Author Archives: ashleighjohnston

Online Dialog – Moderating the conversation

“It takes a village to raise a monster. What is it about our society that creates trolls.” – Laurel Papworth

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This week we explored the theme, Online Dialog – Moderating the conversation: inclusive dialog online”. This issue is quite contentious with the public. A proportion of the public react violently when they feel that they are being censored – that their freedom of speech is being compromised. Whereas others feel that regulations need to be intensified to stop online bullying.

A ‘troll’ in social media context can be defined as “a member of an internet community who posts offensive; divisive and controversial comments.” (Techopedia). Internet trolls are particularly dangerous as they feel protected by their anonymity and gain confidence through the lack of reprehension. A recent victim of internet trolling is footballer Robbie Farah. A sexually explicit tweet was posted about Farah’s recently deceased mother. The uproar prompted Premier Barry O’Farrell to make moves to update the current legislation to deter trolls in the future.

If we take a step back, we will see that trolling is not a new concept. Trolls have long existed in our society. Social media has just provided a more visible platform for trolls to be recognised. Just as we have rules in place for bullying within schools and workplaces, the internet now needs to be regulated to ensure bullying is not tolerated in this forum. Dr Fiona Martin believes that on the whole, the public does not know how to manage our online presence. Martin suggests that regulating social media is one strategy that will improve inappropriate behaviour.

What is the solution?

This is the million dollar question. Experts believe that black and white rules are almost certainly doomed to fail. The innovative and constantly evolving nature of technology makes regulating social media difficult. In the meantime, this ambiguity is not helpful to those suffering under the torment of trolls. While it is clear that social media needs to be moderated – just how to regulate the trolls is up for debate. What do you propose?

 References

Martin, F 2012, Vox Populi, Vox Dei: ABC Online and the risks of dialogic interaction’ in Histories of a public Service Broadcasters on the Web, editors, N. Brugger & M. Burns. New York pp.177-192.

Staff, 2012. Barry O’Farrell calls for review on social media laws after troll attack on Robbie Farah. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/barry-ofarrell-calls-for-review-on-social-media-laws-after-troll-attack-on-robbie-farah/story-fn59niix-1226471162842

Papworth, L 2013. How Social Media can fix the Troll and Bullying Problem. http://laurelpapworth.com/how-social-media-can-fix-the-troll-and-bullying-problem/

Digital social inclusion: focus on disability

This week’s reading is concerned with ‘Digital social inclusion: focus on disability’. Digital inclusion is a topic that is fast gaining momentum within the media. As a nation, Australia is quite lacking in digital resources that cater to the disabled segment of the public.

One example that I would like to explore is Audio Description, this is a function that provides additional verbal narration for blind and vision impaired television viewers. Goggin and Newell summarises the current situation in Australia, “Change has proven frustratingly slow.” Australia, unlike many other nations such as Italy, UK, Sweden and many others, have regulations in place to ensure that visually impaired viewers can enjoy television in a similar fashion to visually proficient members of the public. Our class reached the general consensus that Australia needs to ‘get with the times’. Alex Varley writes, “Australia sits at the very bottom of the league table of world audio description and blind viewers continue to be treated as non-existent media consumers.”

Also discussed in class was media commentator Joe Hildebrandt insensitive (and stereotypical) tweet. Hildebrandt expressed his frustration on Sydney Airport employee’s incompetence. “I just want to say I think it’s great that Sydney Airport is providing so many jobs for the mentally handicapped.” Understandably, many took offense to his implied contempt of disabled people. Stella Young comments, “At best, it displays blatant ignorance of the very real barriers faced by people with disability.”

Stella Young is a well-respected disability advocate, media commentator and comedian. She is renowned for using humour to challenge the public’s general perception of people with disabilities. In this Ramp Up article, Young challenges not one, but two stereotypical insults. Her razor sharp wit serves as an excellent reminder to never blindly believe a stereotype suggested to you by the media!

 

References:

Varley, A (2013). Opinion: Regulating Audio Description the Only Way. http://www.mediaaccess.org.au/latest_news/australian-policy-and-legislation/opinion-regulating-audio-description-the-only-way

Sear, J (2012). Elsewhere – why shouldn’t Joe Hildebrandt cruelly mock the disabled? http://blogs.crikey.com.au/purepoison/2012/02/12/elsewhere-why-shouldnt-joe-hildebrand-cruelly-mock-the-disabled/

Young, S (2013). The Politics of Exclusion. http://www.abc.net.au/rampup/articles/2013/04/26/3745990.htm

  ‘White bread media’          This week

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‘White bread media’       

 
This week we explored the concept, ‘white bread media’ and the Australian media’s Anglo-centric ways. In the past few years, it is an issue that has been brought to the forefront by prominent culturally diverse Australian actors. Award winning actor Firass Dirani comments, “major networks did not create roles for people from a broad range of cultural backgrounds.” This is a sentiment that is held by many – the media and the public alike. Journalist Paul Kalina explores the notion that it is not only television that’s affected by ‘whitewashing’ – the advertising industry is also guilty for misrepresenting Australia’s culturally diverse population.
 
It should be noted that as with every rule, there is an exception. Actors from a multi-cultural background can look forward to being cast in “stereotypical, caricatured’ roles. Many of the roles available to them portray them in a negative light as some sort of criminal. It is in stark contrast to the respected roles in society being cast to an anglo-saxon. This is unfairly creating negative sterotypes in viewers minds.
 
Tanja Dreher offers an examples of a television programs that represent multi-culturalism – Salam Cafe and also points out that SBS is the only channel in the world that airs programs in different languages to cater for various cultures and nationalities. Salam cafe offers an insight into the Muslim community in a humorous manner. Dreher explains that this is an effective tactic to break down current stereotypes held by the majority of the Australian public.  
 
Melissa Phillips raises another important issue, “What I think is offensive is that even today mainstream television hardly reflects Australia’s true diversity. Outcries from actors within the industry need to be matched by outrage from viewers.” She claims that it is not enough the industry itself is aware of the issue, but the public need to understand that the media are not accurately portraying the Australian cultural landscape and that in itself is an injustice to our nation.
 

References:

 
Phillips, M 2012, ‘All-white Australian television fails the reality test’,  http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/allwhite-australian-television-fails-the-reality-test-20120217-1tdbo.html#ixzz2SqYcAqCK
 
Dreher, T, (forthcoming 2014), ‘White Bread Media’ in the Media and Communications in Australia eds. S Cunningham and S Turnbull, Allen and Unwin
 
Kalina, P 2012, ‘Diversity still out of the picture’, Sydney Morning Herald, 1 March, http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/diversity-still-out-of-the-picture-20120229-1u1jg.html
 

Feudalisation of the Internet

In class this week we looked at a reading by Zittrain that outlined the impending feudalisation of the internet. We explored the concept of tethered appliances and why they present as a significant threat to our way of life.

Internet censorship is an issue that many perceive as pressing. But Zittrain insists that tethered appliances present as more of a danger to the very things we value in technology. Walled gardens for instance, are censoring and controlling us. But do we rebel? No, we simply see it as a way of life. John Batelle explains, “The old internet is shrinking and being replaced by walled gardens over which Google’s crawlers cannot climb.” We are stealthily being regulated through these devices as by their very nature, “invites regulatory intervention that disrupts a wise equilibrium that depends upon regulators acting with a light touch, as they traditionally have done within liberal societies”.

As the appliances are controlled by the manufacturers, they are subject to change at any point in time. Basically, we are paying for a good or product that we want, but then run the risk of having the very quality we value being taken away without our consent and with no warning. I personally found it most alarming that these devices can be used for surveillance purposes and consider it a gross privacy invasion.

We as consumers have enabled tethered appliances to rise to prominence through our blind trust in Companies such as Apple and Facebook. We are moving further away from dormant PC’s, in favour of devices that allow for mobility. However, Zittrain suggests that the sacrifice we must make to enjoy mobility and computing ease is simply not worth it, he fears, “that blunderbuss technology regulation by overeager regulators will intrude on the creative freedom of technology makers and the civic freedoms of those who use the technology.”

References:

– Zittrain, J 2008, ‘Tethered Appliances, Software as Service, and Perfect Enforcement’. In The Future of the Internet and How to Stop it, Yale University Press, New Haven, ppp.101-126

– Mitew, T 2013, ‘The Fuedalisation of the Internet’, viewed 30 April 2013. http://prezi.com/qopqxh6ktl1j/the-feudalisation-of-the-internet/

Universities in the digital age

This week’s tutorial’s and readings explored the changing technological landscape in relation to education, in particular, University education. Richard E.Millar investigates his theory that we are currently ‘living through the greatest change in human communication in human history’. To me, this is an exciting concept. It could potentially change and affect many areas of our lives. Change is apparent in our social lives with a study estimating that American’s spend on average, 16 minutes out of every waking hour on social media websites. Millar states in his YouTube presentation ‘This is how we dream’ that change is incremental rather than fundamental – a concept that is vital in allowing society to keep up with the monumental changes that we are currently living through.

Millar focuses on the need for Universities to understand that we are living in a time where change is constant. He argues that students need to be taught relevant skills that will enable them to make the most of the new media landscape. At present, the skills being taught have been irrelevant for the past few years. Students need to know how to effectively interact with new mediums to be able firstly become employed, and secondly, have the required skills to perform tasks that are asked of them. We have surpassed the days where social media skills were specialized. It is now expected by employers that graduates have a working knowledge of various social media platforms – call it a product of the Gen Y reputation.

Millar’s proposed solution? Encourage students to think creatively and teach them how to express this in a collaborative manner. Equip them with the ability to generate new idea’s with a fresh delivery method. To achieve this, Universities can teach students how to edit video’s, interact in a professional manner on social media and generate reports with multiple mediums to increase its effectiveness. I propose that these skills need to be recognized as a necessity in today’s age, and not seen as specialized skill needed by a select few.

 

References:

– Miller, R (2010) ‘The Coming Apocalypse’, Pedagogy Winter 2010 10(1): 143-151

– Schell, E (2009) ‘Online Education, Contingent Faculty and Open Source Unionism’ in Toward a Global Autonomous University (eds) The Edu-factory collective, Autonmedia New York pp 114 – 118

– Gaudin, S (2013) ‘Americans spend 16 minutes of every hour online on social nets’ [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.computerworld.com.au/article/459379/americans_spend_16_minutes_every_hour_online_social_nets/ (Accessed: 15 April 2013)

Analysing policy: focus on media regulation

There is no doubt about it – Australia needs to regulate the media in a much more structured manner. This is an issue that concerns every each and every one of us. It is a complex issue and is highly fragmented.

After years of complaints flooding in as a result of issues arising from out-dated reforms and the publicity generated by the Finklestein Inquiry, The Australian Law Reform Commissions (ALRC) launched a review into the National Classification Scheme. Focus was placed on updating the reforms to reflect the ever evolving media landscape and making clear guidelines for convergent media. The ALRC’s recommendations included:

– Clearly identifying which media must be classified

– Ensuring that the different types of media work together to ensure that each industry specific guideline is adhered to

– The classification board’s decisions reflect community standards

– ‘Replacing the current classification cooperative scheme with enforcement of classification laws under Commonwealth jurisdiction.’

As a group activity in class this week, we reviewed The Telegraph’s response to Commissioner Conroy’s announcement that a reform for heavier media regulations was to be implemented. The Telegraph published a scathing article in which they compare Conroy to Communist leader Stalin and highly exaggerate and dramatize the proposed reforms. The Telegraph then published an ‘apology’ – this was far from a sincere recognition of their misdeeds. It contained further accusations of Communism censorship and went as far to label Conroy as worse than Stalin. We decided that The Telegraph’s behaviour only served to illustrate the need for tougher media regulations – their complete lack of respect for any sort of authority cemented Conroy’s point. We concluded that the Telegraph was rebelling for completely selfish reasons but tried to mask their dishonourable intentions as concern for the public.

References:

Flew, T (2012) ‘Media Classification: Content regulation in an age of convergent media Media International Australia incorporating Culture and Policy, 143 May : 5-15

Crikey says: still not sorry, Commissar Conroy | Crikey. 2013. Crikey says: still not sorry, Commissar Conroy | Crikey. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.crikey.com.au/2013/03/14/crikey-says-still-not-sorry-commissar-conroy/.  [Accessed 27 March 2013].

Analysing policy: focus on media regulation

There is no doubt about it – Australia needs to regulate the media in a much more structured manner. This is an issue that concerns every each and every one of us. It is a complex issue and is highly fragmented.

After years of complaints flooding in as a result of issues arising from out-dated reforms and the publicity generated by the Finklestein Inquiry, The Australian Law Reform Commissions (ALRC) launched a review into the National Classification Scheme. Focus was placed on updating the reforms to reflect the ever evolving media landscape and making clear guidelines for convergent media. The ALRC’s recommendations included:

– Clearly identifying which media must be classified

– Ensuring that the different types of media work together to ensure that each industry specific guideline is adhered to

– The classification board’s decisions reflect community standards

– ‘Replacing the current classification cooperative scheme with enforcement of classification laws under Commonwealth jurisdiction.’

As a group activity in class this week, we reviewed The Telegraph’s response to Commissioner Conroy’s announcement that a reform for heavier media regulations was to be implemented. The Telegraph published a scathing article in which they compare Conroy to Communist leader Stalin and highly exaggerate and dramatize the proposed reforms. The Telegraph then published an ‘apology’ – this was far from a sincere recognition of their misdeeds. It contained further accusations of Communism censorship and went as far to label Conroy as worse than Stalin. We decided that The Telegraph’s behaviour only served to illustrate the need for tougher media regulations – their complete lack of respect for any sort of authority cemented Conroy’s point. We concluded that the Telegraph was rebelling for completely selfish reasons but tried to mask their dishonourable intentions as concern for the public.

References:

Flew, T (2012) ‘Media Classification: Content regulation in an age of convergent media Media International Australia incorporating Culture and Policy, 143 May : 5-15

Crikey says: still not sorry, Commissar Conroy | Crikey. 2013. Crikey says: still not sorry, Commissar Conroy | Crikey. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.crikey.com.au/2013/03/14/crikey-says-still-not-sorry-commissar-conroy/.  [Accessed 27 March 2013].