You wouldn’t steal a…

•June 1, 2011 • Leave a Comment

You wouldn’t steal a car.  You wouldn’t steal a handbag. You wouldn’t steal a movie.

Downloading pirated films is stealing. Piracy, it’s a crime.

Piracy is illegal, yet downloading films, music, television shows from the Internet is something many people do and without great hesitation. Sadly, despite what this advertisement is trying to convey, people do not place the same amount of severity on piracy as any of the other crimes shown. Illegal downloading is so common that it is barely frowned upon, when mentioned within a social group. One could easily say “I downloaded this season of this show” and not be met with any criticism from their peers. The reaction would undoubtedly be much more hostile or shocked if one were to say they stole a car instead.

The fact is, even though most people know that piracy is illegal, they do not see it as a crime, or at least not a “real” crime.

Creative Commons Licensing

•May 16, 2011 • Leave a Comment

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.


The Creative Commons license that I choose is

Attribution-Share Alike

“This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. This license is often compared to “copyleft” free and open source software licenses. All new works based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use. This is the license used by Wikipedia, and is recommended for materials that would benefit from incorporating content from Wikipedia and similarly licensed projects.”

I support Thomas Jefferson’s initial concept of copyright laws whereby ideas shouldn’t be bound by legal restrictions, but rather “remain in the public domain” (Garcelon 2009: 1308). That is not to say, strip all copyright laws and deprive creators of their work and “incentives to continue to produce” (Garcelon 2009: 1308). Rather, I do not believe that valuing creative works should mean that is considered a “property” to be owned and bought, a rivalrous resource, when it is essentially unlimited in nature  (Garcelon 1310).  Given the significance of richness of “the commons to the production and creation of other property” (Lessig 2005: 352), and the fact that there’s no nature of depletion of the resource (Garcelon 2009: 1310), it seems selfish and disadvantageous to restrict fair use of ideas.

No one likes having their work taken without credit, and I believe this is a basic right of the creator. I am content with my work being shared or used, without any monetary gain, but a simple credit would be appreciated.

In line with Richard Stallman’s argument for open, free software, I believe the creators of software and other works should “have the duty to encourage others to share, redistribute, study and improve” what they write (Stallman 2002: 121). I do not mind others reworking or building upon my work, for “restricting changing or copying a program is obstructive” to intellectual development and education (Stallman 2002: 128). As Stallman argues, “hoarding…disregards the welfare of society for personal gain” (Stallman 2002: 132).

A significant aspect of the licensing lies in the requirement to maintain the same terms when licensing for new creations derived from the original work. Lessig suggests that whilst there are restrictions placed upon resources within the commons, “these restrictions are neutral and general”, not discriminating between users (Lessig 2005: 352). It would not be fair for people to use someone’s work, only to close open access to it when it is their turn to share. This is closely tied to Stallman’s Free Software Foundation, whose codes “remained accessible for manipulation by any user without restriction, so long as such users sign an agreement to keep the software open” (Garcelon 2009: 1314). The continuity of the open access is essential for fair sharing.

Hence, putting the CC logo allows people to know that I welcome the sharing of my ideas, enabling other users to tweak, incorporate or build on my work. Only through the use of such licensing, can we “facilitate more open access to creative works” (Garcelon 2009: 1310) and contribute to the commons.


Garcelon, M. (2009) ‘An Information Commons? Creative Commons and Public Access to Cultural Creations’ in New Media and Society 11.8, pp 1307-1326

Lessig, L. (2005) ‘Open Code and Open Societies’ in J. Feller, B. Fitzgerald, S. A. Hissam & K. R. Lakhani (eds) Perspectives on Free and Open Source Software, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. pp 349-360

Stallman, R. (2002) ‘Why Software Should Be Free’ in J. Gay (eds) Free Software, Free Society: Selected Essays of Richard Stallman, Boston: GNU Press, pp 121-133

Creative Commons

Sharing is Caring

•May 14, 2011 • Leave a Comment

A video based on the Comic written and illustrated by Alex Roberts, Rebecca Rojer, & Jon Phillips (found at ).

Editing and Narration: Ben McCorkle
Soundtrack: “Naughty Hula Eyes,” Andy Iona (Public Domain)


Despite the strictness of copyright laws, I think for the general public, we do not usually consider it when copying a picture from the Internet, and few would stop to check the Creative Commons licensing. There perhaps needs to be greater awareness for people to fully follow the copyright wishes of the original creator or else a different technique (like the pictures that don’t allow you to copy and save) in order to fully control an intellectual property.

Tweet tweet

•May 10, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Twitter is one of the most popular social networking and microblogging services on the Internet, with millions of users worldwide and a huge generation of tweets each day.

From Twitter’s About page, there’s this quote:

You don’t have to build a web page to surf the web and you don’t have to tweet to enjoy Twitter. Whether you tweet 100 times a day or never, you still have access to the voices and information surrounding what interests you. You can contribute, or just listen in and retrieve up to the second information. Some people never tweet, they simply use Twitter as a way to get the latest information on their interests

People use Twitter differently, with some utilizing it as a mini-journal of sorts, others sending tweets like texts and then there are people who simply uses it to follow their favourite celebrities/shows. Below is a list of the Twitter users with the most followers:

For most people, Twitter is either a means of speaking out or gaining the latest information. Users with large followers can have significant influence over what is being trended or spread across Twitter and the Internet in general. A quick tweet about the latest album, a new event…Twitter has become a direct line to the people, a free voicepiece with massive viral power.


Picture is screencapped by me from Subscriberwars

Bird in a Cage

•May 8, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Week 9

Burgess and Green argue that: ordinary people who become celebrities through their own creative efforts “remain within the system of celebrity native to, and controlled by, the mass media” (Reader, page 269).

Discuss ONE of these arguments giving an example of a YouTube video (embed it into post). Specify chosen argument in your answer.


With the rise of online video-sharing sites, there has been an influx of people embracing this new medium to share videos, and in many cases showcase certain talents and skills.  More and more people present themselves online in hopes of success, perhaps working on the common assumption that “raw talent combined with digital distribution can convert directly to legitimate success and media fame” (Burgess and Green 2009: 21).

However, the success stories of certain individuals do not ensure this transition to be a straightforward or even common one.  Whilst some people achieve success, such as comedian Andy Samberg and his writing partners who advanced their career or musicians like Terra Naomi who gain recording deals, the majority of people are not able to move beyond the “ordinary world” into the “media world” (Burgess and Green 2009: 22).

YouTube ‘stars’ operate on and within a different system, one “reflecting values that don’t necessarily match up neatly with those of the dominant media” (Burgess and green 2009: 24). Take the example of Ryan Higa (nigahiga) who is YouTube’s most subscribed user of all time as of 2010, with millions of views on his videos:

This video has nearly 30 million hits, yet it is not stylishly edited or showcasing exceptional musical, sporting or acting talent. Despite his popularity online, he would not be considered an extremely successful or influential individual in the actual entertainment industry.

Another example of internet fame not equalling traditional media success, is BeenerKeeKee19952, who, with no props, costume or makeup, fancy editing, dance choreography or even his actual singing, has attracted over 40 million views on this video of him lip-syncing.

Hence, whilst certain people can gain enormous amounts of subscribers and views on YouTube, it is difficult to turn that fame into “prestige in the traditional media or arts industries” (Burgess and Green 2009: 24), unless one can bridge the distance between ‘ordinary’ citizen and celebrity by gaining “access to the modes of representation of the mass media” (Burgess and Green 2009: 22). One of the most famous YouTube stars is Justin Bieber, who was popular on YouTube, but only became an international celebrity after he was discovered by an industry agent and signed with a recording company. Indeed, the “marker of success” is not only online popularity, but the “subsequent ability to pass through the gate-keeping mechanisms of old media” (Burgess and Green 2009: 24)

Hence, whilst the freer “audiovisual participation” (Muller 2009: 137) of online video sites such as YouTube allows amateurs to “gain access to the formerly exclusive world of the established media culture” (Muller 2009: 127), it is more a “demoticization rather than a democratization” of the media (Burgess and Green 2009: 23). As Graeme Turner suggests, even if through creative effort and skill, ordinary people do become celebrities, “there’s no necessary transfer of media power” and they “remain within the system of celebrity native to and controlled by the mass media” (Burguess and Green 2009: 23).

Therefore, despite YouTube being “mythologized as literally a way to ‘broadcast yourself’ into fame and fortune (Burgess and Green 2009: 22), it cannot be achieved without the “existing structures…and media industry”, (Burgess and Green 2009: 23), nor can it be sustained without it.

Burgess, J., & Green, J. (2009) ‘YouTube and The Mainstream Media’ in YouTube: Online and Participatory Culture, Cambridge: Polity Press, pp 15-37

Muller, E. (2009) ‘Where Quality Matters: Discourses on the Art of Making a YouTube Video’ in P. Snickars and P. Vonderau (eds) The YouTube Reader. Stockholm: National Library of Sweden, pp 126-139

Beauties and the Beasts

•May 1, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Websites have evolved drastically since the basic, simple styles and graphics of the Web 1.0 era. New websites, blogs and the World Wide Web in general has undergone a transformation in terms of aesthetics and structure, with most adopting a move towards more visually pleasing and effective designs.

To be viewed positively in terms of overall aesthetics, a web page does not necessarily have to be designed by a professional. Whilst professional graphic and web designers can produce gorgeous, innovative web pages, amateurs can produce extremely nice ones too. Often, people do not go onto sites expecting fancy, elaborate designs, but rather satisfied with an eye-pleasing, user-friendly page.

The above is a Tumblr blog. It is not complicated or elaborately designed, but it is tidy and clean, the buttons are easily accessible and seen and it showcases the desired information and images clearly. It is essentially an effective web page.

Some of the key factors in judging the positive/negative effect of a web page include:

  • Size and style of fonts
  • Colour of background, header and text
  • Ease of navigation (archives, next page, etc)
  • Organization of page: arrangement of parts, spacing
  • Advertising and pop ups
  • Autoplaying of music

There’s nothing worse than an overcrowded page with odd colours and small fonts, obnoxious music playing in the background and you cannot find the button to even stop it. It’s interesting (and sad) to note that despite the general step forward, there are still certain sites that stubbornly refuse to let go of the past:


screencaps by me from

1. Peohohpe’s Tumblr

2. Design O’Blog’s World’s Ugliest Websites

From a pigeon to a peacock

•April 30, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Week 7

B) Lovink (Reader, page 222) also argues that: “No matter how much talk there is of community and mobs, the fact remains that blogs are primarily used as a tool to manage the self”.

Discuss ONE of these arguments giving an example of a blog. Specify chosen argument in your answer.

When thinking about blogs and blogging, it is not unusual for to think of essentially an online diary of sorts. Indeed, one of the most common styles of blogging is “a log of personal thoughts…diary forms around what is happening in a person’s life and reports and comments on what is happening on the Web and the world out there” (Lovink 2008: 3).  Countless blogs on the Internet are of this nature, individuals documenting and posting thoughts about the happenings of their lives.

In such cases, where the primary focus of the blog revolves around issues of a very personal nature, it is easy to consider it “a tool to manage the self” (Lovink 2008: 28).  However, even less personal blogs that focus on topics such as fashion, food, music, books etc, can be considered as a means through which the blogger can manage themselves. For as Geert Lovink indicates, management can refer to the “need to structure one’s life, to clear up the mess, to master the immense flows of information” (Lovink 2008: 28).  This is not restricted to personal life, and running a fashion blog, for example, can include no information about the blogger, but still be fulfilling, challenging and gives the individual a sense of  purpose. Also, critical to the individual is a sense of achievement, whether it be from the number of views or comments they get, the reaction of his/her readers, or the popularity of the blog.

There is an interesting link between blogging and community, for as Lovink suggests, “blogs are always both private and public and are characterized by a culture of desire affiliation” (Lovink 2008: 2). The Cluetrain Manifesto guru David Weinberger describes blogs as “conversations” (Lovink 2008: 28).  The blogger-reader relationship and the blog community are built on mutual commenting, a feature that’s standard on most blogs (Bly 2006: 109). However, the nature of these interactions and the desire to be part of a community can be boiled down to an act of self-promotion.

People posts things wanting them to be read and commented on, joins communities so there are more readers, a wider network to spread one’s presence.  There’s a sense of seeking confirmation, appreciation or at least attention of sorts, which is achieved by gaining response from others. Hence whilst the purpose of a blog may start with the intent of “sharing of the thoughts and opinions of the blogger”, it often escalates into a “Web publicity platform” (Lovink 2008: 28). Dramabeans, for example started out as place for one girl to express her thoughts on her favourite Korean dramas, but has since expanded to become one of the most popular sites for recaps and Korean entertainment news and now features advertisements and links.

Blogs are evolving, expanding and so are blogging styles. Tumblogs (blogs on Tumblr) such as this, for example, provide a much more immediate, interactive blogging experience than say, Livejournal. Whilst the later has more specific communities and a big commenting culture, the former relies on ‘reblogs’ and ‘likes’.  Tumblr is essentially a photographic journal, not necessarily of one’s life, but of their interests. Yet at the same time, there’s heavy focus on the number of followers one has, how many notes you get. Ultimately, blogs are “technology of the self” (Lovink 2008:6), with the same purpose of self-management and desire for a sense of achievement exists.


Bly, R. W.  (2008) Blog, Schmog! : the truth about what blogs can (and can’t) do for your business, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc, pp 98-120

Lovink, G. (2008)  ‘Blogging, The Nihilist Impulse’, in Zero Comments: Blogging and Critical Internet Culture, London: Routledge, pp 1-38

Blogs in Plain English

•April 28, 2011 • Leave a Comment


Blogs are everywhere and continues to grow as more and more people embrace this new media, considered by some as a turning point (or even the future) in social news construction and distribution.


Blogging is like Vegemite, most people usually love it or hate it. Some fully embraces the new media platform and the power and freedom it offers and revels in the its sense of connectivity. Others look down on blogs and prefer traditional newspapers for news dissemination, or else does not understand what the fuss is all about.


Lee LeFever mentions in the video:

Blogs… gave people the power of the media and created a personal kind of news that appeal to a high number of small audiences.

Blogs has transformed the way people view and deal with news, dismantling aspects of the traditional news media and giving the power to the people, to everyone and anyone.

Licking the Icing

•April 26, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Week 6

WordPress “masks the database and creates a continuous  blogging experience within the browser” (Helmond in Reader, p. 180), yet the database is rigidly defined and categorised. Discuss how this shapes the way we interact with the World Wide Web through blogging and how it affects user agency.


The blogging experience, as offered by WordPress and other internet blogging hosts, provides users with an interactive ‘exterior’ rather than the complex software database.

As Anne Helmond describes, blogging software such as WordPress “acts as an interface to the database” which it is attempting to render invisible to the average user (Helmond 2007: 44). The ease and efficiency of the automatic installations, the bypass of software downloads with simple username and password login as well as the continuous upgrades on offer by the blog web hosts (Helmond 2007: 50) results in many users not usually being “confronted with the existence of a database” (Helmond 2007:44).

Instead of working with complex programming and codes, WordPress adopts a ‘graphical interface’ that’s easier to operate and aesthetically pleasing. Clear dropdown menus, links in the tool bars, convenient upload/insert buttons and icons to bold, italicize and underline texts without needing to painstakingly write out the HTML codes. Such an intuitive interface makes writing posts much easier than if one were to write directly in the database and hence “creates a continuous blogging experience within the browser” (Helmond 2007: 53).

Yet, even when masked, the rigidly defined and categorized database can still restrict what user agency.  Much like filling out a multiple-choice test, the form in which WordPress users must complete is restricted by what options are on offer. It’s limited and standardized in the sense that we may be able to choose between A, B, C or D, but not answer in sentences or choose another unspecified letter. The users can only move within the frame given. Uploading content on WordPress, for example, is limited to 42 predetermined content types and size restrictions (Helmond 2007: 51). Unless one moves beyond the interface, the WordPress software ultimately contains users within its parameters. It’s also important to consider the fact that users may not wish to move beyond what is on offer, or else, not motivated to do so, given its comparative complexity.

Indeed the online blogging mentality seems to be one that favors turning a blind eye to the database, even as users are actively contributing to it.  As Helmond indicates, the current discourse of blogging is ‘writing in one’s blog’ and never ‘writing to the database’, giving it a sense of being “part of the larger web” (Helmond 2007: 44).  In reality, WordPress utilizes users extensively, to test, report, improve, modify and most importantly, contribute to the database.  However, it is the sense of community and interactivity born from these very same practices of commenting, writing, creating themes etc, that “a continuous blogging practice is created” (Helmond 2007: 46).  It is not just the act of writing a blog post that drives the user- something which can be done offline- but rather the overall blogging culture involved. It is one of the key reasons why blogging outside of the online blogging environment is unpopular, for the “continuity of the blogging practice” (Helmond 2007: 46) is broken, and along with it our experience and connection with the Web and all that it offers.

In a way, it’s like licking delicious icing off a not-so-nice cupcake. Even as users are fed off and controlled by the hidden database beneath the interface, they still enthusiastically embrace it, for it gives them an intimate way to interact with the blogging culture and environment of the World Wide Web.



Helmond, A (2007)  ‘Software-Engine Relations’, in Blogging for Engines: Blogs Under the Influence of Software-Engine Relation, MA Thesis, Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam.  pp. 44-53


•April 25, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Even after a brief exploration of WordPress and its functions, it is apparent to me that it is one of the more accessible blogging applications available on the internet. My previous experiences with blogging has lulled me into a deceptive sense of familiarity with blogging. I’ve written posts, put up photos and linked videos. I’ve happily left comments  on friends’ journals, in various communities and enthusiastically replied to any comments I’ve received. I thought I knew the way of blogging, with all its complex HTML and custom CSS.

Then I discovered WordPress and can’t help feel slightly bitter about all the years I’ve spent adding <>content </> to bold, italicize, underline, strikeout words, instead of just pressing a button.

This is an example of just how much more annoying HTML can get, compared to the ease of pressing a few buttons. On the left, is how a page in Livejournal looks normally and on the right is all the codes necessary to make the page look as it is, with the subheading bolded and each story linked properly.

Unlike Livejournal, WordPress offers its users a range of options and editing tools that are easy to use and play around with. Changing themes, writing posts, linking items- it’s all almost instantaneous. It’s a move forward for blogging, and even a few months can leave you behind.


Photo: screencap by me