Creative Commons License

25 May

Week 10:

Following week 10 tutorial’s exercise, explain why you chose the Creative Commons license that you added to your blog and discuss the relevance (or not) of adding the license.

I chose the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike Creative Commons (CC) license to be added to my blog because it is most suited for my needs.

“This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.”

(Creative Commons, n.d.)

Creative Commons is an organization which provides a collection of free content licenses to be applied to individual’s work. Generally, I am in favour of CC which offers users a variety of choices to suit needs of different individuals, while creating a positive culture in the cyberspace. CC can also be seen as a more democratic tool as users are free to act upon personal choices. With greater flexibility, users are more inclined to work within the boundaries of copyright laws. In my opinion, CC is more effective than copyright laws which heavily restrict and penalize users in the use of creative work. Copyright laws are set in a rigid framework which diminishes individual autonomy, and may have negative impact on the Internet structure and its dynamic culture. On the other hand, CC does not set out to impose a narrow point-of-view, but organizes a variety of opinions through a standardized yet effective structure.

By adding the CC license to my blog, I acknowledge the freedom I have granted others to appropriate the content. This is because I believe that my work can still be improved, and will be even more thrilled to see if it can be made into an entirely different version by others. The CC license is highly relevant as it expresses my position especially in copyright issues, and effectively informs others on how to react appropriately to my work. The Internet has led to the emergence of users who have the skills, abilities and above all the interest and enthusiasm to produce and distribute creative works on cyberspace (Bruns, 2008).

However, I do not support commercial uses for any creative work, as I believe that any form of commercialisation will fundamentally weaken the creative process. I believe that in order for open-source development to reach its maximum potential, there should not be any commercial interest.

In this increasingly open network society, creative collaborative acts are important, and as Lessig (founder of CC) claims that “we must resist a world where to use and build upon resources from our culture you need the permission of Hollywood – of someone else” (Lessig, 2005: 360). With my CC license, I can help do my part and contribute to the future creative practices and processes.

The Works Cited List

Bruns, A. (2008) “The Future is User-Led: The Path Towards Widespread Produsage” in Fibreculture Journal 11 1st June, [date accessed].

Creative Commons (n.d.), Creative Commons website, 16th May, [date accessed].

Lessig, L. (2005) “Open Code and Open Societies” pp. 349-360 in Joseph Feller, Brian Fitzgerald, Scott A. Hissam and Karim R. Lakhani (eds) Perspectives on Free and Open Source Software. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.


Online Reputation

11 May

In this increasingly open (cyber)world, the free flow of information may have direct impact on one’s reputation and everyday life.

Some rights reserved by krossbow

Solove provided an example where a law student’s email was leaked over the Internet in 2003 – which led to public embarrassment and possible damage to his reputation in his workplace (2007, 29). The reputation of the New York law firm involved may be at stake as well due to bad behaviors of its employee.

As a result, there is a growing trend of banning employees from using social networking websites such as Facebook. Clifford Burroughs, CIO of consumer goods company United Biscuits said that:

“Social media and collaborative tools are useful to the business, but we’re still quite cautious about access to things like Facebook and Twitter. We’ve set up a super-surfers group, which will be able to access these tools, and we’re still trying to contain that until we understand the wider benefits.”

(Sumner, 2011)

However, I would argue that such effort is futile because employees are still able to gain access to these “banned” sites via other electronic gadgets such as personal mobile phones. Also, it raises ethical questions whether companies are able to restrict such access. Employees are likely to become demoralized as they feel monitored or controlled by their work organizations. Overall, researchers have found that the such ban is detrimental to the business because demoralized employees are putting in less effort at work (The Times of India, 2011).

While some may put the blame on the Internet and its (often negative) impact on privacy and reputation, I think it is ultimately the responsibility of every individual to manage themselves online. As Web 2.0 continues to flourish, we should be more vigilant and learn how to control information of ourselves online.

The Works Cited List

Solove, D.J. (2007) ‘How the Free Flow of Information Liberates and Constrains Us’, The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumour and Privacy on the Internet. New Haven: Yale University Press, pp. 17-49.

Sumner, S. (2011), Half of Employees Banned from Facebook website, 11 May, [date accessed].

The Times of India (2011) Facebook, Twitter ban for employees in UK website, 11 May, [date accessed].

YouTube Culture

10 May

YouTube video Brandweer Nederweert
Some Rights Reserved by mauritsonline

YouTube is a dynamic platform with users  ranging from professionals to amateurs (mostly latter), with its own unique culture.

Through YouTube, ordinary people can become celebrities by engaging – or more like perfoming all kinds of act. However, we also note that certain videos have gone viral almost unintentionally, such as this:

which goes on to inspire other videos:

To a certain degree, these “inspired” videos are able to leverage some advantage from the original video, as viewers may be interested to see alternative versions of it.

In more general terms, some may argue that most of these YouTube videos do not provide any substance, and are even distasteful (which I agree whole-heartedly). Yet, YouTube has continued to flourish due to the active and consistent contribution by its community.

p/s For me, YouTube has practically replace the position of television or any other televised media. I find it extremely a waste of time to spend long hours watching television program which is often bombarded thus disrupted by advertisements. With Internet, I have the choice to skip those advertisements instead!

Also, I feel more comfortable watching short(er) YouTube clips which save me more time in doing other things. I blame globalisation and its “acceleration of time and life” theory.

Copyright Laws

9 May

For many, YouTube is a fun, interactive site where you can upload, view and comment on videos – until more serious issues like copyright infringement and lawsuits are involved.

The video above is a Disney parody which explains copyright law and fair use in a rather interesting and creative way. The video mentions the things that can be copyrighted – which are everything from books, music, pictures, and even ideas.

Copyright Symbols
Some rights reserved by MikeBlogs

Copyrights are unarguably essential to protect the rights of copyright-holders, but at the same time, they may be detrimental to an increasingly globalized world today. Openness is an important factor which will ultimately lead to progress, with increased public benefits for all. This is because with more transparency, there will be increased efficiency involving greater participation of members in the society. In the cyberworld, there are many successful examples of open-source software development such as Wikipedia. However, large organizations such as Hollywood often seek for a model of a closed system, of closed content, of maximal control – which must be resisted on the basis of democracy (Lessig, 2005: 359).

Copyright laws not only prohibit users from creative processes, but in many cases penalize users for subsequent use resources which are “copyrighted”. This has caused great controversies, especially users who claimed to be unaware of these “copyrighted” materials in the first place. For example, YouTube has infamously removed videos of certain users due to copyright infringement, including a home video shot by a mother – just because Prince’s Let’s Go Crazy was playing on a CD player in the background. This might lead to frustrations and discontentment of users, even turning them against major companies like Sony and Universal Music Group.

The Works Cited List

Lessig, L. (2005) ‘Open Code and Open Societies’, Perspectives on Free and Open Source Software. MA: MIT Press, pp. 349-360.

Bloggers Versus Mainstream Media

2 May

Week 4:

Russell (et al.) compares elite media and institutions with bloggers and ponders the following question: “Do bloggers, with their editorial independence, collaborative structure and merit-based popularity more effectively inform the public?” (Reader, page 136). Do you agree? Use examples to illustrate your point of view.

I believe that bloggers are able to be as effective as mainstream media, if not better in informing the public sphere.

The main reason is that the majority of bloggers are ordinary citizens who are not affiliated with any organisation, especially commercial ones, but are blogging as the sole purpose. Bloggers are the new generation of Web 2.0 users, or “produsers” as referred by Axel Bruns (2008), who have the skills, abilities and above all the interest and enthusiasm.

With globalisation, there is an alarming trend of massive media conglomeration, with examples like Time Warner, Viacom and News Corporation (Hesmondhalgh, 2007: 163). These global media corporations become increasingly powerful and influential through hundreds of mergers and acquisitions. More importantly, they are based almost entirely on a set of core media interests. News becomes increasingly “commodified”, which may sometimes blur the lines between “news” and “newsworthy”. Commercial media often focus on “newsworthy” elements of an issue or event, which include conflict, prominence and magnitude in order to attract audience and boost sales (O’Shaughnessy and Stadler, 2008: 27). Consequently, other news events which are regarded as non-newsworthy will become marginalised without any public awareness.

As a result, blogs are increasingly viewed and used as democratic tools to provide new and alternative voices, which inherently benefit the public. The public can be better informed about actual events or issues without relying on mainstream media, which are often biased in reporting news to convey their own values and ideologies. With the growing skepticism toward mainstream media, readers or consumers are prompted to become active participants in the creation and dissemination of news (Russell et al., 2008: 67). The rise of phenomena such as blogging, “open news” sites and collaborative online news production have proven to be potential threat to long-established series of activities and practices by traditional journalism. This is because blogging are no longer subject to the “gatekeeping” functions of powerful interests or trained media professionals such as journalist and editors (Flew, 2007: 22). Thus, bloggers are empowered and free to critically engage themselves in societal issues. Bloggers are also collaborative individuals who may build strong relationships between each other, as they constantly view and comment on each other’s work. Subsequently, I agree with Clay Shirky that the issue of merit-based popularity blogging does not highlight the failure of the system but is rather an insignificant and inevitable side effect of freedom of choice (Russell et al., 2008: 67).

Indymedia is a successful example of alternative media initiative that operates on a global basis, with its primary aim to amplify voices of marginalised groups and underrepresented peoples (Walker and Thompson, 2008: 257). Indymedia was established by various independent and alternative media organisations and activists in 1999 for the purpose of providing grassroots coverage of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) protests in Seattle, and continues to function effectively today (Indymedia, n.d.).

Overall, the public may become more dependent on blogs for more reliable news and information, which also provide a greater range of opinions and worldviews. The dynamic nature of blogging inherently provides a strong flow of information which becomes a major competition to formal media and institutions. In any case, (market) competition is good to promote efficiency and productivity in the entire media industry.

The Works Cited List

Bruns, A. (2008) “The Future is User-Led: The Path Towards Widespread Produsage” in Fibreculture Journal 11 2nd May, [date accessed].

Flew, T. (2007) Understanding Global Media. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Hesmondhalgh, D. (2007) The Cultural Industries (2nd ed). London: SAGE Publications.

Indymedia (n.d.) About Indymedia website, 2nd May, [date accessed].

O’Shaughnessy, M. and Stadler, J. (2008) Media & Society (4th ed). Australia and New Zealand: Oxford University Press.

Russell, A., Ito, M., Richmond, T. and Tuters, M. (2008) “Culture: Media Convergence and Networked Culture” in Kazys Varnelis (ed.) Networked Publics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Walker, J.W.S.G. and Thompson, A.S. (eds.) (2008) Critical Mass: the Emergence of Global Civil Society. Canada: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

Comic Sans Font

23 Apr

In week eight we learned about fonts – which was interesting because it never occurred to me that fonts are not only fonts, but are highly political with their own culture and meanings.

Ban Comic Sans
Some rights reserved by Steve Keys

As mentioned by Merz, Comic Sans is just one font among many which has gained great popularity due to its distinct, informal character and wide accessibility (2009: 5).

On the other hand, there is a Comic Sans hate community (comprises of mostly professional graphic designers and typogeeks) which seeks to ban the font. There is a whole website dedicated to the cause, and even a documentary –

Comic Sans: The Documentary Teaser Trailer from Scott Hutcheson on Vimeo.

While I may not be part of “the world which hates Comic Sans” (and really could not understand why – it’s just a FONT!), I think that the main issue is about how it is used and by whom?

Answer: amateurs and laymen.

I would argue that the ban is unnecessary because it does not cause any harm (let’s be serious here..) to anyone, and it might be detrimental to the open culture which is increasingly upheld today. Every font is a creative work of individuals and should be respected despite conflicting views about it.

That being said, I will certainly judge no one who uses Comic Sans font. Cheers!

p/s I must confess that I used to love Comic Sans font when I was in primary school. Even though I have “outgrown” it after discovering other fonts – I am never against it!

The Works Cited List

Merz, L. (2009) ‘Comic Resistance’, Digital Folklore Reader. Stuttgart: Merz Akademie, pp. 225-237.

YouTube’s Ranking Tactics

19 Apr

Week 3 Question:

While discussing YouTube, José van Dijck argues that the site’s interface influences the popularity of videos through ranking tactics that promote popular favourites (Reader, page 94). How do ranking tactics impact on the formation online ‘communities’?

YouTube is an online video-sharing website which allows users to upload individual videos and interact with one another. YouTube is a platform for user-generated content (UGC), which encourages the “produsage” process whereby users are both producers and consumers of the website (Bruns, 2008).

Despite the common view that users will be able to fully exercise user agency and freedom, YouTube users are in fact restricted, even manipulated by the site’s interface. This is drawn from José van Dijck’s argument that YouTube’s coded mechanisms inherently influence the popularity of videos through ranking tactics that promote popular favourites (2009: 45). These ranking tactics have significant impact on the formation of online “communities”, especially in creating and reinforcing social norms and ideologies on YouTube. This also raises questions about the participatory culture and notion of interactivity surrounding Web 2.0 applications like YouTube.

Despite millions of active contributors on YouTube every day, only a handful emerge as “top favourite” or “most viewed” in different categories such as entertainment, music, sports et cetera. The level of interactivity such as viewer comments or discussions will become limited to only popular videos. YouTube often highlights a small group of “celebrity” YouTube users, with only increasing influence and exposure as reflected by their number of followers. For example, Nigahiga is ranked number one most-subscribed user with over 3.5 million subscribers (YouTube, 2011). Other less successful users will have fewer, if not zero opportunity to access such wide audience. This hierarchy of power is naturalized and subsequently displayed in the homepage of YouTube:

a screenshot by me of YouTube homepage

The ranking tactics by YouTube are also closely associated with commercial motives. Since the Google’s acquisition of YouTube, YouTube has become an independent subsidiary of a commercial firm whose core interest is not in content per se, but in the vertical integration of search engines with content, social networking and advertising (Dijck, 2009: 42). In this case, users are inherently treated as potential consumers. Using the ranking tactics, YouTube is able to determine and further analyze the “trend” and common behaviour behind the YouTube videos, especially those accepted and promoted by majority of YouTube online communities. Private companies are able to sign up for YouTube accounts and promote their products through videos to achieve commercial gains. These companies will strategize to boost their video rankings and ratings, even creating viral videos to gain instant fame and popularity.

For example the video below entitled “Volkswagen Commercial: The Force” which is only one-minute long but has attracted near 38 million views on YouTube.

In conclusion, YouTube users should be informed of the substantial role played by the site’s interface in maneuvering individual users and communities. Web 2.0 encourages user interactivity and agency, with the constant proliferation of UGC websites online. However, YouTube is shown as a centralized control which ultimately uses its coded mechanisms to regulate users and the video-viewing culture online.

The Works Cited List

Bruns, A. (2008) ‘The Future is User-Led: The Path Towards Widespread Produsage’, Fibreculture Journal 11, 20 April, [date accessed].

Dijck, J.V. (2009) ‘Users Like You? Theorizing Agency in User-Generated Content’, Media, Culture and Society, 31: 41-58.

YouTube (2011) ‘NigaHiga’, 25 April, [date accessed].