Friday, October 12, 2007

Culture of the Information Age (4)

Narrowing the Gap on the Net in Publishing

The second day of the conference Culture of the Information Age, opened with a presentation by Péter J. Sós, a Hungarian communications expert and lecturer in tourism, entitled Narrowing the Gap between the Private and Professional Publishing on the Net. Péter started out with the obvious statement that life has changed due to technology, economically and due to a new infrastructure. People have a lot of technology around: CD-ROM and DVD, digital cameras, even in the mobile phones, digital sound recording, mp3 and USB and FireWire plug-ins (everything to everything). We have gotten also cheaper tools accessible for many people. In the infrastructure there are many new opportunities: blog space and video sharing service for free; cheap on-line storage capacity (or for free); cheap web site builder software; easy-to-use picture and video editing software (e.g. PhotoShop, etc.). Today the creator can publish immediately and if the content is “on”, it will always remain available.

These possibilities offer the chance for everybody to express himself/herself. This fulfils the ancient urge of mankind to create and to disseminate – just as in the “good old times”. It is no more than a new dawn of the Folk Art. The urge is the old one, just the tools are new: story telling on-line, fine art and music with cameras, picture and music software. The old Folk Art was performed to the audience, usually the local community. The New Folk Art is performed to the Net Communities across the borders and time zones. In both cases you will get instant feed-back.

The New Folk Art is visible on the fan sites of popular novels, movies, etc., usually containing creative variations, new “parts”, fantasy-games, drawings, music. But there are also new groups like sub cultural virtual communities, but also the new communications industry with tourism compilations of state and regional promotion. An absolute new group is the group of people creating PowerPoint slide shows by photoshopping photographs of fine arts, thematic compilations (from cars to hard porn) and interesting and weird things. (In the picture Hungarian politicians have been photoshopped). But nobody of the viewers knows if the author was amateur or professional. There is not a clear line between personal and professional postings. In Hungary Mr. Gyurcsany used the blog as a political promotional tool; he hijacked the news of the first the first bird flu in Hungary before Hungarian television was able to check and broadcast it.

But there is nobody talks about the responsibility of the blogger. Today well known bloggers have big audiences as if they were a journalists. But the responsibility of the journalist is depending of the general media culture of his country. On the other hand I the bloggers’ job is subjective. Question is of course whether readers know that. Another question is copyright. But nobody knows, which content is copyrighted and which is not. An author can not follow the spread of his/her content. So there is no author, no risk, no responsibility
Also the private rights are easy to hurt. Everybody can upload false or stolen documents, pictures, videos, etc.; and this is done. Once false content is on the Net, it can not remove it any more.

But in the public space there are also problems such as cross-border racism, which cannot be stopped or the political offences. In Hungary, for example it is forbidden to publish opinion surveys eight days prior to voting. But as a private individual you can ask the information and you will get it even as an e-mail, ready to be sent around as a chain mail. In Hungary there is also an advertising stop 24 hours prior to voting. But you still can receive mails and other information on-line, and the servers abroad can provide you with actual political content

Péter J. Sós finished up his presentation with a warning: if you will receive a chain mail message or see “amateur” or “private” pictures or videos, think that it is nothing else, but a fresh piece of the New Folk Art Worldwide.

Péter’s cautionary talk was in my opinion right on a lot of point. Copying copyrighted information to other places on the net, basically hijacking postings, is happening. Recently I was alerted that one of my postings was hijacked, published on another blog and provided with ad random links which led to mature adult sites. I am not happy with such a hijack, but what can you do. But I thought that Péter was also a little too bleak in his presentation. He stressed for example the fact that the reliability of bloggers can not be tested. I disagree with that as a professional blogger can be confirmed for his reliability by co-bloggers.

Blog Posting Number: 892

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