Are you stripping?

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Over the past few days, I’ve seen quite a few comic strips pop up on my Facebook News Feed. I recognised them from a program my boyfriend used to create a Sinterklaas present last December (yes he was cool before cool was cool), but now it really is gaining momentum. It’s such a good example of the online snowball effect: one friends sees another one doing something cool and copies it, then their friends want to copy it, and an avalanche is created. I’m just curious to see how long the trend will last.

The app behind all this is called Bitstrips, who released their first Facebook app in December last year. The iPhone app was only created at the end of September, and since then it has been downloaded almost 11 million times. That’s more than the population of Greece!

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Strike a pose there’s nothing to it (anymore)

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When I was in my first year of high school, I remember the controversy surrounding the introduction of the camera phone. People were worried that a whole new generation of paparazzi would stand up to capture any and every awkward moment. Although the photos generated by our phone’s ancestors were so pixelated that we didn’t really have anything to worry about, those concerns were genuine. Back then we were on the brink of a digital revolution and little did we know then how much our phones were going to dominate our lives. So much in fact that we’ve become our very own paparazzi working around the clock.

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And that really isn’t an understatement. An infographic designed by Ivy Aquino shows that that 16 billion photos have been uploaded to Instagram since it was launched and 58 photos are uploaded per second. We’re so used to capturing every moment our phones have become glued-on extensions of our hands. Ironically, we now don’t look twice when someone is taking a photo with their iPhone, but we all of a sudden become self-conscious when a real camera appears. Australian photographer Max Dupain has for instance found that he has often been scowled at for shooting on the beach with his professional gear. It seems that people just can’t imagine that there is anything else to photograph than their faces. Like sunsets, for instance.

“Ironically, photographers are under siege at a time when voyeurism has been turned into an entertainment form, and when voluntary self-surveillance has become a leisure pastime.”
(Palmer, 2012)

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Getting Closer to the Year 3000

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Do you remember this song?

The video quality dates back to 2003 as well

It was a big hit back in 2003, when I was in my final year of primary school. During that year I also wrote a speech for our school’s public speaking contest about what the world would look like in 2010. Funnily enough, I didn’t talk about flying cars or teleportation, but I remember mentioning what phones would look like in 2010. We only had one in our household at the time; one of those gigantic bricks that you could hardly call ‘mobile’, with a thin antenna that extended all the way to the other side of the house (that’s only slightly exaggerated).

The evolution of the mobile phone over the past 30 odd years  is quite amazing, something that my 10-year-old brain definitely couldn’t have predicted. And if the current revolution is anything to go by, the Year 3000 will be pretty awesome for our “great-great-great-granddaughters”.

Nokia Nostalgia

Phones have evolved so rapidly that it’s hard to keep up. Who knows what it would look like in the year 3000? Would we even still call it a phone?

When looking at the evolution of mobile phones, I really can’t help but feel sorry for Nokia. Although I’m attached to my iPhone like there’s no tomorrow, I have to admit Nokia have made some pretty wacky phones back when they were the most popular kid on the block. Ones with keyboards shooting out either end of the screen and others in the shape of lipstick with an in-built mirror.

And my favourite: the Nokia 3200 with DIY covers and funky keys. It should be worth a lot more than the mere $7.99 eBay is selling it for nowadays. It was the Nokia 3310’s funkier sister; another phone that was so immensely popular back in the day. Apple is probably jealous of Nokia’s ability to design a phone that doesn’t break the second you stare at it for too long. Oh yes, the good old days when your heart didn’t skip a beat the second your phone fell out of your pocket.

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From Citizen Kane to Citizen Journalism

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Citizen Journalism: (n.) The participation by citizens in gathering, analyzing and distributing news articles, images, editorials whether independently or participating in an online news site. (from infogr.am)

The most recent example of witnessing citizen journalism in action was when the news broke of a frenzied hunt for the two ‘Boston bombing’ suspects three days after the catastrophic marathon. The first time I heard of it was when independent journalist Seth Mnookin (@sethmnookin) tweeted this:

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After that, the sleepy neighbourhood of Watertown became a war zone, with FBI tanks roving the otherwise innocent streets. The Twittersphere erupted with tweets from journalists in the vicinity and from locals witnessing the most horrific scene the town had ever seen. I spent the afternoon F5-ing my Twitter news feed and obtained a fly-on-the-wall experience I’ve never had before with news reporting.

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The only issue is the credibility and accuracy of citizen journalist accounts on Twitter. Are they more trustworthy than traditional news sources? Hayes et al. divide journalistic credibility into three elements: authenticity, accountability and autonomy. By using the Twitter reporting on the hunt for the suspects of the Boston bombings as an example, we can look at this further.

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Virtual Sticks & Stones

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When I was a primary school kid, the deputy principal would always start his Monday morning assembly speech with “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”. Hearing that every single Monday allowed us kids to mouth the words as he was voicing them, but the true meaning of it only hit me later on in life.

This is definitely something I try to abide by now, whether it is online or ‘in real life’. But it has amazed me how ruthless people have become in the online world. It seems like becoming distanced from the person they are aiming their rotten tomatoes at makes them want to throw them even harder. Although this is quite accurate according to the Laws of Motion, I’m always curious as to why people take the effort to post something nasty.

Take YouTube for example. People are free to watch any video they like, yet they choose the videos they dislike and throw all their collected sticks and stones in one go in the direction of the video owner. If you don’t like something, why not just close the tab? That’s the beauty of the Internet.

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When did Media Become Social?

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“Focus on how to be social, not on how to do social.” – Jay Baer

Do you ever stop and think what life was like before social media? It’s strange to think that the younger generation has never experienced that ‘Before Social Media’ (BSM) era, and the generations to come also never will.

Being 21, I still am part of GenY, but I already see such a big difference with my cousins, who are only about 10 years younger than I am. They walk the social media walk and talk the social media talk pretty much 24/7, having their iPhone at hand and ready to go just in case they need to ask their online friends what-that-name-of-that-new-One-Direction-song-was-again.

Before Social Media (BSM) nostalgia

When I was at primary school and I needed to know something, I would have to go to the library, browse through the catalogue on a computer running on Windows ’98 and hold my head on an angle as I wandered past the bookshelves. Then I would stick the book under the scanner to copy the information I needed (in black&white, mind you). So much has changed since those days, and it’s bizarre to think that was only 10 years ago.

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