Author Archives: zjs02008

Apples and Tweets

According to this article, Apple is seriously considering buying Twitter for up to $700 million. Based on the shares purchased by different organizations, facebook is supposed to be worth at least $3.75 billion, and by some estimates, far more than that.

This makes the Twitter price seem pretty small, even though Twitter has not really  monetized  its business.  

I’m not quite sure what Apple has in mind for Twitter, maybe something related to the Iphone, but regardless I think we can be pretty sure that they will start to monetize Twitter, which probably means advertisements galore, which Twitter has still as of yet avoided.  

It should be interested to see what Apple does with Twitter if it actually does acquire the company. I really wouldn’t have guessed that a program like Twitter would become very popular and possibly one of the next big things. It really seems to show how hard it is to guess what type of web entity will be popular.

Flash Mobs and Advertising

Many people find flash mobs interesting and most of all entertaining. Some people are even willing to participate in them just out of the blue, just for kicks.  

As flash mobs have taken off as a comedy/performance form, some companies have found this optimal for advertising. But if this form moves in a direction towards entertainment/comedy alongside advertising, what will be the effects on the whole idea of the flash mob. Will it become connected to social movements and business, losing its “pure” form of spontaneousness and entertainment?

Here are two examples of flash mobs incorporated in advertising

This one, accompanied by an article:

This next one is one I mentioned in class when we talked about this, and I find it brilliant:

The first movie conforms more to the typical “flash mob” and seems more spontaneous, unperformed, and seems to be made up of a somewhat arbitrary group of individuals, possibly unpaid.  

This is the aspect about advertising in flash mobs I would like to explore. The flash mob seems to be  becoming yet another form of a business contribution system where the users (or participants in this case) generate most of the content, while the company or advertising agency provides the structure and medium, in this case, maybe providing the idea, organization, filming, and scheduling.  

The flash mob is still a pretty new and unique form though, and in its infancy has not yet been completely capitalized on.  If we see companies further pursuing this form of advertisement generated from volunteer participants will we see an backlash similar to what we have seen with Youtube? If the flash mob becomes so closely connected to advertising as youtube has become, will people still see this as a novel and creative form, and will they still be as eager and willing to participate and join these?

It will be interesting to see where these go, and if advertising becomes a big part of the flash mob.

Environmental effects of the digital age

I couldn’t find any articles that exactly explained what I was looking for, but I found one that gives a pretty good summary, and there is a really big dispute about the carbon cost of a google search right now.


Google article:

One of the many follow-up articles:

I don’t really think that anyone is saying we should stop doing google searches, I think it is just making people aware that when they use their computer, for whatever reason, or plug it into the wall, a lot of energy is being used that most people disregard.

I am interested in the environmental effects of the digitalization of information. Surely some resources are being saved by less copies of books or newspapers in print, among other things, but is the Kindle really a better alternative to the book if now it takes energy to read anything and nothing is permanent?

The main question is the effects of the change from an initial input as in the production of the book, to a continual energy input with no initial input, and if we throw all of our “eggs in this basket” or put all of our money and resources into the digital age, will this actually be sustainable?

As technology uses more and more energy, if we one day run out of the many sources of energy we are using right now, will we be back to ground zero, with few means of entertainment or business not directly tied to the use of the internet and technology?

Beyond Fan Fiction

Machinima seems to be so successful because of the way it has stepped past fan fiction in ways that older types couldn’t. It is probably necessary to have seen the star wars movies or to have read the Harry Potter books to understand the subtleties of most of the fan fiction that has been made around those products.

Red vs Blue requires less knowledge of the game. You basically should understand that there are two sides in multiplayer games that look the same except one is red and one is blue. Even this can probably be assumed from the movies.

But Machinima has the potential to take what we have called fan fiction a step further, and as Thompson describes, may even be able to overcome the fan fiction roots and stand alone as a form of media, next to film.

This move away from the original product is accompanied by a move towards legitamacy and commercialization. According to Wikipedia Red vs Blue has been making $200,000 each year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that was even higher now, with all of the dvds and boxed sets.

And the most important thing about this is that Red vs Blue profits are royalty free. Unlike George Lucas profiting from his fans, or JK Rowling suing fan production, Microsoft and Bungie are actually encouraging RVB, and helping them in any way they can.

This seems like a huge shift in copyright trends, and I am curious to find out if this will be further adopted by other computer game companies and even other forms of media. Will the machinima revolution legitimize fan fiction of books and movies, or is it itself going to move so far beyond fan fiction as an independent form that it will lose any relation to the fan fiction of old media?

My Sophie project – Quentin Tarantino… – Henry Jenkins

Finally… its over.. I hope everything works, I couldn’t find a way to export a mac os file on a windows computer…?

Why Twit?

I always thought the whole idea of twitter was kind of silly and pointless. And after reading all of these critical essays in class, I’ve been wondering… why twit or tweet, or whatever they call it?

Facebook makes it seem like an obsolete program. So I read the wikipedia page, saw the founder on the Colbert Report – , and opened a twitter account.

After learning more about this, it seems that twitter functions to serve the niche between a formal email or facebook personal message and an instant message.

Emails or facebook messages generally aren’t sent for trivial purposes, and most people expect there to be a point to the messages they receive. Tweets can be more personal and don’t really have to have a meaning.

But then it seems like these are the same as facebook statuses. I think the difference between those is that can both be directed towards specific people, and also can be up to 140 characters while facebook messages are limited to the boxes length and are sent to all friends when edited, with generally no discrimination.

So while twitter may initially seem more open and inclusive, I think the twits are really more focused and the followers of the feed than facebook profile messages are on their friends.

Tweeting can be a different sort of dialog than usual instant messaging in that the burden of understanding and organization is on the follower or reader rather than on the writer. While writers usually make their words precise and easily-understandable to attract readers or gain attention, it seems like twitter is going for the opposite.

Illegal Art

Girl Talk – Feed the Animals – 12. Here’s the Thing

Finally got the video to work! – it doesn’t seem to want to embed here… it looks like maybe an issue with the HD video, but click on the link to see the movie.

Youtube’s emails to me about a minute after my video finished uploading:

“Your video, Girl Talk – Feed the Animals – 12. Here’s The Thing, may have content that is owned or licensed by WMG.
No action is required on your part; however, if you are interested in learning how this affects your video, please visit the Content ID Matches section of your account for more information.
– The YouTube Team ”


“Your video, Girl Talk – Feed the Animals – 12. Here’s The Thing, may have content that is owned or licensed by Sony Music Entertainment.
No action is required on your part; however, if you are interested in learning how this affects your video, please visit the Content ID Matches section of your account for more information.
– The YouTube Team ”


It is interesting that girl talk has had no complaints or copyright problems so far, and music generally has strong copyright protection, whereas this video was blocked from youtube, while most music videos can be freely posted to youtube for viewing. It may be due to the few videos that I looked all over online for because I couldn’t find them on youtube.

Does stricter copyright really equal digital dystopia?

In his essay “Strong Copyright + DRM + Weak Net Neutrality = Digital Dystopia?“, Bailey said outlined the change that copyright laws have undergone from 1790 to what they are today. In 1790 Bailey shows how copyright laws were extremely lax with less rules and little to no effects of copyrights on the average citizen. He then covers how copyrights have evolved to become stricter, with creative works staying for longer and longer periods out of the public domain, and how such protection of creative works can contribute to a stifling of culture.

A problem with this thinking though is that looking at the culture and accessibility of media now versus 1790, it is quite obvious that we are much more surrounded by creative works and culture than in 1790. Just sitting at home we can listen to practically any song, watch any movie, view a digital version of almost any painting, and read many articles and quite a few books.

So looking at all this, has the increasing strength of copyrights really stifled our creative works, or is it just as likely that with the introduction of copyright laws came an increase in the backlash of copyrights and easier distribution of creative works.

The reason napster started may stem from a dissatisfaction the purchase of cds and the copyrights restriction of widespread free media use. So ironically, the way things have played out, it looks like an increase in copyright is somehow related to an increase in its antithesis – easily-accessible media.

Wikipedia sustainable?

Thinking about how wikipedia asked for funds and included an “ad” by the founder Wales asking for money, is the business model for Wikipedia – collaborative commons-based – a sustainable one?

Here is an interesting blog I found


-I would recommend also reading the first response to the blog which shows a different side to the story.

I’ve been wondering whether the model for wikipedia is best for wikipedia, and how other models would work. It seems to me that with the donation-funded model that wikipedia presently uses, the contributors and wikipedia community are a large part of the donating group as they are committed to the program, even if they might not be the ones who use the site the most.

So is the funding-base of wikipedia consistent with its democratic, community style of operating? It seems that ads would evenly distribute themselves so that the more you use wikipedia the more ads you would encounter. This way people are indirectly contributing to wikipedia’s funds based on how much they access wikipedia.

Another possible positive for ads is that incorporating them with wikipedia might generate far more income for wikipedia than the organization is getting from donations, and even more than the current operating budget needs. This could be positive in that it could let wikipedia expand, put more money into technology and research, or do something else like start a collaborative charity fund.

But a possible problem to all of this that is brought up in the article is that ads in the modern way they are being used (facebook style, user-specific) are not really feasible on facebook, because like youtube, content is user-generated, and not always screened by the advertiser. So wikipedia would either have to find some way to entirely separate the content of wikipedia from the ads it runs which would seem like a regression back to old-style ads (TV commercials) or could do something like get sponsors for specific related pages, which like the previous problem has the short-coming that users can still change content with sometimes little discretion.

I think it will be interesting to see what, if anything, wikipedia does to solve this issue, and it could have vast implications for the way future wikipedia-style, collaborative, cummunity-based organizations are run and funded.

DJ Blog

In “Why I Blog” Sullivan said that bloggers were like DJs, composing mashups. The blogger “is both artist and producer–and the beat always goes on”.

I thought this was very interesting and it addressed the informality of blogging.

Like DJs bloggers are playing over and thinking about news from broad categories and after synthesizing loads of information produce a new commentary that is relevant to readers and gives something more than just reading the news could give you.

This relates to DJs because they are mixing music for a new sound and composition that isn’t exactly being composed but it being produced from the world around them.

In both cases, the blogger or DJ would not have commentary or material without the many sources they produce from. As a DJ would be nothing without the top music hits, a blogger would not be able to stand alone without the top news stories.

This creates a completely different atmosphere from the news business as like Sullivan said, blogging is a win-win situation where it is best to quote others bloggers and be quoted even if you are being referenced negatively. Bloggers are not competing in the same way that newspapers are, as there is not a limited share in the audience. While newspapers are fighting for readers, bloggers can quote other bloggers and create dialog with both the news industry and the blogging world.

Noticing that as we are discussing the readings about blogging we are in fact blogging ourselves helps emphasize the sort of dialog that Sullivan is describing. It is a largely informal form of communication similar to having actual conversations with other people.

To me it seemed most parallel to a lecture followed by discussion. Work is done to start a conversation that can be added to and evolved. An essential part of blogging is the fact that is generally always provokes commentary.