Earlier today my colleague Michele Willson and I ran the ANZCA PreConference Social, Casual, Mobile: Changing Games which went really well, bringing together 17 games scholars from Australia and Canada, including a fantastic keynote by Mia Consalvo and plenary by John Banks.

I also had the opportunity to present today, and the slides and audio from my talk are below:

And here’s the abstract if you’re interested:

The hugely successful franchise Angry Birds by Finnish company Rovio is synonymous with the new and growing market of app-based games played on smartphones and tablets. These are often referred to as ‘casual games’, highlighting their design which rewards short bursts of play, usually on mobile media devices, rather than the sustained attention and dedicated hardware required for larger PC or console games. Significantly, there is enormous competition within the mobile games, while the usually very low cost (free, or just one or two dollars) makes a huge ranges of choices available to the average consumer. Moreover, these choices are usually framed by just one standardised interface, such as the Google Play store for Android powered devices, or the Apple App store for iOS devices. Within this plethora of options, I will argue that in addition to being well designed and enjoyable to play, successful mobile games are consciously situated within a social network market.

The concepts of ‘social network markets’ reframes the creative industries not so much as the generators of intellectual property outputs, but as complex markets in which the circulation and value of media is as much about taste, recommendations and other networked social affordances (Potts, Cunningham, Hartley, & Ormerod, 2008). For mobile games, one of the most effective methods of reaching potential players, then, is through the social attentions and activity of other players. Rovio have been very deliberate in the wide-spread engagement with players across a range of social media platforms, promoting competitive play via Twitter and Facebook, highlighting user engagement such as showcasing Angry Birds themed cakes, and generally promoting fan engagement on many levels, encouraging the ‘spreadability’ of Angry Birds amongst social networks (Jenkins, Ford, & Green, 2013). In line with recognising the importance of engagement with the franchise, Rovio have also taken a very positive approach of unauthorised merchandising and knock-offs, especially in China and South-East Asia. In line with Montgomery and Potts’ (2008) argument that a weaker intellectual property approach will foster a more innovative creative industries in China, rather than attempting to litigate of lock down unauthorised material, Rovio have stated they see this as building awareness of Angry Birds and are working to harness this new, socially-driven market (Dredge, 2012). As Rovio now license everything from Angry Birds plush toys to theme parks, social network markets can be perpetuated even by unauthorised material, which builds awareness and interest in the official games and merchandising in the long run. Far from a standalone example, this paper argues that not only is Rovio consciously situating Angry Birds within a social network market model, but that such a model can drive other mobile games success in the future.

References

Dredge, S. (2012, January 30). Angry Birds boss: “Piracy may not be a bad thing: it can get us more business.” The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/appsblog/2012/jan/30/angry-birds-music-midem

Jenkins, H., Ford, S., & Green, J. (2013). Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture. New York and London: New York University Press.

Montgomery, L., & Potts, J. (2008). Does weaker copyright mean stronger creative industries? Some lessons from China. Creative Industries Journal, 1(3), 245–261. doi:10.1386/cij.1.3.245/1

Potts, J., Cunningham, S., Hartley, J., & Ormerod, P. (2008). Social network markets: a new definition of the creative industries. Journal of Cultural Economics, 32(3), 167–185. doi:10.1007/s10824-008-9066-y

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Links through to May 21st:

  • Sensis Yellow Social Media Report 2013 [PDF] – The new Sensis Yellow Social Media Report is out (based on a survey of 937 Australians in March and April 2013), showing widespread social media use, with growth in mobile and second screen uses:
    * 95% of AUstralian social media users use Facebook
    * The typical Australian spends 7 hrs/wk on Facebook
    * 67% of Australians access social sites on a smartphone
    * 42% of Australians use social media while watching TV
  • A better, brighter Flickr [Flickr Blog] – Yahoo have majorly redesigned Flickr, giving new free (ad-supported) accounts 1Tb of storage, which is an awful lot of photos. The Android app is now almost identitcal to the iOS app, but the new aesthetics of the web-based version are a big change, looking more and more like every other photo-sharing service around today. Quite a few long-term Flickr users (of which I am one) have voiced a range of concerns about the design changes. Also, what this redesign means for people who’ve already paid for Pro accounts is deeply unclear on the main Flickr pages. (The Twitter account seems to suggest nothing changes.)
  • Yahoo! to Acquire Tumblr / Yahoo [Yahoo News Centre] – Yahoo buys Tumblr for $1.1 billion and, in their words, “promises not to screw it up”. A clever buy for Yahoo, but it’ll be hard to integrate the rebellious/youth Tumblr userbase into the Yahoo brand.
  • Introducing Photos of You [Instagram Blog] – Just in case you momentarily forgot that Facebook owns Instagram, the photo-sharing service has just added the ability to tag photos (remarkably similar to Facebook’s tagging function). Looks like Instagram needs a better map of your personal networks before they can harness it commercially.
  • Follow the audience… [YouTube Blog] – May 2013 and YouTube users “are watching more than 6 billion hours of video each month on YouTube; almost an hour a month for every person on Earth and 50 percent more this year than last.”
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Links through to January 16th:

  • Beatles’ First Single Enters Public Domain — In Europe [Techdirt] – The Beatles remain the iconic pop group, so news on VVN/Music that their very first single has now entered the public domain is something of a landmark moment in music:
    The Beatles first single, Love Me Do / P.S. I Love You, has entered the public domain in Europe and small labels are already taking advantage of the situation.The European copyright laws grant ownership of a recorded track for fifty years, which Love Me Do just passed. That means that, starting January 1 of 2013, anyone who wants to put out the track is free to do so.
    Unfortunately, if you’re in the US, you’ll probably have to wait until 2049 or so. And things are about to get worse in Europe too. As Techdirt reported, back in 2011 the European Union agreed to increase the copyright term for sound recordings by 20 years,
  • App Store Tops 40 Billion Downloads with Almost Half in 2012 [Apple – Press Info] – Apple passes 40 billion app downloads: “Apple® today announced that customers have downloaded over 40 billion apps*, with nearly 20 billion in 2012 alone. The App Store℠ has over 500 million active accounts and had a record-breaking December with over two billion downloads during the month. Apple’s incredible developer community has created over 775,000 apps for iPhone®, iPad® and iPod touch® users worldwide, and developers have been paid over seven billion dollars by Apple.”
  • World Map of Social Networks [Vincos Blog] -“December 2012, a new edition of my World Map of Social Networks, showing the most popular social networking sites by country, according to Alexa traffic data (Google Trends for Websites was shut down on September 2012). Facebook with 1 billion active users has established its leadership position in 127 out of 137 countries analyzed. One of the drivers of its growth is Asia that with 278 million users, surpassed Europe, 251 million, as the largest continent on Facebook. North America has 243 million users, South America 142 million. Africa, almost 52 million, and Oceania just 15 million (source: Facebook Ads Platform). In the latest months Zuckerberg’s Army conquered Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia and Vietnam.”
  • Over 8 million game downloads on Christmas Day! [Rovio Entertainment Ltd] – Rovio’s big Christmas download haul: “Wow, what a year! We released four critically-acclaimed bestselling mobile games, developed two top-rated Facebook games, and reached more than a billion downloads — all before our 3rd “Birdday”! Angry Birds Star Wars and Bad Piggies in particular have dominated the app charts, with Angry Birds Star Wars holding the #1 position on the US iPhone chart ever since its release! To top it all off, we had 30 million downloads during Christmas week (December 22-29) and, on Christmas Day, over 8 million downloads in 24 hours alone!”
  • R18+ game rating comes into effect [ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)] – Finally: “An R18+ video game rating has come into effect across Australia after a deal between the states and the Commonwealth last year. The change means some games that were previously unavailable to adults can go on sale, whereas others that could be accessed by children will become restricted. The issue had divided interest groups, with some claiming the new classification would protect children but others feared it would expose them to more violent games. Legislation to approve the rating was passed by the Senate in June. Under the previous classification regime, the highest rating for computer games was MA15+, meaning overseas adults-only games were either banned in Australia or given a lower classification, allowing children to obtain them.”
  • Two billion YouTube music video views disappear … or just migrate? [Technology | guardian.co.uk] – Despite rumours of massive cuts to major record labels’ YouTube channel counts, the explanation is rather more banal: “Universal and Sony have, since 2009, been moving their music videos away from their YouTube channels and over to Vevo, the music industry site the two companies own with some investors from Abu Dhabi. YouTube, meanwhile, thinks that is only right to count channel video views for videos that are still actually present on the channels – which means that whenever YouTube got round to reviewing the music majors’ channels on its site, a massive cut was always going to be in order.”
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Happy New Year, originally uploaded by Tama Leaver.

End of year links:

  • Best Memes of 2012: Editorial Choices [Know Your Meme] – The best memes of 2012, according to Know Your Meme:
    #10: Sh*t People Say
    #9: What People Think I Do
    #8: Overly Attached Girlfriend
    #7: Ehrmagerd
    #6: Ridiculously Photogenic Guy
    #5: Somebody That I Used to Know
    #4: Kony 2012
    #3: Call Me Maybe
    #2: Grumpy Cat
    #1: Gangnam Style
    Personally, I’d add Texts from Hillary, McKayla is Not Impressed and Binders Full of Women to the list!
  • Posterous Spaces backup tool available now [The Official Posterous Space] – Posterous adds the ability for users to download their entire Posterous sites as a zip file, complete with images and a usable (if dull) html interface. There hasn’t been a lot of movement with Posterous since the team were bought out by Twitter, so this new tool may signal the beginning of the end of the end for Posterous, which is a real shame since it’s still a more robust tool than Tumblr in a number of ways.
  • App sales soar in 2012 [Technology | The Guardian] – “Shiny new tablets and smartphones given as presents make Christmas Day and Boxing Day the two most lucrative days of the year for app sales. Yet in the apps economy, turkeys are a year-round phenomenon. Thousands of new apps are released every week for devices running Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, but most sink without trace. With an estimated 1bn apps released so far on those two platforms alone, there are relatively few winners and many losers. This month, industry analyst Canalys claimed that in the first 20 days of November, Apple’s US App Store generated $120m (£75m) of app revenues, with just 25 publishers accounting for half of that. And 24 of those 25 companies make games, including the likes of Zynga, Electronic Arts and Angry Birds publisher Rovio. But analysts suggested in August that two-thirds of Apple store apps had never been downloaded – a lifeless long tail of more than 400,000 unwanted apps.”
  • 2012’s Most Popular Locations on Instagram [Instagram Blog] – “What was the most-Instagrammed place in the world this past year? The answer may surprise you. Out of anywhere else in the world, Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport tops the list. Over 100,000 photos were taken there last year! What other locations were popular in 2012? From Asia to Europe to North America, Instagrammers shared their view of the world. Read on for the full list:
    * Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) ท่าอากาศยานสุวรรณภูมิ in Bangkok, Thailand
    * Siam Paragon (สยามพารากอน) shopping mall in Bangkok, Thailand
    * Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California
    * Times Square in New York City
    * AT&T; Park in San Francisco
    * Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
    * Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles
    * Eiffel Tower in Paris
    * Staples Center in Los Angeles
    * Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles”
  • Wikipedia’s most searched articles of the year revealed [BBC News] – “A study of 2012’s most read Wikipedia articles reveals striking differences in what proved popular across the different language versions of the online encyclopaedia. Facebook topped the English edition while an entry for adult video actresses did best in Japan. Hua Shan – a Chinese mountain featuring “the world’s deadliest hiking trail” – topped the Dutch list. By contrast, cul-de-sacs were the German site’s most clicked entry. … Lower entries on the lists also proved revealing. While articles about Iran, its capital city Tehran and the country’s New Year celebrations topped the Persian list, entries about sex, female circumcision and homosexuality also made its top 10. …
    English language most viewed
    1. Facebook
    2. Wiki
    3. Deaths in 2012
    4. One Direction
    5. The Avengers
    6. Fifty Shades of Grey
    7. 2012 phenomenon
    8. The Dark Knight Rises
    9. Google
    10. The Hunger Games”
  • Bug reveals ‘erased’ Snapchat videos [BBC News] – Using a simple file browser tool, users are able to find and save files sent via Snapchat, an app that’s meant to share and then erase photos, messages and video. Not surprisingly really, since all communication online is, essentially, copying files of some sort or another.
  • Web tools whitewash students online [The Australian] – Universities offering web presence washing at graduation. Perhaps teaching grads to manage their own would be better.
    “Samantha Grossman wasn’t always thrilled with the impression that emerged when people Googled her name. “It wasn’t anything too horrible,” she said. “I just have a common name. There would be pictures, college partying pictures, that weren’t of me, things I wouldn’t want associated with me.” So before she graduated from Syracuse University last spring, the school provided her with a tool that allowed her to put her best web foot forward. Now when people Google her, they go straight to a positive image – professional photo, cum laude degree and credentials – that she credits with helping her land a digital advertising job in New York. “I wanted to make sure people would find the actual me and not these other people,” she said. Syracuse, Rochester and Johns Hopkins in Baltimore are among the universities that offer such online tools to their students free of charge …”
  • Mark Zuckerberg’s sister learns life lesson after Facebook photo flap [Technology | The Guardian] – A photo from Randi Zuckerberg’s Facebook page gets taken out of context and reposted on Twitter and she complains, then goes overtly moral, tweeting: “Digital etiquette: always ask permission before posting a friend’s photo publicly. It’s not about privacy settings, it’s about human decency”The Guardian’s take: “But what’s most odious about the episode is the high-handedness of Zuckerberg’s response. Facebook makes money when users surrender their privacy. The company has made it the user’s job to defend personal information, which otherwise might be made public by default. Got a problem with that? The company’s answer always has been that users should read the privacy settings, closely, no matter how often they change. … Eva Galperin said that while Facebook has made amendments to their privacy settings, they still remain confusing to a large number of people. “Even Randi Zuckerberg can get it wrong,” she said. “That’s an illustration of how confusing they can be.”
  • Twitter and Facebook get on the school timetable in anti-libel lessons [Media | The Guardian] – Some private schools in the UK are now embedding social media literacies into their curriculum, especially how to avoid defamation of others, and, I guess, how not to get sued. While it’d be nice to hear about more well-rounded literacies – like managing your identity online in its early forms – this is nevertheless a step in the right direction. I fear, though, a new digital divide might appear if social media literacies are embedded for some, not all.
  • Top Tweets of 2012: Golden Tweets – Twitter’s official list of top 2012 tweets, led by Barack Obama’s “Four more years” and in second place … Justin Bieber.
  • Facebook’s Poke App Is a Head-Scratcher [NYTimes.com] – Ephemeral Mobile Media: “.. it’s hard to grasp what the point of the Facebook Poke app really is. Poke, which came out last week, is a clone of Snapchat, an app popular among teenagers. Many have labeled Snapchat a “sexting” app — a messaging platform ideally suited for people who want to send short-lived photos and videos of you-know-what to get each other feeling lusty. The files self-destruct in a few seconds, ideally relieving you of any shame or consequence, unless, of course, the recipient snaps a screen shot. (Poke and Snapchat alert you if a screen shot has been taken.) It’s a bit of a head-scratcher for adults, like me and my Facebook friends, who aren’t inclined to sext with one another. We’re more used to uploading photos of pets, food, babies and concerts, which aren’t nearly as provocative. The most interesting aspect of Poke is that you can send photos and videos only of what you’re doing at that moment; you cannot send people a nice photo saved in your library …”
  • Game of Thrones tops TV show internet piracy chart [BBC News] – Game of Thrones has emerged as the most-pirated TV show over the internet this year, according to news site Torrentfreak’s latest annual survey. It said one episode of the series had racked up 4,280,000 illegal global downloads – slightly more than than its estimated US television audience. … Despite all the closures, one episode of of Game of Thrones racked up 4,280,000 illegal global downloads, according to Torrentfreak. That was slightly more than than its estimated US television audience. The level of piracy may be linked to the fact that the TV company behind it – HBO – does not allow Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime or other US streaming services access to its programmes. It instead restricts them to its own HBO Go online product, which is only available to its cable subscribers. Outside the US, Torrentfreak noted that Australia was responsible for a disproportionate amount of illegal copies of Game of Thrones…”
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Australian Award for University Teaching

At an amazing ceremony and dinner at the National Gallery in Canberra tonight I was surprised, flattered and delighted to receive an Australian Award for University Teaching in the Humanities and Arts. This is a huge honour, and I’m extremely grateful to have my approaches to learning and teaching acknowledged in this manner. That said, I’m incredibly conscious that no one teaches in a vacuum, and in Internet Communications I am but one cog in a very complex and well-maintained machine, so this award is at least as much testimony to all of our team at Curtin University as it is to me.

Most importantly, though, I wanted to publicly thank the students who offered their thoughts and feedback about my teaching. We live in an era where students get asked to fill in an awfully large number of feedback forms, surveys and evaluations, so adding even one more thing to that pile is a big ask. So, THANK YOU to all of my students, current and past, whose kind words led to this award.

I’d also like to think that this award is a reminder that despite the huge media attention being paid to MOOCs and so forth, quality online education has been available and refined over more than a decade, and our Internet Communications program is one such example. I truly hope that as this next generation of online learning matures, close attention will be paid to successful examples already available! Successful learning and teaching is, after all, built on understanding the successes and failures of the past.

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Links for October 29th through November 8th:

  • Backdown on internet filter plan [SMH] – YAY! “The [Australian] government has finally backed down on its plan for a controversial mandatory internet filter, and will instead rely on major service providers to block ”the worst of the worst” child abuse sites. The retreat on the filter, which Labor proposed from early in its term, comes after a strong campaign by providers. Opponents argued it would not be effective, would be costly and slow down services, and involved too much censorship. Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, who strongly argued the case for years, will announce on Friday that providers blocking the Interpol worst of the worst list ”will help keep children safe from abuse”. ”It meets community expectations, and fulfils the government’s commitment to preventing Australian internet users from accessing child-abuse material online.” The government will use its powers under the telecommunications legislation, so Senator Conroy will say a filter law will not be needed.”
  • Barack Obama victory tweet becomes most retweeted ever [guardian.co.uk] – “Barack Obama has celebrated winning another term as US president by tweeting a photograph of himself hugging his wife, Michelle – which almost immediately became the most popular tweet of all time. The tweet, captioned “Four more years”, had been shared more than 400,000 times within a few hours of being posted, and marked as a favourite by more than 70,000.” (It’s now over 800,000 retweets!)
  • Announcing Instagram Profiles on the Web! [Instagram Blog] – Instagram adds full web profiles for all (public) Instagram accounts. While users can still only upload from mobile devices (for now), Instagram embracing the fuller web, probably as part of the larger integration with Facebook.
  • Mobile Apps Have a Ravenous Ability to Collect Personal Data [NYTimes.com] – “Angry Birds, the top-selling paid mobile app for the iPhone in the United States and Europe, has been downloaded more than a billion times by devoted game players around the world, who often spend hours slinging squawking fowl at groups of egg-stealing pigs. While regular players are familiar with the particular destructive qualities of certain of these birds, many are unaware of one facet: The game possesses a ravenous ability to collect personal information on its users. When Jason Hong, an associate professor at the Human Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, surveyed 40 users, all but two were unaware that the game was noting and storing their locations so that they could later be the targets of advertising.”
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Here are the slides and audio from my paper ‘Global Media Distribution and the Tyranny of Digital Distance’ presented on Saturday, 20 October 2012 at Internet Research 13 in MediaCityUK, Salford:

The paper drifted somewhat from the original abstract, but in a nutshell asks why it is taking television networks so long to escape the tyranny of digital distance (in this instance embodied by the national delays in re-broadcasting overseas-produced television shows). I look at several examples, including the recent Olympics broadcasts, as well as the deep-seated resistance from commercial TV networks in Australia. I conclude following Mark Scott that the future is already here, in the visage of young viewers and Peppa Pig fans who will never know the broadcast schedule and that these are the viewers for whom networks should be preparing to entertain today.

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Links for September 25th through October 7th:

  • Facebook surpasses one billion users as it tempts new markets [BBC News] – "Facebook now has more than one billion people using it every month, the company has said. The passing of the milestone was announced by founder Mark Zuckerberg on US television on Thursday. The company said that those billion users were to date responsible for 1.13 trillion "likes", 219 billion photos and 17 billion location check-ins. The site, which was launched in 2004, is now looking towards emerging markets to build its user base further. "If you're reading this: thank you for giving me and my little team the honor of serving you," Mr Zuckerberg wrote in a status update. "Helping a billion people connect is amazing, humbling and by far the thing I am most proud of in my life." Statistics released to coincide with the announcement revealed there were now 600 million users accessing the site via a mobile device – up 48 million from 552 million in June this year." [Chart Source]
  • Jill Meagher | Trial by Social Media A Worry, Experts Say [The Age] – "The case of Jill Meagher has had the country talking, particularly on social media, but now that someone has been charged it's time to stop being specific, experts say. Jill Meagher was mentioned on social media, both Twitter and Facebook, every 11 seconds early this morning. And the CCTV footage which showed her walking on Sydney Road on the morning she disappeared was shared on the same platforms about 7500 times within two hours … .A Facebook hate group against the accused in the Meagher case has already attracted almost 18,000 "likes". Victoria Police has posted a message on its Facebook page this morning warning users of their legal responsibilities in posting and reminding that "it is inappropriate to post speculation or comments about matters before the courts Thomas Meagher, Jill's husband, today urged people to consider what they posted on Twitter and Facebook."
  • Your YouTube original videos now available in Google Takeout [Google Data Liberation] – YouTube just became a lot more interesting as a storage space for video, not just a distribution platform: "Your Takeout menu is growing.  Today's entrée:  YouTube videos. Previously, you've been able to download individual transcoded videos from your YouTube Video Manager.  But starting today, you also have a more efficient way to download your videos from YouTube. With Google Takeout, you can download all of the original videos that you have uploaded in a few simple clicks.  No transcoding or transformation — you’ll get exactly the same videos that you first uploaded.  Your videos in.  Your videos out."
  • Rupert Murdoch backs down in war with ‘parasite’ Google – Telegraph – "News Corporation plans to reverse an earlier decision to stop articles from its quality papers, such as The Times and The Sunday Times, from featuring in Google’s listings. The effort to stop users from accessing content for free will be watered down, with Google featuring stories in search rankings from next month. The move comes amid fears that the newspapers’ exclusion is limiting their influence and driving down advertising revenues. Sources claim the change was a “marketing exercise”. In the past, Mr Murdoch has lambasted Google as a “parasite” and a “content kleptomaniac” because it only allows companies to feature in search rankings if users are able to click through to at least one page without paying."
  • Google Play hits 25 billion downloads [Official Android Blog] – Google announces that the Google Play store now offers over 675,000 apps and games and that there have been over 25 billion individual app installations to date. (September 2012).
  • Facebook raises fears with ad tracking [CNN.com] – "Facebook is working with a controversial data company called Datalogix that can track whether people who see ads on the social networking site end up buying those products in stores.
    Amid growing pressure for the social networking site to prove the value of its advertising, Facebook is gradually wading into new techniques for tracking and using data about users that raise concerns among privacy advocates.[…] Datalogix has purchasing data from about 70m American households largely drawn from loyalty cards and programmes at more than 1,000 retailers, including grocers and drug stores. By matching email addresses or other identifying information associated with those cards against emails or information used to establish Facebook accounts, Datalogix can track whether people bought a product in a store after seeing an ad on Facebook. The emails and other identifying information are made anonymous and collected into groups of people who saw an ad and people who did not."
  • Facebook Is Now Recording Everyone You Stalk [Gizmodo Australia] – Facebook has announced that they will now record your Facebook search history; every time you search for someone's name, that information will be stored, accessible as part of your 'Activity Log'. The search entries are individually delectable and only visible to you (and Facebook) but the existence of a Facebook search history is a sure sign that Facebook sees real value in recording – and thus data crunching and somehow monetizing – your search history.
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Links for September 24th through September 25th:

  • Disruptions and dividends: a fast broadband Australia [ABC] – A fantastic speech from the ABC's Managing Director Mark Scott, given in September 2012, highlighting the challenges and opportunities the public broadcaster faces in the era of broadband and digital distribution. Scott sees the huge amount of time-shifted streaming of children's television as a harbinger of a future driven by immediacy, while the recent move to make episodes of Doctor Who available online (on iView) the second they finish in the UK signals the only way to answer online piracy: provide a better and easier service.
  • Creepshots and revenge porn: how paparazzi culture affects women [The Guardian] – Disturbing but well-written piece on 'creepshots' and the broader cultural context in which they exist: "… we arguably all live in a paparazzi culture now. Cameras are ubiquitous, as is the technology to share and publicise pictures instantly. The throb of surveillance plays out in different ways. On the more benign side are the mild nerves many people feel when an email pops up to tell them they have been tagged in a Facebook photo, an image that could be from any moment in their life – recent or historical – now public, and open for comments. But it also plays out in more insidious ways. This includes the creepshot websites, and others where people collect images of ordinary women they have culled from around the internet."
  • Facebook Suspends Facial Recognition in Europe [Wall Street Journal] – "Facebook has voluntarily switched off its facial recognition service in Europe following a privacy audit by the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC). The company says it wants to reinstate the feature once a form of consent can be found that meets the guidelines."
  • Gangnam Style, Dissected: The Subversive Message Within South Korea’s Music Video Sensation [The Atlantic] – "Park Jaesang is an unlikely poster boy for South Korea's youth-obsessed, highly lucrative, and famously vacuous pop music. Park, who performs as Psy (short for psycho), is a relatively ancient 34, has been busted for marijuana and for avoiding the country's mandatory military service, and is not particularly good-looking. His first album got him fined for "inappropriate content" and the second was banned. He's mainstream in the way that South Korea's monolithically corporate media demands of its stars, who typically appear regularly on TV variety and even game shows, but as a harlequin, a performer known for his parodies, outrageous costumes, and jokey concerts. Still, there's a long history of fools and court jesters as society's most cutting social critics, and he might be one of them. […] Gangnam is a tony Seoul neighborhood, and Park's "Gangnam Style" video lampoons its self-importance and ostentatious wealth, with Psy playing a clownish caricature of a Gangnam man."
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Links – catching up – through to August 22nd:

  • Instagram 3.0 – Photo Maps & More [Instagram Blog]- Instagram releases a substantial new update for iOS and Android, adding a new photo maps feature. If the user chooses to do so, the photo maps places all geotagged photos onto an interactive map of the globe which can be navigated by Instagram users’ contacts.
    Instagram 3.0 – Photo Maps Walkthrough from Instagram on Vimeo.

    While the maps function is being rolled out with very clear warnings about revealing locations publicly – with tools to remove geotags from some, groups or all photos – this rollout will no doubt remind (and shock many) users that the geographic tags on their photos mean that these aren’t just photos – they’re important and complex assemblages of data that can be reused and repurposed in a variety of ways.

  • Google to push pirate sites down search results [BBC – Newsbeat] – “Google is changing the way it calculates search results in an effort to make sure legal download websites appear higher than pirate sites. The world’s biggest search engine announced the change in a blog post on its website. The move has been welcomed by record companies in the UK and Hollywood film studios. Movie and music firms have complained in the past that Google should have been doing more to fight piracy. They say searching for an artist, song or film often brings up pages of illegal sites, making it hard to find a place to download a legal version. From next week, search results will take into account the number of “valid copyright removal notices”. Sites with more notices will rank lower, although Google has not said what it considers a valid notice.”
  • Gotye – Somebodies: A YouTube Orchestra [YouTube]- Fantastic remix by Gotye, using a huge range of fan remixes of Somebody that I Used to Know and mashing them together. Comes with a full credits list, too: http://gotye.com/reader/items/original-videos-used-in-somebodies-a-youtube-orchestra.html (A great example for Web Media 207.)
  • Facebook removes ‘racist’ page in Australia [BBC News] – “A Facebook page that depicted Aboriginal people in Australia as drunks and welfare cheats has been removed after a public outcry. The Aboriginal Memes page had allowed users to post jokes about indigenous people. An online petition calling for the removal of “the racist page” has generated thousands of signatures. The government has also condemned it. The page’s creator is believed to be a 16-year-old boy in Perth, reports say. “We recognise the public concern that controversial meme pages that Australians have created on Facebook have caused,” Facebook said in a statement to local media. A meme is an idea that spreads through the internet.”
  • Twitter ‘sorry’ for suspending Guy Adams as NBC withdraws complaint [Technology | guardian.co.uk] – “Twitter on Tuesday reinstated the account of a British journalist it suspended for publishing the email address of an executive at NBC, which had been attracting a significant amount of incoming fire over its Olympics coverage. The incident has not done Guy Adams of the Independent much harm. Apart perhaps from a little hurt pride, he has returned to the twittersphere with tens of thousands of new followers. For NBC, it was another blow to its already battered reputation over its coverage of the London Olympic Games. But Twitter found itself in a deeply unfamiliar situation: as the subject of one of the firestorms of indignation that characterises the platform, but which are usually directed at others.”
  • Murdoch’s tablet The Daily lays off nearly a third of its staff [Media | guardian.co.uk] – “The Daily, Rupert Murdoch’s tablet newspaper, has laid off close to a third of its staff just 18 months after its glitzy launch. Executives at the News Corp-owned title told its 170 employees on Tuesday that 50 of them would be let go. Sources told the Guardian that security staff were brought onto the Daily’s editorial floor at News Corp in New York to escort the laid-off employees out of the building. Earlier this month the paper’s editor-in-chief Jesse Angelo denied reports that the media giant had put the title “on watch” and was considering closing it. In a statement Tuesday Angelo said the title was dropping its opinion section and would be taking sports coverage from Fox Sports, also part of News Corp, and other partners. In another cost-saving move the title will also stop producing pages that can be read vertically and horizontally on a tablet, sticking to straight up and down.”
  • If Twitter doesn’t reinstate Guy Adams, it’s a defining moment [Dan Gillmor | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk] – “Once again, we’re reminded of a maxim when it comes to publishing on other people’s platforms: we publish at their sufferance. But there’s a corollary: When they take down what we publish, they take an enormous risk with their own futures.
    This time, Twitter has suspended the account of a British journalist who tweeted the corporate email address of an NBC executive. The reporter, Guy Adams of the Independent, has been acerbic in his criticisms of NBC’s (awful) performance during the Olympics in London. Adams has posted his correspondence with Twitter, which claims he published a private email address. It was nothing of the kind, as many, including the Deadspin sports blog, have pointed out. … What makes this a serious issue is that Twitter has partnered with NBC during the Olympics. And it was NBC’s complaint about Adams that led to the suspension. That alone raises reasonable suspicions about Twitter’s motives.”
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