‘The Revolution will be Tele-vined’

Over the past week, like many across the world, I watched the events unfolding in the U.S town of Ferguson, primarily by following the #Ferguson hashtag and following a number of journalists and others who were produced large numbers of up-to-the-moment Vines.

The importance of Vine in these vents cannot be overstated. Previously, Vine has very much been seen as an artistic platform in the eyes of the public – with most content designed to be highly elaborate despite the relative ease and immediacy of uploading. However in some ways I see Vine as finally having come into it’s own as a journalistic during these horrific events.

For the first time, 56% of the U.S. public now possess smartphones. Not only were there many people able to record and upload, there were many more able to

While there are a million ways to upload video to the internet, Vines are easily loaded and viewed in the Twitter timeline, and anyone with even the tiniest bit of mobile data can watch a six second clip. Indeed, for me, the starkness of a rough six second clip really ham

One persistent theme in much of the twitter coverage has been the unwillingness of many social media spectators to believe the tweeting journalists on the ground, notable reports such as Matt Pierce or Wesley Lowery were accused of exaggerating, twisting the facts or outright lying on an almost hourly basis. While the mantra of ‘the camera never lies’ is certainly not true, the stark short Vines coming out of Ferguson are undeniable proof of the ongoing events . It’s much harder to claim that people are lying when faced with the barrage of Vines showing similar images. This is a type of video reporting that has simply not been possible up until now, certainly not on the scale seen in Furgeson.

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Dealing with Social Media Paralysis (short blog)

Just recently, I’ve realised how inactive I’ve become on social media. Fewer blogs than usual, few instagram posts, tweets only every few days, Facebook activity practically zilch (though that’s nothing new!) But this isn’t a result of me drifting away from social media, on the contrary, I use it more than ever. Twitter in particular has become my main source of news both national and international, tech articles and info, not to mention a fair amount of YouTube celebrity stalking. But it seems the more I lurk and read, the less I actually say. And unlike the nursery rhyme about the Wise Old Owl, that isn’t a good thing online. Social media is for communicating, as well as one way learning and discovering. If I’m not communicating, (not only am I spending shamefully little of my online time keeping in touch with friends) I’m only using one aspect of the platform.

It’s been an interesting realisation for me, and I’m not sure what the cause of it is. It’s certainly not down to lack of things to say, but perhaps I’m getting such an endless stream of information, it’s become difficult to know what to respond to. So, I’ve decided to do an experiment. If I actually spent less time on Twitter, and only read what is on my newsfeed plus a few trending hashtags, will I actually tweet more?

Russia’s Anti-Blogging Law

Just yesterday, a law in Russia came into effect which will impose incredibly restrictive laws upon blogging within the country. According to this BBC article, “bloggers with more than 3,000 daily readers must register with the mass media regulator, Roskomnadzor, and conform to the regulations that govern the country’s larger media outlets. Internet companies will also be required to allow Russian authorities access to users’ information. It includes measures to ensure that bloggers cannot remain anonymous, and states that social networks must maintain six months of data on its users. The information must be stored on servers based in Russian territory, so that government authorities can gain access.”

Obviously, this is a move to prevent regime criticism, ensure that people’s main sources of information come from government backed sources, and an attempt to keep them from accessing sources outside of Russia. They will also effectively shut down bloggers ability to communicate with each other, share info and links, and give their readers a more rounded view of what they are reading, which has always been one of the most important facets of blogging.

 

Topical blogging, such as war-blogging, illustrates how blogs can be used for knowledge creation and knowledge sharing. A blog can bring together many points of view from many different  blogs and many different articles from around the web, into a single post by linking to them (for an example see Fig. 3). Comments and trackbacks allow readers of the post to contribute their own relevant links that help tosupport or reason against the argument. That post can then be used and combined with other posts in other blogs, and in doing so, further the argument.

– Brady, M. “Blogging: personal participation in public knowledge-building on the web”

 

However, forcing larger blogs to register or be shut down, and trying to scare smaller blogs into not increasing their readership, is unlikely to stop them actually blogging. as the article says, Russian bloggers are already passing on ways to access their work through proxies, and circumvent firewalls. In addition, denying access to social media sites may have a bigger knock-on effect than Russia realises – Sarah Joseph’s work “Social Media, Political Change and Human Rights” notes that during the 2011 revolution in Egypt, disrupting social media actually may have caused more protest activity out in the streets, and galvanised so-called ‘armchair activists’ into taking a more serious stand (p 161-162/p45-46 in pdf version.)

Of course, it is hard to say what the effect of this law will be on the Russian people by looking at other censored countries. The Arab Spring social media blackouts were hastily imposed and not backed up by laws, and other comparable countries such as China have very different policies – in China sites are reactively policed and individual messages deleted (as described in this study – Bamman, D., O’Connor, B., Smith, N., “Censorship and deletion practices in Chinese social media” First Monday, March, 2002) From a personal standpoint, I hope that it can. According to the site Internet World Stats only an estimated 44.3% of the Russian population has internet, which may seem very low to many of us, yet that still amounts to roughly 4.6 million people, whose right’s to information and opinion may just have been greatly reduced.