Stay hungry, stay foolish, stay curious.

So finally I am back with uni after a long holiday back in my country to start a new semester, which means I am also back with blogging (which I have been abandoned for quite a while). This very first blog post of the semester will be for BCM112 – Research Practices in Media and Communication about an experience of mine about curiosity in learning.

To be honest, I do not enjoy studying. I find it is hard to stay focused for a long time reading pages and pages of theories or accomplishing tasks (although that feeling of submitting assessments is awesome). However, I have to admit that I did feel curious about learning, at least once, about which I am going to tell you in this post.

A bit about me, I am an international student from Vietnam. Before coming here in Australia, I did two years of college in Vietnam studying Business. Unfortunately, I did not find it suitable for me so I decided to give up, come here and start over again in Communication and Media. So far so good, although I have only finished a year and a half, still one more semester to reach the two-year mark so I cannot tell for sure whether I will stay still or quit again and do something else (just kidding, my parents will kick me out of the house if I come back and say I quit again so I will not).

Since I major in Marketing, I was excited about things I would learn in the first semester. Before Enrollment Day, I imagined about subjects that I would take such as ones in Advertising, Marketing or Public Relations. However, one really really really strange subject came up following the faculty’s suggestion: PHIL106, a philosophy subject. At that moment, I was frustrated and questions kept popping into my head: “I am a Media and Marketing student, what would I do with philosophy ? I do not need this. I come here to do something else’. And from that moment on, I realized how I feel about this event, and as you can all tell: CURIOUS.

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That was exactly what Emily Graslie said in her TED speech about the value of curiosity in 2015: ‘You will not feel curious about one thing if you do know it exists’. I kept feeling curious about this subject as the first few weeks passed by and I still could not find the purpose in doing it. However, by the end of the semester, I could really understand that things happen for a reason, and I did PHIL106 for a reason: it is a core subject, I have to do it……. Just kidding, I did enjoy it as it set a foundation for me to be respectful to other people’s perspectives, which is an essential element for all those working in Media and Marketing field.

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That was my story of how I first feel curious about studying here in Australia. It made a pretty good start for my journey here and made me curious about all the strange subjects at the beginning of each semester, although at the moment I am still curious about some of them that I did as I could not really tell the point in doing them (or simply because I hated them).

So that is the point, things do happen for reasons so it is important to stay hungry and foolish in studying, by which I mean we should be curious in learning as it might enhance the progress or at least create a motivation for us at the beginning, according to Charan Ranganath and Matthias Gruber in their findings about the impact of curiosity to the brain.

I feel curious about learning new things, I always have and I always will.

Blog Reflection.

Throughout the process of studying BCM288, I have come up with a range of topics which provide me with a comprehensive knowledge about transnational media and culture. In this blog, I will briefly summary my understanding achieved from the course.

First of all, I have understood the meaning of this field of study to media audiences. This is the era where communication is so developed that people are no longer want to stay solely within their native culture and network anymore. Beyond that, they want to approach a range of different cultures and perspectives. Therefore, it is witnessed that different types of media with various content and origins are being enjoyed by audiences with diverse backgrounds. MasterChef, an Australian series creating a huge wave in India or If you are the one, a Chinese dating reality show being famous in Australia are several dominant examples. This phenomenon sets the foundation for ‘intercultural communication’, in which media content is able to approach a massive and diverse amount of audience by conveying universal values. It is understandable because according to Rohn 2009, universal values ‘can be detached from any culture’.

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Credit: Photobucket.

Secondly, knowledge about transnational culture and media is also beneficial for media producers. Due to the fact that audiences are looking for transnational media product, producers have to seek ways to satisfy that demand. As a result, cooperative events such as film festivals are established to provide producers with chances to meet, interact and exchange ideas (Stringer 2001). These kinds of events also promote co-production, which can be understood as the collaboration of producers to create hybrid products once they have achieved a common understanding. Film festivals varies from large and broad events namely Cannes, Berlin or London film festivals to small and centralized ones in Busan or Istanbul. Moreover, co-production can also attract government’s investment on cultural and media industries as producers are able to show their potential by working together (Kwon and Kim 2013).

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Credit: 48hourfilm.com.

Finally, I am taught to overcome barriers to be a part of cosmopolitanism. According to McLuhan 1964, with the help of technology and the Internet, the world is transitioning into a ‘global village’ where global citizens communicate across barriers. Stated by Waldron 2000, cosmopolitanism is when “all human beings belong to a single community”. Therefore, the Internet and other digital communication tools are providing me with not only opportunities but also responsibility to know, sympathize and support what is happening around me in a large scale. Wider news coverage about world issues raises the awareness of people about being more updated to be able to realize, understand, maintain what is good and fix what is not.  Virtual cosmopolitanism is a great movement for young people to turn social media practices, which used to be considered daily activities, into something really meaningful by broadening their network, achieving cultural understanding and forming new ‘third cultures’ (McEwan and Sobre-Denton, 2011).

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Credit: wslr.org.

To conclude, studying BCM288 allows me to understand the importance of transnational media and culture, which is essential to me as a person and in my future career working in the field of media. The subject raises my awareness that although there are still gaps and challenges in co-production or media piracy, the benefits of being actively engaged with intercultural practices to be a cosmopolitan and a global citizen are still significant.

References:

Kwon, S H and Kim, J 2013, ‘From censorship to active support: The Korean state and Korea’s cultural industries’, The Economic and Labour Relations Review, 24(4), pp.517-532.

McEwan, B and Sobre-Denton, M, 2011, Virtual cosmopolitanism: ‘Constructing third cultures and transmitting social and cultural capital through social media’, Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, 4(4), pp.252-258.

McLuhan, M 1964, Understanding media: The extensions of a man, McGraw-Hill, New York, USA.

Rohn, U 2009, Cultural Barriers to the Success of Foreign Media Content, Peter Lang, Frankfurt, Germany.

Stringer, J 2001, ‘Global cities and the international film festival economy’, Cinema and the City: Film and Urban Societies in a Global Context, pp.134-144.

Waldron, J 2000, ‘What is cosmopolitan?’, The Journal of Political Philosophy, vol. 8, no. 2, p./pp 227-243.           

 

Twitter hashtag: a new level of cosmopolitanism.

We are living in a world of cosmopolitanism, which can be understood as “all human beings belong to a single community, based on a shared morality” (Waldron 2000). This ideology can be reflected in many aspects of our lives, from entertainment to politics. People with different backgrounds from various geographical areas are turning into global citizens in a “global village” (McLuhan 1964) to be more aware of events happening all around the world. With the help of high technology and the Internet in particular, cosmopolitanism has developed significantly both in form and scale. This short piece of writing will explain the matter of cosmopolitanism in term of social media practices with the case of one of the most dominant social network, Twitter.

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Credit: discoursesonliberty.blogspot.com.

With the development of the Internet, social media are becoming a great way for people to gather information in order to stay updated to latest news and events. Furthermore, social media also function as a tool to express sympathy, advocate and support others. Twitter, a dominant social network beside Facebook, is a great platform for such activities. Each tweet (or post) is limited in 140 characters only, which makes it seem to be worthless at first sight. However, Twitter has another small function but is able to create huge influence, the hashtag. By simply attaching the keywords with the letter # in their tweets, users are able to connect with others using the same hashtags and follow the topic created in real time. Short posts allow instant information update and with a huge amount of short posts with hashtags, people are able to capture the big picture in seconds.

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Credit: resourceaholic.com.

Thanks to Twitter and hashtag, cosmopolitanism is developing significantly by crossing many boundaries. People are allowed to connect to ones that are millions of miles apart from them by using the same hashtags. Time can be saved as one single message can be disseminated to a huge amount of people tracking those hashtags. As a result, the influence does not stop at the virtual aspect. Let’s take the example of Ukraine protest since 2014. By using Twitter and the hashtag #euromaidan, protestors are able to connect to others in a massive scale (Bohdanova 2013). People supporting the revolution from all over the world are kept informed by reading tweets posted on a secondly basis. Support from money, food, equipment to medical assistance are gathered by messages sent through Twitter. As a result, the protest exists and develops healthily in spite of government’s pressure (Bohdanova 2013).

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Credit: xoxol.org.

To conclude, cosmopolitanism can be promoted through not only formal channels like conventional media but also informal ones such as social media. In the case of Twitter and the #euromaidan, it can be seen that cosmopolitanism can totally develop significantly in term of citizen journalism. What it needs is the medium, or connection, and the hashtag is a great tool to utilize it.

Reference:

Bohdanova, T 2013, How Internet Tools Turned Ukraine’s #Euromaidan Protests Into a Movement, Global voices, viewed November 1st 2016, <https://globalvoices.org/2013/12/09/how-internet-tools-turned-euromaidan-protests-into-a-movement/&gt;.

McLuhan, M 1964, Understanding media: The extensions of a man, McGraw-Hill, New York, USA.

Waldron, J 2000, ‘What is cosmopolitan?’,The Journal of Political Philosophy, vol. 8, no. 2, p./pp 227-243.              

 

 

Media piracy: on the bright side.

It is obvious that in order to create high quality media content, the producers have to spend a lot of time and effort on the work. Therefore, they are deserved to receive in return what is respective with their dedication, in terms of both materiality and mentality (Karaganis 2011).

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Credit: The American Assembly.

Currently, media producers are struggling with a phenomenon when their products are being distributed in a massive amount, at a low cost and most importantly, without their awareness and permission. This is what is defined by Karaganis 2011 as ‘media piracy’. ‘Media piracy’ is more likely to happen in developing countries where policies against copyright infringement are not as effective as that in developed nations. Furthermore, even in developed countries, media piracy still exists in the form of consumer goods in grocery stores, especially those of immigrants. For example, in Australia, it is totally possible to buy un-authorized DVDs with a relatively low price in, for example, Asian or Indian grocery stores (Athique 2006).This notion is serious in the way that media content is made available at a much lower price than what the producers want and the money earned is not going into their accounts.

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Credit: WordPress.

However, this situation can also have a bright side. According to Karaganis 2011, ‘high prices for media goods, low incomes and cheap digital technologies’ are the main reasons leading to media piracy. As mentioned before, media piracy is more popular in developing countries, where have lower living standard so people have to spend their little earnings on many expenses, which makes official, copyrighted media products something too luxurious.  Therefore, the question is: “Do people have unequal right of consuming media content because of their different circumstances? “. In this way, media piracy brings about the ‘mentality’ return (mentioned above) to producers as it promotes media circulation and distribution by giving chances to more audiences to consume (Jenkins 2004). This argument is reasonable in the way that without exposure, or audiences, media content is just worthless regardless of the quality because no one realizes or even knows about it. Therefore, media piracy can be considered a trade-off for media producers.

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Credit: MakeUseOf.com.

On a whole, if media producers want to create high quality, not just ‘high grossing’ products, this is what they want to achieve. With a larger amount of audiences, media producers and their products are more likely to be known and recognized. This explains why nowadays more and more artists are choosing to distribute their products publicly on digital platforms for free. Latest hits or music videos with high quality are released online requiring no fees for audiences. In this way, media producers promote their reputation both in number and scale, which can earn them money in return from advertising activities or concert.

References:

Athique, Adrian Mabbott 2006, ‘Bollywood and ‘grocery store’ video piracy in Australia’, Media international Australia, no. 121, pp. 41-51.

Karaganis, J 2011, Media Piracy in Emerging Economies, Social Science Research Council, United States of America.

Jenkins, H 2004, When Piracy Becomes Promotion, MIT Technology Review, viewed October 24th 2016, <https://www.technologyreview.com/s/402969/when-piracy-becomes-promotion/&gt;.

 

 

 

BCM240 Final Project reflection.

For the final assignment of BCM240 this session, I have conducted a Facebook-based vines series focusing on Asian stereotypes. During the development process, I have narrowed down the topic to the differences between Asian and Western college environments. The reason leading me to this change is really simple. As an international student in Australia, just like other international students, I encounter several common problems namely language, cultural and lifestyle differences, etc. Moreover, before starting studying in Australia, I had experienced two years of college in Vietnam, my home country, so I have obtained a certain understanding about Asian college life. Therefore, I decided to start this project in order to help other international students like me to overcome the problems and adapt to their new lives better. Furthermore, this is also a great chance to introduce my culture to other Western friends and last but not least, to digitally tell the story of my journey. In this short essay, I will provide an overview of my project.

First of all, I will explain my method used to conduct this project. My main research type is to based on my personal observation and experience. By observing every event happening in all of my classes and compare them to the same events but happening in my former university in Vietnam, I figure out the differences and use them as ideas. The advantage of this method is that all the details are reliable because they are what I experience myself and they fit in the context of storytelling. I am telling my own story so my personal experiences are definitely the most reliable source of information. However, the drawback of this method is once I decided to make a vines series by generalizing all the observed details, they can turn out to be untrue for every case. For example, something I experience in my class in the Law, Humanities and the Art faculty can happen differently in classes of the Business faculty so audiences can think that I take them for granted. About my platform, I decided to choose Facebook rather than Youtube although Youtube is considered the best platform for video sharing. The main reason is, with Facebook, I can exploit my personal friends network so I can obtain an initial support which leads to regular exposure. Moreover, Facebook allows better interaction with viewers as they can comment, comment with picture or tag their friends directly.

Secondly, this project benefits my significantly. Due to the use of Facebook, I have learned the right time to upload my videos to gain the most attention and exposure. I normally share my vines at around 9.30pm because that is when people have finished all their work of the day and start social networking. I also gained more digital literacies as now I have had a certain understanding of basic editing, which I have no idea before I conduct this project. Shooting, trimming, applying sound effects or filters are the dominant skills that I have gained through the process. This project also allows me to realize my strength in visualizing the visual parts of the videos before I even start shooting them. This helps me to save a lot of time and to test a range of ideas without having to actually work on it. However, I recognize one weakness in filtering ideas because I came up with a lot of ideas but I struggled to choose which ones are feasible to turn into real products. Moreover, my collaborator, Mitchell and my audiences provided me with a lot of feedback. I have tried to improve every single video by including music, sound effects and even subtitles, because lots of my audiences are Vietnamese having unequal English proficiency.

Finally, I will mention my evaluation and future plan for the project. In general, I consider this was a successful project as I received a good exposure. On average, each video gains 1500 views and reaches 5000 people on Facebook with a lot of shares. Moreover, feedback from audiences show that they benefit from my contents not only on the entertainment aspect but also on the social angle. My friends who are both current and potential international students from all over the world are now more confident and prepared to solve the problems thanks to my sharing. Moreover, they also share back their own experiences in other environments (US, UK or Europe). Therefore, I will try to consult more people to receive more ideas and may be collaborate with them for more products of this topic. I will also extend my project to other topics such as love, everyday life or sports. With this project, I have learned to do something I like with all my passion and dedication, but in a professional way.

Notes:

My Prezi summary of the project (it takes time to load because I embedded videos): http://prezi.com/8c8r-j_unz0d/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy

The Internet of Things: things are not going to rebel, aren’t they ?

This week we came up with a really interesting topic of the ‘Internet of things’ which can be defined as “a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction”, according to Internet of Things Agenda.

Personally, I consider it is the notion of how people apply sensors to stuffs around us and we have not only smartphones, but ‘smartthings’. The examples range from bracelets helping us to know our bodies’ status to smart toothbrushes recognizing teeth’s problem or even a smart house. The advantage of this transition is far more than we can imagine such as smart cement monitoring stresses, cracks, and warpages, which is installed after the bridge collapse in Minnesota in 2007.

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Despite all those benefits, there are concerns such as lack of privacy or security. Personally, I have another concern. As we have already known, smart devices actually operate based on our habits, which can be understood as following structured actions. So what if one day, they will not follow the same pattern anymore, and do something else ? Or worse, rebel ? Okay, they are just machines, but they are ‘smart’. Recently one of the smartest human-like robots also said that she would ‘destroy human’ so anything can happen.

Tell me guys, they are not going to rebel, aren’t they ?

Cybercrime: go how you f*cking clowns.

Online hacktivism can be considered positive in the way that white-hat hacktivists reveal hidden crimes that are harmful or put pressure on organizations to fight for people’s right. They are the digital Robin Hood, about which I have one blog post which you can check out here.

However, as cyberspace is a world, and just like other worlds, it has both sides. And the other, darker side I want to mention in this post is black-hat hackers. Due to the fact that the information system still contains many gaps that are too hard to be fulfilled as the system is too complicated, several people exploit it and make profit for themselves. Since not a huge proportion of population have understanding in this field, the ones who have gain so much power. And once they have such significant power, it is understandable that their purposes changed from raising people’s voice like Julian Assange or Edward Snowden, to stealing people’s credit card, like LulzSec.

This reminds me of a recent phenomena which is the Clown Prank. Clowns are supposed to bring joy to people, and now just because of some idiots pushing the game to far, they become people’s fear and anger. The purpose changes from right and pure, to wrong and dirt. White now turns into black.

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Nonetheless, I still believe that there is a need for the existence of such bad sides, as every society needs them to reflect the good sides, and be a motivation for the good to keep being good, and outplay the bad. Julian Assange or Edward Snowden have so much power, but they choose to be the white-hat, and they will still be.

The black-hat hackers will be hunted by the cyberspace community, just like how the creepy clowns have to defend themselves against Aussie’s anger.