Tag Archives: #digc202

“Toaster is hangry” – The internet of things

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There was a time where giving a voice to an inanimate object would be seen as strange and unusual. Social media came along and allowed for people to interact and connect with other people from all around the world – creating a virtual community. Social media (Twitter) and these communities being built led way for people to create accounts that did not represent a person, but an object or a thing.

Looking at Twitter there is an account that represents the Big Ben Clock in London. Every hour on the hour a tweet is made that has 1 – 12 “BONG” in it, representing the hour of day it is, this is all the account does.

BIG ben BONG BIG ben bongingThe Big Ben Twitter account is controlled by a person, but what if it was controlled by Big Ben itself – the clock tower. This can be a possibility. Introducing the “Internet of things” described as giving “things” the power to communicate over networks without the need for human interaction.

The difference from people bringing life into an object much like the Big Ben clock and giving an object life is the independence and freedom that the object has. The Big Ben clock deals with a person Tweeting for it, the Internet of Things does not have the human part. To get objects to have a presence on the internet and other networks it is with the use of radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags. The RFID tags are intelligent bar codes that can be programmed to track any condition.

The use of RFID’s with objects has given way to the Internet of Things. Objects are being engaging with people and other objects. Julian Bleecker writes in “Why Things Matter” that the Internet of Things allows for objects to have a presence on social media to become a more engaging area of social media. When it comes to giving objects the power to communicate with anyone and anything – to have a voice, then there is a need to question the representation of what people perceive as “just an object” and its physical space.

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Smartphones: Freedom or Comfort

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The battle between Apple and Android smartphones has been going on for the past 5 years and it is an important battle between two very different visions for the future development of technology. When it comes to deciding what smartphone is better for the user it is dependent on what the user is looking for in a phone.

Apple has produced the iPhone which deals with a closed source mobile operating system – iOS. The idea of closed source system is to maintain control over the source code, from hardware to software, which makes up the product – in this case the smartphone. This means for the user that the phone is controlled by Apple. Apple says what is allowed on the phone and what can be done with the phone. This idea of “have a smartphone that does not need to be changed” and hands it to you, at a large price, with little hassle, gives people the comfort of having a phone, without trying to understand how it works and what is needed for it. There is a comfort in knowing that there is a well-known company that holds the responsibility for your phone. Being a well-known company Apple prospers on the ideal of producing a desirable, appealing and well known product for its customers because Apple is seen as a status symbol. The aesthetic appeal of Apple products is the desired aspect of Apple customers and Apple knows that.

Android deals on an open source system – the source code to make the smartphones is free on the internet and anyone can acquire the code and create something from it. The benefits of having an open source codes allows for other companies to modify and create products as they please – to allow variety on the market. This variety and freedom that open source products allows, allows users to modify their phones in any way they please. Having access to the source code for anyone allows for the collective development of one technology – people are able to find issues and bugs with the code and fix the problem. Open source devices allows for connectivity with other devices that aren’t of the same brand allowing for the freedom to have customized setting on different pieces of technology yet still having them on the same network.

Regardless of what smartphone is produced it is the customer who decides on what they want out of their smartphone. The battle between Apple and Android is an important battle and will continue, to compare what philosophies work better and understand what people want (choice or not) with their smartphones.

Viral Video – Definition

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What does it mean when a video becomes viral?

A “Viral Video” can be looked at as the widespread sharing of a video in a short-period of time. A viral video does not have to be a video that has been recently uploaded, it can be years old and have a low view count to begin with. The video just needs to be found and shared to a popular medium, much like the case of the “Double Rainbow” viral video, which had been posted months before it was picked up by popular television talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel and shared on his Twitter account. Which was then picked up by CNN and continued to share and grow.

What time frame and how many views makes a video “viral”?

Years ago when the amount of traffic YouTube received, a video would be considered viral if it had reached 1 million views. Dealing with the mass traffic YouTube gets today a video is seen to be viral if it can acquire around 5 million views in the span of 3 – 7 days. Though creators of videos that receive one million or five-hundred thousand views would still be happy and consider their video viral.

What else?

A video is considered viral by how many different websites and mediums it gets shared to to acquire views. When a video can be talked about by everyone even though they consume different mediums – to infiltrate an audience that wouldn’t look for the video, it can be seen as viral. When a video is talked about and has an impact on those that watch it, the video is seen as viral.

 

An activist who “likes” is no activist indeed

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Social media has allowed for the greater discussion of global issues all around the world. The stories and issues that would be untold or changed by governments is no longer the case, the turmoils and oppression people face from those in power can be shared, questioned and fixed. In a time where social media is a part of everyday life what does it mean to rise-up and do something – to be an activist.

One aspect of social media – particularly seen on Facebook we are greeted by dozens of emotionally triggering images or sayings that promote a cause and “allows” for an action. These pictures allow for an individual to show support – by “liking” the photo and this “like” is seen as a form of respect or a prayer, or seen as a trade-off for a supposed dollar donation. This participation in supporting a cause is limited, what is accomplished from liking a picture? What happens after someone likes one of these images – a sense of contribution and accomplishment for the like, knowing that you made an effort and the world is a little-bit better.

When it comes to issues of racism, abuse, poverty and sustainability, social media allows for these issues to be shared, though the effort of getting people to do something more than just liking a photo is needed. Social media is the medium to get the message across though the effort people are going-to-go-to to accomplish a change deals with more than the liking of a photo on social media.

Evgeny Morozov, in this article proclaims that social media is just a tool to get information and awareness of issues across. The awareness that social media can bring deals with a mass audience, but to get that mass audience to do something, deals with much more than just the awareness social media allows. The example in the article is the issue that happened in the Middle East called on social media as “Arab Springs”. Arab Springs dealt with the oppression from the government and the uprising of the public to overthrow the government. The start and success of the Arab Springs was sought to be because of social media, though the dedication, emotion and government oppression was felt by a vast amount of people that would lead to a change.

When it comes to social media – the intent of starting a protest is something to be desired. When issues are brought to mass attention a lot of people will just be a slacktivist and disregard any idea of creating change. There is something more than just spreading word of an issue to rally up the troops and topple governments. Social media is the tool to get messages across but not the entire reason why change occurs.

Viral Videos – The Thumbnail Appeal

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When dealing with videos before someone even watches it, the viewer looks at the thumbnail for the video. This is a first impression on viewers that can make a video stand out, whether the video is part of an already popular channel or a one-off upload. It all depends on the appeal of the thumbnail people use for the videos that can attract new/more views.

Looking at the following thumbnails for the YouTube channel Shep689 there is a significant increase in the amount of views for one video compared to the others:

viral videos shep689
Shep689 channel is a video-blogging (vlogging) channel; the videos are about the lives of the people involved. The thumbnails represent a part of what happened in the video. So why has one video seen a massive increase compared to the others? Looking at other channels like the sex appeal FailArmy and other fail/win compilations have as their thumbnails, or FreddieW with his action-packed, “what is happening” video thumbnails.

viral videos compilation

viral videos freddie

The thumbnail – acting as an insight into the video appeals to individuals. From expressing a part of a story there is this idea that viewers are more likely to watch something that shows something – sex appeal, violence, danger, an emotion or even the potential event of something happening. Going from a “that looks interesting” so I will watch it, to a “I wonder what will happen” the thumbnail of a video has a significant impact on selling the video.

Hacking for a Cause

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What does it mean to be a hacker – someone who fights for civil liberties over the World Wide Web, through the means of showing mainstream users what the people with power, who are controlling what people consume, are hiding. In front of the computer, typing on a keyboard sits the cyber-activists bringing face to the issues a majority of people are unaware of.

Only recognizable by a mask, a group called Anonymous, stand for the freedom of information, promote decentralization of information and utilize the power of a group rather than the individual. Judging only by their ability to hack and not by age, race, sex and position, Anonymous stand united, with the power to hack large organizations the threat of anonymous is something to know of, shown by their slogan “Information is free, We are anonymous, We are legion, We do not forgive, We do not forget, Expect us”.

Being a “hacktivist” comes at its own risks – shown by this Northampton article, the event of hacking big businesses PayPal, MasterCard and Visa was seen as an illegal act and the people caught stood trial and jailed for “conspiring to impair the operation of computers”. Though people were caught, named and imprisoned, Anonymous still stands and continues to hack. Anyone can be Anonymous and represent what Anonymous represents. Anonymous is confined to a physical space or presence; they are everywhere and can be anyone.

While the extreme hacking of big businesses isn’t ideal for a lot of people there are ways to show support and understanding for what hacktivists are trying to represent.

F.A.T Lab is a group of hackers that want to make people aware of what they do and what is going on on the internet. By using popular culture, mixing and changing it to create Art, F.A.T Lab provides to impact the way people understand the power of the World Wide Web and understand its potential when limitations are not enforced.

Viral Videos – Actionable

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There are videos on YouTube that go viral for a different reason compared to cute animals or funny sketches, these videos go viral because they have a message that promotes the viewer to do something – to take action. The action can be as small as sharing the video and promoting a change, clicking on a website to support something, or bring global attention to something that had been overlooked, much like the impact and effect KONY 2012 had on a global scale.

Videos portray action as a way to get things noticed and a way to enlighten people about issues, using the following viral video “PhoneBloks” I will explain some key points about why it went viral.

1. Relevance – [nearly] everyone has a smartphone and has similar complaints about the components of the smartphone.

2. The problem – people have stockpiles of out-dated technology that is no longer being used or has broken down. What can be done?

3. Questioning big business – the idea of “design technology that does not last” is a cash flow for big business, though has this always been the case and what can people do to stop forking out all this money? They can’t unless they create something better.

4. Solution – finding a solution that could revolutionize the amount of electronic waste that is produced by throwing out technology, this video comes up with a solution that makes sense to a viewer. Shown by each component of the phone is a different (detachable) block, the blocks connect to a base which connects everything together, with electrical signals traveling through the pins to get everything to work. If a block causes problems a simple detachment and replacement is all that is needed, instead of throwing out the entire phone.

5. The overall capabilities of the PhoneBloks – “A phone worth keeping” – selling point.

6. Action – the video asks for “your voice” to get this idea running and encourages people to help in making this idea possible, by sharing “your voice”.

The video has a great selling point in what it is trying to accomplish though it is a basic idea that is just an idea trying to become reality. The video promotes subtle action by crowd-sourcing interest in the phone and getting people to show support for it to be made to show potential creators of the PhoneBloks that people want it.

Individual control to crowd-sourcing – Utilizing Twitter

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“The weather reports keep announcing that the sky is falling, but here we are — millions of us — sitting around trying to invent new ways to talk to one another ” – Johnson 2009

Before the internet the only way to get news was through analog communication – radios, television and newspapers. The information being broadcasted and published would see these one-way information networks as a restraint for people who wanted to get news. People did not have any control for when they wanted to hear/watch the news, television and radio set specific times of day for when the news would be read and newspapers were no better being printed each day – the news people were given would not be relevant for long or people would have to wait days for a story that people wanted to find out. There was also the restriction about what news would be relevant or worthy to an audience – the people that controlled the news industry would control what news would be available to its audience.

Fast track to 2013 with the use of social media – the news people receive is instant – a 24 hour news cycle, not constrained by time, anyone can post news or information, not constrained by the tyrants of news industries. Though with all of this information comes a struggle for what information is needed, what pieces of information are factual and reliable, these changes caused an issue about what real journalism is, is social media destroying traditional journalism? Traditional journalism is still a viable career and a part of today – social media, Twitter for example is a source of information that journalists can use to help aggregate information and get stories.

The question around Twitter killing traditional Journalism has been proven incorrect Twitter and journalism and more than ever intertwined as a place for news and journalists. Twitter has become a place where new news stories appear from anywhere, the credibility of these stories is questionable and thus needs to be verified and proven factual. This verification can be proven by utilizing the aspects of Twitter – checking the tweet for hash-tags, to see if the potential story is being talked about by other people – by a having an aggregation of tweets with the same hash-tag. There could be photo/video evidence that is evident on the incident. Utilizing this information and knowing what can be a true story journalists are able to use Twitter as a source for gathering information from on-the-ground citizen-journalists that work together to get instant real-time information and organize methods in ways to help people those that are involved in disasters and to prevent people from becoming potential victims.

References:

Johnson, S. (2009). How Twitter Will Change The Way We Live.

Viral Videos – Identifiable and Relatable

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Looking at viral videos what is relatable and/or identifiable about the context of the video what makes it so appealing that people want to share it and talk about it? Let us have a look at a viral video and try and see what is relatable and identifiable about it. By relatable we mean something that can be connected to – usually through feelings, by identifiable we mean something that is worth our attention.

The following viral video was up loaded to YouTube on September 11, 2013, I am writing this blog post on September 16, 2013. Since the video got uploaded it has attained 8,082,477 views and is continuing to get more as I write this. The video is showing a surprise wedding proposal in a Home Depot with family and friends dancing to the tune of “Somebody loves you” by Betty Who.

There are a number of characteristics that work together to show why this video went viral:
1. Surprise – people like to see other people expressing emotions. Surprise is a basic human emotion, which I have explained in this past blog post.

2. The Wedding proposal – the ever loving moment between two people, it is a step nearly every loving couple will have, so why not get it recorded – so other people can compare or dream about how they want theirs.

3. Dancing – you’re either good at it or you’re not. A form of expression and interest to many that has been the main part in Hollywood films and has been a part of the most successful viral video, Psy’s “Gangnam Style”.

4. Music – is remarkable, music is all around us throughout life, people use it as a tool of comfort when feeling ups or downs, it is can be used to trigger memories of peoples past or set a scene for movies.

5. Raw emotion – the raw emotion on Spencer’s face appeals to how people would feel when watching, not knowing how things will turn out – living in the moment, type of deal. Feeling what someone else was feeling.

6. Gay marriage – a worldwide discussion that is identifiable and relatable to politics today. Marriage equality is a big issue in many countries and to have the display of love and affection that is shown in this video – this video may not change anyone’s mind, but shows dedication and interest in what same-sex couples would do to show their partner and the world that what they have is the same as what everyone else has.

Each aspect of this video works together to appeal to an audience, the high-energy dancing to the raw emotion, to the fact that it is a same-sex couple involved is relatable to people who watch it and would share it.

There are other aspects of this video that can also explain why it went viral – though are best mentioned in further posts.

Mass Amateurization – Popularizing mediocrity?

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Professional – defined as “A paid occupation – one that involves prolonged training and a formal qualification”. Gone are the days where people have to get degrees and graduate tertiary education to become a part of an industry, the internet and its many social media platforms allows for anyone to write or produce anything they want, and it being displayed for everyone else on the internet provides an audience for that content. The idea that to be a professional on the internet has become blurred and an unnecessary step for many people and has caused an era of “Mass Amateurization”, brought to our attention by Henry Jenkins in this reading.

mass amateurization

Mass amateurization can be simply put as the contribution from people on the internet who produce content such as blogs, videos, music and who have seen success out of this content, which would be seen as absurd from someone who went the traditional, educational route. Popular websites known for being a medium for mass amateurisation would be YouTube, Flickr, Wikipedia and WordPress.

The amount of traffic websites produce by visitors and contributors, there is an overwhelming influence on popularizing the content that is produced on these websites. Using YouTube as an example – the training and dedication that is needed to get an education in editing and filming is restrained by time and cost, while getting basic experience by editing and filming your own content and uploading it to YouTube you are getting that experience on your own time and leisure. The restrictions that come from industries has been changed to a mere effortless approach where it is up to the individual to do what they want and post what they want when they want to.

The easy-going effort put into amateur content is allowing for people to get a better experience from being a part of these websites and learning a part of what it takes to be in an industry. People who become professionals from mass amateurization, from the amount of people that contribute and are a part of the audience allows for some people to get paid – much like the Yogscast on YouTube.

The Yogscast started out as a couple of guys filming (video and audio) the games they play and uploading it onto YouTube, by continuing the filming and uploading of the videos they create, they have managed to make money from what they do. The amount of money they make has always been a private matter but speculation has always arisen – from $2000 to $2500 for every 3 million views, though the amount of pulling power they have from their devoted fans is shown when they raised $500,000 for their Kickstarter for producing their own game, or when they raised over $120,000 in 2011, and over $200,000 for Oxfam by live-streaming through December last year.

What the Yogscast has achieved and continues to achieve is quite rare compared to the amount of people that are users of YouTube. Considering the medium and revenue that the Yogscast collects is based around getting hits on the content they produce, they need to maintain a flow of content that appeals to their audience.

Image Source:

“Ugh…” http://cultureandcommunication.org/tdm/nmrs/fa1/tag/mass-amateurization/