Module 8: Transforming the Blog – Osheaga 2013

If there’s one thing I love about the summer; one thing I love more than mosquito bites and farmer’s tans, its summer music festivals. One of the most highly anticipated of the season is most definitely Osheaga. Held annually in Montreal, Quebec, Osheaga celebrates the musically and artistically inclined from both mainstream and independent environments. It is a chance for big names and local artists to perform throughout the span of three jam-packed days. Osheaga offers what many attendees call a ‘European’ feel because of its relatively quaint venue and its high energy atmosphere. What will really entice an avid summer music festival goer such as myself is the rock stars on the stage.

This year the front runners include English folk boy band Mumford and Sons as well as cult favourite The Cure.

The Osheaga line up this year is so good omg

Who likes Mumford & Sons, Two Door Cinema Club, Jimmy Eat World, The Lumineers, Imagine Dragons & wants to go to Osheaga with me? #Please 😦

Wishhhhhhh it was August right now… Summer, pals, and Mumford & Sons #Osheaga

However, others direct their interest to different aspects of the event.

There are so many good indy bands playing Osheaga it makes me want to go. But as far as headliners….

Who wants to come to osheaga with me to see macklemore please someone

The best part about an outdoor music festival such as this is that there is truly something for everyone. I guess that’s the kind of experience you get for an almost $400 price tag.  A few blogs mention some other well known music festivals that are similar to Osheaga.

Pitchfork music festival

http://itsyowyow.com/2013/03/26/pitchfork-music-festival-2013/

While some may not be impressed with what Osheaga has to offer,

http://relevanceisoptional.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/osheaga/

If you have a ‘how-to’ do it up right guide,

http://blog.muchmusic.com/a-how-to-guide-for-osheaga/

you may find yourself in the front row of the crowd fist pumping to Jimmy Eat World.

http://indecentxposure.com/the-buzz/c146ec71ac367692238dbb1bea05ef0ab2562158/

On a personal note, I’m most looking forward to Mumford and Sons. They’ll be on tour all summer long!

http://blog.muchmusic.com/mumford-and-sons-announce-summer-stampede-tour/

Check out these links to find out more about popular music events that could be in your area. Get your Osheaga tickets while they’re hot!

http://www.mumfordandsons.com/

http://www.osheaga.com/

http://ibackpackcanada.com/summer-music-festivals-in-canada/

http://canadianmusicfest.com/

http://diffuser.fm/music-festival-guide/

 

 

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Module 8: Understanding Transmedia

Coming to the end of this long and winding road that is COMM 2F00, I look back and reflect at all the different outlets that I have experienced in this course. I’ve started blogging, edited my own shark video that could potentially give Discovery Channel a run for its money, recorded a podcast, and complied a story through Storify.(All of which I’ve never done before, nor actively sought out). Now that I think of it, as a Media Communications, I’m really not as savvy with technology as one would think I should be.  

So this brings up the topic of transmedia and the role of the audience. Bird points out that especially with advancements in technology that we see today, audiences are “interactive fans”. This term essentially embraces the idea that audiences are active as opposed to passive. We engage with technology in so many ways, enough to make it almost second nature to us. We are truly fans of these outlets, because, as we’ve discussed as part of this course, it becomes part of our identity, an extension of ourselves. We are produsers because these digital tools have opened up opportunities for two way communication. It is what Bird, who draws from Jenkins, claims to be a cultural shift. The way we interact with media now is the way we will continue to interact with media, and I argue, this relationship will only become increasingly significant rather than be considered a passing trend.  

So do produsers actually have any power in this relationship? I definitely think so. I am a frequent YouTube user and a general enthusiast of the site. I think its a great form of social media and what a way to kill time! But I have always wondered, who has all that time to post these videos? Once I edited my own video, I realized the process is not as difficult as I thought, but it also revealed that audiences, or produsers rather, are really the fuel of this whole site.  

Transmedia encompasses this cultural shift into media convergence. Media is the norm, it is mainstream! The term makes me think of a ‘black hole’. where all media just becomes one giant thing, a hypperreality. Rheingold uses the example of his students and what they claim to be ‘multitasking’. They admit that if they are using technology and engaging in forms of social media, they pay less attention in class. (An age old argument).  Not too be eccentric, but maybe at some point it will be hard to tell the difference between the virtual world and the real world. This may be slightly similar to Sterne, and I may have mentioned this in other blogs. But I actually do have a very skeptical attitude towards the development of technology and the way audiences interact with it. I can’t understand why I don’t fully embrace it but I think part of it is that we have become too reliant on it and will only continue to incorporate it more into our lives giving it more value. I always go back to the animated film WALL-E. it depicts humans as overweight, unmotivated people floating in space because Earth has gone right down the drain. They sit in these hover chairs and talk to a screen all day even when the person they are communicating with is hovering beside them. It is an environment where face to face communication ceases to exist. It brings up some serious anxieties about venturing into a world that is digital. Are we really far off from this image?  

Image

Nevertheless, I do see myself becoming more of a frequent produser. Its really amazing all the outlets we have and that I’ve never taken the time to explore. The one outlet I most enjoy is blogging and I can see myself having an ongoing experience with this form of media. We are all becoming produsers, whether we like it or not, and I just hope that we keep this relationship a positive one. 

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Module 7- Citizen Journalism: Simply Encoding and Decoding a Message

I think one of the more broad concepts that can apply to each topic we’ve been discussing throughout the year is the relationship between mass media and consumers. How we interact (or don’t interact for that matter) within each medium is just as important as the medium itself. At this point we can agree that just like sharing and downloading music has become democratized, so has the idea of ‘journalism’. It isn’t an outlet set aside for those with a degree hanging on their wall. With the blogging trend becoming a world wide phenomenon and social media sites like Storify or even Pinterest, stories can be told and retold again and again; reinvented in new ways, with new imagery and embellishments. 

As Dahlgren points out, citizen journalism is about giving a voice to the people. Much in the same way the world wide web has done in a general sense. According to Hermida the “journalism industry has been slow to embrace the potential offered by new, Internet-based media forms.” I can understand this claim because it seems as though the idea of journalism in the traditional sense, is set in its ways. There’s something about ‘chasing’ a story and reporting the cold hard facts, a certain credibility that doesn’t come wrapped in a storify ‘article’. That being said, internet based forms open up this option to share and create. We are truly becoming ‘producers’ and, in my opinion, this is only a positive thing in concerns to journalism. 

I also relate to Twitter becoming the best platform for the formation of news circulation. When I first joined Twitter, I didn’t really think it was going to be something I would enjoy, but I find myself checking it constantly because there is always new information. It’s not just people posting about trivial things, there’s actual content on there. The user just has to actively seek it out sometimes (Uses and Gratification theory- Katz et al. ?). Looking back on my storify thread, I had no idea what topic to explore. I happened to log in to twitter and one of the first posts was the 2013 Osheaga line up. It was a cause and effect relationship, a regular Stuart Hall encoding and decoding transaction to a tee, except it is occurring within an online space. The messages are easily absorbed and easily shared. Image

That being said, I don’t know if I necessarily see a concrete place for social activism. What comes to mind first,though I hate to admit it, is Kony. Its a perfect example because even though that video and campaign spread like wildfire, it still didn’t make a lasting impact with consumers. It had the right vehicle to get the message out, and for the most part, regardless if it was positive or negative, it was being talked about. I think one of the downfalls of social media is that as much as it gives us the power to easily share and create, we have the equal power to dismiss. Because there is such a rapid flow of information, it doesn’t surprise me that a topic that is popular today won’t even be carried on in a whisper by next week. We have these choices to accept or ignore. So on one hand, yes social media is empowering. We are producing the stories we hear about, but we also are free to turn our attention to the next best thing at the drop of a hat. 

For this very reason, I find it interesting to look closely at this relationship. With television, we readily change a channel if we don’t want to hear the current events, whats happening now, because lets be honest sometimes we don’t care. But critically speaking, with social media (storify, twitter, pinterest) we have the capacity to become INVESTED in the story or not. How invested we are is up to us. 

 

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Module 6: Plundering Pirates

As you will hear in my podcast, I chose to take an excerpt from Steinmetz, K., K. Tunnell (2013). Under the Pixelated Jolly Roger: A Study of On-Line Pirates. Deviant Behavior. 34 (1), pg. 53-67. I wanted to emphasize the arguments made by these authors because they analyzed the relationship of consumer and industry from the consumer point of view. I am intrigued to know what makes consumers choose to participate in piracy despite copyright laws and I found that their results were quite accurate. Listen to find out more!

 

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Module 5: Major Blog- Nothing is Original

In the previous blog, the central topic was focused around the emergence of consumer-producers. There is a whole fleet of amateur directors, composers, musicians, songwriters etc, that have begun to solidify a place for themselves within the online world. Social media sites, specifically YouTube, clearly cater to the needs of aspiring producers and creators. There is now a domain, where there never was before, that allows users to create the content that is shared within an online community. The main problem with this is that, of course, nothing is original.

I found part 3 of Kirby Ferguson’s ‘Everything’s a Remix’ to be really enlightening. The basis of his argument lies within the reality that human creativity can really be chalked up to the act of copying. We try and emulate what we see in the world around us. There may of course be an element of some sort of divine inspiration, a moment of profound thought, but for the most part, what we call originality is truly building off previously existing ideas. Even ideas that have seemed to propel humanity and society to its greatest potential (the printing press, the lightbulb) all come from a combination of ideas. Social media sites like Wikipedia, are an online translation of Ferguson’s analysis. A forum for collaboration and contribution to one idea. However, who owns all this material if its always coming from someone or somewhere else?

A website that exemplifies this idea perfectly is www.hitrecord.org. This is an online collaborative production company that focuses on creating ‘original work’. For instance, if a user uploaded a poem, another user could take that content and put music to it, then another user could take that content and put it to moving images etc. It is a free flow environment of content that can be modified and altered by any user. The material has to be ‘original’ though because finished products have the potential to be monetized. This is where copyright comes into play. Content that is produced my ‘big media moguls’ is totally off the table. But to me, anything thats on the internet should be fair game. Its almost like there are too many hands stirring the pot anyway, why does everything have to come down to profit all the time?

 

hitrecord.org page (HitRecord homepage. Launched by Joesph Gordon Levitt in 2010. Learn more at http://www.hitrecord.org/aboutus)

Garrett Potter notes, “the Internet is seemingly overrun with copyrighted material in the hopes of making capital gain rather than spreading free information as it was intended.” The internet is a completely commercialized entity and I think it affects the way we interact with it. Illegal downloading and streaming is one way we deal with the boundaries placed on copyrighted material. I’m sure many of us have done this because quite frankly the excuse usually is that you don’t want to pay to have to see it or hear it. My brother did a cover of a Green Day song called Oh Love, off their more recent album ‘Uno’. He didn’t film himself playing the song only uploaded the recording onto YouTube and placed an image of the band’s album cover. Within a few hours the video was flagged because of copyright laws. He wasn’t allowed to use the image and claim the song was his, even though technically he did an acoustic version. Copyright laws such as this promote ownership of intellectual property in such a grey area.

Green_Day_-_Uno!_cover

The bottom line is we don’t really know what we want in terms of content. Sometimes we give in to the commercialized product because of better quality and ultimately are adhering to copyright laws, but other times we want to be free to use whatever we want whenever we want. There is a desire to take something and re-create it, or re-mix it because every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end (Closing Time- Semisonic). I guess that would be a breach of copyright if I didn’t give credit to the right people!

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Module 5 Minor Blog: Online consumption/Production – Prefering One Sided Communication

I’m sure I speak for many of us when I say that online consumption takes up a good chunk of our daily time. (Especially in the wee hours of the night!) The other day I visited YouTube to check out a movie trailer, fast forward an hour and I’m on my fifth fail blog compilation video. How does this happen!? Part of the appeal with social media sites, most notably YouTube, is the constant stream of information. The related videos section helps to maintain this free flow of content because there’s always something else to watch, something that always seems to grab our attention. With YouTube,  “the video sharing experience cues viewers in much the same way as the cinema of attractions. It confronts viewers with moments of novelty, curiosity, or sensationalism and invites them to stop and stare. ” (Rizzo). As the name YouTube suggests, there is a personal element involved in engaging in this kind of content. It is your ‘tube’, your interests, your selections. Another feature of this social media site that Rizzo goes on to explain is the capability to post your own content, which further emphasizes the idea of personalizing consumption. 

 Interestingly enough, I conducted research during my undergrad on this very subject. What I found out was that students, generally ages 18-22, don’t engage in posting videos or even commenting on YouTube. Of course it was a small sample, but I have to agree with these results. I use YouTube regularly, but rarely do I comment, and I’ve never even considered making my own video to post. I guess I don’t feel that two way communication is necessary in circumstances like this because I social media sites that involve sharing content can still be consumed without being a ‘consumer-producer’.  This observation directly correlates to Manovich’s examination of user-generated media. In regards to the 0.5-1% of users that contribute their own content, Manovich asks, “Does this imply that professionally produced content continues to dominate in terms of where people get their news and media? If by “content” we mean typical twentieth century mass media – news, TV shows, narrative films and videos, computer games, literature, and music – then the answer is often yes.” I concur with this inquiry in that I think the information generation, for the most part, relies on the ‘big’ media sources for its content basically because that is what we have have always known. 

In the grand scheme of things, this kind of technology and methods of interaction, are brand new to us. We really don’t know how to use these tools, and the potential they have. That being said, the generations that are raised with the internet, with an online identity before they even exist in the physical world, will live up to the consumer-producer title more so then my generation will. But for now, I stick to the  one way communication side of life. 

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Module 4 Major Blog – Smart Phones Dumb Users?

I concluded my last entry with a question: Do smart phones make us smarter? By reading my previous blog I would assume that my general animosity toward the trend of the smart phone is conveyed. In this case, it will be elaborated on.

Smart phones not only consume a certain degree of attention and focus, what we like to call multitasking, but they require a certain degree of communication as well. One screen that can do it all. Smart phones, are our best friends. When we are bored on the bus, commuting home, we sit on our phones to fill the time. When a friend excuses themselves from the table at the restaurant, we take out our phones so we don’t look like loners because we are still communicating with someone in some way. Smart phones, are the outlets that we crave in many social situations. It is not only that we have a way to contact people, but we have more ways in which we can be called upon. It doesn’t seem natural to not have a phone.

With this topic in particular I think of an episode of How I Met your Mother. The story narrative begins in 2007 and so offhandedly charts the development of technology. The group sits in their bar debating an actor’s first role or who invented the hamburger (trivial information such as this) and no one really knows for sure but it sparks conversation and even arguments. The scene then flashes forward to 2011 where the group is seated at their usual booth, silent. They are all facing down towards their smartphones, furiously typing. One character, without even raising his head, says, “Remember when we couldn’t figure out who that actor was, or where the hamburger came from…?” He then provides the answer, the rest of the group shrugs in agreement, in a ‘well that settles it’ kind of way and they debate no further. The smart phone has all the answers, the quick and easy answers because it is always there. Ergo, we have all the answers…right?how_i_met_your_mother_smartphones

There is this underlying force that compels to us to always be communicating and in some cases to look like we are always communicating. But for the most part, communication for mobile device users is a constant ebb and flow. Sometimes I leave my phone at home on principle, but I have an unnerving feeling of disconnect throughout the whole day. ‘What if someone is trying to get a hold of me!?’ As I’ve emphasized I don’t have all those applications on my phone, I don’t use it for Twitter or Instagram, but the fact is that these outlets are a staple in most users interactions with their mobile devices. It is a must! Why have a phone if you can’t connect to all other areas of your online social life it “allows for a type of ‘connected presence’ where peers are continually updated as to one another’s situation” (Campbell & Park, 2008). As sarajnewman posts, “Applications on smartphones have become very sophisticated and have made many daily activities much easier.”http://sarajnewman.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/compelled-to-use-mobile-communication.

Though sophisticated as the smart phone is, as I pointed out with the How I Met Your Mother example, I firmly believe that interpersonal communication suffers to some degree. I agree with To Travel to Shop to Eat in that, “This view of communication negatively affects communication as it weakens relationships between people when proper in person conversations cannot be sustained. These communication products may provide people with instant communication but that does not always translate into wholesome relationships.” http://totraveltoshoptoeat.wordpress.com/2013/01/05/hiding-behind-your-cellphonehaving-a-real-conversation/ Where is the spark in face to face interaction if every inquiry, squabble, musing and wondering can be extinguished like a candle in the wind? (Elton John reference intended). We know more, but we learn less.

With smart phones, we have the ability to personalize time and space. We have pretty much perfected the idea of being everywhere at once, straddling the physical and the virtual world(s).  But who really needs to stream a show, check emails and facetime your mother simultaneously? Sure, its nice that technology has this potential, but I don’t think it necessarily means its useful. As Zambonelli puts it, this truly is a superorganism. A living, breathing thing that is all consuming. It IS our everyday lives because hyper communication is becoming the only way in which change/action takes place. Something like the KONY 2012 campaign comes to mind.

It is true that there is this overwhelming need to communicate, to be connected. It’s not that it is a bad thing, but I feel like we as users don’t really know how to balance the compulsion with the authenticity of actual communication. In retrospect these methods of communication are still so new to us that we don’t even really know how to use them in a way just like Walker states, “Principle among them is that many of the ways in which the iPhone’s functionality connects to what people want to do, in other words what it actually does, its behaviour, remain as yet undiscovered by users.” For instance, I didn’t reply to a text, instead I tweeted my friend back a couple days later and for some reason this angered her and I couldn’t figure out why. What does it matter how I respond? It is assumed that because we always have our phones, our interactions will be instantaneous. For this reason I agree with Christansblog91 in that, ” My relationship with these mobile devices feels very two sided. On one side I love the ability to be in contact with anyone. You can communicate any form of information or media with anyone on the fly. But on the other, being available for constant contact does feel to be a chore at times.” http://christiansblog91.wordpress.com/. For some reason, I don’t want to be too attached to my smart phone, because in truth, I don’t want to be so available to others.

I do go back and forth about this topic because I can’t sit here on some high horse and claim that I don’t need or want a phone, because just like everyone else, I would be at a loss without it. But I’ve attempted to emphasize the fact that ‘smartphones’ do not always add to communication in the ways we like to think. And moreso, they do not make the self any better either. It is just an issue of transitioning into the way communication has changed without loosing the essence of communication itself.

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