DIGC302 – ‘The Bucket Show’ Project Critique – Leah Foster

Project Critique – The Bucket Show – Popculture Vodcasts – Brendon Foye

‘The Bucket Show’ is a weekly Vodcast produced by Digital Media student Brendon Foye. The entertainment podcast is released weekly on a Friday and covers pop culture, Internet culture, video games and other topics of interest to Brendon. The episodes originally went for one hour however as the project’s trajectory developed the content was reduced back down to one weekly half-an-hour YouTube video. To comprehensively engage with your DIGC330 project I believe it is important to develop your ideas from an area or topic that you wished to further discuss or research, or an area in which you already had an extensive understanding. ‘The Bucket Show’ has provided a platform for Brendon to dynamically engage with topics that interest him, as well as enabling him to share and discuss these topics with several of his friends, colleagues and classmates. ‘The Bucket Show’ covers a wide range of topics in a conversational style. The format or outline of each podcast is free flowing and Brendon allows the conversation to take its natural course, giving the discussion purpose or a new direction when needed. The vodcast is hosted, edited and uploaded by Brendon who also maintains the show’s accompanying Tumblr blog. The blog site provides a space where viewers can track back through the vlog history as well as access various links and more information on the topics that have been discussed during that week. So far ‘The Bucket Show’ has released six one-hour long episodes and one half-an-hour long episode.

The aims and methodology of ‘The Bucket Show’ are to create a weekly hour-long vodcast that is entertaining. Each week Brendon aims to host, edit and upload the podcast discovering new topics to discuss as well as increasing the quality of the vodcast throughout his projects trajectory. ‘The Bucket Show’ aims to generate viewership audience feedback hoping to involve the viewers in the discussion and create a platform where conversation can flow freely between those involved on screen and their audience. Mentioned in ‘The Bucket Shows’ pitch is an aim to investigate RSS, which is partially evident in Tumblr blog. Brendon has absorbed ‘The Bucket Show’ into his pre-existing social media accounts including his YouTube channel and his Twitter; I assume this is to engage with his established followers in order to enhance the overall participation.

Podcasting, or in this case vodcasting, is an exciting new form of expression where anybody can get involved, express themselves or exchange ideas. It is a chance for people to discuss whatever interests them, which is the aspect of podcasting ‘The Bucket Show’ has engaged with the most. In terms of captivating or connecting with the audience ‘The Bucket Show’ could have employed some more structure or a more defined weekly theme. For example, at the beginning of most podcasts there seems to be a lot of undirected, unnecessary and irrelevant conversation. More structure or a defined introduction to the vodcast could be beneficiary in terms of keeping the audience engaged. The accompanying Tumblr site could have benefitted from additional information on the topics discussed as well as some brighter visuals and even more videos and images. While I certainly enjoyed some of the links, like which food Iggy Azalea looks like, it might have been interesting for ‘The Bucket Show’ to produce more content like memes or some kind of a space that could help the audience and those involved in the vodcast to further discuss the personal jokes or highlights from each weekly episode. For me, the highlights of the episodes were the topics I had not heard much about or the topics that mightn’t get as much attention as others. For example, the idea of discussing something like Grant Denyer’s birthday adds a localised aspect that could attract more focus from ‘The Bucket Shows’ niche Australian audience. It could have been interesting to involve a thread or promote a discussion where people could share their favourite things about Grant Denyer or something along those lines, as it might not be a discussion hosted in many other places? (Congratulations on getting a tweet from Grant Denyer Matt, Brendon I sincerely hope he saw your podcast!)

In regards to the projects trajectory the quality certainly improves over the weeks, however, I think the best step for the vodcast was to decrease the content down from one hour to half an hour. By taking the people back from around 6 or 7 to just 3 seemed to allow for more succinct communication and less time spent discussing irrelevant topics. I understand the concept of the vodcast was to allow for natural conversation, however I think in terms of entertainment, which was the main focus for the project? ‘The Bucket Show’ could have benefitted from more editing and more structure. Instead of questioning what to talk about on ‘air’ it might have been better to just throw topics out for discussion and encourage to the point debate or dialogue in order to keep the audience interested. As I mentioned, this issue could have been solved by cutting out the

wishy-washy conversation and just including more of the funny or entertaining bits. By editing the vodcasts further more of the visual video aspect might have been captured. For example, in the most recent episode it may have enhanced Matt’s humorous ‘dogspotting’ story to add images of Brendon, Matt and Angus’ personal favourite ‘dogspotting photos’. Although I did appreciate the link to the Facebook page on the Tumblr site I had never heard of dogspotting, so more context could have provided a greater understanding while I was listening to ‘The Bucket Show’ discussion.

In regards to ‘The Bucket Shows’ project Beta it would have been interesting to learn more about the challenges and successes of Brendon’s journey as he created this digital artefact. Brendon could have edited together some of his favourite highlights to create a sort of trailer and allow the class some insight into his project. The Prezi was very brief and it could have been interesting to involve some of the classmates who helped out on the vodcast by asking them questions or involving them in a discussion, giving the entire class a more evolved idea of the semesters work and allowing Brendon to show off the aspects he benefitted from the most. I hope Brendon has enjoyed creating this digital artefact, as he gets to discuss and share topics he is interested in with his friends, I wish ‘The Bucket Show’ the best of luck in their future vodcasts!

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A Nervous System for the Planet

Today there are roughly two Internet-connected devices for every man, woman and child on the planet. Analysts say that by 2025 this ratio will rise past six, meaning we can expect to grow to nearly 50 billion Internet-connected devices (Savitz, 2012) in the next decade… umm what will these devices be doing exactly?

The Internet of things has been described as a Nervous System for the Planet. Over the next decade or so small sensors will be able to enable machine-to-machine communication and act as the digital nerve endings for global sense-and-respond systems. Your car could transmit a message to your house to let your appliances know you will be home in 15minutes. When you get home the house it warm, the ovens on, the washing is done and your favourite show is ready for you to watch. To a greater extent we would have the ability to impart a central nervous system on our planet. This technological revolution (driven by cheap sensor technology) would allow us to measure systems on a global scale and at the same time offer a never before seen resolution (Savitz, 2012). Could this be an answer to the meaning of life? If sensor networks are successful it may help to explain the world we live in, our role in it and our impact upon it. The Internet of things could help us solve some of the biggest problems facing society… however, for every utopian view there is of course a dystopian view (i.e Robots are going to take over the planet).

One of the real threats involved with the Internet of things is just how much information these ‘things’ could collect. If all of the objects in your everyday life were monitoring how you used them then wouldn’t they know everything about you? Who gets this information? All of the data recorded by objects in your life would essentially be uploaded to the Internet, and for some, information is a very valuable thing.

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Eric Savitz, 2012 ‘How The Internet of Things Will Change Almost Everything’ Forbes Magazine, written December 17, accessed October 24, 2013

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“Open or Perish”

“Open or perish.” If you are not “open” (i.e open source) then you just don’t get it, you’re brainwashed and destined for a life of obsolescence (Sigal, 2009). While this may be an appealing logic the reality isn’t so simple, and especially not when we are discussing the future of the mobile net.

Take a look at the oppositional approaches taken by the two companies with (apparently) the greatest product differentiation and the greatest share of the mobile market (Sigal, 2009). Apple and Google.Image

Apple. Their first platform was open and it became successful because it was open. The company has now created a closed ecosystem with an integrated approach to hardware, software and service. Google is generally perceived to be more open, taking a “looser” approach to systems and services (Reestman, 2009). Both businesses are highly successful with legions of devotees. So which approach is better?

Apple delivers a “superb” user experience with great synergy and seamless integration across its different products, however it is also a bit of a bully. The company holds all the power to choose which services and offerings it anoints as value-adds (as well as which to banish) (Reestman, 2009).

Google is pretty phenomenal in the way it rolls out its product offerings and its openness has allowed many to build on the system. However, some critics note that its products are uninspired and unfocused from a product lifecycle perspective (Reestman, 2009). Although doesn’t open just seem better than closed?

Mark Sigal of GigaOM says, “The reality is that openness is just an attribute – it’s not an outcome,Image and customers buy outcomes. They want the entire solution and they want it to work predictably. Only a tiny minority actually cares about how or why it works.” (Sigal, 2009) This perspective tends to explain how things are viewed from the end user angle. Only the ‘geeks’ among us tend to consider or wonder how something like an operating system might work. The majority of consumers just want something that works, is easy to use, reliable and solves their problems (Zweier, 2013).

There are a few broad issues with trying to innovate in the “open” Android space. If you develop a great new feature, everybody else gets the code too. The distinguishable becomes indistinguishable. The development of apps is also a bit of a problem for Android users, if you develop hardware with a nice feature android can take advantage of then you will have to wait for an app to support it (which realistically could take a very long time) (Hardy, 2008).

One important benefit of an open system is that it allows for a huge amount of people and companies to collaborate. While this may sometimes be seen as a downfall (companies don’t really want to develop for their competitors) it certainly increases the competition, which is always a bonus for the consumer.

In the end it comes down to the consumer and wether they want comfort, or freedom.

Hardy, Ed ‘iPhone vs. Android: a Study in Contrasts’ Brighthand Editor, July, 03, 2008

Reestman, Tom ‘Android Open vs. iPhone Closed: Is IT Really That Simple?’ GigaOM, Feb 23, 2009

Sigal, Mark ‘Android vs. iPhone: Why Openness May Not Be Best’ GigaOM, Feb 22, 2009

Zweier, Daniel ‘The New Apple iOS 7, Ideology and the Future’ aNewDomain

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Protests Now and Then

Occupy Wall Street, in its general critique of unfair wealth distribution and unchecked Imagecorporate power, sort of echoes the hunger marches of the 1930’s. The protests have borrowed themes and tactics from social and political activist rallies of the past, although there have certainly been some differences. The occupy movement is both familiar and yet pioneering.

The movement’s tactics were reminiscent of the passive sit-ins and vigil demonstrations of the civil rights era. Although this time they weren’t organised by phone trees and worth of mouth, the movement was spread through the use of social media. The use of social media has been successful in creating hype and numbers for uprisings in the Middle East (just see Arab Spring), and it was again successful in the Occupy movements (Asenault, 2011).

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Just how much Occupy America can accomplish is unclear, however with the help of social media the speed at which the movement is multiplying (similar protests are breaking out across Europe and East Asia) is already affecting political discourse, as the issue of economic inequality is drawn to the forefront for the first time since the 1930’s. Gary Gerstle (Vanderbilt University) says, “It has the potential to change the fundamentals of American Politics (Asenault, 2011). Occupy Wall Street; the movement’s flagship (based in Manhattan) has spread to over 150 cities in the US.

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Social media makes communication move much faster and without the need of street marches and fiery speeches. The new protest trend may bring more people onto the scene, although something does seem to be missing. With it now being so easy to contribute to a cause (or feel as if you are contributing), it’s a little obvious that not all those that protest have the passion, especially in Western countries (Jimeno, 2011).  

In the years before smartphones and social networking text messaging was the primary mobile tool for protest coordination. Nathan Freitas says “Most mobile social media tools didn’t exists, so we were rolling our own” (Gahran, 2011). Freitas, an open source software developer, says in 2004 he helped the Ruckus Society build a text alert service, which had the ability to transmit tactical texts from organisers to more than 10 000 protesters on the ground. Freitas believes that this relatively closed communication channel may have had more impact on protests than open networks like the social media channels used today. There was “less noise and competition” the phones were used to “organize people”. Freitas believes “social media is more about spreading news and opinion” (Gahran, 2011).

The idea of social networking and revolutions or protests being intrinsically linked is one that seems to be in constant debate. I believe social media is great as an organisational tool and can certainly spread news, ideas and events quickly. However the people who are on the ground have and should always be where the attention is focused. This topic has so many factors to be discussed, and it will be interesting to see what social media can change around the world in the next decade.

 

Asenault, M 2011 ‘Protests, how they have changed’, The Boston Globe, 16 October, accessed 12 October, 2013

Gahran, A 2011 ‘Mobile tools for protests – then and now’, CNN, 10 October, accessed 12 October, 2013

Jimeno, R 2013 ‘Protest actions’, Standard Today, 07 October, accessed 12 October, 2013

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Rick Rollers to Game Changers

Whoever controls the flow of information in the network society essentially has the power. The Internet is a distributed network, with distributed control. As a result individual nodes have more power than ever and some are using this power to their advantage more than others. So why can’t, in this new borderless space, all information just flow freely?

Steven Levy, a technology journalist, coined the term “hacker ethic” in 1984. This term references a sort of hacker philosophy that runs deep within their community. Since the early age of the personal computer “hacks” have been performed, this is the legal or illegal manipulation of computer systems or networks. The hacker ethic contained seven core elements (Kelly, 2012):

  1. Access to computers should be totally unrestricted
  2. Hackers should always honour the “Hands-On Imperative
  3. Information should be free
  4. Hackers should distrust authority and promote decentralization
  5. Hackers should judge their peers only by their hacking, rather than any educational or professional pedigree
  6. It is possible to create beauty and art within the confines of a computer
  7. Computers can better a person’s life

This ethic has certainly played a role in the leap from “hacker” to “hacktivist”. The hacker community seems to have developed from rejecting a centralised structure, which is how most governments, large corporations and religious institutions are organised (Kelly, 2012). Funnily enough, it is usually governments, corporations and religious institutions that are targeted by hacktivists, and it is usually because they withhold information… and, well, information just wants to be free.

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Hacktivists tend to form a collective and they tend to engage in illegal (at least more so than legal) computer activity. An example of one of these hacktivist collectives is ‘Anonymous’. Anonymous defines itself as an “internet gathering” with a “very loose and decentralized command structure that operates on ideas rather than directives” (Kelly, 2012). Prior to 2008 Anonymous was most notable for Internet pranks like the “rickroll and “lolcats”. However in January of 08 Anonymous had a run in with the Church of Scientology, which changed the ‘groups’ public perception for good. The Church tried to suppress various Internet media outlets’ from publishing a video of super scientology star Tom Cruise, as he spoke incoherently and fanatically about the religion.  More than 6000 members participated in the operation and donned Guy Fawkes masks as they protested in the streets on 90 cities worldwide (Kelly, 2012). Meanwhile online members raided Scientology websites and prevented the Cruise video from disappearing online. One Anonymous member stated,

Scientology tried to fuck with our internet, attempting to shut down the Cruise video. It was punished, hard, and continues to be punished nearly four years later. . . . Anonymous was born out of a need to exact retribution. . . . The targets may have broadened but the essential message is the same.” (Kelly, 2012)

 

It was this attack on Scientology that shaped Anonymous and the world’s perception of it, as the group revealed three key characteristics.

  1. An unrelenting moral stance on issues and rights, regardless of direct provocation.
  2. A physical presence that accompanies online hacking activity.
  3. A distinctive brand.

Just one year after these characteristics were revealed Anonymous had launched cyber attacks on US Government entities, threatened to take on America’s critical infrastructure, and acted as a key participant in a huge public protest that sought to uproot American establishment (Kelly, 2012). This is certainly not a “rickroll”.

Kelly, Brian 2012 “Investing in a Centralized Cybersecurity Infrastructure: Why ‘Hacktivism’ can and should influence cybersecurity reform”Boston University Law Review 92 (5): 1678–1680. Retrieved September 29, 2013.

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Should I write the story or should you do it?

When old media was dominant conversations were individual, just a discussion between two people or two groups over the telephone or through letters. When mass media came to rise the conversation was often one sided, we consumed information and had limited channels through which we could respond. New media now provides us with a combination of individual and mass communication. The feedback loop is more efficient than ever before and participating has become its own reward as the prosumers hold the power.

Legacy Media used to be the only place we could access news and events. They would make the news, tell you the news and we would consume it. Now, with micro blogging platforms like twitter and citizen journalism sites like CNN iReport, we can have access to millions of different stories, millions of viewpoints and millions of conversations.

We all know that not every viewpoint is… well, worth listening to. Take twitter for example, it is designed for sharing Imagemoments of your life (be it momentous or mundane) in real time and helping create connections over distance. There are millions of 140-character tweets that mean nothing (although even these ones have contributed to conversations). However as twitter has developed (and it is it’s users that have really developed it), many unknown and important uses have surfaced. One is its coverage of real time events, which not only users turn to for information but also legacy media outlets (Williams, 2009).

This is where citizen journalism and twitter meet. The advent of social media and blogging means that the role of the citizen journalist is becoming more valuable than ever. Transnational corporations like Disney, Time Warner, News Corp and Viacom have always dominated the global media market. However as social media sites become more and more dominant in the media world, dynamics are beginning to change (Revis, 2011). The many-to-many nature of these sites allows for unique perspectives as well as providing a breath of fresh air for those societies herded by mainstream media giants.

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The Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street movements have already shown the democratising ability of digital media. Mobile technologies combined with Twitter have allowed citizen journalists to broadcast stories that may otherwise have been silenced. This advent of user-generated content will only continue to strengthen, as traditional newsrooms become more and more constrained by time and resources. Media outlets like BBC have already begun incorporating citizen journalism into their business structures with their ‘User-Generated Content Hub’. We have also seen promising partnerships, for example Reuter’s partnership with blogging network Global Voiceswhich has allowed bloggers to contribute first hand perspectives from countries like Africa (Revis, 2009). These blogs have given Africans a chance to speak for themselves through a blog that is linked directly with a mainstream media network.

Citizen journalists now have the resources to act as a balancing force to mainstream media, sociologist Michael Schudson makes an interesting point in saying “Who writes the story matters. When minorities and women and people who have known poverty and misfortune first-hand are authors of news, as well as readers, the social world represented in the news expands and changes.” (Mills, 2004)

Mills, K 2004 Changing The Civil Rights Case That Transformed Television Channels, The University Press of Mississippi, MS US, pp. 179.

Revis, L 2011 ‘How Citizen Journalism Is Reshaping Media and Democracy’ Mashable, viewed 17 September 2013

Williams, E 2009 ‘The voices of Twitter users or Listening to Twitter users’ TED Talks, viewed 17 September 2013

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BlockBusted.

Accessibility is a daily norm and I think I might be taking it for granted.

It had never really occurred to me that before digital files, DVD’s and even VHS, if you missed an episode of your favourite TV show you had no control as to when you could view it again. Now, It is so simple and cheap to access media and there is no limit to the supply that you can access. This, of course, is a result of the Internet. With zero to low cost of entry, no quality filter, no cost to the user, no risk and no economies of scale the Internet is a platform with built in abundance and it is this abundance that has created a very long tail.

Legacy Media operates on a hit-driven model, which is basically the concept of the blockbuster. Companies like Disney need to make huge hits in order to draw in huge crowds and make big bucks. They provide you with a handful of flicks that appeal to a wide audience and they can only be viewed (legally) in the physical space of the cinema or months later when they are released onto DVD. To the Legacy Media industry a mass-market will always trump a niche market. However, thanks to the nets ability for abundance, niche markets are in, and mass markets are on the way out. Aggregators, like Netflix for example, don’t have to succumb to the tyranny of physical space. Netflix does not have to worry about appealing to a wider audience (Anderson, 2004). They have the ability to appeal to the individual, because there are billions of them. This stream of niche markets is what is known as the Long Tail.

Netflix Warehouse vs Blockbuster store

Netflix Warehouse vs Blockbuster store

A typical movie store, say Blockbuster for example, has about 3000 movie titles in stock. Netflix has 40 000. If you apply the 80-20 rule to this scenario only around 600 movies make up 80% of Blockbuster’s sales. The 3000th title may only sell once or twice a month, meaning that if they did stock a 3001st title it probably wouldn’t sell at all. This shortens the tail and only adds up to 20% of sales. This is the tyranny of physical space and it is why Legacy Media cannot cater to niche markets. However, if you keep extending the tail from 3001 through to 40 000 and all these titles only sell a few times it ends up adding up to a lot more sales. For aggregates, like Netflix, the end of the tail contributes to 50% of overall sales rather than a measly 20% (Holter, 2006).

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Thanks to the Long Tail, we can access amazing and unique media content. Like this…

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Anderson, C. (2004). The Long Tail. Wired, 12.10

Holter, E 2006‘Examples of the Long Tail Effect’ Newfangled

 

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