Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Task 1b: Professional Communication Technologies

In the early days of the World Wide Web the market was dominated by a few companies with platform-based applications and internal searches, catering for clients who could pay and who had the required knowledge to access and engage with the creator-led sites on the infant internet.

Web 2.0 has fundamentally changed the way we interact with others, from friends and acquaintances to strangers from around the world. Interaction has developed from “Call Me,” or “Text Me”, to “Email Me,” to “Facebook Me”... it's interesting to note the use of 'Facebook' as a verb! A person goes on Facebook to facebook...

Yet, it is something we take for granted in our day-to-day lives. I have to say I didn't even know that Web 2.0 was a term until I read the Module guide! However it has sparked off some interesting (to me) trains of thought, so I will attempt to put my thoughts down!

The original idea of the web was that it should be a collaborative space where you can communicate through sharing information.” Tim Berners-Lee

Some of the notes I made while working on this task!

Defining Web 2.0

The world has never been smaller thanks to Web 2.0 – in one glance you can see what your childhood friend from school had for breakfast or what your cousin in Canada is up to. Web 2.0 could be defined with the following principles:
* User-based
* Social Networking
* Information Sharing
Content on Web 2.0 is created by the users of the site and information is not local to a single user but globally accessible from multiple platforms. The site is improved by the number of users and feedback and participation is encouraged.

Facebook is definitely the modern success story of Web 2.0, and I started thinking about why. Why Facebook in particular out of the multitude of social networking sites? Does anyone still actively use MySpace, or Bebo?

Features that I believe have led Facebook to become a market leader are:

* User-friendly interface: the layouts are simple and inoffensive. Information is presented clearly, and it is relatively easy to find what you're looking for. MySpace was notorious for cluttered profiles with music, moving graphics and sparkling logos filling the page.

* The Wall: Facebook was the first social media platform to present the idea that what other people are up to is more important than what you yourself might be up to – on Facebook the 'homepage' was also the users profile and information was shared through bulletins and private messages. There was a 'wall' element to the site on a users profile however these were only visible by viewing the individuals profile and replying to a specific comment wasn't an option.

* Sharing: The ease of sharing information, pictures, videos, etc is greatly enhanced on Facebook when contrasted with previous social network sites: i.e. sharing a video from YouTube onto MySpace required the user to have a basic knowledge of html code; with Facebook and Twitter the option to share is embedded as part of YouTube's features.

* Constant Beta: features and apps are rolled out continuously and discreetly, disappearing if they are not considered to work well as part of the overall function or fall out of popularity (remember throwing a sheep, anyone?) rather than having huge launches of products that have been developed behind closed doors. The users of Facebook dictate the content and form of the site.

* Comments: as mentioned previously, replying to comments directly wasn't an option on some other social networking sites – the participatory nature of Web 2.0 is enhanced by this feature designed to engage conversation in an immediate way:

75% of the engagement on a post happens in the first five hours – JANE HART (Social Media Statistsc 2014 – c4LPT.com)

Facebook is completely user-driven and I believe epitomises the current definition of Web 2.0

Source: FacebookNewsroom


Downsides to Web 2.0

This passage from the Reader for Module One really stood out to me, as I believe it can be applicable to many areas, not just Web 2.0

If we don't have the instruments by which we can participate (time, money, skills, infrastructure, etc) then we will be unable or unwilling to participate...” READER 1 WBS3730 BAPP ARTS
  • Online networking is quick, free or relatively inexpensive, easy and accessible. Therefore it encourages participation through its very nature.
However, is Web 2.0 now too integral to modern life? Would it actually affect lives to not have the ease and accessibility of social media?


A very messy spidergraph I made spurred by the participation comment in the Module Reader


This question has arisen recently on Facebook in response to the debate about allowing performers to use their stage names on their profiles, and regarding an announcement on the Digital Trends website in August that Facebook may launch a 'freemium' service; charging an amount per month for premium use of the site, although what this service will entail is rather vague (removing promoted posts and ads, I think!).

So:
Mark Zuckerberg believes that using a false name on Facebook shows a 'lack of integrity' (MICHAEL ZIMMER 2014) However arguments against this stance have included examples of those who are better known by their stage name than their real name, all the way to people who may be in a position where to reveal their real name could put them in danger; political activists, ex-gang members, etc.

Friends of mine on Facebook have been asking what people think about this, bearing in mind that in the Cabaret industry, most people have quite an outrageous stage name! Some of the opposing views received are:

Not sure what I'd do. Virtually all of my company promotion and business is done on Facebook. If they shut my account down my business and nearly nine years of hard work would be stuffed.”

Nearly all of my business is through word of mouth. I'm hardly ever on Facebook, just for pictures and catching up with friends so I'd miss that.”

Regarding paying for Facebook, several surveys for online surveys have been conducted. When I asked my network on the site whether they would pay for Facebook, I received some of the following comments:

I would possibly be willing to pay for my business page, although I already pay to promote posts through that anyway and I'm not sure how much good it does. I would never pay for my profile.”

No. I'd just close my account and go somewhere else.”

Digital Trends, the website I initially found this report on had some of these responses:

I would pay for Facebook. [It] is such an integral part of our everyday lives now, and it is an important part of the marketing plan for small businesses...”

Why should I pay for networking when I can do the same thing in groups and forums for free?”

I do not think it would have 1.5 billion users if it had begun as a pay-to-use website.”

From this I get the impression that people are dependent on Social Networks for a variety of reasons, both personal and professional, and removing the access to these networks could affect people in a range of different ways. However, one of the main attractions to Social Media is its accessibility - as in, it's free and easy.




Future of Web 2.0

I started thinking about the crossover between the different forms of communication discussed in both the Module Reader and in Tim O'Reilly's article and where the future of these forms of communication can fuse.

There have recently been a couple of television shows (television possibly falling under the Web 1.0 category as a form of communication that has been developed by a creator and is presented to the consumer) that have taken the opportunities offered by Web 2.0. In the UK the recent live rounds of the television series featured real-time Tweets and Vines from viewers: consumer interaction is nothing new - television shows for years have made use of watchers calling in to affect the outcome of a show (X-Factor and Britain's Got Talent just being two of the most recent) but this was one of the first times Social Media was actively featured as part of the production.
In the USA a recent series of 'Americas Next Top Model' took this a step further by engaging users of social media to actually affect the scores the competitors received. During this series the models were awarded two sets of scores for each task, one from the judges and one from those who engaged with the show on social media. As far as I'm aware this is the first time Web 2.0 has affected a previously established communication form in this way*

*although I could be wrong!

America's Next Top Models receiving their Social Media scores

Ethics of Web 2.0

As we engage more as an individual across a range of Social Media, are we at risk of sharing too much?

Facebook is a social system that allows people to interact, share ideas and content, link that to other users and therefore improve the experience for other users. However a line in the Module Reader caught my eye:

"Facebook... increases its understanding of you as a user and you as a creator." READER 1 WBS3730 BAPP ARTS

Whenever a user on Social Media links or shares content these create links in the very fabric of the internet, in much the same way synapses in the brain link. However this means that with careful searching, a committed hacker could probably find out much more than we would want them to know, purely from following the links. Like a breadcrumb trail.

With web based content there can be issues with copyright and authenticity, confidentiality and permissions: once something is on a public forum can it still be considered 'owned' by a creator? There has been a recent scandal regarding pictures of famous women being leaked and distributed, and one of the most common comments has been that because these women put themselves in the public eye that cannot make the claim that anything they create (be that a film, song or naked selfie) can be considered private or sacred in its entirety.

With the issue of copyright and permissions, where does the previously mentioned issue of people not using their real names on Social Media come in? If I create something under a stage name, can I not lay claim to this as something I've created because I have done so under an alias? 

Wikipedia has also come under fire for this: because Wikipedia relies on user-generated content many academics do not consider it to be a reliable resource however the counter argument to this in the Module Reader is that these academics simply consider the resource to be a 'disruptive influence', undermining and questioning established codes of practice...

...in a similar way to the market dominance of platform applications over web-based resources in the 1990's, and look what happened there!

In Conclusion:

This task has led me to think more about the way I engage with social media and how I present myself as such. It has also made me question the importance of social media to our day-to-day lives, and the impact it can have on both our personal and professional relationships.

It has led me to think about the crossover between my professional life and my personal life, and, as I have two profiles on most Social Media sites in order to facilitate this division, whether one or the other would suffer were social media to suddenly disappear.


4 comments:

  1. Very interesting read, it really made me consider the downsides to web 2.0! As an avid user of IT and the internet from a very young age, and being a part of that generation growing up with easy access to computers and the internet, I feel that I do strongly rely on the web to help and assist my day to day life.

    However this post has made me consider the dangers and ethical means behind this amazing recourse. I have been in all the lessons and know about internet safety, but I do fear that a lot of people have a "it wont happen to me" attitude, especially with things such as Facebook! I am part of the group "the hustle" and while it is free and accessible to those in this profession, there are malicious people out there that look to scam and exploit the unaware! As much as web 2.0 is a blessing it can also be a curse!

    Also like you mentioned, you have to be very aware of what is reliable and what is not, just like Wikipedia, it is in amazing resource but with something that is almost user ran there is very little that you can 100% guarantee is completely accurate. I think that sometimes in our quest for work and passion for our art we can become lax with our vigilance, if some "agent" is guaranteeing you paid work for a too good to be true fee, then chances are its just that, too good to be true. We aren't in this industry to be computer scientists but I feel part of having this amazing resource is also being able to use it safely and I think maybe that is an area us artists can help each other out with and promote safe usage of web 2.0.

    However it isn't all doom and gloom, I feel that web 2.0 and the invention of emails and Facebook and user friendly groups like "the hustle" has completely revolutionized this industry. Something like the hustle is refreshing because it isn't profit based, its a prime example of a huge network of artists collaborating together. I wish maybe that there was a more official manner of the hustle, their own web page or something! Its such a brilliant idea and it would be amazing if it was developed further. Maybe something for the future.

    But overall, great post and excellent arguments presented highlighting the positives and negatives in a way that really made me consider my own approach to using Web 2.0 within my networking process!

    Ant x

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    1. Thank you for your lovely comments!

      I know what you mean: I can't imagine life without Facebook or Twitter - I'm not an addict or anything, and I'm very careful about what I post, but it's still the ease and accessibility of it that is alluring: I can sit on the train and scroll through my newsfeed to see what everyone else is up to (and it usually makes me jealous!)

      I know people present themselves differently online: because we can edit what people see of us, we can present a completely altered image - this really interesting story that surfaced recently shows how easily the line between Social Media and Real Life can be blurred:
      http://www.evoke.ie/now/girl-fake-holiday-photos-fool-family-friends-facebook/

      xx

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  2. Wow Dani, that was so in-depth and completely different to mine. It was great to read, well done. I wonder if the world is ready for a new 'Facebook'. Although we couldn't imagine a world without it, I'm sure there was a time I couldn't think of a life without MSN messenger :) I also wonder if people will start to rebel against the whole web 2.0 thing. It seems to have taken over our lives and now there are lots of campaigns to get people off of their phones. I for one hate meeting with a friend for coffee or dinner and their phone being out on the table beeping and buzzing throughout.

    I'm trying to tag a picture here of Banksy's 'Mobile Lovers' but can't work out how to do it! :)

    Great job though. I'll be following your blog from now on.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you!

      I think it's great that everyone's blogs are so different: we're approaching the same subject from completely different backgrounds so there's a lot of variety in peoples insights - it makes the blogs interesting to read!

      It's interesting you mentioned about a 'new Facebook' as there have been a lot of people recently on my performer profile talking about a new social network called 'Ello, and making grand statements about leaving Facebook entirely to move across there. Then, predictably, remaining on Facebook! I've also heard a couple of horror stories about this new network that have made me reluctant to join, not least because I don't have the time for a new social media outlet in my life! I think it will take something quite spectacular to shake the foundations of Facebook: it doesn't seem to be going anywhere any time soon!

      And I've seen that Banksy - I love it!
      xx

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