November 4, 2010

As we draw closer to the final days of uni, and the long awaited holidays  I guess it is time for me to take a moment to reflect and contemplate on how the semester has played out. Okay, moment over, now it’s time to write about the blog and wiki component for Digital Media Cultures.


Initially, I thought that the blog posts would be a great way to express ideas, connect with other students and get work done progressively over the semester.  I was wrong. I found the process to be draining, especially trying to find something to talk about each time. While I preferred this to another essay, I almost felt like it was a waste of time, as my view counts showed not many people were reading it, and almost no one commented on anything I wrote. Granted, I rarely commented on anyone else’s blog, but this was as a result of getting no comments myself.


The Wiki was easily my least favourite assessment task. To begin with, despite it being explained, I didn’t really grasp what we were meant to write about. This resulted in my putting it off for some weeks, which ended up being a bad move because when I finally went to contribute, many of the topics I felt comfortable writing about had already been covered. I never really saw the wiki as a collaborative piece of work in the sense that we would edit the work of each other. Even though everyone was posting information up there, I didn’t feel comfortable enough to change what someone had written, nor could I be bothered to check something if I wasn’t sure someone else’s information was correct. I also felt anxious about putting my work up there, in case my peers didn’t feel it was good enough. In terms of using it as a resource, I don’t feel that I would go back to it for information. One thing that was good about the wiki, however, was the list of suggested articles for the annotated bibliography on LMS. When I was a bit lost on where to start, this helped me find some articles to read.

In conclusion, while I didn’t necessarily enjoy some of the assessment tasks, I still did them. I’m not sure of the helpfulness of these tasks, but having said that, it was relieving not to have to write two essays. I preferred the blog over the wiki as I felt more at ease writing in that sort of environment. I think I’m finally running out of things to say so I’ll end it here.




Internet Police

November 4, 2010

There was an interesting article on The Age website about how social media is being used to catch criminals in the United Kingdom.  Gone are the days of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson. Detectives are now being taught how to capture crooks online.  A spokesperson for the National Policing Improvement Agency said that detectives will be educated in methods such as  “how to track criminals on micro-blogging site Twitter and mine Facebook pages for witnesses”.

It made me think about how we portray ourselves online. Surely criminals aren’t dumb enough to make it obvious on their social networking profiles that they have been up to no good? Wouldn’t they want to stay away from social networking because then it would be easier to hide? Perhaps they will since Police issued a warrant via Facebook.

Either way,  I found the decision to train detectives in this way an interesting indication of how times have changed. Instead of focusing on literal finger prints, police are now looking for online finger prints.

Photographic Memory

October 21, 2010

How would you feel if you found out that photos you deleted off your Facebook where still there two and a half years later? An article by Ben Grubb states that Facebook has admitted to keeping deleted photos for a limited amount of time. This means that every drunken photo, every unflattering image and every picture of you and your ex lover is there, even if you sent it to Facebook’s trashcan.

Grubb writes:

In one report, a Facebook user said they had deleted an image from the site 2.5 years ago (30 months), and that it was still available to see on the site. Another said a photo from April 2009 was still accessible after it was deleted.

Do we have a right to be upset at the fact that our photos are still there? We have to consider the fact that we have willingly put the photos up on Facebook in the first place.  By putting them up there we acknowledge that people can see them, and have to accept that people might save the image to their own computer. This gives the possibility of them uploading the picture somewhere else, resulting in multiple copies floating around the world wide web.

Compare this to photos taken on film. Generally the people who took these were the only ones who had a copy. Now in the era of digital photography, photos can be easily shared, passed on and uploaded. By uploading photos to Facebook, we need to accept that we lose ownership of part of these photos. It is now a joint ownership between ourselves and Facebook. I, however, believe that if a user has deleted photos, Facebook should do the right thing, and permanently delete them.


Mark Zuckerburg

October 8, 2010

On the Age Website today there was an interesting article by Stephen Hutcheon discussing privacy matters within Facebook.  Hutcheon discusses the fact that Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook preaches ‘radical transparency’ yet it seems that he or Facebook have something to hide.  He makes the point that the  500 million odd members of Facebook relinquish their details knowingly and freely, yet Facebook often over step the mark with what they do with that information.


Recently Facebook Places was launched, which lets people “check in” to places to let their friends know where they are, much like foursquare.  The difference, I guess, between foursquare and Facebook places, as Hutcheon mentions is that Facebook already knows your name, your age, your gender, what you look like, what you are a fan of and now, where you hang out.

Hutcheon points out the problematic situation that we are now placed in by technology knowing our every move.

“And you know what comes next? By knowing where you have been, they’ll be able to work out where you are going. Heading home after work? Let’s flash up an ad that offers you a discount at your favourite Thai takeaway. Some people may see that as a convenience. I find it creepy. The moment my phone informs me that it knows what I’m going to do next is the moment I ditch the phone.”

The Facebook movie The Social Network has been advertised with the tagline  “You don’t get to 500 million friends with out making a few enemies.”  I think this is particularly apt to describe how many feel about Mark Zuckerburg. Having said that, however, while I disagree with a lot of what Facebook does, I still use it. Go Figure.

If you are interested in watching the trailer for The Social Network, it is below.


Re-wiring Our Brains

October 4, 2010

Driving home from uni the other day I tuned into triple j and caught the Hack half hour. For those of you unaware of Hack, it’s a radio show at 5:30 weekdays. It covers youth issues, as well as national issues such as the election and the environment.

This particular day had a segment on Nick Carr and his book ‘The Shallows: what the internet is doing to our brains’.  Carr argued that because of the internet, and the way in which we use it our brains and concentration levels have been altered. He suggests that we are now unable to concentrate on anything for a long period of time due to distractions of social networking.

Nick and host Kate O’Toole also touched on the idea of addiction to things such as the internet and technology (ie. mobile phones).  It was suggested that because we are so attached to these technologies, the minute we are separated from them we feel anxious and lost. Many of us use social networking to keep in touch with others, but often it ends up being a kind of second life.

So how valid is Nick Carr’s argument? I personally agree with what he is saying. I think that many people of my generation have let social media dictate their life, and as a result it will dictate their future. Perhaps generations after us will find that their brains work completely differently to generations before them.

For any one interested in listening to the podcast, here is the link.

just a bit of promotion..

September 20, 2010

This is probably a bit naughty, but I figured I could get away with it since it has to do with both university and social media.

Three students from La Trobe have entered a video in a competition for Movie Extra Webfest. The winner of the competition wins $50,000 to make seven 3 minute episodes. It’d be really awesome if you could vote, and you can vote once a day.

Pleaaaaaaase support your fellow students!

Soccer and Facebook

September 20, 2010

Browsing The Age Website I came across this article on Matilda’s player Lisa De Vanna.

De Vanna had been forced to remove lewd photos from her Facebook page after a 13 year old fan found them. Given that De Vanna was seen as a role model, she was seen as an “embarrassment” to the sport. What this incident highlights again is the division between public and private. Like the Stephanie Rice naughty photo incident, we are again forced to decided whether athletes should have the right to privacy over their photos.

De Vanna is someone who is in the public eye, but her Facebook is her private page. Having said that, she posted the photos knowing that others would see them. What she probably didn’t think about,  however, is that people other than her Facebook friends would see them.

Given that the photos of De Vanna weren’t actually of her practicing sex acts, perhaps the criticism is a little strong. While the photos did show her in sexually suggestive poses, a child could watch those same poses on video hits on a Saturday morning. Does it make a difference because De Vanna is seen as a role model where as the Pussy Cat Dolls are not? Would it have made a difference if De Vanna was in fact a male?  I think that part of it is that in encouraging girls to look up to real women rather than just singers or dancers in scantily clad outfits it comes as more of a shock that someone like De Vanna would post such photos. The idolisation and adoration of sports stars has also led to their every mistake being broadcast by the media. We seem to forget that they are humans too. How many of us would be happy with every photo we have on Facebook being published in newspapers or on television?


September 13, 2010

Today, while browsing Facebook, I saw that a girl I went to school with was listed as “engaged”.  I was doubtful as to the truth of this, and when I checked up on it, sure enough, it wasn’t legitimate, with her stating that they were only “Facebook engaged”. Really, what is the point of that? It seems that some of us never grow out of playing husband and wife in the school yard.

An article from the Telegraph in the United Kingdom suggests that people who use Facebook tend to be narcissistic.  While the research group only consisted of 100 people, I think that despite the small sample size, as a general statement, it is probably true. Facebook sometimes becomes a place for people to talk themselves up, instead of its intended purpose, for people to connect and talk with each other. It provides a place for people to create an image of their self that they want people to see rather than a true representation of themselves.

It is important for me to state that while I say this, I am not excluded from this. Facebook tells me who is having a birthday, so I wish them happy birthday, even if I haven’t talked to them since I finished school. I’m not going to upload a photo of myself that I think is unattractive as my profile picture.  So while there is a certain amount of deception that can be allowed on Facebook, it really comes down to judgment. The easiest way to judge whether you can get away with your little falsehood is to ask yourself if you would tell that to other people. If you wouldn’t tell someone in real life that you were engaged, why pretend on Facebook?

Dr Karl

September 9, 2010

Again, another post inspired by twitter.

As someone who recently joined twitter, I initially found the idea of it a bit stupid. I liked facebook because it allowed me more contact with people.  I have found, however, that twitter presents itself as an excellent source for news. On the night the election results were being counted I found myself at bar in South Melbourne, checking for updates via twitter on my phone. While my checking proved futile as it took another two and a half weeks to learn who was the leader of our country, it did make me feel like I was being kept informed.

What I’m trying to say here, is that technology, and the internet has allowed us to gain information in different ways. One of the most interesting tweeters that I follow is Dr Karl Kruszelnicki.  Dr Karl is known for his work in science, particularly in the media. His website states that

“In 2002, Dr Karl was honoured with the prestigious Ig Nobel prize awarded by Harvard University in the USA for his ground-breaking research into Belly Button Lint and why it is almost always blue.”

Pretty cool huh? While Dr Karl fans still use his show on triple j to ask questions, many users of twitter tweet him questions. I found it interesting that Dr Karl has almost become a walking encyclopaedia.  Is the cause of the questions being directed at Karl a result of laziness, and a lack of motivation to look up the answer ourselves, or is it an indication of appreciation of Kruszelnicki’s knowledge?

I think the use of the internet has meant that people want answers faster. They don’t want to go to a library and look up a book to find the answer.  As a result Dr Karl can often become the first port of call when someone has a question.

In the weeks leading up to the elections, politicians ran riot through the streets campaigning and pleading for votes. Tony Abbot pushed himself through a 36 hour day in a last minute bid to win votes. While the usual campaign tricks of kissing babies and shaking hands at shopping centers continued this election saw something that was not as prevalent in our last election. More and more politicans are using web 2.0, especially via twitter to access their voters.

How well does this strategy work though? Perhaps twitter is perfect for politicians, because surely they can’t say too much in 140 characters. Or perhaps not. Can we trust that every tweet made by a politician is actually made by them, and not by their secretary? Do these tweets serve to gain votes, or do they lose votes? I know in my case, a tweet by Wendy Francis caused me to have great joy in placing Family First lower in my prefernces.  Finding out that Julia Gillard was following me on twitter was a bit unnerving. What could she possibly gain from following me. Surely given that Julia is following 30,939 other people, her, or her staffers do not have enough time to read my tweets. What could they possibly find interesting about a middle class, white, 19 year old girl?

Even without the input of politicans, twitter is still being used as a platform for voters to voice their opinions. The ABC program Q & A sees twitter come alive with users tweeting left, right and centre. Some tweets make it on the show, and go out to a larger audience than just twitter users. As the use of social media in every day life increases, so to will it’s use in political campaigns.

The use of twitter, however, does leave me with a few questions.

Does twitter allow for a connection between politicans and voters?

Can twitter act as a substitute for real life interactions between politicans and the public?

Does twitter help or hinder political campaigns?

and finally, Why doesn’t Julia ever reply to my tweets?