Essena O’Neill. When you hear this name now what bell does it ring? I hate that I linked a wikipedia page to her name but honestly, the girl we all thought we knew, has vanished. Essena, in late 2015 ‘quit’ social media due to the persona she created overwhelming her, leaving her feeling isolated and alone. She created an online presence that portrayed her to be always effortlessly happy and healthy not to mention flawlessly beautiful. Essentially, Essena was seen by her audiences to be the ‘perfect’ girl with the ‘perfect’ life that everyone thought was just ‘goals’. This all came unstuck when she decided it just was not her anymore, and so a new persona arose…
Essena showcases the downside of creating an online persona, one that is so far from the truth it was exhausting to keep up. In her series of photos (which are posted below) she highlights that in order to fit into her own fictional ideals she would often not eat and describes her use of social media to be an “addiction”. O’Neill openly admits “I now wish I wasn’t wearing such a mask”. She used social media platforms, especially Instagram completely to her advantage with clever use of paid promotions, editing, hashtags, demonstrating values her followers aspired to etc. Then, she tore her own persona to shreds…. Makes me wonder, was she really just building a new online face?
Creating an online persona can be a dangerous game, however I believe we all do it to a certain degree. For instance, I know I would never post an unflattering image of myself online or hashtag anything that might paint me as a less than perfect person. With the exception of an experimental Instagram I share with some friends called “theflippedside” where we aim to post snapshots of our real lives. Let’s take a moment to contrast the two.
Obviously the pictures of me between these two accounts vary greatly! The persona I project on my own Instagram is that of a very happy young woman with great friends and family; a social being. The other account is reality, I am not ashamed to admit I have blemishes, I dropped a smoothie on my foot or that most days I stay in my pyjamas. That certainly doesn’t mean I want to post it online though! ‘The flipped side’ highlights that whether we realise we are doing it or not, everyone has an online persona that emphasises the good and omits the average and hides the bad.
With our mobile phones rapidly becoming an extension of our self (physically and metaphorically) rather than just a device to interact, why would we want to limit ourselves to prepackaged, predefined, limited software. Why shouldn’t we make our new extension of self just as individual and able to adapt to change as we are?
Whilst many of us may be used to accepting things as they come and simply ticking the boxes to terms and conditions set in stone it might be time to open our eyes. The world of open source software and applications is ever expanding and bursting at the seams with infinite potential. What does this mean to you? As I have recently uncovered thanks to Ted technology should not always be judged by the choices it gives us, but sometimes the lack there of. Let’s take a brief look at open vs closed sources in the Venn Diagram I have created below.
For me, this brought to mind Instagram and Tumblr and the way you can use your profile to share images. Obviously I understand Tumblr is not a completely open source platform however, the actual blogs on this platform are. Below I have shared my main Tumblr blog and my Instagram profile.
My Instagram account, which is limited to one profile is set in stone. I upload photos and Instagram fits them into their template which I am simply using, there is no creative freedom or sense of ownership. I can edit my name and bio so long as it fits their standards and character limits. My photos must even fit into their frames. My Tumblr blog however is one of four that I manage within the one account. I use my own domain and have edited a code (with the help of many forums) over the course of about a year so my page looks exactly as I want it to. Not to mention all the extensions created by other Tumblr users that I have added to help me do all this. I control everything from the colours to whether on not the page scrolls and how spaced apart my images are. I feel a great sense of pride when it comes to my blog as it is an extension of myself. With Instagram, I feel a sense of ownership and pride with the photos I share but not necessarily my profile page, after all it is exactly the same as the other 600 million users.
Open source software demonstrates perfected the notion that the medium is the message. This time, you create the message. You create the medium. It’s all your choices. Open source software is the way of the future and it won’t be slowing it’s expansion anytime soon. Why should it.
13 years, 13 seasons, 269 episodes. It is safe to say that over it’s long life Grey’s Anatomy has made quite an impact. With so many dedicated fans, it is no wonder the show has had such a long life and has been spread across so many platforms. This large fan base has always demanded more, when the content they were receiving failed to meet expectations they began to create their own. This user creation has allowed for the once just simple television show to reach an almost liquid multi-form status.
As an avid fan myself, I thought the best way to demonstrate Grey’s Anatomy to be Transmedia was through examining the fandoms ‘anatomy’ with a mind map. If you click the image below, the interactive mind map will open with links on most branches to elements of the fandom.
As illustrated above, it seems Grey’s fans have touched every corner of the web with their passion and creations. It can certainly be seen to meet Henry Jenkins ideas of transmedia, “a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience.”
When looking at the complex, often non-linear web above you can jump into any element without having explored those surrounding it and understand it’s contents. The Producers and creators have come up with extensions of the show in order to transform them into multiform stories. You can see above, the story extends past just the television show and takes on the forms of a second television series which connects into the fictional world, a video game, as well as two webisodes.
Fan fiction also plays a large role in extending the fictional universe past it’s television parameters. The dark blue section of the map demonstrates a few of the largest Grey’s fan fiction online hubs however there are thousands more the deeper you delve.
The show due to it’s constant and high demand for content from both ABC producers and fans allows it to stay modern and constant. Meeting all current memes, and fitting into current culture. The video below demonstrates this as it is a spin off of a 2004 movie that has surely now been watched more times in parody forms than its original.
Copyright in essence, is an archaic greedy toddler leftover from a time when we actually believed we’d be better off not sharing our ideas with others. Growing up in this digital age I am always sharing, reading, editing and building upon. Copy right was never more than a legal annoyance that for the most part, I disregarded. Copyright now, as an adult enrages me. It ignores the creative, derivative, consumer content based world in which we now live and continues to push its obsolete passive values upon us. And why? So the legacy media giants will one day own the entire world? leaving us to just exist in it… making no impact at all? No thank-you.
Copyright, to my generation seems out of place. Our creativity and sharing is criminalised. Michael Mandiburg offers refreshing insights including his statement that “we can’t make our kids passive the way I, at least, was. We can only make them “pirates”. Another individual with the right idea is Nina Paley, who actively disregards copyright from her own mind set as she believes it serves to sensor our thoughts in a similar way to brain damage (as shown below). She makes a valid point that “most artists do not make their livings from copyright. most artists, if they make a living at all, make their living through commissions, grants, work for hire, and donations.” Copyright restricts access to their work. Why would any modern day artist not want their work shared in every way possible?
In the age of this mass creation and sharing on such huge online global platforms, I cannot begin to fathom why artists want to keep their work to themselves. Why restrict our culture? Surely that implodes culture in itself. Let us seek “Free cultures” those “cultures that leave a great deal open for others to build upon” . In our anything but passive society, the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. Let’s collectively grow the public domain. Let us be the ones to abolish copyright and continue to grow the creative, free flowing, anything but linear culture copyright so greatly fears.
There is no longer a place for copyright to sit on the same shelf, within our active creative world we have worked so hard to shape.
(P.S feel free to use my art from this post!)
With some of the greatest creative minds known to man opening admitting that whilst “good artists copy, great artists steal” and that one must remain “shameless about stealing great ideas” it is no secret all art in any form has sourced inspiration from another. There is even speculation as to who this phrase can be attributed.
The music industry is no exception. If you’re reading this, you have access to the internet so i’m going to assume you make up for at least one of the 33 million views on the Axis of Awesome 4 Chord Song. It provides the perfect example of just how much music is shared and ‘stolen’ within this strictly, highly copyrighted industry.
There are few stronger feelings in this world than those evoked when hearing a song from your past. Who wouldn’t love their favourite songs mashed together or updated to lift them to new levels! Remix culture even in early times excited all, with the exception of music producers with their great fear that “they wouldn’t share in the wealth” depending on the use and access. Obviously however, the remix culture remains strong and is even being incorporated into the advertising industry to be monetised.
Songs from my childhood featured on TV shows work the strongest to evoke feelings from me! Such an overwhelming sense of nostalgia. Hopefully if you’re from my generation my remix will make you feel this too! After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Sharing music to evoke feelings and long lost memories? I think so. Let’s all get remixing! After all, we as “active content creators” do live in an age of sharing content widely and freely.
People have a tendency to speak about ‘the media’ as something out of their control, beyond their grasp, almost non-human and now, it is. Software has been created to mimic and manipulate their own work in order to satisfy the ever increasing demand for news. These robot journalists are often the first “to report on the breaking news” making them the obvious choice.
Humans are curious creatures when it comes to their use and understanding of the media. For example, Journalist John C Dvorak has written an entire piece on ‘the myth of the robot journalist’ the title itself denying the existence of the centrepiece of his own article! It can not be forgotten that journalists make up part of the robot journalism audience too and they certainly have a lot to say about their profession being handed over into mechanical hands. Comments like “what a crock” and calling their work simply “regurgitation” make their feelings blatantly obvious. Others however, sit on the side of realism admitting “it’s all over now” they choose not to close their eyes to the fact “robots are now writing news stories and doing a good job”.
To the youth of this generation, it seems a tale as old as time. The one-sided, set in concrete “hierarchy” is overthrown by the power of the people demanding more and more, pushing the “decentralized collaborative organization” in every element of the dying profession. With the technology giants like China now “in the throes of an automation revolution” assisted by an “instant messaging service” the rest of the world will soon follow suit. Who could blame them, haven’t you heard yet? We are the media. Just try and stop us.
Citizen Journalism is the formal name for it, the concept that we all make up the media. Open your eyes! Speak out! There is no dark overlord controlling and spoon feeding you information and news. That was then and this is now. You control what you see. You create. With every post, share, like, search, text or photo you shape the world around you. This culture has been evolving rapidly. You are the modern journalist, you don’t need a desk stacked high with press releases or an editor. You have an iPhone.
Citizen journalism isn’t just based around the “collection, dissemination, and analysis of news” but rather any practice involving sharing thoughts or ideas for others to see. I consider myself to be practicing citizen journalism through my ongoing project ‘The Paws of Figtree Park’. I have created a web page, Facebook page and an Instagram presence open to the world wide web. The pages are still a work in progress and I have documented part of this process to demonstrate how simple citizen journalism can be, It is not always iPhone videos or interviews that have made in onto the 7pm news, but can be any tiny move you make online. Own it.
The image below provides some food for thought, all these ideas, thoughts and snippets being constantly shared every minute of every day of every week. How naive were we to ever think the ‘real journalists‘ have all the power? Go forth and take the reins.