Creative Critical Essay Draft

Network Media

Creative Critical Essay Draft

Nethaniel Rochester



[ I intend to create a complete website using html code to present my essay ]


Digitisation has changed how we imagine audiences. Sue Turnbull (2010) claims “media audiences don’t actually exist”, meaning digitalisation has allowed audiences to interact with media in a variety of different ways to the point that media audiences no longer exist in the strict sense that an audience is purely a spectator or consumer of content. Following the introduction of the Web 2.0, Turnbull shows how audiences are imagined as producers of media, citing how fans can post thoughts and opinions about a television program on online forums for example and may even be compelled to upload their own storyline ideas, sketches and critiques. Professor Axel Bruns (2008) coined the term ‘produser’ which refers to the role of the media audience member in the modern world of networked media – as both a consumer and producer of the same media text. The theory is based on a principle of inclusivity and all participants must have an equal ability to make a worthy contribution to a project. These notions conceptualise Adrian Miles’ statement regarding the participation component of network literacy.


“…networked literacies are marked by your participation as a peer in these flows and networks – you contribute to them in turn can share what others provide”. (Miles 2007)


Websites such as Wikipedia and YouTube have taken advantage of the affordances of web 2.0 to maximise the benefits of such ‘produsage’. By allowing any user, regardless of their position in the social hierarchy, to freely create and edit content through these online platforms, a freedom model based on participation and collaboration is established where the media user becomes an integral component of content creation and in turn, profits from the content others provide. This theory and the evidence of its prominence in the modern day, demonstrates the importance of such notions in practice for how I may influence future media as a media professional. In order to maximise my influence on the media industry, I have to: harness the full potential of ‘produsage’; evaluate the potential for problems to occur; and consider the ways in which to further the success of the concept in the contemporary media industry.


To harness the full potential of the ‘produsage’ theory and therefore maximise my success in the media industry, I must create media systems that celebrate a democratic model of content sharing. Bruns (2010) claims that “the more participants are able to examine, evaluate, and add to the contributions of their predecessors, the more likely an outcome of strong and increasing quality will be”. Meaning creating media with complete democratic capabilities harnesses the ‘produsage’ theory.


[ A video made by myself will be embedded here to visually present participation and collaboration creatively using time lapse videography ]


However, a truly open structure in any community is an irrational concept. Professor Joseph Reagle (2010) demonstrates that “even a theoretically perfect openness can lead to behaviour and informal structures that are less than inclusive”. Moreover, Clay Shirky (2006) contends “successful open systems create the very conditions that require and threaten openness”. There must be a balance between openness and closed-ness for such a medium to be successful. Clearly, as a media professional, I have to employ certain boundaries within media projects, to create a balance between the democratic capabilities of a project and the need for administrative governance. This balance enables the true capabilities of ‘produsage’ to shine.


[ All theories that are mentioned will be linked to appropriate supporting documentation]


In addition to maximising the benefits of ‘produsage’, in order to prepare myself for the contemporary media industry, potential complications of such collaboration have to be considered. Although ‘produsage’ maximises the affordances of web 2.0 in order to collect the creativity of a multitude of people, a ‘produser’ can also provide valuable marketing information to large corporations free of charge and somewhat unknowingly. This creates an opportunity for corporations to profit from selling this information to advertising clients. Through such notions, the issue of audience commodification is instigated, that is making unsalable things becoming salable. This creates a fundamental shift in the way audiences are imagined in our contemporary consumerist society, where a ‘produsage’ project is used to manipulate a user and their leisure time, for commercial profit. Large corporations should not be allowed to control public behaviour and buying patterns. Fuchs (2012) believes this act of data collection is a violation of users’ privacy. It is exploitive when users’ information increases capital for the corporation which in turn encourages ‘…capitalist production and advertising’ (Fuchs 2012). Fuchs (2012) believes that in capitalist societies, consumers and workers need protection from corporate surveillance and the misuse of their data, and that the actions of large corporations need to be made transparent. However, interestingly, Fuchs (2012) points out that our current liberalist approach to privacy and surveillance in online ‘produsage’ systems mirrors the privacy and surveillance in the political economy. That is, powerful entities and corporations are able to withhold information regarding their wealth, thereby hiding income gaps prevalent in capitalism.


[ An image of mine will be embedded here to present an intriguing visual of corporate surveillance ]


Furthermore, Smythe (2010) indicates that audience commodification is not limited to the confines of contemporary web 2.0 ‘produsage’ platforms, but appears to be embedded in media technologies throughout history, such as through television and radio. This is reinforced by Fuchs’ notions highlighting our practice of a liberalist approach to privacy both on the internet and in society. To avoid media audiences being exploited as commodities, broad societal changes need to take place to move our understanding from the current liberal conception of privacy, potentially toward a more socialist approach. Furthermore, differentiation in privacy and surveillance needs to become a part of the public debate of larger societal problems, otherwise large corporations will profit from the commodification of media audiences through ‘produsage’ projects, throughout my experience as a media professional.


In an effort to not limit my success in the media industry to the preconceived limits of ‘produsage’, I intend to expand beyond current conceptions of ‘produsage’ in order to conceptualise the ability to incorporate the entirety of human creativity and ideas within a media system. In order to maximise the reach of ‘produsage’; providing alternate perspectives to others and in turn profiting through sharing, we must take into consideration the majority of the world’s population lack of internet access, which clearly restricts ‘produsage’ projects collaboration of human knowledge to the confines of humans with internet access. Therefore as Ludlow and Wallace (2010) suggest, larger societal changes have to be considered in the effort to provide every human with internet access and to educate the world’s population in order to provide new media systems with the potential to become complete ‘produsage’ projects, permitting thorough democratic contribution to the content, which truly enables the collaboration of all human creativity to be collated through ‘produsage’.


[ An audio clip will be embedded here quoting Peter Ludlow ]


My intended influence on the media industry thus stems from notions of human equality and the evident potential of the ‘produsage’ theory alters my notions of my experience in the media industry toward an endeavour to expand beyond the current limitations of web 2.0 ‘produsage’.


Digitisation and the introduction of web 2.0 has changed how audiences interact with media. Contemporary network literacy is strongly associated with notions of content sharing, user participation and collaboration. Axel Bruns’ ‘produsage’ concept clearly resembles such notions of network literacy, as according to Adrian Miles. The possible implications for me as a future professional media maker entail a requirement to: create a balance between openness and closed-ness within any ‘produsage’ structure; promote the consideration to differentiate privacy on the internet so that users are not commodified through ‘produsage’; and finally extend the accessibility of the internet across the globe, enabling the degree of ‘produsage’ within media systems during my career to increase exponentially.


[ I will include a reference list to correctly reference all the theories and literature cited ]

One Kind of Network

Here is a birds eye view (close enough) angle of a network, to demonstrate the pathways and connections that interconnect a variety of distant components with the centre at the base of the screen (the centre being one particular node, not to be mistaken as the network core which doesn’t exactly exist… see here). Slash this was just an excuse to post one of my favourite snaps from travelling last year.



© Nethaniel Rochester

Technology Isn’t Neutral

This week’s symposium made the claim that no technology is neutral because technology has affordances, meaning certain technologies are more suited to perform certain tasks than others. Although there may not be a technology that is 100% neutral (at least not a technology that we are aware of… more info), I am inclined to agree with Jason, hypothesising the notion that there exists a sliding scale of neutrality. Although certain technologies may appear more suited to particular tasks, this is based on the individuals perception of the technology, anchored to their understanding of the cultural and social practices, associated with such a technology historically. For example, if a cave-man like person who had never seen a computer before was introduced to my Macbook Pro, then they may create associations between the shape of the laptop and a stone or rock. Meaning such a technology would be suitable for containing a cooking fire in this instance, given the cave-man’s preconceived understanding of such shapes and their uses. Therefore the affordances of any given technology are only as prominent as the users’ understanding of their existence. This shows that in some circumstances, technology can have a level of neutrality (defined as: not motivated or involved) and that the level of neutrality present in a technology comes down to a case by case analysis of the individual users’ historical preconception of such technology and therefore its level of motivation and involvement in their life.

Duncan Watts and Sergei Eisenstein

In Six Degrees, Duncan Watts demonstrates the implausibility of Stanley Milgram’s experiment, designed to explain the structure of networks in human interaction and communication. Visually painting a map of the social connections (friendships) between a multitude of humans, would entail a sketch of a particular network. Due to the likelihood of two friends of a particular human, to be friends of each other themselves, the human communication network appears more like a cluster than a web. This cluster resembles most of the online network we experience through web 2.0 as many elements of our online world are interrelated in various ways. It is important to remember, as mentioned by Watts, that the assembly of such elements, results in something completely different from the collection of disassociated components. This reminds me of Eisenstein’s notions of soviet montage, where he demonstrates that by juxtaposing two completely different images with each other, a new meaning is formed, completely different from either of the stand alone components. In regards to a network cluster, I suppose the juxtaposition could occur between programs that function cooperatively, such as Facebook and Spotify. By creating a juxtaposition between Facebook and Spotify through posting users’ activity on Spotify through to Facebook (available for all friends to see), a new meaning is given to how that Facebook user associates with the particular music and therefore associated themselves with the social connotations that the genre of music entails.

Watchu Saying?

Amy takes joy to the metaphor used to describe a narrative plot as being like a knitted scarf, rather than a spider’s web. Typically, a plot is more like a scarf because the beginning and end are both visible, as well as the transparency of a sequence. However, what if we were to take advantage of the affordances of web 2.0 to develop an interactive plot in which multiple plot points were dispersed throughout an online network and an interactive approach, varying from user to user would be required to navigate the plot. Would this make a plot more like a spider web? Keeping in mind the difference between story and plot, Network media enables the ‘start’ of a plot; the way in which a story is told, to vary throughout online media, as Amy recognises. Thinking of an online network as similar to a spider web sounds immediately plausible, however a spider web entails a core centre to the structure of the web, i.e. the spider, when in actual fact an online network its structured around multiple nodes that are empowered through interconnectivity, rather than a singular node (spider).


Rebecca racks her brain to define ‘neutrality’ – a very difficult task. I agree with her acknowledgement that humans create connections between everything, meaning no aspects of our world can be completely neutral of all other aspects. I think this comes down to the human brain’s tendency to create associations, therefore we form connections between aspects that dismiss any neutrality. However, is it possible that there are elements of our reality that we are completely unaware of? Something that is not detected by human senses and is therefore neutral in relation to us? Given everything we perceive and absorb as the world around us is purely a collection of electronic signals translated by our brain through sense, potentially there exists neutral elements of our environment that are undetected by the human brain?


Kiralee dissects our tendency to read information from start to finish, whether book form or online media. It may not only be due to a hard cover book’s promotion of such a method, but more historically, cultural practices throughout the last several hundred years in not only how to read information but also how to write it, has embedded such a methodology into the form of human communication. I agree that this method must stem from a historical event, but I believe this may be the accumulation of many cultural and social practices throughout history that come together to form the modern methodology of readings, just the same as walking or speaking. Although as mentioned before, it is important to remember that the author has also been trained to present the information in such a way; beginning, middle, end, requiring us to read it as such.

DANK Photography

My camera goes alright hey? haha shout out to my housemate for his upcoming photography page! Click below, give the photo’s a flick through and smack that ‘like’ button for more hectic-ness

The Gulf War Didn’t Exist

Does technology determine everything? I think not Mr. Potts….       / Mr. Murphie

This week’s reading discussed technological determinism: the idea that technology drives the development of society and thus, determines everything that we do. I tend to disagree. Although technology could be seen to determine certain events throughout history, I think the creators plays an integral part determining how technology will be used which therefore defines how it determines events for example. Extrapolating from that: we choose how to use technology, which becomes the determining factor for how something happens due to technology. Take Jean Baudrillard’s theory about the Gulf war; it did not take place as it was understood to by members of the public back in the US due to the manipulation of propaganda and journalism technologies. Therefore, people chose to use journalism technologies in such a way that determined the presence and perception of an event in human history. These technologies have just as prominent affordances to be used in a completely different way that would have changed how the Gulf War was ‘determined’.

Assumed Privacy

This week’s symposium encouraged the challenging of privacy as a concept. Often social media platforms and networking mediums that experience a high volume of users take advantage of data-mining from their users, meaning users’ information is collected by certain systems in order to sell buy patterns and consumer networks to advertising companies. For example, Facebook collects information from users’ interaction with pages and with other users, which is sold to advertisers in the interest of creating targeted advertisements for specific users, as well as to be sold as valuable research into popular buying patterns to give paying advertisers a significant advantage in the market.

However Facebook and other popular online sites receive constant criticism; claiming such methods are an invasion of privacy. Sounds simple enough? Yeah but what is privacy? I’m sure many of us worry about ‘private messages’ being monitored, phone calls being monitored, behaviour being recorded whether physically via CCTV or through a record of purchase history through payment systems. However, why do we assume that these are private matters? Just because we don’t want anyone else to know about these things, doesn’t mean it’s automatically considered private information, at least not technically (maybe socially).

The definition of privacy is: a state in which one is not observed or disturbed by other people. OR the state of being free from public attention (Oxford Dictionary 2014). Which suggests privacy only occurs in isolation of other people. Therefore, phone calls on the train are not private, so what’s to stop a member of the public joining in the conversation other than social ‘morals’. Same goes for social networking in particular, whilst using a public medium to communicate we assume automatic privacy of our conversation. Bizarre! I think as the world adopts new methods of communication, notions of privacy may slowly cease to exist.

Whatchu Saying?

Angus disagrees with the idea that technology determines everything. Instead he hypothesises that above technology are the creators and below; the consumers, which together forms the three stages for how technology progresses through time.

Evan introduces his new blog category – Adrian Vs Betty, in replacement of Symposium updates. Accurate description I think. However during this Symposium, the two intellectual boxing opponents agree on language having alternative interpretations. Evan explains how the term ‘LOL’ can be interpreted in a variety of different ways as an example to demonstrate the implausibility of the Magic Bullet Theory.

Luke recognises the multiple benefits of computers; the convenience they create for day-to-day tasks and educational benefits. He decides that the benefits outweigh the possible stresses caused by such modern technology. I would agree that certain technological developments have made it easier to perform certain tasks. However as an overall concept, such tasks must have also been created through the same technological developments, so maybe its like: “I need to buy it because I can” and computers make these tasks easier but without computers they may not be a need for the task. This probably sounds very hippie as its bordering on notions of the ease of times of hunting and gathering, etc – a life without contemporary tasks created by technology.

Apple Announcement Decreases Student’s Ability in School

So clearly a key focus of this course is to embrace the variety of opportunity and educational benefits the internet offers to us students. So I find myself, only due to the instantaneous sharing abilities of the internet, awake… watching Apple’s live announcement of new gear… at 3:00AM…. before my Network tute starts at 8:30AM… So I’ll be one step ahead of my sensible peers who decided to sleep, in the race to keep up with ever growing digital world. However it’s likely I’ll be far behind in my absorbing of tutorial information due to the nature of the brain functioning on <4hrs of sleep.


p.s. I am actually watching calibrating colour bars and wishing I went to sleep earlier. You win this round Networked Media

Colour Bars


Update: Got it working but it’s just too temperamental for me right now. Over and out…