When the Cathedral meets the Bazaar

When applying it to the field of communications and media, we like to think of Eric S. Raymond’s concept of the cathedral and of the bazaar as two binary poles. That we can only have one at the exclusion of the other.

It is easy to think this way. The cathedral is symbolic for walled garden media generation. One where everything—contribution, user access points, production processes and feedback loops—is controlled by and visible to a select number of people. The bazaar, however, is a symbol of open garden, open source media production. One where every aspect of creation can be accessed and contributed to, by anyone at any time.

My video demonstrates how these two aspects can be complementary. It shows how my high school Major Design Project was made successful through the incorporation of products resultant from bazaar processes into a cathedral system. This being my combination of the Arduino with codes from GitHub and designs from the Fusion 360 gallery—all of which are open source—with my own iterative design process—which was tightly controlled by myself.

The video itself was inspired by many process videos which came before it.

You Wouldn’t Steal a Hedwig

Copyright aims to control the spread of memes because the industry wants to control content and ideas. My remediation this week is an example of how this model of highly restrictive copyright is incompatible with the internet.

The internet is open source, no matter how much big businesses try to create control and scarcity. Produsers, such as myself, will always find a way to take someone else’s content and remix it into their own new creation. The internet is optimised for this. There are thousands of online tools available which facilitate the ripping, mixing and mashing of online content. In the battle between prosumers and industry, participatory culture and monopolised material, open and closed formats, the algorithmic measures taken by sites such as YouTube and Soundcloud are insufficient. This week I was told that copyright aims to protect creators but the internet undermines this. Anyone can take an iconic theme song and use an online mashup tool to mix it with a warning video about piracy to create the world’s most ironic banger.

World of Internet Warcraft

The rise of digital and social media has led to a change in how messages, ideas and ideologies are propagated. Anyone with these technologies can produce, aggregate and curate content, without being a professional communicator, and I was inspired this week to do just that.

The information people want to portray can be easily packaged as memes and presented to the consumer, relentlessly injecting that message into the minds of many, thus regimenting the public’s mindset. This process can be used as a more perverted and pervasive form of psychological warfare due to its open-access, and far-reaching attributes—known as meme warfare. Meme warfare can have real and serious consequences without the consumer ever knowing they are being influenced, which only enhances how dangerous this digital weapon can be.

My video is, in itself, an example of how easy it is for an amateur to create what they want for their own agenda and share it with an audience, and influence how people think. I also hope to raise people’s awareness of this topic because in the age of the internet, gullibility will be the death of reason.

The Digital Public Sphere

The digital age has given Habermas’ classic idea of the ‘public sphere’ a face lift. No longer do we learn about and discuss the news, current events, and social/cultural/political issues of the moment solely from physical sources (legacy media) and face-to-face interactions. Digital and social media have heralded a new age of discourse, allowing us as audience members to actively engage (debate, deliberate and support) with these issues as we discover them in real-time.¹

Twitter is the most prolific micro-blogging platform around: a melting-pot of global, digital conversation and opinion. The public sphere of choice for instant connection with a diverse, mass audience. It has the ability to expose one to an array of thoughts and facts beyond an individual’s personal realm of understandings. A multiplicity arising from following and viewing any member’s tweets, and the ability to view tweets from people one has not subscribed to, through another’s use of the ‘retweet’ button.

Within the sphere of Twitter, exist sphericules of limited subject matter.

The bcm110 hashtag has created a sphericule in the form of a forum (which I am part of) facilitating the UOW Communications and Media student’s learning of their chosen craft, operating through a ‘thrown in the deep end’ approach. We learn about media through using it, and by making our own mistakes with it. We learn from the relevant articles we share with each other, and through the opportunity it affords us to share our own external media creations with a willing and understanding audience.

Our sphericule is not saturated with hot debate of current issues (such as the Twitter-popular gun control debate), but, these current issues may sometimes arise when related to an area of media study. This is because the #bcm110 forum is made up of a cozy family of students and ex-students who have taken the ‘Introduction to Communications and Media’ class, and the wonderful professors who make this class possible. Twitter users not a part of this like-minded collective aren’t strictly excluded from this sphericule, however when they do come across it, a lack of understanding of the subject matter may hinder their own involvement.

The media’s role in our little sphericule is quite different to its typical role within the broader sphere of Twitter. Usually the media would try to generate discussion and convert opinion by disseminating and selling their own ideologies. In the #bcm110 forum however, as a result of our use and applications of the ‘space’ as a learning tool, we turn the media to our own advantage, picking it apart and examining it in detail so we can understand its inner workings, allowing us to become better media creators.

If you have any more thoughts about the digital public sphere then join the ‘Young Dreamer’ sphericule by commenting down below.


¹ Thirroul, S 2018, The Media Theory Toolbox’, lecture, University of Wollongong, delivered 27 March

The Internet: Connective, Collective

Crisis Averted

In 2018, the internet dominates over legacy media. Its network configuration affords dialogic conversation from many people to many other people. Media can now be consumed, produced and remixed by anyone, due to its inherent ubiquitous connectivity (i.e. it is cheap, participatory and immediate). Social networks allow for a new mode of participation where we can coordinate and mobilise in response to real world issues and events.

This idea of ubiquitous connectivity has implications which are evident in real life circumstances. Clay Shirky discusses how the internet enabled citizen journalism in China’s 2009 earthquakes, which prompted me to make this gif as a summation of the general process of empowered network participation. In short, people were reporting on what was happening as it happened by posting videos and images of the devastation in China. Not long after, it was discovered that the reason why so many schools collapsed was because of shady government dealings. Through the internet, citizens were able to coordinate and mobilise protests both online and in real life; they were able to share their personal stories and collaborate on solutions to their problems. All this was done instantly and free of charge, having massive and severe consequences across the nation.

Shirky’s TED Talk examines these implications in much more depth and is a really interesting watch. Leave a comment on what you found most interesting about his talk.