Black Mirror?

For the past two weeks I’ve been watching Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror on C4 and I honestly don’t know what to think.

For those who don’t know, Brooker is an English Jounalist, Satirist and script writer with a flair for the savage, sometimes cruel and more often than not downright mean types of humor. I’m a huge fan of Dead Set, which Brooker wrote the script for. It has zombies, makes fun of the public’s obsession with reality TV shows and a friend of a friend was in it as a zombiefied extra.

Black Mirror on the other hand. I don’t know whether to love or hate it. My boyfriend’s reaction to the first episode sums it up well. ‘I can’t tell if Charlie Brooker is a genius and I just don’t get it or if I wasted an hour of my life’. A friend memorably put on Facebook that he would gladly have a sex change operation if it meant that he could marry Mr. Brooker. So opinions are clearly split.

To sum it up, Black Mirror is a series of three one off drama’s depicting stories based on Modern technology and where it could lead to if we’re not careful. The second one was a little more fantastical and futuristic so I’m not going to go into it here, but the first one is somewhat relevant to my Social Media studies.

We’ve been discussing how Facebook, Twitter and the internet in general have been changing the ways that people communicate, and what the consequences of this could be. These ideas where the concept of the first episode’s plot. A fictional beloved Princess was kidnapped and the kidnapper threatened to kill her unless a rather… unusual demand involving the Prime Minister and a pig was met. The twist? The kidnapper uploaded the video of this demand to Youtube for all the world to see and it had received millions of views before it was taken down and it had become the most popular trending topic on Twitter. Rather than discuss details let me link you to Channel 4’s On Demand website  because despite my reservations it is a very interesting look at how powerful some of these platforms have become.

In a way it reminded me of the video by Tom Scott about the (fictional) Flash mob gone Wrong  that we watched in class.

I just couldn’t tell it if were meant to be darkly comic or hard hitting drama, and I don’t know whether I liked or hated it. But it has certainly been something to talk about


MSCSM – Online communities

Ok, first off this post was a LOT later than I intended. I’ve recently started a part time job and I’m tired a lot of the time now, so apologies for that.

This is the blog I should have wrote last week. Online communities, or, the people you interact with online. We all do it now, sites like Facebook have made it the normal thing to do. You think something, you put it on Facebook and people reply. It’s a great way to keep in touch with friends, get stalked by random wierdos (this has happened to me, not a pleasant experience) and get friend requests from the kids who used to bully you at school who are now grown up and have nothing better to do it seems.

Facebook and social networking sites are one thing, but there is a lot more out there, and some of it is good. When my boyfriend and I first got together I lived in Newcastle and he lived in Manchester. We were a long distance couple for about six months and as well as using emails and Facebook to keep in touch there was also the option of Skype chat. The world is constantly coming up with new ways for people to keep in touch.

And as for the Community part, people do it all the time. My boyfriend plays Minecraft on a private server with his work friends. They can chat, help each other build stuff and laugh at each other when they accidentally dig through the rocks into a lava pool. I read Winter Is Coming on a regular basis, this started as a blog about HBO’s Game of Thrones TV series but grew as fans began to contribute news, behind the scenes pictures and other such pieces of wonderfulness. Fans now refer to themselves as members of House Gatewatch (a reference to fans nitpicking over details as ‘gates’, eg Nights Watch Horsegate when the english horses used in the first season were replaced with Icelandic horses for the second. They look very different) and sharing information, photos and stories related to GoT is called ‘Supporting the Bottom’ (The story behind this can be found by clicking here)

An online community is exactly what it sounds like. People contribute and become well known members, or there are those who prefer to stay at the side. It’s all the same. It’s a group of people using the internet to share their thoughts, interests and experiences.

And now I am tired. Long day has been long and I need to sleep


Illamasqua S.O.P.H.I.E

In today’s Social Media class we talked about morals, rights and wrongs and different ways that people look at them (the ends justify the means, do no harm etc) and I couldn’t stop thinking about something that happened that is just plain wrong. While the point of today was to understand about Online Communities and the morality thing came up as a part of that this is where my mind went. I’ll do another blog post that’s on topic a little later.

In August 2007 Sophie Lancaster was beaten to death by a gang of youths simply because she was a goth. The worse part in my eyes is that she was trying to protect her boyfriend from being hurt by cradling his head with her body. When I read about this back in 2007 I was sick. I was a bit of a goth myself back then too. I’ve had my share of the taunts and mockery from narrow minded idiots thrown at me for no other reason than it made them laugh. I’ve toned down because life happened, I grew up. Not because of anything anyone said or did. But this story still makes me sick.

I don’t wear much make up in uni these days because it’s too much effort and I have enough to stress over these days. I still love to play with make up and when I have an excuse I love to dress up for things like parties and nights out. Illamasqua, my favourite make up brand, supports the Sophie Lancaster Foundation. A charity set up by Sophie’s mother after her death in order to raise awareness of this tragedy and teach respect and tolerance towards other cultures. As well as charity wristbands, £3 from every sale of their bestselling black eyeliner pencil, named S.O.P.H.I.E in her honour is donated to the charity.

…come to think of it, it’s about time I bought a new eyeliner pencil…

Social Media Classes are about teaching us to use the Social Media platforms at our disposal to communicate things, raise awareness and share things with each other. I hope that by sharing this story I’ve helped to raise a little more awareness

Mscsm blog – The Horse Does Not Eat Cucumber Salad

This blog post is a little later than I intended. I’ve been kinda VERY stressed recently and needed a little time to myself.

This week we discussed the issues around Convergence and how the world is getting smaller, and how stuff that was in the realm of Sci-fi as little as ten years ago is now commonplace. We were live tweeting the discussion during the class (and by live tweeting I mean discussing things that were mentioned then going off on random tangents. Android-loving people, I’m looking at you :p) The mention of Sci-fi made me want to mention something, I like Sci-fi and I love reading, yet I’ve never read the book Neuromancer despite it being recommended to me many times. I follow the book’s author, William Gibson, on Twitter. Not long after I’d made my confession, Gibson himself came online and tweeted a video of a flock of birds. I watched it with the sound off, thought it was lovely and I re-tweeted it, then George Konstantinidis, who was sat next to me, sent a tweet to GreatDismal saying that the birds were fantastic. GreatDismal is William Gibson, one of the most famous of American Cyberpunk authors and the kind of person who, not that long ago, I’d have thought I’d have no way of ever interacting with in any way, much less inadvertently introducing someone to in such a small way.

I started following Gibson on Twitter after I read an interview with him that I’d wanted to use a quote from in a report I was writing (I ended up being unable to work it in in a way which made sense. I’m still sad about that). And he’s awesome. He posts some really good things, Including an article about Johann Phillipp Reis, the original German inventor of the device that would later become the telephone. It could only send transmissions one way, so the person talking couldn’t reply, and the first words he said were ‘The horse does not eat cucumber salad’, a random sentence that nobody could have guessed in order to prove that it was clearly transmitting his voice.

I have plans to get myself a new iPhone later this week. My boyfriend pointed out to me that this is not only a phone, it’s a media player, game platform, internet browser and much much more.

I saw this video a few months ago and, yes it’s completely Apple biased but it shows just how quickly the technology has grown.

CNET UK Presents: History of the iPhone, dedicated to the memory of Steve Jobs from Drew Stearne on Vimeo.

Identity for Sale

It has recently come to my attention that H&M are launching a range of clothes inspired by the character Lisbeth Salander from Stieg Larrson’s incredible book series. (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest. Collectively known as ‘The Millenium Trilogy’)


…so, Goth, black, leather… fair enough… but a fashion range? Errr… anyone who has read the books or seen the amazing movie can tell you that Lisbeth Salander doesn’t care about fashion. She wears clothes because they keep her warm and mean that she doesn’t get locked up for public indecency. As for what she wears… old jeans, scruffy t-shirts, piercings and tattoos… hardly the stuff to make a fashionista’s heart beat faster

I did try to find the original owner if this pic. If it's you please get in touch so I can give you full credit

This is a picture of actress Noomi Rapace from the original Swedish Girl With The Dragon  Tattoo movies and you can see what I mean. It works but it’s not meant to be stylish. I’ll admit I had a very hard time picturing anyone else but Rapace as Salander, so when I heard about an American remake I had my doubts, but judging from promo pics Rooney Mara can scruff up nicely. Whether she can pull off the attitude or not remains to be seen

You see, it’s not the clothes, make up or piercings that make Salander such a unique character, it’s her attitude. She’s anti-social, non-conformist bitch and is completely unlike any other fictional heroine that has came before her.

All this reminds me of a class discussion I was part of a few years ago back in Gateshead. The idea of being able to just ‘buy’ an identity off the shelves may seem stupid and unrealistic but just look at what happens. A kid who wants to be accepted as part of a peer group goes out and buys clothes and music that conforms to the rest of the group. As if having the same jacket will change who they are. Likewise a rebellious kid will go against that and choose to buy non-fashionable, shocking clothes in order to distance themselves from one group (I’m going to say ‘the popular crowd’ having been the teenage goth). Yet this becomes a way to find other people who have the same sort of interests and form new social groups.

Somewhere down the line someone has decided ‘That’s cool, I want to be a part of it’. Whatever ‘That’ is isn’t important right now. What is is the fact that the person has found something they want to be identified with. In this case, Lisbeth Salander is cool and edgy, and people who want to be identified as being cool and edgy will buy this stuff as it has the name ‘Lisbeth Salander’ attached to it. It doesn’t change who you are as a person. A woman wearing a Lisbeth Salander jacket probably is’t going to be able to hack into any computers, just like a kid who’s got some Nike trainers isn’t going to be able to run faster or jump higher. What these people want is for other people to look at them and think ‘That’s cool’.

Just for the record, if Salander was a real person, she’d probably hack into the companies bank accounts and help herself to the profits from the range. They are making money in HER name after all

As for myself… it goes on sale December 14th. I may have a look to see what the fuss is all about. I’d prefer to see for myself whether it’s worth spending my money on regardless of the name on the label. And if I can find something better somewhere else… Well, that’s my decision to make now, isn’t it?

MSCSM blog – Awesome bass, Zombies and social networks

Social Media class is just full of surprises. I never expected a Skype chat from America to be something I’d ever see in a classroom, yet it happened and we got an Awesome chat from Alan Levine about his Storybox project and about sharing online.

I’d like to tell you a little something about Newcastle. We have a bit of a beloved character who can be found busking on Northumberland Street. He plays bass guitar with some effects pads and he quickly earned the nickname ‘Awesome Bass Guy’ because he’s such an amazing player.

People loved him and pretty soon a Facebook group called The Awesome Bass Guy Appreciation Society was made to, well… appreciate how awesome he is. He found out and joined the group. As it turns out his name is Stephen Oliver Jones, he’s known by the nickname Ojay and he’s one of the friendliest guys in the world. He’s happy to stop and talk to people while he’s taking a break between songs, he’s happy to have his photo on Flikr and there are dozens of videos of him on Youtube, both playing solo and jamming with people who’ve brought their instruments along. All in all he truly deserves to be called ‘Awesome’. He now used the Facebook group to keep in touch with his fans and tell them when he’s going to be out and about

Newcastle is home to the Evolution Festival which is pretty popular. Anyway, someone on the Facebook group suggested that Ojay play at the next Evo Fest (which would have been 2010) and lo and behold, an online petition was born. Awesome Bass Guy to play Evo 2010! I wasn’t really keeping up with it at the time, I had a lot going on. But I do believe that it was successful. Not bad for a Facebook group about a busker. Check it out here

Social Media is making the world a smaller place and it has never been easier to share something with others just by sending it to someone one the internet. Take my Awesome Bass Guy story. I’ve just shared something that I think is great with all of you. We’ve all heard the talk about how there are good and bad things about this, like the recent riots and the clean up acts arranged after. The point is, someone knew something and was able to send it on quickly to others who were able to do the same. If it’s a good or bad thing depends on the person.

Another example. I’m a huge fan of Zombies. I love Zombie movies, I love the various Zombie walks that take place around Halloween. I recently found out about a game called 2.8 Hours Later. It’s a Zombie chase game that takes place in a city at night. Players have to find their way to a pre-determined ‘Resistance HQ’ while trying to avoid being caught by Zombies (ok, volunteers in Zombie costume). The game organisers advice everyone to bring their phones as a way of contacting the rest of the group. That way you can tell each other where the Zombies are, how many there are and how to get around them. I would love to take part in this but I can’t since this year’s event is sold out

There’s a bit on the site where you vote for which city you’d like them to come to. Under the part that says TIckets and Dates there’s a little part that says “Make a suggestion’ and if you click on that there is a list of city’s to vote for. Manchester is currently in second place. I would like to ask, in the interest of sharing over social media, if you could vote for Manchester. It would be amazing.

Some of you might even like the idea of a Zombie chase game yourself… others will probably think I’m insane.

MSCSM Blog – Blogging about Blogging?

I’m a little confused. Usually there is a clear topic of conversation here that I can muse upon, digital identity (I still feel like I missed the point on that one), Copyright laws… this week I’m not entirely sure what to write about.

There was lots of talk about the Sound Around You Project and about Blogging and Micro Blogging, as well as a detailed look into what makes a good blog post. And pictures of cake…

The Creative Commons law was discussed again, and the importance of giving credit where credit is due to the original owner of something. For example that picture of the amazing cake I just put. Thankfully in this case this is a photo that my boyfriend took of a cake that had been brought into his work for their weekly cake day so to my knowledge it hasn’t been published online anywhere else. I probably could have edited the paper out of the background though :-/

So here’s that picture again, this time I’ve done a little editing and got rid of a little of that background. I’m no great expert when it comes to editing photos and I don’t doubt for one second that there are people out there who could have done a better job than I have. But again, an image that I don’t think exists anywhere else online. Maybe the bakery that made it has a website and has pictures of this particular cake but those will be done professionally to make the person looking at it go ‘I must have this cake!’. You can practically guarantee that they won’t have a pile of paperwork in the back of their photo.

I like the Creative Commons thing, I’m just a little confused about how I’d go about finding a picture of a cake that I could put into a blog post that have the Creative Commons stamp of approval. I spent some time on Flikr last night trying to figure it out and maybe I was tired and had a head full of coursework, but I couldn’t figure out how to take a picture that I’d found that said ‘You can use this, just please give me credit’ and put it into the post that I was writing.

The content of a blog post is what matters most. Not the pretty pictures, but they do enhance things considerably in some cases. Blog’s that I read quite often include George R.R. Martin’s Not a Blog and These are two very different types of blog (That have little to do with music, sorry guys) so are presented in different ways. GRRM’s blog is about his work, appearances he’s making and general stuff that interests him. It’s your standard ‘Following a famous person’ blog which we all do so everyone knows what to expect. Pixiewoo is different. It’s a beauty blog which gives reviews about new makeup products so obviously it needs lots of pictures from the word go. Within seconds of opening the page there’s a picture of a new fragrance thats due out on the shelves in a few weeks. Yet this type of blog will have permission to use these photos from the companies that made them. If I went to Pixiewoo, copied the picture of that perfume bottle and posted it here odds are I’d get in trouble.