For many people, their everyday life now involves constant interaction with the internet. Indeed the internet is becoming an almost invisible part of these experiences. As cyberspace and real space come together, it is easy to miss the effects of the internet on us and our society. Through several specific topics – such as dating, music, games, faith, health and politics – this unit will help you to investigate the internet from various perspectives and across a range of experiences. You will also learn to analyse the internet conceptually, understanding how technology and society intertwine.
Recently my wife had a miscarriage. We both learnt a lot from the rather traumatic experience. There were many occasions though that information was lacking. We gained a lot of general knowledge on the topic through talking with friends and family. Mostly for the purposes of studying The Internet and Everyday Life, I am now using the Internet to find out more about early pregnancy miscarriage, and perhaps our particular case. I am interested to compare the information I can find on websites with what we received from doctors in the Emergency Department at Box Hill Hospital.
As usual, things often start with a plain (non-phrasal) Google search. http://www.google.com.au/search?q=early+pregnancy+miscarriage Inspecting the top 10 results, it is not surprising to see that most are from *.com.au and *.com domains. None of the sites have a high popularity rank, except the Wikipedia and miscarriage.about.com entries, which rank #7 and #71 respectively. Next I refined my search to include the terms gestational and sac, i.e. http://www.google.com.au/search?q=early+pregnancy+miscarriage+gestational+sac which yielded some concrete results. Carefully reading the description meta data in the search results, lead me to learn about blighted ova as the possible type of miscarriage.
Average Gestational Age and Milestone Visible on UltraSound
In the course of this research project, my knowledge of the topic has broadened, but mostly consolidated and confirmed what the doctors explained to us. However, given the lack of information given to us on basic pregnancy procedures from the general practitioners, who initially confirmed the pregnancy and gave a subsequent consultation, I would highly recommend first time pregnancy partners do their own homework on this, particularly through the first trimester and even before attempting to become pregnant. Things such as knowing exact dates can aid in diagnosis.
On the topic of early pregnancy miscarriage, I would recommend choosing sites which:
give factual information and not opinions,
detail relevant dates that the information was last updated / published,
contain information that is independently reviewed by a recognisable authority,
and contain articles sourced from credible sources.
Online, we can create, nurture, maintain, and even cease relationships. In some instances these may be easier processes than their off-line equivalents. And it seems popular, with teens at least, to do a little of both. (Pascoe, n.d.)
How far would a partner/spouse have to go online before it is considered cheating?
Cheating needs to be defined by the intimate partners and although there is a general perception of what it means, individuals will have degrees of difference. Here are a couple of definitions worth examining.
4. to practice fraud or deceit: She cheats without regrets.
7. Informal . to be sexually unfaithful (often fol. by on ): Her husband knew she had been cheating all along. He cheated on his wife.
How far can one go online under these definitions of cheating?
Briefly, the fourth definition above makes it as easy as lying or deceiving via some form of online communication, to the detriment of a partner/spouse relationship. Although broad, worth consideration for the nature of such deceit to come out through Facebook for instance. Nonetheless, surely such fraud must be deliberate before being considered cheating.
Under the seventh definition however, to cheat on one’s partner or spouse in a cyber-sex fashion could be termed polyandry as in having two or more mates [...] successively (Dictionary.com Unabridged). Apart from cultures that tolerate polygamy or polyamory, none would disagree that this would be cheating. The issue here is that such relationships are enacted without the knowledge and consent of all partners concerned (Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia). Thus to engage in any form of cyber-sex with a partner other than one’s spouse (in monogamous partnerships), is to be sexually unfaithful and probably break a vow of marriage.
Up to what point is flirting online acceptable?
Provided it is reciprocated, flirting between one another is accepted, and possibly expected, particularly in the early stages of a relationship. In the online world, this seems no different to me. Reciprocation deems acceptance, whether it be sending instant messages or posting private messages through the Internet. Depending on the individuals, perhaps even posting comments to public spaces is also acceptable. There isn’t any stage in a relationship that makes flirting between intimate partners unacceptable. It simply migrates to off-line forms when those involved can spend enough time face-to-face.
Cyber-sex is real
The term immediately makes me think of the scene from The Lawnmower Man where he and some token girl get hooked up. Although the characters’ real bodies don’t have intercourse with each other, their virtual representations or avatars, seem to. An interesting portrayal of how real cyber-sex could be. Given any sexual activity whatsoever, presumably involving at least one individual, and the Internet, you’ve met the requirements for cyber-sex, then I would say it is very real. How can it not be real?
Implications of the rise of casual and social games on the Internet for online gaming and everyday life
For our purposes, casual games are asynchronous and the interaction involves turn-taking as opposed to real-time games. The stress levels are inherently lower and players can take their time to nurture relationships. Social games are those where people come together. They can include cooperative play modes or a free for all. Broadly speaking, any game you play with other people is a social game. Some online examples of these types of games are World of Warcraft, the forthcoming Age of Empires Online, and the super-popular Happy Farm.
There are a total of 228 million active users, 23 million daily users… Approximately 15 million urban white-collars workers are estimated to spend more than five hours a day on Happy Farm. Because of its popularity, the game’s host, Tencent QQ, has capped the number of new players per day at 2 million. (“Happy Farm – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia,” n.d.)
So many people are playing, and some are paying real money to advance their competitiveness. Certain features can be purchased with game points but others, such as food for a virtual guard dog, require players to reach for their wallets. Unfortunately all this play has several more drawbacks.
Some fear that this new social farming revolution may not contribute to the positive development of society. A central feature of social farm games in China is stealing vegetables. Official state media People’s Daily reports that 70 percent of users on Kaixin001 cite it as their favorite feature, and it has even spawned the popular phrase “How many vegetables have you stolen today?” This key addictive feature has created news stories of business executives “obsessed” with stealing vegetables and broken relationships over vegetables stolen on the night shift. The game is so addictive — with players setting alarm clocks at all hours of the night to check crops — that it “destroys jobs and relationships.” “Simplicity and stickiness are behind the global epidemic of farm games. Anyone can learn to grow crops within minutes and reap a reward for getting friends — or the entire office — addicted too,” said BloggerInsight Co-Founder Lucas Englehardt. (Ng, 2009)
A possible grim outcome of this is a gang of unemployed, disgruntled, and love-lost people sneaking around China and stealing from “friends”! Meanwhile, around the corner in population dense Seoul, broadband Internet connections are everywhere and fast. The effect of this infrastructure is to dramatically reduce the problems associated with internet gaming and online content distribution. (Brooks, 2008) A good thing considering that gaming is a mainstream activity in Korean culture, without any guilt strings attached. What about Australia and our plans for the National Broadband Network? Like the US, we simply don’t have the centralised population that Seoul has. With a better network though, will we become gamers to the same extent? Personally I hope Australian culture would never condone such poor behaviour and its consequences.
I had already set up an account with Last.fm but haven’t really used it much for some time. My profile at last.fm/user/vfowler seems almost a complete record of my music tastes thanks to using the scrobbler plugin for iTunes.
With Last.fm, discovering new music is now very easy. First, there is Music recommended by Last.fm based on my library and tastes scrobbled. Second, playing streaming “radio” stations of similar artists songs, such as Lady Gaga Radio, or genre stations like R&B, will stream complete songs without interruption… up to the limits of a free trial!
While listening you can read meta data about the current song (artist, current tour status and upcoming events, folksonomy tags, biography, album the song is from, etcetera), see a list of similar artists, and related stations. This intensive form of listening and reading is fantastic for advance notice of concerts, and facts for the next pub trivia night. Further listening and loving tracks builds on my profile, aiding my identity formation.
From Your Recent Tracks listed on the website, it is quite easy to Add to playlist any single song that I have heard recently. This method of building a playlist presents a cumbersome interface should I wish to add several tracks at once as I must repeat the process – there is no facility to add multiple tracks to a playlist. As for using a playlist, you can share it via email which sends a link to the Last.fm website to play the songs there.
Here I started to reach the limitations of a free account. Subscribers can listen to playlists once they contain at least 45 playable tracks by 15 different artists. Furthermore, freeloaders can only listen to previews, not complete songs from a given playlist. In fact, listening to the radio has already spent all of my free Last.fm trial and I would need to subscribe at USD$3 per month to continue streaming. There were several Free MP3s Recommended by Last.fm for me – I downloaded two from artists I recognise and these tracks fit very nicely into my music taste range. Plus Free Music Downloads seem a permanent option for all accounts.
Thanks to my father and best friend introducing me to many styles, I have fairly broad music tastes. Nonetheless, without introducers like these, one can easily turn to the Internet to perform their own music discovery and socialising processes. http://www.last.fm/community/users is the place to go and browse more listeners with similar (or different) tastes to yourself. http://www.last.fm/user/vfowler/neighbours is perhaps an even easier way to find people on Last.fm with similar music tastes to myself. I will continue to scrobble as I like having access to my personal music taste reference.
Alternatively, the new Ping service just launched and may become of interest. Strategically built into Apple’s iTunes program is a clear advantage, but what about the spam commentary and scammers? We’ll have to stay tuned.
O’Brien, E. (2010, October 11). iTunes Ping: The Invention of Facebook … Again. Outlook Student Press. Retrieved October 24, 2010, from http://www.outlookpress.org/technology/itunes-ping-the-invention-of-facebook-again-1.1676603
How is music interlaced with our everyday lives in general?
What has been the impact of the Internet in the way music is used by young people privately and publicly (and the way this intermingles)?
1. Since the 30s, music has been established in public spaces such as cinemas, shops, cafés and restaurants. The gramophone and later the radio brought about a rise of music in the home. The BBC aired dance band music, but not on Sundays. Stations such as Radio Luxembourg broadcast and also filled the gaps of Sundays and weekday mornings. Gramophones have been replaced by compact mobile devices such as iPods, taking music deeper into and far beyond the home. In the 21st century, music is available via TV channels, DVDs, karaoke equipment, the Internet (MP3 sharing sites, fan sites, music news and band sites, and interactive discussion forums like MySpace), phones (as ring-tones for example) and other mobile devices. With wireless broadcast services and compact recorded music formats we now have music even while we commute. Unless people choose to leave behind their digital devices and go bush for some time, it is almost impossible to escape music even just for one day.
2. As both consumers and producers of music, young people tend to be at the forefront of technological developments, particularly those involving the Internet. The MP3 compression algorithms made it possible for music files to be small enough to transmit over the Internet. Thus it was a pre-requisite before the Internet would make any impact on music usage. Napster creator Shawn Fanning was 19 at the time when he made the music file sharing service. Through Napster, people could download songs over the Internet for free. The IFPA prosecuted many individuals who downloaded high volumes of illegal music, mostly they were people under 40.
Distribution of music is a great use of the Internet. However, online sales of music were somewhat limited until Apple intervened with its iTunes program. With iPod products being taken up by youth throughout the developed world, Apple remains the #1 seller of music consumption.
the iTunes Music store sold nearly a fifth (18 percent) of its music to teens and also sports a healthy franchise in gift cards among that same demographic
In addition to dedicated websites, major artists and bands have a MySpace home page to profile their latest music. World famous U2 have U2.com and we can find U2 on MySpace too. It is also thanks to the power of the message boards on websites like MySpace, that lesser known bands such as the Arctic Monkeys have become successful.
Arctic Monkeys are heralded as one of the first acts to come to the public attention via the Internet (fan-based sites rather than from the band), with commentators suggesting they represented the possibility of a change in the way in which new bands are promoted and marketed.
(“Arctic Monkeys – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia,” n.d.)
Privately, individuals are being creative and mixing not just audio, but also video together to create music mash-ups. Here is an example of such a music video mash-up distributed by video sharing site YouTube.
YouTube views can also aid in bolstering an artist’s image and or popularity. This was the case for Chris Brown whose career was at a low point until his song Forever was danced to in the clip of J&K’s wedding. This video was watched on YouTube over 1 million times in the first week, resulting in some sales no doubt.
Social networking sites are popular amongst young people to say the least. Through sites that combine both music and social networking, people can share and play from play-lists, discover music related to one’s own tastes, find free MP3s to download, recommend and review music, follow their friends music tastes and keep up to date with their favourite artists. The latest incarnation to combine all these Internet technologies is Apple’s iTunes Ping service.
Finally, downloading music from the Internet is only half of the equation. Once files could be transferred from computers to modern mobile devices (with huge storage capacities) music could be consumed on mass in public and private contexts.(Sexton, 2008, p. 177)
What is the difference between the media environment of the past and now?
In the past, people gathered together around a radio or queued up for the cinema to watch and listen to programmes at scheduled times. The media controlled these schedules and audiences play a more passive role.
Content creation and distribution required large equipment, plenty of manpower, and big business backing. Nowadays, content can be created using cheaper personal computers and mobile devices, and programmes can be watched via YouTube at a time that suits the audience. Typically audiences on the internet are individuals rather than families or groups of people, and they play an active role in both the content that is consumed and created.
What is the place of the Internet amidst these changes?
The Internet has facilitated distribution for everybody and everywhere, cheaply and freely. It also provides mechanisms for feedback channels, and as we power along with Web 2.0 collaboration methods. People are no longer subject to receiving stories from media moguls, we can create our own and share them as we like – as in “folk culture”. Take a look at this collaborative effort http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mjn7K6sl8M