BCM310 – The Finale

BCM310 is the final communication subject we will be having in our entire degree life. For our whole 4.5 years of studying, we had been dealing with countless communication-related subjects to the extent that certain topics are constantly being repeated. It may be really tiring (and perhaps, boring) having to deal with these repetitive topics. Still remember the familiar “This again?” feeling you get when you see any topics on “communication research” or “communication theories”? Yeah, I get it most of the time. But to review this whole course, perhaps it would be important to highlight that to truly enjoy the course, you need to have the right attitude. True, we may had learned these topics before, but we need to also understand that there’s no limits and boundaries to learning. Every time you learn something, you are going true the process of unlearning and relearning. If you learn by your heart, you learn new stuff inside the stuff you had been learning all these while. (Not sure if I make any sense). 

 

This is what I learned from BCM310. True, we may know certain issues and topics included in this course; but, no one can be entirely sure that we know everything about the course. It’s a process of unlearning and relearning. It’s also a process to develop deeper curiosity and interest in things we thought we are familiar with. This subject has open new doors to various knowledge while in the same time, challenging our own understanding and patience in dealing with new stuff. When you think carefully, aren’t this a similar process we will be facing in our working life soon? When you are stuck in a position, you will need to repeat similar processes for your work. We had been repeating learning for more than half of our lives; and we are going to continue doing this for the rest of our lives. Isn’t it time for us to get use to this process? So instead of feeling bored and tired, it’s time for us to try indulging ourselves in these familiar yet unfamiliar issues while relearning and unlearning as we go.

 

Overall, BCM310 was indeed a challenging and interesting subject. It sharpens not only our minds but most importantly, it teaches us the importance of being aware to what we are expose to. When an issue does not happen to us now, it does not mean that it will not happen to us in the future. Thus, adios & yes, I had a great journey throughout this whole studying journey.

E-Waste: Are you aware?

Humans are often so comfort with their own comfort zones they tend to ignore any other elements that are not included in the zones they are so comfortable located in. The moment when smartphones made their appearance, human’s comfort zone expands to the extent that anywhere and everywhere can be their comfort zone, as long as they have their small device with them. It’s not unusual to see humans starting to ignore the external influences (simply because they do not influence their lives). But is that so?

 

When one is comfortably sitting in a corner playing with one’s smartphone, little do one know that at the other end of the world, people are suffocating and dying because his/her ignorance. As Maxwell & Miller (2012) mentioned in their article, the digital devices many are using today can go out of trend in just 12 months. Sure, if one can afford, one can simply jump on this digital bandwagon happily and just keep calm and enjoy the privileges they have today. But do they know that the faster digital devices go out of trend, the more “rubbish” they are actually creating? What happen to the digital devices one does not need anymore? Where do they go? This is exactly how e-waste can happen.

 

According to the International Labor Service in Geneva, e-waste is actually the largest growing waste stream in the world today (2012). Yes, some may recycle; but how much they can recycle? When one recycle one mobile phone, thousands and millions of new mobile phones are being manufactured. Is it even possible for us to keep up with the pace of these manufacturers; or rather, is it possible for us to keep up with the pace of user’s demands? 

 

E-waste is not merely the demolishing of unwanted digital devices. It’s a lot more than that. It’s about humanity; it’s about the environment. Perhaps many aren’t aware because this does not happen anywhere near us. But it’s still possible for us to contribute some of our effort to help minimize the impact of this issue. One possible way that can be conducted locally is to alert local workers on the effect of e-waste on environmental and human health (Wang et al 2011). With awareness, comes comprehension; then behavior. It’s important to make this issue known to the public because of their ignorant attitude towards this issue. Then, manufacturers should also take into responsibility by enforcing green design into their mobile devices. Joseph (2007) highlighted a few criteria for a digital device to be environmentally friendly – reducing the toxicity and energy use, taking care of product weight and materials used, and many more.

 

A little effort can lead to more awareness; and the more participation one can obtain, it will thus lead to better enforcement of a better mobile devices that can not only help save the environment, but also humanity as well.

Should Internet “Words” be Moderated?

If the Internet is a a real-life person, many would probably label him as a person with great listening skill. Because the Internet is just like a sponge. He takes in everything regardless of what it is. He takes in both positive and negative feedback, your grandmother’s stories, and even your senseless nonsense (oops). The Internet is a good listener (a real tolerant one, indeed) until some people take pity in his kindness and decided to stand up for him.

 

And here ends the era of the “kind” Internet. 

 

The question here is – should the Internet be moderated? The Internet is supposed to be a free platform where everyone & anyone are free to express themselves. Many would say that the Internet should be moderated because it (may) cause more harm to others; for instance, exposing one to information that he/she may not need. To be honest, I agree that the Internet should be moderated for the sake of children who are more vulnerable to unnecessary information. But if one is to say that the Internet should be moderated because everyone is to be harmed by the limitless content on the Internet, the only thought that went through my mind was – do they think of us as some irrational, senseless human beings?

 

Obviously, I might sound as if I am all against the moderation of the Internet. But let’s narrow down the scope here. Should Internet “words” be moderated? Should the Internet “conversation” be moderated? Couldry (2009) provided an interesting statement in his article of “Rethinking the politics of voice” stating that listening is in fact, equally important as speaking because one need to listen to give humans the capacity to have a voice, and to “take account of their lives”. I agree wholeheartedly with Couldry’s comment on the fact that everyone possesses the rights to speak and listen because those are human rights. And the fact that if one is taken off the rights to comment and to provide feedback online, that would be discrimination (Ashton 2013). Here, it is important for me to remind you that the Internet is suppose to be a space where there is no culture. In other words, it is a space where human rights are being put into full use.

 

Should the Internet “words” be moderated? To a certain extent, yes. But not for the sake of stopping people to voice out things that may hurt one specific party; but it should be for the sake of protecting the people from getting exposed to unnecessary information, yet. I personally do not believe in a totally free platform, and I do believe that the Internet is not entirely free. No, it’s not contradicting. I’m agreeing that the Internet should be moderated, but for all the right (and non-selfish) reasons.

White Bread Media – Media Buttering?

Media representations have always been a huge debate among media critics and academics ever since the 1960s. This debate is especially significant in multicultural nations such as America and Australia. This week’s blog post covers the issue of white bread media; in other words, media stereotyping and media representations of the minorities.It might not be a huge deal for the majorities but if issues like these are not to be taken care with, it may conjure serious consequences that may even endanger the entire nation. Apart from looking at the way media depicts the minorities, this blog post also intends to analyse the level of stereotyping in the U.S. media, especially the representation of athletes in international games.

 

Studies have reported that the way media display their content can eventually lead to the understanding of diversity and differences in the nation. Dreher (2010) highlighted the fact that although the depiction of minorities by the Australian media is unavoidable, it is – however – important to remember that Australian media itself is diverse. In this sense, various media are targeted at different audiences and thus, different ways of media representation are thus unavoidable. Taking news reporting as an example, the way mainstream media in Australia frame their news content is different from the way non-mainstream media in Australia frame their news content. From here, we can understand that sometimes media representations and (unintentional) stereotypes are unavoidable to cater to the needs of the different target audiences. 

 

Looking into the media representation of athletes on international TV, Sabo et al. (1995) found that stereotypes in athletic events – in terms of commentary and minorities screen time – have been decreasing throughout the years. Sabo et al. (1995) research was conducted in America, which shows that the media are in fact, trying very hard to avoid stereotypes and unfair representation of the minorities in international athletes events, although they are not always successful. Although so, it is also proven that both the minorities and the majorities have their fair square of screen time on international TV. For instance, Rainville and McCormick (1997) reported that “White football players were praised more frequently than Black players”; whereas Derrik Jackson (1998), who conducted a content analysis on American basketball and football, reported that “Blacks were more likely than Whites to be described in physical terms”. Through these observations, we can only conclude that the media are in fact trying to tone down stereotypical comments on international television.

 

However, although so, Sabo et al (1995) also concluded that even when the minorities are getting their fair share of screen time, the majorities still held the greatest presence as commentators. More efforts are indeed needed for the minorities to be able to step up and make their presence felt. Looking into the new era today, we can see that the minorities are starting to play a more significant role on international TVs. This can be proven through TV/movie casts (eg: Glee) where the minorities are given important roles to hold. 

 

References:

Dreher, T (forthcoming 2014) „White Bread Media‟ in The Media and Communications in Australia eds. S Cunningham and S Turnbull, Allen and Unwin

Sabo et. al (1995) ‘The Portrayal of Race, Ethnicity, and Nationality in Televised International Athletic Events’, Journal of Sports and Social Issues, vol.7, no.13.

Rainville, R. E. and McCormick, E. (1977). Extent of covert racial prejudice in pro football announcers’ speech. Journalism Quarterly, 54(1):20-26.

Sabo, D. and Jansen, S. C, (1994). Seen but not heard: Black men in sports media. In Messner, M. and Sabo, D. Sex, violence, and power in sports: Rethinking masculinity. Freedom, CA: The Crossing Press, pp. 150-160.

Jackson, D. Z. (1989, January 22). Calling the plays in black and white.Boston Globe.

Second Life – Breaking Through the Walls

The media has been focusing a lot on delivering messages to people who care and people who need to care. Even so, it is unavoidable that there is always this tendency for the media to be unable to cater to everyone. One example is to people who possess a certain extent of disability. It is indeed unavoidable that, if one wishes to properly consume the media content, there is always this fine line which is always connected to human’s body; which, as stated by Goggin & Newell (2007), many technologies are indeed connected to the human body; thus, in order to properly enjoy and consume media content, the body response and ability to consume is of course, necessary.

 

By this, I am particularly interested to understand the way people with disabilities perceive and consume the media; thus, I will be looking into the use of Second Life by these individuals to fully utilize their position in the media world. Second Life is an appreciation of difference; it is a platform where individuals – disable or not – are able to be free and be themselves with little to none discrimination. Hickey-Moody & Wood (2008) defines Second Life as “a forum for a diverse spectrum of user experiences”, which in my opinion, this definition breaks free the conception of “disability” and takes media content consumption into a whole new level. On this platform, individuals are no longer with dealing with “disabilities” but they deal with media consumption experiences; this is definitely a huge and meaningful attempt for individuals to be heard and to a certain extent, to be seen. This, is also an attempt to break through the walls of discrimination and gives the disables a chance to be seen as human. 

 

Oliver (2007) also stated that Second Life is a platform which educate people to think of differences ethically. Differences is not something that we can simply understand easily. It is of course not something that we can adapt to right away. But perhaps, a platform like Second Life can be a start. In my opinion, such platform is a great platform to encourage the society to be more difference-conscious. Before they witness them themselves, it’s important for them to feel them; and one of those ways is through the use of virtual platforms, where there are less boundaries and more freedom to express themselves and to see what they should and should not see. Last but not least, to me, Second Life is not just a virtual platform, it is also a beginning to the crumbling of the walls of differences; and such platforms ought to be highlighted and utilized in order for the society to be able to properly appreciate the uniqueness of individuals with disabilities, especially in terms of media consumption.

Walled Garden – A Mirage

The cyberspace is undeniably an emerging trend. It does not only become part of our lives; in fact, the cyberspace itself is a whole new culture that everyone is part of. No matter who you are, it’s almost impossible for you to not be part of this cyberspace culture that the entire world is so fond of. Indeed, the cyberspace is a great helper – it improves our lifestyle and our work efficiency; but is the cyberspace really that invincible?

Being too dependent on something will sometimes lead to one’s downfall. And realizing that fact, many organizations have taken their necessary steps to input add-on protections to their cyberspace activities. Miller (2003) as in fact pointed out that organizations – especially huge ones – and governments are often the one who emphasize a lot on the use of data firewalls and virtual private networks with the sole purpose to protect their data. This brings us to think if the Internet is really that invincible as many of us would think.

Younger generations – like us – are so accustomed with the use of Internet to the extent that we are often connected 24 hours per day and 7 days per week. One of the reasons that younger generations are so fond of the cyberspace could be the fact that they thought the cyberspace is free off boundaries. Promoting freedom of speech as its core nature, the cyberspace indeed provide the space needed for young people to voice out their suppressed opinions and to share what they think without the need to even show who they are and what(?) they are. It’s the freedom of speech they will obtain out of the Internet that makes the Internet so attractive to them. But is free really free? I don’t believe in free lunches and I believe in consequences that will come together with the free stuff you are getting. And thus, it is very interesting to look at the behind-the-scene story of the Internet to know exactly how and where you are connected – a.k.a. where your information will end up. This leads us to the concept of walled garden – a concept which puts you into heaven but the only thing is, the heaven isn’t really a heaven; in fact, it’s a guarded mirage. This mirage is given to you when the Internet allows individuals to freely express their thoughts on various online platforms and to cater and customize their thoughts according to their self-interest and own taste (Hirzalla et al 2011). Freedom is sweet, isn’t it? Freedom online is sweeter – it allows you to do things you can’t do offline.

The point stated above is especially true for the political environment here in Malaysia. According to Suffian (2009), the oppositions are unable to access to the mainstream media because they are controlled by the government; thus, they choose to use the online platforms to help them spread their key messages and values. We know the online world is almost free off boundaries; but we are luckier because in Malaysia, the online world is pretty much free off boundaries and to highlight this, it is actually more accessible and more impactful than the mainstream media. With this, the use of the Internet has contributed to a huge turnover for the opposition parties. So if we say we are all in this pretty walled garden, so is Malaysia’s cyberspace a walled garden? If yes, then who’s the owners of this walled garden?

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Source: http://www.rabidpuffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/rp-comic-20120216a.jpg

You think you are not controlled? You think whatever you post on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are not known? Well, you are wrong. We are guarded; we are monitored; we are controlled. It’s a trap; a deception that was set up for you by giving you this vision of fantasy. It’s a cruel hide-and-seek game. And as long as you are using the services of someone else, you are controlled. True story. My debate is that – if the Internet is meant for free expression of speech, then should the walled garden exist? Should Internet censorship exist? In my own opinion, the Internet should be a walled garden, but with entrances and exits. It must not be totally guarded; but should be more flexible about the rules and regulations; besides, the nature core of the Internet as a ground for freedom of speech is an important element for a democratic country to improve. In fact, the Internet should be make use of to listen to what the people want instead of to restrict their thinking to improve a democratic country.

 

References:

Hirzalla et al 2011, ‘Internet use and political participation: reflections on the mobilisation / normalisation controversy’, The information Society, vol.27, pp 1 – 15.

Miller, D 2003, ‘The walled garden: helping the Internet grow up with firewalls, virtual private networks and other network security technologies’, Network World Canada, vol. 13, no.18, pp 6-9

Suffian, I. 2009, ‘Reflections of the 2008 Malaysian general election: role of the internet in political communications’, Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Fusing Books with the Internet

Books, books, books. That’s the most vivid memories I can remember about both my primary and secondary school lives. Till today, I still remember the fear of forgetting to bring any of the required text/reference books because during my time (especially those primary days), not being able to bring along your text/reference books required for that day can earn you a serious punishment. When I reminiscence on those situations today, I realized that I have been fearing the wrong matter all along. What I (and students today) should be afraid of is whether we will be able to learn properly, not whether if we bring our books to school. The point is, so what if you have your books with you? What’s the point when the book becomes a decorative material instead of a learning material? 

 

Putting aside those unpleasant memories, I also remember the best part of my late primary and secondary school lives is when I get the chance to go online. During my time, being able to go online is so precious that I was always looking forward for the clock to touch 9.00 p.m. so that I can surf for only 2 hours. That, was undeniably, one of the best things I love to do in the past. So, coming back today, I find it ironic when I see the Internet starting to bloom in such a ferocious state to the extent that both my fear towards forgotten books and favorite past activities have been fused into becoming an important part of life – online learning. Isn’t that marvelous? But wait, there are more to that. Because, no matter how, things will never be perfect and life will not be kind to you. True story. 

 

Miller (2010) stated in his article that he foresees a time when the Internet becomes a major platform for online learning. And the “time” may not be that far away as we are expecting. Not long later, we will be dealing with video editing software instead of word processing software; and instead of having to submit assessments in hard copies, we will be submitting them on an online platform (eg: e-learning site, email) instead. This is the predicted future by Miller. It is also a possible future I can see for myself. The main advantage of this “possible” future occurrence is, of course, flexibility and convenience for both the students and the lectures. You can learn anytime and anywhere you want (as long as you can be connected to the Internet) and you can work in your own comfort zone. But there’s always two sides to a coin. With this type of learning environment, one must learn how to manage their own time. Because the Internet is not entirely made up of learning materials; there are various social networking sites, gaming sites, blogs, videos, and many other more who can’t wait to grab your attention and make you stay in their sites. These are what we call distractions. 

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Source: (http://blog.earnmydegree.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/comic-goin-to-grad-school-feb-09.jpg)

 

Although so, it is undeniable that online learning is a good initiative to take learning to another level. Bennett (2001) concludes the Internet as being “interactive”, “switched”, and “networked”. Between these three important features stated by Bennett, I would like to touch on the “interactive” feature alone. Interactivity in education is always good. It allows (almost) immediate responses and feedback from both students and lecturers and this will definitely help in speeding up the learning process. But won’t this be an invasion to the private time one have? I mean, how willing are you to give up your personal social and private lives to stay alert and to be on standby for any incoming assessments/notices or student’s questions at all times? Are all of us willing to have this invisible chain tied on to us 24/7? When you know you are connected online, your consciousness towards any work-related notices will automatically be heightened up. With this type of flexibility, you have to be prepared to give up your leisure time in order to be a responsible student/lecturer. So, are you ready to make that sacrifice?

 

To be honest, no matter if we are prepared or not, we have to face the fact that we are already being tied in this “online learning” phenomenal. All of our learning materials are being uploaded online; we conduct online discussions as a group; we submit our assessments online (see what I’m doing now?); we email our lecturers to ask about studies and assessments. We are indeed, not far away from the future picture Miller had stated earlier. Furthermore, I myself love the Internet for its rich of learning materials. Imagine if you do not have the Internet and you would need to go to the library to access for more information for your assessments and studies. And remember, even the library has limited resources. This will definitely result in unnecessary stress and hassle. This is perhaps, the main reason why I love the Internet so much because, well, personally I love to work with my own time. Even Hellbrandt (1999) has proven that the Internet has provided us with “authentic learning materials”, and a lot of these materials are materials that we cannot easily obtain through the use of traditional learning methods. Plus, the materials on the Internet are usually more updated as compared to the various resources in the library. This makes our studies more relevant. 

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Source: (http://www.lib.uwo.ca/files/business/images/comic.jpg)

 

Although I have been emphasizing on the advantages of online learning, I have to reaffirm that online learning – in my opinion – is necessary but not for all circumstances. Online learning is especially useful for individualized learner, especially people who can manage their time well and people who have good self-discipline. Unfortunately, I – being a human – sometimes strays and wanders off into a different dimension when it comes to studies. I am not great in time management, but I am an individualized learner. Online learning is useful, but we are not merely looking at online learning alone. We are looking for “quality online learning”. Quality online learning, as defined by UWG (n.d.), consists of several important guidelines that may be similar to the traditional classroom learning method (just that they are shifted to the digital environment) such as a clear guideline on what to expect, how to get started, how to find learning materials, and many more. Judging on some of these important elements, I would say that UOW’s online learning effort is indeed a great one and we are, in fact, undergoing quality online learning method. Well, do you realize that? 

Bennett, RE (2001), ‘How the Internet will help large-scale assessment reinvent itself’, Education Policy Analysis Archives, vol.9, no.5.

 

Fetterman, DM (1998), ‘Webs of meaning: computer and Internet resources for educational research and instruction’, Educational Researcher, vol.27, no.3, pp.22 – 30

 

Hellebrandt, J (1999), ‘Virtual collaborations in the Spanish class: from e-mail to Web design and CD-ROM development’, Journal of Educational Computing Research, vol.20, no.1, pp.59 – 70

 

Miller, RE (2010), ‘The Coming Apocalypse’, Pedagogy, vol.10, no.1, pp.143 – 151.

 

UWG. (n.d.). Online learning at UWG: Five star rubric for online instruction. Retrieved 24/04/2013 from http://www.westga. edu/~distance/webct1/Rubric