Reflections

It’s amazing how 12 weeks just came and went by so quickly! It always seems that way when I reach the end of each semester. It’s been an exciting semester, especially for this subject, as I’ve never done a documentary before, and so having to do one for an assignment was pretty challenging. I’m just glad it’s over, and it has taught me a lot, not just about theories and communities, but also about talking to people and learning to handle delicate situations.

The process of making the documentary was one of the most difficult assignments I’ve had so far. I found it similar to my previous experience in journalism… the process of researching my subject area, contacting sources, and interviewing them was familiar to me, but the difficult part was having to film them and edit them into video format. It was all an interesting learning experience, but I must say it was rather stressful having to think about the little but important things associated with that, such as format, style, and asking the right questions, because it’s so much more different to put answers into a video as compared to putting them down in words.

I had the scariest time editing my documentary. After learning Final Cut from a friend, I thought it would be a breeze. He’d shown me examples using his own videos and given me a thorough tour of all the basics I needed to put different videos and audios together, and gave me so many tips on how to make the end product ‘clean’ and professional looking. What I didn’t expect was for my camcorder to have recorded the videos in a format which was incompatible with Final Cut, and even after converting my videos, it was giving me problems, so I had to give up.

Windows Movie Maker wasn’t much help either. Having used it previously for smaller projects, I thought it’d be relatively easy. Turns out when you try to put too many videos and audio files together, WMM will hang and won’t open your project for you. Thank goodness for the internet and forums, which helped me fix that problem! After saving a copy of the movie for my rough cut showing, I didn’t even end up going to class because I was too sick to leave the house, but I felt relatively comforted by  the fact that I would definitely have a finished product by the due date. But after some more editing to the project, WMM wouldn’t save the project file as a movie file because, apparently, some original files were missing. And this was on the day it was due! So…. I had to re-do the whole project, making sure to check if I could convert it into a movie every few minutes, and finally, it was done.

After posting it up on Youtube, Vimeo, and Current, I put the finishing touches to the blog and spread it to my social networks! It was awesome getting some positive and constructive feedback from friends and family, as well as from my interviewees themselves. The video was also getting views on their own, and the blog as well. Bek from SLAM/Music Victoria has also replied saying she’ll put up the links on SLAM sites next week, so I’m hoping to see more comments from people who view it.

For now, I’m glad it’s finally done. There’s always a sense of satisfaction from having a finished product, and I’m especially glad the video came through especially after all the problems I had with WMM!

I also went through other students’ documentaries and thought they were done so well! Not all the blogs had links on them, though, so I only viewed a few. It’s great seeing all these ideas I’ve been hearing in the past weeks being put into videos and websites and audio, and seeing what each student did with their documentary. I hope everyone’s happy with their work! I know I’m pretty  relieved! But for now… it’s back to doing my essays for my other subjects… good luck for everyone’s remaining assignments!

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A Social Media Moment of Silence?

Just an interesting article I recently came across: “Reinventing Memorial Day: Solutions for Silence and Sacrifice” . It may not be relevant to us in Australia but it’s still an interesting new way to hold a remembrance for our fallen heroes – and this could apply to any of us anywhere in the world – through social media.

The writer, Steve McCallion, suggested a “Social Media Moment of Silence”.

Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing. Is it possible that we could come together as a country to do nothing? … Today is all about social media, TV, radio…24/7, always on. Can we turn off for Memorial Day?

What if we called for a Social Media Moment of Silence? Given the central role electronic communication plays in the lives of Americans, especially American youth, abstaining from it for even a moment constitutes a very real sacrifice. At 6:00pm EST (18:00, when “Taps” is played at the end of the military day) we could have Americans across all time zones make a final tweet or status update, reading simply “Remembering Memorial Day,” perhaps accompanied by a yellow-hued avatar to drive the point home. Those with a specific person to memorialize would follow the word “Remembering” with the name of their fallen friend or relative. Twitter and Facebook users could leave this statement just before going silent, so their friends’ screens are filled with multiple iterations of this simple message.

It would be interesting to see if this could actually happen in the future. You never know. There’s Earth Hour every year and all the major cities already take part in that. To have something like a countrywide memorial service held through social media would really be fascinating and would take us up a new level in the use of social media, or rather, the non-use of social media. To say that abstaining from social media is a very real sacrifice for us is actually quite true for most people, I think.

Well, for one in five workers, having Facebook at work is more important than their job. An article by news.com.au today stated that “… one in five workers said they would turn down a job if it was at a workplace that blocked access to websites like Facebook”. That was a bit shocking, especially at a time like this, but wow social media has really taken over some of our lives! To choose Facebook over a job is huge, but I actually think turning off social media for a memorial would be really unique and meaningful to a certain extent, simply because social media is a big part of our lives and would make a memorial much more significant. So I do hope something like this happens in the future. Now that social media is so integrated into our daily lives that it’s as if switching it off can be like putting our heads down in silence for a moment of prayer, in what other ways can social media be used to signify other important events  in real life?

Too much on Facebook

A very interesting read on Facebook talking about how it’s becoming like a “true democracy”. It’s funny how after reading the article, everything just seemed to fall into place and really ‘click’. It’s really quite true what the author wrote! We’re not simply users on Facebook and adding our friends and writing on walls; we are actively reading and engaging, and with the recent privacy developments, we are also actively voicing our opinions over the changes. There’s a very high level of participation, and FB’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been taking into account its users opinions, just “like a true democracy, and adjusted settings as necessary”. (Read the rest of the article here)

Not all of what the article says is true, of course, and it seems impossible that FB will become so big that it will resemble or become a new government… but I was more intrigued with all the privacy and security issues associated with FB. Sure, they’ve changed the settings to become more simple and user-friendly, but it doesn’t take away the fact that we don’t know exactly what personal info gets shared online to advertisers or third parties… On Quit Facebook Day up to 30,000 users have quit FB, but that’s just 0.008 percent of the FB population (which has over 400 million users) (source).

I know I’ve been going on and on about FB privacy, and naturally I should’ve been one of the first people to sign up for the Quit Facebook Day. But it has come to a point in my FB life that I just cannot bring myself to delete my profile… not after all the connections I’ve made and links I’ve shared and photos I’ve uploaded! It’ll be like committing suicide!

But just by the way, if you haven’t privatised your FB settings, you really should now. A useful tool I found is this website reclaimyourprivacy.org. Just follow the instructions and see what settings you need to change from there.

If your status updates and photos are open to “everyone”, you risk finding yourself on YourOpenBook.org, which is, in short:

… a Facebook-specific search engine, built upon Facebook’s publicly available API,[1] which enables one to search for specific texts on the walls of Facebook subscribers en masse which they have denoted, knowingly or unknowingly, as being available to “Everyone,” i.e. to the Internet at large. Both an avowed parody of Facebook and an Internet privacyadvocacy website, it was built by San Francisco website developers Will Moffat, Peter Burns and James Home within a few hours on May 12, 2010, and has received nearly six million page views in its first two weeks on-line from over a million people in over two hundred countries. The website has received extensive media attention from, among others, the Wall Street Journal,[2]NPR[3] and ABC News,[4] including international coverage.[5]

(from Wikipedia)

The last I checked there are over 17,000 searches per hour, and I’ve used it randomly before and found that I was able to click through people’s profiles and easily find out at least 5 things about them (where they live, their birthday, their photos, their workplace, their school) from that page alone. So imagine someone going through your profile! It’s crazy!

I recently came across a funny, but scarily true, quote from a friend on FB, which went something like “Before Facebook, I had to break into my friend’s house to find out what music they liked”. And well, compare that to youropenbook.org and think about the potential randoms “breaking into your house” right now and finding out all these things about you. It’s creepy.

But what about Twitter?

With the amount of updating we do on Twitter, it’s insane to think of what people could do with that info. Of course, it seems a bit harder for any privacy settings to be breached on Twitter simply because it has so much less personal information as compared to FB… but did you know that Twitter collects personal information about its users and shares it with third parties? Read their privacy policy and find out for yourself.

If you have Twitter, I’m sure you’ve also noticed how suddenly some brand replies you right after you tweeted about them. A friend of mine updated a tweet about her disappointment with the Telstra service, and within minutes she received a reply from Telstra’s twitter account, with a representative asking her what the problem was and offering right there and then to fix it for her. Awesome customer service, or heavy Twitter monitoring?

Advertisers are watching your every tweet” puts an interesting point forward:

Is that an invasion of your privacy? It’s not like advertisers are sneaking around watching where you surf without telling you. They are listening to what you have chosen to shout to the whole world.

For Twitter users, all this is a reminder that privacy and Twitter don’t mix. Not only is what you tweet there for anyone to read, it is there for anyone to take, copy and exploit. Twitter’s terms of service, unlike those on most other user-generated sites, assert no claim to the users’ tweets or place no restrictions on how others use them.

In other words, don’t tweet anything that you aren’t willing to see on a billboard in Times Square or broadcast on the Super Bowl.

The terms do say, “We encourage users to contribute their creations to the public domain or consider progressive licensing terms.” But there is no way currently for Twitter users to assert rights over their tweets or simply to request that their comments not be used for commercial purposes.

Another interesting fact about Twitter?

All public tweets, since 2006, will be archived by the Library of Congress (source). More than an invasion of our privacy, it has been reassured as a great way to archive our history for future generations to read, especially with relations to tweets regarding major events that’s happened in the world such as those on Obama’s election and on the Haiti earthquake, among others (source). So if you have a public twitter account, don’t publish anything you don’t want future generations to come across while reading the web pages of history!