Fidlers’ “Mediamorphasis” takes readers on a journey through the third great metamorphosis in communication – digital language.  The first two monumental steps in man kinds ability to communicate with one another was of course, spoken and then written language.  It is this third step that truly brings us together as a species.  We are no longer existing in our own pockets of civilization around the planet, with news of other far away lands simply trickling in and letting us dream in our minds about what these places could be like.  Because of digital language, we are now  “one homogeneous mass”, to quote Samuel Bowles.

The need for digital language arose from a need for communication across distance.  The construction of railroads (these play an important role throughout this story) led to an increase in social and economic development.  With this increase, it became clear that instantaneous communication would be needed to properly synchronize the moving of goods across these distances.  Enter the telegraph.  Previously, the quickest way for news to break was using various transportation such as the pony express to rush news to the newspaper presses.  With the invention of the telegraph, these were rendered obsolete. (more…)

At the beginning of the class, I wasn’t completely sure what Digital Democracy entails.  8 weeks in, I have a better understanding, although I see there are a large group of boundaries that stand in the way of our population as whole from enjoying the all of the benefits of the “digital” aspect of democracy.  I guess it was something I always took for granted as a media designer, thinking that “oh I can put anything online and everyone all over the world can enjoiy it”.  While trying to reach people across oceans, there were people in my own back yard that couldn’t even access my work.  The Digital Divide is a huge hurdle in my eyes, and from my research into online voting that I have done in this class, it is apparent that this hurdle needs to be breached for us to fully utilize the “digital” side of democracy.

The final class went very well, I thought the course all came together and I picked a good book to read for the last reading assignment.  I like all of the responses from my other classmates who also read the Shirky book, it was my favorite book that I read this quarter so it was good to be able to discuss it.  It was interesting to ask other people who read the book what they thought the key points of it were, and how they interpreted them.

I also thought the reviews done on the books I did not pick to read were interesting, and I definitely would like to read these books as well, in particular the Wikinomics book.

I got a lot out of this course, I feel it forced me to think about things I would not have normally delved into, opening up an entire new train of thought in regards to digital economics and networks.  I know there are several things I took from this course that I am already starting to apply towards my own work and career.

This was a good class, I enjoyed the webcast discussion, that was the first time I had gotten to be in a class where that took place.  The part of class where we discussed online communities was a key point of interest for me.  I remember in a class last Fall I posted about a message board I was a member of.  Since that post, that board has been pretty much demolished,  What went wrong?  Management.  I chuckled when people in class Monday were complaining about how some boards are moderated.  its true though.  People really get a sense of community on these boards, and when the people in charge over step their boundaries and abuse their members, people really get upset.  E-Revolts happen, I am being serious with that term as well.  The internet can be turned quickly from a common interest discussion board into a battle ground in the matter of days.

So what happened to that board that got gutted?  The members said they weren’t taking anymore abuse and left to start a new board.  This wasn’t just some renegade board though, it turned out to be a well thought out network and became much more far reaching and interactive then the previous version.

So thats the power of community, if people believe in something and feel a right of entitlement, they will passionately object to anyone that abuses their power on these message boards.  Sounds like a good book waiting to happen.  E-Communities are much more far reaching than their offline versions because, well, they can have people from all over the world as members.  Whats REALLY powerful is when both offline and online communities become intertwined……


The chapters we read in the Media Economics book were interesting and very relevant to the current book we are reading, as well as the one we finished, The Long Tail.  Chapter 10 of Media Economics dealt with the subject of advertising.  It is quite easy to apply the concept described int the long to tail to not only the market, but advertising as well.  This chapter was important to me because of my duties at work often have me placing advertisements on various websites.  After reading this chapter it had me thinking back to rationale of supporting things far down the Tail.

11.2 described the advertising market and gave examples of what percentage certain markets made up of the advertising industry.  Media made up a very low percent of this industry, making it part of the long tail.  But just like sales garnered from other markets tails, media advertising is still very important, why else would it continue to flourish.  Looking at the media advertising market ( a Tail within a Tail) one can see  that internet advertising makes up 2 percent of the US advertising market and brought in 4.8 Billion dollars.  This pales in comparison to other media advertising, making it far down the Tail of media advertising.  Is it all worth it?  I asked myself “when was the last time you saw a web ad and actually were swayed on making a purchase, and can I even remember what the ad was?”  The answer is no, so I can only hope the customers viewing the ads I put up for my customer are not as quick to skim past ads on websites as I am.

The guest speaker had some great things to show us on the power of networks. The example of all the people online searching for the plane crash was intriguing, especially when it was told that they in fact found a plane crash from several years ago. Unexpected results often come with many of the innovative digital projects that arise on the web.

The other big topic in class was should information be free. A point was made that anything you ever do digitally will be available to anyone. If it makes it to the web, eventually anyone who wants it, will get it. As someone who creates original digital content in the form of animation and design, I guess I need to come to grips with this. Its not that hard to believe. This is why its important to watermark your work, if this is something that bothers you.

This was a great class meeting, both because of the guest speaker and the discussion at the end.  I really like the ideas my group threw out there, really was a good pool of info.  The age difference in my group also made it diverse and insightful.  It is always good to have as many points of view as possible when analyzing these subjects.  In the topic of “Who is a producer” I think we pretty much nailed it what we can realistically call a content creator and who is a contributor, and then who simply is just reading/viewing content.  It is like 3 tiers of digital media content on the web: creators, contributors, lurkers.

Now its on to the next book, which will hopefully be as good a read as the Long Tail turned out to be.  Im interested to delve into this text, as well as the continuing insight provided by my classmates.

The last point from the previous class was the guest speaker, he had asked how many of us were blogging.  It really made me think just how long I have been running a blog, its pretty neat when I think about it.  Blogs are fun and digital works of art when they have a healthy amount of readers and contributions.

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