Intrigue in the Big League

A uni student's intrigue in marketing and media


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Reflecting and Inspecting

So, what topics have I covered throughout my blogging assignment that have been of most interest to me?

1. Transforming Traditional Journalism – A New Model

I was actually quite excited to tackle this topic. Since I am studying a double degree that includes journalism, looking into how traditional journalism is transforming in the age of citizen journalism sounded very interesting to me. The question was what angle I should adopt? I decided to give hope to traditional journalists in my post, encouraging them to accept that citizen journalism would become a huge part of their roles as journalists, and to use it to their advantage in some way. I got quite a few of my ideas for my post from my tutorial, and this was one of the easier posts for me to write because I already had some knowledge on the topic.

2.  A Halo Transmedia Experience

This topic confused me a lot at first. I struggled to understand the difference between multimedia and transmedia, so when I finally understood the concept myself, I decided to include the definition in my post to avoid confusion for readers. Although this post took a lot of effort and research to write and publish, I am very happy with how it turned out. When I was researching this topic, I decided to try and link it to a technology/media platform that I am researching for my final assessment (Xbox). I found Halo on an Xbox forum referenced as transmedia, and after much research I compiled this post and it helped me to understand how and why a company/organisation might use transmedia.

3. I knew you were trouble – Remixing and Reproduction

When I started thinking about writing my post on this topic, I knew I could take it in several different directions. Remixing applies to so much more than reproducing music now, that I had quite a few ideas of what I should use as an example. I settled on the Taylor Swift parody because I thought it would appeal most to readers because it was current, and because it was short and got my message across. The main struggle I had with the post was trying to keep it short and informative, because there was so much information I could write about it. I ended up talking about parodies, culture jamming and sharing/piracy issues online. I think the only issue with the post is that I might have tried to include too much content.

Overall, I have really learned and benefited from blogging.


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Trolling: Anonymity and Freedom online

Will trolls be the fall of participatory culture online? While participation should be and often is encouraged in the online community, some participatory content is insulting and hateful.

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Trolling has already had an effect on the participatory nature of the online community. Knowing that trolling is an issue, many sites have moderators, who monitor comments and content before they are allowed onto the website. A lot of other sites however are using a different and cheaper system which allows the comment to be uploaded and is only removed if it is “reported” by other uses or certain words in the comment are flagged within technology filter moderation tools. Sites such as Facebook and Youtube use this method.

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding trolling. People have committed suicide in direct relation to trolling and abuse over social networks. After much debate about whether trolls should be named and blamed, there have been cases where trolls have been identified and even jailed.

Although people are now aware that trolls can be prosecuted, there still seems to be a vast amount of people who continue to troll online, some even stating that the jail time is nothing and they have the right to freedom of speech.

While it is possible to identify some trolls, a lot of people that are trolling feel safe because they are anonymous online.

So the question is: is there too much freedom online and should anonymity online stay an option?

The issue here is that freedom online allows discussions to broaden and different views and opinions to be expressed. Taking this away would be like taking a step back rather than moving forward. Participatory culture relies on the freedom that the online community provides and it has started some amazing revolutions such as ‘The Occupy Movement‘.

Stafford (2012) feels debate is an important part of online community. He fears that insulting comments might eventually shut down the online debate, therefore preventing the expansion of information and awareness of the issues.

Anonymity on the other hand involves privacy. A lot of people don’t wish to have their details available to others online. While forcing everyone online to provide their details would address the trolling issue, there is a high probability that it will result in other issue. These might include; identity theft, fraud and forms of stalking.

Due to the issues that might come with the solution to stopping trolls, if people wish to keep the current participatory culture they have online, trolling will be inevitable until a better solution is found.


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Youth and Participatory Politics

The digital age has brought about more political participation for youth. With such a large number of young people using social networks online, a new approach to raising awareness of issues has been found. ‘Sharing’ over social networks is a way for youth to engage and become involved in certain political movements, this is “participatory politics”.

In the following clip, Henry Jenkins explains how participatory politics has become a way for youth to involve themselves in issues they feel strongly about.

There are many pages online that are looking for awareness across social platforms. There are pages on Facebook that are created purely to attract attention from youth and find awareness through the ‘sharing, liking and commenting’ that is the participatory nature of youth today.

Youth are also creating their own pages for people to get involved with across social networks. These pages range from raising awareness and donations for diseases like cancer to making a stand against a government choice like preventing a new car park to be built on a nature park. This just shows how much easier it is now for youth to show their support for a cause they feel strongly about or even start a protest themselves.

Think about the KONY 2012 campaign. It was a cause that used Facebook to find millions of people, a huge amount of them youth, that came together to show their support for the children under Kony’s rule. Since then, organisations have been trying to replicate the response the KONY 2012 campaign received from the social networking world.

There have been many attempts to expand awareness over more platforms. In 2012, to try and raise awareness for Cancer and in relation to World Cancer Day, Microsoft teamed up with SU2C. Microsoft made content space over several popular Xbox LIVE games for SU2C’s music video. The video was available on Xbox LIVE for a month.

These examples show participatory politics is becoming increasingly powerful. It’s as accessible to a 19 year old uni student as it is to big companies like the Cancer Council and Microsoft, which means that youth are able to raise awareness and follow a cause they feel strongly about with being controlled by some large company. Becoming involved with politics is now a lot easier for youth because of the online community and participatory politics.


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I knew you were trouble – Remixing and Reproduction

In the dictionary, the definition of remixing is to: Produce a different version of (a musical recording) by altering the balance of the separate tracks. However, these days remixing is much more than the reproduction of music.

Remixing occurs when the audience uses content in a way that they’re ‘not supposed to’ or isn’t expected of them. This change in the content can cause a different meaning to be exposed, so the content will be received and understood differently. According to Breitz, (cited in Lessig, 2008) once content is released, it is unpredictable how it might get absorbed into the lives and very being of the audience.

Remixing involves the audience interacting with content. One of the first examples of this was when people started to scratch records. Scratch was a new way for people to understand a music record and created a completely new music genre.

These days, while scratch is still among us, it is not alone in the world of reproduction. The audience is no longer an inactive party, they are producing new content based on another piece of content. Parodies are a form of remixing. The following clip has over 3 million views, and shows how the creative reproduction of content can completely change the intended message of the original text.

Bruns (2010) states that when an artist or author produces content, it is not the end of production. Users reproduce this content (he calls them produsers), and the development of content is continuous, always unfinished.

Culture jamming is a form of remixing. Culture jamming in the simplest terms is when a text is altered to give it a new meaning. A common form of culture jamming is the altering of advertisements and logos to change the proposed message of the original text. The following image alters the Pepsi logo and sends a new message about the effects Pepsi has on health. pepsi_jam To assist with remixing, there has been an explosion of file-sharing and downloading. The internet allows great distribution of copyrighted material and it is very hard for authorities to monitor. There has been a lot of controversy over piracy when it comes to downloading copyrighted material. However, Bruns questions ‘piracy’ when it comes to downloading copyrighted materials such as music and movies. Industries claim that ‘piracy’ reduces profits, but there appears to be little evidence to link file-sharing and revenue decline. (2010)

Remixing is growing, with such easy access to content online it isn’t a hard task to reproduce an original text.

The audience are no longer absorbers, and should be recognised to have the potential to reflect culture creatively. (Breitz, 2008)


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A Halo Transmedia Experience

Transmedia… what a clever way to engage an audience and make more money with one idea.

To understand transmedia, you first have to differentiate between transmedia and multimedia.

Multimedia is one story told over different platforms.

  • If a book is published, and it becomes popular, a movie might be made to illustrate the events of that book. Then, a video or computer game might be created for players to live through the events of the story as one of the characters. This is the same story told over several channels, and this is multimedia.

Transmedia is many stories told over different platforms.

  • If a book, movie, video game, and website are all created in relation to one story, but tell different parts of and add to that story, this means the stories are different on each channel, and this is transmedia.

Halo's four key beliefsThere are many good examples of transmedia; The Matrix, the Lost series, Star Wars etc. However, an example that is not often acknowledged as transmedia, is Halo. Halo is a multi-billion dollar science fiction video game franchise created by Bungie and now managed by 343 Industries and owned by Microsoft Studios.

When 343 Industries overtook the Halo franchise from Bungie in 2012, they had a plan for the Halo franchise.

“When we started 343 and this journey of where we wanted Halo to go, it was a 10-year plan in which Halo 4 was the first step,” [executive producer Kiki Wolfkill said.] “We didn’t have a relationship with the audience; they had a relationship with the IP.” >> read more at gamesindustry

Halo franchise director Frank O’Connor said that the ultimate way Halo has always been communicated has been through transmedia.

“You can communicate a lot of things through transmedia experiences. It’s not just a commerce opportunity, but the most important aspect is the storytelling vehicles,” he said, pointing out that the novels have always been huge for Halo, even before the first Halo with The Fall of Reach. “It helped plant a seed for using transmedia and how we communicate more about our universe,” he said. >> read more at gamesindustry

The Halo transmedia project provides many different branches of entertainment that give a global picture of the Halo universe. In 2012 alone, Halo’s transmedia contributions were substantial. There was the Forerunners trilogy, the Kilo-Five trilogy, the Forward Unto Dawn live action series, the Halo 4 game itself and the Spartan Ops series and game missions. This is happening across 4 platforms: novels, online streaming video, Xbox and Xbox Live video.

The Halo transmedia franchise is ongoing, and Frank O’Connor has stated that the Spartan Ops mode will “bridge the gap” between the events of Halo 4 and the future release of its sequel, Halo 5. It is this kind of transmedia that keeps an audience interested and stimulates a continuous conversation.


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Transforming Traditional Journalism – A New Model

When photography was developed in the 19th century, there was speculation that artists would go out of business and photography would replace painting and drawing. Artists that specialised in portraits and landscapes were especially worried about what would happen to their role with the age of the camera. However, art has prospered. While you don’t often find people willing to pay artists for a painted portrait, art has developed and evolved into much more than just capturing an image.

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This is a piece created by Ben Heine. He combines photographs and pencil sketches to form amazing art. Heine’s work shows just how far art has come and how photography has actually complemented art and encouraged it to become something more.

The case of photography vs art gives traditional journalists hope. Hope that the invention of citizen journalism will not replace their roles. There is a chance that traditional journalism could evolve and transform to join citizen journalists.

The model for traditional journalism is currently:

  • We package the news for you in a bundle
  • You buy it from us because you trust us
  • We sell advertising space

Every element of this model is in crisis, it is falling apart because the internet is now the most efficient medium to meet the speed and supply demands of the audience.

Dr Axel Bruns explains why the current model is failing:

“Customers purchase the product and are… providing (if at all) only general and individual feedback on product quality or possible improvements, and must purchase an entirely new product when the next version or edition of the product is released by the producer and made available through the distributor.”

Ultimately, the audience wishes to produce as well as use. Bruns calls this ‘produsage’. The best way for traditional journalists to survive is to conform to a new model that collaborates with citizen journalists.

Storyful is a new platform created specifically for professional journalists to report news that is gathered from social media and verified to be reported in real-time.

It is new platforms like Storyful that are building the future of journalism.


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Gatekeeping vs Gatewatching in the Media

A monologue is a piece of text in which one person speaks or conveys their opinion.

A dialogue is a conversation in which one person speaks and another answers (a discussion).

Before the internet and social media, all journalism and media was monologic. Monologic media is a one way communication where the audience listens while they are told something, the audience are consumers. The internet and social media are both forms of dialogic media that allows the audience to participate in the conversation. Now they are no longer the audience or consumers, they are prosumers.

Before the internet, there were gatekeepers that filtered everything released in the media. Gatekeeping is used in traditional journalism. Journalists are required to have their content approved by their editors. Editors act as gatekeepers, they decide what is newsworthy and what is the truth.

Now, with content being released on the iternet, gatekeeping is virtually non-existent and gatewatching has emerged. Citizen journalists use gatewatching. If a citizen journalist is observing a certain platform of social media (eg. twitter), and a lot of people are all saying the same thing, there has to be a certain amount of truth to it. Gatewatchers gather information from sources on social media and decide the truth for themselves based on their own opinion.

More and more news is being covered more quickly on social media platforms by citizen journalists than it is in traditional journalism.

This crash of a US airways plane on the Hudson River in January 2009 was first reported by this man before any traditional journalists even knew about the event.

It just goes to show how quickly social media is becoming an integral source of information for the public and is encouraging consumers to evolve into prosumers by commenting, sharing, posting, liking and purely interacting on social networks.


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Freedom on Platforms – Independent Game Developers

When it comes to freedom for independent game developers on media platforms, PC is the way to go.

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In his book The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It, Jonathan Zittrain, a Harvard Law School professor, describes the PC as a generative platform that has promoted innovation and contribution from individuals.

However the fact that the PC is such a generative and open platform unfortunately makes it extremely vulnerable to piracy.

Because of this, many independent developers have taken their work somewhere more secure: such as the XBOX! The Xbox 360 has become a major figure in the electronic entertainment area. Since its launch, 76 million Xbox 360s have been sold and 46 million people have subscribed to Xbox LIVE. Independent developers gain access to the users when they move on to the Xbox 360 platform. Developers can rely on users seeing their game and don’t have to worry about advertising.

Xbox 360 is both an open and closed platform when it comes to allowing independent game developers to upload games on Xbox LIVE for consumers to purchase and download. They are allowed the freedom to upload any independent game they want onto the Xbox LIVE Indie games store. They are not allowed to upload to the Xbox LIVE Arcade, that is only for the major publishers.

If an independent developer wishes to put their game onto Xbox LIVE Indie games, they need only a minimum standard of quality for consumers to gain approval from Microsoft. To put their game onto Xbox LIVE Arcade, they must first be accepted into a separate program that does not include any games they have created previously. A game has to go through multiple approval processes before Microsoft decides whether it wants to put the game onto Arcade.

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Are locked or generative platforms better at empowering users?

While locked platforms are in many cases the safer option, they can prevent users from sharing what they have created. A generative platform can be a risk when it comes to piracy, yet it can give users the freedom to share their creations and perhaps provide a new source of entertainment or cause for conversation to other users. So yes a generative platform is better at empowering users, but is it a good thing? Will lack of control lead to panic and confusion?

Microsoft does have control and ownership over aspects of the Xbox 360 and Xbox LIVE. However it is trying to give freedom to users with access to certain parts of the platform. What Microsoft is doing is giving people two platforms. One (closed) that gives users access to games by major publishers that are sure to be safe, reliable and good quality. And another (open) that gives users access to games by independent developers that will be unique and probably cheaper.

It’s a compromise, trying to make both sides happy, and maybe that’s the best solution for media right now.

Digest Comment – Independent Game Developers on the Xbox 360 and iPhone: How Lawyers Can Save Them, Andrew Segna


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Opening the Door to Copyright Law

Copyright laws have been around since the eighteenth century, but as the digital world evolves the enforcement of copyright is becoming excessive and is preventing many creative reconstructions and interpretations of copyrighted material.

There is only one saviour if you want to create something of your own while still using someone else’s ‘intellectual property‘, and that is the doctrine of fair use (as codified in the United States Copyright Act 1976, section 107)

Anthony Falzone (retired executive director of the Fair Use Project) describes fair use:

“If you think about copyright as a series of restrictions, fair use is a set of exceptions.  It protects your right to use copyrighted material in certain ways… we preserve a whole variety of uses and things that people get to do with copyrighted content without permission.  And fair use is really, above all else, a set of factors and considerations that help us figure out which things we carve out of the copyright monopoly, and which things we let people do without permission.”

Youtube itself has many examples of fair use, although it has many examples of copyright infringement as well. It’s hard to draw the line, especially on Youtube. This is explained in great detail in The Complete Guide to Fair Use & Youtube.

The following clip shows a song called “4 chords” by The Axis of Awesome.

This song contains around 40 excerpts of copyrighted music by other artists. That would mean that the band either requested copyright permissions for every single excerpt, or their creative representation of those songs is part of fair use… fair use probably won that battle.

They have taken the same 4 chords and the same familiar lines from countless songs but used them with an original idea. Originality is a strong argument when claiming fair use.

While copyrighted music is a big issue on Youtube, gaming videos can also be a breach of copyright.

The difference here is that most gaming videos actually increase sales of that game or console. There are gaming videos posted that add comedy aspects to the game, and at the same time make it look social and fun. This is why gaming videos on Youtube might be seen as a bit of a grey area and although copyright might be breached, the owners will not make a claim.

Here is one example (I apologise for the message at the start, if you are offended by rude language, skip to 8 seconds before you start watching. If you don’t mind a bit of crude immaturity, feel free to watch his other posts on his channel KYR SP33DY).

KYR SP33DY ‘s channel has 1 million subscribers. His channel is one of the most popular for people who like Xbox Live as well as Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto and some other games.

Xbox Live Terms of Use states:

“We do not claim ownership of the content you provide on the Services. Your content remains your content. We do not control, verify, or endorse the content that you and others make available on the Services”

However the Activision (owner of Call of Duty) Software Licence Agreement states:

“You shall not:

Reverse engineer, derive source code, modify, decompile, disassemble, or create derivative works of this Program, in whole or in part

So Xbox Live claims the content you create (such as name, gamertag, motto, avatar, or other information) strictly on Xbox Live, to play online, is your own.

However when recording games of Call of Duty, Activision would be the one to make copyright claims on that content posted on Youtube. Currently though, while it’s making them money, it’s doubtful they will make any claims. This is why gaming videos on Youtube are not yet really known to be part of the doctrine of fair use or not.

Without fair use we would not be able to experience the creativity inspired by copyrighted works, and we would not be able to communicate, discuss and enjoy the way people interpret copyrighted works.


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We Interact, We Converge

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“Convergence involves both a change in the way media is produced and a change in the way media is consumed.”“Worship at the altar of Convergence” by Henry Jenkins

Henry Jenkins tries to help us to understand media change and convergence.

To me his major point is that the technological side and the social side of media convergence cannot work without each other. Obviously, there’s more than just entertainment content flowing across media platforms. “Our lives, relationships, memories, fantasies, desires also flow across media channels” (as stated by Jenkins, p17). So, without devices to interact socially through media platforms, and without the platforms alike, we as consumers would be lost. However if there was no social interactions across these platforms, media would not progress and media convergence would not be where it is today… or tomorrow… or the next day… because it is evolving at such a crazy speed.

In other words: Media convergence is not just a technological process bringing media functions together within the same devices. Convergence does not occur through media appliances, however advanced they are. Convergence occurs within the brains of the consumers and their social interactions. It is a cultural shift as consumers seek out new information and make connections among many media platforms and content.

Jenkins also introduces us to Pierre Lévy, a French cybertheorist. Lévy discusses collective intelligence and how it is essential to media convergence. When I think of collective intelligence I like to think of a trivia night. You’re split up into teams, then asked a bunch of general knowledge questions that you have to try and answer. The magic with this is that for each question there is usually at least one person who knows the answer, or one person will hold one part of the answer and one person the other. Many minds come together to discuss a topic. When it comes to collective intelligence and media convergence, the discussion topic is the media. Another way that a trivia night is related to the media? Well now there’s the fact that you can actually use your iPhone/Android to cheat! Yes your phone! It’s one of the most obvious examples of media convergence. Google is right there in your hands, along with many more platforms.

Together I think Jenkins and Lévy enforce the point that if you didn’t have the consumers interacting socially over platforms, you wouldn’t have media convergence.