Posted by: lachlanphillips | June 6, 2011

To Include a CC or Not to include a CC?

The Creative Commons license is a license available for free to people to allow them to publish materials on the internet and enable them to protect their work.

I have not included this CC license for various reasons, the main reason being that the material presented to you on this blog has been quoted from other peoples work and therefore I would not feel I have lost anything by people copying what I have chosen to write, as it is not all my original thought.

I could however understand those people who would wish to place CC license on their material because they have essentially, put time and effort into being creative and producing something that they do not want replicated.

So, I guess it comes down to a few factors…

1. Whether you care about what you have created and don’t wish for others to use your hard work for their gain or purposes

2. Whether what you have created, has the desired result of leading to some sort of reward,  such as fame or fortune

In all of these cases, I can safely say that I’m not phased if people appropriate what I have written in this blog, as long as it aids them, as I would assume they would be university students and university students have to look out for each other. Secondly, while I am pleased about the effort I have put into this blog, I am not looking for fame or fortune and if I was, I would be hoping my fame would not come about through a medium such as this, a university blog.



B) Medosch argues that: “piracy, despite being an entirely commercially motivated activity carried out in black or grey markets, fulfills culturally important functions” (Reader, page 318)

Discuss ONE of these arguments while giving an example online.

In the article by Armin Medosch, Medosch puts forward the argument that there are valid reasons as to why piracy in the world is occurring, and particularly in the third world nations. However, piracy is for a large proportion of the time an activity used to benefit people and crime organisations financially, rather than allowing them to experience cultural videos. The significance of this is that, whilst there are reasons to accept piracy, in the long run as Hardin argues, the commons would eventually be ruined because pirates act as “rational, utilitarian profit-maximisers” and the self-interest “is of higher concern than the common cause”(Hardin, 1968).

Medosh has come from a time when the remixing of culture was a new concept and now has come to debate the popularity of such things as the Creative Commons license as well as the validity of piracy, piracy of videos and music. Madosch argues that piracy has some very important functions within certain societies, and China is such an example. The piracy market in China is considered to be used by many, as a way of creating an income, but for some it’s about being able to obtain a video or piece of music where there are no other means in which they can attain such a good. China is not the only example of this, in Bhurma, where there are heavy restrictions on American paraphernalia penetrating their culture, people are able to make use of pirated goods to view programs that they are unable to get because of the government restrictions. These are two prime examples of how the act of piracy through the distribution of goods has enabled people in these conservative countries the ability to experience these programs, music and movies.

From a remixing of culture point of view, Japanese television series are popularly distributed through China and Korea with subtitles having been placed on the video to allow a wider audience the opportunity to view and appreciate the video, whereas without this appropriation they would not have had the opportunity to do so. This is not always the case that the Japanese do not wish for their program to be watched in countries overseas, there are many factors as to why these programs never make it into international markets. Such reasons as it is not seen as financially beneficial to distributing companies to export the good with subtitles or voice overs, or the lack of awareness of the demand for the good can lead to the program never reaching overseas audiences. Where these distributing companies fall short, internet users are able to stream and share the program whilst adding subtitles and the like for international viewers, and whilst this is by definition piracy, it is the shortcomings of the distributing company that has lead to this event.

The idea of the Creative Commons license as argued was to allow for more freedom on the internet, however the idea of freedom has been misconstrued by many with the notion of ‘free’ as Richard Stallman says “free as in freedom, not free as in free beer” (2008, 82). So whilst piracy advocates this notion of freedom in countries where many goods aren’t available, many people assume this ability to appropriate goods is because they are free, which is not the case. So where there are people who use these goods as an opportunity to create fiscal gains, there are those who would use these goods for other cultural means.


  1. Hardin, G (1968) ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’, referenced in Medosch, A (2008).

  2. Medosch, A. (2008) ‘Paid in Full: Copyright, Piracy and the Real Currency of Cultural Production’ in Deptforth. TV Diaries II: Pirate Strategies, London: Deptforth TV, 2008, pp.73-79

Posted by: lachlanphillips | June 5, 2011

YouTube + Web 2.0 = DIY Celebrities

Week 9:

A) 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.

Burgess and Green argue that those who have talent and are able to digitally distribute themselves through such mediums as YouTube are able to reach legitimate success and media fame, however their media success is still dictated by the mainstream elite media. The marker for success is not considered to be their online popularity or ‘YouTube sensation’ status, but their ability to move from online media to “pass through the gate-keeping mechanisms of old media (2009: 24).

Jorge Narvaez & Daughter Alexa are considered to be Youtube sensations with over 11 millions hit for their video, which is of the duo singing ‘home’ by the Magnetic Zero’s. However, as Burgess and Green stated, their fame was not recognised until they appeared on and sang ‘home’ on the Ellen DeGeneres show. In which case they instantly became recognised and appeared in ‘360 Austin,’ a Texan newspaper, CBS news, San Diego News, as well as being featured on both Ryan Seacrest and Perez Hilton’s websites. Therefore, even though their video’s had been viewed over a mammoth 11 million times, they were not talked about in digital media or old media until they appeared on the Ellen show, confirming that your ability to become famous and recognisable is dictated by old media.

This power that media institutions hold is being disguised by the ‘rags-to riches stories and Reality TV’ which is allowing for the “blurring distinction” that is occurring between ordinary people and celebrities(2009,22). YouTube itself is facilitating this event as it is enabling people the opportunity to ‘broadcast’ themselves into fame and fortune whether it be through regular, popular videos being uploaded or the online video contests that YouTube hold. However, these ‘YouTube sensations’ are dictated by the mass media to provide updates of their work in order to remain popular. As for Jorge and his Daughter Alexa, they recently appeared on ‘The Feed’ on the CBS News website which regularly gives updates on celebrity news, and in one article they proclaimed “they’re back! And you’re going to love the cover they do in the above video of 4 Non Blondes’ “What’s Going On”

YouTube’s ability to ‘broadcast’ people has lead to ordinary people breaching the chasm to reach celebrity status, but what is interesting is that this facilitating mechanism in YouTube, is not the institution that decides on celebrity status. That power still remains in the elite media institutions such as Television, Newspaper and Radio and this media still dictates these self made, DIY celebrities in their ability to continue celebrity status.


  1. Jean Burgess and Joshua Green, ‘YouTube and The Mainstream Media’, in YouTube: Online and Participatory Culture, Cambridge: Polity Press, 2009, pp. 15-37.

  2. William Goodwin, CBS News, The Feed: Adorable Update: Jorge and Alexa Narvaez perform 4 Non Blondes’ “What’s Going On,”, 2011.

Posted by: lachlanphillips | June 5, 2011

Why WordPress is so easy….and limiting.

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.

WordPress as a piece of software enables users to create and publish their own written work online. The user only thinks they interact with the WordPress database through what they see on the interface, however, the user does not see the server, software or browser which together allow for a ‘fluid experience.’ What this means for user agency is that, whilst the user believes that they have control over their ability to create blogs and blogging material, they do not have full control because they only have direct influence through the interface, without this interface, the user would be overwhelmed by the intricacy of the database and quite possibly could not accomplish the same things they can through the interface.

The browser allows blog software to be accessed and envelopes the database and conceals it from the user. The browser enables the user to view and access blogs in a simple, viewable manner, otherwise the blog would be viewed through such things as html documents. This method of concealing the database restricts the level of control the user has, therefore the blogging experience through the browser restricts user agency.

The blogging software enables the seamless blogging experience without interacting with the database. The coding phase is substituted by the action of your publishings being sent “to the database using the HTTP POST command” (2007,46). Therefore, instead of coding any html, you are able to just post your blogging facilitated by the interface. Whilst this does create a seamless experience for the user, it proves the rigidity of blogging and the extent to which user agency is actually restricted by the software.

The issue is that the database is masked from the user and therefore, you are unaware to its presence and therefore are not able to perform some tasks because WordPress operates by its own rules. For example, all posts are presented in a chronological order after being posted onto your blog, this method is to some, obviously a reasonable operating method but in any case it defeats the concept of user agency in taking away that option from the blogger.

WordPress is set up in a manner to allow users a sense of freedom because it is configured in a simple to use manner, but in retrospect, because of the rules and guidelines under which the software operates, it denies the user complete control over the blog. Whilst the user operates the software through the interface they are unaware to the database and its workings, so whilst Web 2.0 was aimed at creating a user friendly system that allowed for interactivity, WordPress denies the user full control over the blog and therefore denies user agency.


1. Anne Helmond, ‘Software-Engine Relations’, in Blogging for Engines: Blogs Under the Influence of Software-Engine Relations, MA Thesis, Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam, 2007, pp. 44-80.

Week 4:

Russell (et al.) compares elite media and institutions with bloggers and ponders the following question: “Do bloggers, with their editorial independence, collaborative structure and merit-based popularity more effectively inform the public?” (Reader, page 136). Do you agree? Use examples to illustrate your point of view.

With the continued embrace of the concept of the produser, Russell et al discuss’ the nature of the blogger and its merits and downfalls against that of the elite media and whether or not a blogger with editorial independence is able to inform the public in a more effective manner than that of the elite media.

Since the continued development of web 2.0, people have been able to engage wide audiences through the use of blogging. Bloggers are able to write independently of editors or influential pressures, conversely, news corporation are well regarded as writing with their own agendas in mind, “the news industry focuses on the viability of its business model” (2008, 67). However, this is not to say that those who are blogging are not being influenced in any way, it just means that bloggers have the ability to choose what they publish free of outside pressures. Bloggers do have the freedom to post the truth, without being censored, unlike the newspapers who’s articles are regulated.

Unfortunately however, the bloggers with merit-based popularity are not necessarily able to effectively inform the public because it is well regarded that they are not backed by large financial institutions and therefore can not replicate the same kind of journalism that the newspapers can. Conversely Benkler suggests that because of the “variation of knowledge, time, availability, insight, and experience”, journalism is becoming a peer-to-peer activity, suggesting that those with merit based popularity are able to effectively inform the public (2008, 66).

I believe that there is a chance for bloggers with merit-based popularity who can inform the public, however, there are two key points that I wish to make that suggest why I believe it has not yet occurred.

  • Firstly, in Andrew Keen’s ‘The Great Seduction,’ he considers that due to the democratisation of media created through the produser theory, “what was governing the infinite monkeys now inputting away on the Internet was the law of digital Darwinism, the survival of the loudest and most opinionated. Under these rules, the only way to intellectually prevail is by infinite filibustering.” Thus, the democratisation of the internet and web 2.0 has allowed everyone a voice and the ‘loudest’ ones are those most likely to be heard, not the most well informed or most intelligent. Therefore, whilst there is a chance that there is an intelligent blogger, the fact is that he has to contend with all the other voices on the internet and the chances of his voice being heard and becoming popular because of his merit are slim.

  • Secondly, for a person to become popular enough for most people to read his work, I believe they have to be acknowledged by the elite old media institutions such as the newspapers, television or radio for them to truly gain popularity. As discussed in week 9, the means by which people are judged to be popular are when they move from the new media such as YouTube or Bloggers into being recognised by the elite media institutions, otherwise they will never reach the height of popularity needed to become popular enough on the web to properly inform the public.

Therefore, whilst it is possible for bloggers to effectively inform the public, because of the sheer noise bloggers contend with and the issue of becoming popular is unfortunately reserved for those who are accepted by the old elite media institutions, I believe there is the issue of themselves first becoming popular based on their merit on the internet. Therefore, for the time being, whilst it is possible for a blogger with merit based popularity to inform the public, it has not occurred and elite media institutions will continue to be the medium in which people are informed.


  1. Adrienne Russell, Mizuko Ito, Todd Richmond and Marc Tuters, ‘Culture: Media and Convergence and Networked Culture’, in Kazys Varnelis (ed.) Networked Publics, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008, pp. 43-76.

  2. Andrew Keen, ‘The cult of the amateur: how today’s internet is killing our culture and assaulting our economy,’ The Great Seduction, London, 2007, pp 11-34.

Posted by: lachlanphillips | April 6, 2011

YouTube and the myth about choice

Week 3:

While discussing YouTube, José van Dijck argues that the site’s interface influences the popularity of videos through ranking tactics that promote popular favourites (Reader, page 94). How do ranking tactics impact on the formation online ‘communities’?


YouTube began as an online sharing web-site that was originally set up to allow users to share online videos, and has since been purchased by Google for a sum of 1.5 billion dollars in 2006. Since the purchasing of this website, YouTube has put in many measures to make the website become profitable, for instance, they have a whole index page dedicated to ‘broadcasting’ or advertising your brand on YouTube, for a fee. Jose van Dijk argues that Youtube’s interface influences the consumers viewing choice, due to the way the interface ranks popular videos. YouTube relies upon user agency to enable the success of the site as a UCG platform. User agency being the “rhetoric of production rather than consumption” from the user (2009:42). However, the degree to which user agency is involved is debatable as the website uses ranking tactics to influence what people view. Van Dijk also argues that passive spectatorship with old media has not been changed with new media, instead, viewer participation has always been in existence.


The issue of whether YouTube was a true UCG platform arose when the online website initially became popular, it facilitated the location for the creation of many communities in which people were able to interact, but since being purchased by Google, the way in which communities are formed is being manipulated by the interface. The formation of a community is made possible when people with like-minded tastes, hobbies etc. are able to come together to discuss that which they have in common. There are ‘taste communities’ which relates to a group of people who enjoy the same movie, music, literature. There is also ‘brand communities’ which revolves around brands of goods that people purchase. What van Dijk is arguing through this article is that, through YouTube’s coded mechanisms that monitor and measure downloads and metadata, they are able to ‘steer’ the consumers towards particular videos, prompting them to view these popular videos instead of allowing the users to choose what they wish unguided by the interface.


Therefore, the participation of these communities does not further cement the idea of the user/producer hybrid that the UCG platform was based upon, instead, it gives evidence that there is still a definitive gap between the user and the agent. This metadata collected about you is now being used on all UCG platforms including Facebook. There are tailored advertising being used to try to sell you goods and services on Facebook, this is exactly the same as YouTube’s attempt to guide your viewing decisions. The communities being created through the ranking tactics are not by definition being created through user agency unless you are willing to accept the scope of user agency which must include ‘creators’, ‘spectators’ and ‘inactives’ as user agency.


This new media in YouTube does involve a large amount of user agency to operate, otherwise the website would not have become as popular as it has. What must also be noted is that viewer involvement has always been around whether it be through television game shows, fan websites. These communities being formed from old media are still being created online, however, van Dijk argues that the level of user agency creating these communities is being misconstrued as YouTube users algorithms to rank video’s and suggest them to viewers. However, user agency has made this website a UCG platform that does allow for the formation of online communities even if there is influence from the interface.




Van Dijck, J. (2009), ‘Users Like You? Theorizing Agency in User-Generated Content’, Media, Culture and Society 31. pp.41-58.

Posted by: lachlanphillips | April 6, 2011

Mark Zuckerberg Image

Graphic image of Mark Zuckerberg

Some rights reserved by kk+

Posted by: lachlanphillips | March 16, 2011

WEB 2.0

Q. What features can you identify in WordPress that define it as a Web 2.0 application?

–> Web 2.0 is the second phase of the web which allows more interaction from its users. Through the use of WordPress, you are able to perform such things as social networking, through the creation of an account and creating posts, as well as readers being able to view and comment.

Q.How Does it manage to be a sustainable model while also empowering “producers” referring to the ‘Harnessing the Hive’ concept?

WEB 2.0 manages to be a sustainable model because of the dynamic nature it supports, this allows the empowerment of “produsers.” A produser is someone who is not only a producer of some form of web development but also the distributor and consumer. Because of this hybrid nature between the producer / user concept, it allows WEB 2.0 to stay true to its form,  its continual development of material on the web. Within the ‘Harnessing of the Hive’ concept which is the commercial/non-commercial  use of ‘produsage artefacts’ whilst conforming to applicable licences, that allows to maintain its sustainability as a dynamic system.


Lachlan Phillips + Louise Choi

Posted by: lachlanphillips | March 16, 2011

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