War of the Words: The Rise of the Keyboard Warrior

The emergence of internet forums has coincided with the rise of the keyboard warrior. Issues with anonymous digital misogyny, cyber-bullying, racism and homophobia constantly arise in the public forum. This is largely due to the dark side of online participatory culture.

Vanessa Thorpe raises a number of these issues, with reference to the ‘unstinting ridicule’ that women face in the world of website news commentary. She states that ‘trolling’ has led to some female columnists to hesitate before publishing their opinions. This is a serious issue as it has a direct affect on female writers’ confidence, security and credibility.

Lanre Bakare, who monitors the Guardians ‘Comment is Free’ website, stated that an article on European Finance attracts snide anti-woman remarks, but subjects like abortion or domestic violence brings out most of the ‘trolling’.

As a sports enthusiast, I constantly witness the abuse that female columnists such as Mel McLaughlin and Erin Andrews receive on
sites like Fox Sports. Even as I type ‘female sports journalists’ into Google, the first result that I receive is the ‘40 Hottest Sports Reporters’. There are currently 17 female leaders around the world,
yet some men still see women as inferior and as sexual objects. I agree with British columnist Laurie Penny in that ‘this new epidemic of misogynist abuse is tapping an old vein in British public life.’ This is quite ironic as the emergence of the internet has seen society revert back to prejudice which has been present in the past.

I find that there are two main issues with internet forums and online participatory culture as a whole – the issue of anonymity and the absence of gatekeepers. The fact that users are can remain anonymous allows them to voice their opinion without an entry barrier. Jill Filipovic supports this, with an additional reference to tactics such as; manufactured First Amendment outrage, the argument that people who take threats seriously are over-reacting and the assertion that women want and like sexualized insults. I find it quite unnerving that I am of the same gender as the people that are making these ridiculous claims. I am aware that the First Amendment allows free speech in any and all circumstances, but I am sure that it does not encourage threats of sexual violence and sexism.

Issues of participatory culture and the openness of the internet will always polarise opinion. The presence of misogyny in today’s society needs to be addressed, but how? Campaigns such as #mencallmethings, The Anti-Bogan and Destroy the Joint are working towards the abolition of online misogyny, but I feel as though we need some sort of government regulation. But beyond regulation, we can back a difference as individuals by choosing not to participate in a culture of sexism and online abuse. We have a choice, we can either scroll past the offensive posts, or we can remove the cloak of indifference and ensure that sexism is a thing of the past.


1 Like = 1 Prayer

There is a common belief that the youths of today are disengaged from traditional politics. Is this true, or are we perhaps engaging with politics in un-conventional ways that reflect the changes in society? Being known as the ‘internet generation’, social media is becoming more and more influential in the lives of young people. But is this detrimental to activism or does it help provide more awareness of societal issues?

As technology evolves, we are able to connect and unite through a broader range of mediums. As one of the many people drawn into the now infamous internet campaign Kony 2012, I have experienced first hand the ability of todays youth to engage in current affairs. Kony 2012 is an example of the ways in which groups and organisations “use social media to coordinate action across a more dispersed network” (Jenkins, 2012, p.11). The methods that social media employ in order to gain increased circulation and audience engagement could not be done through any other medium.

On the other hand, there is the argument that social media, or more specifically ‘clicktivism’ is detrimental to ‘real’ activism. The term ‘clicktivism’ refers to the people who participate in online campaigns without actually supporting an issue. In recent years, it appears that young people think that 1 like = 1 prayer and that liking a photo can cure cancer or save a third world country from poverty. Jenkins states that, “the online community needs to be fully aware of the critical thinking and media skills needed to defend their causes” (Jenkins, 2012, p.10). In order to gain respect in the activist community, online organisations need to ensure that their followers are aware of the cause that they supporting and also to go further than just signing an online petition or changing their profile picture.

Being an ‘internet slacktivist‘, I often find myself sharing videos in support of gay marriage, liking photos against bullying or retweeting messages about social justice campaigns. This leads me to the question of whether clicktivism helps or hurts ‘real’ activism. Henrik Christensen argues that “it is not possible to determine a consistent impact of internet campaigns on real-life decisions, there is no evidence of the substitution thesis. If anything, the internet has a positive impact on offline mobilisation”. The internet holds a great deal of power in order to mobilise and spread information. Organisations such as Get Up and MoveOn.org, that are primarily coordinated through the internet, educate people about issues such as social justice, economic fairness and environmental sustainability. These organisations, although they do encourage clicktivism, are extremely influential in the activist community. I believe that clicktivism helps ‘real’ activism as it provides key information about current affairs at the click of a mouse.

Clicktivism is a consumerist concept as it has diluted activism to appeal to mass audiences. The concept resulting is that social change is marketed like a brand name, attempting to appeal to the widest possible audience rather than those few individuals who attempt to stand behind a cause. In this sense, while it has watered down serious activism, clicktivism has allowed societal issues to become more embedded in the fabric of our everyday lives, raising awareness and pushing for social change – which can never be a bad thing.

Originality: Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That!

In today’s technologically convergent society, we have entered into a remix culture that has coincided with the demise of originality and creativity.

Remixing is the notion of taking another’s idea and modifying it in order to create a new meaning. As stated by Andrew Whelan, the word détournement’ can be useful in a study of remix culture. Détournement is the derailment of something, which is used in discussions of media and cultural interaction where meanings are subverted or undermined. This can be seen in remix as it has the ability to change the cultural, social and even political meaning of a text. This is shown through ‘parody’ videos, such as the Hitler Rants Parodies.

The emergence of remix culture has seen a shift in participation in society, from read only to a read and write culture. This has resulted in the audience moving from passive consumers to active ‘prosumers’. Lawrence Lessig states that remix “can’t help but make its argument, at least in our culture, far more effectively than could words” (Lessig, 2008, p74). In an era where everybody is in a rush, remixing holds a significant amount of power in that it conveys its intended meaning to a wide range of viewers in a concise form.

I agree with Kirby Ferguson in saying that everything is a remix and that all original material builds from previously existing material. Take Four Chords – Axis of Awesome for example. This video reveals that a significant amount of modern day pop songs are fundamentally based around four chords, much like the amen break in today’s remix culture.

In his collection of videos, Whelan refers to artists that produce music for net labels and give it away for nothing. He says, “You can’t buy anything, you can’t give these people money. They wont even sell you a t-shirt. It’s a weird model of cultural production where money is completely evacuated out of it.” I find this statement quite controversial in that a lot of music that is made from stolen samples may not provide initial financial gain, but it provides the artist with other benefits, such as increased circulation. Take Aussie Hip-Hop artist, 360 for example. In between his little known debut album ‘What You See Is What You Get’ and his multi award-winning album ‘Falling & Flying‘, he released three (one, two and three) mix tapes featuring remixes from the likes of Kanye West, Kings of Leon and even Lisa Mitchell. Although he did not receive a profit from these mix tapes, they provided the foundations for his successful follow up album.

Although the remix culture has seen a dramatic decrease in the amount of new music being produced, I believe that it has been beneficial to the industry as it allows artists such as 360 to gain greater recognition and audience engagement.

The derivative act of remixing encourages progress and wealth creation of culture as it allows mixing of copyright holders content. It is often a remix work of genius that defines and shapes generations, as they are a collaboration of ideas from cultures and pieces of creative works. In this sense, the remix culture has seen the death of creativity, however, it has allowed a new form of creativity to emerge and develop. 

Transmedia Triumph

We wake up and read a story on our phone. On the bus to University a new character will be added to the story and we will learn about him on an eReader or tablet. During the lecture, when we should be focusing, we’ll catch up with the characters newest adventure on our laptop through Twitter. After the lecture the story has a twist and we’ll learn about this on a digital billboard. When we get home, we’ll finish the story on our television. This is transmedia storytelling.

“Transmedia storytelling represents a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience. Ideally, each medium makes its own unique contribution to the unfolding of the story.” Henry Jenkins, 2007.

In order to understand transmedia, we need to be able to differentiate between transmedia and multimedia. Multimedia is the process of telling a single story in multiple mediums. Transmedia is telling multiple stories over multiple mediums that fit together to tell one extensive, pervasive story. (One 3 Productions). The aim of transmedia storytelling is to create more entry points of the story, therefore increasing the points of engagement with the audience.

I recently watched a film called Trainspotting, oblivious to the fact that it was in fact an example of how local content can mutate into another local context. Written by Irvine Welsh, Trainspotting follows the lives of a handful of Scottish misfits as they delve into the darkest recesses of heroin addiction in order to escape their monotonous lives. Sparrow Hall describes his experience with Trainspotting, how it is an example of transmedia storytelling, how its success as a transmedia experience was most likely a mistake and also how within the story laid the groundwork for his first novel, Two Blue Wolves. Through the book, film, soundtrack and posters, a story was being told across several channels, each contributing equally to the plot and providing opportunities for audience engagement.

Trainspotting shows that transmedia is not just about blockbusters, but also the sharing of local and global content across several channels. Transmedia storytelling allows the complex web of a narrative to be delivered to the audience in a beautifully tangible way, rewarding the audience with each interaction.

Here a journo, there a journo, everywhere a journo!

A journalist is just a heightened case of an informed citizen, not a special classJay Rosen.

It seems that anyone can be a journalist nowadays, which is not good for my career prospects in sports journalism. Gone are the days of passive consumption of traditional media, as consumers take on the new role of the produser, with society seeing ‘a shift from dedicated individuals and teams of producers to a broader-based, distributed generation of content by a wide community of participants’ (Alex Bruns, 2007). With the notions of collective intelligence and participatory culture emerging, the role of the consumer is changing, leading to the rise of the citizen journalist.

The evolution of the media has played a major role in the empowerment of citizen journalists. Originating with Gutenburg’s press, traditional media has been pushed aside with the emergence of new platforms and technologies. Through these technologies such as the eReader, citizen journalism is able to have an effect over a range of different platforms and technologies. The fast and easy access to news through citizen journalism is now trumping the slow and difficult access that traditional media offers.

London Riots


The London Riots were a perfect example of citizen journalism at its best and worst. As it was such a widespread issue across several boroughs of London, traditional media was unable to cover each isolated issue, and, as a result, suffered. This paved the way for citizen journalism to thrive. Through the use of collective intelligence, Blackberry Messenger helped rioters organise the violence that swept the country. They used the service to arrange times and locations of lootings. Twitter also played a major role, not so much in organising, but in reporting. The hash tag ‘#londonriots’ highlighted the force of citizen journalism through collective intelligence. There were a total of more than 2.6 million riot-related tweets during the disturbances. Politicians and commentators claimed that Twitter caused the London riots and there were calls for sites such as Twitter to be shut down should events of this nature re-occur. (The Guardian)

The main problem that citizen journalism holds is that it is not necessarily a credible source. It only takes one person, one fabrication of the truth, to ruin the reputation of citizen journalism as a whole. The co-existence of both citizen journalism and traditional journalism is a vital cog in the dissemination of issues and information. Citizen journalism is essential in today’s society in order to break down barriers between producers and consumers and to eliminate the bias of media ownership, but there must be controls and regulations in place to ensure that the rise of citizen journalism does not become an uprising.

You shall not p… Actually, go ahead!

With the arrival of the Internet, everyone wanted to voice his or her opinion, everyone wanted to be heard. This was a huge problem for the gatekeepers of the ‘old broadcast media’, as their whole business model and the logic of their existence surrounds filtering information. As a result of the introduction of the Internet, convergent media platforms, emerging technologies and the digitalisation of content, the ‘people formally known as the audience’ (Jay Rosen, 2006) realised that their voices could be heard. Gatekeepers became very weak, and in some cases, non-existent (hence the title). The absence of gatekeeper’s leads to no content filter or quality control, therefore boding the question, how do we establish source credibility in a world where anyone can create content?

“Nobody knows everything, everyone knows something”, Pierre Levy, 1999

This statement, along with Levy’s theory of ‘Collective Intelligence’ has a direct correlation to the elusive notion of participatory culture and how this combines with the process of convergence to both empower audiences and allow new types of access and participation in mass media. The theory of collective intelligence is seen in today’s society, specifically social media platforms such as Twitter, where you are able to voice your opinion. While everyone knows ‘something’, they are able to express this through the social media and form something substantial. That is the problem with traditional media; they cannot achieve this aggregation of ideas. As the media converges and the Internet emerges, the passive role of the audience is changing rapidly. Passive consumers are now becoming active prosumers. Monologic media is evolving to dialogic media.

Take Wikipedia for example. This shows the new participatory culture in full affect. People are given the option to be what they want to be. Passive or active. They can passively read the information that is posted on the website, or they can opt to edit or annotate. This shows how something can go from being flat to becoming hybrid.

Another major development that has resulted in user empowerment is YouTube. This revolutionary video-sharing website, created by three former PayPal employees in February 2005, has seen the emergence of countless Internet identities. One that comes to mind is the golden child himself, Justin Bieber. The Canadian singing sensation started his career through uploading videos on YouTube, which led to him being signed by Raymond Braun Media Group. He went on to become one of the biggest pop stars of all time. Bieber is a key example of how digital media has lead to the rise of participatory culture and empowered users, therefore enabling them to become prosumers.


It can be seen that there are many benefits to the way that convergence has altered the role of audiences in their interaction with digital media platforms and content, however, this leads to the question of whether or not there should be some sort of regulation in order to control what we see and how we see it.

How do you like your garden?


Apple vs. Android, Closed device vs. Open platform, Walled garden of apps vs. Open garden of apps. The battle of the ages.  As media platforms grow and new technologies emerge, we become inundated with ubiquitous connectivity

The phone has become an interface to the Internet, resulting in it being almost a part of our bodies. Today’s society is always on, always connected. What we have also witnessed is the rise of ‘open’ and ‘closed’ media platforms, affecting users and industries in a variety of different ways.

On one hand, we have ‘closed appliances’, such as Apple, where the content is controlled and forms part of the closed ecosystem of that platform.
‘Apple re-invents the phone’: this was the initial slogan for the iPhone, and boy did they stick to it. As the first closed appliance to hit the phone market, it was an instant success. It has now become somewhat popular culture to own an iPhone. I witnessed the full effect of this when I attended Big Day Out, 2013, where my viewing experience was not impaired by the 46-degree heat, but the masses of iPhones up in the air, filming the acts.

On the other hand, we have ‘generative platforms’, such as Android, where anyone can access and modify the code, therefore extending no control over the platform, content or user.  As stated by Jonathan Zittrain, ‘As long as people control the code that runs on their machines, they can make mistakes and be tricked into running dangerous code’ – which Android allows the user to do. Whilst it may sound appealing to have complete control over your device, the freedom that you are given is often problematic. One obvious benefit to the Android is that it allows you to choose which device suits you best, from the appearance of the device, through to the operating system.

The Kindle Fire is an example of how an open, generative system mutates into a closed device. In order to see how Amazon did this, we need to take a look at the difference between an open source and an open device. Ryan Paul states that “developers can take the underlying source code that is used to power the product and they can build their own open source alternatives to the proprietary parts.” This is what Amazon have done, therefore “preventing users from swapping out the software that comes with a device.” Despite Amazon making the source code available since the release of Kindle in 2007, it is still essentially a closed device in an open source software, with the intended result being pure consumption.
This comparative study leads to the inevitable question of – which philosophy is better at empowering users? While the Android gives the user more control over their device, this leaves them open to problems that Apple protects their users from. The iPhone empowers their users by providing them with everything they need with no risk.

“Convergence is both a top-down corporate-driven process and a bottom up consumer-driven process” Jenkins (2004). “Media companies are learning how to accelerate the flow of media content across delivery channels” and “Consumers are learning how to use these different media technologies to bring the flow of media more fully under their control and to interact with other users.”

The battle between generative platforms and closed appliances is prevalent in today’s society, but in the end, it is the user who controls which philosophy comes out on top.

Kookaburra Sues In The Old Gum Tree

I scroll through my itunes library and think to myself, ‘am i a criminal?’
9223 songs and I probably paid for about 5% of them. I am not afraid to admit that, yes; those select few were mainly So Fresh Hits of the early 2000’s.

All jokes aside, copyright is a very serious issue. Before the Statute of Queen Anne in 1710, anyone could freely copy, modify or sell content created by others. I find this fascinating. Not just because ideas were considered public commons, but also because so many genius’s emerged during this time. Shakespeare, Caucher, Bach, Newton and Galileo, all of whom are regarded as the best in their respective areas of work.

A famous case that comes to mind is that of EMI Songs Australia v Larrikin Music Publishing (2011). Justice Peter Jacobson found Men at Work’s hit song Down Under reproduced a substantial part of the children’s folk tune Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree, therefore infringing their intellectual property rights.

Every songwriter is influenced by pieces of music, riffs etc. that they have heard before, and they are bound to come through in the songs. Even today, we hear of songs that sound very similar. Beyonce ‘Halo’ vs. Christina Perri ‘Jar of Hearts’, Coldplay ‘Clocks’ vs. David Guetta ‘When Love Takes Over’, Lady Gaga ‘So Happy I Could Die’ vs. Natasha Bedingfield ‘Pocket Full of Sunshine’. The list goes on.

As the media converges and more platforms emerge, the problem of copyright becomes much more difficult to control.

The Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) extends control over all primary and derivative content. This enables copyright owners to restrict and control their intellectual property through several means. These include; licensing, encryption, spyware, authentication, take down notices and litigation.

Many people believe that these strict copyright controls are damaging the rights of the Internet consumer and making creativity a crime.

For a statute with the initial objective of encouraging learning and creativity, I believe this law has been taken too far. In order for the film, music and art industries to survive, this needs to be resolved.
If copyright laws continue to develop and change in this manner, will we need a license to be creative in the future?

Long Story Short


Hi, I’m Lachie. I am 19 years old and reside from the thriving metropolis that is Singleton. Before you judge, we do have the Southern Hemisphere’s largest sundile. That is kind of a big deal.

I have recently returned from Europe, where I worked and travelled for a year. Whilst working at St. George’s School, Windsor Castle, I travelled to some of the most incredible places in the world. Ate pizza in Italy, cycled through the Swiss Alps and even went snorkelling in Iceland. I could not have wished for a better year, but now it is back to reality and to further my education.

I am studying a Bachelor of Communication and Media Studies at the University of Wollongong in the hope of pursuing a career in the media and eventually landing my dream job as a sports journalist. I have always been fascinated by the media and am extremely passionate about sport, so it seemed quite obvious to me what I should be doing.

As a Gen Y kid, I have grown up with the older generations constantly referring to us as the ‘Internet Generation’ and criticising our ever increasing reliance on technology, yet I find myself clueless as I dive into the unknown that is WordPress and Twitter. In what will be a slow start, I am looking forward to this course and the opportunities that it may bring.

In the words or Porky Pig, that’s all folks! I look forward to meeting everyone in BCM110 and BCM112 and I hope you enjoyed my first ever blog post.