In today’s digital age, social media has become an integral part of the vast majority of people’s lives and has effectively made the world a smaller place. Sharing information and connecting with the world around us, along with the people within it, has never been easier or more popular with facebook, wikipedia and you-tube all featured in the top 10 most visited sites on the internet. On average, 16% of all users total time spent online is taken up using social media in some form with many users able to access these sites at any time using mobile phones. However, there are both positives and negatives to the ease of communication and information sharing that social media and crowdsourcing gives us.
Collaborative information created through crowdscourcing methods are a very popular way to share information. One of the of the largest collaborative encyclopedias online is Wikipedia which features over 10 million articles. Information gathered and shared in this way follows the old saying “a problem shared is a problem halved” and has allowed an unprecedented amount of information to be shared worldwide. Crowdscourcing can be a valuable learning method when integrated into teaching as shown through the social media modules’s collaborative bibliography. However, there are opposing views on crowdsourcing as shown through this BBC news article who feel that sometimes data collected by crowd sourcing can be inaccurate or unreliable. Another potential problem that arises when content is crowdsourced is that the rights to the content is effectively taken from the user and given to to the overall owners of the website.
Social media gives users a feeling of involvement and allows friends and colleagues to keep in touch through sharing photos, events and by providing instant messaging services. After the recent integration of spotify with facebook it is also incredibly easy to share your favourite music with your friends and can also be a fantastic platform for businesses and professionals to promote themselves. One interesting aspect of social media I hadn’t fully realised the potential for is using these platforms to perform project research as shown through the “Sound Around You” project. This has definitely given me some ideas for performing primary research for my MSc dissertation next year! On a larger scale, social media has also helped the world gain first hand news accounts and raise social awareness during world events such as natural disasters.
The Positives and Negatives of Social Media: Fox News Story
The disadvantages of the rise in social media have been well documented in the news recently as seen through the use of these technologies to help organise and plan the recent outbreak of rioting in the UK. There are also issues such as a potential lack of privacy and the platforms being use to aid criminal activities. However, I feel that overall the positives social media provide us with far outweigh the negatives. Any communication network can be used with malicious intent and it is pleasing to see that these technologies are also being used to help indentify criminals and for planning and organising charity events.
Top 5 UK websites usage image from http://www.comscoredatamine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/TimeSpent_UK.png
In my last blog post I discussed my personal views on digital piracy and some of the issues surrounding this much debated aspect of digital media. In this blog post I will be talking about the other topic covered during the digital piracy lecture, the Creative Commons organisation. Creative Commons is an initiative which “increases sharing and improves collaboration” by providing various forms of media which is available for users to legally share, manipulate and expand. It provides an alternative to copyright laws which were created way before the advent of the internet and awareness of this digital movement is steadily growing. This is shown by the coverage the Creative Commons received by the BBC news this year when they published a guide to how media found online can be used legally. The creative common’s mission statement and overall vision can be found here.
Creative Commons Logo
I knew nothing about the Creative Commons before this lecture and found it to be an interesting and intriguing prospect to allow innovative remixes, samples and ‘mashups’ to be created without the producer running the risk of facing legal copyright repercussions. In my opinion, youtube videos and other digital media that has been created by combining aspects from various media sources has allowed some phenomenal production’s to be created and shared such as Madeon’s Pop Culture remix and original interpretations of film and computer game soundtracks. For me one of the joys of the internet is that it allows interesting and entertaining collaborations such as these to be created, shared and discovered! I feel that over stringent copyright laws stifle people’s creativity and I feel it is a massive shame that amateur and semi professional video makers get their videos removed from youtube just for featuring copyright music when it would cost them a fortune to get the music properly licensed. If the copyright Nazis had their way ‘Madeon’ would have to pay to sample each of the 39 songs used previously mentioned video!
An original interpretation of a theme from the “Monkey Island” computer game series
Remixing has always existed within music but through a slightly different form- instead of through digital means it has been through bands and artists covering jazz and blues standards and then adapting and evolving the music and songs. I believe this to be a natural musical process and a good thing as everything is always influenced musically by something that came before it and sometimes covers can even be improvement upon the original. A recent film titled “Everything is a Remix” made by New York based Kirkby Ferguson which takes the viewpoint that everything media related is a “remix of something else” as oppose to “everyone is stealing”.
“Everything is a Remix” By Kirkby Ferguson
However, some critics question whether the Creative Commons organisation can provide the financial support required by artists and see the Creative Commons as just an alternative or replacement of the old copyright system. The following journal looks at how useful the Creative commons license actually is for musicians and artists. Despite this, I feel that the Creative Commons movement seems like a bright future for sharing and using copyright material in the digital era without facing legal problems. Another implication of widespread use of the Creative Commons initiative would be allowing teachers the freedom to use a large amount of legal media content to use as a teaching resource – surely this can only be a good thing?! More information on the Creative Commons in regards to teaching can be found here.
I think the following links will also be useful for other social media students who are new to this concept and wish to learn more about the organisation and how to properly use and attribute Creative Commons content:
Creative Commons Logo from http://creativecommonssingapore.files.wordpress.com/2008/09/cclogolarge.png
BBC. (2011) Copyright group Creative Commons targets web users [Online] June 2011. Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-13961051 %5BAccessed: 18th October 2011]
Schaeffer, Maritza. (2009) “Contemporary Issues in the Visual Art World: How Useful are Creative Commons Licenses?” [Online] May 2009. Available from: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_7081/is_3_26/ai_n28457434/?tag=content;col1 %5BAccessed: 18th October 2011]
Educause Learning Initiative. (2007) 7 things you should know about the Creative Commons [Online] March 2007. Available from: http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7023.pdf %5BAccessed: 18th October 2011]
After attending Friday’s social media lecture regarding digital piracy and the issues surrounding the subject it got me really thinking about my own views on downloading music. I had always been of the opinion that “sharing is not stealing” and that it was fine that the internet should act as a platform for sharing media through peer to peer services such as torrenting. Recently as a semi professional who hopes to make money by providing audio engineering services for bands and artists I have started developing a conscience regarding music sharing! Despite still downloading albums released by the leading companies in the industry (i.e. EMI, Universal, Sony e.t.c) I pay monthly for a full spotify account and try to buy releases by artists on smaller, independent record labels such as Tru Thoughts and Ninja Tune– this eases my mind slightly! In this blog post I will be sharing some of my personal thoughts on file sharing and digital piracy.
I feel that downloading music that has been shared is a completely different process than duplicating CDs for the purpose of reselling them. This is a process to obtain music rather than steal profits which has allowed our generation to be subjected to a much wider variety of musical genres which can only be a good thing leading to open minded, educated musicians. Over recent years there has been a huge shift from physical to digital delivery for music content. This change in consumers buying habits may explain the record companies decline in revenue more than piracy and file sharing. In my opinion, paying for a folder of digital files doesn’t seem quite the same as buying the actual physical record complete with artwork, booklet e.t.c which gives a real sense of ownership to the product.
This shift from physical to digital delivery also encourages users to pick their favorite tracks from albums to download rather than the album as a whole- I feel this is wrong as it detracts from the artist’s intended vision for the album. I think record companies need to provide the customer with something additional to the music files as an incentive to buy the music legitimately. I was really glad Pink Floyd recently won their court settlement to ensure the tracks on their albums could not be sold individually which allowed them to retain the intended sequencing of tracks and the conceptual feel to their albums. Pink Floyd’s “Immersion” edition of their classic album “Dark Side of the Moon” includes posters, 6 CDs which contain previously unreleased audio and video footage along with information booklets and photos. This is a step in the right direction for providing consumers with an overall physical package which includes incentives/extras that cannot be obtained by downloading the music digitally.
In general, people sharing and downloading musical content online tend to be fans of music who still spend money on gig tickets, festivals and merchandise. According to the PRS bands and musicians are making more money from live shows than ever before and the fact their music is being shared gives them large amounts of promotion. Music sharing has always existed in some form such as copying tapes and CDs. It is a process can never be controlled completely especially when it is so easy to do with very low chance of any serious repercussions. These illegal downloads in fact help artists as listeners download music so that they can have more music than they could otherwise afford. Record executives often mention the “lost sales” due to illegal downloads. The reality is they haven’t lost sales due to the downloads. The listeners wouldn’t be buying the music if it wasn’t otherwise available, they would just be going without. This article by the University of Oxford also suggests that digital piracy may actually by benefiting media companies though the free promotion that pirating inherently provides.
Digital Piracy Image from http://thedigitaldrivetrain.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/piracy-vs-theft.jpg
Pink Floyd Immersion Boxset Image from http://www.whypinkfloyd.com/images/slideshow/im-darkside.jpg
Bell, N. (2008) Recorded Music: Who benefits from digital? [Online] April 2008. Available from: http://robertoigarza.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/rep-recorded-music-who-benefits-from-digital-pwc-2008.pdf [Accessed: 12th October 2011]
BBC. (2010) Pink Floyd win EMI court ruling over online sales [Online] March 2010. Available from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8561963.stm [Accessed: 12th October 2011]
University of Oxford. (2008) “Digital Piracy may benefit companing” [Online] March 2008. Available from: http://www.ox.ac.uk/media/news_stories/2008/080317.html [Accessed: 12th October 2011]