Week 12 Workshop

I had to attend this workshop online this week because I got sick but I wanted to follow along.

The first activity was to brainstorm what could be discussed in the following blog post.

What is an online community? What is a network? What’s the difference?
What is an online community?
What is a network? How are they different/similar?
Pros and Cons of online versus offline?
Where do online communities occur?
Are there more online or offline communities?
Why do they occur in online spaces?

 

 The last activity was to learn origami from YouTube.
IMG_5587Yay it worked! I don’t have fancy origami paper though…

Artist & Internet

I would like to apologise in advance that this post got a little tl;dr. I added section headings so you can skip to the sections you are most interested in. I covered a lot of topics such as Intellectual Property, Copyright, Creative commons, Miss-atttribution and ‘Renders’, Creative Communities and lastly, User Generated Content and Collaboration.

Intellectual Property, Copyright & Creative Commons

Art is a personal process that is often conducted alone in a closed studio. But what happens when you open that process up to a collaborative space? And how can you share your work freely with the world? Don’t worry the internet has got your back. Although, we know that the internet is a massively public space where your every post will live forever even if you delete it. So how can you manage the dangers associated with the loss of control over your own work, created by the nature of the internet?

In order to discuss how we can protect our work, we must first understand what Intellectual property (IP) is. IP is defined by IP Australia as

“a term that describes the application of the mind to develop something new or original. IP can exist in various forms; a new invention, brand, design or artistic creation. “

So how can you protect your IP? For the purposes of this post I will only be discussing Art, literature, music, film, broadcasts and computer programs; All of which are protected under the copyright scheme. Unlike Patents you don’t have to apply for copyright, it is automatically assigned to your original work. This means you own the rights to how your work is shared and used. Something that is important to note is that only “the owner’s original expression of ideas is protected, though not the ideas themselves. The owner has the exclusive right to use, sell or license the copyright work” (IP Australia). This means that you can create a beautiful original character and only that drawing of them will be protected not the character itself.

Understanding copyright is important because it is a very powerful tool at your disposal when it comes to protecting your work. Although if you’re trying to use online publishing methods to get your name and work out there, it can make it more difficult for your work to spread. This is were Creative Commons come into it all.

Creative Commons are a set of licences that help creators outline the rules they wish others to follow if they decide to use creative works. Almost all of the CC licences require a reference of attribution to the original artist (with the exception being content licensed under the Public domain). Other rules include Share alike (requiring the product created using the licensed work, to be shared under the same CC licence); No derivative works (meaning the original work cannot be altered in any way); or Non-commercial (restricting use of the original work in materials used for monetary gain). These rules can be applied in various combinations to allow the artist maximum control over how their work is used.

If you’re interested I found a short video by CommonCraft that explains both copyright and creative commons in very simple terms. (Unfortunately they restrict the embed feature to members, so I couldn’t add the video directly to this post).

Mis-attribution & ‘Renders’

So now that we have a good understanding of how Copyright and Creative Commons work let’s apply it to a real world situation. In the art community there is a common issue with the creation of ‘renders’. A render is traditionally defined by Wikipedia [1] [2] as

“The process of formulating, adding color, shading, and texturing of an image.”

or

“The process of generating an image from a 2D or 3D model, by means of computer programs.”

Below is an example of a 3D render called Glasses by Gilles Tran Licensed under CC0 Public Domain.

Glasses_800_edit

 

A common problem that has arised is the incorrect definition of a ‘render’, which is circulating art communities. The incorrect definition is as follows

“A closed vector path, or shape, used to cut out a 2D image in image editing software. Anything inside the path will be included after the clipping path is applied; anything outside the path will be omitted from the output.”

Meaning the character or object is ‘cut’ out of the background. This however, is actually the definition of Deep-etching or a Clipping Path. Additionally, these ‘artworks’ are rarely attributed to the original artist.

Knowing what we know about IP, Copyright and Creative Commons, it’s easy to see that this practice does not correctly follow the licensing rules and regulations. Unfortunately, even with the current laws it is difficult to discourage this kind of behaviour and the best sites can do is the remove art and ban users who re-offend.

Creative Communities & User Generated Content

So if you take into account how even with the best efforts of law on our sides there will still be issues of art theft and mis-attribution, why risk online platforms for exposure? Wouldn’t offline methods work better? Not necessarily.

No matter what method of sharing you use there will always be risks involved and you shouldn’t be discouraged so soon. One of the main benefits to consider is that online platforms give you access to a wider audience and a large range of associated benefits. Depending on where you share your work online these may be slightly different, but I’m going to draw from my experience with DeviantArt.

One of the main benefits I have found is access to large community of people who have a shared interest. The community is full of people with varying knowledge and I have found it to be the main contributor to my learning experience. There are lots of great artists who are always so generous with their knowledge and do a great job at answering questions. Additionally, it is inevitable that you will be more experienced in something than someone else. This means you will have an opportunity to experience the opposite end by sharing your knowledge to help others learn. This is a priceless opportunity because, to steal the wise words of Roman philosopher Seneca, “While we teach, we learn” (Additionally, I found an interesting article by Annie Murphy Paul in TIME that explores the phenomenon she calls The Protégé Effect).

Beyond the benefits of online communities there is a unique opportunity for ‘User Generated Content’. In my time on DeviantArt I’ve seen a couple of interesting instances of this. Instances that go beyond users submitting their work to the community and instead incorporate the community into the artworks. One example of this is Collaborations.

Collaborations can be a lot of fun and can incorporate as many people as you want. They involve multiple artists contributing to a single artwork, this can be each artist contributing a character to a scene or one artist drawing the line art and someone else colouring it in. Another example was from an artist I ‘watch’, who called out for their community to submit a one word comment. The artist then took these comments and incorporated them into a single artwork.

It is these unique interactions that would not be possible without the connection between Artists and the Internet. If you have anything interesting you’d like to add or any questions let me know in the comments below. Or let me know your opinion, what you think is the biggest advantage the internet provides the creative community? This can be artists, writers, or makers of any kind. Also let me know what you create and share on the internet? I’d love to know more about what you are all interested in.

And if you read the whole thing, thanks soo much!
Have a good day~
-M.

Week 8 Practical Activity

This week, the practical activity was to try out a Quantified life type app or tool and post about it. Problem is I’m really bad at keeping track of my ‘Quantified life’ and I honestly have no interest in that data.

The whole point of the QS movement and lifestyle is that you use the data collected to make a change in your life. But I know that if I used a QS tool for a week I wouldn’t look at the data once, so I’m really not motivated to sign up to a service I will never use.

Additionally, this semester I am under the pump programming 3 websites from scratch. As a relatively weak programmer this translates to me spending a lot of time sitting with my computer. So I’m sure the data would be pretty boring: Exercise, 0; Blood pressure: who knows.

Although, a challenge is a challenge so if you can think of a QS app that I should try let me know in the comments and I’ll update this post.

<update 17th May 2015>

I decided to give lifelogging a try to see how I felt about it. I can’t afford a health tracker based on wearable technology (such as a fitbit) so I opted for a mobile app. I decided to try the free app ‘Waterlogged’, which allows you to enter information about the amount of water you’ve consumed to make sure you reach the heathy target.

I had a lot of trouble remembering to enter data when I had a drink, and I fell behind considerably. After a couple of days I had a very incomplete overview of my water consumption habits. I don’t think manual lifelogging is for me. Maybe I should try a more automated app like a sleep tracker? Does anyone have any suggestions of an app that might suit me better?

</update>

Life in the Data

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Time is an abstract concept which we define by using clocks and dates; But these are just tools constructed to create meaning. In a 2006 post,  Gary van Warmerdam stated,

Until you eliminate these paradigms from your mind you are essentially looking at something with glasses on that distort what you see. What we are left with is events and experiences of creation with no reference to their past or expectation of the future. We are in the present moment. It’s a big place, but in spite of this difficult to find and stay in.”

But clocks aren’t the only tools be use to keep track of time, with the rise of the Quantified Self (QS) Movement. QS people record data about their everyday life and activities. They record the number of steps taken, heart rate, calories burnt, food & drink consumed, how well they slept and more. This data is used to inform decisions about how they should change their daily activities to live a better life. However, it’s not just wearable life tracking devices, people also track their experiences by keeping a log of them on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

I find the draw to these QS technologies intriguing, because while they can monitor a myriad of things they all seem to revolve around fitness and heath; and so a good life is defined as a fit and healthy life? Both of my sisters (and most of their friends) own a FitBit and I watch them frequently checking thier statistics and jumping through hoops to meet their quotas. It reminds me of a funny blog post I saw a while ago by Jacqueline Maley.

” It wanted me to take 10,000 steps a day and I quickly became its slave, walking unnecessarily and even jiggling more in an attempt to please it.

The app could also be paired with a calorie counter that told my master how much I had consumed in a day. The omniscient creature would then calculate whether I had arrived at an energy deficit. If I had, my wristband would communicate warm congratulations. Sometimes it even vibrated in approval, and I would feel a surge of disproportionate pride which was actually a strong signal that the relationship had become unhealthy.

Soon, the fitness tracker went from fun gadget to panopticon. I began to believe it saw everything, and the things it didn’t see – for example, if I accidentally left it at home while off for a run – seemed pointless if it couldn’t record them.

As with all technology, my black manacle-master is fast becoming out-dated. I find myself eyeing others on the market that can measure my heart rate, or tell me exactly how many hours I have left to live on earth.

But the truth is I am too frightened to upgrade. It will know.”

It’s at this point that you’re probably wondering what QS systems I use in my everyday life. The truth is, None. I don’t wear any life tracking devices, I don’t track my food and drink intake, I don’t track sleep records or workouts and I don’t even check the scales. In terms of my social media, I don’t really keep a ‘lifelog’ and I mostly post links to videos and articles I find interesting or interesting things I see during my everyday life. I rarely post important life moments online like holidays or significant celebrations. In fact, early this year when I got notified about my “Facebook Year in Review” it was all pretty boring (Why do my fiends even read my posts?).

When it came to writing this blog post and I thought about how much I really don’t track my life I was stumped by what to write about, and when I read some other people’s posts, about how they maintain a QS life, I started to wonder if I was unusual for not monitoring my daily input and output of energy. So instead I’m going to try to write objectively.

I was trying to determine the main draw to QS systems, when I decided it would be completely unique to each person. Ranging from someone dealing with health issues who needs to improve their fitness/heath, to someone who just enjoys being fit and/or loves data. I decided the main entertainment draws would be the inclusion of social technologies and gameification.

Fitbit allows you to compare your data to your friends’ data, so if you love running you can compete with your friends without having to actually go for a run together. This might be inspiring if you aren’t as strong as your friends and you want to improve or if you just like seeing how much further and harder you can run compared to everyone you know. Additionally, there is the added entertainment of Fitbit Badges, achievements for hitting specific milestones. There is nothing better than the feeling of accomplishment and with fitbit tracking you know when you’ve reached a goal instead of just running aimlessly for weeks with no feedback.

When you look at it that way it’s easy to see why these tools are motivational and why Jacqueline described working out without them as pointless. However, when you’re using these tools you’re generating a lot of personal data, so how is it used and is there a privacy issue? I did some research on two of the leading wearable QS technologies that I am aware of (yes I know there are plenty more), Fitbit and Apple Watch.

Firstly, I read the Apple and FitBit Privacy Policy to see how they deal with personal information (Both Policies were very similar so I’m just going to use examples from the Fitbit policy). Immediately under “What data is shared with Third Parties?” is “First and foremost: We don’t sell any data that could identify you.” Meaning they do sell your personal information but only after it has been properly de-identified (this is even written in the policy). In terms of identifiable information, they can share it when you direct them to (sharing to social media) or under specific legal curcumstances. Fitbit can release your personal information if it is required by law, regulation or a legal process (Side note: I found an actual case where FitBit data was used in court). Fitbit states that a user will be notified by email in the event of this, but only if the court allows them to. Lastly, your personal information can be transferred or sold if Fitbit were to sell, merge, bankrupt, sell assets or reorganise their company.

All of this seems fairly reasonable to me and complies with the Australian Privacy Act 1988 (C2015C00089). Obviously Fitbit need to protect themselves legally and also manage their users privacy and best interests. This means that the data collected is used to research, troubleshoot and improve their product and service and to protect against fraud and criminal activities.

So considering all of this, and a post by Deborah Lupton, we can see the significant benefits of a QS lifestyle is the increased sense of control over fitness and health; and success stories like that of  “Dan Hon, who has type 2 diabetes and uses the Nike Fuelband and the Fitbit to monitor his physical activity levels as well as a digital blood glucose meter and weight scales. He reported that the combination of these technologies had allowed him to reduce his blood sugar levels to normal and that he had ‘healed myself through data’ (see here for his story)”.

Although, as with anything, there are pitfalls. Some users have complained, calling them inconvenient or uncomfortable to wear; And it has been reported that the devices are often not compatible with some types of smartphones and then there are the obvious privacy concerns related to the use of this technology.

Overall, I believe it depends entirely upon the person and I probably won’t be joining the QS movement for a while (unless I suddenly pull $1000.00 out of thin air for the new Watch).

Let me know what you think about current QS technology and lifestyles in the comments below or on the Google+ community. As someone who doesn’t track all aspects of their life I would be really interested in your thoughts and opinions. Is there anything you think I didn’t consider or you think I got wrong? Or let me know why you like monitoring your everyday activities?

Thanks for Reading (I know it got kind of long).
– M.

Sending Out an S.O.S

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We live in an extremely connected world, with 74% of adults using Social Media. Every day we are logging into our devices to watch videos of cats, and to check if Polly really did dye her hair another ridiculous colour. It has become so ingrained in everyday life for our generation (90% of 18 – 29 year olds) that it’s almost considered abnormal to not maintain an online presence. I believe the main draw is the convenience of the Internet; connecting you to anyone, anywhere around the world. It is this convenience that makes it the ideal tool for use during emergency situations.

The Australian Government stated “Recent disaster events, in Australia and internationally, have demonstrated the importance of social media, not only in delivering vital information to the community during emergency events, but also in strengthening relationships between emergency services and Australian communities. There is also an increasing awareness of the benefits of crowdsourcing, for example, to gain critical intelligence on emergencies and natural disasters.

This got me thinking about how I use technology during these times of crisis. In order to explain this I have to tell you a little bit more about myself. I grew up in Victoria and moved to Queensland in 2008. This means I left all my old friends and family back in the cold southern state. My new home in Queensland is about an hour north of Brisbane, making for a lovely commute to Uni everyday and putting me well out of the spotlight for most events. It’s because of my geographic location that when I sat down to write this post I thought “I’ve never been involved in a Natural Disaster though…” But indirectly I think I have.

I remember using Facebook during the 2010-11 Brisbane floods to update friends and family. Although, I wasn’t directly in an effected area, I still took to Facebook to let everyone I know I was OK. This was because my family weren’t local and didn’t know how widespread the disaster was.

Great Brisbane flood of 2011. Contact erik@erikveland.com for licensing.

McDonald’s Milton – Brisbane Floods by Erik K Veland is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

Additionally, I remember updating my Facebook on March 8th 2013, after Police Shut down Queen’s Street Mall due to an incident with a gunman. On that day I was supposed to be walking through that section of the CBD on my way home, but I had left earlier due to a class cancellation.

8537511601_59c72ab44d_b 8538626180_23bc0ab2b9_k

Lockdown – Police take cover & Lockdown – Evacuating civilians by Brad Wood is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

Recently, I signed up to popular site Twitter (Yay for knowing every time a minor celebrity buys Starbucks) and I used it to monitor #TCMarcia and #BigWet. Obviously I am not quite that far north, so I used it to stay updated. As a newbie to the platform I found it really interesting to see how the authorities kept the public updated on their efforts and possible hazards to be cautious off. It was also interesting to see first hand accounts of the devistation some people were experiencing. Also, all the of people dangerously braving the conditions for a photo op. :/

IDL TIFF file

Cyclones Lam & Marcia by NASA is licensed under CC0 Public Domain.

At the time I really didn’t consider how important that information could be to some people, nor did I even question the fact that this information was so readily available to me at the click of a button. Having taken a step back I can see that in times of crisis this information can be the difference between life and death for some people in desperate need of help. Additionally, this information can be used after the emergency situation is over to analyse how well the event was handled and to make improvements to the system.

For example, it is interesting to consider the large role Social Media played in the recent siege of Lindt Cafe. Sydney Morning Herald reported that police followed “conversations on Twitter to inform their tactical response as well as monitoring Facebook posts by the 18 men and women trapped inside the cafe.” It makes you wonder how much worse the outcome could have been without this inside intelligence.

Having reflected upon the various emergency situations that I’ve experienced in person and online; I feel confident about how I would respond to a situation. Of course this is only in terms of how I would manage it online, as I would probably also call emergency services (000) given the circumstances.

If I were to be directly involved in a disaster I would probably update Facebook first to contact my personal network of friends and family. Then, I would keep people updated about my situation on Twitter, as it’s a public format and I would be able to engage more directly with the authorities managing the situation. I would also use Twitter as a tool to stay updated on developments that could effect my situation.

That is really the extent of my experience on the topic and I hope you found some of this interesting. I will be investigating alternative emergengy communication platforms that might be useful to me in future so feel free to let me know what you like to use in the comments below? Or let me know of any new technologies you’ve heard about?

Thanks for Reading,
– M.

Are We A Community?

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In this post I’m going to talk about Online Communities, but first let’s look at what an online community is and how we can define them.

An article on i-Scoop describes communities as:

“A natural phenomenon, a mindset and a way of engagement. Communities of people have always existed and online communities existed long before we even used blogs. Social communities are online communities using social platforms. An online community is no different than any other community except for the fact it’s online. It is a group of people with something in common, which could include shared interests, experiences, ideals, goals or profiles.

This is an interesting definition because it implies that the technology is irrelevant to the concept of communities, even though in some cases it is the main platform for communication.

i-Scoop defines 7 parameters for classifying communities: Scale, Scope (Exchanging ideas or answering questions), Settings (Public/private), Maturity (of the features, Networking and content sharing or collaboration and co-creation), Value Proposition, Members and Tools.

Using these definitions and parameters you could say that a blog or a site such as LinkedIn is not a community. This is because there is no clear community goal or engagement. Let’s see what happens if I apply this information to some of my own social networks.

Facebook – has a small scale based on my personal connections; is an environment for sharing ideas, having conversations or answering questions; the setting is private; the network has basic community features, and it has a wide range of members from various profiles all with a shared goal.

DeviantArt – has a large public community of members all with a shared goal or interest in Art. It is a platform for communication and learning and even collaboration, utilising basic tools and features.

By this definition, both of these networks can be considered communities. But let’s look at one more, and consider Kate’s twitter network of library and information professionals.

Twitter – has a large public and private audience; utilises basic features of networking and content sharing to communicate between people of a similar interest; and is used as a platform for sharing ideas, conversations, learning experiences and collaboration toward similar goals.

It meets all the criteria, I think it’s fair to say it’s an online community.

Lastly, I was going to write about my networks, where they exist, how I participate, enact relationships, etc. But I feel like I covered most of that In my previous blog post about my online identity so if you want to give that a read go ahead and check out my previous post, Internet & Me.

If you disagree with this definition of online communities or my conclusions about specific networks, let me know in the comments, I’ll be interested to hear your different opinions.

Have a lovely day,
– M

More statistics than you’ll ever need

stats 2So many statistics~

What you’re seeing here is a glimpse of my personal statistics collected from my Facebook and organised graphically by the WolframAlpha “Facebook report” tool.

I know the aim of this activity was to generate a network map but to me the most interesting data was about my activity history and friend demographics (age, gender, relationship status, etc.). It was interesting to see when I’m most active and the type of updates I commonly make.

What do you think? What was the most interesting thing you observed when you completed this activity? And for those of you that didn’t, what is the most interesting thing you noticed in my data?

I look forward to hearing from you.
-M