A Healthy Mediam… See what I did there?

There is power in media. Beyond outright censorship and propaganda, the power is in the ability to focus and skew presentations of information or, better yet, disseminate your views so consistently and with so many flashy lights that your opinion quickly becomes tangled with the news your organisation provides. On its own, one article, program or cross platform network amongst many isn’t that huge an influence. Problems arise when that one cross-platform network is the only network and the information it distributes becomes the only truth available.

Media ownership laws are in place to stop this and limit individuals or organizations from monopolising media industries, to stop small groups of people controlling the flow of information. In a democracy, the basis of which is the self-determination of the people and freedom of opinion, nothing could be more important.

Now we’re done with the serious, dramatic bit of this about the stuff I’m sure you already know. Here’s a fun front page from the Tele.http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-03-12/conroy-announces-media-reforms/4567550

Rupert Murdoch is mentioned in every aspect on this weeks studies, so I might as well throw a picture of him in there as well. For the record, that one there is a result of a image search for “Rupert Murdoch looking Smug.”

It seems like every step of this past week as had something to do with Rupert Murdoch and his control over the press, which brings us to the picture on the right. Minister for Communications under the old Labour government, Stephen Conroy, put forward a series of media law changes that focused on a greater regulation of the press. They included self regulation and a board that would ensure media mergers were in the public interest. This is the front page of the telegraph in response. The Telegraph is owned by Rupert Murdoch and would of course act like it did, persecuting the laws that included sections making it hard for Murdoch to own more media. Also, it’s the telegraph. Hilarious, stupid and embarrassing front pages are kind of its thing.

On a more disturbing note, though the Telegraph is off in regard to the degree, it is correct in the category. The leaders, for the most part, are diabolical dictators with complete control of the media. The media can easily become a tool of a totalitarian government. As students (and hopefully as future Media Industry leaders) we must acknowledge that is not enough to simply be wary of private industry, but we must always be wary of the Government as well. Though both will undoubtedly shape and shift media in their own ways, as practitioners of media it is our responsibility to self regulate and ensure that Media never becomes just a tool for organizations or parties.

We inherit the power of media and, to paraphrase Spider-Mans’ uncle, also it’s responsibility. Through our careers we must endeavour to ensure media always serves the public and does not control it.

 New Found Respect for old mate Rupert Sourced here

 Rupert Image Sourced:http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/feb/19/sun-should-become-like-twitter

Telegraph image: http://www.cando.org.au/campaign-hub/current-campaigns/7-updates?start=297

Meet Ahmed

FIGHT THE URGE TO SCROLL DOWN. Please.

Again, I’m going to try something a little different. I’m going to tell you a little about my text, talk about it’s connotations and denotations and then would you scroll down and have a look at this picture? I sure would appreciate it.

First off, the picture is a portrait, of sorts,  displaying a support soldier in the Free Syrian Army. It was taken this time last year by photojournalist Sebastiano Tomada Piccolomini in the contested Syrian city of Aleppo. Yeah, it’s going to be grim.

First the denotations. The soldier has his rifle slung over his shoulder and is holding its’ butt at his side while casually taking a drag of his cigarette. He’s staring down the camera with a blank and slightly hostile stare. Framing his form is rubbish, rubble and the support structure of a bombed-out concrete building.

Please scroll down now.

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Syria: On the Frontline in Aleppo

What you were expecting?

 Connotations. There’s lots of them. Personally, I know how I felt the first time I saw this picture.

The existence of child soldiers is something that I assume we’ve all seen in pictures or read about in articles before, but I found this photo particularly shocking the first time I saw it. Everything is captured perfectly to create the greatest impact. The baby face of the boy and his childish hands perfectly juxtapose the cigarette for maximum effect. The clothes he wears, almost reminiscent of the hand-me-down primary school uniforms we all wore, could not seem more foreign in comparison to the AK-47 the boy so casually brandishes. I felt shocked, sympathetic, and a thousand other negative things. In regard to it’s connotation, the text comes to represent the human tragedy of the Syrian war. 

For us. Someone else, someone who maybe originally gave this boy a rifle, perhaps feels differently. In the story of how the photograph came to be taken, the rebels the boy supplies appear proud of him. They pose with him during interviews, encouraging him and let him through grenades for the camera. How would they feel about this photo? What are the connotations of this image from their perspective?

His name is Ahmed, he is 7 years old and you can read more about him here. It’s a year old but sadly his story isn’t that outdated. There is also an excellent video in the story that is worth the watch.

My question earlier in this post wasn’t rhetorical, by the way. I’m asking you. Yes you, with the computer. Do leave a comment and let me know what you think, how you feel and which words were misspelt/sentences were convoluted.

References

  • Sherlock, R, “The 8 year old boy on Syrias Front Lines”, The Telegraph, Published 29/3/13, accessed 24/3/14  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/9961945/Ahmed-the-eight-year-old-boy-on-the-front-line-of-Syrias-civil-war.html
  • Williams, D, “Syrian Boy Soldier with A 1000 Yard Stare,  The Daily Mail, Published 28/3/13, Accessed 24/3/14  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2300251/Syrian-boy-soldier-thousand-yard-stare-Sad-image-child-aged-SEVEN-gun.html

It’s All Fun and Video Games ’till Someone Loses an IP

If you’re a little unsure about what Video Game Modding (VGM) is, check out my earlier post. It gives it the brief description that my word count can’t allow. Also, that one has zombies.

VGM is based on and tying into existing games, but none the less it is the modification and redistribution of content originally created by someone else. When dealing with intellectual property (IP) in this fashion, modders encounter a veritable quagmire of ethical and legal issues rarely thought about. For example, who owns the mod? The holders of the original games copyright or the producers of the mod? With many modders choosing not to profit from mods at all but a few opting to ask for donations from people using the mod, where does the line of profit lay? If we are to think about the sheer notoriety that a successful mod brings, who deserves that?

As video games become a more main-stream media, VGM has grown more prominent and in the process the legality of certain modding has come to a far greater light than ever before. Given the size of the modern video games industry, there is a great deal of money to be made and lost. Litigation is inevitable.

One of the most recent and relevant cases of copyright and modding revolves around a certain game which, if you’re cool enough, you might have heard of: DOTA IIWhat you need to know is that the original DOTA (Defence of the Ancients), was a mod for a game made by Blizzard Entertainment (Blizzard), World of Warcraft. The mod was made by a small group of third party developers, only worked within the existing game and was distributed for free on the internet. DOTA became immensely popular and everyone lived happily ever after…

… Until another games company, Valve Corporation (Valve), hired the developers of the Mod and made a completely new game based on the Mod, calling it DOTA II. Blizzard responded by taking Valve to court in an attempt to secure the trademark of DOTA as their IP to be used on their upcoming sequel version of DOTA II which, at the time, was known as “Blizzard DOTA II“.Warning2

Blizzard claimed that the association of the term DOTA with their product was enough for them to claim the rights to it even though Blizzard did not produce it and the team that did were now in the employ of Valve working on DOTA II, which was wholly the IP of Valve. Hence, contention. Ironically, copyright laws that were originally implemented to protect IP were now allowing companies to claim it unjustly (Patry, 2008).Still with me? ‘Course you are.

It’s a great story, but I can’t really go any further. Check it out here, here and here if you’re interested. If you’re not and you don’t like video games or copyright and you’re only suffering through this for my sake, here’s a gif of a hilarious baby to say thanks.

In conclusion, the emergence of third part modding has led to a variety of interesting and outrageous copyright issues and, until international copyright legislation are adjusted to better suit the digital age, clashes and calamities over modded video games are going to get more elaborate and far more expensive.

 

REFERENCES! Get excited.

 

  • “Vave and Blizzard Come to Agreement Over DotA Trademark”, Toms Hardware, Published 19th of May 2012, Read 23rd of March 2014  http://www.tomshardware.com/news/Valve-Blizzard-DotA-Trademark-Agreement,15688.html 

Make Your Own Fun!… Sort of. Also, pay for it.

“Prosumers”

It’s a good word, that one.

Last year I started playing a modification (Mod) of an existing game called DayZ. Basically, a developer  (generally amateur or independent) will tweak an already published video game and release the produced ‘Mod’ for other gamers to play. In this case a game (ARMA II) was modded into an apocalyptic survival simulator and released onto the internet for free. The Mod, though, requires the original game to be played. Faced with this rub, I purchased a game that I would not have otherwise.

I wasn’t the only one buying this game, though, and in a matter of months the number of ARMA II games sold skyrocketed to the point that a game released in 2009 to a very niche market was atop the best selling list on PC distribution platform Steam for 7 straight weeks. An old game was reborn through the dedicated work of a small group of third party developers and, almost overnight, the original producers of ARMA (Bohemia Interactive) started receiving millions of dollars in new game sales.

This is what links to ‘prosuming’. Mods allow an existing product to be changed and redistributed to the benefit not just of the notoriety of the modders, but also to the financial gain of the company that produced the original content. Games are produced, sold to consumer, consumers consume and eventually reproduce. This business model is the same that we see in regard to Social Media, where a medium is created and then supported by prosumers. 

DayZ is only one of the scores of mods available to gamers. As games become more common and mainstream a form of entertainment in modern media I have no doubt that modding too shall expand. In that time it will be up to game developers, studios and companies to start producing content that encourages and nurtures modding to best cash in on the ‘prosuming’ trend.

I totally stuck to my word count this time. High Fives all ’round.

REFERENCES:

Good Old Fashioned Gratuitous Violence

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This morning I stole a helicopter and robbed a prostitute. I ran from the police, I caused a pile-up on a highway and I laid waste to the accumulating auto mobiles with a well placed hand grenade. Then I robbed another prostitute.

Given that you know both the general topic of this blog and, hopefully, that I’m a rational human being, I’m going to go ahead and assume that you realised I didn’t actually do all these things. These crimes were nothing more than pixels on a screen acting out the madness that generally is Grand Theft Auto VDon’t get too excited, though, this post won’t be me recounting my video gaming adventures. Instead I’m hoping to say a little something about both our blog topics for this week. Rather than just “What is wrong with the Media Effects model?” or “What is the media being blamed for today and is it justified?”, I’m hoping to answer one with reference to the other, simply because I believe the two are tightly linked. Also because YOLO.

It has become all to common for entertainment media such as video games and films, violent as they may be, to bare the brunt of public backlashes in the wake of violent behaviour. This is continually highlighted, as recently and in such high profile as the response to the late 2012 Sandy Hook shootings in the United States or the Aurora Theatre shootings of the same year. As cases develope and more facts are brought to light, the unjustified focus shifts away from violent media and further towards the actual causes of the violence (lack of effective gun control and mental health monitoring in both mentioned cases), but a knee-jerk reaction to blame violent media is fervently demonstrated nonetheless.

This reaction is supposedly justified by the media effects model, though the model is seriously flawed in various ways. In fact, given the nature of these flaws, it is suggestible that the model was a product of the reaction against certain media rather than of legitimate scientific process. The model is criticised best by David Gauntlett in his  1998 Article “10 Things Wrong With The Media Effects Model”, in which Gauntlett details the shortcomings of the model in great detail. The most relevant, and perhaps the most flawed point in the model is that, in the words of Gauntlett, “The Media Effects Model  Tackles Social Problems Backwards“. To this point Gauntlett states that the Media Effects model makes the mistake of looking at “particular individuals at certain times in specific circumstances… [whose actions] may be negatively affected by one bit of media” and deeming that that media inspired or caused that individual to act in that way, rather than that individuals actions being caused by more plausible factors such as upbringing, mental state and the like. 

This is in turn reflected in the traditional, information media specifically seeking out violent entertainment media to blame in the wake of attacks, completely ignoring that individuals responsible for the violence were already disturbed and unsafe while conversely ignoring that more than most that consume that media fail to become violent in any significant way.

I think I’m over my word count, so I’ll have to leave it there.

Did you like it? Hate it? Do you concur or… dis-concur? Maybe you just found a spelling mistake that I need to be informed about?

Let me know @Aidangerous on Twitter

References!

I forgot the introduction part…

I got a little carried away with that last introduction, I’ll try to keep it on topic and a little briefer this time ’round. Hopefully by now you haven’t taken the tweets from the account I talk about below as an introduction. That would worry me greatly.

I could tell you about my first dog or my gap year, that I come from the country and that I prefer a good grilled cheese sandwich over any gourmet meal, but I’d rather introduce myself by highlighting something that I suspect we have in common.

I want to change the world. I’m studying media because that is the easiest way to do it. Media, mass communication, is the fastest way to the hearts and of minds of millions and it is only through these hearts and minds that the world can be changed for the better. It’s probably going to be a little harder to achieve this than to write about it in a blog, but I suspect that we’re all going to achieve our goal.

What do you think? Twit me a twit up on twitter. I don’t look it, but I’m actually a pretty peppy people person.

Welcome to social media. You’re already here.

It’s not easy to be a caveman these days. Don’t get me wrong, I love my tech; I email, I download, I browse and I game online (alot), but until now I have managed to dodge social media. Therein, my new cyber-buddies, lies the primitivism I implied earlier in my introduction. I game, I download and I am educated online. Untill now, I didn’t socialise there.

I have a facebook, I admit, but it was made for me without my consent by a friend a great many years ago (along with a myspace and a bebo, to give you some timeline) and I haven’t used it since. So oblivious was I to my online identity that I failed to notice that I even had a twitter account, again, created by a friend. I stumbled across it when I was starting a twitter for BCM112, and was informed that I had an account already registered. This time the account was made in 2009 and based around a fictional character that me donning a fake tiara once inspired. It’s thrilling reading.

It seems social media was a little angry that I had shunned it for so many years and decided to incorporate me anyway. This should be an interesting discussion point, though and it begs the question, can we escape social media?

Anyway, do take a peak at this twitter before I attempt to erase it, I’m sure it’ll entertain.

https://twitter.com/tiaraman