I am an exceptionally good speller. Try and read through all of my writing and pick out one spelling error. I challenge you. And when you finish, tell me what you think of my work!

 

The essential impact of Lutenberg’s printing press and Twitter on journalism and how they transformed the world of publishing..

When publishing changes, so does society. Investigate and compare the impact of two publication technologies, one pre-1900 and one post-2000, on a specific aspect of society (e.g. education, politics, creative industries, science, entertainment, social relationships). 

 

The process of publishing can be broadly defined as the distribution of information to any particular public, and both the publishing process and the public are subject to change and in transition with each other constantly. The publics themselves are simply assemblages of all the specific acts of publishing, such as archiving, distributing and aggregating, which grasp together as a system of enabling the continually changing assemblage of the social body through space and time. The emergence of mechanical movable type printing is widely regarded as one of the most empowering and significant events of the modern era.  It brought on some of the biggest social changes the world has ever seen, such as the Renaissance, the Reformation and the emergence of capitalism. Furthermore, it facilitated the progression of literacy and education rates around the world by providing a more accessible and organised spread of information. Five hundred and fifty years on, the rise of social networking tool Twitter provides a different platform for providing a richness of learning about subjects like history, technology, business, economics, the environment, ethics and religion. Rather than completely void the old methods and objectives of the printing press, Twitter is applying them to create a more productive, efficient and informative platform for journalism. This essay will define and contextualise these two publication technologies in an attempt to properly investigate and gauge the substantial impacts they have made on journalism and various publics.

 

According to Canadian scholar McLuhan (1962), it was the Gutenberg evolution of printing that instilled the notion of the public in society. German blacksmith Johannes Gutenberg was able to transform the previously preferred Codex into a printed manifesto that allowed mass production of printed books at a cost economically viable for printers and readers. The inauguration of the printing press around the mid-fifteenth century was a significant milestone in regard to analysing how forms of mass publishing affect cognitive organisation and the consequent profound ramifications for social organisation that have been recognised. Aside from playing a key role in a string of important social revolutions and developments, Gutenberg’s publishing tool was able to lay the material basis for a knowledge-based economy and the proliferation of learning to the masses.

 

In the pre-Gutenberg era, modes of publishing were not only a hindrance to the development of general knowledge, but were in fact a contribution to the miscarriage of justice and liberal democracy. The establishment of printing as a publishing technology allowed for a wider spread of information and a more efficient form of archiving. General distribution of information was a key factor in the rebirth of publics in Europe, permitting the dissemination of ideas that sparked a massive cultural movement, the Renaissance. Furthermore, the printing press was a major catalyst for the later scientific revolution, which was based on the sharing of printed papers containing data, ideas and methodology. Through a process that was extremely time-efficient in comparison to previous modes of publishing such as carving of letters, and also through the enhanced lifespan of the paper in comparison to the susceptibility of wood to ink, data journalism was able to present visual representations of data that led to some of the world’s biggest changes. The system of capitalism, which some in contemporary society may take for granted, was based on records and communications made available by printing. Even the initiation of colonialism is attributed to Gutenberg’s printing press as people were able to read of Christopher Columbus’ voyage to the Americas in books.

 

Further adding to the list of huge societal impacts and reforms, printing technology allowed for the flowering of vernacular literatures across Europe, from which much of contemporary speech is derived. By ensuring widespread availability of literature, the public sphere was brought together by publication both physically and spiritually.  In terms of physical locations, in the forms of coffee houses where journalism became largely present and brought politics, news, intrigue and gossip to the community. Eventually, journalism through printed press enabled what Benedict Anderson (1991) identifies as the ‘imagined communities’, where public assemblages facilitated more connections across physical and geographical boundaries. Through this increased literacy and education among different assemblages of publics brought through printing, journalism was enabled to introduce the paradigm that is the more intense and visually oriented self-consciousness.

 

One of the major initial impacts the high quality and relatively low price the printing press had on journalism was a derivative of the widespread reception of data. In the Later Middle Ages, only a privileged minority were granted access to the tools of printed mass communication, meaning publics were often manipulated by slanted governments, churches and authorities of the era. The possible corruption that was brought through the use of new technologies and political uses of media, which still habituate media ecologies over five hundred years later, was a tool used to regularly misinform the public. However, the printing press, when combined with upstanding citizens, allowed for the authority of religion to be challenged. In particular, it was the cornerstone in Martin Luther’s famous 95 Theses that sparked the Reformation and consequently altered the way in which the Church was interacted with by various publics. This social revolution was a result of the impact printing had on journalism, more specifically, on the ability to mass produce and widely distribute information at a much faster rate.

 

As suggested by Rusbridger (2010), it is not the primary aim of innovation in new technologies to completely abandon previous frameworks in publishing. Rather, Twitter is an evolution of Gutenberg’s printing press and is characterised by many of the established norms of the press. However, it is the drive of Twitter to more enhanced and flexible distribution and aggregation that makes it one of the most powerful tools in the emerging Web 3.0 era. The social networking development has prompted a widespread review on the processes and impacts of journalism in contemporary society through the function of the most powerful tools exploited. From the ‘splintering’ of the fourth estate, the diminution of traditional and often hierarchical “authoritative” intermediaries, and the astonishing power to aggregate and distribute more content than ever before, Twitter has allowed for a shift in the production and reception processes of journalism and consequently revolutionised social organisation.

 

The establishment of a more contemporary form of news publishing is categorised largely by the enabling of communication as opposed to transmission, that is, wider engagement and interaction by users as opposed to a message delivered by a sole distributor. Ulmer (1989) argues that electronic media forms lie between orality and literacy. This essentially goes to say that contemporary social networking facilitates the immediacy, specificity and ease of responding in written text via platforms such as Twitter. More communicative frameworks and networks are formed, precipitating more data to be aggregated, (re)distributed and engaged with by the growing number of users. While the invention of radio and television were essentially an idea of communication with an authoritative figure delivering information, a more open publishing tool allows for a shift to a different media ecology where user generated content dominates. The publication of ‘journalism’ now significantly invalidates the traditional overhead of publishers, printers, distributors and physical news stands as people can now evaluate and engage with writing in an open access form.

            Many scholars are indeed wary of the weakening of authoritativeness on Twitter and the consequent impacts on journalism in modern society. While there exists a greater diversity in production, which no doubt leads to an increase in content made available, it calls into question whether there is any such distinct “journalism”, according to Rusbridger (2010). Twitter has made possible the so-called ‘journalism’, as Rusbridger hesitantly identifies it, which involves the mass production of raw data across time and space. It is the fear of various publics not being able to properly interpret this raw data, posted often out of context due to 140-character limitations on Twitter, that strikes skeptical scholars most. Once existed a time when journalism involved qualified professionals receiving, interpreting and (re)distributing the appropriate form of data to an audience that would often accept it as news. The recent wide circulation of the face of a victim subject to a brutal attack in the US, in which his face was eaten off by a stranger, is an example of Twitter users being unable to apply standards and ethics training to their distribution of data, which is a consequence of the increased social uptake in publishing on Twitter. Furthermore, the desire for instantaneous reporting of news via Twitter allows extra scope for the potential to misinform the public, as rushed data may be factually incorrect or not presented properly in context within space restrictions.

 

However, Twitter provides an extraordinary search tool that enables users to aggregate content from all ends of the World Wide Web, effectively giving the global coverage that comes from a unique network of millions of foreign correspondents. Broadly speaking, content aggregation refers to the type of function where multiple syndicated web content is joined as a single transmission to increase efficiency and access to information. Through the use of hashtags, users are able to aggregate relevant content without having to endlessly scan over printed articles, or even over news websites. As you can see in the demonstrating podcast below, rather than enter a term in a search bar, Twitter harnesses the mass power of human intelligence to find new and valuable information that no news organisation could endeavour to challenge.


PODCAST - The power of hyperpersonalisation and hyperlocalising on Twitter to aggregate specific content for users.


As we can also find evident in the podcast, the simplicity of archiving on Twitter has allowed the effective organisation of information in an online database. Information is increasingly organised by location, hashtags, personal preferences and ‘lists’, reflecting a shift toward hyperpersonalisation. While some argue that Twitter is an instant, highly condensed stream of information, the use of these archiving tools can in fact increase the attention span of Twitter users by increasingly listing developments in particular subjects.

 

The impact on journalism of the distribution of information via Twitter can be recognised by taking note of the following visualisation. The power of plurality on Twitter is leading towards a far more diverse spread of ideas, information and content. Journalists and news media outlets are forced to utilise, rather than challenge, the power of Twitter, as it can produce considerable amounts of information (via links) incomparably faster than traditional methods. As noted in this figure, the “mass ability to communicate with each other, without having to go through a traditional intermediary – is truly transformative” (Rusbridger 2010). Furthermore, it has been noted by Lessig that redistribution is “a practice that rests explicitly upon a respect for copyright” (2010), rather than an infringement upon creative title rights.


Source 1 – Hepburn, A – ‘Infographic: The Social Media Effect’

Publishing practices are deeply involved in the constitution of social life because of the kind of publics they bring into being (Murphy 2012). It is important to recognise that modes of publishing, such as printing and ‘tweeting’, facilitate participation in real social life and ‘imagined’ publics, which allow us to reassemble social engagements with other publics and modulate the intensity of our experience with these assemblages, configurations or publics. Gutenberg’s printing press was a revolutionary publishing tool that originally defined the process of mass production and changed the very nature of the social. The mutual enhancement of new media, such as Twitter, has led to the transformation of almost all the aspects of human society, and journalism specifically. (Chen, 2012). As aforementioned at the very beginning, publishing is a process of making something public. While we have experienced remarkable change over time, spanning from traditional oral publishing to cave painting, from printing to Tweeting, the process of aggregating, interpreting and (re)distributing data in the journalism ecology is subject to ongoing change in a state of meta-stability that will continually shape the public life and the way individuals engage with the information-laden world around them.

 

 

REFERENCES:

Anderson, B 1991, Imagined Communities, Verso, London.

Chen, G 2012, ‘The Impact of New Media on Intercultural Communication in Global Context’, China Media Research, University of Rhode Island, pp. 1-10.

Hepburn, A 2010, ‘Inforgraphic: The Social Media Effect’, Digital Buzz Blog, 4 April, accessed 4 June 2012, <http://www.digitalbuzzblog.com/infographic-the-social-media-effect/>.

Lessig, L 2010, ‘An Obvious Distinction’, The Huffington Post, 12 November, accessed on 4 June 2012, <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lawrence-lessig/an-obvious-distinction_b_783068.html>.

McLuhan, M 1962, The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man, 1st ed, University of Toronto Press.

Murphy, A 2012, Modes of Publishing, lecture notes distributed in ARTS2090 at The University of New South Wales, accessed on 2 June 2012, <http://arts2090.newsouthblogs.org/lecture-notes/>.

Murphy, A 2012, The Visual, Perception and Politics, lecture notes distributed in ARTS2090 at The University of New South Wales, accessed on 2 June 2012, <http://arts2090.newsouthblogs.org/lecture-notes/>.

Rusbridger, A 2010, ‘The Splintering of the Fourth Estate’, The Guardian, 19 November, accessed 4 June 2012, <http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/nov/19/open-collaborative-future-journalism/print>.

Ulmer, G 1989, Teletheory: Grammatology in the Age of Video, Routledge, New York.

 

A podcast of how Twitter is a powerful tool for aggregating data and its hyper-personalisation and hyper-location of data.

An interesting look at the effects of posting material online.
This remains property of Adam Hepburn.The image has been used as a demonstration into the power of social media in an assessment.
Please refer to the references at the bottom of this article for complete references.

An interesting look at the effects of posting material online.

This remains property of Adam Hepburn.The image has been used as a demonstration into the power of social media in an assessment.

Please refer to the references at the bottom of this article for complete references.

The best forms of aggregation in publishing…

Aggregation refers to the coming together of published data, published media that have come together to form a wide mix of information. On a personal level, I am in the centre of the continuum of aggregation and distribution. I write blogs, tweet, post YouTube clips, write news reports just as much as I download music and podcasts, watch YouTube clips and read the local rags. This means that I consume as much published media as I distribute or reproduce. It is an important aspect of journalism that we continue to distribute as much information as possible so that we give the general public the best opportunity to assemble media to shape their daily life.

An activity we have been requested to do as part of our university commitments this week involves researching our favourite examples of publishing for ‘Show and Tell’ and then making a brief presentation in class. I struggled to narrow it down to one because of the wide variety of content that engages in the constant battle to stand out among all others at the top of the Google search tool.

One of my favourite publications has to be a YouTube series called Epic Rap Battles of History by NicePeter. It has scored hundreds of millions of aggregated clicks across its channel for the way it incorporates information about famous icons from all generations and turns it all into a humourous battle against another. Here is just one of the clips below:

From a more journalistic point of view, I really enjoy the way Mark Colvin produces all of his new and opinion content over a number of different platforms. He presents on radio, he produces his own opinion blogs and posts them via Twitter, and has made many appearances in Australian newspapers such as The Australian and the Sydney Morning Herald. He incorporates a wide mix of current political events with more brain-bugging odd dilemmas, and is always ready to question or challenge the current state of events.

CITIZEN JOURNALISM GONE TOO FAR – WHERE A MAINSTREAM NEWSPAPER LOST A PART OF ITS CREDIBILITY

It was only yesterday an article that recently caused so much hype and anger within media circles truly gained my attention. The main source of University students have an almost universal disdain for the mainstream media, Dr Peter White, has come out against claims represented in that piece, saying his “views were not accurately conveyed.”

In all honesty, I was ignorant to the rave about first-year media student Max Maddison’s article, whose mother works in a senior role at the newspaper it was published in. He wrote a piece highly critical of his belief that university students are negatively predetermined in their selection of media outlets for consumption of news. The idea that a long string of third-year media students were jealous a pompous first-year had his article published in one of Australia’s most historically prominent newspapers is quite plausible.

Taking the initiative to begin developing a professional portfolio is a characteristic that is to be applauded by all accounts. As a third-year student myself, I certainly know and appreciate the challenge and extend a big pat on the back for Max.

However, upon the first statement from Dr Peter White, who has presented an exploration of media bias with the Murdoch press as a case study, it has appeared that his words were not conveyed accurately and presented him in a light that he certainly does not stand in. And in the rare journalistic circumstance that he is the only source that is providing the story with its scoop, this is a big deal.

But that was simply one of the reasons why a major news provider in Australia has been portrayed as irresponsible in its publication of the article published April 23. There is no excuse for publishing to a such a wide audience a representation of Dr Peter White’s views that can be misconstrued and consequently allow readers to develop a misinformed predisposition toward not only Dr White, but also staff at the University of New South Wales and the selection process of those staff.

The issue is the increasingly prevalent idea of citizen journalism. Some tell-tale signs that Max was not qualified to present an analysis of such a complex idea appear far deeper than his own admission he has been studying the media for two weeks.

A basic grammatical error in the use of it’s in “not because I found it’s news any more engaging…” should have set alarm bells off at the editor’s office. The apostrophe used in it’s denotes it is a contraction for ‘it is’, of which its significance in journalism is stressed after a few different exercises at university. The same word is causing more trouble in further paragraphs, and the use of the numeral ‘7’ rather than the full word ‘seven’ is also worrying in that it was not picked up by editors. It’s common journalistic style to spell out numbers up to ten or eleven, anything after comes as a numeral.

One of the strongest indications of the contradicting nature and incapacity of this article to be published appears in the lack of sources used to provide support for his idea. Dr White was yesterday heckled by a student in one of his lectures who wanted a clear-cut answer on what he thought of Maddison’s article, which had received plenty of negative feedback from the communications and journalism constituent of students and alumni. He stumbled in answering, apparently trying to avoid giving the answer for fear of being caught up in something he didn’t feel was worth being involved in. He eventually conceded that he was disappointed in the way his views were represented by Maddison. Let it be known, he was using Maddison’s article as an exercise in ethics and presenting anecdotal evidence accurately as to not misrepresent a source.

As did Dr White, I must mention that this article is not for the purpose of criticising Max Maddison in any way. He will learn from this experience and has gained an invaluable addition to his portfolio and exposure to publishing. Fortunately, he still has three more testing years at university that will shape the journalist or media academic he strives to become. The primary concern is why this article was published by a newspaper with such a reputation as the Australian holds, and what this means for citizen journalists trying to get their two cents published to a mass audience.

Gus Bruno is a third-year journalism student at the University of New South Wales.

How can we predict our futures collectively?

Technological enhancement and convergence of multiple multi-semiotic platforms only serves to prove the concept that media is constantly undergoing transformation. The fluidity of our engagement in media is resultant in a care-free, casual interaction with all of our forms of media. We hardly seem to stop and see where this is all heading. The path is far from linear and predictable, so we often cannot be bothered to look deeper into some of the implications of a care-free future. Take a look at this short clip:

I know, I know. Again with the social media. But do consider Scott’s acclaimed ‘Social Media Dystopia’. With no way to predict that hundreds of people would congregate outside her home, this poor singing lady continued her own daily duties. This video is important and relevant for two reasons:

Firstly, the recognition of pattern is crucial to pinning down the future of our everyday life within the media, according to Kastelle (2012). But I challenge the ease at which he suggests this can occur. The ability to be completely mobile and with access to a multitude of powerful tools (such as video streaming, text, Tweeting etc) has made our engagement with media far more unpredictable. While there are some certain phenomena that we can prepare ourselves for, such as the 7:30-10pm Twitter trending of #TheVoiceAU (God help us all), these other random events can be spurred on in an instant and attract significant loads of mobile traffic. And as Easterling (2012) suggests, having this mobility makes the idea of space as technology almost impossible to distinguish between the real world and the virtual world.

Secondly, this is reflective of a shift in the way we approach some (previously) basic assumptions about media, communications, interaction, culture and self. Technology, and portability in particular, has changed the way which we engage in these fundamental concepts. For example, we are no longer the same ‘self’ that we were ten years ago, because we have been shaped by the knowledge and accessibility granted to us by a more mobile and fluid culture.

Upon reflection, I don’t think we can predict and determine our futures because we are so obsessed with ‘self’ and not the collective. By collective, I mean that it is deplorable to suggest we can co-exist in the same realities and virtual spaces because we are all influenced by a plethora of distinct factors. For example, what I see on Google is different to what you see because we have different search patterns. And these different search patterns are a result of different interests, different engagements with different products at different times on different days and so on and so forth. My point is, people shouldn’t be preparing for the future. People should be preparing to be adaptable to any change that may result in a new future, which may change again at any moment.

KEYWORD: Internet of Things

REFERENCES:

Easterling, K 2011, ‘An Internet of Things’, e-flux journal, accessed 13 May, <http://www.e-flux.com/journal/an-internet-of-things/>.

Kastelle, T 2012, How to Think About the Future, Innovation Leadership Network, accessed 13 May, <http://timkastelle.org/blog/2012/02/how-to-think-about-the-future>.

Distributing and aggregating within the social…

Broadly speaking, content aggregation refers to the type of function where multiple syndicated web contents is joined as a single transmission to increase efficiency and access to information.

In the tech-savvy, Internet-dominated public we exist in, distribution and aggregation are two very relevant concepts for users to engage with. In layman terms, they refer to the way we can be a distributor of information, or a collector and organiser of information. In contemporary society, we are constantly floundering between these two ideas, actively participating and engaging with media on various levels to contribute to the functioning of society.

This idea is reiterated by Gauntlett (2010) inMaking is Creating, in which he identifies creativity from active participants as the main actor in a floursihing modern society. He asserts it is the drive to contribute to a community, be recognised among others, and personal satisfaction and pleasure that encourages users to create.

Dodson (2009) suggests that we exists in a ‘systems age’ where artificial intelligence are paramount in digital spheres. He asserts that “sensing, collecting, and manipulating data in near real-time with little to no human supervision” are characteristics that set apart this era from all others.

The University of New South Wales utilises a tool called Blackboard, which is a distributor and aggregator of content. It doesn’t so much enhance the social ecology of students as much as Facebook and Twitter, but it is a good example of information being brought together and distributed by a computer-generated publisher. One potentially negative aspect of this that Guillard (2010) points out as an issue is the way in which some of this information flow is limited, which relates to the way in which certain information is made only available to people enrolled in particular classes:

“In a networked world, people connect with people like themselves: consequently, it is easy not to get access to views of people who don’t think as you do”.

The video below is a quick explanation of social content curation, and some of the best websites that are doing it, according to a leading digital analyst. It is appropriate to see how easy it is to gather relevant information so it is made more accessible and searchable, but notice also how narrow some sites have been made.

REFERENCES:

Gauntlett, D 2010, Making is Connecting, accessed on 13 May, <http:// www.makingisconnecting.org/>.


Guillaud, H 2010,  ‘What is implied by living in a world of flow?’, Truthout, 6 January, accessed on 13 May, <http://www.truthout.org/what-implied-living-a-world-flow56203>.


Dodson, W 2009, Dawn of the Systems Age, accessed on 13 May, <http://scienceblogs.com/ seed/2009/12/dawn_of_the_systems_age.php#more>.

New media is generous by nature, but is this welcome?

We can see through routine study of new media forms that science, technology and innovation are transformed by new media, which consequently goes through the process of transforming us as a whole. Science is as integral part of the relationship because it engages with new media to experiment and model new ideas that have the power to influence and shape our ecologies.

Open Science refers to an idea that is presented in Pisani (2011), that scientific data should be transparent and available to the wider public. It is implied that open data would add to a more knowledgeable and stable public. However, the power of raw data provides an ethical dilemma in that not everyone agrees on the controversial topic, and not everyone has the right interests for access to the information.

This video below, a full BBC documentary on the dilemmas of trying to create, predict, reproduce and alter various publics through science. If you have the time to watch, it offers extensive coverage of the topic, associated ethical dilemmas, and a balanced report of information and events to allow the audience to make up their own mind.

Is archiving in this current digital age not enough to provide for open science? Dobbs (2012) believes editing and distribution around the Internet are still areas that require improvement as part of Web 2.0. This idea fits in with my Final Research Project, which focuses on search engine optimisation through content aggregation and curation. This process currently allows for key words to be searched, effectively making anything and everything searchable. Surely, the only further step is to literally offer the information to others. One issue that I have much further to delve into is the extent to which scientific data is already open to reception. Seed (2011) hints at the idea that with “the internet turning traditional scientific publishing o its ear, new kinds of records and databases are possible.” Complex algorithms, coding and tracking has offered a completed search engine platform that allows users to access the directories of all files uploaded to the World Wide Web.

Do we have open science? Yes. Do we need it to be more open? I think the more appropriate question is, ‘Can it?’. I think not.

REFERENCES:
Dobbs, David 2012, ‘Is the Open Science Revolution for Real?’ Wired, February 3, accessed 7 May 2012, <http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/02/is-the-open-science-revolution-for-real>.

Pisani, Elizabeth 2011, ‘Medical science will benefit from the research of crowds’, The Guardian, January 11, accessed 7 May 2012, <http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jan/11/medical-research-data-sharing>.

Seed 2011, ‘On Science Transfer’, Seed , accessed 7 May 2012, <http://seedmagazine.com/content/print/on_science_transfer>.

Is the power of social media all it’s cracked up to be?

It seems I am alone in my stand against the perception that social media (Twitter especially) operates as a world-changer. Just by reading a few of the blogs that students have produced on the topic of social media impacts, and especially their power in organising attacks on big politics, it is clear to me that everyone thinks Twitter is the omni-potent God Almighty.

There is no denying the incredible role Twitter played during the Egypt revolts against the government. Amazing power, harnessed by passionate users. Well done, I applaud you. Hirshkind addresses the way these “online activists have played a key role in transforming the conditions of political possibility in Egypt during the last decade…” (2011).

HOWEVER. And this is a pretty big one. From the recent failure of the exceptionally viral Kony 2012 arise new questions about the real powerof social media. I for one, suggest that it is anonymous power, unaccountable, empty power. At the risk of sounding like a cliche, the people of Egypt were uprising because they had something to something to lose and something to gain. Let’s now compare this to Australia:

Over the weekend just passed (21/22 April 2012), over 19,000 people had signed up on the Internet, spurred by Twitter promotions, to plaster Sydney city with posters to increase awareness for the issue. Less than 30 showed up. This proves that linking to something on Facebook or Twitter is one thing - getting off the couch is another. Unfortunately, leaderless organisations seem to be restricted to some extent. Allow me to explain why.

Mason (2010) claims “people know more than they used to…people have a better understanding of power”…but do they? I am more skeptical of this. As a more classical realist, I understand that we need leaders, we need sovereignty - as soon as you lack leadership in that sense, we devolve into a state of anarchy where the nature’s rule subsides and all hell breaks loose. Leadership is a framework in which our daily lives are framed within, they shape everyone of our interactions - they tell us what to do, and what we can’t do. Twitter can be envisaged as a leaderless organisation in that it has no ruler, no rules. Anonymity is the root of all negativity on the platform, as people aren’t bound by what content they produce. Politicians especially cop plenty of abuse via anonymous silhouettes, and is this safe and healthy? This can have such a negative bearing on our policy-makers that they spend hours obsessing over the 24-hour news cycle, which is killing our democracy (Ellis 2010). This constant craving for transparency to those who are hardly transparent and open themselves (let alone be held accountable for any misadventures they procure on social media), is what potentially affects the government, bringing reactions and policy into the light. As reflected by Lessig (2006), “The ‘naked transparency movement’, as I will call it here, is not going to inspire change. It will simply push any faith in our political systems over the cliff”.

Essentially, the public engages with social media platforms to set agendas, but it isn’t Twitter that marches into the streets, it isn’t Facebook that weeps after being sprayed with pepper spray - it’s the people. Twitter and other forms of social media are platforms, even frameworks, that shape the way we interact with society in various ways. The only role social media plays in changing governments is through public setting of agenda.

So while Brafman and Beckstrom ascertain that social media fronted by leaderless organisationsare “knocking down traditional businesses, altering entire industries, affecting how we relate to each other, and influencing world politics.” (2010), I disagree. It is those who ignite the fire that carry the responsibility. While Wikileaks has challenged the mainstream media and its publishing process, it is made up of a collaboration of leaders who make decisions in receiving, organising and eventually publishing content - and they will carry that burden as long as they exist.

REFERENCES:

Brafman, O and Beckstrom, R 2010, ‘The Power Of Leaderless Organizations: Craigslist, Wikipedia And Al Qaeda All Demonstrate How Absence Of Structure Has Become An Asset’, National Journal, accessed on April 23 2012, <http://www.nationaljournal.com/njonline/the-power- of-leaderless-organizations-20100911>.

Ellis, B, 2010, ‘Sleepless in Canberra’ The ABC, Drum Unleashed, accessed on April 24 2012, <http:// www.abc.net.au/unleashed/35116.html>.

Hirschkind, C 2011, ‘From the Blogosphere to the Street: The Role of Social Media in the Egyptian Uprising’, Jadaliyya, accessed on April 23 2012, <http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/599/from-the- blogosphere-to-the-street_the-role-of-social-media-in-the-egyptian-uprising>.

Lessig, L 2010, Against Transparency: The perils of openness in government,accessed on April 24 2012, <http://www.tnr.com/article/books-and-arts/against-transparency?page=0,0>.

Mason, P 2011, ‘Twenty reasons why it’s kicking off everywhere’, Idle Scrawls BBC, accessed on April 23 2012, <http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/paulmason/2011/02/twenty_reasons_why_its_kicking.html>.