Friday, October 31, 2008

How media shapes your thought?

I found this article interesting and want to share with you. Personally, if I were the captor, I would rather say I would kill him instead of beating.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bollywood: It's all true

This article touches on the strange intersection of mob culture and the crazy world of bollywood film production.

Facebook Revolution

The following article details the use of Facebook as a means to criticize (and bring down) the Egyptian government.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Back to the Future: Problems with Russian News Media

Paul Goble has a sobering take on the state of Russian journalism these days. Shades of Soviet era censorship.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Oh Hollywood

We've spent a fair amount of time reading and talking about cultural imperialism and the dominance of American media abroad, specifically the dominance of Hollywood. I was on today and I noticed they had a list of the top grossing movies of the weekend.
  1. Max Payne
  2. Beverly Hills Chihuahua
  3. The Secret Life of Bees
  4. W.
  5. Eagle Eye
  6. Body of Lies
  7. Quarantine
  8. Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist
  9. Sex Drive
  10. Nights in Rodanthe
My first thought was, I can't believe Beverly Hills Chihuahua is doing so well. My second thought was how diverse these movies are. From the action movie Max Payne, Oliver Stone's political commentary "W", the CIA thriller "Body of Lies," the tween-tastic "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" and the comedy "Sex Drive" all in one category. Obviously different films are made for different audiences but what do you think this variety says about American society? How do you think that these 10 movies contribute to a positive image or foster a negative image of America?

Hollywood movies make a significant amount of profits from the foreign box office. Hollywood films are successful in foreign markets partly because the distribution system of Hollywood is so well developed, partly because the production techniques are so advanced and partly because the themes of some movies cross over to other cultures easily. This is not always the case, however. Movies such as "Forrest Gump" did not succeed outside of the American context. Do you think movies such as "W" taken out of the America would be popular abroad or do you think on a whole people would not be able to understand it?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Talking about problems with the media...

We only talked about him a few moments ago, and what do you know, the AP Press has an article about "Joe the Plumber", who isn't happy that they mentioned him so many times in the debate rather than talk about actual issues. Choice quote: "I'm kind of like Britney Spears having a headache. Everybody wants to know about it." Check it out here.

Interesting tidbit


Russians Not Following U.S. Elections
Almost two-thirds of Russians are not following the presidential election campaigning in the United States, Interfax reports, citing a national survey conducted by the Levada Center. Only 6 percent of Russians are following the elections closely.
Of the Russians who have taken an interest in the elections, 35 percent want to see Barack Obama win. Fourteen percent support John McCain, and an equal number cannot decide. Thirty-seven percent say they have no preference.

The survey was conducted October 10-14. The U.S. presidential elections take place November 4.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Nonexistent Financial Crisis

It seems as if the Russian media's approach to the current financial crisis is to simply ignore that it has had an impact on the Russian economy. The Moscow Times reports that:
The main channels have either downgraded or ignored altogether Russia's financial turmoil since it began in mid-September, according to media monitoring companies and research by The Moscow Times. On Monday, for instance, none mentioned the meltdown in Russia or any possible repercussions from the crisis. Only the smaller Ren-TV and Zvezda channels mentioned the stock plunge, according to Medialogia, a private company that tracks the media. ...

The Kremlin recently instructed both state and privately owned television channels to avoid using words like "financial crisis" or "collapse" in describing the turmoil in Russia, said Vladimir Varfolomeyev, first deputy editor at Ekho Moskvy radio.

"Specifically, the blacklist includes the words 'collapse' and 'crisis.' It recommends that 'fall' be replaced with the less extreme 'decrease,'" Varfolomeyev said in comments posted on his LiveJournal blog late last week.

This media blackout is similar to ones that occurred in the Russian media after the Beslan massacre and the sinking of the Kursk. When the effects of the crisis become visible and palpable, I think a lot of people will be wondering where it came from. Since the media has refused to cover this, I think it will simply delegitimize the current Russian mainstream media and cause them to seek alternative media sources which actually cover crises.

Lawrence Lessig on Digital Piracy

The irony, of course, is that this repost from the WSJ is from subscription-only content:

n early February 2007, Stephanie Lenz's 13-month-old son started dancing. Pushing a walker across her kitchen floor, Holden Lenz started moving to the distinctive beat of a song by Prince, "Let's Go Crazy." He had heard the song before. The beat had obviously stuck. So when Holden heard the song again, he did what any sensible 13-month-old would do -- he accepted Prince's invitation and went "crazy" to the beat. Holden's mom grabbed her camcorder and, for 29 seconds, captured the priceless image of Holden dancing, with the barely discernible Prince playing on a CD player somewhere in the background.
[In Defense of Piracy]

Ms. Lenz wanted her mother to see the film. But you can't easily email a movie. So she did what any citizen of the 21st century would do: She uploaded the file to YouTube and sent her relatives and friends the link. They watched the video scores of times. It was a perfect YouTube moment: a community of laughs around a homemade video, readily shared with anyone who wanted to watch.

Sometime over the next four months, however, someone from Universal Music Group also watched Holden dance. Universal manages the copyrights of Prince. It fired off a letter to YouTube demanding that it remove the unauthorized "performance" of Prince's music. YouTube, to avoid liability itself, complied. A spokeswoman for YouTube declined to comment.

This sort of thing happens all the time today. Companies like YouTube are deluged with demands to remove material from their systems. No doubt a significant portion of those demands are fair and justified. Universal's demand, however, was not. The quality of the recording was terrible. No one would download Ms. Lenz's video to avoid paying Prince for his music. There was no plausible way in which Prince or Universal was being harmed by Holden Lenz.

YouTube sent Ms. Lenz a notice that it was removing her video. She wondered, "Why?" What had she done wrong? She pressed that question through a number of channels until it found its way to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (on whose board I sat until the beginning of 2008). The foundation's lawyers thought this was a straightforward case of fair use. Ms. Lenz consulted with the EFF and filed a "counter-notice" to YouTube, arguing that no rights of Universal were violated by Holden's dance.

Yet Universal's lawyers insist to this day that sharing this home movie is willful copyright infringement under the laws of the United States. On their view of the law, she is liable to a fine of up to $150,000 for sharing 29 seconds of Holden dancing. Universal declined to comment.

How is it that sensible people, people no doubt educated at some of the best universities and law schools in the country, would come to think it a sane use of corporate resources to threaten the mother of a dancing 13-month-old? What is it that allows these lawyers and executives to take a case like this seriously, to believe there's some important social or corporate reason to deploy the federal scheme of regulation called copyright to stop the spread of these images and music? "Let's Go Crazy" indeed!

All Mixed Up

People are increasingly creating something new out of the old. Here are some examples of music, art and video built on existing songs.

[girl talk]

The band, whose sole member is 26-year old Gregg Gillis, has become known for its mashups. Its fourth CD, "Feed the Animals" (due out Oct. 21 but available online now), is built on samples of about 300 songs. (,

[holden lenz]

After Ms. Lenz posted a video of her son dancing to Prince on YouTube, it was taken down due to copyright issues. She has filed a lawsuit against Universal Music Group. (watch Ms. Lenz's video)

[candice breitz]

The South African-born artist staged an exhibit in London last year showing 25 John Lennon fans singing some of his songs. She's done similar exhibits of fans singing the music of Bob Marley, Michael Jackson and Madonna. (

[danger mouse]

In 2004, Danger Mouse put together "The Grey Album," which combined vocals from Jay-Z's "The Black Album" and samples from "The Beatles" (known as the White Album). It was leaked online but never officially released.

It doesn't have to be like this. We could craft copyright law to encourage a wide range of both professional and amateur creativity, without threatening Prince's profits. We could reject the notion that Internet culture must oppose profit, or that profit must destroy Internet culture. But real change will be necessary if this is to be our future -- changes in law, and changes in us.

For now, trials like Ms. Lenz's are becoming increasingly common. Both professionals, such as the band Girl Talk or the artist Candice Breitz, and amateurs, including thousands creating videos posted on YouTube, are finding themselves the target of overeager lawyers. Because their creativity captures or includes the creativity of others, the owners of the original creation are increasingly invoking copyright to stop the spread of this unauthorized speech. This new work builds upon the old by in effect "quoting" the old. But while writers with words have had the freedom to quote since time immemorial, "writers" with digital technology have not yet earned this right. Instead, the lawyers insist permission is required to include the protected work in anything new.

Not all owners, of course. Viacom, for example, has effectively promised to exempt practically any amateur remix from its lawyers' concerns. But enough owners insist on permission to have touched, and hence, taint, an extraordinary range of extraordinary creativity, including remixes in the latest presidential campaign. During the Republican primary, for example, Fox News ordered John McCain's campaign to stop using a clip of Sen. McCain at a Fox News-moderated debate in an ad. And two weeks ago, Warner Music Group got YouTube to remove a video attacking Barack Obama, which used pieces of songs like the Talking Heads' "Burning Down the House." (Spokesman Will Tanous of Warner Music Group, which represents the Talking Heads, says the request came from the band's management.) Around the same time, NBC asked the Obama campaign to pull an ad that remixed some NBC News footage with Tom Brokaw and Keith Olbermann.

We are in the middle of something of a war here -- what some call "the copyright wars"; what the late Jack Valenti called his own "terrorist war," where the "terrorists" are apparently our kids. But if I asked you to shut your eyes and think about these "copyright wars," your mind would not likely run to artists like Girl Talk or creators like Stephanie Lenz. Peer-to-peer file sharing is the enemy in the "copyright wars." Kids "stealing" stuff with a computer is the target. The war is not about new forms of creativity, not about artists making new art.

Yet every war has its collateral damage. These creators are this war's collateral damage. The extreme of regulation that copyright law has become makes it difficult, sometimes impossible, for a wide range of creativity that any free society -- if it thought about it for just a second -- would allow to exist, legally. In a state of "war," we can't be lax. We can't forgive infractions that might at a different time not even be noticed. Think "Eighty-year-old Grandma Manhandled by TSA Agents," and you're in the right frame for this war as well.

The work of these remix creators is valuable in ways that we have forgotten. It returns us to a culture that, ironically, artists a century ago feared the new technology of that day would destroy. In 1906, for example, perhaps America's then most famous musician, John Phillip Sousa, warned Congress about the inevitable loss that the spread of these "infernal machines" -- the record player -- would cause. As he described it:

"When I was a front of every house in the summer evenings you would find young people together singing the songs of the day or the old songs. Today you hear these infernal machines going night and day. We will not have a vocal chord left. The vocal chords will be eliminated by a process of evolution, as was the tail of man when he came from the ape."

A professional fearful that new technology would destroy the amateur. "The tide of amateurism cannot but recede," he predicted. A recession that he believed would only weaken culture.

A new generation of "infernal machines" has now reversed this trend. New technology is restoring the "vocal chords" of millions. Wikipedia is a text version of this amateur creativity. Much of YouTube is the video version. A new generation has been inspired to create in a way our generation could not imagine. And tens of thousands, maybe millions, of "young people" again get together to sing "the songs of the day or the old songs" using this technology. Not on corner streets, or in parks near their homes. But on platforms like YouTube, or MySpace, with others spread across the world, whom they never met, or never even spoke to, but whose creativity has inspired them to create in return.

The return of this "remix" culture could drive extraordinary economic growth, if encouraged, and properly balanced. It could return our culture to a practice that has marked every culture in human history -- save a few in the developed world for much of the 20th century -- where many create as well as consume. And it could inspire a deeper, much more meaningful practice of learning for a generation that has no time to read a book, but spends scores of hours each week listening, or watching or creating, "media."

Yet our attention is not focused on these creators. It is focused instead upon "the pirates." We wage war against these "pirates"; we deploy extraordinary social and legal resources in the absolutely failed effort to get them to stop "sharing."

This war must end. It is time we recognize that we can't kill this creativity. We can only criminalize it. We can't stop our kids from using these tools to create, or make them passive. We can only drive it underground, or make them "pirates." And the question we as a society must focus on is whether this is any good. Our kids live in an age of prohibition, where more and more of what seems to them to be ordinary behavior is against the law. They recognize it as against the law. They see themselves as "criminals." They begin to get used to the idea.

That recognition is corrosive. It is corrupting of the very idea of the rule of law. And when we reckon the cost of this corruption, any losses of the content industry pale in comparison.

Copyright law must be changed. Here are just five changes that would make a world of difference:

Deregulate amateur remix: We need to restore a copyright law that leaves "amateur creativity" free from regulation. Before the 20th century, this culture flourished. The 21st century could see its return. Digital technologies have democratized the ability to create and re-create the culture around us. Where the creativity is an amateur remix, the law should leave it alone. It should deregulate amateur remix.

What happens when others profit from this creativity? Then a line has been crossed, and the remixed artists plainly ought to be paid -- at least where payment is feasible. If a parent has remixed photos of his kid with a song by Gilberto Gil (as I have, many times), then when YouTube makes the amateur remix publicly available, some compensation to Mr. Gil is appropriate -- just as, for example, when a community playhouse lets neighbors put on a performance consisting of a series of songs sung by neighbors, the public performance of those songs triggers a copyright obligation (usually covered by a blanket license issued to the community playhouse). There are plenty of models within the copyright law for assuring that payment. We need to be as creative as our kids in finding a model that works.

Deregulate "the copy": Copyright law is triggered every time there is a copy. In the digital age, where every use of a creative work produces a "copy," that makes as much sense as regulating breathing. The law should also give up its obsession with "the copy," and focus instead on uses -- like public distributions of copyrighted work -- that connect directly to the economic incentive copyright law was intended to foster.

Simplify: If copyright regulation were limited to large film studios and record companies, its complexity and inefficiency would be unfortunate, though not terribly significant. But when copyright law purports to regulate everyone with a computer, there is a special obligation to make sure this regulation is clear. It is not clear now. Tax-code complexity regulating income is bad enough; tax-code complexity regulating speech is a First Amendment nightmare.

Restore efficiency: Copyright is the most inefficient property system known to man. Now that technology makes it trivial, we should return to the system of our framers requiring at least that domestic copyright owners maintain their copyright after an automatic, 14-year initial term. It should be clear who owns what, and if it isn't, the owners should bear the burden of making it clear.

Decriminalize Gen-X: The war on peer-to-peer file-sharing is a failure. After a decade of fighting, the law has neither slowed file sharing, nor compensated artists. We should sue not kids, but for peace, and build upon a host of proposals that would assure that artists get paid for their work, without trying to stop "sharing."

—Adapted from "Remix" by Lawrence Lessig, to be published by The Penguin Press on Oct. 16, 2008. Copyright by Lawrence Lessig, 2008. Printed by arrangement with The Penguin Press, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

Lawrence Lessig is a professor of law at Stanford Law School, and co-founder of Creative Commons.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fidel Castro. Blogger

I guess retirement has been good for Mr. Castro. At least he has time to blog.

BBC gets criticized for being profitable

Variety has the scoop on how an ostensibly public-backed media outlet evolves into a globally profitable venture. Can the founding mission be reconciled with the global market?

The Gov is interested in your social network

As usual, reality trumps my syllabus schedule (we'll be talking about this in a few weeks). Here's an interesting article on how the government (in this case, the intelligence community) is looking into online behavior in various social networking communities.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Night Watch and Day Watch

Here are the English-language trailers to the Russian fantasy movies, Night Watch and Day Watch. Basically, the immortal forces of good and the forces of darkness have operated under a centuries-old truce, while the rest of the population remains ignorant of the 'cold war' between these two groups. The symbolism is pretty blatant. The good guys operate as workers for the state power utility company, while the hedonistic bad guys live it up as rich oligarchs / mafiosos.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Nick Couldry during classtime next week

Next week - we'll be heading to a presentation by Nick Couldry, entitled "An Ethical Deficit? Accountability, Norms, and the Material Conditions of Contemporary Journalism." It will be in Battelle Atrium at 2:00pm, so we will all rendezvous there for class.

He is one of the preemint scholars on media, and it's a great opportunity to hear him speak. Here's a bio: Professor of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London where he is Director of the Centre for the study of Global Media and Democracy. Previously, he taught in the Departments of Sociology and Media and Communications at the London School of Economics between 2001 and 2006. His interests include media power, ritual dimensions of media, audience research, media ethics and the methodology of cultural studies. He is the author or editor of 7 books, including The Place of Media Power: Pilgrims and Witnesses of the Media Age (Routledge 2000), Media Rituals: A Critical Approach (Routledge 2003),
Listening Beyond the Echoes: Media, Ethics and Agency in an Uncertain World (Paradigm Books, USA, 2006) and (with Sonia Livingstone and Tim Markham) Media Consumption and Public Engagement: Beyond the Presumption of Attention (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007). He is currently working on books on mediation and society and on voice.

Monday, October 6, 2008

How do you think the media will be in 2013?

I found an interesting article posted on a blog.
The title is Do you know where your news is? Predictions for 2013 by Media Experts.
It lists views of media experts on future of the media, whose focuses include advancing ICT influences, role of journalists and their reporting styles.

I, more or less, agree with Jonathan Krim's idea which says, "the traditional story telling model, based on objectivity, will be abandoned and journalists will seek to attribute all points of views to others." Nowadays news flashes are posted on blogs or Internet forums faster than mainstream media report. When news is on TV or radio, discussions on the topic has already started on cyberspace citizen media. Traditionally one of the main roles of mainstream media was to deliver news to public, however the role has been taken by emerging citizen media.

Then how should mainstream media/professional journalists distinguish themselves?
Or should they stay how they are now?

I think their major role will be 1)to provide news based on the most reliable sources using their privileged position which allow them to have direct contacts with politicians, experts and corporate leaders (due to information overload, people will have more difficulties in knowing what to believe), and 2)to integrate themselves into public sphere to share what they know and what they think as a professional journalist. It means journalists will be required to carefully consider their sources of information and be able to provide their own views or analysis.

I would argue, in the future, what journalists think and say and where the news come from will matter more than how fast they report.

I am curious about who you agree with.
How do you think the media will be in 2013?

News and the public sphere

Here's an interesting short blogpost on why increased access to "high quality" news might be decreasing levels of political participation.

North Korean Propaganda

We're still a few weeks out from our public diplomacy readings, but I thought this might be of interest to some. More can found here.

Friday, October 3, 2008

As mentioned in class...

Anyone else see the resemblance at all?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

"Gazing at America, the French still see a wild frontier"

And here is yet another article about how yet another country looks at the U.S election - France. It's interesting that every country kind of adds their own perspective and culture to how they examine what is going on here, for instance this article at one point talks about France's laissez-faire spirit and how that affects the way they think about the candidates. Maybe we could argue this is a kind of glocalization of the U.S election, with the U.S election being a kind of commodity of its own? Can anyone else think of examples from around the world where we could apply this kind of argument? One to think about...