Same Old Fonts

The Internet has advanced considerably in almost every aspect since its creation, except its typeface.  Web designers are still forced to use the same, limited number of typefaces as they did in the beginning, over 15 years ago.  Dragan Espendschied (2009: 88) in his article ‘Put Yer Fonts in a Pipe and Smoke Em!!’ argues that ‘designers still have to struggle with the select few typefaces that are installed on the web users’ computers’.  For a typeface to work properly online it must fulfil the three following criteria, as outlined by Espendschied.  First, ‘all letters and symbols must be readable even when 9 or 13 pixels high’.  Second, the largest possible amount of Unicode characters has to be included so web users from all over the world can express themselves in their mother language’.  An example of this is using the umlaut.  Third, ‘the font needs to be available free of charge so everybody can view it without hassle’ (Espendschied, 2009: 89-90).  Currently there are only five fonts that fulfil these criteria and are already installed on most people’s computers.  The fonts are Arial, Times New Roman, Courier New, Georgia and Verdana.  The creation of new fonts is unlikely as it asks the question, who is going to create new web fonts?  Especially when such large amounts of resources are required to create and promote a new font, and the fact that web users are unlikely to pay for a new font when they already receive fonts free of charge (Espendschied, 2009: 90-91).

Bibliography

Dragan Espendschied, ‘Put Yer Fonts in a Pipe and Smoke Em!!’, in Olia Lialina and Dragan Espendschied 9eds) Digital Folklore Reader, Stuttgart : Merz Akademie, 2009, pp. 88-95.

The Pirate Bay

The Pirate Bay, a well know Bit Torrent site, was raided five years ago, almost to the day, in a move that the entertainment industries hoped would see a reduction in the amount of content illegally downloaded over the internet.  Less than three years after The Pirate Bay was created on May 31st 2006, 65 Swedish police raided the offices of the site, confiscating 180 servers (torrentfreak, 2011).  The raids resulted in the accumulation of over 4000 pages of evidence against The Pirate Bay staff.  The evidence used during the trial in 2009 was appealed in 2010 and four people connected with the site were sentenced to jail and significantly fined according to torrentfreak, (2011).  In 2011, the Pirate Bay team continue to support an open Internet.  According to torrentfreak (2011), an online blogger, the Pirate Bay office ‘commented on the recent Internet censorship proposals in Europe and elsewhere, urging the public to defend their rights.  It’s no longer a battle to keep The Pirate Bay online, they claim, but one in defence of the Internet’.

 

The Pirate Bay Bust

 

Anti – Piracy Commercial

 

Bibliography

Torrent Freak (2011) The Pirate Bay: Five Years After The Raid website, http://torrentfreak.com/the-pirate-bay-five-years-after-the-raid-110531/ 1st June [date accessed].

Categories: Piracy Tags: , ,

Is the Web Universally Accessible?

The concept of the World Wide Web being a universally accessible system has its flaws.  International censorship is a major issue concerning the availability of people accessing the Internet, to such an extent that the United States Government considered assigning $100 million in an effort to prevent internet censorship by authoritarian regimes with the introduction of a bill to create an ‘Office of Global Internet Freedom, to foster development of censorship-busting technology for users in such countries as China’ (Karatzogianni, 2006: 143).

The notion of control of information on the Web creates a condition where access to the Web may still be allowed but vast parts may have been censored or blocked.  Albagli and Maciel (2010: 11) describe the control of information as referring to the increasing privatisation of the Web as it grows and develops its economic and social strength, as well as referring to the ‘increasing concentration of the property of the means of communication’ (Albaglia and Maciel 2010:11).  Consequently, there is a challenge for power between those who seek to control the information flow on the Web and therefore limit access and those who are looking to stop these restrictions being placed on Internet freedom and access (Albaglia and Maciel, 2010: 11).  The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has heavily censored Web content in a similar way that they have censored traditional media outlets in the past.  Websites and Internet content that has been censored has primarily come from sources outside the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

During the early stages of the Internet there was a vast dominance of English language websites but today, according to Mengin (2004: 24) as of 2004, China has more than 293,000 websites and over 126,000 domains.  However, although this appears to give access to the people of China the Government still restricts content.  Mengin (2004: 24) states that there is ‘ample evidence of huge supply, custom-tailored for the Chinese market mainly by providers, who, because of commercial interest, basically comply with government requirements’ (Mengin, 2010: 24), allowing the CCP to have final control over content published as well as content viewed by means of code barriers and the prevention of access to foreign severs including those of Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Bibliography

Albagli, S. and M. L. Maciel. (2010) Information, Power, and Politics: Technological and Institutional Meditations. Plymouth: Lexington Books.

Karatzogianni , A. (2006) The Politics of Cyberconflict. New York: Routledge.

Mengin, F. (2004) Cyber China. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Creative Commons Licenses

The creative commons copyright licenses set out to allow everyone from the individual to large corporations the ability to share and grant copyright permissions to their own creative work.  The license ‘and tools forge a balance inside the traditional “all rights reserved” setting that copyright law creates’.  The creative commons license allows for content to be ‘copied, distributed, edited, remixed, and built upon, all within the boundaries of copyright law’ (Creative Commons.org/licenses/).

The license chosen for this blog has been the Attribution License, chosen because it is the most accommodating license offered.  The attribution license allows others to ‘distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation’ (Creative Commons.org/licenses/).  Creative commons licenses were created to promote a culture of universal access and realise the full potential of the Internet.  Through this, creative commons hopes to ‘maximize digital creativity, sharing, and innovation…to drive a new era of development, growth, and productivity’ (creativecommons.org/licenses/).

The rationale for the creative commons movement is to recover the original sense of copyright law created in America in 1790.  Thomas Jefferson, viewed as the architect of American copyright law, argued that only the expression of ideas in artistic works could qualify for copyright protection, with the original idea remaining in the public domain (Garcelon, 2009: 1308).  However, through the expansion of copyright law over the centuries and the creation of ‘intellectual property’ Garcelon (2009: 1309) argues that ‘Creative Commons thus strives to recover the sense of copyright championed by Jefferson…[devising] a novel strategy giving current copyright holders the option of making creative work available for copying and distribution’.

Bibliography

Creative Commons (2011), About The Licenses website, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/ 20th May [date accessed].

Marc Garcelon, ‘An Information Commons? Creative Commons and Public Access to Cultural Creations’, New Media & Society 11.8 (2009): 1307-1326.

YouTube Celebrities and Control by the Mass Media

Burgess and Green (2009) in their article ‘YouTube and the Mainstream Media’ 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’ and to a large extend this is correct.  In Graeme Turner’s book Understanding Celebrity, Turner (2004: 3) asserts that ‘the contemporary celebrity will usually have emerged from the sports or entertainment industries; they will be highly visible through the media; and their private lives will attract greater public interest than their professional lives’.  However through the emergence of online websites such as YouTube the term celebrity has been expanded to encompass different forms of celebrity.

In Burgess and Green’s article ‘YouTube and the Mainstream Media’ Nick Couldry is quoted as saying ‘in the mainstream media, the distance between “ordinary” citizen and celebrity can only be bridged when the ordinary person gains access to the modes of representation of the mass media’, making the transition from what Couldry calls “ordinary worlds” to what he refers to as “media worlds” (Burgess and Green, 2009: 22).  To a certain extent Couldry is correct in his assertion that for a person to be classified as a celebrity in modern society they must be accepted and recognised by the mainstream mass media.  It is possible however for a celebrity to exist purely within an online community or website like YouTube.

Burgess and Green (2009: 24) refer to the one time YouTube celebrity Chris Crocker of the ‘Leave Britney Alone!’ video to highlight this point.

 

In this bizarre rant an obsessed Britney Spears fan calls for the media to leave Spears alone, the video became an online sensation tallying millions of views.  To date the video has been viewed over 38 million times.  Despite this incredibly large amount of views Burgess and Green (2009: 24) contend that rather than being a celebrity, Crocker and many other popular personalities created through YouTube are ‘stars’, [and] that most of them have garnered attention for ‘being notorious, obnoxious, or annoying… [and] some of them, in fact, are famous for doing something in particular very well, even if that “something” is unlikely to accrue prestige in the traditional media or arts industries’.  Justin Bieber is an example of a celebrity who transcended online fame to become recognised by the mass media as a celebrity.  Bieber started by posting videos on YouTube in 2007, covering songs by Usher, Ne-Yo and Stevie Wonder, and through YouTube racked up over 10,000,000 views.

 

In 2008 Bieber signed a record contract with Island Records and is now an international celebrity (Justin Bieber music, 2011).  It is argued that if Bieber had not received a recording contract and remained only a star on YouTube he would not be considered a celebrity in the traditional sense.  This is explained by Burgess and Green (2009: 24) through their contention that amateur content can produce celebrities but only if they are able to ‘pass through the gate-keeping mechanisms of old media – the recording contract, the film festival, the television pilot, the advertising deal’.

Bibliography

Graeme Turner (2004) Understanding Celebrity. London: Sage Publications.

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

Justin Bieber Music (2010), Bio website, http://www.justinbiebermusic.com/bio.aspx 20th May.

Piracy and the Black Market

Some rights reserved by Dekuwa

Medosch (2008: 81) argues that ‘piracy, despite being an entirely commercially motivated activity carried out in black or grey markets, fulfils culturally important functions’.  The Film Foundation (2005) describes piracy as ‘the illegal copying and distribution of movies in print, videos, DVDs or electronic files’, basically any transferable audio and visual video format and content.  Through the emergence of peer-to-peer and server based file sharing capabilities on the Internet, video piracy and other forms of piracy have grown amazingly quickly.

A negative consequence outlined by the Film Foundation (2005) is that through Internet file sharing the online theft of copyrighted material is increasing to the detriment of the film industries.

Ipsos MediaCT (2007), a media, content and research company, in an economic consequences of movie piracy in Australia report have argued that 6,100 full time jobs have been foregone through film piracy.  The report also claims that ‘allowing for effects on other industries… A$1,370m in Gross Output (Sales) was lost across the entire Australian economy’.

Whether or not this information is entirely correct, there is no doubt that video piracy contributes to lost income within the film industry.  However, video piracy, as argued by Medosch (2008: 81) fulfils a culturally important function.  Medosch contends that ‘ in markets such as China, piracy not only serves to provide access to the products of mainstream commercial movie industries… it also fills gaps in provision and provides access to art movies and more difficult fare which does not get official distribution’.  The ability for people to access information in countries like India and China has become increasingly easier through piracy.  This cultural information would otherwise have been inaccessible to many people in these countries.  Piracy brings this access of culture to many countries.  Lawrence Liang from the Alternative Law Forum contends that access can have an alternative meaning, stating that ‘in terms of a defiant access by virtue of which people attempt to access things that they are not meant to (whether by virtue of class, age, social status or caste)’.  Liang continues to argue that ‘defiant access is also a form of self making that refuses to follow any preordained rule of social status’.

Since pirated videos became more and more visible on the streets of China in the early 90s, an article published by MIT has argued that ‘a cineaste culture has begun to emerge, and its developments and maturation went hand in hand with the fast boom of pirate industry during its golden years from 1998 to 2005’.

The emergence and development of small cineaste clubs was made possible through the spread of pirated technologies allowing for the increase in film consumption and production.  Previously, technologies of this type were only available through libraries, schools and theatres, although access was extremely limited due to China’s strong censorship practices.  At the time the Beijing Film Academy and the China Film Archive only offered limited access to certain foreign film collections making access to international productions very difficult.  However video piracy changed everything.  As described in the MIT article ‘through piracy, a cinephile community soon emerged and quickly expanded.  People began to organize small-scale screenings in bars, cafes, and bookstores, where some hard-to-find arthouse classics were publicly screened to like-minded audiences’.  Many of the clubs began to organise workshops and focused as much on the art of filmmaking as it did the aesthetics of film (MIT).

In conclusion Medosch (2008: 81) states that piracy has allowed ‘people access to information and cultural goods they had otherwise no chance of obtaining… by giving them a chance to empower themselves through obtaining information, knowledge and sophisticated cultural productions’.

Bibliography

The Film Foundation (2005), The Film Piracy Problem website,

http://www.film-foundation.org/common/11041/pdfs/film_piracy_teachers_guide.pdf 20th May.

Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft, (2007) Economic Consequences of Movie Piracy website http://www.afact.org.au/pressreleases/pdf/IPSOS%20Economic%20Consequences%20of%20Movie%20Piracy%20-%20Australia.pdf 20th May.

Alternative Law Forum, Piracy Infrastructure website,

http://altlawforum.org/intellectual-property/publications/articles-on-the-social-life-of-media-piracy/Liang-Piracy-%20Infrastructure%20and%20Creativity.pdf/view?searchterm=None 20th May.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, The Viral Life of An Alternative Cinematic Public Sphere website,

http://web.mit.edu/comm-forum/mit7/papers/piracy%20China-MIT-%20Ji%20Lu.pdf 20th May.

Armin Medosch, ‘Paid in Full: Copyright, Piracy and the Real Currency of Cultural Production’, in Deptforth. TV Diaries II: Pirate Strategies, London: Deptforth TV, 2008, pp. 73-97.

Mark Zuckerberg on Making Privacy Controls Simple

Mark Zuckerberg (TubeChop) talks about the notion of privacy and control in a statement released on YouTube.  Zuckerberg states that ‘when people share more the world becomes more open and connected and in a more open world many of the biggest problems we face together will become easier to solve’.  It appears that Zuckerberg is contending that in a more connected world many major problems and issues can be more effectively addressed in a larger forum where everyone is able to add to the solution process.  An example of this situation of increased connection between people can be seen through the recent protests in Egypt.  A Google executive has told sources that social networking played a vital role in the Egyptian revolt.  A Facebook webpage was created, titled ‘we are all Khaled Said’; the site condemned the killing of an Alexandrian businessman by the Egyptian police.  The web page allowed for people to organise protests and demonstrations, which eventually led to the day of revolt in the 25th January (Wilson, 2011).

However, the Facebook privacy changes have come under some criticism from the media and social commentators, Barnett (2011) from The Telegraph reported that ‘from last December onwards, all Facebook’s users’ status updates are made publicly available unless the user actively opts to change the settings and make it private’.  Facebook has also recently signed deals with both Google and Microsoft’s Bing to allow people’s Facebook status updates to be searchable through both search engines.  Criticism was also received from Internet users’ rights groups who claim that the recently changed privacy settings giving people the opportunity to change settings on videos and photographs uploaded to the site, was ‘a way for Facebook to facilitate more people making more personal information publicly available without realising it’ (Barnett, 2011).

Dan Fletcher (2011) from Time Magazine comments on Facebook’s privacy issues stating that ‘In April, (2010) Facebook rolled out a new system called the Open Graph, creating the now ubiquitous “like” button, allowing users to share their interests from around the web’ (Fletcher, 2011).  The major criticism with the new “like” button addition was that is was very hard to hide once it had been clicked or commented on and additionally, with Facebook ‘automatically opting users into a new “Instant Personalization” feature on certain third-party websites’ caused many to complain about the new privacy features (Fletcher, 2011).  Fletcher argues that through a user revolt and rumours of a possible investigation from the Federal Communications Commission (2009), a department of government in charge of regulating ‘communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable’, Facebook altered its privacy settings allowing more control over what information was made public.

Zuckerberg has responded to criticisms over Facebook privacy issues contending that society is evolving, people are becoming more willing to share information with each other than ever before, additionally stating ‘in the last five or six years, blogging has taken off in a huge way, and just all these different services that have people sharing all this information’ (Barnett, 2011).  In further defense of privacy changes made to Facebook, Zuckerberg stated that the changes were made in response to changes in social norms that conveyed people are more willing to share their lives with other people and the notion of privacy is a thing of the past.

Bibliography

 

Federal Communications Commission (2009), What We Do website, http://www.fcc.gov/what-we-do 15th May.

 

The Inquirer (2011) ‘Google executive says social networking was vital in Egyptian revolt’, http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/2073381/google-executive-social-networking-vital-egyptian-revolt 15th May.

The Telegraph (2011) ‘Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg says privacy is no longer a ‘social norm’’, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/facebook/6966628/Facebooks-Mark-Zuckerberg-says-privacy-is-no-longer-a-social-norm.html

15th May.

Time (2010) ‘Privacy Snafus’, http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2035319_2034312_2034291,00.html 15th May.

TubeChop, Mark Zuckerberg on Making Privacy Controls Simple website,

http://www.tubechop.com/watch/146252 15th May.