribution industries lobbied Washington and persuaded them to extend copyright ownership to 75 years plus lifetime of the author.  That amount of time skips an entire generation if not two who would have been familiar with these cultural artifacts.   The Disney corporation had one of the worst backlashes against piracy and went as far as threatening to sue children for downloading Disney songs, and daycare centers for displaying their cartoon characters in their classrooms and playgrounds.  Copyleft emerged as a result of all these hegemonic negotiations, which gives the power back to the creators to dictate how their creations are used and in what ways they are restricted.  This approach although not perfect includes the fans as co creators, forming a specific language of creative processes between producers, consumers and distributors where everyone is involved and has a voice.  It is important to remember that the distribution powers that exist today are hording intellectual property and ideas that were derived and remixed from past generations .  The copyrights they are entitled to do not surpass ours, and if balance is not restored between the past and the future the creative cycle will eventually come to a halt.

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The Big Sort

Our offline geographical communities are affecting our online communities, this also affects our news habits as well.  Bill Bishop is an author, reporter and columnist from Texas, who wrote a book called The Big Sort.  The book explains that in order to understand what is driving young people towards homogenous communities online, we have to look at the geographical transformation of American neighborhoods off line.  What he means by homogenous communities online is our generation’s disregard of local news and newspapers.  We tend to gravitate towards niche web sites that reflect our social class, lifestyles, habits, religion and culture.  The big sort began in the 1970’s when Americans began to cluster and gravitate towards others that share the same ideologies.  They moved into gated communities and formed housing associations and surrounded themselves with people that resembled their lifestyles, class and ideologies.  Bishop explains that these sites are not the cause of social divisions, kids have grown up in neighborhoods of like-mindedness, so hegemonic groups are considered normal.  The choices young people make regarding what sites they visit and rely on online for news and information are not immune to the social forces that shape their lives off line.  If an individual grows up in a community that relies on the internet as its main source of news and information, then that individual will most likely never pickup a news paper.  The specific web sites that this community favors as their best source of news will ultimately become the individual’s most, if not only visited and reliable source of information.  So basically you are where you live, who lives next to you and whom you talk to.  When we bond with people that resemble us instead of bridge with others outside of our social class, we are trapped in our own social bubble’s niche comforts.  In order to be more aware and knowledgeable one must strive for diversity and stepping outside their comfort zone.

Participatory Culture in Social Media

Social media websites have exploded throughout the past ten years. A large amount of the population that use social media outlets have made it part of their everyday routines (often several times a day) to log on, update their status, post a picture, or tweet, depending on the site you use. There are several levels of involvement in terms of participatory culture including: active creators, critics, collectors, joiners, and passive spectators. Currently, I am an active creator on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I have also created a blog, but have yet to make my first post; therefore I am a passive spectator as this point in time.

Every person interacts on social media sites differently. For example, on Instagram I typically just upload pictures of special people or events in my life with a simple caption. Although I am active, I do not comment or reply as much on Instagram as I do on other sites such as Facebook. For me, Facebook has the most information about my personal life. Not only does the internet in general have the ability to track my activity, but Facebook has pictures, my posts, songs I have listened to, my list of friends, my past relationships, and much more for the past six years since I first signed up for it. For much of this information, you can set your privacy settings however you want. This is the idea that you are able to sensor your thoughts and what you want others to be able to see. You have the ability to decide what information you want to be private and what you want to be public. I do my best to keep everything private to those who I am not friends with on Facebook. I am less active on Twitter than I am on Facebook, but I still make several tweets throughout the week. My posts on Twitter tend to be class, news, or certain topics I am personally interested in.

With that being said, I do find myself having to sensor what I say or post on social media sites for a plethora of different reasons. In what ways do you interact differently on the social media sites that you are active on? Do you ever feel the need to sensor what you say?

There are many reasons why users feel the need to sensor what they post online. One of the biggest reasons is for potential or current employers. A large amount of users on Facebook and Twitter, are in college and will be looking for a job once they graduate. Employers have the ability to see what you post, which has the potential to cause a negative reaction when you are being researched. Even though you delete an inappropriate picture from five years ago, that does not mean it might not surface at some point in time in the future. This is another reason why the internet in so scary when it comes to your life and your career. It is inappropriate to post the same thing on Twitter as you do on your professional site such as your LinkedIn account. Being friends with many of your family members on Facebook is another reason many social media users sensor their posts. While certain users do not care what the general public thinks of what they have to say, other users, such as myself, like to keep it the topics fairly light and uncontroversial. Social media is not always the right outlet to vent about a problem you are having with a person or on that particular day. Do you think that you would have been more selective on what you put on your social media sites when you were younger if you knew how much it could influence you in the future?

In general, social media affects everybody throughout society even if you do not use it. Those who are not active on social media sites are most likely the older generation of adults and those who are not technologically savvy. Even those adults are still slightly affected by social media because they are not using it while everybody else is and are left out of that type of socialization. On the other hand, those who are active in social media are majorly influenced by social media. As ridiculous as it may sound I probably get on Facebook and Twitter anywhere between 5-20 times a day, if not more on certain occasions. In some cases this could be a good thing considering my major is Converged Broadcast Media and much of what I do online is school related. On the flip side, it could just be another distraction taking me away from what I should really be doing. I am not the only user affected by social media this way, there are many users who are constantly active throughout the day. How does social media affect your everyday life?

Social Media in the Political Arena

I, like several others in this class, recently created a twitter account. I found much amusement in following various comedians, as well as influential figures in film and television. It is an odd, and seemingly illusory, personal connection to hear almost directly from those people. I felt like I had learned a new trick when communicating with classmates and friends who I began to follow. I certainly don’t regret creating an account, as it is a unique form of social media, one that I won’t be leaving behind any time soon.

I also follow politics often, especially during election season. It’s not so much that I am political. I feel no need to share/ express my views to anyone I don’t know (or even those I do…except for my father, who I will always play Devil’s advocate with, disagreeing even when I’m on his side of the issue. It’s simply more fun that way). It’s more like following sports teams to me. I’ve never been particularly interested in watching sports, but, for some reason beyond my understanding, politics is entertaining.

I mentioned that I don’t regret creating a twitter account, and I will continue to use it after this class. Something I do regret, however, is following the political candidates.

Following Obama was the worst decision I’ve made yet in the twitter sphere (one word? Hyphen?). Never has there been a more active and worthless twitter account. Every hour the Obama campaign floods my page with tweets (or it did until I stopped following “him), almost all of them devoid of any substance or links.

For anyone watching the debates and the aftermath, discussion at some point, regardless of the station you were tuned into, turned to twitter and what was “buzzing” there. After Romney’s “binder full of women” statement, that was all I saw from friends and celebrities alike. I didn’t mind that, as some of the points were rather humorous. It was fun and not serious.

Romney’s page is much better. Regardless of political affiliation, I appreciate that his campaign does not saturate twitter (even if his tweets were of a similar substance to Obama’s).

I believe that the limitation of characters, in addition to the fascination with “gaffs”, makes the twitter world feel like, to take a term from television, a vast wasteland. When watching these debates, sure it’s kind of interesting to see what Karl Rove has to say about the outcome, but the random tweets from individuals that litter CNN’s page do not need to be spread on television.

The horse race mentality takes over social media, as well. Not just a race for the candidates but for the average person racing to weigh in on whom they think is the winner. It reminds me of the Alien vs. Predator tagline: Whoever wins…we lose.

Granted, these are all negatives. Social Media has had positive impacts in the political realm…but not necessarily in America. http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/67038/clay-shirky/the-political-power-of-social-media

In this instance, I believe that social media, Twitter in particular, is such a flood of needless information that it is doing more harm than good. We need to hear and value experts, not the average individual.

“want” Button on Facebook vs. Pinterest

So many people use Facebook because there are no other social networking cites that can compare to it from its layout and features to its popularity and easy navigation. The “like” button has become one of the most well known features on Facebook. It was added in 2010 to photos and status to allow users to easily share the posts they like with their friends. It was a quick way to show your approval without having to think of a witty comment.

Recently there has been talk of adding more buttons. Retailers are testing a “want” and “collect” button. These buttons are to be featured in a new area of Facebook that will display pictures of products posted by companies such as Victoria’s Secret and Pottery Barn. It is designed for Facebook users to view and purchase what is displayed in the pictures from the companies who post them. It is also a way to show their likes and personal style to their friends and subscribers. As I read about these new buttons in the Washington post article link below. It sounds very much like Pinterest. Pinterest shows pictures of items in real stores and the pictures are linked to the website where it originated. If it is from a retail store, the link attached to the picture takes you directly to the page that allows you to purchase the item. I question how these new buttons will differ from Pinterest.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/facebook-tests-want-collect-buttons-and-muscles-into-pinterests-turf/2012/10/09/3b459ba2-1205-11e2-be82-c3411b7680a9_story.html

Pinterest is often directly linked to your Facebook.  When you go to create an account it give you the option to sign up with Facebook, Twitter, or email.

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It is obvious that the website’s desire is for a user to pick Facebook or Twitter before seeing the email option below both of the larger buttons. If the user signs up with their Facebook account there is an option that allows the user to automatically post their pins directly to their Facebook. Then all of their latest pins can be viewed on their news feed by friends and subscribers. This furthers my confusion for the new addition.

As I think of Facebook’s potentially new buttons and its similarity to Pinterest I wonder, what could Facebook gain from this feature? Clearly I think Facebook would gain new advertisers that would want to post pictures of their merchandise. However, I think there could be more to gain. Women users dominate Pinterest.

According to various reports, 58 percent to 97 percent of Pinterest users are female.

If Facebook were to release the “want” and “collect” buttons I raise the question, would men use it? Millions of men are already on active users on Facebook. Would this button encourage men to show their likes and interests to their friends and subscribers? Could Facebook gain more popularity than Pinterest because their users are already established? Does the fact that the men to women ratio are more even give Facebook an advantage? Facebook could be more user friendly to men than Pinterest because they would not need to make a new account. They would simply engage in something new on a network they are already apart of. The “like” button was quickly accepted and used by users regularly. The “want” and “collect” buttons have the same potential. If enough male focused advertisers post pictures on Facebook I think it could bridge the gender gap between males and females that is currently on Pinterest.

What do you think? Are men simply not be interested in sharing their ideal home décor, style, or product ideas with their friends? If Facebook provided the photos along with a new button would men want to get involved?

And if you’ve already been looking for a manlier Pinterest try http://manteresting.com/?cnn=yes

Fehling, April. “So Pinterest Is A Woman’s World. Does That Matter?” NPR. NPR, 22 Feb. 2012. Web. 23 Oct. 2012. <http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2012/02/22/147222619/so-pinterest-is-a-womans-world-does-that-matter&gt;.

Head in the Clouds: SoundCloud and the New Era of Independent Distribution in Music

Head in the Clouds:

SoundCloud and the New Era of Independent Distribution in Music

By Kevin Cavanagh

As digital technology has developed, the world has become more and more of a stage in which even the audience is on display.  Whether it is because more consumers are becoming “prosumers” or because user-generated content sites are becoming more popular and therefore more telling of the culture and what it’s participants desire, it is evident that the times are changing.  José van Dijck argues that between community involvement (civilly, socially, politically) and more communal forms of creativity, production and distribution, it is evidently no longer valid to view consumers as simply consumers.  Videos on YouTube, fansites, blogs and other forms of digital expression, fandom, and community reveal the peoples relationship with the medium more than any statistical study of uninvolved viewers.

Although because of the rise in number of producers or “prosumers”, it makes sense that it be more difficult for an artist or content creator to make it “big”.  But the relativity of “big” is one that is still morphing and being defined, as new forms and opportunities for media are being developed monthly.  An example of a new and extremely popular form of musical distribution and networking is SoundCloud.  If you have a Macbook, you probably have the DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) Garageband on your desktop, and although you might not have used it, it is a fairly limited and simple version of what can be an almost infinitely all-encompassing synthesizer, drum machine, audio-recording “studio” music-maker.  Other programs like LogicPro, Ableton Live, and Reason all take this concept a little further to a more professional degree, although still attempting at being user-friendly.

With the advent of the DAW and other advancements in the ease of audio production and compression (in a similar way sites like YouTube of more specifically Vimeo have become a possibility in regards to streaming video), sites like SoundCloud have become a haven for amateur producers to post their music in the hopes of being “discovered” or simply getting feedback and networking with other “prosumers”.  Although the site is mostly filled with these types of musicians or music lovers, record labels/producers/DJs/etc have all began using the site as means of marketing and building community around this blooming relationship between the internet and art communities.  People being discovered for doing “remixes” of their favorite artists have been catapulted into, although maybe modest, a level of fame and notoriety likely unachievable before the existence of such a site.  A great example is involving the superstar Deadmau5.  A fan of his created a remix that started getting other fans attention, and because of how intense the fan base is, it didn’t take long for the numbers to add up and for Deadmau5 to be forced to take notice, upon which the 15 year old finds his work being posted by possibly the most popular dance music producer in the world.

Site like SoundCloud prove that although consumers are still consumers, the line has been blurred and the possibilities continue to grow for aspiring producers of all levels of notoriety.  Whether it is being able to preview an upcoming album, listen to a live DJ set, sharing and remixing a song, or being able to leave a comment at a very specific point in the music (i.e. What synth/sample/effect did you use to achieve that?) the relationship between production and consumption is stronger than ever and more mutualistic than I ever imagined growing up.

Not only did 15 year old Madeon impress Deadmau5 enough to get him to publicize his music, he was signed and had music released.  Do you think the quality of art/content will generally be reduced in the modern era of user-generated content/prosumers, or will the opportunity provide for more outlets of quality expression (as both are increasingly prominent features of Web 2.0)?