Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Save The Internet!

In a previous blog entry I discussed Net Neutrality the importance to protect our individuality and cultures within the World Wide Web. Perhaps, I didn’t explain it enough, perhaps at the time of writing my blog I didn’t understand it enough, but now I have come to the realization of the significance of this issue, and how a world of ‘Free Culture’ is vital to us, as individuals and as a whole society.

I came to this epiphany when I was just about to start this blog, and I realized I had to research an Activist project, and how would I do that? By using the internet. Then, I realized how was I able to write any of my other blog entries; all thanks to the internet. And how am I even ‘handing in’ these blogs? You guessed it, the internet. So if I need my comfy accessibility to the internet to make every aspect of my blogs possible, I realized the internet is definitely important. And that’s only the internet usage needed for my blogs; I use it in many other ways everyday, from keeping in touch with family and friends across the world, to reading daily news resources to know what is happening in the world and even just for fun by reading blogs on celebrity scandal and gossip.

Many of our daily online routines may not be possible for much longer. With the Net Neutrality debate, large telephone and cable companies such as AT&T and Time Warner have the option to be the ‘gatekeepers’ of the internet; being able to “discriminate” against websites that they may not agree with. If the internet is run under their wings, then they would be able to make the decisions of which websites could load at a fast or slow rate, and even not allow some websites to load at all. is a website is a huge advocate of Network Neutrality. The website offers a blog which displays up to date info and recent information on the Net Neutrality debate, the most recent being Barack Obama’s fight to keep the web neutral. The website also provides full definitions and background information on the debate, which allows any curious observers researching the subject to have all their questions answered. On the site, you are also able to research others who are apart of the coalition for net neutrality (including author Lawrence Lessig – author of “Free Culture”), and also able to donate to the cause. The best part is that the website actually includes all the press releases concerning net neutrality so it is very easy for anyone to keep up to date.

By researching and network neutrality I have come to realize that I take a strong stance in saving our internet. It is not only a huge part of my life, but it has become a large portion of our society. It is what makes us such a united nation, and it brings its users, us, closer as a knowledge community. Without our “free culture” access, we are taking a part of our society away that many people have worked so hard to get.

I leave this post with a quotation from someone I greatly respect, and who I respect even more now that I have discovered his strong stance on Network Neutrality.

“To seize this moment, we have to insure free and full exchange of information. And that starts with an open internet. …Because once providers start to privilege some applications or websites over others, then the smaller voices get squeezed out, and we all lose. The internet is perhaps the most open network in history, and we have to keep it that way.” – Barack H. Obama - Check it out. Make up your own mind.

Participatory Culture

To consider yourself involved in participatory culture, you need not be a master at a variety of media; you don’t even need to master every angle of one medium. There even no need to spend every last penny on your medium. The point is to enjoy your medium and want to be a part of it – to want to participate in its culture. Active participatory culture involves wanting to share this certain media with others, be it your own individual song or art piece, or one of your favourties.

The medium which I am actively participating in is blogging. This is my first year of blogging, but already I feel I have learned and contributed to the online knowledge community that myself and my peers have created. I am constantly keeping myself up to date on popular blogs such as, and I even have several blogs written by my classmates which I regularly check. I also frequently post entries on my own blog. Aside from the required class posts, I tend to post things I find interesting such as youtube videos or quotations or anything really; anything I really enjoy or feel needs to be seem by others. By reading my blog, you get a taste of my thoughts and opinions and get to know a little more of me through each post.
My blogs have become part of my routine, part of what I do, and part of how I express myself.

During the 13 weeks of my short blogging career, I have started to create my own online footprint. I may only have about five followers who actually read my blog, and only about 60 people know my blog even exists, but it is still online, and part of the World Wide Web; I am now a part of the World Wide Web. It’s good to know that anyone connected to this very large blogging community could potentially read my blog. It’s a big ‘what if’ scenario, but still could happen.

At least I’m here, getting myself out in the open regardless of who is paying attention or not.

I’m an advocate, a creator, an interpreter, a reader, and an admirer.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Culture Jamming

Around this time last year there was an advertising campaign for a product called Obay. These ads were plastered around Toronto on bus shelters, street cars and even inside the subway cars.

The product itself was a pill, and the ads displayed testimonials from parents who have claimed to give their child this pill.

“When Amy started thinking for herself, we had to nip it in the bud with Obay.”

There were several versions of this ad, all displaying scenarios where children tried to make their own decisions or speak out, and their parents quickly and easily resolved this ‘incident’ with Obay.

Come to think about it, this is an example about Culture Jamming a Culture Jam.

At a first glance, these ads seemed ridiculous; truthfully when I saw them I had no idea if they were real or fake. But after seeing so many of them, I soon realized how these advertisements were being used to satire the concept of using media to satirize what it was supposed to originally represent.

If that makes sense.

But it is a smart idea, and thinking back on it, it is kinda funny how I did not know the truthfulness behind the ad, and that in my head it is not too far fetched to come up with a drugs for children who don’t listen to their parents.

That’s the idea though. It isn’t unusual…

They use drugs for everything now,

Hello!? ADD!? What kind of a made up disorder is that.

Unfortunately once the ads revealed themselves to be fake, I bet there were actually some parents out there disappointed that their dream product only existed in their dreams.

Net Neutrality

Soon blogs could be written by you, four business men, their assistants and a censorship committee - Not exactly the kind of input you were hoping for.

Network Neutrality or Net Neutrality for short, is a principle which is applied to all of the content which is available for all to see on this crazy thing we called the World Wide Web. The principle itself is to keep the content under neutral grounds, “free of restrictions on the kinds of equipment that may be attached, on the modes of communication allowed, which does not restrict content, sites or platforms, and where communication is not unreasonably degraded by other communication streams.” (Wikipedia)

What some of the web’s users don’t know is that the web is already controlled by key figures in media industries. They own the companies and the ideas that those companies produce and project to their online communities on a commercial level. However, in North America at this time the content directly placed on the web, such as ideas from an individuals sitting at home and speaking their minds, are not controlled or censored whatsoever. But this Net Neutrality debate poses the threat that all online content will be kept in surveillance and be able to have restriction by the key players in the World Wide Web.

So basically there are two sides of this debate, one side is to embrace what we have now, and realize that our free culture is what makes our web such a respected community, OR you could believe in the ‘necessity’ of net neutrality and believe that it will add shape to the future of our internet.

How you think is not my concern, and I am not really here to tell you how you should think, but then again this is my blog, so what I can do is leave you with a quotation that reflects MY beliefs.

"Allowing broadband carriers to control what people see or do online would fundamentally undermine the principles that have made the internet such a success...A number of justifications have been created to support carrier control over consumer choices online; none stand up to scrutiny." - Vint Cerf, Google Chief Internet Evangelist and Co-Developer of the Internet Protocol

Google, "A Guide to Net Neutrality for Google Users ." Google Help Center. 2008.

Google. 11 Nov 2008 .

Wikipedia, "Net Neutrality." Wikipedia. 11 Nov 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Buy Nothing Day

On a typical school day, I am guaranteed to purchase at least one thing which would be coffee (normally Starbucks), but turn that typical day into a day downtown and up that one item to a minimum of five. Stick me in a mall and I will gladly waste my paycheck on clothing that will sit in my closet with my many other sweaters and jeans. Do I really need my starbucks or that extra sweater? Normally never. But do I want it? Absolutely! Over my years of working hard making my money, I have also worked hard at labeling myself as an ‘avid consumer’; most of the time I don’t even realize it anymore.
On Saturday November 29, 2008 people world wide are encouraged to participate in Buy Nothing Day. A day where people take a break from the typical consumer, and not partake in spending our money on mindless products which we only think we truly need. This day is day for social activists to protest our poor habits of over consumption, and to make us realize that buying into large corporations is pretty much a downfall of our society.

However, will one day make a difference? Buy Nothing Day sounds like a good plan, and an attempt at taking action, but really – one day? So you can’t buy that new purse on the 29th, but its okay to buy it next week, or even on the 30th. How about trying to downsize our over consumption in general, or even informing the public of exactly whose hands their money is in, and where else it could go? Perhaps the issue runs deeper than one day of anti-consumerism. One day may provoke thought, but maybe for just 24 hours, one day won’t change the minds of consumers world wide to forever change their spending habits.

I will try my best to participate in this years Buy Nothing Day, but I will also try my best to be a wiser consumer overall. I encourage others to participate, but also to research the deeper issues behind this protest. is a great resource for videos and other information.

Media Hegemonies - Who Owns What

The Walt Disney Co.

When I was young the only thing that I could always identify with Disney was Mickey Mouse. But as I grew up, I realized that Mickey had more tricks up his sleeve than ‘The Little Mermaid” and “The Lion King”, he was actually a small portion of a multi-billion dollar company – The Walt Disney Company.
But it wasn’t until a few weeks ago when in class Ian brought up a web page from the Colombia Journalism Review on ‘Who Owns What’ and as a class we looked up exactly what the Walt Disney Company owned. To my surprise, the Walt Disney Company owns:

Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, Miramax Films, Pixar
11 Broadcast Television stations, including ABC
18 Cable Television stations, including A&E and 80% of ESPN
41 Radio Stations
Walt Disney Records, Hollywood Records, Lyric Street Records
Around 17 Book publishing Imprints
16 Magazines, including 50% of US weekly
8 Parks and Resorts
and 16 other entertainment companies such as Baby Einstein and Disney Toys.

In a way, this somewhat frightens me. Because so many media outlets and forms of entertainment are owned by one company, the impact of their influence is a little overwhelming. Like we as consumers could so easily be influenced by Disney’s values and ideas, and we would have no idea, because it would be everywhere and eventually maybe even become a norm. Their ideas are projected to many different audiences, from young children through films and toys to adults through Disney’s many radio stations or magazines. They control such a huge part of our lives, and it would be very difficult to escape the ‘grasp’ that Disney has gained on us, and for those who are not fully aware of the media conglomerates, then it is an ‘invisible grasp’.

After reading Robert W. McChensney’s article “The New Global Media” on The Nation, I discovered that this is not unusual (since the nineties) for this “global oligopoly” to happen in the entertainment industry. And that specifically in the United States, the 5 large Media Companies have slowly been purchasing more and more of our media outlets.

This makes me miss the days with Disney influenced which animation film my babysitter would put on for me. I would have never thought ‘Mickey Mouse’ would have such as hold on me as a grew up, and from the looks of it his influence will continue to impact me long after I stopped watching him and Minnie.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Fake News

Is imitation always the most sincere form of flattery?

Although fake news is, well… fake, it still is an important portion of modern media. It comes in many forms, such as websites with fake or satirical news articles, such as, advertisements which disguise themselves as news, and one commonly overlooked example would be the manipulation from the corporate PR world.

I believe that reading over fake news helps us understand, or even just pay more attention to the real news in our society. Once the issue can be poked fun at, means that a new understanding of its meaning has been achieved, thus benefiting from a combination of the fake and real news sources. For example, in class when we watch Tina Fey’s incredible impersonation of Sarah Palin. This impersonation of Palin showed the public that Fey wasn’t stretching the impersonation too far, and Palin actually acted in such a manner in reality. Without this satirical new glimpse then many traits of Palin would have not been noticed on such a huge level as these skits made them out to be.

In the book “Toxic Sludge is Good For You; Lies, Damn lies and the Public Relations Industry”, John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton unveiled many cases of fake news and public manipulation that I could have never even imagined. One of my favorite examples of this ‘management’ was reading about the Conference held by the Foundation for Public Affairs for the activist groups where they basically picked the brains of all the activists for their own market research and to ‘determine how and which activists can be coopted” (Stauber, Rampton, 69). This basically was a fake conference help by PR executives, and the activists had no idea. This along with many other examples from the book opened my eyes and made me realize that nothing is done by a corporation that hasn’t been decided by a room full of PR representatives. Regardless of the fact behind the issue, all that matters is what the public thinks, and what information is available to them; meaning that if they control the information (such as the PR executives controlled the conference) you control the public (the activists).

However important and interesting fake news is to the overall communications world, understanding that it is lack of truth is also very important. is a good example; this website is so polished and professional looking, it could easily be mistaken as real news. To not get stuck in the fake news trap it is very important to survey other media to constantly understand events and issues of society, because if you already have prior knowledge of the subject matter, you will then get to enjoy the joke, and not be the joke.

-Sydney C. Lashko

Friday, October 3, 2008

S.L. + T.V. = <3

Before writing this entry, I did not realize how much the television controls the hours of my day. But now thinking about it, it is kind of weird of me to let this big, ugly, black box that sits in my room be a controlling force in my life. Well it’s not the specific television, is what it shows me is what I am obsessed with. I even have a television in my room so I can catch up with my old friends Ferguson and Leno right before I fall asleep.
From the top of my head, if I were to make a television diary this is how it would go:
- Every weekday morning when I wake up at 6 or 7 I watch Breakfast Television as I get ready for school or work.
- Monday night I watch three one hour shows.
- Tuesday night I watch two one hour shows.
- Thursday night I watch two one hour shows.
- And on the weekend I go on youtube and watch the shows that I missed.
- Late night on weekdays I watch Craig Ferguson, Jay Leno, Steven Colbert – they are my television version of an adult story time before bed.

The pathetic part is not me watching all those shows, it is how I change my work schedules and not do not make plans during prime time, because my world will stop spinning if I miss what goes on in my shows.
The largest force in particular is Grey’s Anatomy. It is now on its fifth season, and for five year I have yet to go out on Thursdays between 8 -9 p.m. I rarely even pick up my phone (unless it is a commercial). I have never missed an episode. Even though the episodes now are pretty lame and not as creative, I still watch them because it has been part of my weekly routine for so long.
I just love my television because with a click of the remote, I am connected with the rest of the world watching that show at that time. It lets be able to see what someone in Spain can see, it is a simultaneous audio/visual sensory connection.
But I am alright with being a primetime junkie; I think I got over it around season three of Grey’s Anatomy.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

House Hippo

In my last blog I said how media literacy should be taught in a more effective way at school,
I came across this and thought that this was a start, but more should still be done.
Its a small step in entering the large and busy world of the media.
Its still very cute though.

Media Literacy, the forgotten skill.

Reading and writing are known basic skills to our society at this time, and I believe that there is a skill equally as important that can sometimes go unnoticed – Media Literacy. It almost does not make sense to be able to read and write and not be able to understand what it means, or how it means.
Personally, I don’t know how I would be able to function if I did not have the ability to be media literate. It’s almost like being given the gift to think for yourself. To me, it is a skill which makes me feel like I am a real person in society, one who is up to date on international happenings, politics, and many other occurrences. Becoming media literate is like ending that gullible stage everyone has when they are really young. Instead of believing only what I was told by peers or parents, I now have the ability to create my own arguments and opinions, to recognize bias and stereotypes in society and the best part is, I am able to distinguish fact from opinion. Being media literate allows people to take the world however they want to, not by what everyone else thinks. For example, if someone who were not media literate were to watch a commercial that said if they did not buy these pants they would not be cool. This person may actually go out and purchase these ‘cool’ pants because they have not been taught the language of media to decipher these messages on their own. However, if they knew how to identify this as not fact, and realize that these ‘cool’ pant makers are not reliable in judging what is cool or not, then they would have a good laugh at the commercial, save their money and move on.
This is a skill which helps people become active members of society, and should be taught in school at a young age how to identify fact from fiction, bias and how to judge the reliability of information. All are very important to becoming a well rounded individual who will not get eaten alive in the big bad world.

Decoding/Decontructing Advertising

“My car turns on Kate Walsh, does yours?”

Cadillac surely grasped the idea of selling their product through sex, and it shows through the recently aired Kate Walsh Cadillac CTS commercial.
The basis of the commercial is fairly simple, beautiful woman driving a beautiful car. It is the dialogue, and who speaks it which is what I find to be brilliant. Kate starts off by saying only a few things are important to the life of luxury, and surprisingly she is not referring to the amenities of the vehicle. She vaguely mentions aspects of the car such as sun roofs and GPS, and skips right to the point, the sexuality of the car and how it connects with her own sexuality. “When you turn your car on, does it return the favour?”
The best part is this is one of the most tasteful ways that I have seen sex sell in… well, ever. It applies to the male audience because Kate Walsh is a very beautiful and sensual woman; her sultry voice is what quickly guides them through the various frills of the car, and then her part ends with a sexy glare and a very appealing line. The other part of the commercial (the car part) also applies to men. It looks very sleek and sexy in the fast paced shots of the aspects of the car. The commercial also applies to women because the sexuality aspect is appealing, and intriguing; not distasteful. Walsh is not naked, or drunk, but driving a very expensive car, quite possibly her own car and not purchased for her by a man. Also, as an actress, Walsh plays very independent and sexually tasteful roles. This image of her (from Grey’s Anatomy of Private Practice) is transferred to herself driving the car, “this independent and beautiful woman driving a car normally bought by men, if she can drive it, so can I!” .
Overall, I believe that Cadillac managed to combine cars and women in such an excellent way, both men and women probably held their breath a little while watching this commercial (for the car or the woman, that may be different for everyone). I thought it was clever to take a tasteful spin on something which could normally blown to a grungy image.

Sexy Kate Walsh Cadillac CTS Commerical Excellent Quality. Youtube. 2 Oct 2008.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Mass Media

My personal definition of the term Mass Media is:
a form of media which has the potential to reach a vast amount of people simultaneously.
This is the definition that I have concluded to after my media classes in school, and my time being an active media literate member of society.
Examples which follow my definition are newspapers – which are read by hundreds of people in a community or even city-wide, the internet - which has the potential to be read by millions, television, and even signs (such as advertisements).
From my time sitting in mass comm. I have realized that many of us pretty much had the same definition of mass media. I got this impression off of the Media Autobiographies that we did the other week. Through our presentations many people explained that their form of media (vlogs ,blogs, clothing) were those of the masses. Also, as I sat and listened to all two hours of presentations, I realized that the people themselves up there were a form of mass media too. They were up there, telling at least one hundred others about themselves, and their particular form of media.
Honestly, my definition of mass media grows all the time, because each day I am confronted with a new media text, ones that had gone unnoticed to my eye (Narcissus Narcosis anyone?) and then I add them to my never ending list.
But in the end, I do and I don’t want to fully grasp the world of Mass Media.
I do because it is so intricate that once I know one aspect better, I can understand more, and I don’t because what is better then re-opening your eyes in the world you have been born in, and understanding a new text everyday? Nothing is better then re-shaping your ideas and experiences of the media, by each day you live, each book you read, and each person you know.

Cell phone commerical

After writing my blog about the cell phone,
I came across this commerical and thought it was appropriate.

The Ecology of Media

The Cell Phone

Calendar, Clocks, E-mail, Alarm Clock, Music Player, Camera, Note-taker, Television, Messenger – and oh I almost forgot - its also a Telephone.

When I was younger, the only people who had cell phones were business men, who always needed to be reached in case of emergencies. It was almost like if one of them still had a pager; they were the ‘old fogies’ of the office. Then I hit the age of 14 and I finally got my own cell phone, a.k.a. the brick. It was a large blue phone with a long antenna, and if compared to modern phones it would look like an ancient artifact rather than a communication device. But at the time, it did not even matter – it was my very own cell. At the time I probably did not even know what a text message was, and I also only had two other friends that I could call because no one else had phones yet, but that was also part of the fun, being one of the only kids (literally kid) to have a phone to themselves.
Eventually, by the time I had hit high school you were unique if you DIDN’T have a cell phone. Not only did everyone have one, but everyone was expected to have one. A cell phone ringing in class was a guarantee to your day. They became more than a luxury, they became necessity. You were only cool if you were accessible at any time of the day. The cell phone soon became a status symbol, you were really cool if your phone could play music, and even cooler if you could watch videos on your phone. Cell phones even had their own brands, such as Blackberry, or Iphones, which became incredibly popular, amazingly fast. I even admit to having a phone simply because of its aesthetics; I have the LG Touch phone and I only know how to use the phone and text message.
Cell phones have become such a huge part of today’s culture that they are no longer simply a phone, but your life – you could literally have your entire life programmed into one device. It could hold your schedule, your messages, your e-mails and even be your alarm clock. At this stage I am surprised that they are even still called cell phones and not Personal Device for Life. It just amazes me how something which was intentionally made for verbal communication has evolved into something so much more. The verbal communication portion of the device is one of the last things that it is used for now a days. Questions like “What is the quality of the camera?” and “How loud can I play my music on it?” definitely are asked more frequently than “How is the reception?” or “Does it redirect background noise?”.
It is almost hard to imagine life without cell phones now, because they have taken the place of so many objects. They have even taken the spot of wrist watches, because they display the time directly on the screen. They have become so advance now that I could not even dream up what even newer cell phones could hold for us in the future.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Academic Blogging

I first created this blog about three weeks ago, the same night I had read Marshall McLuhan’s ‘Playboy Interview’. While reading the interview, I came across McLuhan’s definition of media, being an “extension to man’s senses”. To me, this struck a cord. I started thinking about how my blog will be an extension of myself, open for many to read my thoughts and opinions on several interesting topics. Then, it just seemed clear to me to call my blog ‘Extention of my Mind” because that is exactly what it is. But, once I finished the process of creating my blog, I froze.
It’s not that I find it hard to fill this space with content, and answer the assigned blog posts; I just did not really know how to go about posting my very first blog. I have written my thoughts and opinions on paper for class, and even in student papers, but I have never made myself so accessible to millions of people.
(Not to say that millions of people will read my blog, but there is always that s l i g h t chance.) I just did not know if I was prepared to have my words on the World Wide Web. Famous lectures, online databases and the news are on the web, so does my blog really belong? I did not think I was ready for the power for this ‘authority’.
But I am now finally ready to jump on the newest technology bandwagon, and after three weeks dwelling on my first post, I am actually excited to become a part of this online community. Hopefully, I learn to use my ‘authority’ effectively, and provoke thought within those who read this. I hope the extension of my mind, extends onto to others in an entertaining and interesting matter.

McLuhan, Marshall. “The Playboy interview” Playboy Magazine, 1969. 16 Sept

2008. <>