Watch Our Video: Rebecca Black and Ark Music Factory

Recommended Reads:

Rebecca Black – Friday, Music Video

Ark Music Factory Wikipedia Entry

A Staged Interview of Ark Founder Patrice Wilson


Videography by Hannah, Kevin, Kristen, and Kyle. Edited by Kyle. Interviews Coordinated by Kristen and Kyle. Street Interviews by Kevin and Hannah.

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Edited by Danielle Spano

Voices by: Danielle Spano, Natalie Ashoory, Jessica Yu & Elizabeth Connerat

Jana | TED Talk: Larry Lessig on laws that choke creativity

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Larry Lessig shares three stories:

Lessig begins by examining the 20th century fear that user-generated content will soon be obliterated with the rise of infernal “talking” machines, a concept propagated by John Phillip Sousa who felt the machines would ruin artistic development of music in the country. This read only culture became a serious threat as we deviated from a read-write culture where people participated in the creation and recreation of content. Creativity became top down, where readers were no longer creators. It appeared that we did indeed “lose our vocal chords.”

Secondly, Lessig comments on the ludicrous components of the trespassing land law that granted private ownership of land all the way below the property and indefinitely upward. Such a doctrine had no place in the modern world, and appeals to this law (air traffic example) made no “common sense.”

Thirdly, Lessig discusses broadcasting and how it introduced a new way to spread content. However, ASCAP, the company that controlled broadcast music, inflated their rates to ridiculously high levels. This prompted the formation of a new method of broadcasting, exemplified by BMI, where arrangements of public domain works were distributed for free.

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Expanding upon our initial proposal, we have began to explore each of the interactive fashion apps. We divided the four apps among the four of us in order to allow for each of us to conduct further research. Elizabeth is researching “Go Try It On”, Natalie is researching “Trimirror”, Jessica is researching “Opinionaided” and I am researching “Glamour Ask a Stylist.”

After spending the weekend interacting with these different applications and sites, we found that the most interesting part of this new media was the type of community they fostered. None of us ever came across any negativity on the site. People were helpful and supportive—they really wanted to see those how posted outfits, questions, etc. do well. This sort of “Good Samaritan” community seems to different from the rest of the internet.

By interacting with different users, we tried to determine how the sites are monitored, and if maybe the administrators are just deleting all nasty comments. Read the rest of this entry »

The New Socialism,  Kevin Kelly

The global rush to connect is giving rise to a new type of socialism. Wikipedia is but one of a host of striking examples of this social form of collective action. Unlike anti-American socialisms that have come before, digital socialism is an American innovation: “old-school socialism was an arm of the state, digital socialism is socialism without the state.” Detached from a government body, existing within the space of the borderless internet, digital socialism finds itself free to function as socialism was originally intended. Kelly suggests that internet users (the masses) “own the means of production [and] work toward a common goal and share their products in common.” Kelly draws upon the 4 categories that we’ve encountered before in Clay Shirky’s book: sharing, cooperation, collaboration, and collectivism. Digital socialism, according to Kelly, embodies the promise of the collectivist ideal. Digital networks can be considered an “emerging design space in which decentralized public coordination can solve problems and create things that neither pure communism nor pure capitalism can.” We are more or less familiar with the power that digital socialism might yield in the context of Wikipedia, but Kelly points to its incredible potential. Kiva and PatientsLikeMe are the tip of the ice berg. The logic of digital socialism can be applied to problems that under current systems seem unsolvable.
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We decided to take the phenomenon of Ark Music Factory and look at it from a few different angles. Instead of splitting up the work where each person studies a different website or entity, we have decided to look at a singular phenomenon from different angles. Hopefully this will allow us to see more clearly the context and why such a thing exists. This includes looking at the state of the music industry and how new media is effecting the way it operates and produces music. We would look at the trends in music and the shift to online music culture from radio and television music culture, also noting changes in music videos and how they are distributed and made popular.  From this we would then go into the background of Ark Music Factory itself.  First we will look at Rebecca Black, whose fame brought the group to the spotlight.  We will look at all the media appearances Rebecca Black has made and discuss how fast the cross-over from Internet to more traditional media is becoming. Also we will try to chart and discuss the proliferation of spoofs, parodies, covers, and things like cellphone applications that were made soon after she hit the viral stage.

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After doing some initial investigation into the sites we chose to analyze (Kickstarter, CofundOS, Rockethub, and Quirky), some important themes in crowdfunding have started to emerge. There are some basic problems that site administrators have to deal with when trying to create a platform for non-traditional start-up funding, many of which resemble issues that we’ve been talking about all semester. For example, almost every site handles the task of vetting proposals differently. Some, like Kickstarter, require that a funding proposal first be approved by site staff before being shown to potential funders. CofundOS, on the other hand, allows any proposal to be posted, and relies on users to filter out the garbage for themselves. Those are just two examples- every site handles the publish/filter dynamic differently. Other important differences arise in how the sites manage the relationships that come into play in projects like these. The ways in which funders interact with each other and with who they are funding, as well as with the project itself, vary widely from site to site. Read the rest of this entry »

When starting a small business or launching an idea, the biggest hurdle is often obtaining the seed money necessary to get the venture off the ground. One often has to rely on the depths of their own pockets, generous relatives, or the goodwill of a loaded investor. The Internet and the advent of crowdfunding offers an alternative that promises to turn this model on its head. Individuals around the world are able to make affordable contributions to projects that they feel a personal connection to or would like to see come into fruition for one reason or another. Some donate as little as ten bucks, while others donate thousands of dollars, creating a system of investment that is readily reminiscent of the creation of Linux or other open-sourced projects.

In order to develop this travelogue on crowdfunding, we have each chosen a particular website that will serve as our individual “case study” for the duration of the project. Using a set of predetermined methods, we will each accumulate data on our selected site, and then compile our findings, comparing and contrasting in order to shed some light on this online phenomenon.
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From Jessica’s initial proposal, we all decided the best approach to starting this travelogue would be to use the “Go Try It On” app ourselves. Knowing we needed to explore more than one application, we also looked at Trimirror and Opinionaided. Trimirror is similar to Go Try It On in that it’s a fashion based site. Opinionaided offered us a different perspective into online advice communities in that people could post any questions they wanted to get feedback. In their how to video on their main page (which we linked to earlier in the post), they show an example of a guy asking how to propose to his girlfriend.

After spending the weekend interacting with these different applications and sites, we found that the most interesting part of this new media was the type of community they fostered. None of us ever came across any negativity on the site. People were helpful and supportive—they really wanted to see those how posted outfits, questions, etc. do well. This sort of “Good Samaritan” community seems to different from the rest of the internet. Read the rest of this entry »

Jana | Clay Shirky: Here Comes Everybody – Chapter 5

Wikipedia, founded in 2001 by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger, is today’s most famous example of distributed collaboration. Wikipedia developed out of the failure of Nupedia, the creators’ original idea for a freely distributable online encyclopedia, co-authored by collaborating scholars. Due to the excruciatingly slow process of drafting and publishing an article on Nupedia, the site lacked progress, and the decision to institute a wiki format did not sit well with Nupedia’s advisory board. However, the idea for an open platform of general reference remained, and thus (later changed to was born.

Wikipedia is based on Ward Cunningham’s 1995 model of a user-editable website, the wiki. He believed groups of people who want to collaborate also tend to trust one another, and therefore the resulting flexibility of role (a product of mass amateurization) would function harmoniously despite the lack of formal oversight or editorial control. This assumption was proven correct by the increasing number of wiki-users, also combatting the problem of speed that resulted from highly structured work environments. Read the rest of this entry »

The end of the semester seems like the perfect opportunity to look ahead and explore what might come next. We’ve examined the social networks that we’re familiar with, looked at sites that encourage user generated content, and imagined what the implications of dating and gaming sites might be for real world relationships. Now, we should take what we’ve learned and a tell a story about what the future has in store.

At this stage, I’d like to leave it fairly open ended. We could take a sci-fi approach and create something dystopian, extending and exaggerating some of our fears about surveillance, homogenization, and the demise of quality cultural production. Alternatively, we could keep our feet more firmly planted on the ground and explore companies that are being developed at tech start-up incubators like Y-Combinator, BetaWorks and TechStars. We would likely be able to interview mentors in those programs, as well as some of the budding entrepreneurs. We could use their insights to drive our analysis.

Lately we have been discussing the dynamics and complexities surrounding ideas of narrative. Whether that it be contrasting narrative against forms of simulations and video games, or viewing it as the central driving force of a network, such as in hacktivism, narrative seems to be a powerful thinking tool in order to motivate a community.

I’d like to further explore the dynamics of narrative in text-based roleplaying forums online. I have one specific website in mind, Role Play Gateway, which has become a centralized hub of sorts for many branches of roleplaying groups. These communities seem to use narrative in way that straddles ideas brought up by game theorist Gonzalo Frasca, and those highlighted by journalist and professor Marco Diseriis. Roleplaying presents a much more complex form of traditional narrative that Frasca belittles. However, while the narrative is open to manipulation by any of the role playing participants, it appears as though there lacks as structured a goal as in the cases brought up by Deseriis.

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Please watch the TED Talk first.

Salman Khan talks about how and why he created the remarkable Khan Academy, a carefully structured series of educational videos offering complete curricula in math and, now, other subjects. He shows the power of interactive exercises, and calls for teachers to consider flipping the traditional classroom script — give students video lectures to watch at home, and do “homework” in the classroom with the teacher available to help.” Read the rest of this entry »

Maybe you have a genius idea. Maybe you’re bursting with creativity but you simply do not have the resources or the financial aid to help you make that idea into a reality. That’s what Kickstarter is for, a funding platform for artists, designers, filmmakers, musicians, journalists, inventors, explorers…” It’s quite the genius little start up. So how Kickstarter works is that project owners choose a target minimum of funds and the deadline by which people can donate/pledge money (via Amazon Payments). If the goal is not met by the deadline, none of the pledged money gets collected. If the goal is met, the funds go to the project creator, after Kickstarter has taken 5% of it and Amazon has taken another small percentage (~2%). Successfully funded project ideas are permanently archived on the site.

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More and more I have been hearing about online communities taking to the streets in real life “meet-ups.”  Gamers, photographers, writers/bloggers, anime enthusiasts, and many other groups have adopted this practice and regularly schedule events in major cities around the world.  Now, I am not claiming that similarly-interested individuals gathering in public is a novel occurrence by any means — such congregations have existed for a long time in the form of “comicons” and “Trekkie” conventions  What is interesting about the more recent meet-ups is that, since they spawn from tightly-knit internet communities, there is a good chance the people attending already have a certain relationship with one another (friendship, mutual in-game benefice, romance, etc.), but one that has been mediated by the standards and practices of the online world, which are more often than not inapplicable to real world situations.

Whereas Kyle and Andrew examined the migration of individual relationships from the online to the offline environment, I would be interested in analyzing the migration of a whole community.  There is a difference, hear me out!

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Check Out CJ Fam's Video - Ordinary Pop Star

If you don’t already know, ARK Music Factory is basically a company that little girls (and boys) pay to have a pop song written for them and a music video produced for that song. They also become part of the ARK Music Factory’s “label” and get promoted by ARK. What brought ARK to the spotlight was the near instant virality of one of their “stars” – Rebecca Black. Only a few weeks later Rebecca feels like old news and irrelevant, but I think there is a strange phenomenon here that deserves to be looked at more closely. Read the rest of this entry »

I’m interesting in learning how Twitter is being used as a revolutionary tool in the Arab world. In 2009 we saw how the power of Twitter could change the mentality of a nation when activists outwardly opposed the reelection of Iranian President Ahmadinejad. Although their efforts could not change the outcome of the election, the Iranian people were able to freely voice their opinions on a medium that the government had no control over. This allowed the rest of the world to get a sneak peak into a secretive country, and gave people an understanding of the unjust system in place in Iran. As in many other countries ruled by oppressing leaders such as Ahmadinejad, mass communication is censored and people are only permitted to view and listen to what the government deems appropriate. Along with other social networking sites, Twitter gave the average civilian a chance to freely express oneself and fight for justice. Although at first this  seems like a limited wayto combat injustice, but those quippy and short tweets ultimately made a global impact. Read the rest of this entry »

After just finishing a travelogue about privacy on Facebook, I’ve been thinking a lot about anonymity on the internet. Usually, we associate anonymous internet users with people who are, for lack of a more eloquent word, “creeping.” We want our privacy, but at the same time we feel we have the right to know who everyone else is–because if someone wont reveal himself, he must be a creep. There are a few places on the internet however, where people respect and support each other, despite anonymity.

For this travelogue, I want to explore confessional websites like Confessions4U and Post Secret to see how people use the internet as a place to speak freely about personal things. Twitter updates, Facebook statues, and blogs can’t compare in what people are willing to say on these confessional sites. The travelogue would feature research about how these sites were started and how they have affected their users.   Read the rest of this entry »

Was browsing through the apps on iTunes store to see which one is interesting to download and came across this app called “Go Try It On“. The app basically give people honest advise on your look before you go out! Users can get an opinion or give an opinion, while you’re on the go. You can get feedback on your outfit from the app community in real time, or keep your outfit private and only get advice from people you know. The concept for the app is to have people receiving opinions on their outfit before purchasing or going out in instant. Of course from application such as this, where users share their outfit to potentially a huge community, there are rules and standards. From the “Go Try It On” website, they have a list of community standards, some rules include moderate your content, no nudity, etc. With a quick look on the website at it seems like most users are female, and so far I haven’t seen any comments that are hurtful. I’m interesting in seeing what goes on in the community and what sort of comments people are giving.
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Kyle and Kristen

Kyle – Boyd, “Why Youth (Heart) Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in  Teenage Social Life.”

Boyd’s research about Myspace seems dated, but it interesting in retrospect. The focus is on teenagers. In 2006, 64% of teens 15-17 had a Myspace. According to Boyd, there were two types of objectors: Read the rest of this entry »