Saturday, 20 April 2013

MY COMPLETE EXPERIENCE IN DIGITAL CULTURE

   When I started my journey in Digital Culture in October 2012 I was convinced that I was going to learn something quite interesting about the modern digital world and the way it functions. However, I had not anticipated that Digital culture would drastically change some of my ideas about various aspects, including: privacy and surveillance, the future of technology as well as the very peculiar nature of the Internet itself. Therefore, it was particularly interesting to observe how my own convictions started to shift towards a more complicated, more opinionated side which I was glad to explore. Digital culture undoubtedly helped me in better understanding the opportunities that the digital world holds. 

   Initially, I was particularly fond of the fact that Digital culture focuses primarily on the future aspects and constructs its debates around what lies ahead of us. It was a great experience to learn about the myths of the Internet, its weak spots as well as its powerful prospects which continue to dominate in our society. As I began exploring the first couple of topics that we covered in class, I was surprised how broad the debate actually was. Certain topics and ideas, like the digital minds and their future, were extremely challenging and required a thorough analysis of the eventual scenarios that would possibly take place somewhere in the future. As a result, there comes a point when you gradually start realising that the issues that Digital culture deals with require a much more sophisticated approach due to their inexplicably crucial role in our modern society.

   Furthermore, Digital culture taught me one extremely important lesson: one should never hurry up in making a final conclusion on a subject before being able to conceive all sides as well as all prospects of a certain debate. You could simply get amazed by the extraordinarily huge range of issues that Digital culture actually reflects upon. For example, one of the topics which struck me the most was the issue concerning privacy in Social Media and their user policies. Once you start doing your research, you then realise that there are many quintessential matters which directly affect a big part of society, namely the contemporary Internet users. What this made me think about then was the concealed aspects of the Internet or the corporate interests which now seem to be a constant feature of the exciting but at the same time a bit mysterious world of the digital operations. 

   Moreover, another aspect which really triggered an interest in me was the topic concerning the concepts of democracy and what is actually happening to them in our hectic modern society where everything around has become significantly digitalised. Therefore, I thought more carefully about the principles on which democracy has been established and developed, so that I could gain a better and much more qualitative understanding of its role on the Internet. And that actually was the true beauty of Digital culture: it made me see aspects of democracy in the digital world which I would probably have missed otherwise.

   Finally, Digital culture provided me with an invaluable account of the deeper dimensions of the digital world. It really made me think about the extraordinary nature of each and every issue that is directly connected to our own future and the decisions that we would eventually have to make. Therefore, this exciting journey was particularly beneficial for me in terms of understanding the core nature of the issues that face society nowadays. Thus, the entire experience was a great method for demonstrating the simple fact that nothing is what it seems. Lastly, I learnt that in the world of Digital culture, in order to understand completely a particular issue or a matter, you have to prepare yourself for one certain activity: be ready to explore. 

YOUTUBE – THE ALTERNATIVE BROADCASTER


   One of the most exciting aspects of Digital Culture, in my opinion, is the opportunity to express yourself in a form that you think would be most suitable for your own taste and preferences. That is why I think that YouTube holds a great potential in terms of providing the necessary platform to any film maker or a media enthusiast. There is a reason why YouTube is one of the biggest search engines on the Internet today – many people have found out its great power in broadcasting their own projects, productions or representations of something that they think is important or just entertaining. Thus, YouTube has become an entire universe which is full of creative thinkers, artists, dancers, producers, film makers as well as a majority of many other art people. Therefore, I think that YouTube could be turned into a more comprehensive topic as a part of the excitingly exploratory journey in Digital Culture. 

The largest video-sharing website on the Internet

   To begin with, one of the best reasons why I think that YouTube is worth being analysed in Digital Culture is its tremendously powerful effect as a media platform. Nowadays, the power of YouTube could be equaled to that of the largest media organisations in the world in terms of reaching a vast audience for its videos. For example, if I had a ready screenplay and I wanted to make an independent film (which many people do nowadays), I would take it under serious consideration whether to use YouTube as my platform for a release. In many cases, YouTube turns out to be the best alternative among many other options due to its easy navigation, instant results, extraordinarily huge number of users and, of course, its promotional services. Whether you would like to professionally release a short film or an artistic video, YouTube could do the magic for you not only due to its high effectiveness but also due to its availability on multiple platforms and devices. Now, this is another aspect which could make a wonderful topic for analysis, especially in the field of Digital Culture as there are many interesting as well as demanding questions which can be asked here: what is the benefit of being able to broadcast your own productions on multiple platforms and devices? How does that change our relationship with other media? How do large media companies utilise this aspect of YouTube and why is this so important for the industry now?  

YouTube is currently available on many and different platforms and devices

   Furthermore, it would be really interesting to see how and why the large media use YouTube in their professional endavours? What aspects are there in this particular case? Of course, YouTube has become something rather different compared to what it was initially designed for (a sharing website for random videos) and that is something which can be analysed in more depth. Despite being a significantly young company (currently owned by Google), YouTube’s history could provide a wonderful account of how the Internet is capable of strongly influencing the way in which many and large industries change their course of development. This would undoubtedly help in understanding the power of YouTube, its immediate effect on its users and their products (videos, films and shows, video logs) and the unprecedented success that follows. Of course, not everything concerning YouTube is all positive as there certainly are some drawbacks but its exciting opportunities are a good reason why we would like to explore it in a more analytically professional manner from the perspective of media professionals whose future jobs will undoubtedly include dealing with online media platforms and their rapid pace of development.

   Finally, the rapidly developing digital world represents a plethora of exciting opportunities, especially in the world of media. Therefore, innovative approaches to online broadcasting as YouTube, for example, are undoubtedly an area worth of exploring in more comprehensive ways. Probably, there are still many other uses that are about to be established in terms of using the Internet as a part of the work fields of the large media companies. Nevertheless, we should always try to explore which certain features could be beneficial for us and which could not. In this way, an entirely new debate could be constructed in terms of providing future students with a fresh and challenging approach to the standards of online media and their utilisation in the professional world. One thing is completely certain, though: the more we engage in a debate, the more options and alternatives we discover and the better opportunities we undertake.

Friday, 19 April 2013

THE POWER OF WIKILEAKS – IS THAT THE OTHER FACE OF DEMOCRACY?

    Despite being significantly young as a media organisation, Wikileaks has managed to provoke a sufficient global response – governments and major media have been widely shocked by the amount of classified data that has been continuously published on the official website of Wikileaks. In fact, Wikileaks has established strong connections with a number of mainstream media, like the Guardian and the New York Times, that have played an important role in Julian Assange and his team’s all-revealing mission. Hundreds of thousands of classified files revealing secretive communication between various diplomatic bodies are aimed at providing society in general with a different perspective of the ‘behind-the-scenes’ activities taking place in nation states around the globe. But why is this necessary precisely today? What has triggered this strongly compelling interest in the hidden, the unknown? Well, according to Julian Assange, there is a lot to be learnt from what is going on behind the curtains - people need to know the real nature of some devouring actions of their own governments.
Wikileaks' main priority is to make sure that the truth, whatever it is, is accessible for the wider public and society in general 

    Besides many other things, Wikileaks makes a majority of people around the world reconsider the true value of transparency as well as the basic principles of democracy as we know it. It provides its readership with an internal glimpse of a world where much is hidden and where everything appears to be highly questionable. If one starts to analyse carefully the initial principles on which Wikileaks have established their core priorities, it can be instantaneously noticed that precisely the freedom of speech, the democratic freedom of speech is what they value at most. Julian Assange’s comparably small but indeed powerful media organisation highly demands that the people of every country need to know about the criminal elements of any organisation no matter how that affects the diplomatic world. Why? Because, according to what they stand for, if the world is more open, more transparent then those who have breached any legal frameworks would behave better in the future. Indeed, this is an extraordinarily interesting approach to how society should behave, given the fact that Wikileaks’ point of view is based upon a vast collection of controversial material increasingly being published these days. What does that lead to then? For a start, it makes you see things in an unprecedented way – a way which makes you rethink our entire system and its values.

Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks 

    Furthermore, Wikileaks values the power of democracy to such an extent that it has used the services of mainstream media in order to widen its readership as well as to maximise its impact, of course. That is another suggestion made by Wikileaks: they think that the world’s largest media should undoubtedly work together as closely as possible in order to ensure the transparent society that Wikileaks is fighting so hard for. Even today, when Julian Assange is still in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Wikileaks is continuing its task to provide the world with free secretive information that would hopefully trigger people’s personal criticism and would enable them to become a bit more demanding on their governments in case there is a certain wrongdoing. Take a look at one of Wikileaks’ latest publications which has already caused some controversy:
 Assange unveils latest WikiLeaks release: Project K 

   Nevertheless, besides everything else, Wikileaks values the security of its sources due to the highly sensitive nature of the information that it operates with. They have a strict scheme that they are following in terms of receiving anonymous submissions online as well as by post. Of course, it is understandable that their level of security is extremely high, given the amount of information that their organisation receives constantly. Likewise, it is just astounding how many people are voluntarily contributing to the success of Wikileaks. There seems to be an entire network of brave journalists around the world whose job is to ensure that raw secretive information becomes publicly available. Understandably, that requires an excellent online system. In this relation, Nato Thompson (2012: 247) writes about Wikileaks in the book Living As Form: Socially Engaged Art From 1991-2011 that ‘Its material is housed on servers around the globe, outside of the jurisdiction of any single institution or government.’ Of course, they have secured themselves an unbreakable shield of protection as they work with many sensitive sources.

The Wikileaks Cables

   Moreover, by utilising successfully this network of dedicated contributors and partners, Julian Assange’s organisation is truly fighting for something worth analysing. In the official website of the organisation, it can be read: ‘Sufficient principled leaking in tandem with fearless reporting will bring down administrations that rely on concealing reality from their own citizens.’ Reality. Everything around Wikileaks and its ideology is based upon revealing, unmasking the truth and showing the world a reality which nobody is expecting to see. The question is: how does this fit into our democracies? In my opinion, we should try analysing the broader impact of any issue before making any conclusions, so that we could rethink our democracy in a fruitful and beneficial way. Take a look at the following BBC Documentary for a more comprehensive look over the story of Wikileaks: 

BBC - WikiLeaks: The Secret Life of a Superpower (Ep. 1) 

    To sum it up, Wikileaks’ unprecedented nature should make us re-evaluate everything that is happening in our world. The principles which this organisation has embedded into its work ethics have turned into a major ideology which more and more people now support. No matter what side of the debate we decide to join, we should make sure that democracy as we know it is still legitimate, otherwise our argument will be lost. For me, it is of a tremendous importance that we all understand the impact of our own actions, our thoughts as well as our persuasion upon the world. Therefore, as Wikileaks have also put it - at the end, it is all done for us, so that we could make up our minds.

MORE ON WIKILEAKS: 
BBC - At a Glance: Wikileaks Cables  
BBC: Julian Assange: Wikileaks to release 'million more files in 2013'