Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Digital Divide

Are the commercial promises made about digital media just hype to cloud our vision about the digital divide? Explain in the context of your profession.

It’s that time of year again, December; the holiday season is officially upon us. Millions of children all around the world have written their wish list and posted it to the North Pole in the hope that Saint Nick will be delivering them the latest IPhone, PS3 gaming console or MacBook Pro laptop. These newly updated digital technologies are expensive and are in high demand this summer by the youth of today who ‘require’ the devices for their personal entertainment, education and enjoyment. Devices such as these are what have created the digital divide and have widened further the gap between poor and rich technological cultures. In addition, these advanced technologies have been made more popular by an ever-growing media hype that promises consumers they are purchasing a life-changing product.

The latest technological devices have so called ‘transformed’ the digital environment over the past 12 months. The hype created around these products have created a must have attitude towards these products. Leading up to the Christmas period advertising for the latest products are in high swing, products that promise a clearer image then last years model of digital camera, an iPhone that promises consumers thousands of applications like no other mobile on the market and a multi-purpose storage device. However all of this hype is really just a ploy to get consumers to purchase the product, instead I believe that it is in the best interest of the global population to be using the monetary and technological resources available to narrow the digital divide. In addition, the technologies currently available are sufficed to improve education and communication in poor countries so the hype is just an attempt to blur our vision about the problem of the digital divide.

The concept of the digital divide is explained as “the differential access to and use of the Internet according to gender, income, race and location’ (Rice, 2002). The trends in new media tend to be in favor of the rich countries and disadvantage poor countries in particular most countries in Africa and most of Asia. Over the past decade the gap separating rich and poor countries has continued to expand. Developing countries still lag considerably behind in terms of broadband access and even though access is increasing the rate of increase in developed countries still exceeds that of developing countries. “The diffusion of information and communications technology (ICT) in developing countries is growing but still hang way below the industrialized world in the application of ICT and its use in business”(Unknown 2008). There have been many attempts to bridge or narrow the digital divide amongst rich and poor nations for the benefit of the global economy and for the individuals of poor nations who could benefit from a wider knowledge of the world that exists outside of their communities. The one laptop per child project is an initiative aimed at creating educational opportunities for many of the world’s poorest children and in the remotest of locations. The specially designed rugged, energy efficient and inexpensive laptops enable the children to engage in collaborative and self-empowered learning and enable the children to communicate with each other and the outside world (One Laptop per child, 2009). In 2002 project creator Nicholas Negroponte started the project after witnessing the direct benefits received by a small village in Cambodia when he gave them one of these efficient laptops. Negroponte is spear heading the project and aims for every one of the ill educated children in developing nations to have their own XO laptop in the near future. In achieving or even partially achieving this mission the increasing digital divide between poor and rich nations will hopefully be minimised as a more educated population would be able to contribute to and share their knowledge within the technological environment.

Projects such as the one laptop per child mission can be helped out by the marketing industry. Free promotion to encourage donations and sponsorship are just some of the ways to help create positive hype about the project. International marketing campaigns could increase awareness of such projects and as a result of increase in funding for the project the attempt to decrease the digital divide is more likely to be successful as a wider population will have the ability to self-educate and communicate with the global community.

Flew, T. (2008). New Media: An Introduction (3rd Ed.), New York: Oxford

Godin, S. (2005). The New Digital Divide, Retreived December 1, 2009 from

Rice, R. (1999). ‘Artifacts and Paradoxes in New Media’, New Media and Society, 1(1). Pp 24-25.

Unknwon (2008). Digital Divide: Widens between poor and rich countries, Retrieved December 1, 2009 from

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Week 9: Copyright and Creative Commons

The technological environment has made the world a very complex place to operate within. Over the past decades a significant shift in laws on public information versus copyrighted content has altered the way in which many industries do business. Advertising is one industry in particular that is affected by the changes brought on by copyright and creative commons as I will discuss and apply later in my entry.

The Copyright Act of 1962 established modern day copyright in Australia and changed the way in which content was reused and altered. Copyright is a form of protection for authors and producers of images, music, text and films. The legal protection of Copyright prevents other users from taking another persons material and using it for a commercial purpose or sharing the content without permission of the original owner (Australian Copyright Council, 2009). Alternatively, creative commons is a newer concept that essentially gives the public the opportunity to negotiate the use of material that someone else has created (Creative Commons, 2007) under four conditions which include: attribution of the content, non-commercial use, no derivative works and share alike which says that the users should use the content as they would their own material (J Brand 2009). Content which has been labeled, as a creative common is a form of information for the public good.

The introduction of Creative Commons was to eliminate three barriers that exist within copyright and intellectual property laws these include:

1. The difficulty for a person reusing to locate and negotiate with original content producers

2. The question of the rights and conditions placed upon a new user who is publishing content in a separate domain

3. “The extent to which existing copyright and intellectual property laws circumvent direct negotiation between content creators and prospective users of copyrighted material through the assignation of rights to content distributors (Flew 2008)

The Internet and the digitalisation of content have also been affected by copyright. “The advent of new computer and communications technologies has also obfuscated the distinction between product and process, a distinction which served as a practical limitation on a copyright owner’s right to limit access to the work” (Lai, S 2000). In addition to information being somewhat confused the new digital age has made the sharing or all information a lot easier to the public at a very low cost (Torresmans 2000).

As I mentioned earlier many industries have been affected over the past half-century by the copyright laws one of these industries is advertising. In a way advertising is benefitting from the introduction of creative commons. It makes content used in advertising more accessible and easier to gain approval for when the content being acquired has a creative common rather then copyright. Alternatively, when the advertisement is completed that in itself becomes a piece of copyrighted material owned by the agency that created it.

Information becomes a public good in advertising and marketing when the content is made a creative common, this gives the entire audience the chance to tweak, take ideas and use parts of the content as long as it is not for commercial use. Having the option to make ones own content a creative common provides greater opportunities and alternatives to creators and users without the consequences of using copyrighted material for other general and individual purposes. Finally, it has become evident that copyrighting advertising materials can be a valuable asset to the agency and the creators many clients and owners of content used in the advertising for example artists and photographers will have their own copyright or creative common policies to take into consideration.


Copyright In Advertising

I have included a list of question below that are often problems associated with copyright in advertising agency’s and the production of advertisements:

(Copyright and Advertising: A practical guide 1997)

a) We want to parody a song of a famous artist and use a “sound alike” artist to record the song. Can we do this?

b) I wish to include some work, which I created for my former employer in my portfolio. Can I do this or do I have to obtain their permission first?

c ) A client has asked me for all the computer disks and hard copies of work which I have created for them. Do I have to hand them over?

d) My client has gone to another agency and they have published advertisements, which are similar to the advertisements, which I created for them. Can I do anything to prevent them from continuing the campaign?

e) My client has been making their own media bookings rather than having me make the bookings on their behalf. This reduces the media commission and service fees that I receive. Can I do anything to prevent them from doing this?

f) How do I avoid having disputes about ownership of copyright with my clients?

g) My client has provided me with some material to work with which I suspect may infringe copyright. How do I protect myself against being held liable for infringement of copyright?

This video is an interview with an Australia IP and Copyright legal expert in relation the marketing and advertising materials

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Week 6: Transmedia storytelling and User generated Content

In 2009 a new television show, a performer and a stylist have all become platforms for transmedia story telling. Society now transforms every story, photograph or brand into or apart of a wider franchise that is played out amongst many media channels. Teenagers producing their own content on social networking sites such as Facebook and Youtube are now having a strong influence on decisions that were once made in media by powerful CEO’s. Media corporation ownership is highly concentrated in particular areas around the globe and thus there has been a rise in the attractiveness of properties that are able to make use of the synergies created between different forms of media as well as have maximum reach figures by appealing to niche markets. These changes in digital media have created a shift in the increase of franchise building and in transmedia storytelling in general.

A transmedia story illustrates a process in which ‘elements of a fiction are dispersed systematically across a variety of media platforms for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience’ (Jenkins.H, 2007) A story may spread across many media channels such as television, radio, comic books, novels, video games, interactive online games, social networking sites and even children’s toys and cosmetics. Each of these different media platforms are introduced in order to ‘pick up’ more consumers along the way and to widen the fan base for a particular franchise. True fans of these products and entertainers are able to dive deeper into the plot of the story or the life of a celebrity through transmedia storytelling. As a result of this build up of material, true fans are able to convert their knowledge into online videos, games and Wikipedia and blog entries, this is called user generated content.

In the past decade there has been a rise in popular franchises particularly in the market of children’s toys, the most competitive being female dolls. Iconic brand Mattel, since the 1950’s has long been recognized for one of the most popular and successful franchises of all time ‘Barbie’, the tall, thin, big breasted, blonde figurine has taken pride on the top shelf of every little girls bedroom for over five decades and since its introduction has spanned its wings into many other media platforms. Barbie is no longer just a doll, she has her own website with interactive games, games for play stations and other gaming consoles, computer games, clothing label, accessories and not to mention her hundreds of friends and boyfriend that can be purchased to complete the ‘life of Barbie’. The ‘Barbie’ phenomenon peaked in the 1990’s the decade when I grew up and I can assure you if you weren’t an owner of an extensive array of Barbie dolls and all of her accessories you just were not cool at school. “Bad news came with botoxed lips and belly shirts. In the summer of 2001, toymaker MGA Entertainment introduced Yasmin, Jade, Sasha and Cloe—the Bratz. The new fashion dolls came in a rainbow of skin tones, with pouting, street-smart expressions” (Nash. K, 2005). Mattel in a rush to gain back a stolen market share worth $700 million dollars introduced the My Scene dolls in 2002, again a new generation of young girls picked up on the craze and the Barbie franchise continued to blossom. Today over eight years later the Barbie name still transcends across many media channels just like it did when I grew up with them. The ability to continue the franchise over a significant period of time is also a benefit for the media corporation whom own it, as they are able to reach older markets that were once obsessed fans, thus brand loyalty is formed.

As a result of this brand loyalty consumer generated content is produced. An example of this is a newly formed and rapidly expanding franchise Gossip Girl. While Gossip Girl is not yet playing in the same league as Barbie I predict that it will be just as popular for generation Y today then Barbie was for the same generation ten years ago. Gossip Girl has already become an important advertising tool for many young trendy brands, as I will explain in a moment. Perhaps the most interesting and relevant fact about this up and coming franchise is its introduction into cyber community Second Life. Second Life is an online 3D virtual world imagined and designed by you. From the moment you enter Second Life, you’ll discover a universe brimming with people and possibilities,” (Second Life, 2009). Second Life itself is apart of a integrated communication community where users can instant message and voice chat each other at anytime. Episodes of Gossip Girl have been created in animation and with made up scripts specifically for Second Life users. (Find example below) Second life promotes itself as an escape from reality, a place where everything you ever wanted to do, people you want to meet and the lifestyle you want to live are able to literally become your ‘second life’, “A place to connect, a place to shop, a place to work, a place to love, a place to explore, a place to be … different, free yourself, free your mind, change your look and love yourself” (Second Life, 2009) are just some of the slogans used to immerse users in a fictional life. In addition to this, websites have been created by fans to replicate the life lived by the characters in the show. Fans attempt to live life through deceit, drama and gossip just like the characters do in each episode. For example, at my high school last year one student made a website and collected the latest gossip from parties, private conversations and life events and posted them on this website in the same language used by the narrator on the television series. Whether the user generated content for this particular franchise is good or bad the brand is expanding at a rapid rate, the show is only just entered its third season and its fan base and user generated materials on sites such as Youtube are growing larger and larger every day.

In relation to my profession of advertising I would agree that the user-generated content being produced by the public is beneficial to many franchise type businesses. As I mentioned earlier Gossip Girls popularity skyrocketed throughout 2008 and as a result the Vitamin Water Franchise was able to score a deal with the television network. Product placement as I mentioned last week is an advertising technique on the rise and transmedia storytelling plays a big role in how businesses decide where to advertise or on what shows. Vitamin Water has become so linked with Gossip Girl that it even appears in the animated version on Second Life. In addition to product placements it is also important to note that integrated marketing campaigns work similarly to transmedia storytelling thus advertisers can feed off the ideas built by this new form of digital media and in addition the creative industries can continue to integrate and develop further as a hole.

This video is an example of user generated content from Second Life a spin off of the Gossip Girl television series!

This video shows you a history of the 50 years of Barbie and advertising.... not directly linked to my blog but to my profession... i found this one interesting!

Flew, T. (2008). New Media: An Introduction (3rd Ed.), New York: Oxford

Nash, K. (2005). Mattel: How Barbie lost her groove. Retrieved October 20 2009 from, pp.1-9.

Second Life, (2009). What is Second Life? Retrieved October 20 2009 from

Jenkins, H. (2008). Transmedia Storytelling in Entertainment, Retrieved October 20 2009 from

Jenkins, H. (2007). Transmedia Storytelling 101, Retrieved October 19 2009 from

Both videos were discovered on Youtube!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Week 5: New Communication Media

Over the past three decades a significant shift in communications media has revolutionised the way in which we communicate and exchange information. Modern forms of communication have reduced the existence of traditional forms of communication such as print newspapers. Analog communications including radio and television broadcasts are also decreasing in popularity. The 21st Century has made way for digital forms of communication, leading the way the World Wide Web.

New forms of communication technology have for hundreds of years strived to eliminate the barriers of communication such as accessibility to a larger global market, reduce the time it takes to receive messages and share media and distance barriers. Essentially, the consumer has been the driving force to these advancements in communication as each of these barriers has been over come. Consumer awareness and voice have influenced new technologies and communication devices one by one so that each barrier is being broken down and transformed into a new device and means of communicating effectively. For example, the Ipod or MP3 player was invented in order to enable consumers to have access to music on a portable electronic device. The Ipods great predecessor records and compact disks (CD) were unable to be played anywhere anytime on a small compact device not to mention the large storage capabilities of Ipods.

After eliminating barriers such as this in communication, we have been able to continue to revolutionise the way in which we communicate and share information with people around the world. A shift in the way we operate has pushed aside industrial and physical economies and made way for an economy based around information technologies and intellectual property rights, this is now known as the knowledge economy. “A knowledge economy is one where ideas and intangible assets rather than tangible physical assets are increasingly central sources of new wealth creation, where the economy is more strongly rooted in the production, distribution and use of knowledge…” (Howells 2000:51). This type of economy has produced benefits for many groups in society, children from early ages are encouraged to utilise new forms of media. The Internet is a platform for media communication where tools such as MSN, Facebook and e-mail provide users with an instant and simple and convenient way to communicate with one another. “Technical communication practices have been changed dramatically by the increasingly ubiquitous nature of digital technologies, the Internet is now one of the most wide spread forms of communication around the globe (Bates, C 2004, p.580). Use of services such as social networking sites and instant messaging programs increase your ability to communicate effectively indirectly, although some social communication scholars argue these tools inhibit a person’s ability to communicate face to face.

When considering how being a knowledge worker within the developing knowledge economy applies to my future career path these new forms of communication media will have a significant impact on the way in which I go about performing my job and succeeding. Advertising was once a somewhat limited profession; print, television and radio were the three most popular forms of advertising. In 2009 the Internet and all of its content provide a whole new medium for advertising. I plan on entering into the advertising and promotions industry and am very interested in marketing in general. As a knowledge worker in this industry I will rely heavily on new forms of communication media and staying informed with new and upcoming communication media will be essential to succeed. Reaching a particular market with an advertising campaign is now easier then ever with thanks to the new knowledge economy. The success of online advertising is easily measurable and a business can identify exactly who their consumers are. In addition to this a business can place their advertisements on certain websites on particular days and at a period of time when consumers are most active online. Advertising has become a lot more personalised due to this new form of communication media.

To some degree new communication media has affected the advertising industry in a negative way. This is due to the ability of consumers to select what they want to watch and when with Foxtel IQ and Tivo. These devices allow consumers to fast-forward through advertisements and get back to they movie or show they were intending to watch. To over come this, advertisers have had to rely heavily on product placements in popular television shows. Recently, Brittany Spears record company promoted her song by having it placed on a trailer for a hit television show that shares her target market, Gossip Girl on Fox 8 played ‘Womanizer’ on one of their advertisements with great success for Spear’s sales and television show ratings alike. Combined with new media channels such as the Internet product placement in my intended profession has boosted the advertising industry as a lucrative and moneymaking sector of the knowledge economy.

The video above demonstrates how advertisers use new forms of media communication to promote products. This video is a Youtube promotional video for Gossip Girl yet is actually promoting Brittany Spears song 'Womanizer'.

Reference List

Baites, C 2004 (Nov), Impact of the Internet and Digital Technologies, Technical Communication, p.580

Flew, T 2009, New Media: An Introduction (3rd) Oxford University Press, Sydney, p.29 & 194.

Howells, J 2000, ‘Knowledge, Innovation, and Location’, in J.R. Bryson, P.Daniels, N.Hentry and J.Pollard, (eds), Knowledge, Space, Economy, Routledge, London, p. 53.