Main Blog Post: Creative Commons – Towards free sharing?

Explain why you chose the Creative Commons license that you added to your blog and discuss the relevance (or not) of adding the license.

Creative Commons LicenseWhat does this logo mean? Click here to find out!

This week, we talked about Creative Commons in lecture and read the cause behind this license aiming to disseminate information freely. So, I was given the option to add a Creative Commons license and I decided to do so. There are 6 licenses to choose from and I chose the one that matches my concerns and interest.

So let me break down the logo in words for you what it means if you are too lazy to click.Here are the four keywords:
1. Creative Commons
2. Attribution
3. Non-Commercial
4. Share Alike

Why this license?
The combination (Attribution, Non-Commerical and Share Alike) addressed my concerns and suited my interests in looking for a suitable Creative Commons license. Attribution is of utmost importance because I strongly believe in crediting the work of the original author/creator. As much as I am willing to share my ideas for the greater good, I want my ideas to be attributed if other people choose to use it. The non-commercial criterion was also equally important to me because I am running an academic blog and it is strictly not for profit. I do not think it is fair for other people to use my ideas and works for commercial purposes to their benefit. Lastly, Share Alike encourages the act of sharing which I feel is the main purpose of this license and it also helps to promote and create awareness of Creative Commons. Hopefully, people will be more receptive towards it.

Photo by Tyler Stefanich - Creative Commons License

Relevance of license
Copyright or Copyleft? As this is an academic blog, I’ve chose left. Creative Commons license is relevant as it allows information to be shared freely. I can gain recognition from my work through attribution by other users and it also gives me an idea how my thoughts and ideas have improved or impacted other people.

Thomas Jefferson argues ideas should remain in public domain rather than bound by legal restrictions. He also writes Creative Commons provide alternatives oligopolistic control of distribution of creative work (Garcelon 2009). The arguments resonate with me. As much as I believe in the importance of copyright to protect one’s intellectual property, sharing of ideas should be made easier for people who wish to do so. Copyright legal implications restrict the sharing of ideas in the World Wide Web and steer humans in believing to protect their self-interests rather than moving forward together as a society. Creative Commons license is good for budding artists to gain recognition. Take for example the photo above taken by Tyler Stefanich. It was taken for a Creative Commons competition. With the CC license, the photo gained recognition and it was even used for lecture in University of Sydney.

Creative Commons branches such as CCMixter, Flickr and CCText provide platforms for budding musicians and photographers to share their creative works. In an interview with Victor Stone, Garcelon (2009) writes struggling musicians have to choose between giving their music away free for recognition or reserving their rights and no one will ever hear their musical tracks. I would choose the former option as recognition is the key to a successful music career.

Flickr Creative Commons is another platform for users to search for images not having to worry about copyright infringement. Users just need to attribute the source.

There is a lot of room for Creative Commons to grow. However, it is difficult to engage successful commercial entities to join the Creative Commons family. Look at iTunes and its success – it is a wet blanket to CCMixter because it doesn’t necessarily mean that what’s free makes it popular. Despite so, Creative Commons is still relevant to my blog as it makes it easier for people to share and obtain information.

References
Garcelon, M 2009, ‘An Information Commons? Creative Commons and Public Access to Cultural Creations’, New Media & Society, Vol.11, no. 8, pp. 1307-1326

Creative Commons 2011, Creative Commons, Massachusetts viewed 13 May 2011, <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/&gt;

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Main Blog Post: Do blogs inform us more effectively?

Russell (et al.) compares elite media and institutions with bloggers and ponders the following question: “Do bloggers, with their editorial independence, collaborative structure and merit-based popularity more effectively inform the public?” (Reader, page 136). Do you agree? Use examples to illustrate your point of view.

Blogs are new sources of information that aim to inform the public effectively through its editorial independent content. In answering the question, I will be comparing the elite media and institution in Singapore – The Straits Times (ST) and The Temasek Review (TR), a socio-political blog.

ST is the most widely read broadsheet in Singapore and owned by Singapore Press Holdings (SPH). However, the Singapore media is always labeled as state-controlled. Why is this so? SPH is owned by Temasek Holdings, a government investment company and the Chairman is coincidentally the former Deputy Prime Minister. Using the recent Singapore general election as an example, ST carried mainly pro-government articles and neutral or negative reports on the opposition parties. This triggered frustration among the younger Singaporeans setting up Facebook pages to boycott the elite local media.

Screenshot of the Facebook page to boycott ST's sister publication - The New Paper.

On the other hand, “blogs are another kind of collective intelligence in which individuals pool together their fact-finding capabilities to gather knowledge that can challenge the authority of the professional press” (Russell et. al 2008). This describes the team of bloggers behind TR, run by Singaporean bloggers from all walks of life (from students to professors). Their identity is protected due to fear of repercussions in the political climate of Singapore. Hence, the issue of bias arises as bloggers may write with a hidden political agenda.

With increasing opportunities for amateur production, people are resisting the content of mainstream news using it to offer contesting point of view and alternative practices (Russell et al 2008). This is evident, as Singaporeans seeking for an alternative point of view would read TR. Hence, I see TR as a fourth estate and unofficial watchdog of the Singapore government as it aims to provide an unbiased political coverage. With editorial independence, collaborative structure and merit-based popularity, the content of the blog is refreshing as it uses news sources such as ST to offer an alternative point of view, which ST does not do so. The content in TR offers contesting arguments and reasons towards issues. Unlike ST, it is not concerned with profits and not owned by the government. Thus, the blog entries do not have to practice self-censorship and  are often straightforward, criticizing government policies openly.

In this comparison, blogs do inform the public more effectively by providing viewpoints that may disagree with the state controlled mainstream media. It is another platform where the public now can turn to for information. Among Singaporeans, 1 in 2 think that mainstream media reporting is biased towards the ruling party especially towards political issues (Chang 2011). It also doesn’t help that in the 2010 Press Freedom Index, Singapore, a democratic nation, is ranked 136th in the world (Australia is ranked 18th). This means that reporters and editors are faced with strict censorship when reporting political sensitive issues in the state owned mainstream media. Political blogs like TR fills the gaps with alternative viewpoints, thus informing the public more effectively about government policies without any restrictions and the need for self-censorship. However, blogs and elite media institutions usually offer polarizing viewpoints so readers need to be discerning and critical when they are presented with this information.

References

Press Freedom Index 2010, Reporters Without Borders For Press Freedom, Washington DC viewed 15 May 2011, <http://en.rsf.org/press-freedom-index-2010,1034.html&gt;

Russell A, Ito M, Richmond T, Tuters M 2008, ‘Culture: Media Convergence and Networked Culture’, in Kazys Varnelis (ed.), Networked Publics, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp. 43-76

R, Chang 2011, The Straits Times, Singapore viewed 24 May 2011, <http://www.straitstimes.com/BreakingNews/Singapore/Story/STIStory_672048.html&gt;

The Temasek Review 2011, The Temasek Review, Singapore viewed 15 May 2011, <http://www.temasekreview.com/about-2/&gt;


Main Blog Post – Celebrity vs Star

Burgess and Green argue that: ordinary people who become celebrities through their own creative efforts “remain within the system of celebrity native to, and controlled by, the mass media” (Reader, page 269).

In answering this question, I have chosen the option of video blogging so please take some time to take a look at it.

The video is slightly longer than the stipulated 5 minutes because I have embedded YouTube videos for discussion. Enjoy!

References

Burgess J, Green J 2009, ‘YouTube and The Mainstream Media’, in YouTube: Online and Participatory Culture, Polity Press, Cambridge, pp. 15-37


‘Do Not Track’ Bill – a step forward?

Do-Not-Track Online Act 2011 allow Internet users in the United States to block companies from gathering information about online activities.

Photo by gigaom.com

Digital Trends reported that the act will also be made simple for consumers to opt out from being tracked.

Is this act a step forward to online privacy? I would argue that it certainly is.

Under this act, companies are legally obliged to adhere to consumer’s choice of privacy. This means we can finally surf in peace without being on surveillance 24/7.

But where should the line be drawn? Is this act enough to protect consumer’s online privacy?

This act is definitely not enough to protect consumer’s online privacy but it is a good initiative. I would also hope that this act will be passed in other countries outside USA.

To conclude, there should be stiff penalties against companies who flout the rules. As an online user, I like the notion of freedom while surfing the web.


Facebook – boon or bane?

In Week 5’s lecture, Marcos quoted Solove (2007),

“We’re heading toward a world where an extensive trail of information fragments about us will be forever preserved on the Internet, displayed instantly in a Google search…”

Indeed.

This was a photo posted on her personal facebook profile. But, this photo cost her votes and public discontentment during the Singapore General Election 2011.

Photo by Ms Tin Pei Ling

She is Tin Pei Ling, a 27-year-old elected Member of Parliament in Singapore. Just like any other young internet savvy Singaporean, Ms Tin posted this photo on her facebook profile to share her latest buy from Kate Spade. Upon announcement that she is standing as a Member of Parliament candidate, the dissemination of this photo went viral before she could tweak with her profile privacy settings. The photo has since been removed from her profile but it can be easily found on google. In fact, just type in her name and this photo will appear.

As much as I dislike her as a Member of Parliament (MP), I felt that this photo is taken out of context. She wouldn’t be facing so much public scrutiny if she was just an ordinary citizen. However, she should have been more discreet about her branded buy. As a politician, she should be more sensitive towards the ‘sandwiched middle class’ constantly trying to keep up with the cost of living.

This photo is going to haunt and put a dent in her political career. After the General Election on Saturday, there is a petition on Facebook to remove her from her post as a Member of Parliament.

Screenshot of a Facebook petition to remove Ms Tin as a Member of Parliament

So is Facebook a boon or bane?

It definitely has its pros and cons. My previous post mentioned Facebook is a free platform for politicians to spread their policies and even used to convince voters why they should vote for them. However, with the rise of social media, all public figures MUST take extra precautions to protect their online identity.

Social media will continue to grow with more users embracing and using it. Politicians need to know how to engage the youths with the use of social media.

To end off the post, here is a quote taken off Asian Tech Catalog from Nicole Seah, the youngest female opposition candidate:

“Let us remember that social media in itself is just a medium. So if you want to use it for the sake of using it, you wouldn’t get much result.”

In short, politicians should use social media to engage the young voters. They must also make an effort to update and read the comments posted by users. If not, it is pointless to own a facebook account just to jump on the bandwagon of using social media. However, politicians still need to treat social media just like mainstream media as quotes and photos can always be taken out of context and turn viral.


Engaging Singapore Youths with Social Media

The Singapore General Election (GE) is happening today as I am writing this post. It is interesting to see youths getting involved and playing a part in deciding the political landscape in Singapore. Singaporean youths are always deemed as apathetic towards politics but this general election is proving otherwise. It is widely known that the Singapore media is tightly controlled by the government. MediaCorp and Singapore Press Holdings – the two largest media companies in Singapore are owned by Temasek Holdings (a government investment company). Thus, it is not surprising to see the incumbent party (People’s Action Party) gaining more media coverage during elections compared to the opposition parties.

So why is this GE different from the previous GE in 2006?
Social media.

Opposition parties are leveraging on the popularity of social media to engage younger voters.

1. Facebook
All political parties in Singapore have a facebook page to share its manifestos and visions for Singapore. Politicians are also ‘pressured’ into getting an account in order to connect with the younger voters.

http://www.facebook.com/pap.sg – Official Facebook page of the incumbent party

http://www.facebook.com/nicoleseahnsp – Official Facebook page of Nicole Seah (One of the youngest opposition candidate)

The Prime Minister of Singapore also conducted a webchat with other Facebook users during the campaigning period. Opposition candidate Nicole Seah is now the most popular politician in Singapore based on the number of likes on her facebook page overtaking Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.

Opposition parties also make use of their facebook pages to actively promote the highlights of their rallies which may have been overlooked by the mainstream elite media.

2. Twitter
Similar to Facebook, political parties also use Twitter in an attempt to engage youths and active social media users.

http://twitter.com/#!/nsp_sg – Singapore’s main opposition party’s Twitter page

On National Solidarity Party twitter page, it is updated daily to update the party’s supporters of their rally locations during campaigning period. It is also used to extract important quotes from the party speakers during rallies. It makes it easy for youths to obtain information in bite-sized pieces without having to spend three hours listening to the rally.

3. YouTube
I would say this is the best platform for overseas and busy voters to stay in touch with the election news at home. Rally videos are uploaded on a daily basis throughout the nine days of campaigning.

The video above shows Singapore’s youngest female candidate, Nicole Seah, campaigning for her party at a rally in Singapore.

It is interesting to see how social media is now playing a significant role even in politics. Social media creates a more level playing field especially for the opposition parties as it is largely unregulated. Opposition parties often face the challenge of getting positive coverage by the state-controlled media companies. Moreover, they don’t have to pay for using these platforms.

In an interview with BBC, opposition candidate Nicole Seah said, “These elections are a watershed for the reason that social media is emerging in a very strong way.”

We shall see if social media does play an impact in the election results later tonight.