28th Nov2011

Intellectual Property Online

by sam

Recently the debate over intellectual property online along with copyright has been getting more and more complicated with the constant invention of new technology.  Two people who have strong opposing viewpoints on the subject are Larry Lessig and Mark Helprin. Larry Lessig gave a lecture explaining that he supports remixing and mashups of other people’s content for purely entertainment and pleasure purposes.  Like taking clips from television shows and music and making a new story and creative vision out of them.  He goes on to say that it is not pirating because it is no distributing the entire true version of the content, it is changing it and editing it to make it into something new.  Although he does not agree with many of the copyright laws, he does say that there needs to be a balance of the laws and the freedom.

Mark Helprin on the other hand, hates the idea of mashups and remixing so much that when he wrote something for the white house and they wanted to use parts of it, he refused.  He wanted them to use the whole thing or nothing at all.  He believes that if we do not have these strict copyright laws, there will be no individual voice left. In an interview with him, he says that digitalization makes it very easy to copy tings and it is barbaric that since people have the power to do this now, they think it is okay to do.

I tend to agree with Lessig because I enjoy watching videos like “The Best Of Sheldon Cooper” which is a highlight reel of all great lines from The Big Bang Theory.  There are so many great youtube videos that are constantly being taken down because they use a song or a clip that is copyrighted.  One of my own videos that I made has been muted because I used a song from glee as the backing track.  It was a PSA for a nonprofit that asked for people to donate prom dresses.   It was to help underprivileged girls be able to go to prom by supplying them with a dress to cut down the cost of attending. I did not understand why I could not use the song because I bought it on iTunes and it was not like I was making money off of it.  Did they want a portion of the dress donations?

James Boyle, author of The Public Domain: enclosing the commons of the mind, discusses Napster and many other services that were brought up on copyright lawsuits in his book. Napster was originally a peer-to-peer file sharing service that allowed users to share their music with others, very similar to LimeWire which I had used a few times in middle school.  Even though those were both either altered to not infringe on copyright or have been shut down completely, there are new ways of getting around buying music.  I have used listentoyoutube.com and vidtomp3.com which both convert youtube videos into mp3s.  There are also other ways to share music without having to buy it.  For example mix CDs allow you to burn music and give it to other people without them buying it.  Sometimes transferring the files through skype also works.

Boyle mentions Apple’s Rip, Mix, and Burn campaign for iPods and iTunes in 2001.  They encouraged people to share music on CDs to put into iTunes and then on their iPods.  (Video Below) I still use this method of sharing music to this day.

Back when we still used VCRs there was no way to regulate what people recorded from their televisions but now there are many restrictions.  Even though we have DVRs and Tivos with DVD burners in them, you cannot burn certain things to them such as pay-per-view movies and some other premium channels. Because it is getting easier and easier to make digital copies of things they have to create more laws to prevent the movie industry from going broke.

Apple’s Rip, Mix, Burn Campaign


15th Nov2011

Polarization on the Internet versus Television

by sam

After reading Republic.com 2.0: Polarization and cybercascades by Cass Sunstein I had mixed views on polarization.  He makes a lot of very interesting points on how many things we do today are polarized.  People choose which news stories they want to appear on their homepages and which network news programs they are going to watch because of their political views.  I personally use Google News and don’t really pay attention to the source when choosing to read one of the top stories.  I will also read more than one on the same topic just to make sure one story didn’t leave something out that may have been important.  But I am inclined to reorder the way the categories are listed.  I leave World and US news at the top but then put Technology, Entertainment, Sports, and then finally Health and Politics.  I blame part of the reason I am not interested in politics on being younger than everyone in my grade at school.  Whenever politics was brought up senior year of high school I would barely pay attention because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to vote in the next election like everyone else.  It made me angry so I never payed attention.  I know it’s childish and I certainly don’t think that way now but it has certainly had an effect on my view of politics.

Although I do not have a specific new source for the regular news, I do have a preference for entertainment news.  I always follow Perez Hilton’s website and tweets for the latest in pop culture news.  I will never intentionally go to the TMZ or E! News but I follow them on twitter just to make sure I don’t miss anything that Perez did not cover (which barely ever happens).  I feel more connected to Perez Hilton’s website because there is a face to connect with the source.  With TMZ and E! I do not know who the news is coming from and if it is true.  Perez also admits when he gets something wrong which I really like.  I am probably on his site once a day getting spoilers and updates on all of my favorite TV shows and actors.

Sunstein talks about a study where they found that Republicans chose Fox and Democrats were split between National Public Radio and CNN.  I found it interesting that Fox News is preferred by Republicans who are more conservative because other shows on that network are certainly not conservative.  It intrigues me that the news and other programing on the same network could be so different.  The show Glee celebrates gay couples and has teenage pregnancy which conflict with the views of many Republicans. Fox also shows the shows The Simpsons and Family Guy which are almost never politically correct.


07th Nov2011

A Whole New Meaning to “Where you at?”

by sam

(Disclamer #2: This post does not have to do with television at all, but it is really interesting anyway)

Mobile and Locative Media has recently become one of my favorite topics because it is always changing and being updated constantly.  When cell phones first started out you think about meeting up with someone and then take out your phone and call them to see where they were and if they wanted to hang out, now  the phone is capable of doing it all.  Although a lot of people say that cell phones are hurting our social interactions with people, Lee Humphreys makes a great argument against them in, Mobile social networks and urban public space.  He explains how many applications on phones are making it easier to meet up with friends and are actually encouraging social interaction by using examples like Dodgeball.

Dodgeball was a service that let people alert their friends of their location at a specific time.  It was the early version of the modern day Foursquare, which incidentally was created by one of the co-founders of Dodgeball.  Humphrey’s did a study on Dodgeball and found that many people would change the direction they were walking because they got a notification that a friend of their’s was only a block or two in the other direction.  People liked it because it took away the step of having to call people to see what they were up to and then deciding on a place to meet.  You knew the person was already near by and they purposely checked in to notify everyone of where they were so that anyone could come join them.  It helped them meet up with people who they might have otherwise not known were around and free.  Someone also said that they use it to avoid interactions with someone such as an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend because through Dodgeball they saw where they were and made sure not to go there as well.  I hadn’t thought of it that way but it certainly is a useful part of the application.  I know I always check Facebook events guest lists before responding to them just in case someone I have an issue with (and list of people I have a problem with is very short, 2 at the most) is attending.  I know to avoid them so that I can go out and have a good time without risking confrontation.

Another program that Humphrey’s talks about is Google Latitude which uses Google Maps to show a map of all of your Latitude using friends’  locations.  I think that this is a useful service but I think it would be more useful within the confines of Foursquare because Foursquare lets you check-in with friends, get special deals, and leave reviews of places.  The two together would be a powerhouse application.  I would love to see where my friends were on a map, check out the reviews and specials going on where they were, and then possibly have the application give me directions to get there.  A girl can dream can’t she?

31st Oct2011

Ambient Awareness

by sam

(disclaimer: this post does not tie in the topic of Televison very much)

In Thompson’s article, “Brave new world of digital intimacy” in New York Times Magazine,he talks about how the change to a facebook page with a news feed originally scared many people.  “When students woke up that September morning and saw News Feed, the first reaction, generally, was one of panic. Just about every little thing you changed on your page was now instantly blasted out to hundreds of friends, including potentially mortifying bits of news.”  I did not have a facebook before the news feed was standard so I didn’t experience it first hand but I know when I was learning to use facebook I got scared when I wrote something on my friends wall and realized that everyone could see it on their news feeds because it was something embarrassing and I immediately deleted it.  I also thought it was interesting that the original news feed had no privacy settings but only 2 days after it had been installed 284,000 people had joined a group demanding those settings.

Thomson also discussed how Mark Zuckerberg knew that once people tried the news feed and got over the shock, that they would actually like it.  I told my mom for the longest time to get a facebook because I would tell her things and she would always say, “How do you know that?” and almost every time it was because of facebook.  She always said she didn’t have time or the patience for facebook but when I finally convinced her to get one she grew to love it.  She connected with other family members, old friends, and current friends.  She also now plays Words With Friends like it is her job.  I currently have 4 games going with her.

The news feed on facebook, the timeline on twitter, and many other micro-blogging applications are what social scientists call “ambient awareness.”  It lets you know what is going on with your friends or people you follow at all times of the day.  It allows for you to scan everything at once rather than having to open each email at a time.  Facebook has made it even easier to be ambiently aware by adding a second news feed in the top right corner of your normal news feed that shows every minuscule thing that your friends are doing, like who commented on what picture and who liked someone’s status which would not be important enough to put on the real news feed.  It also scrolls as new things happen where as the timeline only does that periodically, or when you tell it to.

Although the beginning of ambient intimacy was abused by celebrities trying to push their careers to the next level, it has now expanded to include useful information as well.  Many news networks use twitter to tweet up to the minute information on stories and twitter has even been used to report things that happen before the news gets a hold of it.  A person tweeted a TwitPic of the plane that landed in the husdon river only 10 minutes after it took off when the traditional media outlets didn’t get the word out until 20 minutes after it happened.

Alfred Hermida says, “Twitter has been rapidly adopted in newsrooms as an essential mechanism to distribute breaking news quickly and concisely, or as a tool to solicit story ideas, sources and facts (Farhi, 2009; Posetti, 2009),” in Journalism Practice: Twittering The News. Companies are now hiring people just to run their twitter accounts and create a presence for the company.  This article also mentions the main four uses for Twitter, “daily chatter, conversation, sharing information and reporting news.”  Although twitter is helping get the news out quickly, it is also causing many rumors to be taken for fact such as the almost weekly “RIP (insert still living celebrity name here).”  But I have to admit, the first place I heard about Osama Bin Laden’s death was on twitter and then about an hour later the president came on the TV and announced that it was true.  It is such a useful tool but you have to remember to get a credible back up source when using twitter, unless it was tweeted by a news organization.

23rd Oct2011


by sam

In Steven Johnson’s book, Everything bad is good for you: How today’s pop culture is actually making us smarter,he has a chapter on gaming in which he discusses the controversy of gaming.  He starts off with a quote from every mother’s go to guy, Dr. Spoch.  “The best that can be said of them is that they may help promote eye-hand coordination in children. The worst that can be said is that they sanction, and even promote aggression and violent responses to conflict. But what can be said with much greater certainty is this: most computer games are a colossal waste of time.” Spoch instead says that reading is the most valuable thing a child can do which I always agreed with until reading Johnson’s arguments in favor of games.  Johnson has you imagine a world, even though it is highly unlikely, where video games were invented before books.  People would say that books do not stimulate as many sense and are not as entertaining as video games.  I had never thought about it this way before.  I always thought that books were better for the mind because it gives you the story but the visualization of that story is completely up to you, but games allow you to make decisions and change the course of the narrative instead of having to follow one that the author has laid out for you. The chapter goes on to say that even the most dedicated reader is going to spend time with other media and I am a perfect example.  I used to read a book a day when I was in high school.  (maybe that’s an exaggeration but I was constantly reading) However, as soon as I got my own laptop and didn’t have to share a computer with my family I began to read less and be on the internet more, playing games and on social media sites.

Later on in the chapter, using real world money to advance in video games, is discussed.  People are selling rare game items on Ebay and buying cheat sheets to beat levels.  I never understood game cheats because I would not feel the satisfaction of beating the game if I had to cheat to do it, but obviously that is just me because as stated in the article, “The guidebook for the controversial game Grand Theft Auto alone has sold more than 1.6 million copies.”  People become so invested in these games that they start believing that they are real and important.  As I was reading this chapter I kept thinking about an episode of The Big Bang Theory where Sheldon, one of the main characters, calls the police because someone hacked his World Of Warcraft account and stole everything.  (A link to a short clip of that episode is below)

Many TV shows now have their own video games that help continue to build the consumers relationship and dedication to the show.  I know that Grey’s Anatomy has a game for the Wii in which you can be the characters from the show and perform surgical procedures and much more.  I play a game on facebook that is based on the show Pawn Stars.  I have my own pawn shop and get to buy items to sell in my shop and make money.  I can also design the shop to look the way I want.  I have pretty much become addicted to the game because I cannot wait to get to that next level and earn a “candy” that I can use to make customers cooperate with me.  Yes, I know this makes me sound like a crazy person but I enjoy it for some reason.  It is a nice break from my real life.  Even though the game is very simple, I can see the concept of “telescoping” that Johnson mentions in the chapter in it. Telescoping is “about constructing the proper hierarchy of tasks and moving through the tasks in the correct sequence.” For example, to know the price of an item I must pay $200 but to have that $200 I must sell another item, and to be able to sell that item I had to buy it in the first place.

I think that gaming has its place in the world and it will only become bigger through the recent development of gamification.  Businesses are now using elements of gaming to help promote them.  For example, Foursquare gamifies going to  different places such as restaurants and stores by giving out badges after a certain number of visits and also offering special discounts for checking in.  I have used Foursquare and have benefited from the promotions through the application.  When I checked into the store American Eagle for the first time, I got 20% off of my purchase.  I think that eventually they will find a way to gamify almost everything we do to make it feel more rewarding.  Companies are also using product placement in games to bring in new customers.  For example, in many first person driving games there are billboards on the sides of the roads with advertisements on them, or even sneakier than that the cars themselves are advertising the companies that make them.  We are used to seeing product placement in television and movies but now that they are putting them into video games, we are eventually going to be living in a world where we cannot get away from advertisements.  There is an animation that shows how creative people can get with product placement and how absurd it is getting called Logorama.  It is an animation that is made up entirely out of logos. (See Link Below)

Sheldon’s WOW Account Get Hacked





18th Oct2011

Commerce and Commercialization

by sam

Recently, companies have been increasingly “appliancizing” and “tethering” their products and services to the point where the user has no control.  Appliancizing refers to making products have a specific functionality and no “wiggle room” for users to modify it while tethering is when the supplier has the right to modify the device after you have already bought it and you cannot do anything about it.  The question is, is it better to have easy functionality but be a “slave” to the manufacturer, or use and open source which is not as user friendly.

In Zittrain’s The Future of the Internet he references an example of tethering involving TiVo’s lawsuit against EchoStar.  EchoStar installed DVR (digital video recorder) functionality in its products and TiVo sued them for infringing TiVo’s patents.  EchoStar was forced to remotely deactivate the DVR component of products, especially the ones that people had already purchased with the understanding that they could use it like a TiVo.  I would have been extremely angry if I had my television shows recorded and as I was ready to sit down and watch them only to find out that they had all been deleted.  I have tried researching whether or not the customers got some kind or refund but it wasn’t mentioned in anything I read.

There is another component to tethering that scares me and excites me at the same time is the fact that the appliances have the ability to send information on what you are doing back to the manufacturer.  On one hand I love when my DVR at home records suggestions based on the shows that I frequently watch.  However, on the other, It scares me that eventually they could use this to show only commercials that they think I would be interested in.

Now that I know about tethering I have realized how much of my life is tethered; Netflix, Hulu, Comcast, and so many more things.  Open sources seem to be the way to go, but can be complicated and I wouldn’t even know where to start.  The question is…where do they draw the line?

11th Oct2011

Online Communities and Networks are Taking Over

by sam

In Networks, Crowds, and Markets: Reasoning About a Highly Connected World a network is defined as, “any collection of objects in which some pairs of these objects are connected by links.”  They then go on to say that we “inhabit” social networks which I find a great choice of wording because people have begun to live their lives online, me included.  There is also more of a need for social networks which are global because travel is much more accessible than it was years ago. These networks are allowing people to reconnect with relatives in different countries and old friends.  Social Networking has created a whole new world for people to explore and use to become connected through.

Although I think social networks and the online community are extremely beneficial, I also think they can be extremely detrimental to real life social skills.  In Net Surfers Don’t Ride Alone: Virtual Communities As Communities they explain “critics worry (mostly in print, of course) that life on the Net can never be meaningful or complete because it will lead people away from the full range of in-person contact…they worry that people will get so engulfed in a simulacrum virtual reality, that they will lose contact with “real life.” I have seen this not only in my real life but also on tv. On the tv show The Big Bang Theory there are many examples of the main characters becoming completely attached to a virtual reality game (in which communities are formed) or actually using a computerized robot to replace him while he sat at home.  The girl who was addicted to online gaming lost herself in the virtual world and became unable to have a conversation with a real person and her friend even tried logging into the game to talk to her.  Big Bang Theory Penny Addicted to Online Gaming World

06th Oct2011

Online Groups Making a Difference

by sam

In Group Dynamics by Katelyn McKenna and Amie Green, a group is defined as consisting of “two or more individuals interacting in such a manner that each person is influenced by and exerts influence on the other individuals”.  They also go on to explain that people join groups both in the real world and the virtual world to achieve goals.  With the invention of the social media, it has become much easier for people to become involved in groups that include others from around the world who have the same interests.  In another reading, Here comes everybody: The power of organizing without organizations by Clay Shirky, there is an explanation of how Flickr makes it easy for people to allow their photos to be combined with others of the same topic by using tags.  These tagged photos create a group of people who all share an interest in that topic and in one case generated a conversation and a connection between them.  Eventually these people arranged a meeting as a result of these shared tags.  It changed the order of group formation from gather, then share” into “share, then gather”.

There are many groups online dedicated to discussing and analyzing any and every television show.  The show Lost has one of the biggest online followings because it created such a hype and a lot of confusion when it was still airing.  If you type in TV Show Lost groups you will be bombarded with general groups for people who like lost as well as specific groups for people who are “devoted to literary references in the TV show LOST.” I actually watched the whole series after it had stopped airing on ABC so when I was confused about something that had happened on the show (and this was very often do to the craziness and unpredictability of the show) I had a plethora of different fan sites with discussions and debates over what happened to look through.

Group Dynamics mentions that groups entail “sharing to cooperation to collective action” and I have recently seen this happen twice.  After Betty White was in a commercial during the Super Bowl there was a group formed on Facebook to convince SNL to make her the host of an episode.  After only 2 and a half months the group had several hundred thousand members (me included). They then announced that Betty White would be hosting the May 8th show.  It shows how powerful virtual groups can be.

Another example of virtual groups making an impact is the I WANT MY 90’s NICKELODEON BACK group on Facebook.  The group has over 1 million followers and this summer Nickelodeon began airing the 90’s Nick shows from midnight to 2 am on weekdays to accomodate the 17-24 year olds who have been asking for them.  A few days ago Nickelodeon released that they are going to start airing the shows earlier (10 pm) as well because of the great ratings and success they have had with the reruns.  I know I also belonged to this group and had my tivo set for every episode they played.  My brother and I love watching them together and catching references to the 90’s that went over our heads back in the day. Entertainment Weekly says, “TeenNick says The ‘90s Are All That has scored huge gains for the net, posting double-digit increases over last year (50%) among adults 18-34 in the time period.”

Bottom line is, if you want to get something accomplished….start a Facebook group!

26th Sep2011

Impression Management and who does it best!

by sam

Impression management is a process individuals use to control the perceptions or impressions about themselves in the eyes of the public.  Many companies use social networking sites to help control this and help brand themselves and create a personality for their company.  The show that I have noticed does a great job of keeping their viewers interested and up to date is Glee.  Their facebook and twitter pages are updated constantly and always have something for their viewers to check out.  I find myself watching videos they link to almost every day.  They are always update you on the newest news surrounding the show and also what the cast is up to so it’s not just limited to the show.  Their twitter is updated even more that the facebook page and gets the followers involved by asking engaging questions which create a buzz around the show.

20th Sep2011

How Search Made Watching TV Easier

by sam

After reading How Google and its rivals rewrote the rules of business and transformed our culture by John Battelle I have realized how Google controls so much of the information I intake.  I almost always go to the first 3 links on Google when I search for something.  It doesn’t matter if I got all of the information I needed from the first link, I feel the need to see what Google recommended I look at.  I now know after reading this excerpt and from class discussion that companies can pay for being on the top of the list.  Although I kind of feel cheated, I will still use it at least 10 times a day.  If I missed an episode of one of the hundred shows I watch, I just simply Google (yes I believe Google is now in the dictionary as a verb) watch insert tv show name here online free, and almost always can find a version of it in the first 5 links.  I also use Google to look up characters on TV shows, movies, and so many other things.  I can also Google the times that TV shows are on.  I can’t imagine my life without a search engine.  I have also recently started using Bing every once in a while just to see how it matches up to google.  I like it but I don’t think it’s significantly better or worse than Google so I’m going to stick to what I know.  I rely on Google for everything, not only as a search engine but as my main source for news as well.  I also like how recently (and when I say recently I mean a year or 2 ago) they have increased their video search.  That also helps make watching shows for free online much simpler because they show youtube videos in the search results.  Also discussed in the excerpt is SEM/SEO (Search Engine Marketing and Optimization) which explains how some websites get to the top of the list without paying and being in the advertised sections.  I can add tags to this blog post that tell the search engines that this post is about SEO, Search, Google, Television, etc… It’s crazy how the internet originally started out at this open and free environment and now it’s controlled by so many different companies and organizations.  What’s even crazier is that a lot of people have no idea!  I wonder what would happen if you Googled Google?