Intro to Networked Collaboration

Squeezing People Into One Box

I really enjoyed the Jenkins reading this week, particularly everything under the heading “The Black Box Fallacy.” What I loved so much about it was the emphasis on differentiating between “delivery technologies” and actual media. I think far too often there’s a tendency to conflate the media technology with the medium and as a result bastardize McLuhan’s claim that the medium is the message, thus turning the technology into the message.

People get excited about podcasts as this revolutionary new medium when in fact they’re just a new delivery system for the spoken word. Whether we hear that spoken word around a campfire, through a phonograph, a transistor radio, or via a digital file we’ve downloaded and put on our iPods for later listening, it’s a human’s voice we’re listening to. One could argue convincingly that these permutations each drastically alter the communication happening but I don’t believe that to be absolutely true. The fact that, for example, radio is definitely not the all powerful medium it once was doesn’t diminish the fact that it still plays an important role in our culture. I always fall back on NPR when I want to hear news without the advertising-driven agenda for sensational news. Add the fact that when some kind of catastrophic, apocalyptic event hits, radios may in fact be the last line of human communication. I really love this quote to that point on page 14: “A medium’s content may shift, its audience may change, and its social status may rise or fall, but once a medium establishes itself as satisfying some core human demand, it continues to function with the larger system of communication options.”

When Jenkins discusses the various boxes that live in his living room as an example of why this one box to rule them all idea is a farce I can’t help but identify. My setup is relatively streamlined at the moment with four boxes (AV receiver, DVD player, Xbox 360, and Tivo Satellite Receiver). However I think about adding a Mac Mini there or perhaps an Apple TV (I know, you’re thinking I’m indulging in typical male tech fantasizing but I swear I’m approaching a point). The reason I’m thinking about throwing one of those two last devices I mentioned into the mix is because lately my DVD player is collecting dust. I’ve got three unwatched Netflix DVDs that I’ve had for more than a month. The reason for this is web video. However, watching a movie on my laptop or at my desk is a less than ideal option. If I hooked up a computer of some sort to my television then that problem is solved. So you see, it’s not that I’ve stopped enjoying films. But the way that I consume films has changed. As a matter of fact, I could probably eschew all those devices but the computer and maybe the AV receiver and I’d be fine. However, as Jenkins mentions, my “situated context” determines the optimal way to consume media.

In my mind, convergence is less about stuffing all the capabilities of various devices into one omnipotent device than it is about seeing new ways that the media transmitted by those devices can relate to and interact with one another. To briefly touch on Hopkins and tie his article to Jenkins, if people and human interaction are the medium, Facebook and Twitter are simply different delivery systems for that medium. They will never replace face-to-face contact but they can alter (by enhancing and/or diminishing) that contact.

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September 20, 2008 Posted by | convergence, culture, tools and methodologies | 4 Comments

On convergence and participation

In Convergence Culture, Jenkins writes, “Convergence is a word that manages to describe technological, industrial, cultural, and social changes depending on who’s speaking and what they think they are talking about.” I must say that I was relieved to read this sentence! Over the course of this week the notion of convergence has been simmering on the back burner of my mind, and I’ve been asking myself what exactly we mean when we talk about convergence. Apparently it’s quite subjective! To me, the most interesting interpretation of convergence is the merging of old and new media delivery systems as a result of (or resulting in) a change in cultural participation. For the rest of this post, this is the interpretation of convergence I’ll be using.

A huge example of convergence in our recent media history was ABC’s decision to begin airing full episodes of the network’s shows online. Critics of the move predicted that once viewers began watching full episodes online, they wouldn’t return to watching ABC programming on television. Perhaps, however, it doesn’t matter if viewers begin watching most of their television online. Could this be the beginning of a new convergence trend? Movenetworks.com reported that in May 2008, ABC viewers watched “a record 815 million minutes of full-length episodes during the month, a 53 percent increase over the previous month and an increase of nearly 110 percent over May 2007. The full report is HERE. My own experience with ABC’s online episodes was one that actually increased my television viewing. I often come home late at night after bartending and want to watch something besides infomercials. I got hooked on “Desperate Housewives,” “Brothers and Sisters,” and “Pushing Daisies” through online episodes, and soon I was making time in my schedule to watch the new episodes as they aired on TV. What a sly way to get me addicted to three ABC shows!

I came across another interesting example of media convergence today. I do some work at Sirius Satellite Radio on the Metropolitan Opera Channel. The Met Channel is a recent project with a goal of making a wide range of full-length Metropolitan Opera recordings available to the listening public. As the channel’s popularity has grown, the demand for older and more obscure operas has increased. This afternoon I was uploading a 1935 recording to the system and my supervisor remarked that this particular opera had never been broadcast. When it was recorded in 1935, the three-plus hours of music were all contained on large wax-like discs that held five minutes of music each. With the improvement of sound restoration technology, it is now possible to merge this extremely old form of media delivery with a very new form—satellite radio. Exciting!

The Hopkins reading intrigued me with its thoughts about participation (and by extension, participatory culture.) To live is to participate. We are, by default, participating. It would follow that there is no non-participatory culture, so all culture must be participatory. The question then becomes not “will I participate?” but “how will I participate?”

September 18, 2008 Posted by | convergence | , , , , , | 5 Comments

On Convergence…

Here is what I think….We have the technological know-hows to create a virtual world (Second Life), the iPhone and then allow 3rd party developers to use its platform to create new apps,  a social networking site like Facebook, Delicious.com (which I still don’t see as an essential site), flickr.com (also doesn’t make much sense to me since I upload photos to facebook and everyone I know sees them there), and Blogs.

 

My question is that if we have all this technology, why wouldn’t we want to build one platform where people can do all of the above? Wouldn’t that be true convergence? If I use Facebook to create events, stay in touch with friends, start and manage groups, share pictures, send private messages, share youtube videos then I would rather stick to that platform and blog there as well (because I have the audience I want already), add bookmarking to my page as a function, and have a Second Life on Facebook.

 

So why hasn’t that happened yet?

September 10, 2008 Posted by | convergence | 8 Comments

Arielle- Assignment #1

I didn’t realize that I posted this in my weblog instead of the weblog for our class.. so lets try this again..

* In the Henry Jenkins reading, he is quoted as saying “YouTube is the fullest embodiment of convergence culture.” What is meant by that?

Today technology is ever-changing and we can see that in media convergence. It gives us the opportunity to use technology in more ways than one. Some examples are internet blogs, texting, myspace, facebook, and youtube. When Henry Jenkins states that “YouTube is the fullest embodiment of convergence culture” I believe all he is saying is that it’s the primary example of how convergence culture has been changing. Youtube is becoming increasingly popular these days and the videos are being seen worldwide. With the click of a button you can watch just about any video you can think of. What is unique about youtube is that the videos are created by everyone and anyone. It is made by the people and for the people.
It has a lot to do with convergence culture because our society has been changing by the creation of these new websites. We interact through these pages in a way that has never been done before. The more we use them, the more popular they become. This is changing the way we interact as we know it.
The most recent example I can think of from my life is when I looked up a Jewish A Capella group that I auditioned for. I knew absolutely NOTHING about this group besides that they sing Jewish music. It took me about 5 minutes to find videos of their group on youtube and watch them. I found this really helpful for me because it gave me more of an idea of what to expect. It also helped me decide if it was something I really wanted to get into. Youtube makes these types of discoveries so easy. It makes me wonder how we did things before these sites were created. I can compare this example to the example Jenkins gave about the videos of American sign language. I actually used those videos myself to learn some sign language for a show that I’m doing. I am a deaf person in one of the scenes and my director wanted my sign language to be authentic. This is another perfect example of how easy it is to get information from these online videos.

* What is “participatory culture”?

Participatory culture basically refers to how we are not only the viewers and consumers, but we are also the creators. All of these new websites are perfect examples of a participatory culture. In the online journals, we read the entries of others and also create our own. It is as if we have our own web page. Myspace and facebooks are also great examples. Whenever someone asks me if I have my own site, I give them my facebook information. I became fascinated in making web pages when these technologies arose. Most people are loving the fact that they have their own web site that people can visit. I believe that it makes one feel more important.
Youtube makes movie-making a lot easier than it once was. It also gives you publicity because anyone can view it. I’ve seen many original movies on youtube and many people have become famous from this website. It used to be that people did not know how to publicize their own videos and now, it’s not a problem. Everyone knows about “Kelly likes shoes.” It’s an original video that became increasingly popular to watch. After some time, the creator made more of his own videos and is now a famous celebrity.

* What are some of the social networks you use and why do you use them?

I use many of the social networks provided for us today. I first had a xanga which was only for writing online journal entries. I thought of it as my online diary. I knew it wasn’t the best idea to display intimate thoughts of mine online. However, it became so popular that I didn’t care anymore and I found myself reading other xangas as well. It was like a game to me. At the same time I began using myspace which was about 4 years ago because a friend of mine got me started. I had no idea what it was in the beginning, but when I made my own account and started to add friends to my list, it became addictive. Slowly more and more people created their own myspace account and it seemed like a great way to keep in touch with people. Little did I know at the time that facebook was catching up to myspace. At first, facebook was only for college students. This is why I didn’t get it right away. However, I immediately created an account when I started college. Facebook never used to be my preferred choice between the two. However, it is now more popular than myspace in my opinion and more user friendly.
Although I still have my myspace and now have a music myspace as well to promote my singing, I use facebook more than any other social network these days. The main reasons why I use it is because I have kept in touch with a great amount of people through facebook, I have a place to post my pictures, and it entertains me whenever I am bored. I do find it a little “stalker-ish” because of the new “facebook feeds.” These can give you every little detail about what a friend is up to. I was shocked when this first came out. But, the privacy options are really helpful when it comes to that. I can show whoever I want as much or as little as I want.

* How have technologies like sms/text messaging, youtube, and myspace changed the way that we interact? (i.e., as mentioned in the Rheingold reading – the role of “Generation Txt” in the revolt against President Estrada of the Philippines, etc.) Reference either of the readings and/or draw from your own experiences.

There are so many new ways that we communicate these days. When I meet someone new I make sure to add them on facebook. Whereas only a few years ago no one had these technological luxuries. Like in the Rheingold reading, I feel that texting has reached one of its highest points. I was baffled when he quoted Tammy Reyes saying that she feels unloved when she doesn’t get a certain amount of texts. I text a lot personally, however, I hate when people text me just because they want to say “Hi” or “What’s up.” If you are going to text me, do it for a reason! Although I think her way of thinking about it is a little extreme, I can still relate to her because I communicate with people through these new technologies quite often in a day. I agree that it can make someone feel like they are more loved when a lot of people are talking to them. But what happened to those days when we didn’t have them? What happened to the days when I had to make a phone call to hang out with someone? What happened to the days when I didn’t know all the details about someone’s life? People have changed because getting in touch with someone is as easy as clicking a button. This changes the way one would interact with someone face to face. We get so used to sitting behind the computer that we don’t remember how to make a simple phone call. I know people who will seem outgoing when Iming them on AIM and then they seem like a completely different person when talking to them face to face.
Even though I believe that a lot of good is coming out of these technologies, it is dangerous and we have to be careful with how far we go with it. Either way it is something that continues to grow in our society and the way I see it, it will continue growing because we have entered a new generation of texts and web pages.

Hope that worked!

~REL~

September 9, 2008 Posted by | convergence, social networking, tools and methodologies | , , , | 3 Comments

Erin’s First Week Assignment

Henry Jenkins says that convergence culture is where old and new media collide. Converging media is all around us, and has been all around us for some time. In the 1870s, telegraph technology collided with Bell’s new technology to create a new media; the telephone. Highway billboards have become large TV screens in increasing numbers, tapes have given way to digital music technology in the form of CDs and mp3s, VHS media has met its digital future in the DVD and Blu-ray disc, direct marketing has progressed from catalog mailings to telemarketing to email marketing to text message advertising, TV viewers are spending more and more time watching YouTube videos, and digital written communication is moving away from email towards online communities like MySpace and Facebook. These examples illustrate progressions from one media type to another, but perhaps convergence culture signifies something more. Convergence culture implies a situation where the collision of old and new media produces a noticeable cultural shift. One could argue that all of the above have created cultural shifts, and yet Jenkins says, “YouTube is the fullest embodiment of convergence culture”. Perhaps he is alluding to the participatory nature of YouTube (he goes on to speak about “participatory culture”). YouTube is a prime example of participatory culture. It is only successful when users participate, i.e. upload their own media content and view the content of others.

Each new wave of media that rolls into our culture corresponds to a different point in my life. Email became mainstream as I was graduating from high school. The internet became highly accessible during my freshman year in college. I saw a mobile phone for the first time during my junior year, and I bought my first cell phone three years later when I moved to Manhattan. I now rely heavily on email, Facebook, and texting. I see the genius behind i-mode’s targeting of Japan’s child/adolescent market. These technologies hit me when I was in my late teens and early twenties, and as much as I do use email, Facebook, and texting, I can imagine them being even more ingrained in my life had I been exposed to them as a child.

I find that Facebook has changed the way I interact with specific groups of people. It’s incredibly easy to let all my Vermont friends know when I’m driving up to visit my parents. When my dog had kennel cough (highly contagious!) I alerted all my dog park friends at the touch of a button. If I’m singing in something or going to see a show, I can invite my music and theatre friends through Facebook. Casting directors are beginning to form groups on Facebook to make it easier for actors and singers to submit themselves for projects. Lastly (and somewhat to my embarrassment), my roommates and I regularly leave notes for each other on Facebook instead of walking out to the kitchen and writing on the dry-erase board on the fridge! Food is optional; Facebook is not.

September 7, 2008 Posted by | collaboration, convergence, culture, social networking | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Transmedia Convergence

When Jenkins talks about convergence culture, he’s also talking about the convergence of different kinds of media — “transmedia.”

For instance, we might watch a movie, like The Matrix, then play the Matrix video game, and then we might download some animated shorts from the Matrix website, and so on.

In Jenkins’ book, Convergence Culture, he states that The Matrix is an example of transmedia storytelling, which refers to an aesthetic that depends on the active participation of knowledge communities. It is an art of “world making,” infused with a sense of play. Consumers chase down bits of the story across media channels, comparing notes with each other via online discussion groups and collaborating to ensure that everyone who invests time and effort will come away with a richer experience. (Convergence Culture, pp. 20-21)

The process may start with any media channel but a successful product will flow across media until it becomes pervasive within the culture at large — comics into computer games, television shows into films, and so forth. (from Quentin Tarantino’s Star Wars?: Digital Cinema, Media Convergence, and Participatory Culture)

This kind of transmedia intake is fairly common these days. Just take a look at the recent political party campaigns. We might have read about candidates in the papers, watched some of the debates on tv, then checked out videos on websites.

This kind of convergence represents a shift in our relations to media. We are enframing our experiences through popular culture and play, and the skills that we acquire along the way collectively impact the way that we participate in the process and connect with others on a global level.

February 10, 2008 Posted by | convergence | , , , | 3 Comments

Convergence Culture

In the Henry Jenkins reading, he is quoted as saying “YouTube is the fullest embodiment of convergence culture.” What is meant by that?
YouTube is the most widely used network for gathering and sharing videos. Everyone “converges” there for information. YouTube permits everyone, everywhere to share information and create content of any kind to be shared with anyone around the world. You can access any type of media: news, music, interviews, classic commercials etc. It can also be used by students, companies and political parties who want to share a message. It allows everyone and everything to have their “15 minutes of fame”.

What is “participatory culture”?
A participatory culture is people sharing ideas, creating projects, getting involved in community affairs and knowledge sharing. This culture makes you feel like you are part of something bigger and facilitates making connections to those around you who may share the same ideas and interests.

What are some of the social networks you use and why do you use them?
Honestly, I created a Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn page for past courses and rarely if ever use them. While they all facilitate networking, I find that I don’t have the time to post daily or connect with people in that way. I prefer simple email and the phone. My colleagues who do use them, do so for photo and music sharing, networking, dating, advertising, party planning, and catching-up with old friends.

How have technologies like sms/text messaging, youtube, and myspace changed the way that we interact?
SMS & Texting: These technologies have taken away face to face time. Sure they have made life easier and perhaps more interesting, but I miss the “real” interactions.

Youtube: I absolutely love it. Being able to watch old music videos, relive my youth with vintage food/toy commercials is simply amazing. The community of Youtube is a special breed, someone is always posting new content for the most obscure subjects.

Myspace: Don’t use it.

February 5, 2008 Posted by | convergence, culture | , , , | 9 Comments