Big Brother is Watching You

“Network Society…What’s the point? Is there anything we don’t know about the Internet?” I remember hearing these words all over the university in the beginning of semester and, to be honest, I was really supporting this opinion. I honestly thought nothing can be taught about online societies. What a mistake! I feel so refreshed after this module I can’t even choose the topic to talk about. But, wait…I have an idea.

The most attractive topic to me in Network Society and the Media module was Privacy and Surveillance. It made me think. Not just about the amount of accounts on the Web I have and the fact that I better not put mobile number and address online, but mainly about being constantly watched. Anything that has ever been put online (even for a short time) stays online forever and can always be used. Every photo, every life event, every line written – most of the information Internet users provide is being recorded, and that makes people on the other side of monitor able to watch us literally always. And we hand all this information in ourselves.

However, at the same time, if a stranger came up to you in the street, would you answer some private questions? I bet no. So why do we keep doing this online? Giving out extremely personal information, not even thinking about consequences?

I’ve talked about this in one of the seminars, but it is a problem that I’m really worried about. None of us would like to find ourselves in a database, but we keep joining hundreds of them every day voluntarily.

Do you agree/disagree? Do you think we need to be more careful online, or there is no actual danger? Let me know what you think!

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Hello from the other side, you must have paid at least ten pounds

Back in November, as a true fan of music and, particularly, Adele, I was waiting for her new album “25” to be released. However, on the day it should have been out, some bad news were awaiting for me – the singer announced that her new creation will not be on Apple Music or Spotify. The same announcement was made few months later by the mighty Kanye West regarding his album “The Life of Pablo”. Why do celebrities keep doing this to us?

The main reason behind this phenomenon is their support for…themselves and their own music. They need people to buy it. They need people to pay them real money (as if Adele did not have enough for her eyeliner). She, by the way, was the one, who called music streaming “disposable”.

“I’m really proud of my decision”, she claimed.

Kanye West, on the contrary, was not saying much on this.

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To be honest, I was a bit disappointed with the new movement of the celebrities. To my mind, it was completely wrong – especially considering the fact that most streaming sources are not free (not sure about Spotify, but I, as an Apple user, pay 6,99 euro/5,49£ monthly for the access to almost all the music imaginable). Of course, music (as any other content) cannot be completely free, but this fee is pretty fair.

Average price for “25” online is around 10 pounds. I could eat for three days for this price.

Should music be even more expensive than it is now? Are decisions of Adele and Kanye fair?

Let me know what you think!

Live long and…Online?

The Internet started becoming extremely popular amongst young people in my country, when I was approximately 10 years old. Back then we only had one local social network available – and, of course, it was the main tool for communication.

The older we got, the more social networks appeared, and the more we desired to get as many accounts as possible. I remember myself being on almost any Internet platform imaginable – Facebook, Odnoklassniki and VK (the Russian ones), MySpace, Tumblr, WeHeartIt, DeviantArt, Flickr (I was very into photography..well, at least, I thought so), Blogspot, WordPress (remember considering yourself to be a great blogger? No? Well, I do), Formspring, Ask.FM (because we were curious about everything and everyone) and many, many others. I reckon, I still have accounts on some of these, but, to be honest…I am not interested anymore.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – that’s all that is left of the diversity of my virtual life. I still need to keep in touch with people and, maybe, know what’s happening in their lives. Or just enjoy a beautiful picture. Sometimes I use Snapchat for entertainment and WordPress for university works or expressing my own thoughts (sometimes I still feel like a great blogger, you know). But that’s it.

I became an active Internet user when I was 12. Now I’m 20, and so many things changed over these eight years. I reconsidered the necessity of social networks’ presence in my life, and came to a conclusion that it’s not online life that everything is turning around. It’s other way round.

I am of the opinion, that the older we get, the less we need social media, the less we trust it. Do you agree? What was your “Internet user’s” story? Do you think that accounts that are left unused can affect our future lives somehow?

The EARTH without ART is just EH

In the past few years I’ve found myself to be very into photography, as an amateur, of course. I’ve been given a camera for my 15th birthday, and right after that I decided, that my commitment is to take photos of everything and everyone I see. And then put them online, indeed. So I started looking for an appropriate platform that would allow publishing works, receiving and leaving feedback and observing creations of other people. From all of the many websites I chose DeviantArt.

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DeviantArt (originally deviantART) was launched on August 7, 2000 in Los Angeles, California and was defined as “the world’s largest online art gallery and community”. In July 2011 it was the 13th largest social network, and by 2013 the number of users reached 25 million. Quite impressive for an art gallery, huh? Artworks on DeviantArt may include photography, digital art, traditional art, literature, filmmaking and any other type of art imaginable. DeviantArt was one of the first social networks in the 21st century to introduce such functions as messaging centre, emoticons, galleries for photos and videos, square avatar icons and personalized profiles. However, one of the few disadvantages is the fact that DeviantArt doesn’t have any review for potential copyright, so artworks can be violated unless reported.

Why do I consider DeviantArt to be an online community? The answer’s quite simple – it’s users interact with each other. Directly – by sharing, comenting and liking artworks, indirectly – by simply inspiring or being inspired by someone else’s painitng or photograph. I think, this kind of inspiration is much more valuable than the one you get from cheeky quotes on such platforms as Tumblr. It is so, because you know that this amazing photograph of sunset or this painting of a girl were made my real people, who you may contact and share your amazement with.

What do you think? Have you ever used DeviantArt or any other similar platforms? If so, what did you use it for?

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Artwork by t1na, DeviantArt.

Extremely Warm Welcome

The great American writer Mark Twain once said: “Only two things we’ll regret on deathbed – that we are a little loved and little traveled”. But, good for us, we don’t live in the 19th century. I’m not really sure about the first one, but the second thing can be fixed easily today. Those, who are deeply intro travelling (or just slightly enjoy going from one country to another), have ever dreamt of being able to do it for free, and voilà. CouchSurfing is on its way to make their dreams come true.

The point of CouchSurfing is to keep in touch with people, travel and stay overnight in the other countries for free. It has been in launched in 2003 with the slogan “Participate in Creating a Better World, One Couch at a Time”, which, to my mind, reflects website’s concept perfectly. It connects more than 7 million people in 246 countries all around the world. However, this is not the main point.

But what keeps CouchSurfing alive for thirteen years now? Who lets it exist? It is one of those websites, that are active due to their users. The users of CouchSurfing were just given the platform, but everything else was their work. The people, the places, actual travelling and experience sharing. Some of them are still in touch and actually visit each other sometimes. All of this has been keeping the website alive and is the perfect example of audience participation.

I’ve never really heard of such website before this week, and would really like to try it (even though stying with strangers in the foreign country may sound suspicious). What about you?

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The Reborn

We are used to the fact that convergence is quite a contemporary concept, but have you ever thought that something that we can call “convergence” has existed ten or fifteen years ago? This week I would like to go back to history of the Internet and present you another “ancient” social network. Meet the greatest competitor of Facebook and the website, where some of you, probably, have spent your teenage years – MySpace.

MySpace has been launched in Beverly-Hills, California, in the middle of the year 2003, when social media still seemed to be something strange and unfamiliar. However, as a social network, MySpace became extremely popular – it has been announced to be the most visited website in the U.S., translated to 14 languages and admitted to be international. What is so special about it? It was one of the first social networks to combine several services simultaneously – it allowed to chat, to blog, to share photos and videos and to listen to various audio tracks at the same time. And this, to my mind, is one of the earliest examples of convergence.

In April 2008 MySpace overtaken by Facbook, and the number of its members started to decline rapidly. However, the year 2011 (right after Justin Timberlake successfully purchased the company to give it a new life) was announced to be the year of MySpace‘s relaunch. The number of new sign-ups started to grow from 0 to 40,000 users a day. In October 2013 MySpace had around 36 million users, and it is still active right now.

MySpace turns 13 this year. Would you give it another chance?

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Deal?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this week’s post. Too much, I’d say. I tried to Google resources, tried to find relevant blogs, journals, archives, read and re-read the guidelines to the post – nothing helped, I was literally stuck. And then I’ve noticed something to what I wasn’t paying enough attention earlier.

Database. What do we know about it? Right. Usually it’s just a huge amount of information gathered in one place. Would any of you like to reveal your name in a database? Unlikely (even if yes, you would never admit that to anybody, would you?). Knowing that you are somebody’s data makes you feel watched, unprotected and vulnerable. However, there is a massive database, that most of us are quite excited to put ouselves in. And I’m pretty sure it is now opened on your laptop/smartphone, while you’re reading this text.  Yes, the mighty Facebook.

Today Facebook knows everything. Where are you, with whom are you, what are you doing, watching, eating. Where do you work, who is your ex, when did your first goldfish die. We used to be so excited about the fact that we can share anything with anyone now, that we can’t protect our own privacy anymore. And this article by The Guardian journalist Nicole Kobie raises the problem. The basic theory of the article is that free online services are not that free at the end of the day, and your freedom online costs much more than all of your bills together – your privacy. And it’s not only about us, it is also about children, who literally were born to the Internet and, according to the article, will learn how to accept a lack of privacy as normal.

Even though the source I’ve chosen isn’t academic, I reckon it might be quite useful and can help you think more about network and privacy, or even reconsider your attitude to it. Do we really trade our privacy for the virtual freedom?

-Marija