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Monthly Archives: November 2009

This marks the end of my journey on Issues in Publication and Design course. I have not expected there are so many useful and interesting theories that I could apply in the field of design.

I have understood how to use salience, informational value and framing devices to composite layout that is attractive and functional (Kress & van Leeuwen 2006). Any document should have its purpose and it is utmost importance to match the reader‘s habits, expectations and context of use (Penman 1998). Besides that, I have learnt about trustworthiness and attractiveness is the key factors in maintaining the credibility of an academic blog (Chu & Kamal 2008). Lastly, I come to conclusion that in a multimodal environment, differences in affordances from different medium can help to complement each other’s weakness and maximize the structure of a design, be it printed or online (Walsh 2006).

Reference

Chu, S-C & Kamal 2008, ‘The Effect of Perceived Blogger Credibility and Argument Quality on Message Elaboration and Brand Attitudes: An Exploratory Study’, Journal of Interactive Advertising, vol. 8, no, 2, viewed 18 November 2009, <http://jiad.org/article102>.

Kress, G. & van Leeuwen, T. 2006, ‘Chapter 1: The semiotic landscape: language and visual communication’ in Reading images: the grammar of visual design, 2dn edn, Routledge, London.

Penman, R 1998, ‘Document structures and reader’s habits’, Communication news, vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 10 – 11.

Walsh, M 2006, The ‘textual shift’: Examining the reading process with print, visual and multimodal texts’, Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 24 – 37.

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Hamilton (2009) argued that the government should have a set of rules that regulate the content on the Internet. His argument is based on the idea of how children can obtain easy access to pornography. He criticized Electronic Frontiers Australia for being overly liberal on the matter of censoring out excessive sexual content on the Internet.

Chia et al. (2004, p. 109) link those who are in support of censorship to the “third-person perception” where ‘individuals tend to perceive more negative media effects on others than on themselves’. There are two reasons behind this. First, censorship is viewed as a method to avoid the adverse effect from media influence (Shah et al. 1999). Second, it could be due to individuals have the intention to penalize the media for the subject of the negative communication (Gunther 1991). In the context of Internet, it is arguable that parents would be in favor of censorship because they want to protect their children from negative consequences (e.g. imitate scenario from the pornography).

Figure 1: Reaction when children saw pornography online.

Source: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_qUFDMUpk9jE/SoorK_ce5kI/AAAAAAAAXlo/VqEX7ONlkAU/s400/Kids-Pornography-Internet-Censorship-02.jpg

On the other hand, Wang (2003, p. 3) discovered that the use of Internet filter in the schools of United States has ‘block more material than the statuette contemplates’. Additionally, McCabe & Lee (1997) construe that Internet is a global community without limit and attempting to censor materials would contradict the freedom of expression guaranteed by the First Amendment.

With regard to the sexual content, many extreme libertarians might attribute it to moral relativism. Electronic Frontiers Australia claims that ‘filtering will impose one set of sexual standards on others who don’t share them and this makes all net censorship invalid’ (Hamilton 2009). My opinion is that there should be moderation for the use of Internet access in schools because children are too young to make their own decision. The government should also set a clear parameter on what would be filtered out in order to maintain the freedom of expression endows by the Internet.

Reference

Chia, SC, Lu, KH, McLeod, DM 2004, ‘Sex, lies and video compact disc: A Case Study on Third-Person Perception and Motivations for Media Censorship’, Communication Research, vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 109 – 130.

Gunther, AC 1995, ‘Overrating the X-rating: The third-person perception
and support for censorship of pornography’, Journal of Communication,
vol. 45, no. 1, pp. 27 – 38.

Hilmiton, C 2009, ‘Web doesn’t belong to net libertarians‘Australian 16 February, viewed 18 November 2009, <http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/web-doesnt-belong-to-net-libertarians/story-0-1111118869227>.

Shah, DV, Faber, RJ & Youn, S 1999, Susceptibility and severity: Perceptual
dimensions underlying the third-person effect, Communication
Research
, vol. 26, no. 2, pp. 240 – 267.

Wang, C 2003, ‘Internet Censorship in the United States: stumbling blocks to the Information Age’, IFLA Journal, vol. 29, no. 3, pp. 213 – 219.

I have always been a loyal user for Google Book because I could get most the resources I want with just few clicks of the mouse. Google’s ambitious project to scan and make available millions of online books with at least five libraries that include the New York public library and four other universities libraries – Harvard, Stanford, Michigan and Oxford in England sounds like a wonderful idea to because we can get access to more interesting academic books online.

Figure 1: Google Book project

Source: http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/epicenter/2009/04/picture-8.png

John Wilkin, as University of Michigan librarian working with Google even commented that ‘this is the day the world changes’ to further epitomize the potential benefits of digitalizes the libraries collection (msnbc.msn.com 2004).

However this might not be the case if you view it from another perspective. In the year 2005, five major publishers (Simon & Schuster Inc., McGraw-Hill Cos., John Wiley & Sons Inc., Penguin Group (USA) Inc. and Pearson Education Inc) had sued Google Inc. because they viewed the project as a form violation of copyright (washingtonpost.com 2005). According to the U.S Copyright Office (2009), copyright infringement occurs ‘when a copyrighted work is reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed, or made into a derivative work without the permission of the copyright owner’.

After three years of lawsuit that challenged Google’s Book Search program, the giant search engine had agreed to pay $125 million to settle the lawsuits (Synder 2008). Some said Google could be subjected to a much hefty infringement penalty such as $700 to $150,000 per book. What could be argued from this is that the Copyright Act has a loophole. Bredeson (2003) points out that the Fair Use Doctrine within the Copyright Act allows for some “fair use” of copyrighted material without penalty. This means if one is not making a profit from copying a work, then it is considered as a fair use. In the case of digitalizing books, the stand is clear because the main purpose of this program is to ‘preserve knowledge in libraries the world over and make it more widely available’ (Synder 2008).

Reference

Bredeson, D 2003, ‘Thumbnail reproductions, imported images, and copyright infringement on the Web’, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, vol. 31, no. 1.

Msnbc.msn.com 2004, Google to scan books from major libraries, viewed 18 November 2009, <http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6709342/ns/technology_and_science-tech_and_gadgets/print/1/displaymode/1098/>.

Washingtonpost.com 2005, Publishers sue Google to stop scanning, viewed 18 November 2009, <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/10/19/AR2005101901463.html>.

Synder 2008, Google settles book-scan lawsuits, everybody wins, viewed 18 November 2009, <http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2008/10/google-settles/>.

U.S Copyright Office 2009, Definitions, viewed 18 November 2009,
<http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-definitions.html>.

Photographs always assert a certain amount of influential power in portraying messages. The interpretation of each individual is rather different from each other due to their cultural background (Walsh 2006). For instance, what might been see as offensive to a society might not be the same for other communities. Schriver (1997) points out that it is hard to apply meaning to signs without cultural knowledge. This leads to photo manipulation by the editors in order to make the photographs more appealing to a targeted audience according to their cultural frame of reference.

Figure 1: FHM in Malaysia

Source: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_z891-gYizKg/SSqG8S3jzgI/AAAAAAAAAB0/gQp98xB8TjQ/s400/FHM-Cover-December-lo.jpg

Figure 2: FHM magazine in Australia

Source: http://i43.tinypic.com/2vdjyu8.jpg

The photographs of the model look much more conservative for the Malaysian cover because of their culture background with Islamic religion. As for the Australia cover, people over there are generally more open about their body image and thus, more revealing photographs are selected and amplified certain revealing body parts to cater the Australia audiences. Therefore, photo manipulation based on different context governs the meaning-making process for the audience (Halliday & Hasan 1985).

If photojournalism is used correctly, it may help to bring in more readers and boost up the sales of the magazine. But, what would happen if a photograph was edited or falsely represented in such a way that offense the government? Reaves (1989) construes that miscommunication would occur when image manipulation is abused. Most of the media agencies are subjected to licensing and have some relationship with the government. Hence, if the media did not depict photographs that are in favor by the government, the authorities might ban it from the public.

Figure 3: Portrayal of Jesus smoking in Makkal Osai

Source: http://irregulartimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/jesusbeercigaretteimage.gif

In Malaysia, Makkal Osai is famous for its portrayal of Jesus smoking. The government had temporarily shut down that newspaper due to the depiction is considered as an insult to Christianity. From this, it could be argued that visuals do have a great impact in conveying the message intended by the document designers.

Reference

Halliday, M.A.K & Hasan, R 1985, ‘Chapter 1: Context of situation’ in Language, context and text: aspects of language in social semiotics, Deakin University Press, Waurn Ponds.

Reaves, S 1989, ‘Digital alteration of photographs in magazines: An examination of the Ethics’, paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

Schriver, KA 1997, Dynamics in document design, Wiley Computer Pub, New York.

Walsh, M 2006, The ‘textual shift’: Examining the reading process with print, visual and multimodal texts’, Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 24 – 37.

Webisodes are short series of episodes that available to stream or download from the Internet. They usually served as minidramas produced along with established television series (Hale 2008). But of course, the making of original material is another driving force behind the emergence of webisode.

In the article “Webisode for Kids”, Chris Corbett talks about the production of webisode for children and the trend behind this new medium. Nowadays, children are easier to get influenced from their viewing experience with the Internet. Donnelly (2008) found that children do not have the capability to think mature and make wise decisions. Any violence content should not be included in webisodes targeted at children. But again, there is no censorship law online and most producers continue to include scenes that are gory to children.

Figure 1: Violence scene from Happy Tree Friends

Source: http://happy-tree-friends.download-tvshows.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/Happy-Tree-Friends.JPG

With regard to format, webisodes are often view from web streaming or mobile devices. This creates a problem on viewing compatibility. Most of the webisodes ‘are both digitally and aesthetically ‘locked’ to the technical properties of a single platform, device or, delivery protocol’ (Dawson 2007). In other words, the producers forget about the possibilities that their production will be played on other screens. Since webisodes are designed to fit only to small screen, there will be some viewing difficult when they are watched in television and such.

Also, when caters to children, the length of webisodes should be around 5 minutes. This is because they have a rather short attention span. Kress & Bearne (cited in Walsh 2006) states that children’s life experiences are based on ‘logic of the image’ and ‘logic of the screen’. In order to enhance communication with them, an incorporation of digital modes that combine visuals, words and images could maximize the effect. Hence, using an appropriate format and content could successfully reach out for children as they have the potential to become an important audience for future production of webisodes.

Reference

Dawson, M 2007, ‘Little players, big shows’, The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, vol 13, no. 3, pp. 231 – 250.

Donnelly, K. 2008, “Youth Participation and Media Literacy on The-N.com”, Studies in Media and Information Literacy Education, Vol. 8, No. 1, viewed 18 November 2009, <http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/5w64702214k28083/>.

Hale, M 2008, NBC Bridges Series Gaps With Online Minidramas, viewed 18 November 2009, <http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/29/arts/television/29webi.html>.

Walsh, M 2006, The ‘textual shift’: Examining the reading process with print, visual and multimodal texts’, Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 24 – 37.

New forms of media publishing

With the rise of user-generated technologies, many new forms of media publishing such as blogs, vlog, and forum have become a means to foster citizen journalism. The combine affordances (‘showing’, ‘telling’ and ‘hearing’) that the digital modes offer in this multimodal environment has created a dynamic interaction between the users and the site (Walsh 2006).

Figure 1: Youtube used for citizen journalism

Source: http://arstechnica.com/old/content/2008/05/news-unfiltered-youtube-embraces-citizen-journalism.ars

For instance, Chartier (2008) reported that YouTube has set up a new channel that caters to “Citizen News”. It aims to focus on users to produce newsworthy content that is accessible to a wider global audience. Other than that, independent news blogs have been gaining momentum to overlap the space traditionally occupied by the mainstream news media (Thurman and Jones 2005).

So how has these new medium changed the role of journalism? Pavlik (2000) believe the foundation of journalism has altered in such a way that it focuses less on the tradition method of reporting (e.g. inverted pyramid) and re-established relationship between reporters and audiences/news organizations. According to Bowman & Willis (2003) these participatory journalism are distinguished through decentralization and powered by technological change.

I want to point out one of the issues created from these new forms of media publishing that challenge the professional journalism ethics – lack of moderation.

Figure 2: Racist comment on Mail Online

One of the examples would be a pre-moderated racist comment was allowed on the Mail Online comment section. This would give a reason to ‘move away from a straight-to-air, post-moderated model to a system of pre-moderation where journalists publish a selection of readers’ contributions’ (Corrigan cited in Thurman 2008, p. 145).

Reference

Bowman, S & Willis C 2003, We Media: How Audiences are Shaping the Future of News and Information, viewed 18 November 2009, <www.hypergene.net>.

Chartier, D 2008, News unfiltered: YouTube embraces citizen journalism, viewed 18 November 2009, <http://arstechnica.com/old/content/2008/05/news-unfiltered-youtube-embraces-citizen-journalism.ars>.

Pavlik, J 2000, ‘The Impact of Technology on Journalism’, Journalism Studies, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 229 – 237.

Thurman, N 2008, ‘Forums for citizen journalists? Adoption of user generated content initiatives by online news media, New Media & Society, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 139 – 157.

Thurman, N & Jones, S 2005, ‘From Nexus to Newslog: Online Journalism from the Grassroots’, in Print Journalism: A Critical Introduction, eds Keeble, R, Taylor and Francis, London, pp. 252 – 263.

Walsh, M 2006, The ‘textual shift’: Examining the reading process with print, visual and multimodal texts’, Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 24 – 37.

Online design versus print design

Designing for online publication is rather different from designing for print. In print-based text, the reading process is ‘linear and textual integration [is] achieved by linguistic means’ (Kress & van Leeuwen 2006).

However, in online-based text, the reading path follows F pattern because users would first read in horizontal movement and then move down to the page in a second horizontal movement. Lastly, they would scan the content’s left side in vertical movement (Nielsen 2006).

This implies that when designing for web, there are three things to bear in mind:

  • A good introduction would acknowledge the users about the gist of the article and encourage them to keep on the reading;
  • Avoid verbose and lengthy words because users generally do not read a lot of text online as reading from the computer screens is roughly 25% slower than reading from paper (Nielsen 1997);
  • Use headings and subheadings because users tend to scan and select keywords, sentences and paragraph that interest them (Nielsen 1997).

Figure 1: Printed front cover of Time magazine

Figure 2: Online version of Time magazine

The first thing the audience would notice when looking at front cover is the large photo of President Obama. As Kress & van Leeuwen (2006) suggests, salience is the element that attracts the viewer’s attention. The saliency created from the large photograph is capable of prompting the readers to read the articles.

On the other hand, the website has a much more complex structure as there is a ‘manipulative effect in the way language and modes of image, text and sound are combined in websites and linked to layers of interconnections within and between sites’ (Lemke cited in Walsh 2006).

In other words, printed text depends heavily on attractive photograph to draw the attention while website requires interplay of hyperlinks, navigation bars, menu buttons, and interface to generate a good browsing experience for the users.

Reference

Kress, G. & van Leeuwen, T. 2006, ‘Chapter 1: The semiotic landscape: language and visual communication’ in Reading images: the grammar of visual design, 2dn edn, Routledge, London.

Nielsen, J 1997, Be Succinct! (Writing for the Web), viewed 18 November 2009, <http://www.useit.com/alertbox/9703b.html>.

Nielsen, J 2006, F-Shaped Pattern for Reading Web Content, viewed 18 November 2009, <http://www.useit.com/alertbox/reading_pattern.html>.

Walsh, M 2006, The ‘textual shift’: Examining the reading process with print, visual and multimodal texts’, Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 24 – 37.

The blogging communities

Bock (cited in White 2005) considered that the shaping of virtual communities is depended on three key factors: common interests, frequent interaction, and identification. From my perspective, blog is one of the social medium that fosters virtual connection. Donath (1997) wrote that ‘people are not only looking for information, they are also looking for affiliation, support and affirmation’. Hence, it could be argued that blogging communities are a form of social aggregations when people have developed personal relationship on the Internet (Rheingold 1993).

I would use comment sections and linking devices to build a blogging community because Nardi et al. (2004) found that these basic methods are effective in engaging the audience. There are other ways to improve the interactivity with audience as well. The incorporation of tag clouds to visually show the content of blog inclines with the suggestion of Walsh (2005) on multimodality. She stated that visual texts are changing the conceptual schemata and the reading process is grounded on ‘logic of the image’.

Figure 1: Types of blogging communities

Source: http://kt.flexiblelearning.net.au/tkt2006/edition-11-editorial/blogs-and-community-%E2%80%93-launching-a-new-paradigm-for-online-community

There are three types of blogging communities: one blog centric community, topic centric community and boundaried community (White 2006). One blog centric community refers to one centralized blog that is firmly controlled by the blog’s owner in terms of content. Topic centric community is built on network formation as several blogs are linked together under a common interest. Boundaried community is a collection of blogs and blog readers are invited to host on a single site.

Figure 2: Example of one blog centric community

Source: http://quaintly.net/

Quaintly.net belongs to one blog centric community because the central identity of this community is the blog owner (Su Ann) and the commentators are able to know each other once they become regular on the blog. Another characteristic of this community is that the blog owner has absolute power to control and censor comments that is deemed as derogatory White (2006).

Reference

Donath, JS 1997, Inhabiting the virtual city: the design of social environments for electronic communities, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA.

Nardi, BA, Schiano, DJ, Gumbrecht, M & Swartz, L 2004, ‘Why we blog?’ Communications of the ACM, vol. 47, no. 12, pp. 41 – 46.

Rheingold, H 1993, The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier, HarperParennial, USA.

Walsh, M 2006, ‘The ‘textual shift’: Examining the reading process with print, visual and multimodal texts’, Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 24 – 37.

White, N 2005, How some folks have tried to describe community, viewed 18 November 2009, <http://www.fullcirc.com/community/definingcommunity.htm>.

White, N 2006, Blogs and Community – launching a new paradigm for online community?, viewed 18 November 2009,
<http://kt.flexiblelearning.net.au/tkt2006/edition-11-editorial/blogs-and-community-%E2%80%93-launching-a-new-paradigm-for-online-community>.

Classification of blogs

As witnessed by Sifry, there are 120,000 of blogs being created worldwide each day. This leads to the use of classification system with the attempt of structuring these blogs.

The first is with regard to subject matter. According to Technorati, there are 6 major categories: entertainment, sports, politics, technology and living. The second is blogs that depend on devices such as mobile phone. These blogs are known as moblogs (mobile blogging) and they allow bloggers to submit their blog entries via email or SMS (Knudsen 2003). The third is sorted on media types (e.g. vlog, linklog and tumblelog). Vlog are video blogs that enable unbundling – a process in which users can watch the segments one at a time or combine them with other pieces to construct a longer narration or visual sequences (Dawson 2007). Linklog and tumblelog have similar function. The former only restricted to a collection of URLs that intrigues the users while the latter allows more micromedia and post types. Kottke (2005) commented that ‘tumblelog is a quick and dirty stream of consciousness, a bit like a remaindered links style linklog but with more than just links’.

Figure 1: Example of a tumblelog

Source: http://www.bivingsreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/12/tumblelog.jpg

While many blogs tend to have a combination of styles, I would mostly look at the format of the blog prior reading it. Author and media analyst, Margaret Simons (2008) describes that we can distinguish blogs based on different format. For instance, Popular Mechanics blogs follow the arrangement of how-to for various topics while Advocacy blogs always have an advocacy group or a commercial organization to push a particular perspective on a specific issue. In short, I think blogs have the potential to embody different styles; however, once the readers know the convention and formats of the blogs, they can differentiate them easily.

Reference

Dawson, M 2007, ‘Little players, big shows’, The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, vol 13, no. 3, pp. 231 – 250.

Knudsen, J 2003, Introducition to mobile blogging, viewed 18 November 2009, <http://developers.sun.com/mobility/midp/articles/blogging/>.

Kottke, J 2005, Tumblelogs, viewed 18 November 2009, <http://www.kottke.org/05/10/tumblelogs>.

Simons, M 2008, A taxonomy of blogs, ABC Media Report, viewed 18 November 2009, <http://www.abc.net.au/rn/mediareport/stories/2008/2372882.htm#transcript>.

The Revolution of Blogging

Helmond (2007) has reported an interesting viewpoint on the size of blogosphere. She seems to think that Technorati has failed to record an accurate number of blogs over the world. This is because The China Internet Network Information Center counted 72.82 million Chinese blogs whereas Technorati, as pointed out in her article, only tracked 112.8 million blogs worldwide. Hence, it could be argued that blogs are growing so fast that the indexing engines and ping devices could not detect the precise figure anymore.

So what is the trend in blogging? According to a survey done by a full time blogger, Gaman,  he found that 28% of Malaysian Top 50 bloggers write about personal stuff while 16% talk about politics and technology respectively. Some of the most influential blogs in Malaysia are KennySia, Screenshoots, SmashPop, TokKok and Alex Allied.

Furthermore, Microsoft discovered female (64%) is setting the blogging trend in Malaysia while IndiaTimes revealed that 76% the blogosphere is dominated by Indian bloggers. In European countries such as the United Kingdom, blogging is slowly gaining its momentum especially in the political scene. Based on a report, Sparrow pointed out that older members of the parliament are more passionate to blog than the younger ones.

Figure 1: Bloggers around the world in the year 2009.

Source: http://technorati.com/blogging/article/day-1-who-are-the-bloggers1/page-2/

Political type of blog is probably most prevalent in the United States because politicians are using it as a means to communicate with its voters. For instance, Blog for America (it later changed to Democracy for America) has successfully demonstrated the use of political blog to facilitate online grassroots campaigning during Howard Dean’s presidential campaign (Kerbel & Bloom 2005).

Figure 2: Example of political blog in the US.

Source: http://www.democracyforamerica.com/

Because blog software has simplified the process of online publishing, it has become an international phenomenon that contributes to the rise of citizen journalism (Pedley 2005). News blogs are beneficial in acting as a watchdog for media by providing wider information that is previously not available to the public.

Moreover, blogs can connect people through its interactive nature. With comment sections available on each post, we can voice out our opinions and improve communication. This parallels to the suggestion by Graber, McQuail & Norris (1998, p. 3) on upholding democracy where ‘communication should be open so that all…  interests enjoy an opportunity to advance their causes, regardless of their popularity views’.

Reference

Graber, D, McQuail, D & Norris, P 1998, ‘Introduction: Political Communication in a Democracy’ in The Politics of News, the News of Politics, eds Graber, D, McQuail, D & Norris, P, Congressional Quarterly, Washington.

Helmond, A 2008, How many blogs are there? Is someone still counting?, viewed 18 November 2009, <http://www.blogherald.com/2008/02/11/how-many-blogs-are-there-is-someone-still-counting/>.

Kerbel, MR & Bloom, JD 2005, ‘Blog for America and Civic Involvement’, The Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics, vol. 10, no. 4, pp. 3 – 27.

Pedley, P 2005, ‘International phenomenon? Amateur journalism? Legal minefield?: Why informational professionals cannot afford to ignore weblog’, Business Information Review, vol. 22, no. 2, pp. 95 – 100.