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Web 2.0: Limitations for PR practitioners in Political campaigns

Web 2.0, a term coined by Tim O’Rielly in 2005, presents multiple opportunities for PR Practitioners as it enables a new way for Government figures to use two way symmetric communication with their publics. This also means that publics become content creators and not just content consumers, which was often the norm in traditional media. This allows incredibly useful feedback, which can sometimes create issues for Government figures and their PR teams.  

Web 2.0 and the rise of social media has incredible power in that it is a useful tool for building close relationships with publics, a characteristic that is highly beneficial to PR Practitioners working in with Government figures. Web 2.0 allows two way symmetric communication and engagement with publics however, Sutherland and Robson (2012: 104), highlight that often social media is used primarily for message dissemination and that it is not being used to its full potential.

Web 2.0 is quickly shifting the ways that political communication works; public participation and engagement with the political through social media is increasing democracy (Macnamara, 2010: 3). This also means that there is an increase of responsibility and a high expectation placed on PR Practitioners and the Government figures they represent for honesty and authenticity in their web 2.0 presence.

PR techniques, strategies and tactics are a relatively new field in web 2.0, with only a few precedent cases. A lot of web 2.0 campaigns are based on trial and error methods. This can potentially be dangerous for Government figures using social media to connect with publics in order to boost votes.

A recent example of the implications web 2.0 can have on a political campaign could be observed in the 2012 Presidential election campaign in the USA. Mitt Romeny was seen to have many followers and ‘likes’ however had little engagement with publics. His web 2.0 platforms were used as message dissemination service (One way symmetric communication). Barack Obama on the other hand had littler numbers and high engagement with followers. This highlights the importance of engagement with publics through web 2.0 platforms. 




Public Relations, Government, Political PR Campaigns, Obama, Romeny, Social Media, Web 2.0.



Chavez, J, 2012, ‘#Fail: The Misuse of Social Media in the 2012 US Presidential Campaign’, SocialSphere, accessed 10 April 2013,


Macnamara, J, 2010, ‘Public communication practices in the Web 2.0-3.0 mediascape: The case for PRevolution’, PRis, Vol 7(3), viewed April 10 2013,


O’Rielly, T, 2005, ‘What is web 2.0?’, O’Rielly, viewed 11 April 2013,


Robson, P., Sutherland, K., 2012, ‘Public relations practitioners and social media: themes in a global context’, World PR Forum, Melbourne, viewed April 10 2013,


Sastre, L, 2012, ‘Social Media Lessons from Mitt Romney and Barack Obama’, Optimum 7, viewed April 10 2013,


Data Privacy or Data Motility?


Unprecedented amounts of information produced every day, documenting our digital movements.

DATA IS MOTILE NOW- It moves on its own from its starting point in our smart phones, to cloud storage, through recoding software, also into the ownership of the companies who’s website recieves our information. etc.

We are not in control of where it goes or who can access it.


Algorithmic Power- mathematical codes used to break down our digital infomation (BSD) into patterns and can use it to profit from predicting our behaviours. Sentiment analysis are algorithms used to measure public mood.


This information is so valuable because it can be used to improve advertising campaigns and make them better targeted.




Public Resource or Privacy Issue?

So what do we do with this unprecedented amount of data and access to it?

Do we collate these individual data streams and use big social data to better visualise our society? Or should our personal information be kept private, and not allowed to be profited from in any way?

Leon Nayfakh- Our Data, Ourselves.

Article in the Boston Globe.

Believes the data boom can be a good thing, and used to benefit society by knowing more precisely what it wants and how it behaves.

“…a small group of thinkers is suggesting an entirely new way of
understanding our relationship with the data we generate. Instead of arguing
about ownership and the right to privacy, they say, we should be imagining data
as a public resource: a bountiful trove of information about our society which, if
properly managed and cared for, can help us set better policy, more effectively
run our institutions, promote public health, and generally give us a more
accurate understanding of who we are. This growing pool of data should be
public and anonymous, they say — and each of us should feel a civic
responsibility to contribute to it”

 Jane Yakowitz – Brooklyn Law School professor.

Data Commons concept

Yakowitz believes in the potential value our big social data can have if we all agree to contribute to it and allow it be aggregated. If this data is visualised it will be capable of outlining trends and other noteworthy behaviours, which Yakowitz then believes  can be used to benefit institutions who can use it to better serve the public. e.g health trends, what health campaigns are effective and what needs more attention.


“There are patterns and trends that none of us can discern by looking at our own individual experiences,” Yakowitz said. “But if we pooled our information, then these patterns can emerge very quickly and irrefutably. So, we should want that sort of knowledge to be made publicly available.”

It should be a group effort which everyone contributes to get the best possible look at our collective behaviours. Yakowitz believes it is our duty to contribute our information, the way people approached the national census when it first began. She and other advocates of the data commons concept believe the benefits of anonymized big data outweigh the privacy risks.


Arguments against Yakowitz idealised use of big social data don’t believe that true anonymity will ever exist and users will always be at risk of RE-IDENTIFICATION.

Re-identification – hacking techniques that can identify real people from so called ‘anonymous’ databases.

Privacy advocates believe that as long as big data is being generated, there is always the potential for it to be traced back to the individual, and true anonymity is not possible.

There appears to be a real paranoia towards sharing personal information particularly financial details online because of the fear of ‘hackers’

A poll conducted by the Consumers Union in America of Online Privacy found very real apprehension towards sharing information with online companies. As well as a overwhelming majority of users polled stating a belief that companies should always ask permission personal information, and value the right to opt out of any companies tracking their online behaviour, it also found a large percentage purposely attempting to protect their digital identities.

In addition to fears about true anonymity, privacy advocates are also concerned about the big business of buying and selling big social data. Companies like Facebook are already well known for profiting from selling users personal information to advertisers in order to create more accurately targeted advertising.

Yakowitz’s response to these profiteering fears are to encourage those entities wishing to use the information in a socially beneficial way only, creating a strict set of rules regarding the use of data and offering legal immunity from those companies which abide by those rules and are not seen to profit from the personal information of its users. These measures, she believes, will encourage big social data to be considered a valuable digital asset to our material world and those institutions looking to improve the society in which in users are generating the information. It is this attitude towards data, Yakowitz argues, that needs to be promoted and force profiteering companies to be conscientiousness with the data its users are currently offering, or risk losing it.

Awareness of Social Network Privacy


The popularity of social networking websites such as Facebook and the subsequent levels and depth of online disclosures have raised several concerns for user privacy. Previous issues in regards to these sites have indicated the importance of disclosures between users as well as an under-utilization of extensive privacy options. Research into social networking and privacy provide user-generated explanations for observed disclosure and privacy trends. Social network features imply that information provided on these sites is effectively public data that could exist for as long as anybody has an incentive to maintain it. Many entities from marketers to employers to national and foreign security agencies may have those incentives.


Online social networks such as Facebook offer exciting new opportunities for interaction and communication, but also raise new privacy concerns. Facebook stands out for its vast amount of members, its unique and personally identifiable, furthermore the data and amount of information that is revealed of every individual can be greatly explored.

  •  When asked by majority of people, why do you use Facebook?

People claim that Facebook is very convenient for them to find, friends, getting to know their friends better and etc. However the usefulness of other activities on Facebook is not expressed.

This clearly suggests that these days Facebook makes it easier for users to find one another, share information and communicate with one another better than other services or technology.

  •  Is it worth it?

The amount of information users are sharing on Facebook or other social networking websites has achieved them to do these activities, however this has also raised serious privacy issues.

Facebook Privacy Issues

 Online social networks such as Facebook have experienced exponential growth in users over recent years. These networks offer attractive means for interaction and communication, but also raise privacy and security concerns. It is found that individual’s do not have great amount of issues in relations to privacy.

Many individuals join the Social Network and reveal great amounts of personal information. Some manage their privacy concerns by trusting their ability to control the information they provide and the external access to it. However, there are many misconceptions about the online community’s actual size and composition, and about the visibility of members’ profiles.

A Facebook user is not factually obligated to join an online social network and share their information. However most networks encourage people to reveal information about themselves but are not forced, for example asking their date of birth, email address, cell phone numbers, location and etc. Obviously some users share more information than other users. This is dependable on every individual. Some people are more opened to sharing information about themselves, however this is not the case with everyone.


Online social networks security and access controls have been proven weak by design.
Facebook’s privacy and information settings are purposely made less complicated to enhance their growth of users and to influence their network commodities. Furthermore familiarity and confidence in digital technologies as well as other effects may influence the role of individual revealing information.



Facebook Issues and Profile Visibility

 Facebook users are usually fully aware that a social network is based on information sharing.  The strongest motivator for users providing more information are reported as “having fun” and “revealing enough information so it can be useful to themselves and other people.

 Most Facebook users are mildly concerned about who can access their personal information and how it can be used. However they are generally not concerned about the information itself. This mostly is due to them being able to control that information

 An example is, by default, everyone on Facebook appears in the search section for anyone and every profile on each groups formed can be seen by every member of Facebook. However it is believed that Facebook provides an extensive privacy policy and offers very granular control to users to choose what information to reveal to whom. In these groups users may consist of friends, friends of friends or not a friend.

 Question: what are your thoughts towards Facebook privacy, and how protected do you think your personal information is?


The end of privacy

Social media privacy issues

Does anybody remember “the star wars kid”? He is known by tens of millions of people but unfortunately for him it is because of the most embarrassing moment of his life.

In 2002 at the age of 15, the star wars kid videotaped himself pretending to use a lightsaber as if he were a Jedi Knight in a star wars film. His hilariously awkward video tape found by a class mate was uploaded to the internet and became viral. Viewers all around the world began to laugh and make fun of the boy as it became one of the most viewed videos on the web.

The teenager dropped out of school and had to seek counselling. This incident happened ten years ago but it can happen to anyone instantly. With the internet anybody can reach global audiences.

Recently on Facebook there have been many pages such as ‘naked selfies’ and embarrassing nightclub photos’. Some of these selfies pages have reached up to 100,000 ‘Likes’ at the peak of their popularity. These pages are often getting shutdown but there seems to be plenty more around. Photos being uploaded may have been from ex boyfriends or others simply just cyber bullying. Things like this may potentially ruin one’s life.

Generation Divide

Technology has lead to a generational divide. On one side are high school and university students whose lives virtually revolves around social networking sites. On the other are our parents whose pasts are not stored somewhere on the internet. As for our generation, the past is preserved on the internet, potentially forever…

Has anyone here ever typed their name into a search engine? If so, have you found anything you have deleted in the past still coming up in your search?


The Future of Reputation

Reputation plays an important role in society, and preserving private details in one’s life is essential to it. We look at peoples reputations to decided whether to make friends, go on a date or hire a new employee.

People want the option of ‘starting over,’ or reinventing themselves throughout their lives, but now with much information online it is harder to make your youthful mistakes and foolishness forgettable. People must now live with the digital baggage of their pasts

Privacy Control

Social networking sites greatly vary in the levels of privacy offered. With certain sites, such as Facebook the use of real names and uploading personal information is encouraged. It is up to the user what information is uploaded, though most do not realise what they are uploading for the public to see. Profile information includes your address, birth date, and telephone number and also more personalised information such as hobbies and interests, even relationship status and sexual preferences is asked. If you users privacy settings aren’t looked at carefully, anyone may have access to this information.

This has lead to many concerns that users are displaying too much information on the social networking site which may lead to serious privacy issues such as identity theft, sexual predators and stalking. The new Facebook timeline has received criticism as users past information and activity is now easily accessible, which perhaps may have been forgotten otherwise.

Social networking sites and blogs are not the only threat to privacy. Companies collect and use our personal information at every turn.

  • Credit card companies have records of your purchases
  • Internet providers store information about how you surf the web
  • Pay TV companies have data about what shows you watch

Space and Mobility: Locative Social Media


Mobile social networking has allowed people to become mobile while accessing various social networking sites. But as of recent years, the new communication phenomena of what can be called locative mobile social networks (LMSNs) have allowed interactions to occur using mobile technologies with location awareness. People now have the ability to search up movie times, restaurant locations, maps and directions to their desired target and can also allow people to become aware of the location of others.

An example of locative mobile social networking:!/delliebabyxo/map

The History of Social Networking

All types of networks have common characteristics such as spatial quality, connectivity, users and physical space.

  • Traditional networks, e.g. transportation networks

– Telegraphs

  •  One-on-one voice communication

  • Many-to-many communication (or social networking)

  • Mobile social networking

  • Locative mobile social networking

Top ten location-based mobile social networks:

Where did the idea come from?

Jim Spohrer, 1996

First idea of linking information to places

“Imagine being able to enter an airport and see a virtual red carpet leading right to your gate, …or simple look at the night sky and see the outlines of the constellations” (1999, p. 602).

The rise of the Internet as an informational network.


With the Internet becoming an increasing source of obtaining information, many theories were posed as to what this could mean for our future

Some believe That geographical distance would no longer matter with fears relating to the death of geography and the end of cities ( Benedikt,2000; Robins,2000; Virilio,1997 ; Wertheim, 1999).

Conclelis (2007) points out other popular myths which include:

– A much0 reduced need for mobility, since everything ( shopping, working, socializing) could be potentially done online.

–  The idea that ‘physical networking will be substituted for by virtual networking’ and all social relationships would take place online.

What is the biggest change from traditional networks that has come about from using location-based technologies?

  •  The perception of the ‘annihilation’ of space, due to the ability to ‘instantly’ go from point to point
  • The preference for connecting with distant users, rather than ones near by.
  • The ability to carry mobile technologies equipped with an Internet connection allows people to communicate while moving through physical space. 

    Video – The Mobile Movement: Understanding Smartphone Consumers:


    Check-ins, tags and Location!


    Modern day Social Media now incorporates Locative services, social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram both use it letting people know where you are and where the photo was taken in real time.

    For example I can check into a place on Facebook letting everyone know whom I’m with and the location and write a status that will specify where I am all on my smartphone


    Mobiles give their users an enhanced and risk free sense of ‘being live/being alive’, even though (because) this ‘liveness’ is maintained in an artificially controlled bubble. A form of narcissism is integral to the dynamics of mobile phone”


    – Do you consider people regularly posting pictures up of their whereabouts and location a form of narcissism?



    Many social networking sites are now mostly used on Mobile phones. The most popular application is Skype, which has 590 million users. This network diminishes the space between people by allowing people to call or video call family and friends that live overseas for free


    Smartphone users are able to search and browse nearby stores, restaurants, on Urbanspoon people can rate them, share their opinions and post pictures. This type of app can use the location of mobile phones to connect users and may also provide directions to and from the venue by linking to a GPS service. Examples include Google’s Ogle Earth, Tagzania and use forms of collaborative mapping.


    Planning a night out to go cinemas and a restaurant, you can plan it all on your smartphone. By buying tickets online, finding the closes restaurant and using Google maps to get to your destination.



    In the article ‘Locative Mobile Social Networks: Mapping Communication and location in Urban Spaces’ the topic of surveillance and privacy is discussed, a lot of people add people they don’t know and some people accept the ‘random add’, and people may have up to 1000 friends on Facebook which they cannot all know, so this is where the locative privacy concerns arise, and the need for Facebook to be for people you know in real life and how comfortable you are to let strangers know where you are and who your with.



    –      Is there a situation where people have been caught lying about there location?


    –      Does anyone prefer not to share their location and check-in because privacy is a concern?

Week 9 – WikiLeaks & Anonymous


To learn about WikiLeaks, Watch this video.



WikiLeaks was started by Julian Assange, who was originally from Melbourne.

Julian discovered that if he could gather a large collective of people (of about 1,000 and almost all volunteers), he was able to use all the computers combined to hack into government data bases and download many confidential files, which in-turn exposed many world issues which would otherwise have never been found by the mass media. Allison Powell explains that the initial goal of WikiLeaks was to fill the “individual interests of Julian Assange” and now, a broader community of people who agree.WikiLeaks as a collective aim to expand the ‘defense of freedom of speech and media publishing’. According to an article in the New York times, in 2010 alone, Julian Assange and his activist group exposed many 9/11 pager messages, 391,832 secret documents on the Iraqi war and 77,000 pentagon statements on the Afghan conflict, and it doesn’t stop there.

Regardless of what WikiLeaks exposed specifically, we must remember that WikiLeaks itself is simply just the start of a new media phenomenon. The phenomenon is  essentially about society gaining information about issues that were otherwise being kept hidden away from them, that may in fact effect them a great deal. Alison Powell suggests that WikiLeaks is “not making an alternative to the production of mass media” but in fact it is “innovating upon it”. Simply, together with old media and WikiLeaks combined, we get new media. This means that the society as a whole, is more informed about what is happening in the world around them, and provides a new sense of freedom.



The influence that networks now have on power has increased dramatically. The transformation of this new media power now allows us to use the internet to form a resistance to the powerful forces of the world, allowing the common people to have more rights within public issues, as nothing can really be ‘hidden’ anymore. Galloway (2004) suggests that power in such distributed networks include different protocol compared to the power that we used to see. This new form of power through distributed networks, works in such a way that one independent person is linked with many other people around the world in an ‘informal’ way. This includes limited guidelines as opposed to the form of a regular corporation. This form is described by theorists like Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri as ‘nomadic‘ resistance.


 The phenomenon of WikiLeaks includes two types of exploitation; the exploitation of the news process and the exploitation of the internet.

WikiLeaks became popular due to its fortunate ability to exploit the news production process. the leaked documents had internet scholars, security specialists and hackers talking, however not in  the way Julian Assange intended. In-turn, Assange formed tight relationships with news organizations to transform the news production process to suit his intentions and for the benefit of WikiLeaks. The partnerships he formed expanded well beyond his expectations, drawing significant attention to WikiLeaks. The usual process in which news is reported or ‘exposed’ in professional practice is quite simply selfish. Media outlets tend to only publicize secrets when there is profit to be made, thus manipulating truths to maintain pubic interest. However the relationship between WikiLeaks and mass media journalists was quite turbulent. Jason Assange would on occasion threaten to release uncensored diplomatic cables, if the process didn’t go according to him. WikiLeaks thus transformed the news production process.With the use of the internet, Wikileaks made public unfiltered, unedited news, secrets and leaks that journalists could not touch.


It was after WikiLeaks released countless diplomatic cables and documents, that it experienced backlash from governments and organizations. There was no wan increased pressure to have WikiLeaks shut down. Large organizations like Visa and Mastercard, joined the push to have WikiLeaks terminated by cutting off funding. Amazon stopped hosting the WikiLeaks domain in an attempt to make it unreachable. However, public support for WikiLeaks and its renegade leader, Julian Assange was at an all time high. At the very instant of WikiLeaks being shut down, thousands of mirror sites were uploaded by  loyal supporters, thus making it impossible to eradicate. WikiLeaks gain support from the infamous hacking group Anonymous, who also shut down the Mastercard and PayPal websites as a form of support. This shows us that the internet can be exploited by not only a news broadcaster or journalist, but also by individuals and collectives world wide. in other words, anybody with access to the internet can create an impact.

Every leak is still available to this day and it is freely accessible on their website.

PART II ‘ From the Lulz to collective action’

Some terms worth knowing;

LULZ – Laughter at someone Else’s expense

IRC – Internet Relay Chat

Anonymous – Not the traditional ,meaning. In the readings it refers to an hactivist group that go by the name of ‘anonymous’



The word ANONYMOUS represents a gathering of people that work together towards the same intent. According to Marco Deseriis, the group is made up of ” organized collectives, affinity groups, and individual authors”. In other words… It is an association  in which is made up of large groups and individuals that team up and go by the alias of ‘anonymous’.

To better understand what is anonymous and what they do… watch this video.

Gabriella Coleman (Author of this weeks reading) suggests that ANONYMOUS consists mainly of people that are motivated by their desire for information freedom.



As the video (what are anonymous) illustrates , anonymous was first seen trolling through an image board website called 4chan. People under the alias of ‘anonymous’ used the site to disclose personal information about individuals that was often humiliating, it also used the site to play ridiculous pranks like sending unpaid pizzas to random peoples households.

Since 2006 ‘anonymous’ has been instigating trolling for the sake of the ‘LULZ’  (that word again) .

In 2008, anonymous was seen in a whole new light as it took trolling to a new level with its fury against the church of Scientology. Basically, A video starring Tom cruise praising the theocracy of Scientology was leaked outside of the church and so the church aimed to end the circulation of the video before it went viral. Anonymous decided they didn’t agree with the churches cover-up and so they began a series of raids and attacks towards Scientology … and the reason being was simply for the sake of the LULZ.

This video is one example of the many attacks against the church of Scientology

In February 2008 roughly 6,000 people protested across North America, Europe, New Zealand, and Australia supporting ‘anonymous’ view on Scientology, that being that is a “dangerous cult”.

Anonymous supporters left their computer chairs and took a call to action. This itself demonstrates how powerful an influence digital networks can have over the world, by the flow of information via the internet… individuals from all over the globe were able to hear the message that  anonymous members I guess were proposing. Starting off as a small feud, social media expanded the operation and was used to set dates and times for these protests over a variety of different mediums.



Operation payback is an organized and decentralized group of attacks on high profile opponents by internet activists under the alias or apart of the group ‘anonymous.

Operation payback generally worked by launching a number of DDOS attacks (distributed denial of service) on high traffic websites like formula 1, CIA website and

Most famously, hacker’s shutdown sites like paypal, visa and mastercard. Which brings us back to wiki leaks. Anonymous hackers hoping to avenge wikileaks and Julian Assange worked together to put anti-wikleaks websites to a halt. Paypal and visa were a target as that discontinued their services to wikileaks because of the trial and anonymous sought payback.

We were given this particular reading this week not to learn about Wikileaks and anonymous but  rather get an idea of the capacity and power that any user can have by utilizing networking sites.

Internet relay chat sites (IRC) have no barriers to participation, anyone can join in and become I guess a member of anonymous. The internet is limitless, however the more skills we posses determines how much we may be exposed to. Although Anonymous claims to have no hierarchy or bureaucratic order, those that can work a computer opposed to the everyday person obviously have more power or more flexibility as they initiate the attacks.

What we can take away about Anonymous is that since 2008 it has become a gateway for internet activists to take action. Anonymous provides opportunities that allow individuals to be part of something big. As the readings state “You don’t have to fill out a form with your personal information, you aren’t being asked to send money, you don’t even have to even give your name but you do feel like you are actually part of something larger”.

Anonymity is a way for many to express their views, whilst being assured that it will not come back to haunt them later.



 Do you consider WikiLeaks the new media power?

Is the way in which WikiLeaks exploited the news process, positive or negative?

Week 8 – Wikipedia

This blog post is brought to you by Tamara Barrett, Georgia Charleston & Natasha Senaratna.


What is a Wiki?

  • In 1995 Ward Cunningham developed the first software for a wiki and created a web page called wikiwikiweb, which invited users to edit content via their web browsers.
  • Wikis allow collaboration amongst a community of users, inviting them to edit pages, or create new pages within the website.
  • There was generally no peer review process for wikis, and in most cases you didn’t even have to register to edit the wiki page.


  • Created in 2000 by Jimmy Wales & Larry Sanger.
  • Peer reviewed encyclopedia articles.
  • Speed was a massive factor in Nupedias down fall.


  • Launched in 2001 it was originally used for people to discuss and suggest content that could be submitted to Nupedia.
  • Wikipedia has had numerous problems.
  • 22 million articles that have been collaboratively written by people around the world.
  • 100,000 regular contributors.
  • 285 Language editions.
  • Wikipedia costs $6 million a year to run.

“At a rate of 600 words a minute, 16 hours a day, a person could read about 17,000,000 words in a month. In the month of July 2006, Wikipedia grew by over 30,000,000 words. It is unlikely for any single reader to read all of Wikipedia’s new content. Reading the current incarnation at that rate would take over seven years, and by the time they were done, so much would have changed with the parts they had already read that they would have to start over.”

An Example of editing on Wikipedia


What Wikipedia Can Teach Us About New Media Literacies – Henry Jenkins

The Wikipedia Debate –

  • In 2006, a Vermont school took a very public stance and banned students from sourcing Wikipedia. Students were to take responsibility for the credibility of their sources.
  • The Wikipedia Debate is a perfect way to illustrate the division between the digital and technological generation of today and the parents, teachers and administrators who are less familiar with the emergence of these new trends.
  • There will be a lag in confidence and ability in the digital universe for the older generations, while the digital savvy generation powers ahead with the process of carving out a new kind of literacy.
  • The MacArthur Foundation has dedicated $50 million over 5 years to research this evolving and fast paced process.

Participatory Culture –


  • Low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement.
  • Strong support for creating and sharing.
  • All information is passed down from those with more experience to those with less.
  • Members feel their contributions matter.
  • Members share social connections with each other (Networking).

Benefits of Participatory Culture –

  • Peer to peer learning.
  • Changed notion of intellectual property.
  • A shift in cultural experiences.
  • The development of life skills.
  • An empowered notion of citizenship.

(All the skills above are extensions of, or advancements, in the traditional skills that are attributed to formal education)

The Structure/Make up of Participatory Culture –

  • Teens and adults are able to interact together easily.
  • There is a less fixed or hierarchical system or structure.
  • All members can be involved and contribute, in other words it is an equal and fair system whereby everyone has a voice.

New Media Literacies –

  • Involving a set of cultural and social skills required by the digital generation in order to understand and navigate the new media landscape.

KEY TERMS – Collaboration and Networking; a shift of focus from individual to community involvement

Core Issues regarding ‘New Media Literacies’ –

  • The Participation Gap
  • The Transparency Problem
  • The Ethics Challenge

Key Skills of ‘New Media Literacies’ –

  • Collective Intelligence
  • Judgement
  • Networking
  • Negotiation

Wikipedia Reconsidered –

  • Growing concerns that students are not developing the ability to be critical of information found on Wikipedia.
  • As well as concerns about the credibility of the information and the deconstruction of typical perceptions of ‘the expert’.
  • So the solution? ‘Teach the Debate!’
  • Informed scepticism vs. A dismissive attitude.

Wikipedia, Students and the Participation Gap –

  • Young learners often exploit online information – cut and paste.
  • Confusion about where facts have come from.
  • The difference in access to these digital technologies impacts on a young learner’s ability to be critical of information gathered online.
  • Those with the most extensive access are more likely to look critically at what they see, they have had the time to learn the process of collaborative knowledge production and experience it firsthand.
  • For those with minimal access, for example only at school or a public library, they are more likely to take the facts gathered at face value rather than be skeptical of the information.
  • The Participation Gap = uneven access to technology + unequal access to experience + unequal opportunities to learn social skills and cultural competencies.
  • Online communities like Wikipedia are shaping how students perform in school and is influencing the types of future opportunities these students will prefer.


Mind Map

Research skills – should I use Wikipedia?

We use encyclopedias to gain a general understanding of issues. Encyclopedias are a good place to start for research.

There are both positive and negatives with the use of using Wikipedia.


  • It is freely available.
  • Some of the entries may be the most available and up-to-date information.
  • The history of discussion on some topics allows you to see how contributors arrive at a point of view on topics and issues.
  • Information is continuously created and updated.
  • Articles appear within minutes.
  • Continuous browsing – hyperlinks scattered throughout entries. 25 per article in English (O’ Sullivan, 2009).
  • The content is rich with information.


  • Some caution needs to be taken as some entries are not necessarily written by experts in the field.
  • Anyone can contribute to entries quite easily.
  • There can be some misinformation and entries can be biased.
  • Risk of error.

Some questions we ask ourselves:

Should I use Wikipedia?

  • Wikipedia can be used as a starting point for research.
  • You can gather ideas in approaching a concept.
  • The information provided is updated continuously.
  • It may be the only source available or the only available account to a new phenomenon.

Should I use Wikipedia in my essays?

  • As it is an encyclopedia it  should not be used in essays as it has limited authority as a primary research source.
  • The information may not be authoritative.
  • There is a lack of explicit quality.
  • Entries may vary in its quality.

Is Wikipedia becoming a respectable academic source?

The article posed a question “How many humanities and social sciences researchers are discussing, using, and citing Wikipedia?”

  • Of the 167 results were retrieved between 2002 and 2008, 8 where from project Muse. However in contrast of the 149 Listed by Project Muse and 3 from JSTOR from a search for “Encyclopedia Britannica” between 2002 and 2008 were found.
  • It was found that there was a steady increase of the use of Wikipedia between 2002 and 2008.

Wikipedia Citations


  • Citing by well-known scholars increase the respectability of Wikipedia.
  • Wikipedia ranges from a diverse selection of topics ‘from military-industrial complex to horror films to Bush’s second state of the union speech.’
  • Results found that 111 are ‘straight citations’, 56 using Wikipedia as a source, 8 used Wikipedia as a source for imagery, 14 criticise using Wikipedia in research and 11 cited Wikipedia as a model for participatory culture.
  • Wikipedia does have its limitations and many are aware of this when they cite Wikipedia, however those citing Wikipedia assert the relevance of the information for their project.
  • Although more researchers are citing Wikipedia does not mean it is a valid source.
  • As scholars are beginning to cite and find Wikipedia useful, academic norms are shifting.

There are four main criticisms:

  • Research projects should not rely upon encyclopedias.
    Wikipedia covers topics often left out of traditional reference works.
  • Unstable to cite.
    Entries can be changed and information can be removed or added. What you find today might not be accessible tomorrow as the entry has been edited. The information can be inaccurate. By using an open source approach, Wikipedia can be edited can be edited by those in its community.
  • You cannot trust Wikipedia.
    Anyone can contribute to Wikipedia anonymously.
  • There is no peer review.
    Lack of scholarly authority of an article published in an academic journal.
    Wikipedia’s appropriateness as an academic source depends on what is being cited and for what purpose.


“The openness of Wikipedia is instructive in another way: by clicking on tabs that appear on every page, a user can easily review the history of any article as well as contributors’ ongoing discussion of and sometimes fierce debates around its content, which offer useful insights into the practices and standards of the community that is responsible for creating that entry in Wikipedia. (In some cases, Wikipedia articles start with initial contributions by passionate amateurs, followed by contributions from professional scholars/researchers who weigh in on the “final” versions. Here is where the contested part of the material becomes most usefully evident.) In this open environment, both the content and the process by which it is created are equally visible, thereby enabling a new kind of critical reading—almost a new form of literacy—that invites the reader to join in the consideration of what information is reliable and/or important” (Brown & Adler)


Do you use Wikipedia as a resource?

Do you think online resources like Wikipedia are impacting the way students learn and conduct research? Do you have any real life examples to illustrate this?

Week Seven: Facebook

Hi everyone,

This is Natasha Amanatidis  (tashamana) , Keiran Dole (KM3004) and  Cassi Pashalidis (cassyeah) and this is our presentation on the one and only, Facebook.

Read more…

Socializeee Presents: Is Google Making Us Stupid?


Presentation URL

Youtube Interview Nicholas Carr

Important Abstracts of The Argument

(Taken from 3 reading by Nicolas Carr and Clay Shirky)

The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle. Research that once required days in the stacks or periodical rooms of libraries can now be done in minutes. A few Google searches, some quick clicks on hyperlinks, and I’ve got the telltale fact or pithy quote I was after. The Net is becoming a universal medium, the conduit for most of the information that flows through my eyes and ears and into my mind. The advantages of having immediate access to such an incredibly rich store of information are many, and they’ve been widely described and duly applauded.

Media theorist Marshall McLuhan pointed out in the 1960s, media are not just passive channels of information. They supply the stuff of thought, but they also shape the process of thought. And what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation.”

 Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski. Thanks to the ubiquity of text on the Internet, not to mention the popularity of text-messaging on cell phones, we may well be reading more today than we did in the 1970s or 1980s, when television was our medium of choice. But it’s a different kind of reading, and behind it lays a different kind of thinking. The Net isn’t the alphabet, and although it may replace the printing press, it produces something altogether different. The kind of deep reading that a sequence of printed pages promotes is valuable not just for the knowledge we acquire from the author’s words but for the intellectual vibrations those words set off within our own minds. In the quiet spaces opened up by the sustained, undistracted reading of a book, or by any other act of contemplation, for that matter, we make our own associations, draw our own inferences and analogies, foster our own ideas.

Research conducted by scholars from University College London, suggests that we may well be in the midst of a sea change in the way we read and think. As part of the five-year research program, the scholars examined computer logs documenting the behaviour of visitors to two popular research sites, one operated by the British Library and one by a U.K. educational consortium, that provide access to journal articles, e-books, and other sources of written information. They found that people using the sites exhibited “a form of skimming activity,” hopping from one source to another and rarely returning to any source they’d already visited. They typically read no more than one or two pages of an article or book before they would “bounce” out to another site. Sometimes they’d save a long article, but there’s no evidence that they ever went back and actually read it. It almost seems that they go online to avoid reading in the traditional sense.

Scott Karp, who writes a blog about online media said: “What if I do all my reading on the web not so much because the way I read has changed, i.e. I’m just seeking convenience, but because the way I THINK has changed?” Bruce Friedman, who blogs regularly about the use of computers in medicine,“I’ve lost the ability to do that. Even a blog post of more than three or four paragraphs is too much to absorb. I skim it.” James Olds, a professor of neuroscience who directs the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study at George Mason University, says that even the adult mind “is very plastic.” Nerve cells routinely break old connections and form new ones. “The brain,” according to Olds, “has the ability to reprogram itself on the fly, altering the way it functions.” Frederick Winslow Taylor carried a stopwatch into the Midvale Steel plant in Philadelphia and began a historic series of experiments aimed at improving the efficiency of the plant’s machinists. With the approval of Midvale’s owners, he recruited a group of factory hands, set them to work on various metalworking machines, and recorded and timed their every movement as well as the operations of the machines. By breaking down every job into a sequence of small, discrete steps and then testing different ways of performing each one, Taylor created a set of precise instructions, like an “algorithm,” we might say, for how each worker should work.

Google’s mission is to organise the worlds information and make it universally accessible and useful.” It wants to develop “the perfect search engine” which it defines as something that “understands exactly what you want and gives you it”. Google sees that the more info we can access, the faster we can extract meaning, the more productive we became as thinkers.

Clay Shirky thinks Carr’s premises are correct:  the mechanisms of media affect the nature of thought. The web presents us with unprecedented abundance. This can lead to interrupt-driven info snacking, which robs people of the ability to find time to think about just one thing persistently. He also thinks that these changes are significant enough to motivate us to do something about it. He disagrees, however, about what it is we should actually be doing. But the anxiety at the heart of “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” doesn’t actually seem to be about thinking, or even reading, but culture. The return of reading has not brought about the return of the cultural icons we’d been emptily praising all these years, the enormity of the historical shift away from literary culture is now becoming clear. Having lost its actual centrality some time ago, the literary world is now losing its normative hold on culture as well. The threat isn’t that people will stop reading War and Peace. That day is long since past. The threat is that people will stop genuflecting to the idea of reading War and Peace. This link between form and theme is true of any medium. Getting networked society right will mean producing the work whose themes best resonate on the net, just as getting the printing press right meant perfecting printed forms.

He also mentions that Carr is correct that there is cultural sacrifice in the transformation of the media landscape, but this is hardly the first time that has happened. The printing press sacrificed the monolithic, historic, and elite culture of Europe by promoting a diverse, contemporary, and vulgar one. The question we need to be asking is whether the sacrifice is worth it or, more importantly, what we can do to help make the sacrifice worth it.He claims that what he finds puzzling about Carr is that unlike other critics; Carr understands the net as well as anyone writing today. Yet his contrarian stance is slowly forcing him into a caricature of Luddism, increasingly unable to offer much of a suggestion for what to do next. We’re facing a similar challenge, caused again by abundance, and taking it on will again mean altering our historic models of our educated life. It will be hard and complicated; abundance precipitates greater social change than scarcity.

He also asserts that if Carr wishes to sway people into truly believing that the Internet and google are really affecting our reading and therefore thinking, he must cater for every reading type and not specifically the high brow literary types. She uses his example of Tolstoy’s popular War and Peace to support her claim, “War and Peace isn’t going to carry the point.” Contrary to Carr, Shirky believes that the development and introduction of new technology has been good for humanity. He proudly states that she is a technology optimist. He contradicts Carr’s fears about the abundance of writing and information, and says that these fears always come about at the beginning of every new expansion. He argues that instead of Nietzsche, Carr needs to present a more relatable and reasonable before and after comparison. Similarly, the claim that the typewriter changed Nietzsche as a writer is a little uninformed as he claims that his works, handwritten or typed, are both of equal quality in relation to their themes and content. His big argument opposing Carr is that, ‘the ability to concentrate’ will not return as the Internet changes so much. She stakes this claim on the fact that, in previous years we were able to ‘concentrate more’ because we lived “in such a relatively empty environment, a state that she doesn’t believe we could ever recreate”.

“Technologies that make writing abundant always require new social structures to accompany them”. Shirky states that the challenge is to figure out how to “keep the distractions of the net at bay”. She humorously muses that perhaps the Internet will be humanity’s downfall, but it would be a first in three thousand years. All in all, Shirky presents a well-rounded argument that indeed does poke holes in Carr’s arguments and theories. Shirky writes in an optimistic and easy tone, contrary to Carr’s long, and rather pessimistic tone.

Brought to you by Socializeee… 

Beyond the ‘Networked Public Sphere’: Politics, Participation and Technics in Web 2.0

Link to Week 5’s article.

Dr Ben Roberts crtiques Yochai Benkler‘s book, The Wealth of Networks in this article.

In the 1990’s Web 2.0 sparked great discussion about the democratising nature of the internet. Participant usage was at the core of most debates about politics and technology.

The two biggest reasons for saying this:

  • On the one hand there is a great amount of positivity surrounding the potential of new technologies, in particular the internet, which enables new forms of participation in economic and public life. Web 2.0 has been much to blame for this increase in participant interaction via the internet.
  • On the other side this is the increase in concern about public participation, or lack of it, in modern Western democracies. This having implications for the possible outcomes of politics. This lack of participation usage having impacts on the attendance of citizens at elections.

The article for this week argues that Web 2.0 requires a more critical or sceptical approach to the political promise of Web 2.0. The article also suggests possible ways in which this discussion on participation may have moved on.

This article looks at a number of different writers such as Yochai Benkler, Bernard Stiegler and Marc Crepon.

Web 2.0 Participation

There has been a great shift in internet participation over the years. The internet has evolved dramatically from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 and there has been talk of a future Web 3.0. However, Web 2.0 has increased internet participation worldwide.  There are many different aspects of Web 2.0, all in which users can share ideas, communicate with one another and access information. These forms include social bookmarking, wikis, weblogs, videos, web applications and may more.

The general form of this argument is that the internet, web 2.0 in particular, offers a better platform for the public sphere in which a truly democratic form of political debate can take place. It is here that Benkler’s book The Wealth of Networks offers great insight into this argument. Benkler’s aim is quite explicitly to incorporate the idea of the public sphere within liberal political theory. He argues that a new network information economy, characterised by non-market modes of participation and production, makes possible a public sphere that better serves the exercise of political freedom necessary in a liberal democracy.  This can be done through Facebook comments/messages, Twitter, forums etc. An example of a forum can be seen here.

“A major implication of the networked information economy is the shift it enables from the mass-mediated public sphere to a networked public sphere.”

While the public sphere does give everyone a voice, if everyone can speak at once then no one will be heard. To judge the efficeny of the public sphere it needs to satisfy the following criteria.

  1. Universal intake – it must be open to everyone
  2. It muct be able to filter relevant information
  3. It must have systerms for accrediting information sources.
  4. It must be able to synthesis public opinion
  5. It must be independent from government control.

Benkler believes that the public sphere does meet all of these criteria. However, there are a number of flaws associated with Benkler’s argument concerning the networked public sphere.

Nonmarket production

In Benkler’s book, it is argued that people that contribute to such sites as Wikipedia, social bookmarking sites, and even blog sites are constructing works of economic value, but aren’t participating in an economic market.

This raises questions such as,

“First, why do people participate? What is their motivation when they work for…a project for which they are not paid or directly rewarded? Second, why now, why here? What, if anything, is special about the digitally networked environment…Third, is it efficient to have all these people sharing their computers and donating their time and creative effort?”

Another question that should be asked is, are these people basically being used as free labour? Roberts argues that we should be suspicious of the fact that we have miraculously become producers of the network public sphere, as opposed to being just consumers of mass media. There is a tradition, however, that critiques the idea that we are just consuming mass media.

The social production of the internet content is about social and economic changes as well as changes in network technology. Roberts argues that Benkler’s idea of regarding the transformations in network technology as just social production or free labour is shortsighted and that we need to view these transformations as examples of wider social change.

According to Benkler, the problems facing the functioning of democracy in Western democracies due to mass media can be solved by enabling greater participation.

But what does participation really mean?

Benkler argues that culture and its production is “important to the operation of democracy” and democracy is the “expression of individual freedom”.

The benefit of the networked public sphere is that culture becomes more “transparent”, which minimises the effect that the culture has on “individual agency or autonomy.” ‘Culture’ gets in the way of liberal democracy in the kind of participation that Benkler argues. Roberts argues that Benkler is not interested in “wider questions of participation and democracy, above all not ones that would question the liberal model.”

Benklers argument raises two questions.

  1. What is the relationship between technological change and social and political change?
  2. What role does participation play in democracy?

Participation, Technics and Individuation

Roberts uses arguments from Marc Crépon and Bernard Stiegler‘s “De la démocratie participative” (On Participatory Democracy). These essays were written during the French presidential election and evoke the idea of participatory democracy.

In ‘La démocratie en défaut’ (‘Democracy in default’), Crépon says that the call for participatory democracy has to be analysed in “terms of the coincidence of two phenomena”:

  1. A crisis in representative democracy, which is characterised by declining voter turnouts, dissatisfaction with the political class etc.
  2. The rise of new technological possibilities of the web.

Essentially, what Crépon is stating is that participatory democracy can only be “meaningful if it gives a chance to both the attachment and the desire for democracy as an open possibility”.Without addressing the phenomena, participatory democracy might be worse “than the crisis it seeks to redress.” This risks participatory democracy into descending into a “kind of interactive televised populism.”

Crépon and Stiegler believe that the vision of web participation is dangerous, when it opens a “‘closed’ political establishment” to the public. This opens up debate to people who are not political insiders, it allows anyone to speak whether or not they know much on the subject. This vision could be seen as naïve. “How meaningful is such participation when its terms and vocabulary are decided elsewhere?”

In these kinds of debates, while there may be an engagement with the public, it only really mirrors a certain political establishment. The public may hold the same views, yet express it differently with language that is familiar. The problem is that this could be seen as a tool of political marketing. The danger is that these forms of debate only offer a way for political people to seem more legitimate, or appear more “open and accountable”, but in the meantime “de-legitimising and short circuiting the proper apparatus of representative democracy.”

Crépon invokes C.B. Macpherson’s four models of democracy in order to explore what true participatory democracy means.

  1. Protective democracy
  2. Developmental democracy
  3. Equilibrium democracy – return to values of protective democracy. “Entails no sense of individual or social improvement, but simply a reconciliation of competing interests through the market system of elections”
  4. Participatory democracy

For Crépon, these models are useful “because they help to diagnose the democratic crisis.”

Benkler believes that there isn’t anything wrong with the political system, there is a problem with political communication that can be fixed by “enabling a more transparent form of communication”. Crépon believes, on the other hand, because of the fact that culture is in the heart of democracy that it in the form of mass media poses a problem.

Then we come to symbolic misery. Stiegler defines symbolic misery as a “‘loss of individuation which results from a loss of participation in the production of symbols’.” The loss of participation is fundamental to the production of “culture in the equilibrium model.” It can’t be corrected by then appearance of a communication medium that “harnesses ‘decentralized individual action’.

Individuation definition.

Loss of individuation forms part of the condition Stiegler calls symbolic misery. It relates to the “theorisation of technics”.  Technics, in Stielger’s terms, includes everything from “primitive tools through systems of writing to modern telecommunications.” Technics, to Stiegler, can be something like language. It is inseparable from culture and society then. Culture and society are not organised by technics, but rather organised through it.

Technics is not just instrumental. It shapes “what it means to be human in the first place”, and human in this sense is organised “always already through technics.” If there is a crisis caused by technics, it is not because something human is replaced by something technological. It is because there was a transformation in the “essential technicity that belongs to the human.” Technics support types of cultural, non-genetic memories, but there is a subsection in which “‘one must call mnemotechnics’”, a type of technics that is “‘made for keeping memory’.”

An obvious example of mnemotechnics is writing. In a new transformation in mnemotechnics,  “lies the cultural crisis”. It is because these new forms of recording introducing a “new class of industrial temporal object.” Simondon believes that the rise of the “machine tool” removes the difference between skilled workers and that of other workers.

We may not want to believe, at first, that as an audience of mass media, that we are just passive consumers. Mass media implies an asymmetric relationship between producers and consumers. Stielger uses the example of the relationship involved in language comparing it to the relationship in media. If you understand a language, you are more than likely able to speak it, but, in relation to media, just because you are able to watch TV, doesn’t mean you’re able to make a TV show. Web participation, Stiegler argues, will only be meaningful in relation to politics if it brings forth a new type of environment.

The issue of participation is between those who see the web just as a form of communication, and those who believe it to have wider social and cultural transformations. Benkler all-to-readily accepts that web participation or nonmarket production is simply a consequence of network communications. Participation, like free labour, needs to be understood in the “context of wider social and economic changes and not simply as a network phenomenon.”


Has the internet, for example, a post on a forum, made you question your beliefs on a particular topic?

Do you believe web participation, in relation to politics, is a good or bad thing? Explain.

This blog post was brought to you by:

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Group I – Week 12

Hello, We are group ‘I’, who will be presenting in the last week of semester. our topic; Data privacy or Data Motility. This group was only put together today so I am unaware of my other group members at this stage, but if you can let me know who you are when you can that would be great.

Social Media is a very interesting subject, because it is relatively new, and we are living within it everyday. As a non twitter user it will be interesting to see how it all works as we simulate how we can connect with one another through our live tweets in lectures and in class.

Our details are,

Dominic Keating – 3847680 –

WordPress account: Domkeating101
Twitter account: @Dominickeating


Other members information to come soon… (please add yourself and your details to this blog post if you are in my group)

Thankyou, see you in week 12!