The power of the “audience”

One of the most fascinating subjects for me is the power we have as users of the Internet. We already discussed in previous posts how much audience participation influences web content and thus, society. Now, I’d like to go deeper into the subject and discuss the impact of crowdfunding web pages.

As you probably know or guess, crowdfunding websites provide users with the option to create a fundraising page for a certain cause or idea. Then other users are able to fund this idea and share it online. One touching example of how these pages change lives is the recent case of the homeless person Mark. On March 4, the 21-year old Nicole missed the last train home at 3am and Mark helped her go home safely. Out of gratitude, Nicole set up a crowding page for Mark with a goal of £8000. Today, the page has raised £13,143 for the wellbeing of this noble man.

Crowdfunding is also used for start-up businesses, innovative ideas and even charity work. It provides the incredible possibility to pitch the masses to support your creation. With a good idea and engaging story to tell, you can persuade the audience into participating and bringing the idea to life.

Advertisements

The Curious Case of Walt Disney

There has been a drastic change in the copyright terms since the first Copyright Act of 1790, when the duration was 14 years. Nowadays, copyright terms can last for over 100 years. Some argue that the reason is Walt Disney.

Micky Mouse was the first cartoon and animated short by Disney in 1928. During his 87 years, Mickey Mouse has won an Academy Award and reached worldwide awareness of 97%. According to Forbes, his estimate worth to Disney is $5.8 billion per year. Therefore it is no surprise that each time its copyright term was about to expire, Disney spent millions lobbying Congress for changes in the Copyright Act. You can read the whole article here, it’s quite intriguing.

Now, the copyright term for Micky Mouse expires in 2023. Should Disney be able to extend the term once again? Copyright has already restricted the access to most of twentieth-century work, and extending it is surely not the best solution. But what would happen if Disney’s work fell in the public domain? Or else, if it was under a Creative Commons license? Then everyone could use and build on the magical stories and characters of Walt Disney. They would be recreated in various new forms of art.

 

Is privacy an option?

Most of social media platforms require users to create an account to browse the website. It demands personal information, such as date of birth, just to begin with. Most of the available applications for mobile devices require access to a vast amount of information such as contacts, pictures, location and so on. Our privacy is violated even before we put our entire personal information out there for everyone to see (or use).

I am concerned with the amount of information available about me. I created my Facebook profile about 6 years ago, when I was 15 years old. During that time, I’ve made some silly comments and posted some photos I find embarassing today. I was “private” – meaning that only my friends could see the content I post online. But I added about 500 friends – the majority of which I never spoke to in person. Now, all those people can access my personal information. Partially, it is my responsibility and choice what I disclose online, but once its there I no longer have sufficient control over it. I might go back and delete certain content, but that does not guarantee me that it will completely disappear from the cyberspace. So can I actually protect and control my personal information once it is online?

Experience Project

Digital media provides multiple platforms that allow users to connect and communicate to each other, regardless of space and time. This presents incredible possibilities to meet new people online who share common interests. The development of these online relationships on a certain platform are often called ‘online communities’. Some niche websites and social media provide space for the development of online communities.

The term ‘online community’ is widely discussed by authors such as Baym (2013), who explained that “online groups develop a strong sense of group membership.” Some niche websites, such as Rotten Tomatoes for example, relate to a specific topic and encourage the audience to participate by sharing relevant information, commenting or rating. Other websites, such as the Experience Project, do not relate to a single topic. Instead, it encourages users to create different groups, where everyone can participate and share their own experience. Some of these groups, such as “I don’t want kids” and “I have done things I am not proud of” allow people to find others who struggle with similar issues, and share their story without being judged. In this sense, online communities often define their own norms of behaviour, that allow users to relate to each other. But are these online relationships as ‘real’ as offline relationships?

Does user participation impose danger?

Audience participation is crucial for social media websites. The level of participation often defines the level of success these platforms have. Let us take Gumtree for example. Gumtree is a website for classified advertising. It was created to connect buyers and sellers. The significance of user contribution can be recognised on several levels.

First of all, the content on the website is made up of adverts for goods and services, generated by the users, rather than the website itself. The content is therefore created and shaped by the users.

Second, like every other market, Gumtree operates under the fundamental concept of supply and demand. Adverts respectively reflect this principle, as some of them offer goods and services, while others demand goods and services. Thus, user participation is the engine of this website.

According to Gumtree, it is the number 1 website for classified ads in the UK. However, according to the Daily Mail, becoming a victim of fraud and cyber-crime on this website is not an uncommon thing. This raises the question whether it is safe to buy goods and services, advertised by other users. It certainly has its pros and cons, but is it worth the risk?

Media convergence = end of traditional media?

Henry Jenkins (2006) described media convergence as “the flow of content across multiple media platforms, the cooperation between multiple media industries, and the migratory behaviour of media audiences who will go almost anywhere in search of the kinds of entertainment experiences they want.”

The_Independent_main

Nowadays, we are surrounded by examples of media convergence. Take The Independent for instance. Originally, it was solely a broadsheet newspaper. Today, it is a multiplatform digital media outlet, broadly available online. There is the http://www.independent.co.uk/ website and its sister website, http://i100.independent.co.uk/. They are also available as mobile apps. You can find The Independent on the most trending social media platforms – /TheIndependentOnline on Facebook, and @Independent on Twitter.

These platforms are much more valuable for users than the traditional newspaper in paper. They provide video content and podcasts, as well as the options to share and comment. The possibilities for digital media grow, along with the pressure on print media. For comparison, according to the ABC (2016), the circulation of The Independent in print is 56,074, while the unique browsers online are 2,796,267. Therefore it is no surprise that The Independent is withdrawing from the print industry and focusing on the digital media.

Does media convergence mean the end to the traditional media?

The Hidden Internet

The reason I decided to share this information with you is because it is useful for anyone who wishes to understand the media. These facts are not yet taught in school or university, but will inevitably expand your knowledge for the World Wide Web. This link provides a good theoretical explanation on the Hidden Internet.

How the Deep Web Works

Did you know that Google provides access to less than one percent of the entire data on the web? So where is the rest of the data hiding? In the Deep Web. The deep web accounts for all of the unindexed data online – most often sensitive data of governments, banks, universities, corporations, and user accounts. This data is thousands of times larger than the Surface web – the content we access on daily basis. The deep web can be accessed only by software such as Tor that enables anonymity. It is used by journalists, politicians, whistleblowers, and normal people for private communication and data protection. It is often mistaken for the Dark Web, which is a part of the deep web, and is mainly a black market for illegal goods and services. Have you heard of recent news stories concerning the Deep/Dark Web?