Reflection of My Previous Posts

During the past three months, I learnt a lot of new literacies of digital media in the lectures and I was happy to share my opinions on issues or topics relating to these new literacies here. So far I discussed information overload, which is the problem that many people suffer these days. Besides that problem, I also discussed remixes and argued that remixes are creative pieces but not just copies of others’ work. Last week, I wrote two more posts. One is about the privacy setting of Facebook and I suggested that it is also the responsibilities of Facebook users to manage their privacy on Facebook. My latest post entry is about my “alternative” identity in the Facebook game, The Sims Social and this identity has given me opportunity to do an ideal me.

Among these blog posts, the post entitled “The Fantastic Remix Culture” talking about remixes is my favorite post and it should be the most effective blog post. Why it is the most effective blog post? An effective blog post should be interesting. It should also have concrete elaboration of the opinions, questions for readers to rethink and link to what I have learnt in the course. “The Fantastic Remix Culture” has all of these elements.

In “The Fantastic Remix Culture”, I used a remix video to start my discussion. It was believed the video had drawn readers’ attention because it was an interesting video and I always think that such video can help arouse interests of readers about my post and keep their intentions to read the entire post.

I also use some featured videos, pictures as well as links of outside resources to support my ideas and opinions. For example, I used videos of different versions of Justin Bieber’ s song “As Long As You Love Me” and remixed pictures to explain the creativity of remixed products. These resources were believed to help elaborate my points in a more concrete way so readers could easily understand my opinions.

Several questions concerning remixes were asked at the beginning and the end of the post which other posts did not have. Questions could let readers think more about the topics that I wrote. This was also a way to anticipate responses from readers on my post.

Besides, the post connected with the ideas of new literacies from the course tightly. Firstly, I strongly agreed that all re-mixed products have their own precious characteristics. This point is actually connected with the idea of our textbook. Jones and Hafner (2012) point out that “Remixes and mashups are much more than simply a matter of copying: they require a creative re-working of the source material so that when it is placed in the new context and mixed up with texts from other sources, it takes on a new meaning or significance.” (49) I gathered some examples from the Internet and described how creative the remixes were. For instance, remixed songs had distinct background music with the original pieces and new and interesting elements were added to remixed pictures. These examples connected with what Jones and Hafner say about remixes.

My opinion of remixing should be promoted if remixers respect for the intellectual property and copyright also linked to the course. Jones and Hanfer (2012) mention that practice of remixing should be governed by a suitable ethical framework. I also remembered we had discussed whether the practice of remixing should be accepted or not in the lecture. This topic aroused my interest. I understand that taking something from someone’s work without asking for any permission beforehand is annoying and it shows no respect for the original product creator. Therefore, I suggested that if remixers respect for the intellectual property and copyright, remixing should be promoted.

After reviewing the four posts and reading some websites, I found that my opinion on the creativity of remixes has strengthened and some points could be added so as to elaborate some of my ideas in the posts about remixes and information overload in a better way.

Many of the topics I wrote in the past blog posts are some controversial topics in the society. People hold different views and opinions on these topics. In my post talking about re-mixes and the practice of remixing is one of the examples. Many people think that remixes violate copyright and remixing is considered as a kind of stealing. However, I did not consent to them and I believed that remixes are creative works. Few weeks ago, I saw an article entitled “’Copyright criminals’ look to remix the noise—legally”. It was about a remixing culture promoting activity called The Copyright Criminals Remix Contest. Some musicians were interviewed and they believed that allowing artists to remix samples by borrowing something from others could let creativity to be better served. In other words, remixes are creative. After seeing the article, my viewpoint on remixes are creative works but not just copies of other works is strengthened. (See more about the article  by clicking here.) I absolutely agree with him that remixes are creative pieces.

One more example can be added to reinforce my point of why remixes are creative works. Kirby Ferguson, the person who is doing a project called “Everything is a Remix”, held a TED talk recently. Let’s watch the video and see what Kirby Ferguson had mentioned.

In the video, Ferguson suggested an idea that remixes are a combinatorial creativity and components of remix are Copy, Transform and Combine. He also mentioned that these three components are not only the components of remixing but also the “basic elements of all creativity”. This viewpoint is really nice and I cannot agree with him anymore. This suggests that remixes and creativity are the same and this is no doubt that remixes are something new to us but not only copies of something. How remixes are created from these three components? Let’s see the following pictures.

These pictures are captured from a blog called “Inside Wants Out” and these pictures show a good example that remixes are forms of copy, transform and combine. The picture with Obama should be the original one and the one with the two men should be the remixed picture. First of all, the blue and red background and style of the picture are copied. Some new elements are added to the picture to transform the original picture. Instead of showing one person, the new remixed picture shows two people. The words also change. “HOOD” and “THE HOOD INTERNET” replace the word “HOPE”. By combining all these copies and new elements together, a remix is finally created.

The above example shows that remixes are not just a matter of copying but they also include transformation and combination. During these two processes, creativity is needed in order to add new elements into the copying works. Therefore, remixes are something new and creative.

Many people object to the practice of remixing because of the violation of copyright. People always argue that using resources without the permission of the owners is not acceptable because such actions seem to steal the properties of the original creators. To me, as I mentioned in my previous post, remixing can be accepted due to the fact that  a remix not only contains something that borrows from others but also the own works of remixers. However, the first thing remixers should do is to respect the copyright. In fact, there is a nonprofit organization called Creative Commons and it permits people to share and use creativity and resources legally. People who want others having the right to use and build on their creative works can publish their works on the Creative Commons. Creative Commons allows them making changes to the copyright term of their works from “all right reserved” to “some right reserved” so that others can use their works legally and freely. Here is a video introducing Creative Commons.(Please click the link)

http://mirrors.creativecommons.org/movingimages/webm/WannaWorkTogether_480p.webm

If remixers can use this service more and use the works published on Creative Commons to do their remix works, I think remixing should be acceptable and promoted.

Besides, I would also like to add a new suggestion to my first post in order to help lighten the problem of information overload . In my first blog post entitled “My Exhausted Digital Life”, I used my digital life as an example to illustrate that information overload is a big problem to many people and it makes people feel stressed. Today, I still think that information overload is serious among people because there seems to have no researches or statistics showing that people only access to information that is related to them.

I quoted a sentence from the video I posted, “multitasking has been a large contributor to information overload” in my first post but I did not elaborate it further. After reading some articles about multitasking on the Internet, I realize that multitasking can also be a reason why many people suffer from information overload nowadays and I found that one more suggestion can be added to the solution of lightening the impact of information overload.

According to Jones and Hafner (2012), multitasking is a practice that people doing multiple tasks simultaneously by disturbing attention to the tasks. Many people tend to do multitasking every day because there are more digital devices and communication tools available to them now than in the past. For example, in my case, I own a computer, a smartphone and an mp3. I usually login my Facebook account and MSN account once I turn on the computer so that I can read the Facebook news feed in order to keep up with friends and chat with classmates on MSN. I also place my smartphone near the computer so that I can easily see if there is any new message from WhatsApp and simultaneously I listen to music. In fact, multitasking is a factor causing the problem of information overload. Let’s see what the following picture illustrates.

multitaskingThe limits of Multitasking

This is a research found by a research showing that frequent multitasking can affect our ability to filter what data are meaningful and related to us. (Know more about the bad influences of multitasking from here.)

According to the quote of Jones and Hafner that I mentioned in my first post, the real problem of information overload is there is too much information available to us and we are sometimes uncertain to decide which data are worth changing into information and knowledge. As a result, multitasking can be regarded as a cause of information overload as it hinders our ability to filter out data which are irrelevant to us. In this way, I would like to suggest one more solution to alleviate the problem of information overload which is  do not  do multitasking anymore in order to increase our ability to choose the relevant data.

I really enjoyed the course of digital media in this semester and this course has taught me a lot of useful knowledge about the digital world. Before taking the course, I did not know that digital media can be so interesting. From now on, I will love studying digital literacies more and I hope I can study these literacies further in the future. =]

The Sims Social – Another Me

Do you play any video game or computer game? Every day after I read all the news feed on Facebook, I click a button at the left hand side of the Facebook page. I then go into another world and to be another me.

Do you know what I am talking about? It is a Facebook game, The Sims Social. The Sims Social is the Facebook version of a famous video game series, The Sims. In the game, we can do anything things that we do in the real world. We can eat and drink, socialize with friends, build houses and have a job, to name a few. Let’s see how the producers introduce The Sims Social and you can learn more about it.

James Paul Gee (2003) mentions three different identities in video games in his book. I found that two of these identities can be found on Sims, the virtual character in the world of The Sims Social.

Gee (2003) describes that there is a “projective identity” mediating both the identities of player and character in the real and virtual world first. In “projective identity”, game players can project their hopes, aspiration and own values onto their virtual character through their decisions and actions. To start playing The Sims Social, players should create their own Sims first. Gender, skin color, name, outfits and personality of the Sims can be chose freely, depending on the preference of players. This helps players to project their hopes on their Sims. Let me take my Sims as an example. The picture below shows the appearance of my Sims.

My Sims shares some characteristics with the real me, which is a girl with long hair. However, I have chosen the color white to be my Sims’s skin color. I always wish to be a person with whiter skin color because I believe that the whiter the skin, the more beautiful the person. As the color of skin can be changed easily, I chose a whiter skin color for my Sims in order to fulfill this little hope.

Besides appearance, the game also helps players project their job aspirations on the Sims. Sims in the game can have a job such as an artist, a musician and a chef. Players can choose the most suitable occupation for their Sims based on their aspirations. For me, my aspiration is to cook some delicious food to people so I chose to learn to be a cook in the game now.

Values of players can also be projected to their Sims as well. In The Sims Social, all actions of Sims are under control of the players. They can adjust actions of their Sims easily. This allows players to put their own values into the game and then alter the Sims’ actions so as to make sure that the actions comply with their values.

Gee (2003) also describes an identity which relates with the kind of relationships that can develop in the virtual world. Relationships that are unlikely to be formed in the reality could be developed in the virtual world of the game. In The Sims Social, one’s Sims can develop various kinds of relationship with the Sims of their Facebook friends. Examples of these relationships are good friends, awkward friends and lovers. (Click here for more information.) There is always no restriction in forming what relationships with others in the world of games. Due to the freedom of maintaining relationship with others, relationships which are unlikely in the reality can also be formed. For example, Mori and I are friends in the real world. Both of us are girls and we are not lesbians. However, in the world of The Sims Social, our Sims maintain an unlikely relationships i.e. naughty friend, a kind of love relationship. This kind of relationship is really unlikely in the reality.

The world of the Sims Social is very fantastic and I love it very much. It helps me to be a “perfect” person by projecting my own values, hopes and aspirations onto the virtual character, Sims. Since then, I can be a person who I love to be in this virtual world. Although I can only be an “ideal me” in the virtual world but not in the reality, I am still happy with this because it seems that my dream has come true. The unlikely relationships formed also make The Sims Social sounds special.

Let’s play the Sims Social if you also want to create a “prefect” self. =]

Take action now if you have a Facebook account!

Do you have a Facebook account? If yes, have you ever concerned about the privacy problem brought by Facebook?

Since Mark Zuckerberg found Facebook in February 2004, most people around the world have become big fans of it. Facebook gives us a lot of fun. It allows us to share photos, videos and music with our friends. We can also play games, use applications and communicate with friends, families and colleagues on Facebook. Although it provides us opportunities to entertain ourselves and have a closer relationship with friends, people always concern about Facebook’s privacy issues and it seems that our data appear to have leaked out by Facebook due to two main reasons.

Jones and Hafner (2012), authors of our textbook, mention there is a problem on the social online networks because the privacy settings in some of these sites are “difficult to use or “leaky”” even they provide users with ability to manage their privacy. (154) Facebook is such kind of social network which causes the violation of users’ privacies.

In our textbook, there is an example of leak in privacy setting on Facebook that a “non-friend” can see our photo album after a mutual friend comment on a photo. Besides, according to the Consumer Report’s State of the Net, a report will be sent to Facebook each time after we visit a website with a “Like” button of Facebook. Even we just visit the websites and did not click the “Like” button, log in our Facebook account or have a Facebook account, Facebook can still collect our information. (Click here to know more about how our information will be sent to Facebook) It is believed that information like our IP address and preference of website will be sent to Facebook and our privacy will be infringed. What a terrible function! As Facebook does not provide options for users to choose what information should or should not be given out, this proves that there are problem and leak in the Facebook privacy setting.

Another leak of Facebook in privacy setting is that many applications on Facebook can share our and our friends’ personal information to advertisers. A Wall Street Journal Investigation found that people’s name and their friends’ name can be transmitted by many popular applications on Facebook, although many of these people have kept their personal information in high secret and have changed their Facebook privacy setting to the strictest one. (You can know more about the finding at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304772804575558484075236968.html if you are interested in it) This shows that many Facebook games and applications are leaky in protecting our privacy.

 Jones and Hafner (2012) also point out that a vast majority of people simply accept the default privacy settings given by the social networks without making any change to the settings. This factor is believed to be another reason why a lot of personal information of Facebook users became public information.

The picture below shows the default privacy setting of Facebook in April 2010. 

by http://cache.gawkerassets.com/assets/images/4/2012/01/f5fa9dc674a80f48f248b7e6d72eeb23.png

 

As shown, we can see that most of our information including friend lists, photos and extended profile data are set to be available to the entire Internet. If we do not make any changes to the privacy setting, our personal information will be seen by the public easily. In America, there are 13 million users ignore their privacy control setting on Facebook. Due to the fact that many people left their privacy setting unchanged but tended to use the default setting of Facebook, it is not strange to see that privacy was violated by Facebook.

Here comes to a question. Can we say that the violation of users’ privacy is the fault of Facebook only? To me, I will answer no. Facebook users also need to responsible for the fault. As mentioned, 13 million Facebook users ignore the privacy control setting in America. A group of them do not know Facebook provides every users ability to change their privacy setting. People should always aware of the privacy setting on social networks. Although Facebook set its default privacy setting to maximum amount of data can be sent to maximum number of people, it provide us ability to change this setting so that we can keep our privacy from being violated. It somehow is also our fault if we do not protect our privacy by the changing the setting. To protect our privacy, we are urged to always keep our privacy control setting up-to-date to make sure that our wall and information on Facebook are set to be seen by friends only. This can help prevent the third parties getting access to our personal information a lot.

Below is a video introducing some basic techniques in how to change the privacy setting on Facebook and it can help protect our privacy effectively if we can follow these instructions.

We cannot protect our privacy on Facebook effectively if we just keep our privacy control setting up-to-date. Two more actions should be done. To combat the violation of privacy arose from the visits to websites with a “Like” button of Facebook, we should try to visit this kind of websites less in order to prevent Facebook getting our browser disclose. We should also beware of the applications on Facebook. If necessary, stop to use the applications and block them. More importantly, think carefully before posting anything to Facebook. Do not post anything that will seriously violate your privacy on Facebook.

Check your privacy setting now and take action if you found that your personal information on Facebook is in danger. Let’s prevent leaking less personal data now to enjoy using Facebook.

The Fantastic Remix Culture

Have you ever listened to remixed songs, watched remixed videos or even made remixes? How much do you know about remixing?

Let’s watch the following video, which a debate speech was put into a song.

“Debate Highlights Songified!” (Uploaded to Youtube by schmoyoho)

What do you feel about this remixed video?

Remixes, according to the authors of “Understanding Digital Literacies: A Practical Introduction” Jones and Hafner(2012), are digital texts that are technically edited and modified from the prior digital texts to produce something new. Some people think that remixing could lead to “cut and paste” culture on the Internet as it involves a lot of copying. Some of them even believe that remixing is a kind of stealing. This group of people strongly agree that remixes violate copyright and despise the original works so they should be prohibited. Do remixes have their own characteristics? Should we accept the practice of remixing?

Jones and Hafner (2012) mention

“Remixes and mashups are much more than simply a matter of copying: they require a creative re-working of the source material so that when it is placed in the new context and mixed up with texts from other sources, it takes on a new meaning or significance.” (46)

I totally agree with this quote. Remixes and mashups are not only created by borrowing ideas from the existing texts, but also are formed by adding new elements to the original works. They carry their distinguishing characteristics that they can be defined as a new creation. Therefore, as they are creative, I think that the practice of remixing should be accepted. Let me explain more by using songs and  pictures as examples.

If a song is remixed, elements like tempo and background music will always be creatively altered while the melody of the song will remain unchanged. Let’s take Justin Bieber’s song “As Long As You Love Me” and its remixed version as an example in order to see how remixes are creatively re-worked.

Original version:

“Justin Bieber – As Long As You Love Me (Audio) ft. Big Sean” (Uploaded to Youtube by JustinBieberVEVO)

Remixed version:

“Justin Bieber – As Long As You Love Me (Eos Remix) [HD]” (uploaded to Youtube by EosOfficialTV)

Although the melodies of the two versions are the same, it is obvious that re-working of the original version was done. Unlike the original version, background music of the remixed version was rewritten. The beat of the background was changed in which it becomes lively. This gives people a new impression that the remixed version of “As Long As You Love Me” is more vivid and cheerful. Element of rap is also added to the beginning of the song rather than only add to its end. Moreover, the music was played by musical instruments which were distinct from the original one. The changes of background music and music instruments made the remixed “As Long As You Love Me” differently from the original version. The remix is not simply a copy but background music was creatively reedited.

Remixed images also carry their own characteristics and they are not simply copies of some parts of the prior picture. They convey a new meaning. Now, let’s take a look to the following photos.

These two photos are captured from the blog of Kirby Ferguson, the producer of a video series “Everything is a Remix” (A series which contains 4 videos about remixing. Visit his blog and watch the four videos at http://www.everythingisaremix.info/ for more information about remixing if you are interested in). The photo on the left hand side is the prior picture while the one on the right is the remix. After deleting the word “Weniger Larm”, changes were made in which the picture became a cartoon. Background colour also turned from white to red and words “OBEY WITH CAUTION” and “BLIND ACCEPTANCE CAN BE HAZARDOUS” were added. The remixed version was creatively transformed which it voiced out a new message that we should rethink carefully before making any decisions to comply with something.

The above two examples visually show that how creative remixes are and they are not plainly a matter of copying. In fact, remixes are creative products and all of them contain their unique characteristics.

Although some people oppose to remixing, in my opinion, it is worth encouraging and promoting if remixers respect for the intellectual property. As mentioned, remixes require creative re-working on the original works so they have new characteristics which are distinct from the existing texts. These are the creative works that remixers create by themselves. If a remix contains something that borrows from other’s work plus the own works of the remixer, remixing can be accepted because they are original and they are not only a combination of copies of various digital texts. However, remixers should always respect the producer of the original texts and get permissions from them before making any remixes as copyright is involved. In fact, good quality of remixes can be very fantastic and they can give us a lot of fun. If remixers could respect the owners of original works and creatively reedit the works, we could then have more interesting entertainments.

To conclude, remixes are new creations that have unique characteristics so they should be accepted if remixers value copyright and intellectual property.

What do you think about the originality and creativity of remixes? Do you accept the practice of remixing? Feel free to give your comments here =]

My Exhausted Digital Life

Since I have owned a computer when I was eleven, my digital life was started. Every day, I spend a lot of time on my computer to surf the net. Checking and replying emails, chatting with friends on MSN, checking News Feed on Facebook, reading news online, watching videos on Youtube, writing blogs and reading others’ blogs, to name a few. I always do these activities simultaneously and the following picture is the usual screen of my notebook.

Eight months ago, I bought an android phone as the old one was out of order. Since then, I started to chit chat with my friends by using instant message apps such as Line and WhatsApp as well. I belong to several chat groups now. In the chat groups, my friends and I usually share something interesting and things that we have done on the day with each other.

Do you have similar digital life to me? What do you feel about your digital life?

At first, I enjoy checking my Facebook, messages of instant message apps, emails and reading my friends’ blogs because these can help me know more about my friends and many things that I read were relevant to me. However, I do not really happy to do these activities now. More and more data appear now. I have to constantly check my Facebook, emails, Line, Whatsapp and MSN to see if there is something I have missed. Sometimes, the amount of electronic information I have to process is so large that I cannot read all of them in a short period of time.

One day in the class, we did a little test entitled “Are you suffering from information overload?” and the test result showed that why I don’t enjoy my digital life now is because I seem to suffer from information overload.

According to our textbook “Understanding Digital Literacies: A Practical Introduction”(2012), information overload is the state of being frustrated by the feeling of having “too much information”. People who suffer from information overload will probably feel stressed and confused and it will be difficult for them to make decisions effectively and efficiently.

I always feel stressed while I am checking messages of my email boxes, blog, Facebook and instant message apps. In fact, I have four email accounts, a blog, a Facebook account, a Line account and a WhatsApp account. Each of them receives a lot of messages and data every day. For example, I always receive 200 Line messages or above a day as my friends are very active in chatting in the chat group of Line. I also get around 10 emails a day. Actually, it is very frustrating to read and make responses to such a large amount of data. There are sometimes too much data I should process that I do not know which one I should read and response first. This makes me feel stressed and I intent to escape from my computer and my mobile.

It also seems that information overload is a big problem to many Americans now. Let’s watch the following video.

“Digital Junkie – Information Overload” (Uploaded to Youtube by KineticTypography101 )

The video talks about the situation of information overload problem in the U.S. It suggests that “multitasking has been a large contributor to information overload” and it is estimated to cost the U.S. economy 900 billion dollars a year since 2008. (For more information of information overload in U.S., you can also visit http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/click_online/9742180.stm)

The feeling of frustration with information and effects brought by information overload are hateful so solutions should be found to combat these problems. The authors of our textbook, Jones and Hafner (2012), state that the real reason of information overload is that there is too much data but not there is too much information available to us, and we are sometimes uncertain to decide which data are worth changing into information and knowledge. Data are things existing everywhere such as colours, words and numbers and we do not have to remember them. Information is a thing existing in our heads and it is meaningful to us. Information can only be formed when we create relationships with data. (Jones and Hafner, 2012) Therefore, I think that the solution suggested by our class, which is turning  less data into information, is an effective way if we want to alleviate the problem of information overload. Before turning data into information, we should filter the data carefully by using organization systems and we should always aim at finding data that is potentially useful to us. If we can take a deeper consideration on filtering data, I believe the most important data will be found and they will be changed into useful information that information overload can be lighten.

Perhaps, it is the time for me to learn how to put less data into information so as to escape from information overload.=]

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival

Have a nice day~~~

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival (๑・‿・๑)

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