Social Media is the Anti-Hero in the Story of Fandoms

            Social media is the reason fandoms are alive and thriving in a world that may have completely forgotten about them. Snail mail and newsletters just were not up to snuff with the rest of society, which had switched gears to a faster way of communicating. People not only couldn’t leave the house without their cell phones but e-mail engaged the thoughts of the entire world, becoming a popular medium for individuals, businesses, and institutions but also for fandoms. Technology and Web 2.0 saved fandoms from extinction and, according to Jon Accarrino in his article “How Social Media Revolutionized ‘Fandom’ Forever”,  “Social media has changed fandom forever”.

 

But with the shift of celebrities going from just a celebrity to becoming their own “community manager”, fandoms can be a little trickier to maintain and control. Being a celebrity in this new digital age has its benefits and repercussions.

 

In class, we talked about how celebrities on various social media platforms can be trampled over simply for tweeting about their opinion on a film they were or were not a part of or because their fans suddenly realized just how anti-feminist their writing was for a massively popular science fiction series like Doctor Who. Steven Moffat, Doctor Who’s new show runner and an acclaimed screenwriter underwent some flack from fans who appreciated his work but didn’t appreciate the way he wrote his female characters. Instead of taking stock in his fans comments, however, Moffat retaliated with arguments that backfired in the only way digital communication could – he didn’t mean to say this-or-that that way. After fans challenged him to more and more debates, eventually, Moffat closed his Twitter account completely.

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What can one learn from this? Can you blame social media on the demise of the reputation of one celebrity? Or do you blame the fans for sticking out their necks and proclaiming their opinions simply because their faces and voices couldn’t be heard, just read? In class, we’ve also discussed how people find it easier to blast others with heir opinions and start fights online than it is to speak about issues in real life. But, even if social media gives fans a way to communicate easier and others the ability to share their opinions safely, how safe is it for celebrities? Minorities?

 

Social media utilized by a celebrity can go an alternative way: a representative employed by the celebrity acts as the head of the communication online. For example, when actor Dominic Monaghan first came on to the Twitter-sphere, a personal assistant or publicist was the first to tweet a message about how she/he would tweet regularly about Monaghan’s life and career. If Monaghan had time to tweet himself, he would end the tweet with his initials “DM”.

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While I don’t see any fault in this manner of using Twitter both for fans and to establish a presence online to publicize a celebrity, I can see why many fans might disagree with the method. Fans, now satisfied by real tweets from celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Kim Kardashian, were longing for the same relationship with a popular actor such as LOST star, Dominic Monaghan. In their eyes, if a personal assistant was the middleman, there was no relationship at all.

 

Do you agree with the fans? Would you feel cheated out of a fandom if a celebrity never tweeted what he/she would actually say? Are social media platforms appropriate for fandoms where people’s love and attention can be flipped at the tweet of an opposing opinion? I say onward with web 2.0 in fandom communities! Just like Accarrino said, “Mass communication with a niche community, or even the entire planet, is now direct, easy and instant” making my daily dose of news about my favorite celebrities faster and easier. Who wouldn’t want that?

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Social Networking Around the Globe

When thinking about popular social networking sites Facebook and Twitter easily come to my mind. Facebook started in the US in 2004. It later made the option to change the language when users sign in to Spanish and eventually added many different languages as seen here:

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Instead of making a separate site for users in different countries the have adapted their site to be instantly by a simple click of a mouse. This also allows users from different countries to be friends. I have friends in South America that are avid Facebook users that I am able to be friends with and interact with even though our Facebooks are set to different languages.  Linkedin and Twitter also have multiple language options.

“In September 2006, 7% of Facebook’s 10 million active users were outside the USA. Today, 60% of its 63 million active users are.”

While Facebook is growing globally, according to bit.ly/MgaUHi the fourth most common social networking site is VK a Russian network. After I looked at vk.com, it appears to be similar to Facebook. It is the largest European social networking site and contains more than 100 million users.

For me, it is easy to assume the fact that these sites are popular globally because it is easy to change the site’s language setting.

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/industries/technology/2008-02-10-social-networking-global_N.htm

Social networking sites are a common way to stay connected to users around the world but some countries have adapted their own way of stay present with web 2.0. In Africa citizens use cell phones more than they use computers. These phones do not look like the typical smart phone that is easily found here but they are used for many purposes that keep them safe and connect. The online banking on their phone has allowed areas of Africa to become much safer and less of a danger for being robbed.

Is there anything in web 2.0 in America that helps you feel safer?

Also in Africa schools are getting computers for classrooms. It is a part of a program that has a goal to let a child use their own computer to increase literacy and to increase their ability to keep up with advances of technology. However, some people see this program as controversial. It is argued that many of the schools have greater needs than the need to have access to computer programs. Some schools do not have simple necessities such as running water or bathroom. It is also disliked due to the lack of knowledge from the teacher to use the computers themselves. If a computer breaks of malfunctions there is often no help available to fix it.

Can you think of other problems that could be associated with this program? Do you think these problems are not great enough to stop the program? Are you for or against the program?

Web 2.0 has increased our ability for to be able o communicate with others all over the world. It also serves as a way to protect and improve our way of living. While some advances seem hard to organize than others there are many examples of successful networks.

Everyone is a Fan

Whether or not you think you are a fan everyone is a fan of something. When I first heard the word fandom I immediately thought of the people who dress up in costumes and parade around fan conventions. When we started to talk about fandom in class I realized that fandom is a very broad word and can range from just liking a TV show to actually dressing up and participating in conventions. I for one am a huge sports fan especially the Green Bay Packers. Not only am I involved in the games when they are on TV but I also own shirts and other items that represent the team which is my way of showing I am a fan.

From the reading by Jon Accarrino It talked about how social media has made fandom more of a big deal and easier to become a fan of something. Before social media was a big deal or even invented fans used fan clubs as a way to “connect” with their favorite stars. Ranging from inside details to upcoming events and movies to getting a free prize. Now with social media especially twitter, stars are starting to engage with their fan base and react and response to what they are saying to them. Instead of having to wait for the updates to come via mail for fan clubs these updates come within seconds and are easy to respond back to. It is amazing that one simple tweet or facebook post has the possibility of reaching millions of people around the world. I think that is  what makes social media so great is how interactive it is and how easy it is to feel connected to people who are famous.

Fans don’t just want to like something they also want to be engaged with it . The best way for fans to show how much they love something especially on video is through YouTube. Believe it or not the girl we now know as the Overly Attached Girlfriend started out by posting a fan video to Justin Bieber which can be seen below.

When most people post videos to YouTube about a certain celebrity they are of course hoping to get some feedback or maybe attention from the celebrity themselves. Justin Bieber posted the fan video with many excited young teens to grace the screen of YouTube to show JB exactly how big of a fan they were.  The girl in the video might not have gotten Justin’s feedback (correct me if I am wrong) but she did gain followers herself and is now all over the internet.  I remember when I was in middle school me and my friend put together a fan video to win tickets to a bands concert. Even though we did not win the contest it was cool to know that they would be watching the videos to pick the winner and I was showing how big of a fan I was and how much I supported them.

One of the cool things about social media connecting with TV shows is through live tweeting. Most shows have hashtags on the bottom corner of the screen in which you can tweet your thoughts throughout the show. With the hashtag you can then look up the timeline of everyone that is also tweeting. Celebritys have also taken to the twitter world by live tweeting during the time their show is on air. This is a quick picture of the guys of Ghost Adventures tweeting about their live tweeting during the show. This gives fans the opportunity to involve in conversation with them and also get little quick facts that maybe the show did not tell you.

I know I take to twitter when my favorite shows are on TV mostly because I like to see if others have the same thoughts I do or to see what their opinions are. Have you ever live tweeted a TV show, sports event or even the debate?

Many people may not want to admit that they are a fan of a particular subject or thing but I must know for the people who are brave enough to share with me what you are a fan of?

And if you are a fan of something what do you do to show that you are a fan?

Obama 08’/Kony 2012: The Need for New Mediations in New Mass Mediums

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jul/24/obama-youtube-milestone-online-videos

The Internet is replacing past mediums (books, magazines, radio, television, etc.) as the main way information or data is distributed.  Benefiting from the speed and scope “Web 2.0” has to offer, society can now know about cultural events and movements around the globe within minutes. Learning of the tragic plight of Ugandan children being enslaved by Joseph Kony and his horrible Christian sect (the Lords Resistance Army) is important and knowledge of a political figure in an election such as president Obamas 2008 campaign is obviously important and possible through the internet.  Although the Internet has made this facet of modern society more accessible, it brings a new set of ethical questions to the table and a re-evaluation of how we judge media is necessary in the face of such serious change.

It would be hard to argue that President Obama was elected simply from his Internet campaign and not the American people’s ability to judge and perceive two (or more) men comparing themselves on many stages.  But although the race might have still been close if McCain ran a good web campaign, that is assuming the rest of Obama’s campaign was below standards for modern politics, when in reality it was all a part of the same movement. 

In Claire Miller’s article the mayor of San Francisco says, “There will be a lot of collateral damage coming to grips with the fact that we’re in a reality TV series, ‘Politics 24/7,’” Mr. Newsom said.  This demonstrates that although this is a great new way to spread knowledge of a person or idea, it is also a way for the idea to distort and furthermore be “TV”.  It is important that the political discussions take place and thanks to the Internet, they will, but it is also important that the Internet is not used to fool people because they aren’t treating it with the same skepticism one uses towards a television commercial.  Most things are still a constructed advertisement, or in other words, a well-planned and thought-out manipulation.

In Claire Suddath’s article on how the Invisible Children’s most recent movement “Kony 2012” was the fastest growing viral video.  If you were on the Internet during this period, you saw your fair share of (mostly kids) re-posting/sharking the video link.  While it is beautiful to see such compassion possible in a 1st world culture and seeing that American kids care about these international travesties is very comforting, it is disturbing that the emotion that’s displayed and fueling the movement is not empowering enough for the majority of promoters to do their own research on the issue.  Whether it is the celebrities that promote the issue heavily, or the teen that would feel guilty to not “share” the link, both are flocking and this behavior is likely to occur more and more due to the kind of gullibility that’s possible via a new “magical” medium. 

The story of American involvement against Joseph Kony goes far back before the viral videos were seen, and it was in the sending of just less than 200 special troops by President Obama that this was established.  The Lord’s Resistance Army was soon fleeing into seclusion and by the time the charity’s video was circulating, Joseph Kony was less of a threat than the violent/genocidal governments of the area.  Invisible Children, having a horrible charity rating, is and has been a debated charity for some time, not to mention within a few months of the videos release, the director/star was recorded on cellphones in the streets of Los Angeles, high on drugs and touching himself while screaming obscenities, butt-naked.  Within minutes TMZ and other similar entities were circulating this video in an ironically similar way the Kony video was spread.

In conclusion, while it is beautifully beneficial to have the internet and computers as a faster more efficient way to communicate and function, it is also worrying because the speed in which things are produced and digested are not yet “natural”.  The mechanisms responsible for establishing the new and necessary perception of the Internet and its various data are still forming in our collective-conscience (or social norms, if you will).

What’s the Point of One Laptop per Child?

When we viewed the documentary “Linking Africa,” my first impression of the One Laptop per Child program was that it was an innovative idea. However, once we started discussing the criticisms of the program, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it.  

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2227850,00.asp

This article is a critique of the One Laptop per Child program, and it makes some valid points. One of the main criticisms of the program is that these children are starving and lacking the basic necessities, so why should they be learning how to use a computer. The facts sited in the article about world hunger make the importance of a computer seem miniscule; “In the Asian, African, and Latin American countries, well over 500 million people are living in what the World Bank has called “absolute poverty.” Every year, 15 million children die of hunger.” With facts like these, it is hard to argue that having computers in schools is helpful to children who can’t even afford a lunch.

The article also addresses the issue of literacy; “Of course, it might be a problem if there is no classroom and he can’t read. The literacy rate in Niger is 13 percent, for example. Hey, give them a computer!” Although the author uses a snarky tone, his point is well made. Why should children have computers when they first need to learn how to read?

http://www.economist.com/node/10472304

This article discusses why OLPC seemed like a great idea on paper, but it’s fallen short in execution. “First, the implementation of the technologies is terrible. In their zeal to rewrite the rules of computing for first-time users, OLPC shipped machines with a cumbersome operating system.” When these computers fail, there is no tech support to help. This means that these schools fill up with broken computers and no way to fix them. Another issue was preparing the schools to receive these computers and actually utilize them; “There was a lack of documentation, support and methods to integrate the PCs into school curricula, teacher training, and the like. OLPC seemed to think that just by handing out laptops, everything would sort itself out.” The teachers were not all trained on how to work the computers, so how could they be expected to teach the children?

These are just a few of the many criticisms of OLPC, but what are the upsides? Some argue that Africa and other developing countries cannot afford to be left behind technologically. These computers could be the only hope of raising a technology savvy generation in Africa. It is true that Africa is improving its technology, but in a nation where many don’t have electricity or running water, significant progress will be difficult.  The OPLC project did have one other positive impact; it inspired other companies to also manufacture inexpensive laptops. Although OLPC has not exactly been a success, perhaps it is the stepping-stone for another company to implement a better organized and more successful program. What do you think about the One Laptop per Child program? Is it really capable of changing the world? 

Connecting Africa

“When the rhythm of the drum beat changes, the dance movement must also change accordingly.” 

This Ghanaian proverb speaks poetically to the dilemma of change within the social sphere. As the rhythm, or the underlying structure, changes, so does the human reaction, or the dancing. This phrase translates to me a yearning for progress, an embracing of the rhythms of time and space. This attitude is one the seems to resonate to my Western mind, where digital communications are met with uncertainty and skepticism as to it’s ability to create a “global village”. However, in Africa, a digital revolution is taking place that signals a fast approaching meeting of First World and Third World in a digitally mediated social sphere, which beckons both sides to change their “dancing” to adapt to the changing “rhythm”.

There has been a shift is the social paradigm of many of the world’s cultures ever since the dawn of digital technologies, this being a shift in connectivity. The advances made in computing and digital communications, such as the internet and mobile devices, have drastically altered the ease of access to information, as well as one’s ability to communicate across communities and state lines. This obscuring of physical boundaries has opened up cultural and social barriers. Particularly in Africa, the rise of mobile devices and the internet have created an environment of learning and expansion. Even without having widespread access to electricity, the remotest villages in Africa can house internet cafes and schools can have laptops to use in educating.  

Despite Africa’s limited access to technology, mere hand me downs from a technological diaspora of used and underpowered machines, Africa has rapidly grown its technological infrastructure, and it continues to grow. The growth of mobile phone usage has grown more rapidly in Africa than the rest of the world, and people in Africa use their mobile devices to do everything from banking, social media, education, checking crop prices, weather, and staying politically active. The amount of citizens using the internet and these mobile devices in their daily lives has created a disconnect between access to information and desire to use these devices. This has led to international interest in “connecting” Africa to the rest of the world in terms of bandwidth. Various foreign private organizations and domestic African entrepreneurs have invested millions of dollars in laying down an infrastructure for increasing bandwidths for Africa that would ease the transition of the continent entering into the global economic marketplace. Seacom is one of the most recent and ambitious efforts, but in terms of the amount of information that can pass through the line, the African owned and instigated AWCC project wins out.

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With a greater access to information, the main dilemma the countries of Africa will face is how they chooses to regulate this access. One country that is looking ahead to this dilemma, Ghana, has recently put forth a Data Protection Act, which states, “Ghanaians will have the right to refuse to give some information or data about themselves or their relatives when they are not sure what the information or data was going to be used for.” 1. Another example of a security problem is how much personal information needs be provided when using these devices. Africa mainly uses mobile phones for communication, yet many countries do not register SIM cards with names. This creates an environment where piracy can flourish, so countries have to come up with regulations and information collecting measures to track potential piracy. Africa seems to be heading quickly into a culture, as Palfrey suggests is happening all over the world, where “information and communications technologies [are] connected to the rest of life in virtually every respect”. Therefore, Africa could could serve as a  sort of sandbox for varying social and state implementations of regulating digitized communications within a vastly mobile and constantly changing social environment. And maybe through Africa’s entry into the high speed digital community, the rest of the world can come closer to achieving the long dreamed of “global village” of the early utopian visions of the internet.

 

 

 

 

1 – http://www.ghana.gov.gh/index.php/news/features/14647-ghanas-data-protection-law-in-the-digital-age

Regulation of the Internet and Social Media

Over the past few years, the debate over internet regulation has become more heated. There are many different ways to approach regulating the internet but enforcing the regulations is the part that would be difficult, if even possible. Most people agree that there does need to be some form of regulation for the internet, but how can something that is used all the time, all around the world, and used by billions of people be regulated?

There are two main competing views on how to approach this problem. One approach is that the government should establish laws to regulate certain content on the internet. This approach runs into stiff criticism from people due to limitations on free speech. Who would determine whether something would be allowed to be posted online? I find the government to be a vague and unsatisfactory answer. Another problem that arises with government regulation of the internet and social media is that the government works to slowly, especially if it would be dealing with something as fast and ever changing as the internet. The government is not adaptable enough to keep up with the speed in which new technology arrive and the way in which people use it. Another problem that comes up with government regulation is that the internet is a worldwide product. Would each country come up with their own set of regulations? Some countries already heavily regulate the internet content inside their borders, such as North Korea and China. Once you start down the path of government regulation, where would would it stop? Where would the line be for acceptable material and not acceptable material?

The other popular approach to regulation is self regulation. This means that the social media sites and the like monitor and regulate themselves before the government decides to do it for them. It would be easier for administrators of sites to regulate themselves than having people from the government regulate all the sites. Of course the problem of where the line would be still would exist, but it would be up to the people who created and operate the site to determine the content they will allow instead of having someone else decide for them. Only the government is prohibited from blocking speech, not the administrators of particular sites.

There is always the option of what John Palfrey calls the open internet. This is very few restrictions and regulations, if any at all. It is almost like an anything goes attitude. This is a risky approach because all kinds of violent, graphic, and sexual content would be available to anyone, including children who should not be allowed to view it.

I tend to think self regulation is the best approach but in reality there is no perfect way to solve this problem. Some people will be upset no matter what approach is taken. Enforcing the regulations is a problem as well. Would there be a punishment for posting material deemed unfit for viewing? Self regulation sounds like a nice theory but in practice would it really work?