Monday, March 22, 2010

I've gotta have the new Sony Playstation Digital 3D, 3G, laptop virtual cell phone Kindle credit card On-Demand home theater!

Digital convergence is changing the way people conduct their day to day lives.  With so many options available when it comes to entertainment, mobile service, and IT needs, it is difficult to choose.  As a result of these difficult choices, many companies are now offering all of these services encompassed in one device.  This is convienient for consumers, because they now have the luxury of having several services and only one bill to pay.  It can also prove to be beneficial for the companies offering the services, because now, people that are on a budget and may have not been able to previously afford services can now purchase a device that offers several services -- Hence, every company gets a piece of the digital pie.  Companies that may not have gotten a consumer's business can now attract new customers. 

It is believed that digital service providers will ultimately merge into one entity, and become the largest grossing company out of any major corporation.  The one thing that sparks a bit of paranoia in me, however, is the "Big Brother" theory.  With all the satellite-propelled devices on the market now, it feels as if us civilians can always be seen -- wherever we are.  Privacy is a luxury that is long gone.

As far as employment is concerned, digital convergence is great.  It is now possible to attend a business meeting while on vacation. 

Even though digital convergence can be convienient, it can also be rather disturbing.  Even before writing this blog, I've often wondered what would individuals do if their coveted devices suddenly failed them?  Would individuals be able to function normally if they were not able to do any and everything at once.  This very topic is what gave me the idea for my blog title, "Electronic Submission Replacing Human Tradition."  It seems as if people have gotten accustomed to having only one way of doing things (digitally).  I do not think it is good to know only one way to do any task.  You must have alternative methods.  A great example of this, is the young generation with their "texting" language.  This texting lingo has gotten so bad, that young people are actually starting to turn in school work using this language ( I know; I'm a teacher).  I wonder if some of the students are even aware that this new way of writing is not accepted as being grammatically correct.  These are the types of problems that arise from digital conversion.  They may seem trivial at first; however, they can become more serious as our daily lives require us to do less.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Don't Call Us; We'll Facebook You!

Facebook, Twitter, and Google Buzz, along with several other social networking sites are now being strategically utilized by various organizations to raise awareness about their companies.  Organizations are using these sites for tasks like marketing, recruiting potential employees, and even boosting workplace morale.  The social nature of these types of sites allow organizations to become more accessible, and not come across so cold and formal.  Corporate organizations and the like now have a venue where they can foster a "family" type of atmosphere to appeal to a broader demographic. 

For companies, one of the main benefits of being linked to a social network is the "cool factor."  Beign on Facebook and Twitter allows companies to appear to be hip or trendy.  This may seem trivial; however, this aspect can be very influential over twenty-somethings who are fresh out of college and looking for a place to work.  Many companies are estatic to now have a tool they can use to appeal to recent college grads; it affords them the opportunity to draw new young talent.

Some of the creative strategies that have been employed by organizations in order to utilize social networking sites to their maximum potential are interesting to say the least.  For example, according to buzz marketing daily, a website called JobNob uses Twitter to tweet its "cool job" of the day; a restaurant called Market Street tweets daily menu updates; and police are now even using Facebook to track down criminals and fight crime.  The possibilities are endless when it comes to utilizing sites that connects droves of people who, under normal circumstances, would not be able to stay in touch with one another.

Social networking offers smiliar benefits as Creative Commons when it comes to the independent artist or the entrepreneur.  Social networking sites can be utilized to "leak" information about individuals who are trying to promote themselves or their business, and they can actually create a public interest in their product by presenting it as the next big thing on one of these sites.  An example of this would be an author who creates a page on Facebook for his/her novel -- when people become fans of that page, then it has the potential to create a domino effect: their friends become fans, then their friends, etc., until the author has a New York Times best-seller!  With the advent of sites like these, PR/advertising departments can be cut in half.  That may not be good for the PR and advertising folks, but it is good for the organizations that are saving money while generating a much larger buzz than their human advertising specialists could.

Monday, February 15, 2010

All Rights Reserved. . . to waive. . . in some cases

Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that allows creators flexible copyright management for their works.  Though it was primarily created to ease the process of sharing educational/intellectual information, its buzz spread quickly and Creative Commons was soon being utilized by artist of various types as well.  Most people seem to prefer Creative Commons over the traditional copyright, because it allows for easier sharing of creative property.  Creative Commons makes sharing easier mainly by changing "All Rights Reserved" to "Some Rights Reserved" (there are six different licenses that offer different levels of creative protection).  Though I do see the good in this organization, I personally have mixed feelings about it.  I love the fact that there is a place you can go to find pictures, music, knowledge, etc. for free; however, there is another part of me -- the current writer and former musician that doesn't understand why an artist would want their work up for grabs without receiving any monetary gain from it.  Unless these artist crave attention more than profit, then Creative Commons makes no sense.  I can understand sharing the educational information, because most scholars do indeed share the information that they learn or discover; but most artist on the other hand, are involved in their craft so that they can make money from their work.  I think I love Creative Commons and hate it simultaneously. 

Creative Commons, the people's champ, is 'Terminating' the traditional copyright

In rare cases, like that of Josh Woodward, I can understand why he would allow people to use his work freely.  Mr. Woodward appears to be a pretty well-established independent artist, and he seems to now be at the point in his career where he wants maximum exposure.  Maximum exposure would eventually allow him to catch the attention of "the machine" which is the major record labels.  So in Josh Woodward's case, there is a method to his Creative Commons madness. 
So how do you walk that thin line where you share your craft with as many people who are willing to receive it and not go bankrupt in the process?  I don't know, maybe that is why this concept is so hard to grasp for me.  It will definitely help indie artists gain exposure, but there's just that minor detail of getting paid that keeps popping up.  I guess artists are going to have to start being more savy when it comes to marketing themselves and advertising their products.  I know there are still ways they can make a decent living -- it will just take more work.  However, if I put on my non-artist lenses, I think Creative Commons is wonderful for creating visual aids, special projects, web pages/sites, etc.  You can go to Creative Commons and find whatever you need for you particular endeavor. . . Just make sure that you give credit to the original artist for any material that you reproduce.   

There are many government agencies getting on the Creative Commons bandwagon.  Here's an article about The Australian Bureau of Statistics getting with the common folk:

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Revolution Will not be Televised (It will be a webcast)

While most Americans are using the internet and other technology to enjoy various forms of entertainment, other countries are using technology as a tool to bring about change.  Civilians of oppressed countries are now rapidly becoming field reporters, covert camera crews, and practitioners of espionage, all in an effort to realize their individual freedom.  Without the technology that is available today, citizens might not be able to make the strides toward their freedom that they have made thus far. 

A prime example of the impending technological revolution is the censorship issue between Google and China.  As shown in the photo above, the image results for Tiananmen on the U.S. Google site and the Chinese Google site are drastically different.  This difference was due to Google's agreement to censor China's web content for the Chinese government; however, Google has now decided to withdraw from that agreement.  The internet censorship has lead to a great deal of outrage amongst Chinese citizens, and many tech-savy individuals have already begun finding ways to get around governmental internet controls.  Chinese "netizens" are actively displaying how technology has the capability to break down barriers.  The Chinese government will not be able to successfully censor web content for a long period of time, because as technology advances, more ways become available to "beat the system."

Happenings in places such as Iran and Burma have an even more Revolutionary tone.  In areas such as these, citizens are using technology to document protests, political unrest, and even instances of brutality.  In a blog entitled Anonymous Iran, unamed individuals are currently discussing ways to send video and photo images to remote locations where they can be safely uploaded to the internet -- a defense mechanism in case their recording device is ever taken away by the authorities.  In Burma, individuals are using the web to raise awareness about their situation to people abroad.  Many celebrities have gotten on board and are now human rights advocates/activists for the people of Burma (there is no doubt that many of these celebrities would not even be aware of the situation in Burma if it was not for technology keeping them abreast on international issues).  We are now just as capable of finding out what is going on across the globe, as we are across the street.

Finally, the last article I read was about the new YouTube direct, which was hilarious in my opinion.  I found this article funny, because YouTube Direct is a tool that major news organizations can use to basically fish for "instant stories" put together by novice reporters and camera operators.  Although the reporters have gone to school, earned the degrees, and are making the big bucks, they are now able to benefit from the hard work of the average joe with a camera phone and dreams of being in the media biz.  This directly speaks to the point I made in my first blog post, when I stated that it is going to be hard for "freelance artists" to get paid for their work.  As the article stated, if the freelancers are not going to be rewarded for their work (monetarily or with production/writing/photo credit), then they are better off setting up their own site and producing their work independently.  There is no need for the head of the tail to get involved and hog all the glory.

I believe that technology will have a tremendous effect on democracy, because technology allows for freedom of expression, even in places where it is not supposed to be allowed.  The government may currently be able to dictate what a citizen says or does in person when they are being physically watched; however, the government cannot always effectively monitor the "cyber citizen."  These internet activists will be the catalysts for a technological revolution in the very near future.

Google China side-by-side photo posted by Danny Sullivan on January 30, 2006.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Long Tail

The Long Tail video and article both made a lot of sense. It is only logical that the major corporations stick with the "proven formulas" when it comes to presenting the public with various audio, visual, and print media for consumption. Since physical shelf space is limited, it is difficult for the head of the tail to offer consumers variety -- it is too risky. Therefore, to minimize their loses, corporations only promote what they believe will sell in relation to current trends. However, with the advent of the world wide web, independent creative artists, activists, and average joes can now get just as much exposure as mainstream personalities. There are so many ways for individuals to get their messages out to the masses now, that if you can't present your ideas to the world, it is your own fault for not exploring your options. Now matter what your media goals are, there is an electronic platform available for you to utilize. Aspiring screenwriters and television producers can now independently produce their projects and upload them to sites like YouTube -- allowing audiences to view their work without them ever inking a major motion picture or television deal. Authors can write as many books as they want, have them available in either digital formats or print-on-demand formats, and enjoy unlimited distribution without the help of companies like Barnes and Noble (I myself have done this, and I find that I prefer this route because I maintain creative freedom, which allows me to do what I want to my manuscripts -- major publishers often change author's manuscripts to the point where the author no longer recognizes their own work). Finally, musicians can produce albums, and have them available for sale on their own personal websites -- there are even many established recording artists that now promote small independent projects on sites like myspace. The possibilities for one to create their own medium are endless now. I believe that major corporations will respond to the technological advancements by trying to offer a wider variety of media products to consumers. Right now, the corporations do not offer half as much variety as one can get on the internet. For example, if you want an Arabic hip hop album (something I actually searched for one day out of curiosity), you can find it on the 'net. . . I guarantee you will not find it a F.Y.E. To combat this problem, major corporations will make feeble attempts to sign acts or writers that are "refreshingly different," however, it will not work, because after a while, all of the major corporations will follow suit and only sign refreshingly different acts until every artist is the same again. Major corporations are too married to the idea of trends to change. They like what they know will generate revenue for certain. The only problem that I see personally with the ease of media access is that it seems like it will become increasingly more difficult for the small independent artists to get paid for their creative endeavors. There are many outlets available now for one to get their work out to the public, but there doesn't appear to be equally as many ways to get paid for it. I don't know how satisfying popularity is to an individual, if they cannot make a living doing what makes them popular.