What does it mean to live in the Network society after all?

As I prepared to gather my ideas and write this post I came across this interesting piece. To give a brief idea what it is about, the article mentions some ‘millennials’ who used to be very active (we can even say addicted) in social media and eventually got tired of it. They felt they were too exposed, they felt bad about themselves because all their friends seem so happy. Lena Dunham said Twitter is ‘cancerous’. Completely understandable. Some of them went back online later on but with a different approach – less inclined to share ‘every emotion’ they have or to follow thousands of people on Instagram. One person even talks about the relief of being away from her phone.

Too much exposure lead people to value their privacy. Being part of big communities made us look for self-knowledge. We, as a society, are trying to find a balance between what is new and what we were used to.

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Convergence seems to me just a fancy name we give to the chaos we’re stuck in. Using one single device to call your mom, read the news, stalk your ex-boyfriend can makes us more clever but too dependent somehow. Yes, we can have the world in our phone, and yet, why does it feel so good to get rid of it for a while?

I guess living in the networked society of today means we are still learning how and where to set the boundaries in the way we communicate with each other. This society is fragile and in constant change. What once seemed easy and fun is now perceived as overwhelming and stressful. The internet is part of one natural process of evolution we are still going through.

This post ended up being more reflective than conclusive, so did this module. Nevertheless, this is what has always pushed mankind to develop themselves, isn’t it?

Foreign Affairs online magazine

I would like to share here an online magazine ‘Foreign Affairs’.  As the name suggests, it regards international politics and macroeconimics. Free access to the content is limited to three articles per month, after this point you need to pay a subscription otherwise you can read just the beginning of the articles.

Perhaps because foreign affairs interest me a lot, but I find their work very valuable and relevant considering what we read on more mainstream media. The writers very often shine the light to different perspectives to an issue. In their page, we cannot find news properly in the shape we are used to. They focus on writing features, profiles, backgrounders and explainers so the reader is able not only to follow international news but also reflect about it and understand. Particularly, I think understading and empathy is what is lacking from both journalists and readers when producing and digesting foreign affairs news.

It is a shame that the magazine is not on the creative commons, nevertheless, it is understandable. When we talk about independent media, funding can be a big problem. The writers probably spend a lot of time doing their research – maybe travelling as well – for then be able to write the pieces that are usually long. Also, we should consider that when we are purchasing a subscription for a product like this, we expect that the magazine does not ‘sell’ itself to advertisers (at least, in an ideal world) and therefore can be committed to the true public role of journalism.

 

How visible am I?

It is a paradoxal feeling – I like being part of social media, however, I do not post on them too much. I have been using Facebook a lot less lately – it is gradually becoming boring and childish for me. I basically do not publish or share anything at all, I keep my account because it is still the easiest way to catch up with friends – which account for about 100. Regarding my security settings, I only share posts with friends, apps info are private and I don’t have my full name in my profile – which makes easier for me to hide since my name can be rather common in Portuguese.

Twitter and Tumblr, on the contrary, are two platforms I feel more engaged but for different reasons. Despite hearing that Twitter is becoming less popular, I use Twitter all the time – it is where I follow the news. Eventually I retweet something I find is worth a share and I very very rarely I put a selfie or something more personal. I am trying to use twitter more in a professional way. My account is open but I feel less exposed in Twitter than in Facebook.

I am not on LinkedIn yet, although I am considering setting up a profile soon for networking.

Talking about other social media like Instagram and Snapchat, I use neither. Particularly, I never felt like joining them and  still haven’t felt the need to do so.

Overall, I would say I am not as visible as I could be if  I were more engaged in social media. I consider myself very conscious about what I share and how I expose myself.

A social network for not-so-happy people

It’s koko.

“Koko” is an app designed to help people suffering from anxiety, stress, depression or anyone who simply wants to share their concerns about something.

The app allows you to publish anonymously and at any time you want. It does not use your Facebook or Google profile – at least for now – which is great. The idea is just to sign up and speak your mind about whatever is making you lose sleep, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a job interview, a loss, a fight with your friend… Other users will then advice and try to comfort you.

There is, unfortunately, a ‘glamourisation’ surrounding these problems nowadays. There seems to be a trend (and I honestly don’t get why) that being anxious is somewhat cool. Truth is, those who really struggle know this is a difficult aspect of ourselves to share with others. Perhaps that is why having an app that gives the chance to put our concerns out there without having to say our names is such a good idea.

One of the limitations of such community is, in my view, the lack of ‘human’ contact. The fact that I look for comfort in strangers whose names I don’t even know saddens me a bit. But there is also the other side that it is the relief and the convenience of having some sort of support available 24/7. Also, people in these communities tend to be empathetic and non-judgemental, they will probably not make fun of your concern and just tell you that you shouldn’t worry because “it is all in your head.”

 

A few links: http://www.wired.com/2015/12/a-new-social-media-network-to-help-you-deal-with-stress/

http://metro.co.uk/2015/12/19/theres-now-a-social-network-just-for-people-with-depression-and-anxiety-5574772/

 

 

 

Fanfictions

The first thing that came to mind when I saw what we should be writing about were the fanfictions. I know someone had already written about them but it is the best example in my opinion. Fanfictions became a big part of the online culture. Fanfictions can be mainly found at FanFiction.net  and Archive of Our Own. These sites allow a big interaction between users and readers, giving space for writing comments, feedbacks and publish. Writing a fanfiction is not an illegal act and authors usually know when their stories and characters are taken to Fanfiction websites.

Just as a blog is a personal space where we can write about our ideas, fanfictions gave the opportunity to the fans to get more engaged to the books, movies, animes or whatever they were interested of. It shows the level of attachment an audience can develop for an story and how creative the outcome of it can be. And it is not just the audience who engages in Fanfics, but the industry as well. There is a theory that “Fifty shades of Grey” was actually originated from a fanfic of “Twilight”. I don’t really know whether this is true or not, but I can’t deny it is a big success – very profitable I mean. Fanfictions can be very good start for those wishing to be writers one day. It gives them a chance to put their material out there without much risk.

The Murdoch and Zuckerberg type of convergence

If convergence means that different media materials are eventually gathered and delivered at one single platform, I guess it is fair to say it can be seen as a type of convergence when the audience is consuming various media substances coming from one single source, right? Perhaps a controversial type of convergence arose from the conventional one.

We are all aware of the extent to which Murdoch controls the media we consume. He owns entertainment businesses, newspapers, book publisher, broadcasting….If this is not an example of convergence, then what can be? Apple, Facebook and Google are other very illustrative figures in this scenario as well.

Convergence may have granted us with the chance of experiencing mixed sensations by putting two distinct elements together. I wonder though, if such comfort and convenience didn’t make us harm somehow. I personally cannot detach the idea of convergence from the idea that it creates a monopoly, it facilitates takeover within the media market – which is lethal to small and independent companies trying to put their ideas out there. Considering a more dramatic approach, wouldn’t this hurt the diversity we have – and need – in democratic societies?

One concrete case exposing these destructive forces is the recent announcement that ‘The Independent’ will run online exclusively. Some claim the ‘Indy’ could not cope with pressure of the tough news market and who can blame them?

Nieman Reports

My choice as a resource is the Nieman Reports. It is a publication – both online and paper print – made by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. Even though the writers are based on the US and the issues they write about usually regard the US and north-American journalism, the content is very interesting and worth reading. The writers are all journalists themselves, currently or previously scholars at Harvard.

I’ve been following it since the first time I read one of their articles and I chose to share their material because I admire the way they write about journalism as a public service and how important the relationship with the audience is. Social media and participatory journalism are two recurrent topics in their discussions – as in this article, for example. They acknowledge the fact that contributions from readers through social media made easier for journalists to perform their role in a democratic society.

Also, I would like to suggest the reading of this piece about The Counted, a crowdsourcing project launched by the Guardian US last year. It started as an attempt to track how many people the US police murdered – a data that no government institution in the States had done so far . In order to do so, the Guardian US made use of information the audience sent to them to verify and create a database.