Posted by: lunacouture | February 8, 2008

Week 3 Response- (Feb. 6th- Feb. 12th)

The readings for this week in Gillmor’s book, We the Media, emphasize several important points with relation to the problems we may encounter in the digital age.  For instance, he explains that blogs have turned out to be a problem in countries with less liberal governments.  While writing blogs in the US is generally encouraged, other countries are taking on measures to discourage their citizens from being too open and exposing their country’s problems. Gillmor gives the example of Iran and China, each of which try to limit what is written in blogs. I feel that controlling free speech on the web is a very difficult thing to do given the nature of the internet. I suspect that citizen journalism will only continue to grow in the next several years because I don’t see any real, feasible way of suppressing it.  Scott Karp reaffirmed this idea in his January 28th blog http://publishing2.com/2008/01/28/influentials-on-the-web-are-people-with-the-power-to-link/#more-974 , in which he sustains that it’s the citizens that invoke the discussions and shape public opinion, not just media specialists anymore.

Gillmor admonishes the US citizens not to underestimate the effect of blogs, despite the fact Americans are protected under the first amendment.  Although freedom of speech is a right for Americans, that does not mean their thoughts will always be met without opposition. Blogs continue to be the center of controversy, as well as enlightened discussions.  Many people have published material that may have unwillingly violated copyrights or sparked heated debates.  Although this demonstrates that blogs are working because they were created with the aim of encouraging public opinion, it is important that bloggers are aware of the potential consequences they may encounter.

Gillmor also mentions the importance of using SMS to communicate. As someone who has lived half her life in Europe, I have noticed that text messages tend to be much more diffused abroad than they are in the US. While I realize that this is starting to change, there is still a long way to go before text messages become of habitual use in the US. SMS are really comfortable because they can be used to convey important messages in a short amount of time.  They are especially useful, when you are unable to telephone someone.

I was happy to find out from reading this university blog http://www.campusgrotto.com/text-message-solutions-for-college-groups.html that there is a group called NetworkText, in which college students can text message each other for free. I think it’s a wonderful initiative, especially for college students that are likely to make frequent use of their telephones. This blog mentions the fact that text messages are good to use for emergency situations. I couldn’t agree more, particularly in a college scenario in which campuses are not always the safest places to walk.

However, I think Gillmor should have mentioned some of the negative consequences that can arise from using text messages. I can’t say I have ever experienced any problems related to text messaging personally, but that’s not to say they don’t happen.  This article posted on Yahoo! News recently, illustrates the negative aspects of text messaging that can arise http://tech.yahoo.com/blogs/hughes/22629/text-messaging-privacy. As expressed in the article, it is because of the text messages that people were able to confirm there was an affair going on between the Detroit mayor and his chief of staff. The article is interesting because it advises people to be careful about what they write on text messages, particularly when using office devices. While I’m sure that this is more the exception than the case, I think it’s always best to be on guard once things are no longer in our control.  We can never be too certain that there won’t be third parties examining our information.  In addition to that, I will say that although text messages are wonderful, they DO NOT replace the personal touch of a phone call. 

Gillmor suggests that the show business industry and Hollywood are opposing some of the digital modernization, in order to preserve their self interests. This is a good example of how citizens cannot be too sure that their freedom won’t be impaired by a more influential source. A major debate has developed as to where to draw the line between copyright infringement and being able to use something that will then promote even greater future works.  I agree with Gillmor when he points out that Hollywood wants to promote their own interest, even if it means taking copyright laws to the extreme.

A blog by Washington Post columnist Marc Fisher, http://blog.washingtonpost.com/rawfisher/2007/12/record_industry_to_consumers_e.html, written on December 29, 2007, illustrates the issue explicitly. His blog discusses certain lawsuits that tell people that copying songs to your computer from a purchased CD may be considered illegal. While reading the GigaOM blog for this week, I found a link to a story http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/RIAA-AntiVirus-Software-Should-Filter-Pirated-Content-91661 which reports that the RIAA (Record Industry Association of America) is trying to come up with some software that will inhibit downloading illegal music. This shows the extremity the music industry is going to, to try and protect their industry (The movie industry is headed in much of the same direction).

 The irony is that all these lawsuits are inconclusive.  They charge people lots of money, but have not managed to solve the problems faced by the music industry’s of taking on huge losses due to illegal downloads. The major conflict I see is that Hollywood has not been able to keep up with the expansion of technology. While it is true that the show business industries do well to work to protect their own interests and artistic creations, they must also face the fact that the digital age has changed the way in which consumers use music. Until they don’t resign to this realization and do something about it, I don’t see them solving their problems any time soon. I think a possible solution would be offering rewards, such as downloading 1 free song for every 10 you buy. This would make people less inclined to download music illegally, knowing that they’re going to eventually get a free song anyway.

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