Even if you have ounces of gold, there’s something you don’t own

First of all, I am grateful to this module because it gave me the chance to improve my knowledge about how networking modified actual society, which is a basic skill as a PR student and as a (hopefully) future PR practitioner. Moreover, this blogging experience was completely new to me and I had the chance to familiarise with something out of my comfort-zone.

digital-privacy

The most relevant aspect that has emerged from this module is how our personal data, thus privacy, is traded by companies to companies.

We are not people, we are now an asset of commodities. What we search, our likes, our tweets, they are not mere personal preferences or opinions, they are what coal is for a powerhouse.

But there is a radical difference in this simile from reality. Right now we want to be a part of this cycle, we are not dragged in, we want to drag ourselves in. The worst part of this circuit is that we cannot live without social networks or search engines (apparently) and we do not even care about anymore about privacy.

However, companies could choose not to collect our data but we would have to pay to get access to these services as no one does anything for good.

How much would you offer for your privacy monthly? Or would you get paid for your already renounced privacy?

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Copyright can hinder instruction

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I decided today to expose Italian university situation about instruction and online copyrighted books.

Italian universities are not like the English ones, I dare to say it is a diametrically polar opposed situation. Italian universities do provide students digital and hard copies used in the courses they study in.

Students are meant to buy physical and online resources thus this can trigger a negative downward spiral, leading people not to enroll at university as a result of the massive cost they have to face. The result of this policy can be clearly evaluated as high school students enrollment percentage dropped from 80% in 2002, reaching 60% in 2014.

Italian editors exploit this system and publishing university books is a clear way to keep a predominant monopolistic position and produce massive revenue for themselves.

The most evident example of this negative structure is Medicine university online resources. Over 6 years future medics should pay an amount of money ranging from 7000€ to 8500€ only to access online texts.

This is a case of copyright exploitation that is only beneficial to a powerful minority hindering majority’s educational chances.

If Italian copyright laws were less strict about online publications probably accessing to university instruction would be more widespread and democratic as people would have the chance to access these fundamental and fostering resources.

On the other hand, publisher would refuse to forsake this hefty revenue not publishing university texts anymore.

Trying to protect invisibility

Everyone wants to be popular. Everyone wants to share its life through a social network. Visibility is the key of our lives. 20% of the Internet users use Instagram as a social network. 1.49 billion Users are monthly active on Facebook. Almost one sixth of the world uses social networks, so it is important considering our privacy and visibility to protect ourselves.

I can only be found in few places such as Facebook, but I am not sharing photos, my posts (which are very few). The only things that I share are my cover photos and some details regarding my little background. That’s all. I do not have an Instagram profile, because I do not consider it to be useful and somehow relevant to my life and to the people I matter to. I do have Snapchat, I quite like it but to me it is not about sharing every single bit of everyone’s life and I added only few people.

Visibility online is a core question when people are to create an account in one social network because automatically is sharing something related to their private sphere. I tend to protect my privacy and fortunately there’s plenty of Lorenzo Martini in this world, hence it’s pretty hard to find me. Otherwise probably I would have protected my privacy and visibility even more.

Exists even Last.fm, not only Spotify

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Last.fm is an online community founded in 2002 focused on music scrobbling and streaming. It can be considered as an ante litteram as it was and is actually incorporating a music scrobbling system that enables to create people’s personal music playlists and share them among the users.

Spotify has a close resemblance with this online community but to me is less complete as it does not give people the chance to share their own opinion as Last.fm.

This online community users have the chance to express an opinion regarding music and suggest other people what to listen to thanks to a comment system.

Moreover this suggestion system is even improved in the website itself as it automatically suggests similar artist to the ones people are listening to enabling to broaden music horizons discovering new singer/bands.

Furthermore, even radio stations from Germany, France and UK were included in this website, giving people the chance to listen to them apart from listening to single track, but unfortunately this service was closed down in 2014 in favour of scrobbling only.

I advise people to give it a try and try to use it, it is really mind opening. Do not stick only to Spotify!

Art awareness and participation

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Audience participation in media is not only bond to social networks. There can be loads of other ways to exploit this audience participation not only in a social way, but even in a cultural and artistic one.

Involving the audience in performances trough the Internet can lead to undiscovered scenarios and new moral questions can arise.

As an example of this new artistic participation I can mention Dries Verhoeven’s controversial public art piece “Wanna play?” performed in Berlin during 2014. The artist was sitting in a cube on which his Grindr (online gay and bi dating app) messages were shown.

This is the reason why audience participation is important in this art piece as this displayed conversation can only be born from two people’s interaction. This was to show how gay people can live separately an everyday life and a polar opposed “gay dating app” life revealing this dichotomy.

The ethical problem that was born from this artistic experience consists in the awareness of people participating in this art project as people chatting with Dries were not aware of his project damaging their privacy. The question that arises from this experience is if should be people aware of these projects even if this participation awareness can impair the piece immediacy and verity?

Convergence is even economic

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Most of Media students relate convergence only to Media as it is the first step of a big change (and is what mostly we focus on) but there are economic effects related to it.

An interesting Media convergence output is its following development as companies tend to make profit, hopefully for them, and this is for sure a new lucrative field in which invest money. This is the reason why companies such as Facebook or Microsoft have bought Whatsapp or Swiftkey creating an economic convergence status.

These huge corporations are exploiting the massive data amount we produce every day and they are selling it to other companies. The most efficient way to collect sneakily this amount of information and preferences is through leisure and communication apps, as they are tools we use in our everyday life to communicate with our family and friends.

This phenomenon is a direct Media convergence result and companies swallow data (and, personally, privacy)  then trade them as this the Independent article clearly states.

Media convergence has had and still has positive effects as we are able to communicate cheaply and we have the chance to find information in a faster way, but can companies exploit it and sell what is one of the most important parts of life, our private sphere?

From Gutenberg to the Internet

Being a student involves a huge amount of suggested readings. For us Media students everything revolves around media spectrum, but this can be reductive as focusing only on this subject can narrow our point of view.

Media is a part of communication which is nothing else more than a cultural and social product so the key for our success is society understanding. We can achieve this point only if we know society development in order to predict future changes and understand changes that society went through its history.

This is why it is mandatory for us reading more and reading books not only about Media but to broaden our cultural interests in order to convey and appropriate, direct and effective message. This is why to me it is important to read to understand past social transformations.

The perfect and probably cheapest mean to achieve this aim is Project Gutenberg, a website which is the result of Michael Hart’s efforts consisting in trying to digitalise and distribute cultural works.

On this website it is possible to find almost every public domain book in EPUB, PDF and eBook format in English language so everyone can have the chance of broadening its horizons reading from Kant to Tolstoy.