Freedom vs Comfort

 Apple owes its huge success to the revolutionary introduction of the smart phone. It maintained its leadership in the market because of its impressive profit margins and clever marketing, however has not been able to be sustained. The example of Apple demonstrates a closed system and shows the power of a well-marketed, well design, user-friendly product having the ability to be extremely successful, operating in a closed system.

Google and the development of the open Android system, shows that great amount of innovation and success that can be achieved by an open system. The android system help develop competition in the market, attracting many consumers that want the freedom and flexibility to develop and customise features on there smart phones. As open systems have a shorter feed back loop its rate of innovation become near impossible to compete with when operating in a closed system.

Considering these two systems it become obvious that open systems have greater potential for long-term success. For the time being I am comfortable with my apple products, but the innovations being seen by Samsung and other smart phone competitors I can predict more and more Apple will consumers shift to other brands.

References:

Roth, D. (2008) ‘Google’s Open Source Android OS Will Free the Wireless Web’. Wired

The Internet of Things

One of my interests is Industrial design, as I love how designers a continuously solving problems and developing new inventions to make our lives easier or more enjoyable.  When we consider this industry and the amazing potential that the Internet offers for the future of design, it is quiet exciting. While thinking about this topic of the Internet of things, an ad popped up on my YouTube feed for the new Samsung Smart Camera. The Samsung Smart Camera is an example of how these products are slowly becoming integrated into our lives, and an accepted piece of technology.

Perhaps I am too optimistic about the Internet of things. If we look at how the Internet has transformed how we interact socially from person to person; there is both negative and positive aspect of this new form on communication. As things become a part of the Internet and we start interacting with them, social change can take place for better and for worse.

J. Bleecher (2006), highlights the amazing potential for the internet of things, giving examples such as pigeons, fish and cars, being able to produce meaningful data about the environment. The data produced on these blogs help to generate discussion and focus on environmental issues, which shows the potential for future benefits to environmental management.

The topic, the Internet of things has a much greater scope than this. One thing I do find very concerning in regards to the Internet of things is how things are able to use and store your data without your permission or even your knowledge.  An issue that is more frequently being discussed in media and marketing classes is the issues of privacy and accessing personal data to customise advertisements to the individual.  Facebook is an obvious example, but the Internet of things has created the potential for bins, bus advertisements, and street signs to all use data on our Smart phones and tailor advertisements towards us. I think this form of advertising has the potential be use subliminal advertising and messages to brain wash society and turn us into wasteful over-consumers. For a short time these advertisements were a reality in London, however after a strong public backlash the advertisements were called to a halt. It is a relief that this type of privacy invasion is recognized and not blindly accepted by society. This gives me a small amount of confidence that this new technology will only be adopted for positive functional reasons, without obstructing individuals privacy or freewill.

 

References

Bleecker, J. (2006) ‘Why Things Matter: A Manifesto for networked objects’

Social Network Revolutions

Social media is currently playing an important role in modern society in relation to social activism and revolutions. I consider the Internet to function as a tool, used by activists, not just an organisational tool, but also a tool that aids communication and informs people of both issues and events.

Maria Popova (2010) makes some important points that demonstrate that the Internet does more than just help organise people. It increases peoples exposure to different issues, and allows people to further explore topics that captivate them and gain a more in-depth understanding. Using the Internet to connect with people generates greater empathy and therefore greater motivation to take action. (M. Popova, 2010.). 

From Popova (2010), a key incite into the power of social media is its ability to “inform, to inspire and to incite” (M. Popova, 2010.). I must agree with this, as injustices in the past were often neglected because peoples inability to communicate to larger audiences. The Internet does not discriminate, allowing virtually anyone the power to connect.  I do not take a utopian perspective; however acknowledge the many important roles of the Internet and Social media.

Evgeny Morozov (2011), makes a very strong argument, explaining that while some history protests have taken place over facebook, many protests in the past used other mediums and tools. There is no way of knowing if specific revolutions such as in Tunisia would have never eventuated without the help of the Internet, but there is no denying the Internet’s important role in the revolution. If we also consider the revolution in Egypt, the was a large emphasis put on the importance of the Internet, demonstrated by the governments decision to completely shut down the internet during the demonstrations. However the demonstrations cannot be attributed to Internet but “longer-term efforts to engage with political institutions and reform movements” (E. Morozov, 2011).

From my perspective, the Internet has changed the pace of communication, traditionally having to send letters, or telegrams, are even face-to-face communication takes more time to relay a message. People are social by nature and therefore would always communicate, therefore will always be potential to have a social revolution. The Internet didn’t create this but changes the pace at which it takes place; information can reach a huge scope of people in seconds, allowing for a larger, more immediate response.  

References

Morozov, E. (2011) ‘ Facebook and Twitter are just places revolutionaries go’ The Guardian

Popova, M. (2010) ‘Malcolm Gladwell Is #Wrong’ Change Observer

Considering ‘No Secrets’ by Raffi Khatchadourian

Wikileaks does not just represent a very important power struggle between them and institutions but also the need for institutions to take accountability. Institutions may fear the freedom of their information because they wish to protect their strategic advantages, but how much can they hide before it allows them to completely avoid any accountability for their actions. That being said the ability to cover-up actions and hide the truth is an incredibility important source of power, it has become such a significant and debated source of power because it allows all accountability to be forgotten.

According the Wikileaks website (2013) “transparency creates a better society for all people. Better scrutiny leads to reduced corruption and stronger democracies in all society’s institutions, including government, corporations and other organisations.” This statement highlights the important of freedom of information for all people. But Assange has been threatened because much of the information released via Wikileaks has posed a threat to those wanting to protect that information, as posses a threat to the power of those individuals and institutions.

Reducing the power of large institutions such as the US military may be considered a questionable act, but a more important issue is how do we hold large institutions accountable, if information is not transparent. If any institution can hide its crimes, there is nothing (but perhaps their own conscience) to stop them from committing crimes; there is no way to give justice to the innocent, and we cannot make informed decisions.

The example of how Wikileaks exposed how “Kenyan politician … President Daniel arap Moi and his allies had siphoned billions of dollars out of the country” (Khatchadourian , 2010), demonstrates the tremendous value Wikileaks offered to the people. Not just transparency of the state is important but also large corporations, as there can be devastating consequences if information can be hidden. The collapse of the Lehman Brothers is a very famous example of the wide reaching effects poor transparency and lack of accountability can have on the wider community.

Freedom of information will always offer people a great number of advantages, but institutions having the ability to control information gives them power. That is why information is something people struggle for, and why Wikileaks represents such a threat to large institutions.

R. Khatchadourian 2010, ‘NO SECRETS – Julian Assange’s mission for total transparency’, The New Yorkers, 7 June, date of visit 4/10/13 http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/06/07/100607fa_fact_khatchadourian?currentPage=all

Wikileaks 2013, ‘Why the media (and particularly Wikileaks) is important’, About Wikileaks, date of visited 4/10/13, http://wikileaks.org/About.html

Bridges made of pebbles: social media and the rise of gatewatchers

As the flows of information change new forms of information gathering and distribution such as citizen journalism develop for new media audiences, and change the practices of traditional news media. This has becoming increasingly evident through social media, allowing conversations to develop and the individual to communicate with a mass audience. This relates to convergence, the consumers are increasingly taking part in the production of content (Bruns, 2009). Traditional media was expensive to produce and distribute, while producing and distribution content on the Internet requires very little financial risk (Bruns, 2009).

 

Lack of financial risk has resulted in exponential growth of information online. The overwhelming amount of information makes is difficult for end users to avoid information overload. Because of this the process of formatting and filtering the information is valuable, a role increasingly being played by citizens, acting as “gatewatchers”.  Rather than determining if information is available or not, gatewatchers monitor, investigate and critic content (Bruns, 2009).

 

A valuable tool is aiding citizen journalism is twitter. While one tweet on its own has little substance or value, together they produce the big picture and therefore are incredibly valuable. From this the metaphor “Bridges made of Pebbles” describes the phenomenon of twitter. A platform that limits each tweet to 140 characters, through using the hash tags, search options, retweeting and comments, information becomes aggregated and meaningful (Bruns, 2009).

 

Bruns, A. (2009) ‘News Blogs and Citizen Journalism: New Directions for e-Journalism’  

Into the cloud: the long tail and the attention economy

Traditional media outlets can no longer rely on dedicated and restrictive channels that ensure a captive audience, but must contend with everybody else in what has been termed the ‘attention economy’.

Before content could move with ease across the Internet it was distributed physically, resulting in high costs for companies and retailers. Because of these costs, the content produced and distributed, was decided based on popularity and predicted future sales (Anderson, 2004). This content is known as mainstream content, all the remaining content that isn’t mainstream is what makes up the ‘long tail’.  The focus of selling the mainstream is a response of inefficient distribution. If we consider retailers for CDs, Books and DVDs the cost of purchasing the physical product, stocking and storing it must be justified by the predicted returns. If the content wasn’t considered to be a ‘hit’ it represents a cost to the business. This also applies to broadcasters like radio stations, cinemas and television that also have restrictions with capacity due to time limitations. These businesses needed to focus on local audiences, which they could access within a particular radius of their location and comply with the physical limitations of production, broadcast and storage. The Internet plays a very important role in overcoming these limits, as the content is extracted from matter and no long represents a physical object expensive to distribute.

Focusing on mainstream is important for business profits, but it is important to recognise that while most people consume mainstream contents, they will still have unique tastes and consumption desires. They are many niche markets they may not be represented as a large group within a region but as a total sum represent a business opportunity. As only a very small percent of content is considered to be mainstream the long tail “can add up quickly to a hug market … popularity no longer has a monopoly on profitability” (Anderson, 2004). With the efficiencies of the Internet this has become a reality as storage, distribution and “scarcity” can be overcome. This is proven by Internet businesses including Rhapsody, Amazon, Google and eBay that have been hugely successful in making money from “aggregation the Long Tail” (Anderson, 2004).

 

 

Transglobal entertainment and media convergence

There has been rapid changes in the transition from old to new media, the convergence of technological platforms. Convergence refers to developments in society and culture where media is increasingly co-produced by corporations and media companies as well as by consumers that contribute to and influence the flow of media (Deuze, 2007, p.246.). This development is significantly impacting the way in which society see media today. The Internet has become more accessible making information more accessible, and the content of the media is no longer a scarce and expensive resource. This is responsible for transforming the roles of producers and consumers. Traditional corporations were considered “gatekeepers”, with control over the information, deciding what people should and shouldn’t know, this was due largely to the high cost of distributing media through mass media broadcast (Deuze, 2007.). The Internet has reduced the cost of information, making huge amounts of information available, yet the difficultly in processing such large amounts of information has shifted the role of the media corporations to “watchdogs”, helping to monitor and manage content as apposed to just reporting or filtering it (Deuze, 2007.). As the corporations roles are changing so are the consumers roles, whom are empowered to develop and publish their own content online.