The Vicious Circle (Week 13)

The fundamental use of social media for civil obedience is undeniably effective. People who have an access to internet or have any kind of mobile phone can visit these kinds of websites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and receive information about any protest that is happening near his/her area. With the personal messaging system, people can connect to others privately about a protest. For example, in Gezi Park protests, social media has been widely used by the protesters to organize with each other. That is the reason why the social media has been seen as a problem by the government.

Although the online organization is important for a bigger scale of a protest in order to make revolution, it is surely not enough. People also need to act on the fields rather than just sitting at their computers and tweet. The only effective use of social media is to be organized in these times. Of course it would be absurd to claim that all of these were in vain. These attempts surely made some changes in the people’s minds. We can see this with the increasing participation of apolitical youth of Turkey to the protests during Gezi Park. The news sharing process by the protesters and activists about these events while there were no accurate information in the mass media surely showed how people care to inform other people about the realities that are not shown.

However the effective these protests and organization by social media, they will never be enough in making a revolution on a either national or global scale. Because of the capitalist vicious circle, that always needs people to buy the products that are claimed to be really needed by the consumers, people are always paralyzed to buy from these products of imperialists. The very imperialists that are protested in these kinds of protests are not only yielded but also gain more advertisement. In order to put a stop to the vicious circle of this system, people need to make compromises of themselves. A global movement that is organized with the use of social media surely would put a stop to this kind of unconscious consumerism. People need to promote anti-capitalist trade systems like barter system that was used pre-monetary societies.

In order to make a revolution, the forces of imperialism should be prevented. For now there is not much example for an alternative way of bartering. The only valid example I can give to this system is the website freecycle.org which has a motto “changing the world one gift at a time” on its main page. There are local groups for each area that are involved in this website with the help of Yahoo groups. When someone has a need for any item/product, s/he can open a topic in these groups or vice versa. Seemingly, this system works well for Turkey example. However, the more people should know about this system so it can work better and/or more of these kinds of websites can come up. In conclusion, even if this approach may seem pessimistic, the protests are not enough for a revolution; in order to achieve it people from every corner of the world should reject capitalist system and promote more humanist approaches. If we do not break this vicious cycle, every problem of our society will continue to happen repeatedly in our future.

Sources:

https://www.freecycle.org/

For Istanbul example of freecycle group:

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/freecycleistanbul/info

An Approach on Commons Knowledge Websites (Week 12)

Commons Knowledge websites are mediums for every people around the world to gain information about anything they want. These kinds of websites are kind of online encyclopedias. However, the contributors of these websites are not professionals, they are rather common people who share the same goal with others: to distribute knowledge. The website Wikipedia can be considered as one of these common knowledge websites.

Wikipedia is one of the projects of Wikimedia Foundation which has a motto of “Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. That’s our commitment.” This shows the main objective of this website is to spread the knowledge to everyone without getting profits. Although they are non-profit organization, they survive and function with the donations. With this policy, people can see this project as their own.
Just like in socialist ideology, every public good is free for all; knowledge is also free for everyone to access. The purpose of these websites are the same with the socialist idea, it is free for everyone who has an access to internet. However, there is a problem with this being free for all; it can result in exploitation of contributors. Since they use their efforts in this process, they gain no profit. In this capitalist system, it is problematic for the people who use their mind force and their time without gaining any money. In a perfect world where people would not need money in their lives, this situation would not be problematic as it is the ideal way of sharing the knowledge.

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knowledge_commons

http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Home

The Importance of Participatory Journalism (Week 11)

In traditional media form, people only can read printed newspapers or watch television to follow the news, and they have no way of participating in the process of news making. However, thanks to new technologies like internet, people can read news online, comment about the news, and even they can enter news with their own blogs and allow other people to participate in debates. So, other than the original poster of the news, other people can participate and comment too on the news in these mediums via internet.

Participatory journalism is beneficial in a way that citizens may cover the news that are not covered in mainstream media for their own political reasons. The mediums like internet blogs, forums, e-zines and etc. are effective when a person wants to share some news that s/he cannot find elsewhere.

However, there is a problem here: people can also give misinformation to others via these mediums. If people do not give importance to the news’ quality or its authenticity, then there may be misinformation. This is why the mainstream media is still important in a way. Although it can be seen that sometimes even mainstream media can misinform people in order to be the first to publish the news, they can sometimes ignore to double check. So, this situation shows that we need an alternative professional journalism approach that does not focus on making profit but only follow the codes and ethics of journalism. With only this approach we can achieve the democratic way of journalism.

Non-linear Digital Story Telling of Video Games (Week 10)

Digital Storytelling is a type of media that uses techniques like text, music, sound, graphics or animation. Digital storytelling is used to tell a story with digital elements. The use of it enables audience engage and participate in the storytelling process.

In video games today, the techniques of digital storytelling can be seen. Stories in these video games are narrated by either main or other characters’ eyes with their actions within a story. The role playing video games that makes the player main character of the story that is told enable the player to participate in a non-linear story that is shaped by the choices made by the player. The video games like Mass Effect, enables the player to be involved in the story with the uses of various dialogue options with other characters which will result in changing the fate of the main player.

For making these types of video games real life like, every action taken, every choice made by the player results in a difference in the story, and this makes the player to be responsible for his/her actions. The non-linear storytelling of these types of games lies in the different results that are caused by the characters’ actions.

 

Sources:

wikipedia.org

How Effective Are the Online Petition Campaigns? (Week 9)

Much like e-zines or other practices of media used as an alternative way of participation online, online petition campaigns are too can be classified as alternative tactics for democracy. The technique of online petitions is the same with the traditional ones: to collect as much sign as possible to make a change. With these campaigns, every citizen can participate in legislative process.

Because it can reach everyone on the globe who has access to the web, the internet has become a new means of media for democracy. If there is anything that anyone wants to be changed by the government, anyone can create an online petition with these new petition websites, and get many signs for their cause.

An example for these campaigns can be given from a website named change.org which has many petition campaigns for the problems of the society. A recent petition campaign to ban the selling of pets in the pet shops in Turkey has been successful with the use of this website. They proposed to enact a law to ban selling pets in pet shops to the parliament members with the signs of the people and then it has been accepted by the parliament. Now with this democratic process, it is forbidden to sell pets in the pet shops in Turkey.

The link for the campaign:

http://www.change.org/tr/kampanyalar/mecliste-temsil-edilen-siyasi-partiler-pet-shoplarda-kedi-k%C3%B6pek-sat%C4%B1%C5%9F%C4%B1n%C4%B1n-yasaklanmas%C4%B1na-ili%C5%9Fkin-kanun-teklifinin-meclise-sunulmas%C4%B1n%C4%B1-ve-onaylanmas%C4%B1n%C4%B1-istiyoruz

Beat Generation as a Cultural Jamming (Tactics of Cultural Resistance)

When in need, people have to come up with creative ways in order to resist the mainstream. So, new tactics that are both clever and aesthetic are needed in order to counter the existing cultural forms.

Tactics of cultural resistance can be seen not only in media but in literature too. When we think of demonstrations of cultural resistance tactics in literature, it would be ungrateful to leave the important literary movement called ‘Beat’ culture out. The name ‘Beat’ can be perceived as ‘tired’ or ‘beaten down’. However, Jack Kerouac –one of Beat movement’s leading poets- tells that the name suggests “upbeat” or “beatific”.

The cut-up technique used in the poems of William Seward Burroughs is one of the cultural jamming tactics that influenced cultural resistance. His technique is to cut the articles from the newspapers like New York Herald Tribune, Paris Herald Tribune, and paste these non-linearly to create new poems.

Considering its resisting art form, it can be said that Beat movement has also influenced other cultural resistance forms such as post-modern literature and cyberpunk genre -also rock ‘n’ roll and punk music-, with its unusual tactics.

Reference:

Bailey, O. G., Cammaerts, B. and Carpentier, N. (2008) Understanding Alternative Media.

Berkshire: Open University Press, Chapter 10

Examples for William S. Burroughs’ Works:

Cut-Up Poems from Minutes to Go

The Importance of Community Radio and Decent Programming Skills (Community Radio)

Radio has been one of the most used medium since it was first developed. Before the invention of other information technologies (i.e. computers or televisions), radio played a great role in societies. Unlike newspapers or magazines, it does not require literacy to be used as an alternative to other press. That is why it was an important invention for the people around the world.

Another main importance of the radio is that it can be used as a public service oriented. For its ease of operation and ease of transportation everyone could access to the medium. If a radio’s main purpose is community service, then it will make its programming due to the issues or problems of the public. For example, if someone has an idea or have something to say about an issue, then s/he can go to one of these community radios and have a say regarding the problem. This way they can reach many people to take action or recruit for their own causes.

Even though it is a good thing that every person can participate in a community radio, not every volunteer has what it takes to make a decent programming. Therefore, the lack of skills or unprofessionalism of volunteers that want to do the programming may decrease the quality of the radio in technical ways. This is the reason why people should get more experienced or be led by those who are experienced in radio programming in order to make their voices heard in a decent and more professional way.

Reference:

Dunaway, David (1998) “Community Radio at the Beginning of the 21st Century”, in The  Public/Javnost, pp. 87-103.

The Ideal Democratic World (Participatory Video and Access TV)

Since people with their own opinions about certain issues can participate in these types of televisions, it can be said that unlike general mainstream types of TV stations, public access televisions have been more democratically programmed.

With public access television with a radical programming, audiences become programmers of a television station in a way. For example, in the United States, with the cable TV, come many stations that are open to public access for a little fee. Ordinary people can join to political debates nationwide. Also, people from minorities can participate and express their ideas about political agendas or give voice to their own problems.

The freedom of speech that is protected by the US constitution enables people to represent their ideas or opposing views publicly. Alliance for Community Media (ACM) is known for its policy to preserve the freedom of speech with its support to the community media. However, the neo-liberal laws enacted by the government that work for the advanced capitalist economy, they have to try harder in order to maintain the freedom of speech of community media and return to its better days before 2005 law that promoted franchising legislation of media.

If the participatory democratic theory reaches its goal utilizing participatory media and the freedom of speech, then the ideal democratic world in which people express their ideas freely without having to think about making profit or crossing the boundaries of censorship would be achieved.

References:

Stein, L. (1998) “Democratic ‘Talk’, Access Television and Participatory Political   Communication”,  The Public/Javnost, vol. 5 (2), pp. 21-34.

Alliance for Community Media Website: http://www.allcommunitymedia.org/

Underground Press for Activist Purposes

Even though underground press’ target audience is not massive in numbers compared to other types of press, it has something that other types of press generally do not possess in them: passion to make a change. The examples of underground press making a change can be seen throughout history. For example, the feminist movements have used underground press in 1960’s, Thomas Paine’s pamphlet ‘Common Sense’ during the American Revolution declaring independence from British rule  and so on in order to be organized.

Underground press has various means of media such as zines, journals, pamphlets, newspapers, flyers, posters, and etc. Because of the cheapness of production of these print forms, they are easier to produce in high numbers and reach more people. However, the problem with its availability is that it cannot easily reach every people on the world because, unlike mainstream press, it does not possess means of logistics and financing that mainstream press generally does.

If underground press solves these two problems it traditionally encounters, then it may have a higher chance to make a change in world. However, when that happens, it will no longer be called as underground press, as it will be similar to the mainstream media in many ways.

Social Media as an ‘Alternative’

Because of the media conglomeration and restrictions to the radical media, people started to look for new ways to get information from more reliable sources rather than the traditional media that do not share the information and hide facts based on their biases.

Especially thanks to the development of the internet, it has become easier to achieve the means of production of media. Therefore, more and more independent internet newspapers, blogs and zines started to emerge every day. It can be said that alternative media changed the way we perceive the contemporary world.

After the social movement Gezi in Turkey, people started to realize that the mainstream media was not enough to get information about what was going on. This is when the importance of alternative media was realized by the people. For example, social media has been used during the resistance in order to communicate and organize.

However, it (social media) is used by the government too and it is not completely free from regulations or restrictions of the government. If it is not used for propaganda of the government like the state owned channels always do, than it is always under pressure. For example, twitter has been seen as a trouble by our PM, so he simply banned access from Turkey for his own agenda. Consequently, it shows how the alternative media should be free from all the regulations and restrictions that limit our freedom.