Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Essay #4

Gizmodo is a technology blog that has many various posts of new and up-and-coming technologies in the U.S. and other countries. Over seven days I have observed various articles on cars, Mars rovers, speed cameras, robots, supercomputers and NASA rockets, along with many other interesting topics. Gizmodo is the blog to go to for any new technology that you would want to read about. It offers little bits of information and only highlights the important parts, leaving you with a clear understanding of what the post was about, without reading 10 pages. Once you are granted approval by the administrators on this website, you can comment and post your blogs.

I found it interesting that in blogosphere and in various other sites such as Digg, Gizmodo and other blogs, that it is the users that create the content and make the posts, and not some other editor or writer for the website. I think that users creating posts on topics that they find interesting, without any sort of influence from the mass media, is what makes these types of blogs good. The user does not have to be an expert to make a post on any of these sites, but as long as there is some documentation of sources that is adequate enough. Barlow states that "the ability to create at the same time "station" where one receives changes both perception and interaction, bringing the web into a new realm of mass media where resources extend to all of the one-separate media and more, where the user can manipulate the multiplying available items in ever-increasing fashion." (Barlow 45 C.2) Barlow gives the example of "fan fiction" which is when people take parts of Television commercials or situations and create their own productions or episodes based on them, and upload them to the Web. This, Barlow states, shows "people acting on media creations rather then simply absorbing them." (Barlow 45)

I believe this is the same with blogs -- the ability that we all have to create web content from all these different sources on the Internet allows any of us to become producers of our "own" content. Anyone can now take a story that they read on a news website or that they heard on the news, and go to Gizmodo and consolidate the information down to the important facts. This ability that we all have is important because now instead of simply just absorbing what all these different media outlets are telling us (becoming passive), we now become active and can create our own responses to this information. By creating our own posts with opinions and thoughts on various content we are becoming an active audience. As I have observed on Gizmodo, a user read an article on a new type of car coming to our country and got some basic information. This user then had the ability to create his or her own post and consolidate the information in a way that they saw more informative or interesting. I think the ability to do this is exactly what Barlow was talking about -- as an audience, we are becoming much more "active" by creating our own content and commenting on others, as well as editing existing posts, as opposed to a passive audience that just absorbs whatever the media gives them. The best part about blogs is that the information cannot really have any bias or mass media influence. It's the users creating the posts -- not some newspaper editor that is writing for a job or political influence.

Becoming a producer of content also comes with great responsibility of obeying legal constraints and avoiding plagiarism at all costs. The question of ownership on the Internet, as Barlow states, is one of the biggest controversies today. As I have observed, many posts on Gizmodo incorporated videos from YouTube and other video sites, audio clips, and various images from all over the Internet. I feel that this is what makes all these posts interesting, and by using pictures and video it really enhances the blogs for everyone. I believe that credit for copyrighted materials must be given when it's due and that more authors must utilize the concept of the Fair Use Act. This act stipulates a four proponent test to determine if use of the copyrighted material is legal without consent of the author. This is important for users to understand if they want to become producers of online content.

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