Tweet Psych

August 28, 2009

If the preceding post picqued your interest I was amazed to come across this site – which generates full personality profiles on people according to their online tweets!

Photo: YesButNoButYes.com

Tweetpsych

 

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Anthropology

August 28, 2009

Pottering amongst Twitter profiles, I’ve started to realise that not every Twitter poster is the same.

Indeed, in just a single visit you will come across a myriad of exotic and sometimes just plain bizarre online personas.

Some of today’s observations:

The ‘Lovebird: This one is self explanatory – the twitterer uses their account as primarily (or singularly) as a means of communication with their significant other. Mundane and often squeamish for anyone other than said significant other.

The Diarist: What they ate for breakfast.  The seat  they sat on in the bus.  How many seconds they reheated their dinner for in the microwave. You get the picture.

The Political Buff: A visit to one of  these twitter sites will assault you with more political propaganda than election day.

…And my favourite:

The Senior Twitterer: No further explanation required.

The big four music labels – EMI, Warner, Sony and Universal – have agreed to a deal with Bigpond Music, which promises to make life a whole lot easier for those of us that are willing to pay for the music we obtain online.

The deal involves the four companies teaming up with independent labels and Bigpond for a new, less restrictive music service. The service will:

“...sell music in an MP3 format that can be played on iPods as well as Sony Walkmans and other digital music players.

Users will also be able to burn the songs to CD and share the files an unlimited number of times, unlike WMA and AAC downloads from BigPond Music and other sites, including Apple’s iTunes Store.

This certainly is a relief to me – or would have been a few years ago when I was first investigating music on the web. I would buy songs on iTunes and then find I was unable to send them to my friends, unable to burn them to CD, unable to do anything with them but play them on my Ipod.

Concerned about the ethics (and obviously unlikely but still possible – lawsuits) I didn’t download music illegally off the web.

Instead I got my friends who illegally downloaded to send me their libraries (still unethical but slightly more appeasing to my guilty conscience).

It will be interesting to see how this pans out. Is it a case of too little, too late, for companies trying to sell music online? Perhaps the fearful and guilty (such as myself) might be lured back to paying for their songs. However, I doubt the prolific downloaders of Napster and Kazaa will be so easily won over.

I think it boils down to the now well entrenched idea that the internet, and all it brings, is free. Now that this ethos has been adopted by Generation Y, it will be hard to change for some years yet. You can read a blog on that subject here.  A similar problem exists, I speculate, with paying for online news.

Photo: Brian Lane Winfield Moore

Generation Y

Generation Y are now used to free content on the Internet

Petty Comments

August 23, 2009

I couldn’t help but blog about the media ‘maelstrom’ that has engulfed internet blogger Rosemary Port.

Rosemary, from behind the anonymous veneer of her internet blog, dubbed model  Liskula Cohen a ‘skank’ and a ‘ho’.

A court order forced Google to reveal who the blogger was. Model Liskula has now dropped her lawsuit against Rosemary touting  ‘forgiveness’ as her reason.

In an ironic twist, however, Rosemary is now suing Google for failing to protect her privacy and anonymity.

She also argues that Cohen ‘defamed herself’.

“By going to the press, she defamed herself,” Port said.

“Before her suit, there were probably two hits on my Web site: One from me looking at it, and one from her looking at it,” Port said. “That was before it became a spectacle. I feel my right to privacy has been violated.”

Of course, in Australia anyway, a defamatory statement needs only to be read by one other person in order to be considered to be ‘published’. This reflects the idea that defamation only needs to lower you in the estimation of one other member of the community in order to be considered harmful.

However, the fact that a court injunction can force Google to reveal the identity of an internet blogger is, I believe, the point of this story that has broader ramifications. If there is no real anonymity on the internet, the blogger next door who hasn’t studied media law could easily find themselves in water just as hot as what our heroine Rosemary finds herself in.

Do citizens have the right to remain anonymous on the internet?

N.B thought provoking article on the subject here.

Is this the future of news world-wide?

Lucky the Duck

Lucky the Duck

Photo: BBC Newsround

This article is on the Huffington Post teaming up with Facebook so that when users log in, they can check the ‘HuffPuff’, comment on stories and share them with friends.

“Our goal is to make HuffPost Social News the go-to place for Facebook users to share news — both the stories they love and the stories they hate — with friends,” said Huffington Post chief executive Eric Hippeau.”

However, in my experience the only news stories that make it to my news feed or generate any kind of commentary from my online friends are fluff pieces, and quirky human interest stories.

The question is, can you mix social networking, which revolves around friends, light entertainment and ‘snippets’ of information with news, which was traditionally meant to educate and inform? Or more to the point, can you mix the two without fundamentally altering commonly held notions of what news is and the way it should be reported?

Already writing styles for the web have change. An excerpt from a blog on writing for the web:

“Strive for lively prose, leaning on strong verbs and sharp nouns. Inject your writing with a distinctive voice to help differentiate it from the multitude of content on the Web. Use humor. Try writing in a breezy style or with attitude. Conversational styles work particularly well on the Web. “

I am not saying that the web does not or can not contain quality journalism. It does. But the vision of the future that this article prompts in my mind is audiences that consume their news in snippets, while Facebooking, and news being similar to what is contained in a daily reading of MX. Only the major headlines, filled out with fluff pieces, quirky or bizarre human interest stories, lots of commentary, celebrities and entertainment. All these things are good, but it is the in-depth reading that comes with a long and detailed article that promotes analysis and the ‘fourth estate’ role of the media.

Reading about ‘Lucky’ the duck makes for an entertaining Facebook trip but it is no substitute for reading an entire newspaper cover to cover.

Death Threats vs Democracy

August 17, 2009

Many bloggers and their readers have hailed the advent of the citizen-blog as ushering in a new era of unprecedented freedom of speech, unbridled dialogue between communities and a more vibrant democracy.

While the old-media world may not offer these powerful (and perhaps utopian) visions of a new digital democracy, surely the limits that have developed over time to restrict the freedoms of the old media should not be totally discarded.

You cannot publish an article in a newspaper, inciting hatred, voicing obscenity, or threatening the well being of another person.

I would argue that most reasonable people would not be inclined to do such things, nor would consider such things effective catalysts for political discussion.

The question is, should blogs follow in the path of their predecessors or be an unruly exception?

This article demonstrates a troubling incident whereby a disgruntled Chicago man after a court trial wrote on his blog:

“Let me be the first to say this plainly: These Judges deserve to be killed. Their blood will replenish the tree of liberty. A small price to pay to assure freedom for millions.”

The next day, Turner posted photographs of the appellate judges and a map showing the Chicago courthouse where they work.

I do not agree with the tight regulation of everything that is posted online, but at the same time with significant social tensions at play in Australia, I speculate unregulated blogging could lead to a plethora of problems and exacerbate conflicts between competing social groups.

What are your thoughts on blog-censorship?

Recent hacking attempts on websites Facebook and Twitter made headlines worldwide, when hackers launched a massive coordinated attack overwhelming servers with communications requests.

Turns out the whole thing boiled down to a petty dispute between some computer geeks in Abkhazia, caught up in the current conflict between Georgia and Russia.

In order to prevent one user posting some provocative tweets, they took with them at least a few hours of precious posting time from internet addicts all over the world.

This kind of incident shows not only the vulnerability of these websites to the most elementary of attacks but also the vulnerability of the posting public.

No doubt these websites have the resources and revenue to develop defence systems that will one-day outsmart the most astute of hackers and computer geeks.

In the meantime however, it appears the public has so widely come to rely on tri-hourly blogging, twittering and status-updating that an equivalent attack in six months time could have disastrous effects. Widespread withdrawal systems. Panic Attacks. Friendships ruined, families torn apart.

Maybe not to that extreme. But in all seriousness, this families business was seriously affected by the ‘blackout’:

Lev Ekster

Lev Ekster and His Cupcakes

Credit: The New York Times/Suzanne DeChillo

For Lev Ekster, who runs a mobile cupcake truck called CupCake stop in New York, Thursday’s twitter hiccup meant no tweets to customers and fans on  the truck’s locations and the day’s flavors.”

Their conclusion? Not to put all your eggs in one basket:

“As soon as I saw the twitter outage, I went  on to our Facebook fan page,” said Ekster.

(Story courtesy of the Jakarta Post).

Cash for Comments

August 9, 2009

This article on proposed regulations for blogs, I think, shows the problems facing new media aren’t so different from decade-old squabbles and problems that have riddled the old media world. Print, radio and television.

alanjones

Alan Jones: Cash For Comments

Photo: Brendan Esposito, The Age

Akin to the Alan Jones/John Laws cash-for comments furore, or subliminal flickers of coca-cola bottles at the pictures, regulators are concerned that advertising on blogs could be subliminal or covert. Effectively, bloggers are not making it clear that advertising on their blogs is just that – advertising.

Tieing issues of political economy to blogs will surely lead blogs down a slippery slope, in the slipstream of major newspapers and broadcasters. It muddies the puritan waters of grand notions of freedom of expression.

Do we need a code of ethics for bloggers? Legislation?

Blogger James Joyner puts forward a convincing case for keeping blogs unregulated here: FTC to Monitor Blogs’.

Basically, one of the main arguments in favour of regulating blogs is that

As blogging rises in importance and sophistication, it has taken on characteristics of community journalism — but without consensus on the types of ethical practices typically found in traditional media.  Journalists who work for newspapers and broadcasters are held accountable by their employers, and they generally cannot receive payments from marketers and must return free products after they finish reviewing them.  The blogosphere is quite different.”

 (Joyner quotes AP’s Deborah Yao)

Joyner responds:

“But journalists employed by someone else get paid.   That’s the nature of employment.  Independent bloggers, by contrast, are entrepreneurs.  Actually, most make no money or barely cover expenses, making them, in effect, hobbyists.”

While I largely agree with Joyner’s point, I think that this argument won’t hold up forever. Revenues for bloggers are increasing and in time, the most successful bloggers will rake in profits far greater than journalists at print publications who are rapidly becoming redundant (see ‘Bloggers earning more than Journalists’).  With increased influence comes increased responsibility to act ethically. Where these ethics aren’t adopted voluntarily I think it is reasonable that they be enforced – foremost on issues like monetary gifts and so on, and less stringently on issues like freedom of speech.

Tweet, Tweet

July 29, 2009

Twitter is regarded by skeptics as creating a menagerie of precocious and narcissistic tweens, teens and twenty-somethings who would rather chirp about the woes of their lukewarm latte (over their iPhone, of course) then pick up The Australian in the morning.

This article by ‘The Examiner’ suggests that the Chinese government considers these sites in a very different light.

In an age where every citizen is a journalist, and every iPhone is a publishing pad, these websites have the potential to provide people in remote countries and under repressive governments a thoroughfare to the outside world.

Lets hope sites like Facebook and Twitter  can find ways around these kinds of censorship so the tweets of  those in particularly small cages find their way into the cyber-world.

Caged Bird

Bird in a Cage

Credit: Wikipedia Commons