cyberculture, commentary, cartoons, essays
EXAMINE THE NET WAY OF LIFE
IN THIS ISSUE:
MODERN NET JOURNALISM
NEW cyberbarf KOMIX
MAKING PHONEY MOVIE
SHUT DOWN TURN OUT
MODERN NET JOURNALISM ANALYSIS
The traditional reporting roles of journalism have been imploded and blurred under the new modern net journalism.
A reporter was a person who went out and directly interviewed sources for news stories. Journalist standards and style made each story a concise, informative, truthful and balanced snap shot of an event, issue or controversy. Editors reviewed the stories before publication for errors, omissions and context.
A publisher is the one who aggregates its reporters, editors, photographers and writers into a worthwhile publication. The first American publishers were pamphleteers like John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, who used their presses to push forward new democratic ideals. The First Amendment protects publishers against government censorship and control.
With current technology, everyone can be a publisher. Direct to digital print. And there lies a danger.
Bloggers have taken to the web as opinion writers. But many of the old columnists used their reporting skills to gather facts to bolster their opinions or analysis. Bloggers in general seem to think that their thoughts carry the same weight as an expert.
It takes time and resources to create original news reporting. Professional journalists are skilled writers who strive to get the facts correct for each story's fundamental questions: who, what, when, where how, and why.
Most paid journalists don't believe most independent news sites are journalism. Linking, cut and paste, plagiarism are not tools of original reporting. It is diluting the original source material without attribution. In the old days, that was a cardinal sin. In the digital world, it is a business practice.
Content farms are quasi intellectual sweat shops. Writers are paid by the page views and not the quality of their stories. The trickle down of the revenue of net ads is small. So what gets traffic? Snark, gossip, scandal and pseudo-celebrity rumors. A steady web diet of this material is like starving a child's mind with a total candy diet.
Some farms try to distinguish their operations by calling themselves content mills. The idea is that they can find the current key search words, then fashion content to match what the net surfers are thinking about at any given moment. The problem is that the net viewership is a random changing stream of subconsciousness. What is a trending topic at 9 a.m. is out of mind by noon. So this mill philosophy does not encourage independent or original reporting. It tries to meet an immediate demand by searching the net for those trend topics then cutting, pasting or aggregating those current posts as their own. It may be the sales pitch de jour to advertisers and investors, but for bread and butter reporters, it is still snake oil.
Reporters covered stories on salary. Stringers were independent contractors paid by the published story length.
Freelancers or contract writers are now paid a fraction of stringer rates based upon the number of page hits per story. A government board story for a local newspaper may be worth $50-100 for a stringer, who would put in several hours in going to the meeting then writing the article; but that same story for a freelance net writer could only generate a few dollars. It comes down the vocal but unlistened net mantra of who is actually making any money on the internet?
Content farms are geared to grinding out as much new content as possible in each hourly cycle. Their freelancers ability to get paid the minimum wage equates to having to post dozens of stories with the right hyperlinks or key words in order to generate enough hits to make a modest return. The incentive is not on original quality reporting but quantity of story materials. The easy way out for some is to cut and paste local stories into their own content to post on a feeder site.
It is becoming a weekly occurrence that a national or local media outlet is calling out a web site or web writer for lifting their original stories without attribution. It is becoming an ethical pandemic because the freelance citizen journalism may not have the professional training to know better, and web operators are not in the business of grooming their content providers with hard standards and practices.
Successful sites like deadspin find no ethical lapse in paying money for dubious stories so long as the scandalous headlines drive traffic to their pages. Checkbook journalism (paying sources for information) is a taboo in traditional news organizations.
Then there is the new media entrepreneurs, like Taiwan's Jimmy Lai, who takes information (whether true or not) and re-packages it as news-entertainment posts. Americans are most familiar with his network's computer video game style animated news stories like last year's Tiger Woods scandal. This system believes information is merely a wordy commodity to be manipulated or mass produced as content. There is no need for fact checking, balance, or getting commentary from the actual subject of any story. People just want information, he says.
The public has at its fingertips more information than the Library of Congress. But misinformation is masquerading as news. Truth is no longer the key to a writer's work. The idea of getting the information out into the public data stream first without consequences is taking hold. And many Internet news consumers apparently don't care if the information is wrong or misleading - - - it dovetails into another old adage: you get what you pay for. The culture of the net started with the principle that the network should be free. This was mangled into the concept that everything on the net should be free, including copyrighted original content. So much of the content uploaded to the servers is unfiltered, unedited and unchecked writer opinion or second hand hearsay, it is not a reliable basis for public discourse or policy.
MAKING PHONEY MOVIE CREATIVITY
Enter stage right South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook. The Associated Press reported that Park's new horror-fantasy movie called Paranmanjang" was filmed entirely on his iPhone. The 30 minute film is about the ups and downs of a man's current and former lives. It cost $133,000 to produce.
Now, during the introduction of the iPhone 4, there was no mention in the Apple materials about the smart phone's Hollywood filmmaking credentials. It probably never occurred to the design engineers that the camera phone purpose of taking stills or short web videos would be extended into long play movie sequences. But a camera is a camera. Video output is video output. By putting the means of production into the palm of a person's hand is a liberating experience. In essence, it the the Apple experience that has been marketed for decades. The powerful tools in the hands of the individual transferred the computing power of university laboratories into desk top computers.
Before Hollywood went digital, certain directors used videocameras to record the scenes as the 35 mm cameras caught the action. The video camera was positioned next to the main camera to give the same perspective. In this manner, the director could review the scene immediately on the video tape to determine if he needed to freshet the players. In the past, a director would have to wait a day for the film to be developed and shown in the dailies. The use of a home or hobbyist camera allowed directors to speed up the pace of shooting and eliminated costly re-takes that put production schedules in disarray.
Now, a hand held smart phone has the possibility of becoming another creative tool. No one knows what the quality of the film using just a phone to take the pictures will look like, but even some home movie looking independent films like the Blair Witch Project garnered critical acclaim. The biggest obstacle to movie making is the cost of equipment (rental or purchase) and the output production costs (developing and editing the images).
If you look closely at a film, no one camera angle last more than a minute. A film is a series of camera shots, scene cuts and transitions. Take a blockbuster chase scene: a car slides through a corner, cut to an oncoming shot of the car, then cut to it flying over hill, the cut to a trailing shot of sparks flying as it hits the asphalt. Each one of those short snippets are sewn together to show multiple angles of the action sequence. But each one of those segments may only be a few seconds long. Just as a smart phone video capture has a limited amount of video space, one can quickly download the files to a computer to be edited, assembled in polished in a software program like iMovie, or After Effects.
So filmmaker Park has taken the what if out of the equation of whether it is possible to extend the video components of smart phone technology to the creative plane of movie creation. Part of the creative process is trial and error. Whether this mode of film making will be acceptable is yet to be seen. But if you build it, someone will try to (mis)use it.
SHUT DOWN TURN OUT NET KILL SWITCH
Government corruption. High food prices. Rampant unemployment. Government regulatory constriction on civil liberties. Police brutality. It could been news stories from Chicago and the United States. But those underlying themes, underreported by the national press, are the seeds of the sudden, chaotic and deadly street violence that swept through the North African states in late January, 2011. The fierce protests in Cairo, Egypt call into question the deadly balance of power to anarchy in the Middle East.
Government officials, under pressure from political groups, refused to reform the 30 year emergency reign of Egyptian President Mubarak. Egypt was the first Arab state to come to a peace accord with Israel. Egypt was the first to embrace a secular, Western economic system. As the gateway from the oil states to Europe via the Suez Canal, the strategic stability of the Egypt has great consequences throughout the West.
In 1981, tension between Islamic militants and Christians boiled over into street riots. A nationwide security crackdown continued for most of the year. In that October, President Sadat was assassinated bringing Vice President Mubarak to the presidency. Mubarak has survived six assassinations. In the 1990s, radical terror organizations tried to overthrow the Egyptian government. Security forces quelled the unrest. History is repeating itself. Attacks on Christians have risen in the past year. Mubarak has continued to consolidate power by not allowing religious factions a political party in the national assembly. A major factor contributing to this unrest is a global recession and high unemployment. People in the streets is a sign of frustration and discord over the state of their lives. Just in any powderkeg, the means of communication in certain respects is the means of restoring control. A mob mentality quickly shifts through rumor and discord to fuel violence. The speed of mobile devices like cell phone text messages and video streams can quickly ignite stressful situations. The people were ready to vent; they just needed the right catalyst to take to the streets.
Officials underestimated (and the media oversimplified) the social networks contributing to the Egyptian protests. Egypt did the near impossible: it cut the Internet servers, blacking out the net for the entire nation. A few individual financial servers stayed on line during the black out. But the scope of cutting the umbilical cord of the digital life took many by surprise. Most Western people have welded their smart phones to their hands and minds. The Internet has become more than a telecom tool but the intellectual daily bread. The hard swallow of American broadcasters was what would we collective do if the web went dark?
The disruption of the Egyptian network did not quell the protesters in the streets. It added to chaos. The looters began to raid houses and store fronts. The police vanquished the streets to the military. As of this posting, the situation is still unsettled even after a reshuffle of the President's cabinet.
All the elements are in place to disrupt the Internet China has put in censor firewalls on content and protests. Google has been filtering its search results in a pay-to-play context which leads to less desirable results. Telecommunications companies are highly regulated industries. Government influence, regulation can easily flip over to total control under the guise of a national crisis. The US administration has discussed the possibility of an American kill switch as a tool for national security. The FCC continues to ramp up its push to control Internet access. It is only a matter of time before American regulators constrict the freedom of the indent under the friendly buzzwords of net neutrality, openness, or fair access.
EXAMINE THE NET WAY OF LIFE
If you don't know where you are going,
you might wind up someplace else.
THE STEAM PUNK SPECIAL EDITION featured new Music from Chicago Ski & the (audio) Real News:
NOW ENTERING OUR
EXAMINING THE NET
WAY OF LIFE
distributed by pindermedia.com, inc.
CHECK OUT THE
NEW REAL NEWS KOMIX
A MODERN WOMAN'S
TAKE ON HER LIFE
THE REAL NEWS
THE DARK ABYSS
THE REAL NEWS ARCHIVES
MADAME'S TEA HOUSE
EXPLORE THE CITY SCAPE
THE WHETHER REPORT
Question: Whether the Arizona Congresswoman's shooting will lead to some proponents to start advocating the regulation of speech on political talk shows?
* Educated Guess
* Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
* Vapor Dream
Question: Whether Verizon will outsell AT&T when it gets to sell the iPhone?
* Educated Guess
* Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
* Vapor Dream
Question: Whether the digital tablet explosion and advanced smartphone data requirements will lead to a major telecom network failure in 2011?
* Educated Guess
* Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
* Vapor Dream
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