Medosch argues that: “piracy, despite being an entirely commercially motivated activity carried out in black or grey markets, fulfils culturally important functions” (Reader, page 318). Discuss ONE of these arguments while giving an example online.

Medosch argues that “piracy, despite being an entirely commercially motivated activity carried out in black or grey markets, fulfils culturally important functions” (Medosch, 2008: 81). With the widening of both the global and the local digital divide, which refers to inequality access to information, technology and the internet based on geographical location and wealth, we see a rise in the “pirate culture” (Castells, 2001). Piracy has always been spoken about negatively, a “billion dollar threat to the US economy” according to Paul Paradise (1999). However, it is important to countries or areas deprived from cultural products due to poverty or censorship because it gives them “access to cultural goods which otherwise would be completely unavailable” and bridges the gap between them and those in power (Medosch, 2008: 81). It addition, piracy is often the force that drives cultural productions as seen in the popularisation of pop music in UK where pirated versions of songs from the Beatles and Elvis Presley where illegally transmitted on private radio stations (Mason, 2008). Although I reject the values of “theft” promoted by piracy, I agree that it is an important agent in fulfilling cultural functions that controls the flow of power in society.

As Medosch (2008: 80) points out, “large international vertically integrated media corporations stifle local cultural production by completely taking over marketing and distribution channels, thereby destroying the business of local distributors who offer more culturally diverse and more local goods”. This means that media conglomerates are controlling the flow of media content to maintain their power over consumers by cutting out culturally important products from mainstream. They also commercialise content, limiting access to products only to the rich (Cuneo, 2002). This phenomenon pulls the poverty and digital divide gap wider because without access to cultural products and technology, you have cannot gain knowledge and will forever live in the vicious cycle of poverty. In developing and third world countries such as India and Africa, they advocated for free softwares and were more open to piracy because the stagnation of technological capabilities imposed by copyright laws also meant the stagnation to their economies because opportunities to compete in the global market were stifled (James, 2002). What we see here is that the protection of the richer economies meant the poorer economies suffer. With piracy, in this case, the richer economies stay rich (since developing and third world countries cannot afford the technology without piracy any way) while the poorer economies gain opportunities to escape poverty.

In Australia, for example, the film “Ken Park” was banned in 2003 on the basis that it was too sexually explicit (Carstairs, 2003). It was the only country who banned it. However, the film contained controversial issues that many people saw important in the education of sexuality, dysfunctional families, teenage deviance and suicide (Carstairs, 2003). Thus, illegal screenings were shown and copies of the film were distributed online (Carbone, 2003; The Age, 2003). The restriction was not only seen as a form of cultural inhibition, but also seen as a form of censoring free speech (The Age, 2003). Here is the film trailer (*Note – It is explicit):

Piracy, though inherently bad as it exploits others work, fulfils culturally important functions, more so, but not exclusive to, countries which have no access to the original material. In a way, it promotes democracy within local cultures and the global sphere. Mark Pesce goes as far as to say that piracy can be harnessed for economic growth, because it promotes cultural productions that may otherwise be left on the shelf (Pesce, 2005). Even though I agree that piracy has benefits, I do not think it is a long-term solution to bridging cultural differences. Instead, I stand by Jeffrey James (2002) argument that free software and better management of copyright materials can perform the same cultural function in a more ethical way than piracy.


Carbone, S. (2003) ‘Film board chief on the defensive over banned movie’, The Age, http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/07/04/1057179156219.html, 5 July, [3 June 2011].

Carstairs, P. (2003) ‘The “banning” of Ken Park: a brief review of the facts and issues’, Arts Law Centre of Australia, http://www.artslaw.com.au/art-law/entry/the-banning-of-ken-park-a-brief-review-of-the-facts-and-issues/, 30 September, [3 June 2011].

Cuneo, C. (2002) Globalized and Localized Digital Divides Along the Information Highway: A Fragile Synthesis Across Bridges, Ramps, Cloverleaves, and Ladders. The 33rd Annual Sorokin Lecture: University of Saskatchewan.

James, J. (2002) ‘Free software and the digital divide: opportunities and constraints for developing countries’, Sage Publications: Journal of Information Science 2003, 29: 25.

Mason, M. (2008) ‘Live and Let DIY’, Guardian.co.ukhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/ culture/2008/may/10/popandrock.piracy, 10 May, [3 June 2011].

Medosch, A. (2008) ‘Paid in Full: Copyright, Piracy and the Real Currency of Cultural Production’ pp. 73-97 in Deptforth. TV Diaries II: Pirate Strategies. London: Deptforth TV.

Paradise, P.R. (1999) Trademark Counterfeiting, Product Piracy, and the Billion Dollar Threat to the U.S. Economy. USA: Greenwood Publishing Group.

Pesce, M.D. (2005) Piracy is Good? New Models for the Distribution of Television Programming. Lecture: Australian Film Television and Radio School.

The Age (2003) ‘Ken Park ban ‘sadly archaic’, http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/07/04/1057179133410.html, 4 July, [3 June 2011].


Piracy is good? Lecture by Mark Pesce at the Australian Film Television and Radio School about the future of TV distribution in the age of P2P networks. He explains how piracy can be good for the economy as well.

Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIqG7WgqQ-w&feature=related

Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XftaEUYLz4&feature=related

Part 4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gS5DaO9yFQ0&feature=related

Part 5: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHcRnspYJ-Q&feature=related

Part 6: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHcRnspYJ-Q&feature=related

Part 7: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=doM9Vboy4EU&feature=related

I thought this was interesting. Steven had a very different response from mine. I focused on what makes a celebrity, a celebrity but he focused on the business aspect of celebratisation. And one with much better quality (*GASP* quality discourse)!

Check him out: http://steventannason21.wordpress.com

Question: Burgess and Green argue that: ordinary people who become celebrities through their own creative efforts “remain within the system of celebrity native to, and controlled by, the mass media”. Discuss and give an example of a YouTube video.


Bonner, F. (2005) ‘The Celebrity in the Text’ pp. 57-96 in Evans, J. and D. Hesmondhalgh (eds) Understanding Media: Inside Celebrity. London: Open University Press.

Burgess, J. and Green, J. (2009) ‘YouTube and the Mainstream Media’ pp. 15-37 in YouTube: Online Video and Participatory Culture. Cambridge: Political Press.

Evans, J. and D. Hesmondhalgh (2005) Understanding Media: Inside Celebrity. London: Open University Press.Jenkins, H. (2006) Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, New York and London: New York University Press.

Jenkins, H. (2006) Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, New York and London: New York University Press.

Keen, A. (2008) The Cult of the Amateur: How Blogs, MySpace, YouTube and the Rest of Today’s User-generated Media are Killing our Culture and Economy. London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.

Muller, E. (2009) ‘Where Discourse Matters: Discourses on the Art of Making a YouTube Video’ pp. 126-139 in Snickars, P. and P. Vonderau (eds) The YouTue Reader. Stockholm: National Library of Sweden.


Videos used:

Lady Gaga, Born This Way – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wV1FrqwZyKw

Lady Gaga, The Fame: Part One – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kd4x-_iL85s

Sam Tsui, Born This Way – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZe1fcYLwBg

J Rice Music (Collaboration of 55 YouTube Artistes), We Pray for You – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G03HgSxDqlA

The Lonely Island, Jizz In My Pants – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLnWf1sQkjY

MsTaken, Puke in my Mouth – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJsQcnB6GC0

Russell (et al.) questions if “bloggers, with their editorial independence, collaborative structure and merit-based popularity, more effectively inform the public”. To answer Russell’s question, we must first establish what “good journalism” is. According to Andrew Keen (2008: 64), good journalism is based on “reliability, accuracy and truth of the information”. Others such as Tremayne (2007) emphasize that to effectively inform the public, news must be timely and taken from a credible source. The information must also be “relevant and of interest to their target audience”, “unbiased” and “objective” (Articlesbase, 2009). Now, as we compare accredited mass media to blogging, we may immediately jump to the conclusion that apart from perhaps being timelier, blogging is less credible, less accurate and less objective than information produced by mass media, ineffectively informing the public. However, as Lee Kain and Postelnicu (2007: 152) argue, “bloggers are communicators whose potential to influence is derived from their credibility or social attractiveness” in the first place. Although I agree with Keen (2008: 64-96) that many blogs contain inaccurate facts, I argue that some bloggers more effectively inform the public than elite media.

As Bruce Gutherie, ex-editor-in-chief of the Herald Sun, revealed: Most of the information we receive through elite media are not objective and often bears the ideologies of the media owner, in this case, Rupert Murdoch (O’Brien, 2010). In our everyday lives, we are reminded again and again of these ideologies due to the intrusion of mass media. What bloggers do is they provide an alternative voice and dimension to the same issue (Flew, 2008: 150-159). If a blog is credible as Lee Kain and Postelnicu (2007: 152) argue and in line with the facts we receive from elite media, we would continue to subscribe to it because the internet makes this information more accessible at a low-cost, free from geographical boundaries (Hassan, 2008: 159-189).

During the Singapore Election this year, many people took to the political blog, anilnetto.com, for the results. I took a screenshot of the Twitter account linked to this blog:

7 June 2011: Anilnetto.com, one of the blogs to front the Singapore General Election results

People were displeased at the rate they got the results from major media companies in Singapore such as MediaCorp and Channel News Asia (CNA). They were criticising traditional media for being slower than Twitter, Facebook and blogs. One comment even reads, “CNA, [if] you say new media development one more time *slap*slap*slap*”. She was referring to how ineffective news media channels, believed to release “first-hand news”, were not quicker or more accurate than blogs or social network sites.

People are taking to blogs for its information because many of them have established a system of credibility and timeliness comparable to or better than the offerings of accredited media (Lee Kain and Postelnicu, 2007). However, we cannot deny the fact that amongst the millions of blogs, only a few are as such (Keen, 2008: 64-80). Therefore, those who seek these A-list blogs will benefit most and render it more effective than elite media as argued earlier while those who are less tech savvy or find it a hassle to search for these blogs will just let elite media take the lead. Either way, the quality of information received is, at the bottom line, a matter of choice by the consumer.



Articlesbase (2009) ‘Effective Journalism – Education for the 21st Century’, http://www.articlesbase.com/journalism-articles/effective-journalism-education-for-the-21st-century-972813.html, 15 June, [28 May 2011].

Flew, T. (2008) ‘Citizen Journalism’ pp. 106-116 in New Media: An Introduction. Melbourne: Oxford Press.

Hassan, R. (2008) ‘Faster and Faster’ pp. 159 – 189 in The Information Society. Cambridge: Political Press.

Keen, A. (2008) The Cult of the Amateur: How Blogs, MySpace, YouTube and the Rest of Today’s User-generated Media are Killing our Culture and Economy. London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.

Lee Kain, L. and M. Postelnicu (2007) ‘Credibility of Political Messages on the Internet: A Comparison of Blog Sources’ pp. 149-164 in Tremayne, M. (ed) Blogging, Citizenship and the Future of Media, New York: Rouledge Press.

O’Brien, K. (2010) ‘Men Bites Murdoch’, ABC News Online, http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content /2010/s3036588.htm, 12 October, [28 May 2011].

Tremayne, M. (2007) ) Blogging, Citizenship and the Future of Media, New York: Rouledge Press.

This a video on Wadah Khanfar, the head of Al Jazera, and his thoughts on journalism in Arab countries at TED convention. Visit the site for more information: http://blog.ted.com/2011/03/02/a-historic-moment-in-the-arab-world-wadah-khanfar/

I read this: http://timothylam.wordpress.com/2011/05/10/uni-professors-are-flocking-to-the-blog/

“Another reason why blogs are being embraced by academics is that the informal nature of blogging makes them more accessible than the mammoth and jargon-laden articles that nobody without a PhD would understand.”

My favourite line from his blog post! I do agree that blogs are much easier to read and understand in comparison to academic journals. My lecturer is using her blog as a journal for her thesis because she says it is much easier to track her work. But I wonder if they can truly replace academic works.

I read Henry Jenkins’ blog frequently because he is engaging and I do learn a lot from him. But how do you differentiate, for example, his personal opinion from his academic work on his blog? Can blogs be truly academic or is it just a tool to write that thesis in the end? Maybe it’s just me because I find blogging so much more personal than academic to a point that I sometimes find it difficult to write academically on blogs.

– Article taken from Timothy Lam’s blog. Check him out on my blogroll:)

It was kind of a dilemma because all of the creative commons licenses seem applicable considering this is only a blog. Would it matter if someone remixed my blog posts? Would it matter if someone used it commercially and not credit me? I probably wouldn’t even know!

However, I eventually chose the “strictest” creative commons license. Here it is (you can refer to the one on the right as well):

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Why did I choose this over others? I figured if I really wanted people to use my school work, I wouldn’t want it to be commercialised (then it wouldn’t be fair for others in future if they want to use it and it’s copyrighted by someone else). I also would want people to acknowledge me not because I really want my name on their work, but simply because I feel that people should not just use others’ work to pass off as their own. It would only create a culture of online pirates that questions our society’s values. Finally, the one that puzzles people the most, why wouldn’t I want people to modify or remix my work?

Firstly, my work is nothing creative or funky that if you remix (like videos), it’ll bring joy to others. Thus, I do not see a point in calling on others to “improve” my work. Critique: Yes. Remix: No.

More importantly, I don’t want people to “discredit” me and tweak what I say because this blog is not meant to be about my personal life or anything. It is meant to add scholarship to my work and I want it to be taken seriously, not just free for all to use and change. And I do not want to take liability for something I did not say or mean to say. Therefore, even if someone interprets my work wrongly, at least other readers can directly look for my work and clarify if that was what I meant.

1.  Analyse critically the following statement by Mark Zuckerberg while comparing it to privacy issues raised by online social networking collaborative practices:

“When people have control over what they share, they are comfortable sharing more. When people share more, the world becomes more open and connected. And in a more open world, many of the biggest problems we face together will become easier to solve.” Mark Zuckerberg, Creator of Facebook

Prelude: 18 July 2011 – This morning, as I logged on to Facebook, I realised there were added settings and controls. We now have a Facebook email account (which even allows you to download and attach documents) and we can text each other on our mobile phones through Facebook (I haven’t used it but I reckon it is similar to What’s App). On Twitter, it used to be text updates where everyone could see. And now, you can change your settings to allow only close friends to view certain tweets and post videos, engage in mobile twittering, etc. Having these controls, as Mark Zuckerberg points out, will allow users to share more because they are comfortable with (the assumption of) a bigger private space. As a consumer myself, I agree. I share more because I have trust in these social networking sites. However, can you really have privacy online?

ESSAY: A social network is a “web of connections, such as a group of people who associate together” (Solove, 2007: 25). Online social networking follows the same principles: They are websites that “allow people to interact with each other” and connect people within or between social circles (Mooney, 2009: 10; Solove, 2007: 25). This means that there is a probability that someone who doesn’t know you personally, may eventually come across your Facebook profile through a friend of a friend.

And so what do we do on these social networking sites? Well, we share our own lives. With MySpace (or Facebook for that matter) we release “phone numbers, email addresses, hobbies, religion, sexual orientation, political views, favourite television shows, and more” (Solove, 2007: 26). Astonishing figures were released about the amount of personal information users release on their pages:

Photos of themselves 79% Photos of friends 66%
Birthdates 87.8% Phone numbers 39.9%
Current Residency 50.8% First Name 82%

Statistics taken from Solove (2007: 27) and Mooney (2009: 57)

As Boyd (2008: 18) says, “Information is not private because no one knows; it is private because the knowing is limited and controlled”. However, because most of these social network websites cannot “distinguish between close friends and mere acquaintances”, when you release information about yourself, everyone whom you are connected to are likely to have access to them (Solove, 2009: 27). Thus, I argue that the more people engage in social networking and share information online, the less privacy they have.

Privacy is not just about you. As Solove (2007: 30) says, “Sometimes information winds up online because we put it there intentionally; sometimes it is accidental; and other times, it is put there without knowledge and consent”. Take for example, the General Election in Singapore. A huge controversy about candidate Tin Pei Ling (TPL) was stirred up because of a photo that was tagged of her with her Kate Spade gift box (Singapore2011, 2011). During her election speeches, people were cheering for her (maybe an irony here), screaming, “Kate Spade, Kate Spade, Kate Spade!”

Taken from Wikipedia: Tin Pei Ling and her Kate Spade (Left), Local celebrity Tay Ping Hui emulating Tin Pei Ling for a story in magazine, 8 Days

Another candidate, Nicole Seah, was heavily criticised because she previously used vulgarities in her twitter comment (Sim, 2011). Here, we see that online social networking sites, which were meant as private spaces, have become public domains (or even online public spheres) where people can judge and criticise you based on personal information that has been fed to your account. “Our freedom, in short, depends in part upon how others in society judge us” (Solove, 2007: 31) and they can do so easily now with the lack of privacy in online social networking practices.

Have you ever seen advertisements on your Facebook? I’m sure you have. And you’ll be surprised, for example, how far away I am from Singapore and yet, I still receive ads from my homeland. Although online social network sites have provided us more control “against” common people like friends of friends, it has not protected us from industries. In fact, our personal information becomes valuable as online social network sites sells them to companies so that they can gain advertising revenue (Reisinger, 2011). Here, our privacy is exploited by companies without our acknowledgement. Or at least, Facebook assumes that once you’ve signed up for an account, you’ve signed your personal life away.

The last thing for now that I would like to highlight is the case study called “Dooced” (Solove, 2007: 39-40). An employee in this case was fired because she blogged about her work experience. Not everyone knows about the risks of exposing themselves online. Controls have increased and people are willing to share more. However, these controls, as Boyd (2008: 19) says, are only ways to “convince their users that the advantages of News Feeds outweighed security through obscurity”. In truth, once you’ve shared your personal information online, you’ve lost it to the online public sphere.

The sea of information online is vastly populated by our personal information. Even if the internet promotes a more open world which is connected, it does not solve world problems like Mark Zuckerberg suggests because there is an “information overload” in new media which makes the environment “obscure” and “complex” where people find it “impossible to grasp in its totality” (Goode, 2005: 109). There is a lack of opportunity for people to discuss important problems as they become “refreshed” too quickly (Goode, 2005: 109).  On the contrary, it leads to privacy concerns, causing more personal problems. Eventually, the vision to democratise online media is only a facade to hide the increasing power of media conglomerates. This will coincidentally have relevance to my next few postings so stay tuned!



Boyd, D. (2008). ‘Facebook’s privacy trainwreak: Exposure, invasion and social convergence’ in Convergence: The International Journal into New Media Technologies, 14.4: 13-20.

Goode, L. (2005) ‘Mediations: From the Coffee House to the Internet Cafe’ pp. 89 – 110 in Jürgen Habermas : democracy and the public sphere. London: Pluto Press.

Mooney, C. (2009). Online Social Networking. USA: Gale Cengage Learning.

Reisinger, D. (2011). ‘Facebook Selling User Contents to Advertisers’, Cnet News, 26 January, http://news.cnet.com/8301-13506_3-20029593-17.html, [18 May 2011].

Sim, F. (2011). Yahoo! News, Singapore, 29 May, http://sg.news.yahoo.com/blogs/singaporescene/nsp-nicole-seah-politics-life-ge-161224182.html, [30 May 2011].

Singapore2011 (2011). Singapore Elections 2011: Latest News and Updates about Singapore’s 14th GE, 27 April, http://singaporege2011.wordpress.com/2011/04/27/crowd-chanted-kate-spade-as-tin-pei-ling-made-her-speech/, [18 May 2011].

Solove, D.J. (2007). ‘How the free flow of information liberates and constrains us’ pp. 17-49 in The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumour and Privacy on the Internet. New Haven: Yale University Press.

With the general elections coming up in Singapore, my Facebook and Twitter feeds have been “hijacked” by friends who are terribly enthusiastic about the elections. I’ve seen good comments and feedback by people who are constructive, feeding me “live” (accurate) information about what’s going on in my faraway homeland so that I don’t become one of those apathetic youths. However, I’ve recently realised a trend in what I call the “Dominant Party Bashing”. People are only hard up and non-sympathetic with PAP (People’s Action Party – Leading Political Party in Singapore), often being overly bias against them, nitpicking every single detail (even their private lives on Facebook). On the other hand, they are much less critical about other parties, even if they are late for nominations. The idea seems to be “give a chance to these opposition parties even if they might not prove to be worthy”. This leads me to wonder if citizen journalism is truly critical and reliable or is it just individuals trying to express their personal unhappiness about the policies they feel are oppressing them in this instance? And how far can it go? This video, for example, appeared 4 times on my Facebook feed in a span of less than 6 hours and is definitely going viral in Singapore:

I don’t know what to think about this video. It is a good account of the events happening at ground but at the same time, how reliable is this source? Is it being bias or truly objective? And what is the motive of the video? I honestly feel it is just a video that echoes individuals’ sentiments about the ruling party and the opposition, covering the fact that the latter team did indeed come unprepared and late.

Thus, I question: Is citizen journalism good especially when it comes to important state affairs?