Friday, May 2, 2008

Citizen Journalism - Comment

This blog comment was of great value to me as it incorporated research across a number of fields. Unlike topics such as produsage where research is very limited and restricted to field experts, citizen journalism incorporates philosophies from across the communication, public relations, new media and web 2.0 domains. As the information relevant to this issue is so diverse, to gauge an accurate insight into what citizen journalism is, what it provides both positively and negatively and how it exists within the wider online content production environment, each of these disciplines must be considered individually and interdependently.

I tried to incorporate this into my blog and achieved it appropriately through making initial comment on the issues surrounding communication, quoting communication experts, Wayne Murphy, Stephen Harrington and John Hartley. I then developed this towards citizen journalism by addressing the impact the web 2.0 has had on communication and then moved away from general communication and towards citizen journalism. From this i was then able to focus on providing a definition, positives and negatives and possible trends in the future.

One downside to the way in which i targeted citizen journalism was my breadth of attack. As i addressed this issue from such a broad perspective, i faced a huge pool of information. As a result, i often found myself reigning in my blog, trying to avoid following every possible tangent that presented itself. I feel that overall i produced a fairly well balanced and concise overview of what Citizen Journalism is and how it has evolved. However, as i became carried away on quite a number of occasions i would question whether or not, i sacrificed the point of the blog.

I was trying to portray how communication had reached such a stage that the public were simply passive consumers of content and not since the golden age of politics had viewers been interested in the content they were receiving. However with the birth of the web 2.0 and citizen journalism, communication was returning to an active state and the public domain is no longer just the media.

Although this provided a good platform for discussion on wider issues and wider reading, when going over my blog, i noticed that i missed a number of possible links and relationships that existed within a narrower field. On closer inspection i did not focus heavily enough on how citizen journalism related to wider KCB201 course content, terms or trends. In retrospect, i could have improved my blog by relating Citizen Journalism more directly to Open Source Content Production, to produsage and most definitely to creative content production, but did not achieve this in the blog comment i posted online.

This may have harmed my blog comment on a small scale, but reading it through, unless you highlight this fact, the blog still provides quality information on a wide range of issues both surrounding and directly related to citizen journalism. So all in all i am still happy with my contribution.

Citizen Journalism – A battle of worth

The public sphere was once considered ‘a metaphorical space where ideas are discussed and the truth emerged; a place where what happens becomes, who hears about it, when and how’ (Murphy, 2008, week 1). It was the quickest, most direct means of communication between the public and everyone else; but this like everything else has changed. Hartley questions this democratic view stating instead that, ‘what once was a fair platform for debate is now a media machine, regurgitating a view of the world and expecting that everyone will simply agree’ (Hartley 2005).

This change in the way we absorb information can be explained by two branching arguments, both unfortunately positioning consumers as passive receivers of information. The first suggests that the reason for the change in communication comes as a result of our demands. ‘Communication in general has changed over the last fifty years. We’re not so interested in long winded opinions and actual news, we’re just happy to take it as it comes and swear that its fact’ (Dick 2008, week 5).

The other option suggests that communication methods are changing because the business of communication is changing. Communication has shifted from mediation, defined by Harrington as, ‘a three step process of communication from business, to media, to the public’ (2008, week 5) to mediatisation defined by Murphy as, ‘a coercion of information, not so much the truth, more a splintered version of it, devised for infotainment and consumer positioning. Media tells business how it’s going to be, business agrees, consumers receive, whether it’s the truth or not, it’s all about perspective’ (2008, week 1).

With the introduction of web 2.0, however, things seem to be changing in the realm of the public sphere. In a time where media owns information, we are seeing break throughs in content production, new media battles being raged, to get new opinions and information out there. This drive for people to have their opinions heard is a new brand of open source content production referred to as Citizen Journalism.

This form of content creation defined by Bowman & Willis as, ‘The act of a citizen, or group of citizens playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information’ (2003, 9) is pushing new information out there, to be heard amongst the people and through online communities and sharing platforms, all of these new ideas can be passed around, reinstating the original purpose of the public sphere.

However citizen journalism, just like other forms of content production, houses the ability to destroy. Citizen Journalism has seen the public sphere ‘double in size over the last five to ten years’ (Murphy 2008) and although this is a positive step for public communication, any form of content production created on a mass scale has the capacity to cause an information overload. So, when all is said and done, as we learn more about the online environment and learn to control, store and produce content more efficiently, citizen journalism will, like all other forms of online content production will simply add another exciting element to global communication.

Blessed Blogging
Cheers gemini21

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Produsage: Tomorrows content here today - comment

My produsage blog was created for the complete opposite reason to any of the other blogs i posted. With the other blogs, it was usually a personal interest that drove me to discover more about the topics themselves. But when Dr Axel Bruns covered Produsage in his lecture, i realised that i had no real knowledge of the area. This lack of fundamental knowledge made me curious to learn; not only more about produsage, but also how Dr. Bruns quantified the term and what history produsage had prior to his validation. So it was more about creating a blog that taught me something; something i could in turn pass on to my wider online community.

To ensure i met all of these objectives, i researched as widely as i could on all topics relevant to produsage. I read through every piece of literature, old, new, article, book, journal and lecture slide to try and gauge an insight into firstly what produsage was, and secondly where the ideas behind it came from.

It was at this point that i hit my first hiccup. For although i understood that Bruns had himself coined the term produsage, it was unusual to see that very limited sources of wider academic research had been conducted on the theory. It wasn’t until i came across an exploratory article entitled, ‘’ (Bruns 2005), that i realised that i couldn’t find wider research because it didn’t exist yet. The article states that produsage was a fairly new web 2.0 phenomenon. Also highlighting that it was not the original term, rather an evolutionary trend noted and created by Bruns on the back of prior research in the area.

With this in mind, I started my blog with an introduction into the history of user-generated content production. Noting first the ‘prosumer’ term coined by Alvin Toffler, moving then to how this evolved with user participation habits to Charles Leadbeater’s Pro-am theory. I was interested to see how these terms evolved, not so much with time, rather with user behaviour. Their growth seemed to be timeless, instead focusing on where consumer behaviours, user content generation patterns and web development was heading.

In saying this it was probably a downside of the article that i spent so much time commenting on the growth of user-generated content production theories, that i may have missed the focus of produsage. However i overcame this in some way by also commenting on how produsage had been applied to current online behaviours, focusing directly on how it has been taken up by Generation C ( 2005), and incorporated into web 2.0 (O’Reilly, 2006).

I guess i was a little disappointed that the produsage trend coined by Bruns hadn’t been researched by a larger academic audience. It almost surprised me that of all the useless information you can found on the internet, wider research on produsage could not be found. I guess this, just like everything else will eventually be questioned as the most relevant theory, and at that time will be torn to shreds, but i look forward to see further research conducted on this area. I can gladly say that from not knowing anything about this area of learning, i certainly very interested now.

Produsage: Tomorrows content, here today.

As a society, we have faced the emergence of numerous tools and frameworks to define the habits of content users and producers. It started with Alvin Toffler’s ‘prosumer’ in which he noted, ‘the emergence of a more informed, more involved consumer of goods who would need to be kept content by allowing for a greater customisability and individualisability of products’ (Toffler, 1971 ). From there we saw the growth of ‘on-demand, just-in-time production of custom-made items’ (Bruns 2005, 1), which lead on to Charles Leadbeater’s contributory notion of ‘ pro-am’ production models (Leadbeater & Miller 2004, & Bruns 2005, 1).

However, these models, as stated by Bruns, do not consider that ‘the production of ideas takes place in a collaborative, participatory environment which breaks down the boundaries between producers and consumers and instead enables all participants to be users as well as producers of information and knowledge’ (Bruns 2005, 1). What we therefore see it the crumbling of existing content production models with produsage striding to take over.

This new trend defined by Bruns as, ‘the collaborative engagement of (ideally, large) communities of participants in a shared project… (Bruns 2006, 2) where large communities of users are responsible for content production and each change is built on iterative, evolutionary development’ (Bruns 2005, 1). This represents evolutionary development in user contribution models.

Traditional models require a team of content producers to make any changes or updates, produsage can utilise any part or piece of a community to act as content developers. This effectively opens up the doors to content produced by any web 2.0 technology. Whether it be open source content production software, social networks or citizen journalism a, ‘community as a whole, if sufficiently large and varied, will be able to contribute more than a closed team of producers, however qualified’ (Bruns 2006, 3).

Some of this phenomenon can be attributed to new media platforms such as Flickr, MySpace, Facebook and; however just as crucial is the emergence of Generation C, a new generation of users who have the skills, abilities, and above all the interest and enthusiasm to use them ( 2005).

All in all what we are faced with is a hell of a lot of information, constantly updating, evolving and growing with each piece of knowledge, idea or complaint that breaks into the Web 2.0* world, (O’Reilly 2005). It has been suggested that this will eventually become a problem, with Bruns stating, ‘until we can filter through the information the produced content will have nowhere to go, causing an information overload’ (Bruns 2008, week 6). But ‘as we become more aware of how to use the available technology properly and deliberately, we will be able to sort through interesting and relevant information, focusing on particular points and sharing these with others through an online community’ (Bruns 2008, week 6).

*Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform. Chief among those rules is this: Build applications that harness network effects to get better the more people use them (O’Reilly, 2006).

Blessed blogging
Cheers gemini21

The nerds get their turn - comment

What attracted me to writing this article was the popularity of this topic amongst my fellow KCB201er’s. I noticed, whilst searching through my network, that a number of other users had addressed the concept of open source software. After reading through a number of these blogs and posting comments to those that most interested me, i detected several irregularities in the content of several blogs, the way references were being interpreted but most importantly how the information was being used.

One of these users went under the blog, ‘Online Discussion Journal and Peer Review’. This fellow user was Mark Peter Allen, and just like many of the other bloggers had utilised the Open Source Initiative website. In particular Allen had used this website to support his definition of open source software, in particular the criteria distribution terms software must meet to be considered Open Source. What i found interesting about the way in which Allen had used the information was that he had not referenced the site, rather cut and paste a large chunk of the home page directly onto his blog. Outside of this, he had also stated the Open Source Software was the same as Collaborative Software.

Now as i did not know much about this field and was certainly no expert, i was not able to discredit him directly on his comments. Regardless of this, i knew that what he was suggesting was not accurate, and when i compared his comment on Open Source, to those made b other users, i found this to be true.

All of these introductory stimuli led me to compile my own blog on Open Source Software, focusing particularly on its definition and origins. I thought this was important as i later posted a comment on Allen’s blog, referring him to mine for additional information and understanding on Open Source software and its relationship to collaborative software.

The resulting blog, ‘The nerds get their turn’, considered what Open Source Software was, how it could be defined, as well as its defining features, before moving on to how it has grown throughout our society.

As many of these pieces of information had been addressed in all of the other blogs i had read on Open Source i felt it was important to provide some additional piece of information that would differentiate my blog from theirs. This differentiation came in the form of a related blog, ‘Is it really the death of Closed Media’.

At the end of my blog, i made reference to this blog, suggesting that as the greatest minds shift towards supporting open source media... nerds who contribute to the growth and development of open source media are indirectly contributing to the death of traditional media (Is it really the death of Closed Media?).

I could have improved this blog by including some wider references, or scholarly support, as i relied heavily on course content. However, the research i did include provided adequate support for the points i was making.

The nerds get their turn

Open Source Media is defined by the Open Source Initiative website as ‘a development method for software that harnesses the power of distributed peer review and transparency of process’ (Open Source Initiative 2007, 1). In addition to this, there are also a number of criteria that distribution terms of software must meet to be considered Open Source.

Coar defines these as:

1. Free Redistribution
2. Source Code
3. Derived Works
4. Integrity of The Author's Source Code
5. No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups
6. No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor
7. istribution of License
8. License Must Not Be Specific to a Product
9. License Must Not Restrict Other Software
10. License Must Be Technology-Neutral

For further Information and definitions click here

However it is not only what software contains that defines it, but also who contributes to it. The hierarchy of Open Source Software Production, as defined by Nelson, outlines this.





He states, ‘The Editors decide what goes into a project and what falls on the floor. Developers write the code. Contributors write documentation, answer questions, report bugs, blog about the software, review the software, and do everything else which isn't coding. Users just use the code, but of course the role of user is why everybody else does what they do. Together, these people form a community’ (Nelson 2008, 1).

What makes this interesting in comparison to other forms of content production is the category of individual involved with Open Source software. Stereotypically you would connect young people with social networking, academics with journals and databases, but when it comes to Open Source software, nerds seem to be the ones ‘driving the bandwagon’ so to speak.

'Of course many of the eariler participants in the net came from development backgrounds, from tech backgrounds, they were people who were in many cases actively involved in developing software and programming and so the rise of open source can be quite easily explained through this' (Bruns 2008, week 7). The take over of Open Source software production, by the technological minded individuals in our society, encourages growth of this domain. We have seen this take place, even over the last ten years, with the growth of open source software in comparison to closed source media.
As quoted in the related article, Is it really the death of Closed Media, ‘open source software provides an easy technological platform, giving millions of people a voice in a very interesting format that can be easily found, linked to and engaged with by others, whatever the topic might be’ (Bruns 2008, week 6). This user relationship, when compared to closed media with, ‘declining readership, limited access to content and dependence on payment’ (Palme and Berglund 2007, 4-5) defines why this shift in support is occuring.
As demand for traditional media declines and open media increases, the greatest minds shift towards the greatest demand, which at this time is open source media. Therefore, those who choose to contribute to open source media growth and development are indirectly contributing to the death of traditional media. The power of the nerd.

If you are interested in this concept of closed media decline, click here for the related article, Is it really the death of closed media.
Blessed Blogging
Cheers gemini21

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Is it really the death of closed media? - comment

I wanted to address this issue as it took somewhat of a different approach to research it. Unlike the other blogs which could easily have been written relying solely on course content and podcasts, the death of closed media, like online predators required far greater research to provide a true insight.

The blog itself addresses the death of closed media; however develops further to include comment on possible directions it could take to survive. To impress this stance on my readers I opened with a quote from Musings, in which he states, ‘The handwriting is on the wall: whether you like it or not, traditional closed media is screwed unless and until they learn how to function in a computer network-centric environment’ (2007, 3). From this I commented further on what taking this direction would cost closed media and questioned its worth.

My favourite point was questioning whether or not you could kill closed media, referring to the quote, ‘Personally i don't think we could ever lose closed media, because i will never curl up in bed with a cup of coffee and a good computer screen’ (Closed Media blog 2008, 2).

I would have liked to include a graph visualising the growth and decline of closed media abundance, however I could not find any that clearly displayed this trend.