Algorithmic Control III: Privacy, Surveillance & The Price of Content

Being absent from my first BCM112 lecture, I thought it would be hard for me to understand this week’s topic. However, after examining the lecture slides and undertaking my own research, I realised that the topic of privacy, surveillance and the price of content is something that we can all too well relate to. While some companies such as Facebook and Google have denied claims that they’re always listening, there has been plenty of evidence to argue otherwise such as the video embedded below.

While I have adblocker on, I’m not affected by this sort of surveillance however just by being on the internet, my information is being collected, categorised and potentially sold. Regardless whether you’ve deleted or unliked your embarrassing Facebook posts from year 7, your data trace lives on and that information has circulated to a range of different companies and organisations. Even if you haven’t posted anything at all, your devices are always listening…

And it doesn’t matter what you think about it, because at this stage it’s likely you’ve already agreed to the terms of conditions.

Frank Tremain.

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Algorithmic Control II: Open & Closed Source

Open source allows modification from its original design free of charge while the source code of a closed source is not shared with the public. For most of us, this doesn’t overly impact however it is another example of Apple controlling its users. With its closed source and lack of compatibility with non-Apple devices, it begs the question:

Personally, almost every technology product I own are apple related and I love them all. Apple have such a strong eco-system across devices and I’ve become so accustom to their user friendly products, but at what price?

I think it’s becoming increasingly rare for Apple users to own only one of the developers device. So while an iPhone may be over $1,500, that’s not the price you’re paying. You’re paying for a lack of freedom and an ongoing battle of compatibility. Whether you’re someone who would take advantage of an open source or not, it’s important to be aware of the differences and know why Apple choose to be closed source.

Frank Tremain.

Algorithmic Control I: Intellectual Property

Sampling in Hip-Hop is an integral part of the sound of Hip-Hop. Artists like Kanye West have built their career off of samples and their creative manipulation of them. However, this can be a dangerous game and raises the question, at what point does a sample become its own sound?

Some samples can be distorted to such an extent that it’s almost unrecognisable, such as J. Cole’s Neighbours, where he reverses an older song of his called Forbidden Fruit. The original sampled used is by Ronnie Foster in his 1972 song Mystic Brew, but Cole reversed, slowed and pitched down the sample, creating something that sounds far different.

Producers and artists manipulation of samples questions the ‘rules’ of intellectual property entirely. For more examples, take a look at a series by YouTuber nosbo 2007 who collates Hip-Hop songs and their original samples.

In an original piece of my own, I sample Blink 182’s What’s My Age Again? in the intro and bridge. The original sample is slightly sped and pitched up so I would be interested to hear if you would have recognised this sample without me telling you. Let me know in the comments below some of the craziest and most unrecognisable samples you’ve heard!

Frank Tremain.

Digital Artefact Beta: The 2Thousand

The 2Thousand exists on Instagram and on my blog, producing consistent Hip-Hop content including reviews, news and articles. Initially, Facebook was also going to be home to my Digital Artefact (DA) but after consideration I decided that Instagram is a more engaging and used platform by my audience, and my blog page would allow me to create in-depth articles to which my Instagram audience can be directed to.

Feedback that I received from peers and my followers has played a large role in what The 2Thousand is now. While my DA has not underwent any major changes, iterations have occurred to provide my audience with the best experience as possible.

These iterations include changing the way I grew my audience, creating stories and adding polls and music to these stories. When I first began my DA, I followed an abundance of people who followed other music blogs, hoping to quickly build an audience. But this only welcomed bot accounts who would interact with my page but then shortly after remove their actions. This taught me that I should build a genuine audience through consistent and engaging content. After 25 uploads, 80 stories and 15 blog posts, I have built an audience of 135 followers who regularly like, comment and vote.

Future goals for my DA include more articles about Hip-Hop issues, creating different series such as my Top 5 Favourites List and continuing to build an audience through consistent content that thrives off audience engagement. My passion for my DA has not dwindled throughout this process and has demonstrated that this is the type of content (music journalism) that I aim can one day be my job. From this, I have made contacts in the music scene and am currently in the process of working for another website.

Stay posted for that!

If you’d like to keep up to date with my Digital Artefact, follow my Instagram and blog!

Frank Tremain.

Hyperreality, Simulation & Spectacle

In The Society of the Spectacle, Guy Debord presents the idea of ‘lonely crowds’, “where technologies are based on isolation, and they contribute to that same isolation”.

Instantly, the thought that comes to mind is when I attend a concert. The social pressure of posting has us all experiencing concerts through a screen, even when we are there ourselves. While I don’t post quite as much as the average Groovin’ The Moo girl in glitter and flared pants, recording at a concert is still something that I’m guilty of.

Remediation made with PHOTOMOSH & GIPHY.

In this week’s remediation, I created a gif out of a photo I took during J. Cole’s concert in 2017. It demonstrates the collective isolation that the spectacle infringes upon us. If we didn’t post it, were we even there? The spectacle masks itself as society itself but in reality, it creates only a false consciousness that achieves only a language of universal separation. On top of all that, it makes concerts really hard to enjoy for us short kings.

Frank Tremain.

Distributed Media & Meme Warfare

What interested me most about the week 6 lecture was that the CIA have created a Meme Warfare division tasked with controlling the minds of the American population. This information reminded me of a quote by Albert Einstein when he said: “I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” Perhaps World War III will be fought with memes. Memes hold a huge amount of power in influencing, affecting, generating and altering ideas so it only makes sense that government bodies would want to harness this and use it to their advantage.

Though I do believe Meme Warfare will continue to play an important role in large events, as seen in the 2016 Presidential Election, it begs the question as to whether America is ready for Meme Warfare? Do they have the appropriate weapons ready?

Remediation made with Canva.

Personally, I’m not convinced memes are something that can be successfully abused by macro institutions. Those that have tried, such as fast-food brands, have often become the meme themselves from their inability to keep up with a meme’s lifespan. Can organisations like the CIA even keep up with the short-lived nature of memes?

I’m interested to see how America’s use of Meme Warfare will play out in the upcoming 2020 Presidential Election.

Frank Tremain.

Networked Participation & Collective Intelligence

In March of 2016, Microsoft created Tay, an artificial intelligent chatter bot, that was live via Twitter interacting with any and all who tweeted at her. Demonstrating collective intelligence, the users on Twitter began tweeting politically incorrect phrases to her and she soon learnt from them and began using them herself.

One of TayandYou’s tweets during March 2016.

While it wasn’t Twitter that banned the account (Microsoft actually shut down the service after 16 hours of release), there have been many claims towards the banning systems of Twitter. Twitter acts as a gatekeeper within the internet paradigm however they have most notably been criticised on Joe Rogan’s podcast by American journalist Tim Pool to have a Liberal bias.

In my remediation of this week, I explore the process of getting banned on Twitter and whether this is bias towards people with a larger audience. Additionally, this week’s remediation investigates how, as the internet paradigm continues to influence everyday life, the need for gatekeepers is diminishing.

Frank Tremain.

The Medium Is The Message II: Internet Paradigm

“What has had a greater impact on the way that we as a society interact with one another – All the content of every YouTube video ever made or the existence of YouTube itself?”

The Emergent Media Paradigm has permanently changed the consumption and distribution of music. The ability for users to ideate, produce and distribute their product is entirely up to them. Artists can upload as much content as they like, with a low risk of failure. If their song doesn’t receive well from their audience, then try again. Similarly, the internet has provided a place for artists to evolve in front of us. It’s an open process and therefore an eternal beta, as artists switch aesthetic or grow more consistent with their music.

Looking back at my two projects (Let’s Be Frank & Clutterbrain), the change in aesthetic has become more refined which enables me to better understand my audience and continue to produce content that fits the lo-fi aesthetic I’m aiming for. And helping this, is the medium that I use – YouTube. YouTube is a deep void of endless content, from ranging aesthetics and themes. This is why by using YouTube as my medium to upload visual and audio content, I’m able to also produce a message that coincides with my music.

Frank Tremain.

Digital Artefact Pitch: The 2Thousand

My Digital Artefact will exist on a number of platforms including Instagram, Facebook and a blog website. Across these platforms, I intend to upload weekly reviews and recommendations of new Hip-Hop music and discuss issues and news relating to the genre. Incorporating my passion and knowledge of music and journalism, I will be able to provide a youthful and academic view on varying topics. A strong community can be built by encouraging audience opinion in comment sections and regular voting polls that will be uploaded on stories. By doing so, The 2Thousand aims to create discussion for avid fans and act as an educational platform for the general public, recognising the positive significance of Hip-Hop on the youth and its’ growing dominance within mainstream media.

The 2Thousand Logo.

If you’d like to keep up to date with my Digital Artefact, feel free to follow my Instagram and Facebook, and consider following my blog!

Frank Tremain.

The Medium Is The Message

“The medium is the message” was a phrase first coined by Marshall McLuhan in his 1964 book Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. According to McLuhan, this refers to “the personal and social consequences of any medium – that is of any extension of ourselves – result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology.”

Initially, the phrase seemed simple and self-explanatory but when we began discussing it further in today’s lecture, it became increasingly more confusing to me. However, in a BBC Radio 4 YouTube video, it simplified McLuhan’s work and even suggested that his views of electronic media and its forming of some kind of Global Village was unknowingly referring to the internet. I found this really interesting and straightforward, leading to the creation of my remediation that is meant to be reminder to not over complicate the phrase and understand its simplicity.  

Frank Tremain.