Posted by: paulacunniffe | 09/29/2010

Media Diary Day 4

Today’s diary will be slightly morbid, but it’s been a rough day so you’ll all excuse me!!

Got up early to go to the gym. Watched MTV and Vh1’s music countdown. Came home and got some bad news – a family bereavement. Cue frantic searching online on various websites to find flights home to Ireland. Used my webtext a lot today and skype to get in touch with people back home. I actually used the call feature on Skype, which lets you call cell phones and land lines.That was really really useful.

Spent the rest of day in a haze. Listened to the radio, searched online for the best deals for new car tires (needed to have the car in tip top shape for the drive to the airport tomorrow). Chatted with my cousin in England (again) on facebook chat for 30 minutes. Interestingly, I used my facebook status update to tell my friends back home that I’ll be coming home tomorrow. I don’t like using facebook for personal stuff like that but I thought it’d be more awkward if they saw me in Dublin and freaked out: ‘I thought you were living in Florida?!?!’

My two phones were in overdrive today (Irish and US!). I often feel like a pimp walking around with two cell phones. Even one of the professors remarked on it: ‘2 phones?!’ I use my (cheap) US cell for friends here and Irish cell for family and friends the other side of the pond. I walked around wielding two phones all day today!

My Netflix movie arrived in the mail so my roommates (who you will meet in this week’s blog post!!) and I are watching it now before I pack to go home to Ireland.

The rest of my posts will be written from Ireland so if nothing else you’ll all get an interesting twist on my media consumption in Ireland!

See you next week.

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Posted by: paulacunniffe | 09/28/2010

Media Diary Day 3

Before I start to discuss my media consumption today, let me briefly describe the consumption of others (or you could say my consumption of other’s media). Was woken up this morning at 6am by a girl standing outside the window of my apartment crying on the phone. I’m on the third floor by the way. Why she felt the need to make others cry (having been rudely awakened) is beyond me.  Fast forward to this afternoon in Weimer library. Who told people it’s acceptable to take calls (and not brief ‘I’m in the library’ whispers) while in the library? Did I miss that memo?

So, I can safely say I do not use my phone to wake up sleeping residents or to annoy other people who are trying to study.

Because of the aforementioned wake up call I was very tired this morning. So first thing I opened up AOL Radio on Fresh 40 (I know it’s chart rubbish but I needed to pep up!) Hauled my laptop to campus on my scooter (I need to invest in a backpack) and went to class. Oh. Checked facebook and emails before class too.

Spent an hour on facebook chat talking to my cousin in England. She shared links with me of some cool slippers she wanted to buy a friend for her birthday. Printed off my readings for next week’s classes and headed to the library. I print out all my readings because I just can’t take in a 20-page article from a computer screen. I promise to recycle the paper!

Stayed in the library till dinnertime. Relaxed for a couple of hours watching Law and Order on various channels. I’m still so overwhelmed by the number of TV channels here. Plus there are so many more commercials than I’m used to. I flip around channels during the commercials and then have no idea what I was watching. Happens me ALL the time. I also only know about 10 of my 60 channels. No idea about the other 50.

Browsed clothing stores on the internet while watching TV, looking for something to send home to my best friend for her birthday next week.

Listened to a mixture of Kiss 105.3 and Rock 104 on my way to and from Butler’s Plaza. Back to the computer then for more reading/assignment work.  There will be probably be more Law and Order on later so I’ll watch a bit of that and Chelsea Lately before bed. If I remember what channel it’s on…

Posted by: paulacunniffe | 09/27/2010

Media Diary Day 2

Nothing will make you realize your dependency on computers like a power cut. It may have only lasted for 25/30 minutes, but you could tell people were panicked. What do we do without computers, write stuff by hand?! I kept thinking, why didn’t I charge my laptop before I left home this morning! Normality was restored before my battery died so crisis averted.

Woke up this morning and went through my usual routine. Turn laptop on. Firefox. Open my favorite tabs – Facebook, gmail, UF email. I was feeling adventurous this morning so looked at www.irishtimes.com to see what was going on my side of the world. Watched an embarrassing youtube video where Jay Leno called the Irish Prime Minister a ‘drunken moron’… may sound like I’m taking it out of context but check out the video.

Once the power came back on I spent a couple of hours in the Weimer library reading journal articles for a class assignment. I’ve realized I spend an inordinate amount of time reading since starting my Master’s. If I’m not reading I feel like I should be.

Yesterday I mentioned I keep in touch with my friends at home through my Irish cell. Today let me tell you about how I manage to do this for free. Webtext. My cell phone network in Ireland gives me 600 free text messages a month, which I send via the internet. 600 may seem like a lot, but I’ve sent 400 in the last two and a half weeks. I better watch out not to reach my limit before the renewal date! Spent a good chunk of the day texting back and forth with my boyfriend, while reading/hiding in the library till the rain subsided.

Watched some Law and Order on USA. Haven’t watched as much TV the last couple of days as I usually do. I’m guessing this is because I have an imminent assignment deadline so I avoid sitting down on the couch or I’ll get sucked into watching the TV. My roommate and I did eat dinner in front of the TV today though. Not the classiest way to eat dinner, but it worked for us!

Spent this evening, shockingly, reading more articles for my assignment. I’m contemplating a trip to the gym…but that does involve a lot of effort. Plus, I’ve just remembered that a British comedy show I love called The Inbetweeners was on in Ireland/UK tonight… so fingers crossed I should be able to get it online. Forget the gym, The Inbetweeners wins!

Posted by: paulacunniffe | 09/27/2010

Free speech – tolerance for the intolerant?

When looking for a ‘divisive’ blog to analyze a blog called Crooks and Liars immediately jumps out at you.

I picked a blog post about Glenn Beck from Fox News, who claims that a lot of Americans, particularly conservative Republicans, think Obama is Muslim. David Neiwert, who writes the blog, says that Beck skews the statistics, ignoring the fact that 60% of Americans get their information about Obama through the media, and focusing on 11% who say they think he is Muslim based on his actions and what he says.

There is a clear ‘us’ and ‘them’ slant to this blog. Neiwert calls Fox a ‘propaganda channel’ that ‘with the help of right-wing radio talkers, including those with Fox shows — constantly reinforces the view that [Obama] is a dark-skinned foreigner with secret allegiances.’

The comments that follow focus on Beck’s religion – he is apparently Mormon. People call Beck a ‘cult member’, a sociopath. Another user calls him a ‘stupid ignorant racist’ (DarkStar).

Others talk about ‘them’, people who are ‘too stupid’ to understand and who buy everything Fox says. These comments show, as Cammaerts says, the clear line between ‘the identity of the self and ‘the other’, whereby ‘we/our’ is being construed as good and morally just while ‘they/them’ are being projected as evil, dangerous.’ (p 564) The comments draw a clear line between ‘stupid Americans’ and ‘us’ – those writing the comments.

The second article I chose was about Pastor Terry Jones and how Republican leadership were not commenting on the Quran burning. (I chose this story for two reasons. Firstly, I have no clue who a lot of the politicians in other blogs are. Secondly, I thought the story would provoke some good comments).

The blogger, Heather (no last name), is clearly not a fan of Republicans. She says: ‘The Republicans who have been happy to stoke the Islamophobia for political gain are either silent on the issue… or they’re not helping matters much or making them worse.’ She continues to say that they are spreading hatred and that they ‘stir up racial and religious resentment, thus motivating their angry, scared white base’. She certainly doesn’t sugar coat what she’s thinking!

The comments mostly agree with Heather – they are not favorable of Republicans. People give examples of other books that should be burned – The Book of Mormon, any book by any conservative etc. As in the last blog, there is a clear divide between us and them. And ‘they’ are the ones in the wrong – the ‘sacred white’.

I don’t think freedom of speech should be limited on the internet. As Cammaerts says, who decides what is ok and what is not? Mill’s ‘harm principle theory’ poses a similar argument. No-one’s actions should be interfered with unless they are harmful to others. But who decides what is harmful and what is not? I also think that if someone says something completely ludicrous you can counter or disprove their argument. Take the Pastor Jones story. He was denounced worldwide.

Posted by: paulacunniffe | 09/26/2010

Media Diary Day 1

Sunday is a weird day. It’s still weekend, but there’s also that sense of dread – Monday’s really nearly here. I always feel in a kind of limbo on Sunday. At home it used to be reserved for lazing, eating roast dinner with the family and going to visit my nana. Or spending it hidden under my bedcovers cursing the night before.

But now I’m in the US my patterns have changed. Firstly this whole tailgating business means that I’m so tired from being in the sun all day I’m home and in bed by 10 most Saturdays. There’s no such thing as Sunday dinner here. It may seem like I’m digressing but there is a point hidden in here somewhere… I have a routine for weekdays – whether it’s my media consumption or studying etc.  Sunday. Not so much.

Got up this morning and my roommate was waiting for me in the living room wearing her gym gear. A sure fire sign it was gym time. Spent almost an hour on the treadmill watching the TV. Could not tell you what I watched. I think VH1 had their Top 20 Countdown (terrible presenter if you ask me), Made was on MTV and Law and Order was on TNT. I don’t care what I’m watching in the gym so much as I want something to distract me.

Came home and checked my Irish cell phone. That’s how I keep in contact with my family and friends back home. Did some facebook stalking. Checked my emails and sighed at the number of spam that is sent to my UF email because I use it to sign up to Walmart photo center, get a GEICO insurance quote and other useless stuff.

My favorite favorite thing on my computer. Skype. Spent almost 3 hours on Skype today catching up with friends back home (my only Sunday habit so far). Spoke to my Mom and Dad for almost an hour. My dad has this terrible tendency of walking around with the laptop and giving me virtual vertigo. That lasted about 5 minutes.

Spent the rest of the day on my laptop – working on assignments and writing my blog for this class.

I’m just about to go out the door and watch PS I Love you at my friend’s apartment. I hope she realizes I am going to berate any bad Irish accents I come across. And it’s inevitable there will be bad Irish accents. (Go to 3.15 of this video for Gerard Butler’s apology for aforementioned terrible accent!).

I will undoubtedly check facebook when I get home. With the time difference nothing will have changed because my Irish friends are all in bed right now (they’re 5 hours ahead). But God forbid I miss any updates!

Posted by: paulacunniffe | 09/23/2010

Powerpoint from Twitter presentation

Here is the presentation I gave yesterday on Tamara Shepherd’s article ‘Twittering in the OECD’s “Participative Web”‘.

The version of powerpoint I use (mac 2004) wouldn’t let me embed the youtube videos… if anyone knows who to embed them let me know and I’ll update the powerpoint!

Posted by: paulacunniffe | 09/19/2010

Twitter – you are what you tweet!

As I began to think about this week’s assignment a Twitter-related story gained much media attention on my side of the pond. A member of Parliament (from the opposition party) tweeted that the Irish Prime Minister sounded ‘somewhere between drunk and hungover’ in a radio interview with the national Irish broadcaster.

I have no interest in politics but, having heard about this story, decided to follow politicians for this assignment, in the secret hope someone else would say something controversial. However, I found it hard to find a politics list that I wanted to follow. After one day of reading about what ‘great work’ all the politicians were doing I decided to change topics and follow a news list.

I found the whole experience overwhelming. Following news outlets was not an easy task, primarily because they are constantly tweeting. They also always link back to their own website, so I could have spent all day reading articles on BBC News, or CNN, or NY Times to name but a few. Phew, it was tiring! I found the tweets to be informative – just like news headlines with very little opinion, although one of the users in my list (who I was not following) did use it as a PR tool.

Shepherd shows some disdain for Twitter in her comments about it being obsessed with US celebrities, using terms like ‘cultural narcissism’ and ‘Twitter’s collusion with the US celebrity landscape’ (p 156). There are apparently 106 million users on Twitter. She is pigeonholing Twitter as a platform by ignoring its use as more than just a celebrity promotion tool.

Her point about the Iranian election being quickly superseded by a celebrity story did not surprise me. Does trending not always change rapidly? The people I followed this week were tweeting every 30 minutes. With such a huge flow of tweets surely it changes often?

The Iranian example of citizen journalism is not an isolated case. In the UK, the Trafigura scandal was broken on Twitter; a couple of weeks ago the story of a gunman at the Discovery Channel’s HQ was also broken on Twitter. So Twitter is being used for more than boosting Ashton Kutcher’s celebrity persona.

I read diverse stories from Europe, the Middle East, USA and UK. There were stories about soccer matches, British and American politics, breaking news on a tornado in NY and shootings at a German hospital to name but a few. The news outlets were tweeting so often that it was impossible not to have diverse subject matter in the tweets.

My experience of Twitter this week was that yes, celebrities may have the most followers but there are SO many people on Twitter that you can steer away from them, if you want. The news outlets I followed did tweet some celebrity stories but it was not the dominant topic. They covered sports, politics and breaking news stories as well. I think you can find diverse viewpoints on Twitter if you want to. Just take the example at the top of this post. You do not expect an MP to say something like that about his boss!

Here I am on Twitter: @pcunniffe

Posted by: paulacunniffe | 09/13/2010

Convergence – pie in the Sky?

Sky News is a 24 hour news network which broadcasts in the UK and across Europe. It is owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch and is part of the Sky group (they have various TV channels and sell satellite boxes –like Cox). The station and its website are examples of convergence culture in the creative industries.

Their website dedicates an entire section for users’ videos and photos and every hour broadcasts some of these videos and photos as part of their newscast. They even rate the videos in a poll, picking the Top 5 of the hour.

There is also a blogs section, written by the station’s editors. Within this section is a blog written by ‘eyewitnesses’. The eyewitness blog is a prime example of citizen journalism. The role of audience as receiver of news becomes blurred as they also take on the role of producer.

Eyewitness blogs

Another interactive element of the website is a discussion board where viewers discuss political and social issues. Interestingly there are ‘house rules’ for posting comments which prohibit commenting on cases in the courts etc.

However, the media professionals are still controlling what is posted online. Take this example. A user called Kingdomoffife starts a thread about a British politician who was accused of using racial divisions in his constituency to get elected. Two users try to reply giving the name of the politician but both of their comments are removed. Obviously such an accusation could be considered defamatory and Sky News is avoiding litigation. Nevertheless I think it illustrates Deuze’s point about control still lying largely in the hands of the media.

This blog on The Guardian’s website talks about Sky News’ ‘experiment’ with citizen journalism as part of media production. It was published in 2007 and so I admit isn’t current. It could now be updated to Sky News ’embracing’ citizen journalism. Nevertheless, it does show how Sky News has been embracing convergence culture. The example given is Sky News asking ‘consumers’ to post videos that demonstrate local climate change- acting as reporters themselves. Julian March, executive producer of Sky, is quoted as saying that these people had ‘something sensible to say’ and ‘thanks to the technology…could say it in a meaningful and engaging way.’

In a more practical sense, I’m sure it also made Sky’s life a lot easier to have people send in videos instead of sending out reporters to cover the story nationwide. Plus, as Deuze says, it allows Sky News to ‘increase revenue and further the agenda of industry while at the same time enabling people…to enact some kind of agency regarding the omnipresent messages and commodities of this industry’ (pp 247)

Sky News is a good example of media’s participation with ‘consumers’ – their website allows the audience to produce content and engaging in discussion with other users. It is much more interactive than other British news stations, even the BBC for example, which is mainly top-down professional driven content.

Posted by: paulacunniffe | 09/06/2010

Deliberation

‘Justin Bieber smokes cigarettes, they couldn’t be bad for you??’ carlosslim42

I’ve often wondered how effective anti-smoking ads are. Do they make people quit? I’ve picked two graphic videos from anti-smoking campaigns to see others’ reactions.

I divided how people reacted into four basic categories. Some discussed the merits of smoking weed instead of cigarettes. Others shared personal experiences of smoking/not smoking. Some argued that the ad is fake. Finally, certain users made a mockery of the videos by saying things such as the Justin Bieber quote above, or ‘HAHA SMOKERS=DUMBASS’s!!!! I hope you all die!!!’ (TenaciousC58).

The above quote about Justin Bieber is from this video. The comments include some serious debate/opinions. However, reactions like the comment about smokers being dumbasses shows, as Hess argues, that Youtube is not ‘an effective medium for social change.’ Serious debate is lost among the expletive filled mockery that makes up a good deal of the comments.

The following quote is an example of a user making a valid argument, and using statistics instead of expletives. ‘Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease? That’s what they get from 25 years of heavy smoking. 80% of the lung capacity is lost…. So smoking is slowly choking oneself to death. What a way to go.’ (McLarenMercedes)

However, it’s hard to take this seriously when there are no citations to back it up and the user is called after a car manufacturer. Also, McLaren Mercedes’ previous comment says it’s unfortunate teenagers who smoke don’t die till they’re in their 40s. So obviously you doubt the credentials of the user.

The fact that the spelling and grammar is so bad, and the use of ‘web-speak’, also makes it hard for me to take anything seriously. If one Youtube user disagrees with another’s comments, they are more likely to call them a dumbass than respond with a logical argument. As Hess states, Youtube as a medium suffers from ‘a perceived lack of seriousness’.

The second video follows the same pattern as the first. Some users write things like ‘I want to tongue her’ (tybash) and ‘lmfAO ur gonna die bitch’ (Ihateblacksism). The comments on this video are a good example of how logical argument is lost among slagging matches. For example, TrickyNero disagrees with another user called Sparks who says smoking weed is bad for you. TrickyNero calls him a ‘mindless Youtube fucker’, instead of providing a reason for not agreeing with him. Sparks replies with: ‘You clearly are already fucked in your head so you don’t know shit.’ Nice.

I agree with Hess’ view that Youtube is not an ‘effective medium for social change’. I did not learn anything useful from the user’s comments, except that they get angry when someone doesn’t agree with them! Plus any ‘facts’ were not backed up with citations so I was slow to believe them.

Posted by: paulacunniffe | 08/28/2010

Internet and Democracy

The description of UK internet laws as ‘draconian’ was not something I immediately agreed with. Regardless of the difficulty in catching illegal downloaders, surely a government should at least try to reduce/combat internet piracy?

But then I read this article. From a British broadsheet newspaper called The Guardian, the article talks about the new Digital Economy Act in Britain (brought into law in April 2010) which will allow the owners of IP addresses to be issued fines for illegally downloading/file-sharing material. Those who are repeat offenders risk having their internet access blocked.

The problem with this legislation is that it is hugely difficult to identify exactly who is illegally downloading material; those who are experts in internet piracy can hijack IP addresses or mask their own IP addresses. Wifi networks can also be hacked into. It does seem, as Mosorov describes it, ‘impractical’ to prosecute those who own the IP address. What if someone else was using their internet connection? At this stage in the article I began to see Mosorov’s point.

The Guardian estimates that ‘hundreds, or possibly thousands’ of people have been wrongfully accused of internet piracy, and have received letters from law firms stating that they have to pay a fine. Some people pay the fine to save the hassle – when they might not even be guilty. For example, the article mentions a couple over 50 who received a letter saying they had been illegally file-sharing, when they didn’t even know what file-sharing was! This example illustrates the difficulty in identifying the correct person (and also the law firm’s eagerness to make money from the new legislation).

The concept of DDOS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks was something I had not heard of before, and still did not fully understand from Mosorov’s article. What does he mean by ‘serve’? Serve them what?!

It became clearer when I read this article from The Irish Times (I swear I wasn’t looking for Irish/UK examples, these two just came up in my search!) Q: does that say something about how google track my searches and filters the results?

Do you ever go on Facebook or Twitter and get frustrated when your pages won’t load or the site is completely down? This could be a DDOS attack. My main question was why do hackers attack websites?

Not surprisingly, one of the answers from The Irish Times is money. If you crash a website you can then contact the owner and charge them to provide protection against a similar attack. Or, as mentioned in Mosorov, it can be a means of censorship.  The scary part is that some governments in authoritarian countries are funding these attacks to censor or silence opposition.

I also found it interesting that a severe attack can not only bring down a specific website, but can threaten other sites which are hosted by the same server. So when Amazon was attacked in 2009, it also slowed down or crashed Walmart and Expedia’s websites- all companies served by the same host. (Source: mashable.com)

So I guess next time Facebook is down I shouldn’t get too annoyed…. they might be under attack!

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