Surrendering Control

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On average Australian adults are exposed to six or more hours of broadcasting services every day either from watching TV at the end of the day or listening to the radio on the commute to work (Albon, 1998). That equates to over 2190 hours each year. But who regulates and controls the media paraded in our face? The dynamics of media ownership within Australia have been shifting in recent years with many proprietors within the industry encouraging a review of traditional laws and legislations. Legislators have always been concerned about the power of electronic media’s influence on public opinion and therefore have in place laws denying any licence holder access to 75% or more of the current population (Albon, 1998).  

“No medium of entertainment… has such powerful influence for good or evil as broadcasting” (Albon, 1998)

In recent weeks Malcom Turnbull has questioned the validity of these existing laws claiming they are a “crucial barrier” in network mergers (Wilson, 2014). However, the reasoning behind such strict ownership laws is to promote a diversity of opinion. By lifting existing laws who’s to say the major power players such as Rupert Murdoch or James Packer won’t buy up the entire industry? The concentration of media ownership within this country allows money and power to be utilised as a filtration system of content. Rupert Murdoch already currently controls half of the newspapers in Australia including online. Imagine enabling him to buy a TV network then a radio station. Our major source of information would be streamed directly from him. Being CEO of News Corp already grants him the power not just in the editorial line but covering some issues and views than others (Beder, 2004)

Without consciously knowing it we are living in a world where are personal opinions and thoughts are moulded to the ideology of large corporations. The Frankfurt School of thinking addressed this issue by introducing the ‘Critical Theory’ and critiquing the ideologies behind natural science. By attempting to place one-self outside of philosophical strictures and the confines of existing structures we can be reflective, self-critical and avoid any pretensions towards absolute truth (2014)

Media regulation and ownership honestly never crossed my mind or captured my interests before, but through the development of this blog post it has challenged me to look beneath the superficial story line and more at the production. I’m quite frightened to think if we are all fed this one ideology of the world how are going to be able to move forward and evolve as a society…

Albon, R,  Papandrea, F, 1998, Media Regulation in Australia and Public Interest, Institute of Public Affairs Limited, Victoria Australia

Beder, S, 2004, Moulding and Manipulating the News, Viewed 9/4/2014, http://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1043&context=artspapers

Independent Australia, 2012, http://www.independentaustralia.net/article-display/stop-rupert-murdoch-owning-every-australian-newspaper-and-tv-station,3899

Wilson, L, 2014, ‘Communications minister Malcom Turnbull flags media ownership charges’, 9th March, Viewed 7/4/2014, www.theaustralian.com.au/media/communications-minister-malcom-turnball-flags-media-ownership-changes/story-e6frg996-1226849380555

19th February 2014, Frankfurt School, Wikipedia, Viewed 10/4/2014, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankfurt_School

 

Beyond a Social Media Site

Instagram has rejuvenated the world of photography. Building a bridge that connects art and culture to the forefront of the world, with the simple click of a button transforming its initial audience into amateur photographers. The platform itself creates a domain to share and explore your ideas, a quality not easy to find in reality. 60 million photos are posted daily with more than half of this number dedicated to the infamous selfie (Smith, 2014). But where did this profound sense of power and self-awareness develop from?

When looking at the Jenkins theories of convergence he discusses the role of the consumer and its dynamic transition from once a stationary position stating that “the new consumer is active”. (Jenkins, 2004) This concept is clearly evident when exploring the audience involved with Instagram. This belief has been achieved through the growth of the technology and therefore the audience and thus we saw the creation of the prosumer.

Prosumerism, the consumers of the product are simultaneously creating the product. Brilliant! It seems so simple that is almost stupid but it works. For Instagram creators Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger they made $1 billion dollars off it. People now have the ability and the right to control what they want to see. If I want to follow an account about goats I can! The audience has now become empowered to surround themselves with the media they WANT.

The reason behind the success of Instagram is quite simple, accessibility. Traditionally the process to share a photo with your friends was long and tedious; I know I was always losing my memory card! But once Instagram came to play editing, filters and sharing was all in one convenient snack sized pocket. The innovative ‘front camera’ took over the world allowing ultimate selfie shots and even more options for artistic expression. Selfie with a mango, selfie in a tree and Kim Kardashian even exploring the possibilities with her failed attempt of an elephant selfie just the other day.

As a species it is integral for our survival that we belong and I believe Instagram encourages participation from all corners of the world. It’s an app that can unite communities and cultures together by learning to embrace and interpret other images.

“It’s about having an audience for what you produce and participating in an audience for other peoples photos” (Jessica Zollman)

Jenkins, H, 2004, Cultural Logic of Media Convergence, International Journal of Cultural Studies, Vol 1, pp. 33-43

Prives, G, 2013, Instagram and its Impact on the World of Photography, Digital Photography School, Date Accessed 4/4/2014, http://digital-photography-school.com/instagram-and-its-impact-on-the-world-of-photography 

Smith, C, 2014, 65 Interesting Instagram Statistics, DMR Digitial Marketing Ramblings, Date Accessed 4/4/2014, http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/important-instagram-stats/

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Instagrams Casual Simplicity

Out of thousands of photo applications available to us why is it that Instagram has so triumphantly taken off? It’s actually quite simple. It simply was the first, best one available to us. Constructed around an element of ‘casual simplicity’ it enables each individual to feel as if there is some artistic merit to their work (Bolt, 2011). Looking beyond the screen how does Instagram embody the ideology of convergence Jenkins so passionately describes? Technology and society share a synergistic relationship, learning and developing off one another. Jenkins explores this perception illustrating the impact media convergence has in altering the relationship between existing technologies, industries, markets, genres and audience(Jenkins, 2004) thus resulting in a continual transitional nature of media. In 2010, when Instagram was founded, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger strived to achieve a site where

“We were able to translate photography from being a form of self-expression into a form of communication” (Kevin Systrom)

By creating a template, a blank canvas for individuals to use they empowered the audience by granting them control over what media they personally selected, providing a safe haven, supportive of each and every single persons ideological beliefs. This concept is a recent revolutionary change seen within many social media platforms, where consumers are influencing the production and distribution of media content. Just as Jenkins described, the modern age consumer is becoming an active participant, literally taking the media into their own hands.

Instagram has simply been able to achieve this phenomenon through meticulous attention to detail, not only in creating the images but delivering them. The relatively high quality of technology available to ‘amateur’ photographers permitted images to be taken at a similar standard to that of a DSLR camera(). Being able to discover new images simply by scrolling down your newsfeed, searching hashtags or even exploring the ‘Popular’ page grants individuals to search the media they wish to seek.

By allowing the community to take over control, the ability to shape direction over cultural influences has become more democratic, compared to a small collective group of a few authoritarian figures. However, this change hits like a domino effect. A transition within the cultural industries ignites a new way in which materials circulate. A rising the question of regulating media content, an issue of concern as accessibility increases how to we moderate appropriate content entering our homes and work places? This period of change has encouraged a new ideological belief where it is up to the individual, to again play an active role in what they believe is applicable to their families.

Convergence is a never ending process which will continue to alter the way our media, and therefore our communities are natured. Instagram, at the moment is just one tool leading the pack that grants individuals their social rights. I just hope people will be able to accept that we don’t all think alike.

Bolt, N, 2011, Why is Instagram so Popular: Qulaity Audience and Restraints, Techcrunch, Date Accessed 3/4/2014, http://techcrunch.com/2011/11/27/why-instagram-is-so-popular/
Dishman, L, 2014, Instagram is Shaping up to be the Worlds most Powerful Selling Tool, Forbes, Date Accessed 3/4/2014, http://www.forbes.com/sites/lydiadishman/2014/02/13/instagram-is-shaping-up-to-be-the-worlds-most-powerful-selling-tool/
Jenkins, H, 2004, Cultural Logic of Media Convergence, International Journal of Cultural Studies, Vol 1, pp. 33-43
2011, Start up Story: Kevin Systrom of Instagram, Behind the Hustle, Date accessed 4/4/2014, http://behindthehustle.com/2013/01/start-up-story-kevin-systrom-of-instagram-2/

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The Bottom Line

Can you recall setting up your Instagram account? We all take care in the essentials such as creating a funky username, email address and a cheeky profile picture, something a little ‘unique’ or different to the classic selfie. Then it comes down to the nitty gritty, the “Terms and Conditions”. We’ve all seen it but how many of us have actually read it? I know personally I’m guilty to ticking the little box and continuing on with the fun stuff…

Before the breakthrough of social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram it was a common understanding that ownership of your creation was automatic. However, once we have agreed to the open content form of licensing held by Instagram we are agreeing to allow others to copy and modify our works. Floating around in that tini tiny font we all ignore to read Instagram’s rights and it immediately states,

“Instagram is a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service” (Instagram, 2013)

In English this means that for users agreeing to the terms and conditions of Instagram, you will lose the exclusive right to use that content (Bartier Parry Pty Limited, 2013). You are also granting permission for Instagram and third-party groups to use the content however they please for free.

Until now I was completely in the dark and grasped no concept on the issue. However, since exploring deeper into how this system works I honestly have become very reluctant to post any material on social media sites. Apart from raising the obvious issues of money and payment, it also exploits ethical dilemmas of stealing and copyright and can make one question whether society can keep up with the rapidly evolving word of social media. Can traditional social constructs manage these arising issues?

In 2013 the UK Government passed an act called the ‘Instagram Act’, simply meaning that all your images now belong to everyone. The act allows widespread commercial exploitation of unidentified or ‘orphan works’, images where the right holders are unable to be contacted (The A Register, 2013). A very similar situation to how businesses and franchises use Instagram.

The benefits Instagram receive from using this form of licensing allows them to make commercial gain by licensing the images we provide for them.  The bottom line is we won’t get any compensation for our images and in the event money has to be returned to the advertiser we could be held liable even tho we were kept in the dark…

Be careful kids and think twice.

Delsack, C, 2012, Who Owns Photos and Videos Posted on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, Law Offices of Craig Delsack LLC, 30/3/2014,  http://www.nyccounsel.com/business-blogs-websites/who-owns-photos-and-videos-posted-on-facebook-or-twitter/

Orlowski, A, 2013, UK GOV Passes Instagram Act: All Your Pics Belong to Everyone Now, The Register, 30/3/2014, http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/04/29/err_act_landgrab/

2013, Terms of Use, Instagram,  30/3/2014,  http://instagram.com/legal/terms/#

2013, We Promise We Probably Won’t Use It – Copyright Ownership on Social Media, Bartier Perry, 3/4/2014 http://www.bartier.com.au/publications/publicationPrint.aspx?PublicationID=402

2014, Instagram Statistics, Nitrogram, 3/4/2014, https://nitrogr.am/instagram-statistics/

Should we change or should social constructs ?

Raising a child would have to be one of the hardest jobs in the world. As a mother your maternal instincts always are demanding you to do ‘better’ for your child. New York subways have been recently filled with teen pregnancy prevention ads with the intention to reduce the number of young parents, which measured in 2011 was around 17,000 pregnancies alone in New York. However, the new campaign had received backlash from all corners of society, with many questioning whether the $400,000 campaign could have been spent on more positive attitudes towards teen pregnancy, such as providing resources to teen families to avoid them dropping below the poverty line.
Nevertheless, the campaign is out in public and with numerous signs all conveying the same meaning, that a child SHOULDN’T be raising a child. This idea is clearly evident when looking at the signifiers used within the advertisement. Each poster draws emotionally on the individual with features such as:
• Each poster displaying a child crying or in distress, exaggerating the pain in which a child would ‘apparently’ go through if raised by a teenage mother.
• The children’s eyes become of focal point of the picture, conveniently placed in areas where our eyes as viewers are drawn to.
• The use of rhetorical questions increases the pressure and feeling of uncertainty in viewers as they cannot provide the answers.
• Each poster also comes with a statistic used to intimidate the audience. Humans like fact, knowing the end result rather than jumping into uncertainty. These facts immediately influence the wider community into negative conceptions about teen pregnancy.
If we look beyond the superficial exterior of this ad, which obviously is to encourage safe sex and inform teens of the severity of raising a child, we begin to explore the issues of social stereotyping and ‘fear’ tactics. Controversial ads like this create negativity towards social groups, such as teen mothers, alienating them from society. In the long run is this really helping them? Or are these ads extending the problem. The idea of using ‘fear’ as a way of influencing society has been used in campaigns against smoking and obesity. However, research on using confrontation to shame and humiliate people in addiction treatment concluded that “It has failed to yield a single clinical trial showing efficacy of confrontational counselling, whereas a number have documented harmful effects, particularly for more vulnerable populations.” (Time, 2013).
The promotion gets the message across as clearly as a slap in the face. But I believe it also should encourage us to change our social concept towards teen pregnancy. As we know social intimidation leads to exclusion, thus an increase in ‘risky behaviour’. This ad challenges my personal ideological views to be more welcoming than excluding. As stated by the RH Reality Check group “Teen pregnancy doesn’t cause poverty, poverty causes teen pregnancy”.

Szalavitz, M, March 28 2013, Why New York’s Latest Campaign To Lower Teen Pregnancy Could Backfire, Time, Viewed 21/03/2014, http://healthland.time.com/2013/03/28/why-new-yorks-latest-campaign-to-lower-teen-pregnancy-could-backfire/

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Instagram = The amount a ‘wannabe’ Hipster weighs

Instagram. The ever rising up and comer in the social media world. In 2012 it increased 23% compared to its affiliate network Facebook which only increased 3% in the same year. So why is Instagram continually growing whilst other sites have seen better days? When we think about Instagram our first thoughts are immediately directed towards images. Thousands of pointless images roll across our newsfeed daily. According to fact browser approximately 8,500 photos are liked every second. The most popular photos that appear on our newsfeed include the infamous duck pout and classic bikini-in-bathroom shot. And how could we forget the exclusive plane wing shot? But why is it that we have this obscured desire to share our life with the world?

Studies conducted by Pew Research Centre and American Life Project show that the largest demographic using Instagram is 18-29 year olds. So why is it that ‘Gen Y’ are so obsessed? What is the meaning behind it all? Are we that poor that we cannot afford meals that we must place all food we consume in a time capsule, set in chrome lighting, to relive its awesomeness? Or must we make our social status public by posting images of our ‘binge drinking’ shenanigans. Captured with countless amounts of friends to prove we are participating in social norms, and therefore accepted within our peer groups? Or are we all living out our secret desires to become professional photographers and enlightening others with our stylistic visions?

Whatever each individuals meaning may be behind this absurd addiction we do know that Instagram acts as an extension of the eye within society. Allowing us to see halfway across the world, and even possibly deep into the emotional state of our family and peers. However, for some people Instagram has a much higher purpose than expressing ones feelings, dreams or desires. For people within the retail world, Instagram has become a popular resource for promoting products to perspective customers. Especially clothing retail stores are seeking the benefits by placing product smack bang in the middle of popular consumers’ faces. All looks positives as sales are up. But what are future implications of this?

By promoting product over social media sites will this change the physical nature of sales within society? This idea could potentially lead to the loss of physical stores within shopping centres, thus affecting the availability of jobs. By eliminating sales person jobs you’re also eliminating the need for shops and therefore shopping centres. By erasing such large constructs of communities we could be affecting the popularity of small towns and communities with limited job prospects. This can lead into a variety of large scale situations including an increased rate of low socio-economic status within society.

Putting future implications aside Instagram has reshaped the way we now see the world. It is able to transform the tiniest thing into a work of art and create a sense of life. But who knows if we’ve started a domino effect?

Ps. I chose Instagram for my technology.

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Recipe for Disaster ?

After a close inspection of the media effects model it came to my attention that it was another example of human ignorance. As a species it is my belief that we are incapable of accepting the concept of ‘failure’ and would rather ‘pass it on’ in layman terms. The media effects model was constructed to be an easy escape goat. Behind all the scientific terms and fancy words, the model singles out media for being the sole purpose behind increasing acts of violence, misconduct behaviour and a simple lack of disrespect for authority. By blaming media for promoting violence within children we avoid looking at the real issue of nurture and development. This idea is evident in Gauntlett’s article ‘Ten things Wrong with the Effects Model’ where he states that the  model tackles social problems backwards, meaning that society are falsely jumping to conclusions rather than investigating all possible factors.

This idea that Gauntlett brings up is evident within the Sandy Hook massacre case in the United States. On the 12th December  Adam Lanza fatally shot twenty children and six adult staff members at Sandy Hook elementary school. Cases of such a degree often bring media into the limelight with the public questioning what would cause some young boy to do such a thing? Many jumped to the conclusion that exposure to hours of ‘violent’ video games was the main catalyst. Of course it couldn’t be human development, could it? As an investigation took place and we began to look behind the superficial life of Adam Lanza, full of late night video games and an anti social presence within school. It was discovered he had suffered his entire life with multiple mental disorders including Autism, Asperger and SID. He was also a victim of a broken home and an absent father. When considering all the factors that come into play in Adams tragic tale can we really say media was the cause of his horrendous act?

The results of the media effects model are often heavily criticized with the studies conducted in artificial settings limiting the effect of the overall experiment as a result of misapplied methodology. This is due to people jumping to conclusions before hand. However, a study conducted between 1985-2007 by the AMA council on science and public health contradict the popular notion that video games promote violence, as they found no direct link between violent video games and increases in long term violent behaviour. The main psychological effects found within the study was (DSM)-IV or more commonly known as internet addiction which has been shown to jeopardize other life factors and cause dysfunctional relationships. However, this is only found in 10-15% of gamers and making up 9% of this number are MMORPG players who are involved in highly social, constructive games were the sole purpose is on interaction with fellow players, thus ruling out antisocial behaviour which is linked with a tendency to violent behaviour.

The media effects model is a recipe for disaster found in the “Asking the Wrong Questions” cookbook. Including ingredients such as minimal idealistic views, unjustified stereotypes and a narrow approach. Cooked in an oven of misapplied methodology and served with an inconsistency topped with little evidence or substantial link. The final product served to us on a silver platter with the purpose to induce an anti media coma.

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