Monday, March 30, 2009

If anyone has any comments...

...they'd be greatly appreciated for my final blog!
Just in case you didn't feel like searching for the link, I'll post it again HERE. Any ideas or comments you guys have would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks guys :)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

What does "Twilight" have to do with Citizen Media?

Yes, this is going to be a post that focuses on the Twilight series but there is a point, trust me. Last week in class we learned about cultural convergence and how it affects fan culture and the example I kept coming back to in my head was of Twilight. Someone else in the class has already posted about fan culture and used Twilight as an example, but I thought I’d put my own spin on it and focus more of what we learned on just this one example.
First up, a history lesson about just how popular these books are. The first of the four novels was published in October 2005 but Twilight didn’t become as huge as it is now until a little bit later. That’s not to say it wasn’t popular right away – it reached #5 on the New York Times Bestseller List for Children’s Chapter Books. When New Moon was released a year later it debuted at #5 and rose to #1 two weeks later. The other two novels were just as popular, just as quickly. Bookstores caught on that they could have success at launch parties (like Harry Potter) and the final book, Breaking Dawn, was released at huge parties at bookstores across Canada and the United States. In April, the first three books had been on the list for a combined 143 weeks on the best seller list. This is a huge deal, just for books. But the Twilight phenomenon didn’t stop there.
Like most books that are turned into movies, there was a ton of merchandise to go along with the movie’s release. There are unauthorized and authorized movie books, clothing, key chains, posters, jewellery, and the list goes on and on and on. Even if you walk into a store like Bluenotes, you’re going to get shirts like this one and this one. The books, movie and merchandise are unavoidable. But what about those things that are harder to find, like what the fans themselves are producing? (And yes, this is when my post finally starts to have a point that relates back to this class)
Typing in “twilight fans” into Google gets a ton of hits, which shows how the fans of the books and movies are utilizing the Internet to showcase their devotion. This website has fan art. There’s a Twilight puppet show you can watch on YouTube as well as a video someone made of several comics she found about Twilight. The possibilities available to fans are endless. Like we discussed in class, fans are given a huge amount of raw material to do with what they will and because they always want more they are going to be spurred on by their love of the Saga to create more things for themselves and other fans.
Fans are able to network in so many ways now. There are more traditional ways, like communities on sites like Chapters but there are also new ways that utilize social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Fans have immense power as well. Who knows if Stephenie Meyer would have been able to publish all four books in the Saga if the fans had not wanted them? There was some hesitation with the Twilight movie as well because no one knew if it was going to be successful (but really, come on, teen girls and a good looking guy?) so there was not any definite comments on New Moon until after Twilight was released. Since Twilight did so well in theatres, New Moon is now in production and scheduled for release for this November. This goes to show that the fans have the power to influence what happens with a mainstream cultural product.
Henry Jenkins wrote about cultural convergence and said,

“The explosion of new forms of creativity at the intersections of various media
technologies, industries and consumers. Media convergence fosters a new participatory folk culture by giving average people the tools to archive, annotate, appropriate and recirculate content. Shrewd companies tap this culture to foster consumer loyalty and generate low-cost content. Media convergence also encourages transmedia storytelling, the development of content across multiple channels. As producers more fully exploit organic convergence, storytellers will use each channel to communicate different kinds and levels of narrative information, using each medium to do what it does best.”
This explanation describes the sort of fan culture that surrounds almost anything, including the Twilight Saga. Fans are able to take what Stephenie Meyer and the producers and directors of the movie have offered them and create things for themselves. They have used multiple ways of communicating with each other – using the Internet mostly since the majority of the fans are teenage girls who are incredibly technologically savvy. Different online platforms have different uses and most of them are being utilized by the Twilight Saga fans – YouTube, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and so on. Jenkins also hits on the point that companies are going to capitalize on the popularity of the books and movies to make more money for themselves. They know they can make money of these teen girls who have disposable incomes. Just look in any book or CD store – there’s Twilight merchandise everywhere.
The Twilight Saga is just one example of many fan cultures that can be related back to cultural convergence. Plus, it’s a lot of fun to talk about – and it’s not just for teen girls! :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

did anyone else know we have to save the internet?

Right now I’m working on this assignment while also using the internet for various things – I’m looking for information for this post, checking emails, and chatting on MSN. I know I’ve already talked about multitasking, but I’m this post is about something different. I am going to focus on the fact that I am able to do all of stuff on the internet without worrying about not being able to access certain sites or having to wait a long time for pages to load.
I got the idea for this post way back in the second week of classes when we were talking about Net Neutrality and I didn’t know a whole lot about net neutrality so I went to the save the internet site and looked at their FAQ to see what they had to say. They define Network Neutrality as:

Network Neutrality -- or "Net Neutrality" for short -- is the guiding principle
that preserves the free and open Internet.
Put simply, Net Neutrality means
no discrimination. Net Neutrality prevents Internet providers from blocking,
speeding up or slowing down Web content based on its source, ownership or

Net Neutrality is the reason why the Internet has driven economic innovation, democratic participation, and free speech online. It protects the consumer's right to use any equipment, content, application or service on a non-discriminatory basis without interference from the network provider. With Net Neutrality, the network's only job is to move data -- not choose which data to privilege with higher quality service.
These are things that we take for granted when we’re using the internet. We assume that we are able to access any site whenever we want in a timely manner (providing we don’t have the dreaded dial up…really don’t miss that!). Now, the potential loss of Net Neutrality appears to only be an issue in the United States, but imagine that this could affect us in Canada too. is trying to make sure that major corporations don’t manipulate the internet so consumers have to wait for some pages to load but not others and not access certain sites at all. Content providers would be taxed to “guarantee speedy delivery of their data.” This would make the major corporations make even more money (when they clearly are not lacking) and would discriminate against the smaller websites.
If those smaller sites are not able to afford the high speed that the corporations are demanding then they will slowly die out, which would be incredibly detrimental to blogging and other forms of citizen media. A lot of activist sites probably wouldn’t be accessed because no one would want to wait a long time just to view a page. Just think of all the information that would not be disseminated just because major corporations are being greedy. Do they honestly think they need to essentially tax one more thing? I’m glad that Net Neutrality hasn’t been eliminated yet (as far as I could tell) but I can’t believe that there is actually a possibility for this to happen. Actually, you know what? I’m not that surprised. Think about all the other things that we have to pay for already – telephone, cable television – it wasn’t always like that. Hidden fees (and not so hidden fees) are the way that these companies make money and they don’t care if it gouges the average user.
I suppose if I try hard enough I can understand the major corporation’s point of view, I mean everyone wants to get ahead, but I don’t think that it should be at the cost of others. We need those smaller sites to get the information that the mainstream media and government aren’t telling us. If Net Neutrality becomes extinct then there’s a good chance we could become even more sheep-like and not be able to check other sources for varying positions. If you check out this part of the site you will see what’s already been done to censor what we see or are able to access online. Do we really want any more restrictions than these, which are all sneaky and underhanded attempts at major corporations to keep conflicting ideas at bay?
I really hope that the corporations who want to get rid of Net Neutrality will not succeed. Can you imagine the life we would have if we were not able to access the information we wanted when we wanted to? I think this is a story worth keeping an eye on, especially if it ever makes it into Canada. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

Most of the information in this post came from the FAQ page. Check it out and look around the rest of the site too, it’s really interesting.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How YOU Doin'?

Imagine yourself in the following situation: You’re at a bar, dancing with a really good looking person and you want to somehow contact them at a later date.

Do you: a) Ask for their number
b) Get their email address
c) Find out their name so you can find (or creep) them on Facebook later

Oh how simple dating used to be. Way back when the way to contact a person would be through a phone call. Nowadays hardly anyone will give out their home phone number, if they even have a home phone. Technology has had an increasing role in the way that people date and maintain romantic relationships.
I got the idea for this post the other day when I was watching Gilmore Girls on CosmoTV. The station will show trivia at each commercial break and on this particular day it had something to do with using technology for dating. Whatever the fact was (because for the life of me I cannot remember) it made me think about how many people use different forms of technology to pick up.
I mentioned in a post a few weeks back about He’s Just Not That Into You and how Drew Barrymore’s character needed to check all sorts of technology just to try and get in touch with a guy she was interested in. It used to be that you would just check your answering machine and that would be that, but in today’s world, you have to make sure you’re always on the ball and checking any sort of communication device that you’ve got.
So back to my hypothetical situation: once you’ve finally gotten a hold of the hottie from the bar, what is the relationship like? I think that if you had gotten their phone number it would quickly become a lot more personal and you would better be able to see if there was a connection (one which is not influenced by alcohol). While emailing back and forth is more convenient, you could fire off a quick email asking for a supper date while at work; there is a certain something that is lost by not talking over the phone, and especially face to face. You lose the personal tone that comes along with each individual. This new person may be incredibly sarcastic but in an email he or she could come across as kind of mean. Now what about the Facebook option? By becoming friends on Facebook, that special someone can find out more about your hobbies, likes, dislikes, and what kinds of things you and your friends talk about. This could be a good thing because it’ll give you a starting point when you eventually get out on that first date, however, it could also prove to be detrimental because you realize that person from the bar loves their poodle a little too much.
A lot of people will use Facebook to keep updated on all their friends’ relationship statuses. Come on, admit it – you have been immediately curious when you see a change in one of your friend’s relationship status. Just recently I have been curious about why a friend from elementary school and his girlfriend broke up. There was another instance where another friend got rid of the part on the profile where it says single. He is still single but Facebook announces this on the home page that “so and so is no longer single.” Immediately people were asking him who the girl was. Similar occurrences last year led my boyfriend and I to screw with our friends’ heads. We decided to put both our relationship statuses as single and see what people had to say. It turns out that 1. we have a lot of great friends who were concerned about us and 2. way too many people believe what they see on Facebook. Even my roommates were wondering what was up, and I had seen them all just after I changed my status and was clearly fine.
So here you are at last call and are confronted with the possibility of never being able to see the dancing machine from the bar ever again. What are you going to do? You have so many options available to you thanks to technology’s advancements. But worry not, you have been spared this decision tonight – hottie from the bar turns out to have a significant other and they seem none to pleased with you being near their honeymuffin. This would be the time to bolt…and be glad that you never gave away your name, because you can be sure that you’d be the victim of some Facebook stalking. Joey seemed to have it so easy…