I’ve taken sides in the social networked war

January 15, 2009

The propaganda war in cyberspace is hotting up. It’s an interesting twist on social networking that Facebook has become a battleground in the Gaza conflict.

The BBC is carrying a detailed report about hacker attacks on pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian websites.

Gaza crisis spills onto web [BBC]

I’ve also joined a Facebook group “Stop Israeli attacks on Gaza”


A last little bit of England

January 12, 2009

I’ve been back from the UK for about three weeks and I’ve just finished marking the project work my City University students completed last (UK) semester.

I’m actually quite proud of them. We had about 11 weeks to get our heads around a totally new (to them) topic and to learn the rudimentaries of journalistic writing in a web environment.

The paper they did is called “WEEM” – Writing and Editing for Electronic Media. So not only did they have to read up on convergence and new media journalism, they had to learn to write in an online environment and then to rustle up some half-decent HTML so that their projects could sit on the web.

Like all student work, this is a bit eneven. Some bits are better than others. But, overall I think they’ve done a very good job.

Some interesting topics were covered and I think it’s worth sharing.

Convergence Culture.UK.ORG

There’s no way for you to leave comments on the project pages unfortunately; it’s all rather static. However, feel free to comment here on the work as a whole, or on individual projects. I have let the class know that this link is here and that they should come back now and again to see who’s commented.

I would appreciate if you keep the commentary positive. All dribblejaws comments will be swiftly deleted, so don’t bother.


A day in the life of Ashley Dupre: Celebrity callgirl to callgirl celebrity

March 15, 2008

It seems that 24 hours is a lifetime in the blogosphere. Just yesterday I was defending the right to privacy for sex workers caught up in scandals and media stories.
Now I find myself being amazed again at how quickly some people can turn adversity into a new adventure. Read the rest of this entry »


Facebook and the news

January 20, 2008

Murder victim opened her heart on Facebook – Sunday Star-Times – Sunday Star-Times

In light of recent posts about Facebook and other social networking sites, I thought it time to give a brief outline of my “theory” about this. I have mentioned previously I’m currently writing a book about news in the digital age.
I haven’t settled on a title yet, but it’s likely to be something like Journalism in the Age of YouTube…. I’m not sure, but the thrust is that I am writing about how social networking sites; the internet and blogging are impacting on journalism. The types of stories; the sources and even journalists themselves are caught up in this.

I just wanted here to draw attention to the ways in which Facebook, Bebo etc are now being used extensively as a “source” for reporters. Usually in the context of horrible murders, like the one discussed in the SST article linked above. In the print edition the frontpage splash is illustrated with photos taken from Sophie Elliott’s Facebook page, including a photo of her with her alleged killer.
I wonder did the SST get anyone’s permission, presumably Sophie’s family, to use this pic, or any pic of her from Facebook? Or is the assumption that because Facebook is ‘public’, no permission is required, stuff can just be ripped from there without regard to privacy or copyright issues.

And what about potential contempt of court. A photo of the alleged killer – can this influence potential jurors?

then there’s this piece from the SST’s sister paper, Sunday News
Another horrible murder and another “news” link with social networking. In this case the brother of the murdered Scottish tourist pleading with her to come home:

Come home Karen
KRISTIAN SOUTH – Sunday News | Sunday, 20 January 2008

The brother of murdered Scottish backpacker Karen Aim had no doubt where he wanted his sister to be when he made an emotional internet plea to her just after New Year.

“Forget this glass blowing carry on at the other side of the world,” Alan Aim, 23, wrote on his sister’s page on the Bebo social network website.

“My Orkney road passenger transport ambitions have doubled and could do with a bit of extra resources pulled together!

“Don’t reply to this, just get yourself back here.”

But instead of flying back to help Alan with his tourist travel business on the Orkney Islands off the coast of Scotland, 26-year-old Karen stayed on in Taupo partying with friends, working in a glass-blowing gallery and settling into the Kiwi summer.

Her decision to remain in New Zealand proved fatal on Thursday morning, when she was bashed to death just 50m from her home. She told police her name with her dying breath.

The emotional tug of this is palpable. But what about the invasion of privacy? Oh, there is none. Bebo is like a public park. If you stand in the park and have a conversation, and a reporter overhears it, would you expect it to be in the next day’s paper?

We haven’t seen the end of this explosion of cheap and nasty news based on shameless plundering of Facebook etc.

It should be a warning to us all. In cyberspace, the eyes of the world are on you. This is a surveillance society, even in tragic death.

I am keen for readers of Ethical Martini to draw my attention to stories, from anywhere in the world, that take up the themes that might be interesting for my book. All tips gratefully acknowledged. The best way to do that might be just to drop a few lines into a comment on a post that catches your eye. Or you can email me driect at the address in the top right corner of the page.


With friends like these … Why Facebook is not just a pretty face

January 19, 2008

With friends like these … Tom Hodgkinson on the politics of the people behind Facebook | Technology | The Guardian

This is a rather scathing and quite scary attack on Facebook. The argument that it is harmless and merely helps people connect is a myth says the author, Tom Hodgkinson. The real motivation of those who set it up (apparently a small group of Silicon Valley venture capitalists) is to promote the consume, be silent and die, ethos of neo-liberalism. Harsh? Maybe, but Hodgkinson is convincing.

Here’s a taste:

Clearly, Facebook is another uber-capitalist experiment: can you make money out of friendship? Can you create communities free of national boundaries – and then sell Coca-Cola to them? Facebook is profoundly uncreative. It makes nothing at all. It simply mediates in relationships that were happening anyway.

And another, that sets out the neo-con and anti-worker philosophy behind the hugely successful site. Facebook has over 60 million members and counting.

The internet is immensely appealing to neocons such as Thiel because it promises a certain sort of freedom in human relations and in business, freedom from pesky national laws, national boundaries and suchlike. The internet opens up a world of free trade and laissez-faire expansion. Thiel also seems to approve of offshore tax havens, and claims that 40% of the world’s wealth resides in places such as Vanuatu, the Cayman Islands, Monaco and Barbados. I think it’s fair to say that Thiel, like Rupert Murdoch, is against tax. He also likes the globalisation of digital culture because it makes the banking overlords hard to attack: “You can’t have a workers’ revolution to take over a bank if the bank is in Vanuatu,” he says.

but what then of the arguments that social networking increases democracy and opens up a new virtual, digital public sphere? My experience of other social networking sites, particularly American-based ones are a happy home to gun-nuts, pro-war social conservatives and wierdos.

Cruise into somewhere like Fubar (only open to members) to see what I mean. Fubar operates like an online pub, which is interesting as one of Hodgkinson’s arguments is why not just go a real pub if you want to meet people and chat. In the Fubar you can meet all kinds of rednecks who proudly support the troops in Iraq. I joined for a short time to check it out; I couldn’t find any anti-war ideas displayed. There’s lots up pumped up soldierly-looking guys and even some pornstars pimping their wares with links from their profiles to commercial sites where you can buy their DVDs etc.

Sure, there are some ordinary folk among the 1.5 million Fubar users, but it’s really a place for show-offs and voyeurs. Facebook claims to be different for sure, but how different is it really? I’m not sure, but there are plenty of wannabe pornstars there and on MySpace.

You don’t have to look for them, or interact, but it’s interesting how the adult industry colonises such places rather quickly.


no breastfeeding online – Facebook says its obscene

September 20, 2007

Facebook ban incurs ‘lactivist’ wrath – web – Technology – smh.com.au

this is another interesting little story about social networking sites. A couple of weeks ago Facebook began revoking membership rights for some users after a row erupted about breastfeeding mothers posting images of themselves on their pages.

This is a storm in a D-cup. Ban porn, sure, but pictures of lactating mothers and their babies?

So far about 10,000 Facebookers have signed an online pettion against the ban.

One mother, Karen Speed, had her account removed permanently by the Facebook breast police.
She’s writing up the saga on her blog, One small step for breastfeeding.

A group supporting the right of breast-feeding women to post their images on Facebook and to get the ban lifted on members who’s profiles have been deleted as been set up.
By 18 September it had over 18000 members. Can Facebook’s faceless administrators continue to ignore this protest?