Have you noticed?

By week 5, when I was doing the suggested readings for my presentation on the following week, I have realised something that actually changed my view of this whole module.

I don’t know whether you would have experienced the same feeling as me, but I got quite excited to notice how all the lectures we were having so far, were beautifully linked with each other!

I mean, there’s a sequential correlation between the lectures’ topics. All topics together create a kind of a path within a huge web, that led us to a wide view of the media, the internet and about how we, humans, interact with both them. In other words, this whole path provided us with a great knowledge regarding our Network Society and our Media.

Captura de Tela 2016-03-23 às 15.42.47Took this image from Doug’s presentation in the first lecture. It illustrates exactly what I mean by “web“. 

I just wanted to share the simple links I’ve made from ‘Convergence and Media Industries’ to ‘The Networked Self and Ideas of Community’. The starting point is the cultural angle of online convergence, as it makes the audience become the user. This internet’s tendency has lots of implications, such as in the transformation of the news. We’ve seen news today produced by us on social media and it’s been really common to inform ourselves through these platforms instead of through traditional ones, such as newspapers. Within the readings for week 5, one in particular directly linked with the news production by users. A chapter of the Social Media Handbook discusses the ideas of community online and mentions two different students’ protests at two universities in NYC. One of them had a guy, Charlie Eisenhood, who was part of the physical occupying community at the university campus, as well as part of an online community at the same time he was on the protest. everyone outside the campus was being informed by Charlie, instead of by journalists, as he was recording and reporting online, in real-time, what was happening on the occupation.

All this correlation would easily continue later on, with Privacy and Surveillance, Intellectual Property, Regulation. As I’m already really beyond the word count, would you  –either mentally or comenting– continue linking them? 😛

Thanks for this Network Society & the Media module for such an amazing experience and for all the knowledge we could gain.

 

I’ve got the money, now give me the… knowledge?

knowledge

This image might be understood on its own. However, I suggest to look at the place this little girl is walking towards, not only as a classroom but as knowledge, in the broader meaning of the world.

It leads me to think about one of my recent experiences with paid content: my subscription to The Economist. This news magazine is extremely interesting, in my point of view. It stimulates the readers to think critically, to analyse, for example, a current world issue through various angles. Besides that, the content has always seemed to me to be really accurate and the opinions, very clever. However, it is not that easy for us to be well-informed. Why is the access to knowledge, even on the internet, still something so hard and expensive? News, information and opinion sources such as this magazine should be something everyone has access to, not an exclusive elite who choose to and can afford to subscribe.

This is one of the Creative Commons’ intentions. This organisation that “enables the sharing and use of creative and knowledge through free legal tools” believes that community, collaboration and sharing are at the heart of human advancement.

Having highly regarded content such The Economist’s articles, under Creative Commons, would maybe encourage these ones that today are excluded from obtaining accurate news to start looking for better quality ones. Therefore, we’ll all be able to acquire more knowledge and critical thinking regarding the world’s current issues.

I afforded a super promotional subscription of The Economist for £ 12,00 for 12 magazines and for free access to all its online content. Now that this promotional term has ended, I can’t read the magazine anymore, because I simply cannot afford £ 46,00 a month. How fair is the relation between knowledge and money?

Internet: Evoking fun and fear

I must say that I never really stopped to reflect about what kind of information I am sharing in my social media. I’ve never been really worried about my privacy and neither about the danger of making available so much information about me without properly knowing who is able to access it.

Regarding social media platforms, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are the ones I use the most. At the moment, I honestly don’t know what exactly are my Facebook’s privacy settings. There are probably few pictures publicly available, such as my profiles’ ones and I think “only friends would see” my albums with more pictures. However, I’ve just realised that some of my personal information –such as where I have lived, where I am currently living, where I studied in the past, where I’m studying now and few places I’ve been working for– are all available for everyone that sees my profile (and definitely to have just realised it now does not sound really good).

My Instagram account is not private, so I don’t have to approve who can see my photos and videos and, therefore, everyone can see. However, on my Instagram, there’s not as much information as there are on my Facebook. I don’t often post pictures and the ones I post are not really relevant in terms of saying much about my personal life. Also, I have heard from one of my lecturers that it is interesting, if you are applying for jobs in the creative industry, for you to put your Instagram account on your CV, so the employer can know a bit more about you.

I believe I do have a kind of control of my personal information available online. At the same time, I think we are all under a certain danger. We will never be 100% sure if what we share on the internet is really protected, even saying it is “restricted to chosen friends only”. In other words, I believe that if someone wants to have information about you, there are internet engines able to unblock any type of privacy settings, not only in social media but also in other various platforms on the web. Maybe the following image, with which I’ll finish this post, illustrates even better what I mean.

privacy

The Student Room

Back on the end of 2014, when I had just applied for universities in the UK, I was feeling anxious about what I would hear from them. I wanted to know when they’ll be replying my application, as to know if I wouldn’t or would have an offer from them.

I started looking on Google for answers about the UK’s applications’ processes, when I found The Student Room (TSR)*. As the “UK biggest education website” –as it is considered– it is a student community, for students from all over the world to support each other. I did find great answers, by the time, for what I was looking for. It gave me comfort and made me feel less anxious about the required next steps to finally get in the university. It was possible once I could hear from other students that were in the same situation as me.

This is definitely a good attribute for online communities. Wherever and whoever you are, whenever wanted to, you can access it. Having a support from other students seems really positive for the ones, just as me, who’s been facing challenges or any unknown situation. In my case, I had help regarding the application process, but they do have a huge amount of different forums and topics, from psychological issues, until getting a job in a certain industry.

However, as general characteristics of online communities, TSR also has its limitations. First, you don’t know who anyone really is, what creates a sense of no individual identity inside the community. The TSR’s users do have space where they can upload pictures, write things about them, fill in with their personal information. But still, people seem to be nameless, faceless, ageless, placeless. Also, the “conversations” * do engage people, but the loose connections it creates will hardly become a strong connection. There isn’t space for a relationship evolution as there’s in real life.

At this point, this whole superficial world we live online makes me reflect whether we can really call these kind of platforms a proper “community”.

p.s.* I inserted a link for a YouTube video that quickly talks about The Student Room. Worth watching it, if you’ve never heard about the community! 

Also inserted a great and succinct post I found about the connections and conversations we tend to establish online. 

A YouTuber and her friend-audience

A girl that teaches how to use a reusable menstrual cup, persuasively explains why eating chocolate is not fattening, reveals the most intimate secrets of women, discusses misunderstandings in relationships and also dances, sings, uses swear words, talks about sex and has an interesting feminist approach.

This is Julia Tolezani, a 23-year-old Brazilian girl who stands in front of a camera, at home, often with unwashed dishes behind her and talks about anything she considers interesting, relevant and, at the same time, fun. The well-known YouTuber in Brazil has more than 700 thousand subscriptions in her channel “Jout Jout, Prazer” with some videos reaching more than 1 million views.

Apart from her videos that revolves around topics where someone suggests her on social media, Julia created a type of video in which she would answer some questions from the countless she daily receives. Successfully, she has been receiving e-mails and messages from fans with confessions followed by advice’s requests, and a range of questions about her personal life and about the issues she raises.

She selects some random questions –probably the interesting ones for her to reply– that people ask her on Facebook, on Twitter or by e-mail, and she spends the whole video answering them. As a result, Julia enables her viewers to feel closer to her. Also, the picked up questions often appear print screened in her video.

Julia answering and discussing about questions posted on her Facebook’s timeline.  

Captura de Tela 2016-02-22 às 21.10.42

Julia with her homossexual friend, invited to help her in answering some questions, doubts and curiosities about the LGBT community.

This video format can promote, mainly on the viewer she replied to, a feeling of importance and care by the YouTuber. Besides that, through her answers, her audience might refer to Julia just as an ordinary person as anyone else watching is. Although it is usually a YouTuber’s characteristic, it not only reduces, but also fortifies the bridge between her and the audience.

Cecília Parreira

Corporative social media?

Nothing was coming up as an interesting or an unpredictable example of convergence, until I checked my WhatsApp!

3A, the company I was working for at my home city, has a WhatsApp group. 3A’s owners, general coordinators and some other employees –from the sales team to the intern– are all in the group (don’t ask me why I’m still on it).

The company has been using WhatsApp as a way to communicate internally since four years ago. To arrange dates and times for future meetings, to update everyone with daily revenues, or to clarify any kind of doubt: the app has been efficient and essential to 3A’s routine.

It seems that social media continues to grow as an effective corporate communications tool. Then, apps and programs, which apparently are made for personal and social communications, are now been also used for professional communications.

Companies’ internal communications once was limited to intranet systems. As a convergence result, any meeting can now be made via programs such as Skype or Zoom, and internal communication can be made via any social media tool, such as Viber, WhatsApp or even Facebook.

Using these apps as a communication device has its ups and downs. A blurring boundary between personal and work spheres is what I personally experienced with the company 3A. Always being able to access information about your company is beneficial but, at the same time, exhausting, as I was connected with my work from everywhere at any time. There’s also an implication about security: is the information about the office’s work safe when shared in a social networking app? On the other hand, it is still dynamic for organisational communication. Also, it had enabled 3A to adopt more flexible working patterns and supports employees away from the workplace.

Have you ever experienced anything like this in previous or current jobs? What personally were the implications? Do you agree in companies using social media for communication?

Learn, learn and learn… But how, again?

Some months ago, a friend posted on Facebook that she had just completed a Nutrition and Wellbeing course. She shared a print screen with her certificate, proving that she had joined it. It called my attention as a subject that I’m interested in. She told me, then, that the course was offered in English, by the University of Aberdeen. It was an online course and, the best part: 100% free!

Obviously I researched more about it, once she sent me the link. I got amazed! I found out that the course was actually offered in a platform called Future Learn, that provides hundreds of other courses. All them online, all them for free.

Offering distance and online education, Future Learn is a private company owned by The Open University. They have partners around the world, such as UK and international universities and many institutions –British Council and British Library are great examples.

The most interesting from this platform is the huge variety of courses available. All them offering videos, audios, articles, sometimes even tests and assignments. Also, offering the opportunity for you to make comments and discuss with all people who are doing the same course as you.

To give you a glimpse, some of the current courses being offered goes from “Introduction to Dutch” until “Discover Dentistry”. Directly linked with our module, there are “The Internet of Things” offered by King’s College, “Community Journalism: Digital and Social Media”, by Cardiff University and many others.

By now, I’m studying exactly the Nutrition and Wellbeing and another one that explores the English language through Shakespeare’s plays and poetries. Not to mention that it is also very practical, once I can access my weekly lessons on my mobile, my tablet or my laptop at any time I want to!

For me, it is one of the most amazing advantages of the internet so far: the simple and easy way users can access knowledge. Also, it turns the learning experience into something more enjoyable and social.

However, is it really the “future learn”? I still strongly believe in the traditional ways of education. But will face-to-face interaction resist virtual learning?