Power Dynamics

This week, I’d like to focus on the aspect that intrigued me the most about this module and seemed to intertwine with many of the topics. This would be the idea of privacy and from ideas about privacy sparks ideas of control, in my eyes. Doug discussed power dynamics in today’s lecture (23rd March) and how those who have access or control are the ones that can stop events occurring and seemingly also, make things happen.

It was announced yesterday that the FBI may be able to unlock the iPhone of the San Bernardino killer, without the need for Apple’s assistance. If the method works, then the FBI receive the information they want, ultimately becoming more enriched with knowledge and power.

However, this has caused much controversy. If Apple were to help the FBI, it would have compromised the safety and trust of millions of Apple users. Prince Al Hussein, high commissioner for human rights at the United Nations was also in support for Apple’s argument.

 

In addition, if the FBI are able to find a loophole and succeed on their own, I think to a degree this could suggest an even bigger cause for concern. The BBC reported:

if the FBI can do it, so can any other hacker privy to the same information.

It also represents the power dynamics amongst society and how essentially, we have no control over our own liberty. This is supported by Lawrence Lessig’s regulation model from Code: Version 2.0, (see figure below) which shows in this situation how the government/those in power are simply going around the constraints, in order to achieve their goal.

Constraints Model

 

 

 

Paying For Creative Freedom

Today I’m actually focusing on WordPress, which we are all using to interact on our course right now. Being a journalism student, blogs have often been encouraged to me as a way to regularly write and showcase work.

The design of a blog is often the most important aspect for many people, especially as many use it as a website for their company, so it’s essential to look professional and unique. This is where access becomes a problem; when you search for a ‘theme’ you are given a wide selection of templates, many of which look amazing. However, the bubble quickly bursts when you realise the rather pricey amount they’re asking for to use it.

Of course, there are a range of free templates but these hold restrictions, since you are constrained by a basic template limiting your control of fonts and colours.

WordPress Themes

This one here (right) was one of the most expensive I saw at $175 (roughly £125).

WordPress also offer different plan options when you sign up, meaning you have the choice to stay on the ‘free’ plan which never expires or you can go for the option of ‘premium’ at $99 per year or ‘business’ at $299 per year.

WordPress Account Plans

This grid shows the increased control you gain over your blog when you pay money.

As you can guess, the theme’s we use originate from a designer somewhere along the line, so the charge to use them is unsurprising. If a business is going to have success with their website based on the great design they used, then it only seems fair that the designer makes some money back too.

Personal Space

Like most people here, when ‘googling’ myself a couple of images do crop up. This is unsurprising as I have a social media presence with accounts on; Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, WordPress etc.

However, I’ve always been rather cautious with my online activity. I suppose it’s just the type of person I am; I don’t like the idea of someone I don’t know having access to photos or information about me – whether it’s good or bad! This means that on Facebook, for example, most of my profile is set to ‘Friends only’ including profile pictures and I haven’t really given away anything too personal; such as my number or email, despite Facebook’s attempts to get me to update these. My Instagram is also set to private, allowing me to control who follows my profile and sees what I post. Therefore, nothing too harmful is escaping there.

Profile for blog

There’s a function that allows you to see what it’s like when the public looks at your profile and what information is available.

Despite this, I noticed that when Facebook brought in ‘cover photos’, privacy wasn’t applicable. From what I gather, they are automatically set to ‘public’ without an alternative option. For some, a cover photo isn’t necessarily of themselves so this wouldn’t matter but if you have friends or other people in those photos, then this becomes a bigger issue because it starts to affect them too.

It’s also evident that no matter how cautious you may be, if you want to interact with the technology of today and feel involved with the modern world, then to some extent you have to accept a loss of control over your privacy.

Spotify: Streaming and Discovering

 

Although possibly not the most obvious option when you think of online communities, Spotify does maintain a significant online presence, as well as building communities and connecting people. The music streaming site was formed in 2008 and was a big turning point for music. However, not necessarily for the better. It has faced criticism from many angles, most notably when Taylor Swift caused a stir removing all of her music from the site.

Despite this, Spotify are still going strong, being reported to have currently over 75 million users. Not only does it provide people with almost endless genres of music but you can also make your own playlists, naming them and dragging and dropping a whole variety of songs into that category. What’s more, you have the choice to follow playlists made by others, enabling you to interact with your friends, exploring their music tastes and perhaps even discovering new music.

Spotify Example

At Christmas, I was able to indulge in all of the festive favourites by following this playlist.

In addition, like most things today, you can also connect your account with Facebook, meaning what you listen to will appear on your timeline. This makes the community spread further and become more shareable. Seeing what someone is listening to on Facebook may influence you to click on it and in return discover some new music.

There are limitations in the sense that the news has shamed them, to a degree. As well as this, unless you sign up and pay for the ‘premium account’, then your music flow is interrupted occasionally by a rather annoying advert.

 

YouTube: Serving a Platform to Be Heard

In a post a couple of weeks back I discussed how the younger generation has claimed YouTube as their own space and I think this is also why audience participation works particularly well with YouTube. The audience love to voice their opinion and feel as though their words are being heard and having an effect. I can imagine this would be even more significant if it was someone who you were a big fan of, as this would almost eliminate the barrier between ‘star’ and ‘audience’. The comments section enables this possibility, as well allowing the audience to interact with other fans or friends until their heart’s content.

YouTube comments 2

Not knowing where to begin I had a look at some well-known YouTube stars which brought me to this collaboration example between ‘Zoella’ and ‘Marcus Butler’. Collaborating with other popular YouTube stars is a method often used to make videos more entertaining and essentially gain more subscribers in a kind of, ‘I scratch your back, you scratch mine’ situation. (see ‘Collaborate with Influencers in Interviews’ in link)


What’s interesting about this video is that the concept, as well the ‘truth or dares’ have been provided by us, the viewers. We provided the information and gained control over the direction of the video. You will often see YouTuber’s asking their viewers at the end of their videos or putting comments on social media, to tell them what they wish to see next.

This is actually a very clever way of keeping your audience happy and returning back to your channel. You get to keep making new, fresh material in videos, whilst the audience have a say in what they watch.

The Independent: The End of an Era?

The Independent recently became the first national newspaper to announce their digital-only future, having described the move as:

… change being driven by readers. They’re showing us that the future is digital.

This brings some sadness as newspapers have been the core source for providing news for a long time and questions whether this is only the beginning of bad news for print publications.The Independent go digital

The Guardian also appear sad:

…the internet which killed the Independent newspaper

They also stated a loss of money for the past 30 years. Being a journalism student, this is a cause for concern because convergence has the potential to wipe out the traditional print format, leaving less job options available.

However, some may argue this was an inevitable convergence with technology rapidly developing, it’s safe to say that our time spent online has increased, consequently making an ideal platform for news. If we are already online, we are more likely to click onto a website and read an article, than we are to go out and specially buy a particular newspaper. Then you have the question of which paper… Do you just buy one? And then only get one view? Reading online eliminates these problems, providing an array of options.

Jose van Dijck reflects in The Culture of Connectivity how print publication has had to adapt to the times:

As social media platforms evolve, business models are constantly tweaked and changed to test their evolutionary strength (Potts 2009).

Social media is also a great way to quickly circulate stories and build an easy interactive following for journalists.

The Wonder of the Podcast

When making use of resources for research or work, I’m not usually very adventurous and tend to stick to what I know – the traditional form of books or online articles. But, this post encouraged me to delve into the depths of the Internet in seek of something a little more exciting, exploring the wider options available.

This introduced me to podcasts, which I’ve found make a refreshing change, enabling you to listen to information and discussion in the background. You can easily absorb the thoughts led by professionals, as opposed to always having to sit down and strain your eyes reading large amounts of text.The Media Show

BBC Radio 4 run ‘The Media Show’ which is described as “a topical programme” regarding current media issues, presented by Steve Hewlett and updated on a weekly basis.

What’s great about this show is the wide range of clips available online, with 370 episodes currently accessible. They are available for an indefinite period so it’s useful to know that with most podcasts you can also download an MP3 version if you need one for a long period to refer back to. Even better… if you find you particularly like the show, you can subscribe so that you automatically always receive the podcasts!

BBC LogoI recommend checking out the ‘Future of the BBC’ as people often have different views on this. It’s also interesting as it features an audience who have the opportunity to broach questions to the media professionals.