V is for, Ven-det mask coming off?

Admit it, we’ve all done it. Carefully selecting the perfect Instagram filter, getting just the right pose and going on scenic adventures just to get a good Insta pic. We pick and choose every element of our online presence whether it be intentional or unintentional. This selection and way of presenting ourselves is our online persona, and we show the world only what we want them to see. Masks generally have negative connotations, concealing our true nature and aiding us to be someone we are not. The film “V for Vendetta” for example, shows us that masks can liberate and aid us to fight against oppression. In that scenario, masks are not negative thing at all, instead they provide the courage and identity needed to defend a society in crisis.

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The word persona itself derives from the Greek word “prosōpon” meaning face or mask. So it’s safe to say that our personas are in fact our masks. Not to say that the mask isn’t the real you, but it projects what you want your audience to see as the real you. The fiters, touch-ups, makeup, clothing are all things that we use to change our appearances in hopes to change other people perceptions of us. Although I mentioned that our mask/persona can be a positive tool, I personally believe that we are trapped in a world that values how awesome of a person you are by the number of Instagram followers we have.

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The duck-face phase and doggy-filter uploads to Instagram are a thing of the past (at least for me) and I am now one of those boring Instagram users whose profile is on private, only uploading once a week (sometimes less) with pictures of views, family and friends (the occasional selfie of course) and our family dog. I’d rather be boring than pretentious and I am all for being natural and true to myself. But if you think about it, even that is my online persona. I still select which images I want my friends to see. I don’t take pictures of my-self doing boring things like applying pimple cream to my face while waiting for the iron to turn on; instead, I upload pictures of myself on a tropical getaway on Waikiki beach.
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I realise that the term ‘mask’ seems a little dramatic and that it has negative connotations, but I honestly believe that technology and social media is trapping and luring users into a pretentious world and giving people false impressions of what life really is about. Yeah sure, some people can really use their photoshopped bikini snaps and full faces of makeup to their advantage, but its not real life and I assure you those people do not ‘wake up like that’! The online galaxy has great powers of bringing people from all over the world together and connecting us, but how can we distinguish between who we actually are and who we want the world to see?

Iphone vs. Android

When I first heard of the phrase ‘hardware platform’ I immediately thought of a big box for a computer hardware on a platform. Don’t laugh, I’m not tech savy! What it really is, is a set of compatible hardware on which software applications can be run. Programs must be built specifically for a platform that involves a standardized type of processor and associated hardware pieces. For example, Instagram announced that they will be making an app for Android smartphones which is an example of convergent media platforms favouring generative platforms as opposed to locked appliances. This is because it enables apps such as Instagram to widen their market share over other applications.

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The IOS operating system that Iphones have is called a closed or locked system, which means that the user of the phone does not have the ability to customise and change things. This is a factor that many phone buyers consider and may be a reason for people to not choose IOS systems.

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However this locked system gives some consumers (such as myself) a sense of comfort, knowing that there isn’t really too much than can be fiddled around or tampered with!

after-having-an-iphone-since-day-then-recently-switching-to-an-android-phone-22230.jpgAndroids on the other hand are open and unrestricted
and you can change almost anything according to your needs. I personally have always preferred Iphones over Android because of how easy they are to navigate but I can understand why people don’t like the limited adaptability of it.

Its creative, Comm’on!

So imagine yourself typing away at your keyboard trying to finish that essay due tomorrow morning. You’re super duper tired and you have run out of idea. Lets be honest, we have ALL turned to Google for some sort of help. Then you find a sentence or an idea that you like and want to put in your essay so you copy and paste it because why not? Well hey, thats illegal. But do not threat; Creative Commons licenses are there for the rescue! Creative Commons are a set of copyright licenses which tell you what you can do with content licensed. There is also material available that you can use without infringement. Moving away from academic situations, copyright can potentially strangle creativity.Unknown.jpeg

Memes are the simplest example of this. Matt Furie’s Boy’s Club is the comic series where Pepe the infamous internet meme came from. So imagine if they sued every single person who made a Pepe meme….not likely but possible.

pepe-the-frog-o-shi-meme-lord-dat-boi-dup-2415775.pngTake 3D printing for example, if a certain design that you want to print is protected by copyright, you are infringing someones copyright by printing it and companies can sue for damages if someone recreates and shares their design. So printing a Storm Trooper could bring you face-to-face with a serious law suit. Since using multiple mediums is so popular these days, is it even possible to get the same message across without using a common image/phrase/material? I really don’t think it would be as affective and as engaging if people didn’t have a common means of knowledge.

Transmedia = $$$

With the rise of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and many other forms of social media, users now have an expectation of engagement. We want to be able to feel engaged in what we are being exposed to. Theres no doubt that you have heard of 50 Shades of Grey, but did you know it derived from an online FanFiction? This is an example of Transmedia which is telling a story or experience across multiple platforms and formats using current digital.

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By creating other outlets for user engagement multiple points of entry are created into the story world of the franchise. For example after the film ‘Matrix’ was released several games were created for further fan engagement. Several parts of the game included cut outs directly from the film. In traditional hollywood, money is spent on traditional advertising methods and is only recouped through conversion. The box office sales are the only way to recoup marketing dollars. Transmedia creates multiple payoff possibilities for marketing dollars because money is spent on transmedia marketing and not only recouped through conversion but also through the individual sales of the transmedia components. Everything we are exposed to in the media is designed to sell us something, and with the extensive rise of Transmedia, people are lead from one medium to another.

JPZxNge.jpg.png So if a Star Wars fan sees an advertisement for a new Star Wars video game, they are likely to go out and purchase it. Thus, connections breed interaction, which breeds community, which breeds excitement, which breeds the big bucks!

Adele not a ‘Million Miles Away’ after all…

Cultural artifacts are always susceptible to reproduction. Much like many things nowadays, technology has allowed for this to be made easier. The saying “good artists copy; great artists steal,” attributed to Pablo Picasso, revolves around a lot of modern technology. Is it safe to say that Mashup and remix culture is a form of copying? It involves using existing songs and rearranging their order, but in doing so creators are essentially making their own piece of music because they put in all of the effort to re-create the existing pieces into something else. Many questions have arisen when it comes to copyright protections in mashup and remix music.images.jpeg

As a musician it would be in your best interest to protect your creations from being used without your permission. However, as a mashup artist, you would need to make sure that you are creating your work without getting in a copyright infringement lawsuit. Using different song samples to create an entirely new song could be considered critical commentary; in this case, mashups could be seen as a form of free expression protected under fair use. Nevertheless most people who create mashups know that the original artist could question their work at any time!

On social media, many fans of Kurdish singer Ahmet Kaya have accused Adele of copying his music. There were noted similarities between her song “Million Years Ago”, an

d a song from Kaya’s second album. Fans of the Kurdish-Turkish singer claimed that Adele’s song is ‘not a million miles away’ from Kaya’s 1985 song “Acilara Tutunmak (Clinging to Pain)”. Although this is not a mash-up or a remix, it still goes to show that there is a fine line between the validity of original and existing work!

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BCM112 #draftourmemes

The conceptual sphere has changed into a viscous reality of information through pixels, shifting it into something that is more trackable because of its ability to be copied rapidly. This idea is inclusive of images, gifs, videos, texts and sometimes a mixture of all of them! Its crazy to think that by typing some text on an image and sharing it with friends, we have a voice capable of reaching a critical mass. Thus, memes were born. Meme warfare offers people a chance to gain control of media production from corporate interests. The birth of memes allowed for a open-source medium that allowed people to have their voice heard in a comical way.images.jpeg

Hillary Clinton voiced her support for legislation, requiring women to register for the draft on 16 May of this year to support gender equality in the military. However, the result has been a se
ries of fake #draftourdaughters campaigns that promote the false message that Clinton wants to send females to their deaths in a war against Russia. The images had disturbing quotations such as “He died for his country. Now, it’s her turn” and the colours and logo were made identical to the original, so much so that it is almost impossible to tell them apart. 15ylbc.jpg

Its becoming easier and easier to spread lies and fake news on a global scale and the online platform has quickly become a theatre for virtual conflict. A whole group of people who have never met each other before have the ability to form groups or spread their opinions and ideas across. This ability for readers to also become creators of content is a concept that is very new to us, but the dangers of not being able to distinguish the true from the false can be detrimental and severely mis-leading.images-1.jpeg

BCM 112 The Power of Us

The internet makes us active makers, users, and participants in the process. We have stopped being consumers and we have started to be produces aggregators of the conversation. You could say that we are now “The viewers who picked up a camera”. – Jay Rosen. It takes the same amount of time to look at what the NY times is saying as what you are saying online. The “lamestream media” is losing their grip on reality, and this is  because they are losing their power and control of the narrative.

9379cd89cccf151642ae47d7bbeb25df_you-have-no-power-here-u-have-no-power-here-meme_550-229.pngFor example, Wall Street Journal had a recent debacle over PewDiePie, a YouTuber star and the reason behind why they were attacking was not because of virtue or all that jazz, but simply because of the power that he holds. His influence and popularity reaches millions, and it could be argued that it is more than anyone at the Wall Street Journal. Felix (his real name) gets millions of views per week, and he is just some Swedish guy playing video games in front of a camera. Major corporations are afraid of people like you and I because your/our message is probably more real and less fake then theirs and has the ability to be seen by millions, which is what can make us so powerful! *insert evil mastermind laugh* Ua-ha-ha. And this is profoundly unsettling to them because we might broadcast a different message which does not resonate with them.

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CNN, and many other established media platforms have long supported the US-European funded “Syrian Civil Defence” known as the “White Helmets. Not to mention, they won an Oscar for best short documentary. It can be noted that unlike what it would be like in real life, the people who were rescued by the “White Helmet” have no deep visible wounds, no missing limbs, and lack burns or trauma that would be associated with devastation of mass bombings. The alternative media however, has been trying to expose the “White Helmets” for a while now, stating that they are one of the largest war propaganda operations conceived by Western powers in their efforts to change public opinion in regards to efforts for regime change in Syria. Once the alternative media raised these concerns and cornered the “White Helmets” establishment media platforms like CNN finally decided to react to a story that they would have otherwise ignored.

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Back in the day we would buy a publication in the hope and expectation that it would contain truth and up-to-date information in its writing. The publisher was the guarantor of quality. However now, there is no established authority. We don’t need to trust the authority of news corporations and publishers anymore, and it is safe to say that the only authority we have is ourselves!

BCM112 Uggh lifes a Glitch!

“The medium is the message” carries a much deeper meaning and communication theory. Our understanding of this phrase is that the medium through which we select to communicate with holds just as much, if not more, significance than the message itself. In today’s world website designers (and even ordinary people like you and me) are able to program services, communities and tools for users with the assistance of their chosen medium! Out of every single medium in history, the internet has got to have the MOST powerful reach, and as a result of this it also has just as large implications for its status as the message.Unknown.jpegThe medium through which a message is experienced shapes the user’s perception of the message and medium can actually be the message within itself if it is presenting content that would be impossible to access otherwise. With distorted visuals and manipulated images, glitch art provides a trend that expresses our current digital society. This trendy new style is made with purposeful digital alteration that results in a distorted visual setting of irregular patterns and colours. It has brought a groovy-ness in visual aesthetics and embraced the beauty of errors. It is safe to say that this Glitch trend in a vision of the unexpected and has challenged and disrupted the smooth and clean lines of the new digital age!

Nowadays anyone and everyone has the power to craft and design their own content, but as we do this we mustn’t forget to give credit to and consider what medium we choose to present this in, as it plays a critical role in how our audiences interpret our work(s).

BCM 310 Animal Man-ipulation

The word “animal” in contrast to the word “human” presents a pretentious idea that humans are not to be considered as animals. If we as humans cannot identify ourselves with the other beings on Earth, we cannot show compassion. How are we to show empathy to a species that we see so parallel to our own kind? It is vital that we sympathize and understand that we are one with nature and not superior! I am a firm believer that everything in the biosphere has an equal right to live. But this belief makes me a hypocrite when I eat cows, chicken, fish, duck, rabbit, eggs ect!! This is why lately I have been considering vegan-ism. If I end up doing this, (despite my mothers protest against it..) this way of eating will still provide me with the vital nutrients that my body needs minus the loss of life, bloodshed, and pain inflicted on animals. Our enjoyment of the way meat tastes is not a good enough reason to justify the amount of suffering that the animals endure. Animals are immensely objectified in the media and even in our everyday lives. Even in the grocery store, we see the use of inanimate pronouns when we call animals livestock, meat, seafood, or game rather than cow, pig, chicken, fish, or elk.  This is an attempt to dis-assemble the image that this yummy food was once a living and breathing creature. Such pro-nouns are used to distract us from this idea and makes the animal seem as if he/she only has the purpose of feeding us and satisfying our needs and wants.

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In wild-life documentaries however, animals are turned into human surrogates through Anthropomorphism. There is a distinct contrast between how we disassociate ourselves when we are using animals for food, and how we overly associate with animals giving them human like characteristics when we use them for entertainment purposes. We must keep in mind that in wildlife documentaries, we are given a very selective and staged set-up where all human traces are edited from frame. We are only shown the animals when they are doing something interesting or cute that we can relate to as humans. There is always some sort of quest or narrative in these films, but unfortunately there is never a mention of the real struggles that these animals face in their changing environment. Climate change and global warming are very real concepts that are inflicted on animals due to the misuse of the planet on behalf of our own species, yet we are willing to edit that part out aren’t we?

This very concept of Anthropomorphism can be dangerous to animals, because instead of just accepting and respecting their wilderness, we objectify and human-ify them into something that is appealing to us. In the documentary “Black Fish” there is a specific scene where a trainer from Sea World says that the Killer Whale “isn’t doing tricks because he has to, he is doing them because he wants to”. What an absolute joke! These poor whales are restricted to a tiny metal pool that is no where near the size of the infinite ocean that is their home, and are deprived of food  to make them perform acts. Why would any animal want to be in that situation and be willing to cooperate because they simply ‘want to’? So it is clear that we manipulate (man-impulate…get it?) the representation of animals for our own benefit.

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We need to deepen our awareness of ‘self’ beyond the narrow ego to an identification with all living beings. Once we see ourselves in others our natural predisposition will be to protect: “care flows naturally if the self is widened and deepened so that protection of free nature is felt and conceived of as protection of our very selves”. (Naess in ‘Thinking Like a Mountain‘, p. 29) We need to stop portraying animals as mock humans and we must pay attention to their fascinating cognitive, emotional, and moral capacities because failure to do so leads to misrepresentations and demeans them.

References:

Thegreenfuse.org. (2017). Deep Ecology on the green fuse. [online] Available at: http://www.thegreenfuse.org/deepecology.htm [Accessed 22 Mar. 2017].

Devall, B. and Sessions, G. (2007). Deep ecology. 1st ed. Salt Lake City, Utah: Gibbs Smith.

Deepecology.org. (2017). Foundation For Deep Ecology | The Deep Ecology Movement. [online] Available at: http://www.deepecology.org/deepecology.htm [Accessed 22 Mar. 2017].

Naess, A. and Rothenberg, D. (2011). Ecology, Community and Lifestyle. 1st ed. Cambridge, GBR: Cambridge University Press, pp.6-8.

BCM112 Message lies within thy Medium

When I first heard this phrase, I had no idea what “The Message is the Medium” meant. From what I eventually gathered, the “message” is, “the change of scale or pace or pattern” which a new innovation “introduces into human affairs.” (McLuhan 7) Usually, I would imagine that the message is what provides a meaning, the content rather than the form in which it is presented. McLuhan,  however, focused on the medium/form and suggested that in the past, what was communicated was less important than the medium that people communicated with.

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Messages that are transferred through Technology have shaped our society and in return, have shaped us. An example of this is the shift from the transfer of information orally (i.e. people teaching one another things and sharing stories/experiences) to print based media (newspapers, magazines). In early orally-dependant cultures, the emphasis was on our sense of hearing and the dominant sense were the ears; whereas with the transition to print media, our focus shifted to an emphasis on the image and our sight.

I guess this means that the way information is presented to us can really shape our understanding of the message in which it is conveying. It isn’t until something changes in our society that we really can see the difference and realise the effects it has had on our understanding.

Referencing:

Medium. (2017). The Meaning of ‘Medium’ is the Message.. [online] Available at: https://medium.com/@andrewmcluhan/the-meaning-of-medium-is-the-message-9bbe732869a7#.jijwkohnk [Accessed 16 Mar. 2017].

The Medium is the Message. (2017). 1st ed. [ebook] pp.1,5,8,9. Available at: http://web.mit.edu/allanmc/www/mcluhan.mediummessage.pdf [Accessed 16 Mar. 2017].

YouTube. (2017). The Medium is the Message. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ko6J9v1C9zE [Accessed 16 Mar. 2017].