The title of this blog is almost 2000 years old. This was graffiti written in the gladiator barracks in Pompeii, preserved in time after the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Kinda sounds like a status or a tweet, right? This shows that we as a species have been communicating our every thought, no matter how anecdotal or trivial, in public for everyone to see. It wasn’t until the creation of social media that we’ve been able to actual store this kind of data, a window into the every day trivialities of our lives. From a literal wall, to a Facebook wall.
Our almost compulsive need to communicate the most inane thoughts and activities has been with us for centuries upon centuries, but we never realised how valuable this information was until we developed the ability to store it. Now we can see the incomprehensible amounts of data that we leave behind down to single minute, millions upon millions of videos watched, money spent, people matched with, photos shared, texts sent. We’re all connected and we’re all leaving behind our digital footprint for the whole world to see.
So, think twice before you decide to post something dumb.
I really struggled with getting my head around this week’s topic of hardware platforms. After a few re-listens and re-reads, I think I finally have a semblance of an understanding on the topic. One thing that I did understand was the on-going feud between Apple and Android (Google). So for this week’s blog, I wanna share my views on the two and give some experiences.
I’ve never been someone who’s cared all that much about having the latest tech or the best phone. For me if I can make calls, text, access the internet and social media, I’m happy. I couldn’t care less about how many pixels the camera has, or what kind of processing power it holds or why one is better than the other. I’ve gone most of my life getting hand-me-down phones from my mum (perks of having a parent that works for a tech company). The only time I ever bought a new phone off the shelf was when the iPhone 5 first came out. It was a big upgrade for me as I was still using a Nokia brick-type phone until then. I had a lot of fun discovering apps and catching up with the rest of the world. But after a while, my iPhone stopped working. It became slow and getting it to charge was a daily struggle.
This is when I learnt about forced obsolescence. Essentially, to make sure that consumers stay up-to-date with the latest Apple product, they program the products to eventually stop working properly, essentially forcing the consumer to buy the next gen Apple product. This, coupled with the exclusivity of Apple products, meant that every 2 years, you’d have to line up and buy the next upgrade just so all your devices can still work as they should.
Since then, I’ve stood firmly with Android products. Yes they have forced obsolescence as well, but they’re easily replaced and they can integrate with almost any other device in your home so long as it’s not an Apple product.
Moving on from the internet paradigm, this week’s topic introduced us to the concept of copyright and content control. Copyright covers all mediums that might be considered as intellectual property such as music, literary works, artworks, videos, etc. and allows them exclusive rights to make copies and distribute those works for a period of time.
Immediately when thinking about this subject, my mind goes to the lawsuit filed against popular YouTubers Ethan and Hila Klein (h3h3) by another YouTuber Matt Hoss. The lawsuit stated that h3h3 had illegally used content from Hoss’s video when creating a reaction video criticising Hoss’s content. However, the result of this lawsuit went in favour of h3h3, stating that the video they posted was a transformative version of Hoss’s original work, with the intention behind it to be critique, and they had not breached any copyright laws.
This was considered to be a landmark case in the commentary/reaction channel YouTube community because it set specific guidelines that are now protected by law which allows content creators to parody, criticise or react to other content made on the website.
“Change your perception, change your reality”
This weeks topic looked at the concept of hyperreality, simulation and spectacle. Focusing on Debord’s text The Society of the Spectacle, this topic looks at how we can change our reality depending on how we choose to view things around us. Actions such as dismantling the messages consumerism or propaganda, appropriating it and modifying it in our own way brings forward the idea that reality is whatever we decide it to be.
One thing brought up in the lecture really stuck with me; “it’s not about having the experience, it’s about being SEEN to be there”. This coupled with the photos of people trying to emulate or simulate the original photo used in the lecture of a girl on a beach shows that our reality is what we make of it or how we portray it. It isn’t about having these experiences or wanting these experiences, it’s about portraying that you ARE having these experiences, despite what your actual reality may suggest. But what’s to say that any reality is more real than the other?
Continuing on from the previous weeks topics concerning collective intelligence and meme warfare, this week we looked at how the media can frame certain situations in order to create and influence differing perceptions. To put it simply, one particular image can be used and appropriated multiple times to produce a variety of different connotations, or stories.
On top of this, I believe that social attitudes towards an individual can also contribute to framing our perceptions. For example, there was a running trend on social media around glorifying infamous 1970’s serial killer Ted Bundy when Netflix released a documentary and biopic in 2019. Instead of focusing on the brutal crimes that Bundy had committed, people focused more on his physical appearance, referring to him as “hot”.
This falls into the concept of schema. Schema refers to the preconceived notions that we create for ourselves as a catch-all guide to navigating our world. In the case of Bundy, the schema behind his glorification could fall into the assumption that someone who is traditionally good-looking, intelligent, charismatic and well-spoken is considered to be a good or desirable person. This, however, is not only perpetrated by the general audience. The media often uses the “handsome”, “good bloke”, “loving father driven to insanity” cliche when it comes to men committing horrific crimes because it doesn’t fit the framing of the “strong male protector” schema.
Here are some examples of these instances:
“Early photos show a strikingly handsome man”
You’d think that an image of a green frog going viral with thousands of different iterations would seem harmless in the grand scheme of things, just a bunch of people sharing a meme and creating an inside joke that stacks on the layers upon layers of irony. However, Pepe the Frog has become infamous in his portrayal by the Alt-Right, essentially creating an innocent cartoon into a dog-whistle and a tool for propaganda.
This is an example of meme warfare. Websites and forums such as Reddit, 4Chan, Tumblr, and other social media platforms have been converted into battlegrounds of weaponised memes designed to push an agenda or enact some kind of social/political reform almost completely independent of mainstream media. This builds on from the previous week’s topic of diaologic networking. You have many independent sources collaborating with each other for an overall agenda.
Meme warfare is essentially another form of disinformation. Speaking in terms of politics, this disinformation is often used to sway people more often to the right, usually targeting centrists as a form of recruitment.
My understanding of this week’s topic explores the further dismantling of traditional legacy media and how we as the audience are becoming more and more active in our participation in the way information is presented to us. We are no longer the recipients of media that comes from a centralised source (one source that presents to many, or “one to many”), and passively engaging in the information that is being fed through a gatekeeper (sole source). Instead we are now engaged in a decentralised network where we are both the audience and active participants in the flow of media.
In other terms, this is seen as a shift from monologic media, where the source of information presents it to the isolated audiences without the participation of the audience, to dialogic media, which creates a feedback loop with many different participants sharing and communicating information (a network of participants) without a singular source.