Author Archives: Tom Fogarty

About Tom Fogarty

I'm 20 years old. I live on the South Coast. I'm currently studying a double degree in Media and Communications at UOW. I'm in a hardcore band called Pariah. Thats about it, as far as I know anyway.

Pandora & Produsage

‘Produsage’ is a portmanteau of the words “production” and “usage”, popularised by Australian media scholar Axel Bruns (2007: pp 99). This term refers to the user-led content creation that takes place in a variety of online environments, blurring the boundaries between passive consumption, active production, consumers and producers (Bruns, 2007: pp 99). Brun’s four key characteristics of produsage are essential when observing its effect on a media technology such as Pandora Internet Radio. These include:
– Organisational shift
– Fluid movement
– Unfinished
– Permissive (Brun, 2007: pp 99)

Organisational Shift
Pandora Internet Radio was founded by three men, Will Glaser, Jon Kraft and Tim Westergren, and launched in 2000 (Pandora, 2012), however, many teams, groups and communities have since contributed to this internet radio. This is evident in the continuously repeating process of Pandora’s music analysts categorising songs and then users around the world creating their own personal stations and providing feedback on each song that is selected for them, further increasing the efficiency and precision of the Music Genome Project’s musical analysis (Pandora, 2012).

Fluid Movement
The fluid movement of content in Pandora Internet Radio is continuously changing as users pursue their attempts to ‘jailbreak’ Pandora’s security system and download its music and Pandora reply by strengthening their security. While listening, users are offered the ability to buy music at various online retailers, however, this rigid structure isn’t always enough. And so the cycle of the audience attempting to create a more fluid movement in Pandora’s content and Pandora’s attempts to strengthen its rigid structure continue on.

Unfinished
There are over 400 different ‘musical attributes’ that are considered by the Music Genome Project when selecting each song for each individual user, which are combined into larger groups called ‘focus traits’. There are 2,000 focus traits, including rhythm syncopation, key tonality, vocal harmonies, and displayed instrumental proficiency. The scope of songs that include each musical attribute and focus trait is continuously growing as more and more music is released (Pandora, 2012).

Permissive
Pandora Internet Radio is only open to users in the USA, Australia and New Zealand (Pandora, 2012). However, with Pandora available on desktop computers, laptops, iPhones, Androids, iPods, iPads, and in the radio systems of various car models, this media technology is becoming increasingly accessible for its users (Levy, 2014. AP, 2013). The problem for this internet radio is that copyright, licensing and royalty issues are constantly haunting its attempts to increase its accessibility and revenue (Fixmer, 2012: pp 1-2).

Reference List:
* AP (2013), Pandora Quadruples In-Car Listeners, AdvertisingAge.com
* Bruns, Axel (2007) Produsage: Towards a broader framework for user-led content creation, in ‘Creativity and Cognition: Proceedings’, 6th edition, ACM Publishers, Washington D.C, pp 99
* Fixmer, A (2012), Pandora Is Boxed In by High Royalty Fees, Bloomberg Business Week, Bloomberg, Sydney, pp 1-2
* Levy, A (2014), iTunes Radio is Pandora Media Inc’s Biggest Threat, But It’s Not the Only One, The Motley Fool, Alexandria
* Pandora Media, Inc. (2012), About Pandora, Oakland
* Wittke, V and Hanekop, H (2011), New Forms of Collaborative Innovation and Production on the Internet, Georg-August University Press, Göttingen, pp 158


R.I.P Blogger Tom (4th March – 14th April, 2014)

Thank you all for gathering here today, I’m sure Blogger Tom would have really appreciated you being here. I have wondered for the last 5mins or so how I might approach this daunting task, you see, I’ve never done anything like this before, a eulogy I mean. But then it hit me, why not just say it how he would have liked it: exactly how it is, and then dramatised tenfold. So here we go.

Blogger Tom may have only been with us for 6 weeks, but wasn’t it an action-packed 6 week! When he was born into this cyber world his first words may have been a bit forced and artificial, “My name is Thomas Fogarty. I am 18 years old”, but he would quickly learn to embrace this place and make the most of the short time that he would have here. And so soon he was dancing around the web, jumping from site to site and source to source in search of all kinds of weird and wonderful treasures. The dehumanisation of asylum seekers in Australia, the media effects model, the rise of neo-Nazism in the USA, semiotics and the different denotations and connotations in images and texts, the power of those who own and control media, moral panic in the media, the horrific popularity of online snuff films, the sexualisation of children, the influence of the media on children and the supposed cuteness of little, fluffy rabbit dicks were just some of the jewels that he discovered and learned about on this exploration into the deep and dark world of BCM 110.

However, it wasn’t all Nazi-decorated sunsets and treasure troves of overly political questions and debates on this expedition. No, Blogger Tom did face his fair share of adversity on his voyage into the belly of the media beast. There was the feared Writer’s Block that haunted his path along the way, the brooding Political Tom, a sort of Mr Hyde to the Dr Jekyll, who persevered in his attempt to steer the journey in his own hideous and tangental direction, and there was the puzzling Mediated Public Sphere, an opponent more ambiguous and perplexing than any other faced on this journey. But none of these even compared to Blogger Tom’s greatest enemy, the tyrannical Word Limit. With an absurdly small size of only 500 words, this monster would loom before Blogger Tom on each of his adventures, bleeding him of his freedom to romp in the content of BCM 110 like a glaucoma slowly diminishing the beautiful world before him and leaving him stranded in darkness.

But Blogger Tom always managed to overcome each of these enemies throughout his great quest for wealths of knowledge, and in doing so learned much more than he ever could have guessed about the media, its influence on him and all of its effects and impacts on society. And that leads me to how I am going to end this eulogy. Despite the fatal nature of this digital odyssey that Blogger Tom embarked on and despite the rocky and sceptical first steps of this journey, if he were here with us today I am certain that he would say for himself how much he enjoyed and learned from this experience and that if possible he would do it all over again. Thank you.


Youth and the Media: Is it really just child’s play?

The portrayal of children in the media and its impact upon young people has been a hot debate in the mediated public sphere for as long as it has been occurring. Whether its a book, film, tv show or video game, any text in the media that portrays young people or is watched and enjoyed by youth can have a profound impact on their ‘looking-glass self’ (Cooley, 1902: pp 152), their behaviour and their understanding of what is ethically right and wrong.

To begin, there is the oh so infamous case of Ms Miley Cyrus. Teenage Disney star turned whatever you’d prefer to call her now, Miley may have lost a lot in the way of respect and dignity but there is no denying her all-time high level of influence on her youthful audience because of the music video for her most recent single, Wrecking Ball (2013). As comical as it may seem, the effects of this music video on young people is far spread and indisputable. One simply has to look at Michigan’s Grand Valley State University in Michigan, USA for proof, where the 40 year old sculpture of a wrecking ball created by artist Dale Eldred (1973) was removed in 2013 for safety purposes following over 200 incidents of university students parodying the music video by stripping naked and mounting the statue whilst being filmed by peers (McKay, 2013).

The second case study I’m going to look at is that of the Chucky horror series, and in particular Child’s Play 3: Look Who’s Stalking, which has been plagued by accusations of inciting violence in children and as the direct “inspiration” for two murders, that of Suzanne Capper in December 1992 and James Bulger in February 1993. In the Suzanne Capper case, the 16-year-old was held prisoner for a week, brutally tortured and then set on fire and left to die by teenager Bernadette McNeilly. Throughout this time McNeilly “assumed the character of Chucky” by mimicking certain violent scenes from the film and continuously repeating the phrase “I’m Chucky, wanna play?” whilst torturing Capper. After McNeilly admitted in court to having repetitively watched several films from the Chucky series as a young child, one lawyer from the prosecution stated in an interview, “if you asked me whether this material in these minds had some effect on what happened, I would have to say yes” (Foster, 1993).

Despite the fact that it is impossible to ethically prove the link between the media and its effects on young people, the evidence is all there. No, watching a film or music video is not going to make every kid re-enact the scenes in those texts. But it would be heedless to say that the chances of a young person committing these acts before watching these texts were not lower than they were after watching them. I’m not suggesting that children should be completely protected from these subjects, because most kids know about these subjects from quite young ages and turn out just fine (myself included). But I do believe that the media should take this issue seriously because children’s over-exposure to certain subjects can have very real consequences and not every young person who views this content is going to turn out ‘just fine’. Take this video as another example, do you think what these children are doing is ok?

(On a quick side note, these effects can also be hilarious!)

Reference List:
1. Cooley, C.H. (1902), Human Nature and the Social Order, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, pp 152
2. Cyrus, M (2013), ‘Wrecking Ball’, in Bangerz, RCA, New York City
3. Eldred, D (1973), Untitled, Spencer Gallery of Art, Michigan
4. McKay, H (2013), GVSU forced to remove campus wrecking ball sculpture due to Miley Cyrus parodies, Fox News, New York City
5. Foster, J (1993), Horror fiction became reality, The Independent, London
6. Torres, A (2012), I’m Sexy & I Know It: Kid Parody, Youtube.com
7. Kardnyal, S (2013), Miley Cyrus – Wrecking Ball (Chatroulette Version), Youtube.com


Pandora: The People’s Radio

In the 21st century, the success of products and ideas is largely determined by the ability or inability of an audience to connect with a product. Consequentially, there has been a significant change in how the more successful radio stations have designed their audience’s experience. If we look at mildly successful local radio stations such as i98 FM or Wave FM we can see how they exhibit the traits of what we would call a ‘traditional radio’ with minimal opportunity for real audience engagement and participation.

If we then examine the traits of a successful domestic radio station such as Triple J, we can see that the ability of the audience to connect is heightened through avenues such as the annual Triple J’s Hottest 100, where audience members around Australia can vote on what they believe to be the ‘hottest’ hits of the previous year, and Triple J Unearthed, where amateur bands around the country can upload their music online where they can be heard, given feedback, ranked and even broadcasted on the Triple J radio station. It is through these distinct channels that this radio station allows itself to be a significantly more open technology to its audience.

Finally, if we investigate the characteristics of the highly successful international radio, Pandora Internet Radio, we can clearly see that this radio allows significantly more connectivity and personalisation as a result of the Music Genome Project (Pandora, 2012). This technology allows the audience to personalise their radio experience by creating up to 100 of their own stations based on genre, artist or temporal preference, which Pandora then uses to select an array of free songs to play. The user then has the opportunity to give feedback on each song to further narrow down Pandora’s selection to a very specific musical formula. The user can also share on Facebook/Twitter any songs they especially enjoy (Pandora, 2012). This ability that Pandora has given its audience “to archive, annotate, appropriate and recirculate media content in powerful new ways” (Jenkins, 2004) has been significant in attributing to its huge success.

Despite there being a number of issues for the audience of Pandora, such as the still ever-present ads, limited skips and inability to download, this media technology has been very successful in engaging and maintaining connections with its audience through the combination of its uniquely modern strategies. Besides, if you ever want rid of the ads and limited skips you can just follow one of these step by step guides to hacking your Pandora app:

Reference List:
* AP (2013), Pandora Quadruples In-Car Listeners, AdvertisingAge.com
* Levy, A (2014), iTunes Radio is Pandora Media Inc’s Biggest Threat, But It’s Not the Only One, The Motely Fool, Alexandria
* Jenkins, H (2004), The Cultural Logic of Media Convergence, in ‘International Journal of Cultural Studies’, Volume 7(1), pp. 33-42
* Pandora Media, Inc. (2012), About Pandora, Oakland


A Pinch Of Snuff

The ‘mediated public sphere’ is defined by Jurgen Habermas as “a domain of our social life where such a thing as public opinion can be formed [where] citizens…deal with matters of general interest without being subject to coercion… [to] express and publicise their views” (1997: 105). An example of a ‘popular’ media medium that has provoked many controversial issues and debates in this public sphere is that of ‘snuff films’, and in particular 3 Guys 1 Hammer. A snuff film is defined as “a motion picture genre that depicts the actual murder of a person or people, without the aid of special effects, for the express purpose of distribution and entertainment or financial exploitation” (Mikkelson, 2006).

Since the launch of the first ever official snuff website, Rotten.com, in 1996, this urban legend of a medium has become increasingly real, prominent and accessible online. This rapid rise in snuff films online has resulted in widespread debate in the public sphere, mostly concerning whether these websites are legal or illegal, and their members innocent or guilty of ‘accessory after the fact’ for watching, distributing and failing to report to the authorities acts of murder and other violent crimes (Mikkelson, 2006).

Despite the obvious reasons that have led to the condemnation of this medium, there have also proven to be beneficial uses for the websites that stream snuff films. Such as in the case of two Ukrainian teenagers responsible for 21 murders throughout 2007, known as the Dnepropetrovsk Maniacs. In this case, life-sentences for pre-meditated murder were delivered to both 19 year olds as a result of their snuff film depicting the murder of Sergei Yatzenko, called 3 Guys 1 Hammer, which was uploaded to numerous gore websites, went viral, was subsequently reported by one of the websites’ members and then used as key evidence in the prosecution (Olson, 2012).

One member of GoreGrish.com, known as Kingfate, stated in an interview concerning this snuff film and the debate over whether these websites should be criminalised or not, “we live in the developed world, and we don’t have exposure to how people actually treat each other… [gore sites] keep us rooted in reality”. Another member, known as Niki, also stated, “posting these videos doesn’t mean that we condone them, we’re just giving people a means to see what’s going on. When you hear a bomb has gone off in Moscow, we try to find those images and put them up for people who want to see. And why should we not see it?” (Anderson, 2012).

And so the debate in the public sphere rages on, are these websites illegal and their members criminally responsible for sponsoring the horrific crimes displayed in these websites’ content, or are we to accept the ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people’ argument concerning user-generated online content enforced by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and upheld by the members of these websites (Anderson, 2012)? Either way, I certainly don’t expect to see any less of these videos in my Facebook newsfeed in the years to come, and regardless of any given explanation or justification I find that more than just a little disturbing.

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Reference List:
1. Habermas, J 1997, A Berlin Republic, University of Nebraska, Nebraska, pp 105
2. McKee, A 2005, ‘Introduction’, in ‘Public Sphere: An Introduction‘, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 1-31
3. Mikkelson, B, Mikkelson, DP 2006, A Pinch of Snuff, Snopes, California
4. Anderson, L 2012, Snuff: Murder and torture on the internet, and the people who watch it, The Verge, Manhattan
5. Olson, CV 2012, Serial Killer Spotlight: The Dnepropetrovsk Maniacs, Crime Library


Convergence: The Death or Birth of Radio?

“Media convergence is more than simply a technological shift. Convergence alters the relationship between existing technologies, industries, markets, genres and audiences.” – Henry Jenkins (2004)

The technological coup that has rapidly taken hold of the entire planet over the last few decades has had a significant impact upon the continuously changing and evolving nature of the relationship between the producer and the consumer in this digital landscape. No longer are the producers selling a product to their audience, but rather they are selling their audience to their product, and no longer are these consumers passive in the face of the producers, but rather progressively more and more active, expressive and dictatorial (Jenkins, 2004). As a result of this, producers in all fields have had to re-think their pre-historic strategies and ways of thinking in order to avoid becoming forgotten relics themselves (Jenkins, 2004).

In relation to radio, the ability to adapt to this new environment and evolve to survive is best embodied by Pandora Internet Radio. During recent decades consumers have seen a major flaw in the traditional radio: the inability to connect and personalise. Regardless of how broad the music they broadcast may be, no analogue radio station can please all of its listeners. This results in an estranged audience where no one group or person is fully satisfied with their experience. However, what Pandora have done is give their audience that ability to truly connect with and personalise their radio experience through the Music Genome Project (Pandora, 2012). This technology enables users to create their own personal stations based on genre, artist or temporal preference, have an array of free songs selected and played for them based on these preferences, share the music they enjoy and give feedback so to further narrow down Pandora’s selection of music to a very specific musical formula that reflects their tastes, however, only if they agree to the strict terms and conditions surrounding piracy and copyright enforced by Pandora (Pandora, 2012). It is this new ability to “to archive, annotate, appropriate and recirculate media content in powerful (but controlled) new ways” (Jenkins, 2004) that has resulted in Pandora’s huge success.

Reference List:
1. Jenkins, H 2004, The Cultural Logic of Media Convergence, in ‘International Journal of Cultural Studies’, Volume 7(1), pp. 33-42
2. http://www.pandora.com/about, Pandora Media, Inc. 2012, About Pandora, Oakland


Consider yourself a puppet.

What do you believe to be real? Well depending on who you are, where you live and what your role in society is this question can be answered in many more ways than I think could ever be a good thing. According to Professor Keith Wilson’s study into the power of the media, approximately 75% of Americans believe almost everything that they read, whether that be in the newspaper, an online journal or simply scribbled on the wall of a public toilet (Wilson, 2006). This statistic is quite disconcerting when you think about what history has taught us in regard to the possible outcomes of mass media control, propaganda and censorship.

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A few examples that come to mind include a British newspaper headline referring to the first day of the Battle of the Somme in World War I, where 60,000 British soldiers were killed in 24 hours, which read “A very satisfactory first day – slight Allies losses” (Pitt, 2012), Rupert Murdoch’s the Sunday Telegraph’s blatant campaign ad entitled “Australia Needs Tony” that was published on their front page in the lead up to the 2013 Federal election (McMahon, 2013) and the Chinese government’s complete censorship of all media reports about the Tiananmen Square shootings in 1989 and any words or code terms used online that could relate to what Chinese Communist party officials only refer to as the “June 4th Incident” (Kaiman, 2013).

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The original photo of the “Tank Man” in Tiananmen Square alongside various other appropriations and versions that have also been completely censored in China by the Communist government (Ref 4)

Many of us carry on with our lives believing that our thoughts are our own and that we are the masters of our own views and opinions. However, if you were to ask a Japanese high school student about their country’s involvement in World War 2, the war crimes that their government ordered, the 200,000 “comfort women” from territories occupied by Japan that were forced into being sex slaves for troops of the Japanese army and the two atomic bombs that reduced Nagasaki and Hiroshima to charred graveyards in August 1995 many of them would stare back in disbelief (Mariko, 2013). This demonstrates just how much control over the media can impact upon our views of the world that we live in, and how our seemingly ‘individual’ thoughts and opinions can be moulded like soft clay by the people, governments and organisations with monopolies over media ownership. So next time you read something in the newspaper, or from an online journal, or in the 7:30 news or simply on the wall next to the urinal try to stop and think about whether any kind of bias or censorship may be coming through in that text because of the owners of that media outlet and whether you will allow yourself to become just another puppet in the hands of those who control the media that you use.

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Reference List:
1. Wilson, K (2006), 75% of Americans Believe Everything They Read, Random Perspective, UK
2. Pitt, J (2012), ‘The Great War’, pp 13, Allen & Unwin, Sydney
3. McMahon, J (2013), Political front page causes a stir, Australian Broadcasting Company, Sydney
4. Kaiman, J (2013), Tiananmen Square online searches censored by Chinese authorities, The Guardian, London
5. Mariko, O (2013), What Japanese history lessons leave out, British Broadcasting Company, London
6. Sack, J (2011), Media Puppet Show, Corporate Watch Project, Northwich
7. Mort (2013), The Best Evidence You Have Ever Seen That Puppet Masters Script Mainstream News Reports, Before Its News, California


A quick glimpse into the head of a weirdo.

When I first got told that I had to make a blog for two of my uni subjects I was anything but thrilled. I find it tedious enough changing my Facebook profile picture often enough that I keep up with my age and posting status’ regular enough that society remembers that I’m still alive so the idea of having to write regular blog posts in this thing wasn’t exactly something I was looking forward to. But somehow something weird has happened since then, maybe someone made the commendable effort to trek it out to my house in the middle of nowhere and hit me over the head in my sleep, maybe a bug has crawled inside my brain and is messing with all of my inner wiring or maybe somehow I’m actually just kinda enjoying this for my own reasons.

Anyway, I thought to myself that it was pretty crumby that this blog had to be all about the media and Pandora internet radio and asylum seekers and neo-Nazis and all the other weird stuff I’m going to post about (even though I do find all of that stuff really interesting) when there was so much more creative and fun stuff that I’d like to write about and post here. The only problem is that when it comes to this sort of thing I always find a way to make the single worst first impression humanly possible and then spend an eternity trying to reassure the other person that theres more to me than dead baby jokes and Holocaust puns. However, this time I’ve been determined to say something that, regardless of its likely reception, actually does represent a larger part of me and not just the small talk I put on to get through awkward situations.

That part of me is the writer and the poet. The arty farty snob with the pen and paper who sits on his high chair drinking ridiculous types of exotic tea and correcting the bad grammar of the common folk beneath him. The guy who chains himself to the computer whilst he cyclicly dissects and rearranges one seemingly insignificant sentence until it finally evolves into the beautiful version of itself he always saw in it. The guy who goes out and experiences the most trivial and peculiar of things just so he can write about them with that little bit more authenticity and credibility for his dedicated audience of three: Mum, Dad and my girlfriend, Chantelle.

So anyway, I wrote this piece a week or so ago for my Creative Writing class at uni because I just thought that despite all of the changes in Crime Fiction and Non-Fiction over the years from the original stories of Sherlock Holmes to the absurdist Stoppard play The Real Inspector Hound to the latest season of NCIS or The Mentalist, barely enough writers have ever dared to delve into what every last detail must look and feel like from the perspective of the flawed, damaged murderer and not just the dashing and brilliant detective. As a kid I always liked to see things from the view of the bad guy, from Freddie Krueger to Leatherface to Jigsaw and all of the other wacko characters out there, just to better get a grip of why everything was happening the way it was, and not simply what was happening. Some of you may read that and straight away hear the ‘Serial Killer Alert’ sound ringing all around you, but don’t worry, I assure you I’m much more curious than psychopathic. So anyway, this post has drawn out far too long as do most of the things I write so I’ll finish up by just saying that this story is only a first draft and the first thing that I have written in over 6 months, and also the first time I have ever tried writing something like this so I hope that whoever is reading this finds a way to enjoy it or at least get through it, even if that does in turn make you as weird as me. (And on that note, I’d just like to commend anyone who even made it this far through this post! Well done, you’re getting a gold star either way)

‘The Ripper: The Shadow of Whitechapel’
by Tom Fogarty

I remember she looked so beautiful standing there that night. Her petite hand raised over her juicy lips as she tried to stop her rum breath from leaking out onto the man before her, her shoulders sinking and rising like the tide as she foolishly swayed back and forth, and her twirling blonde hair dancing in the rays of the street light as if to some kind of beautiful melody that fell silent on my ears. There was a whole aura that floated around her like a screen through which the rest of us looked in on. She was nothing like the girls before; the washed up, unwanted, pathetic leftovers of society. No, she was above all of them. She was perfect. And I wanted her.

They stood there for some time, the two of them, their drunken voices echoing out through the quiet, deserted back streets of London. But eventually he lent in and whispered something in her ear, brushing her long hair aside as he did so. She looked up towards the empty sky, as if for some divine intervention, but as he pulled back she brought her head down again and smiled, a small shiver of submission running through her body as she did so. Suddenly his eyes lit up hungrily and a crooked smile stretched across his rough face. His breaths had grown deeper and more deliberate, large clouds of steam escaping from his mouth and nostrils before rapidly dissipating into the light of the lamp above. He reached out and put his hand on her hip, and then after a moment’s hesitation she turned and they walked down Miller’s Court towards her small room, the back of her blood red scarf shining out from beneath her heavy jacket like a flash of fire against the night sky as they faded into the black of the alley.

From outside the cracked window I watched as they fucked. His depraved body on top of hers, beating her into the bed as if out of some malicious hatred. She lay there limply, letting out short artificial moans as he pounded her fragile body into that mattress over and over and over again… And then it was over. She lay there topless on the bed, watching as the cold November rain flowed down the stained glass, slowly leaking in through the fissures and trickling around the small pile of twenty pound notes left on the windowsill. He was gone and she was alone. Like a helpless, wounded animal she began waywardly staggering around the cramped room as she began to tidy up. A light breeze had begun to drift in through the window, playing with her loose white undergarment as she wandered around the space. Her soft, corrupted voice seeped out of the window and into the night as she began to quietly sing to herself as she did so,

“Well I remember my dear old mother’s smile,
As she used to greet me when I returned from toil,
Always knitting in the old arm chair,
Father used to sit and read for all us children there,
But now all is silent around the good old home;
They all have left me in sorrow here to roam,
But while life does remain, in memoriam I’ll retain
This small violet I plucked from mother’s grave…”

She was still singing when I came in through the door, her body facing the far wall as she folded clothes into her bedside cupboard. I waited at first, taking in my last opportunity to watch her as she carried on blissfully unaware of the event to come. My eyes followed her smooth legs up from her feet to the back of her slightly bent knees to her thighs and then to the teasing curved lines just below her lingerie where her rounded buttocks began. And then with one swift movement I leapt forward, like a viper onto a helpless mammal, the soles of my shoes barely gracing the floor as I swept across the room and plummeted into her body. I remember hearing the first raw orgasm of the night leave her wet lips as steel met skin and the untamed deluge of carnality rushed through her panicked veins. Her body trembled at first, shaking back and forth sporadically as choked screams and hysterical breaths continued to leak from her open mouth. I tightened my grip on her arm, holding her still as I drove the blade further into her flesh.

The muscle and organs felt incredible, tightening up just enough that I could feel every soft layer as the knife buried deeper and deeper into them. This was where a woman showed her talent, and where the true beauties of this world rose above the rest. And then suddenly I felt some resistance – I had hit bone. I leant in, putting all of my weight and force into her, pushing and pushing as the agonizing sound of the bone bending and splintering continued to mount until the tension reached breaking point and the explosive crack thundered through her whole body. The blade was then free to plunge in and tear through her, and the conception was finally complete. I held her there for another moment, feeling every drop of heat bleed from her trembling body, flow over my hands and pool around my feet until the final breath left her cold lips and she collapsed like a limp doll in the puddle before me.

I remember the thud of her body hitting the floor echoing around me as if in a distant dream as I stood there consumed by the euphoria. Time seemed to stop and accelerate all at once as the onslaught of silence rung through my ears and the blood trickled out across the room. The whole world seemed to be tearing itself apart and reforming all around me as I lifted her from the timber and spread her out across the bed. If what had just happened was like a waking dream than what followed could only be described as conscious sleepwalking. I was not so much fulfilling my fantasies on her but rather watching on as they were inflicted by another before me. The last thing I recall was turning around as I closed the door and gazing in awe at the beautiful artwork painted all over the room and the fulfilled body lying sprawled upon the bed. It was truly my masterpiece.

Since that night I have watched the world crumble and the rigor mortis set in as photographs of Mary Jane Kelly leaked out. I have seen the generic sketches and blurred CCTV images plastered on telegraph poles and displayed on televisions around Whitechapel. I have heard the trembled whispers hovering through the streets like a dark cloud over the city. I have smelt the fear permeating from the mothers and fathers and children of this place like a foul odour. I have felt smooth skin turn to goosebumps and quiver under my touch and I have tasted the warm blood that these people have to offer me. And after all of it I can say that everything they have said about me is wrong. I am neither man amongst them nor a demon above them, neither a figure on a screen nor a face on the wall, and neither the salvation nor damnation of the society that I have laid waste to. I am but a name, a myth, a peripheral shadow that moves in the darkness. I am Jack the Ripper.

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Jack The Ripper, wallpoper.com (2012)


Should there be a price for streaming unlimited free music?

“To give a text an Author is to impose a limit on that text” – Roland Barthes (1967)

The technological revolution of the last few decades has brought with it a deluge of technologies that have changed society as a whole, as well as the way in which we all live and interact with each other in this new interconnected digital age. However, one of the more complex issues that has come to light because of these rapid advancements is that concerning the increase in illegal pirating and copyright abuse, and the subsequent rise in open content licensing.

An open content license can be defined as a licence that grants “the right to reproduce, adapt, distribute, perform, display, communicate, and translate a work” (Creative Commons, 2012) without necessarily having to pay the creator of said work. Since its establishment in 2000, Pandora Internet Radio have been paying 1.85% of its revenue in royalty rates to the artists and record companies who write and produce the music that they distribute (Pandora, 2012). Therefore, it can be seen that Pandora do not operate under an open content license, which for the music industry is vitally important. Here’s why:

In the first quarter of the 2011 financial year, Pandora’s total revenue increased by 136% from the same period in 2010, amounting to approximately $51 million. Additionally, its content acquisition costs in the same quarter stood at close to 54% of its gross profits, amounting to approximately $69.4 million of its total revenue (Pandora, 2012). However, if this media technology could stream music without having to pay royalties than its net income would effectively double and the annual $3 million that it is currently paying Lil’ Wayne, $1 million it is paying Adele and $135,000 it is paying Bon Iver (Fixmer, 2012), along with the royalties it pays to every other artist whose music they stream, for the acquisition of their copyrighted content would instead be staying within Pandora’s possession. As a result, we would see a rapid rise in Pandora’s revenue and share of the market, accompanied by the rapid decline in artist’s who could afford to live off or continue making music.

Reference List:
1. http://www.tbook.constantvzw.org, Barthes, R 1967, Death of the Author, edition 6, Aspen, New York City, New York, pp 1-6
2. http://creativecommons.org, Creative Commons 2012, Creative Commons, Massachusetts
3. http://www.nytimes.com, Sisario, B 2014, Pandora Wins a Battle, but the War Over Royalties Continues, The New York Times, New York, pp 1-4
4. http://investor.en.pandora.net, Pandora Media, Inc. 2012, Annual Report, Oakland
5. http://www.businessweek.com, Fixmer, A 2012, Pandora Is Boxed In by High Royalty Fees, Bloomberg Business Week, Bloomberg, Sydney, pp 1-2
6. http://strugglingmuso.wordpress.com, Fraser, D 2010, Digital Royalty Payout Office, Struggling Muso

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USA’s Next Election: The Good, The Bad and The Nazi?

In the United States, “freedom of speech” is a civil right protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution. However, if this speech begins to “exert a corrupting and debasing impact leading to antisocial behavior” (Volokh, 2014) than it can be deemed unprotected by this law. So, where does the advocacy of neo-Nazism fit in with this? Is it the legal right of US citizens to express their political beliefs, even if it is in Nazism, or can this be deemed as “corrupting” and “debasing” towards society?

Within this controversial and complex text are three internationally recognised and conflicting symbols: the Nazi swastika, the American flag and the Confederate Flag of the South. The reason that these three symbols are being displayed by this group of protestors is that these are members of the American Nazi Party, a political group formed in 1959 that advocates for the insertion of their ideals into American politics and law in order to “secure the existence of our people and a future for White children” (2012). This demonstration occurred in Knoxville, Tennessee in 2010 as a support rally for the ‘Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act’, a tough new anti-illegal immigration policy introduced in Arizona (Lakin, 2010). By investigating the meanings of these three symbols we can understand them in the context of this text and why they all contribute to this text’s controversy:

a) The Confederate Flag of the South – this symbol alludes to the race-based beliefs of the South’s forces in the American Civil War that held white Americans as superior to African-Americans. The large stone monument of the Treaty of Holston in the background of this photograph further reiterates this as this treaty established the legal dominance of white Americans over the indigenous Cherokee people in 1792, and the dawn of ‘white supremacy’ in America (Mastromarino, 2000).

b) The swastika symbol and Nazi salute, or “sieg heil” salute – these symbols are allusions to Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party, who are notoriously remembered for their pursuit of the “Aryan master race” (Fleming, 1984) and “systematic elimination” of 6 million Jewish people between 1933 and 1945 (USHM, 2013), known as the Holocaust.

c) The American flag – this image illustrates how this political party is advocating for the inauguration of the ideologies of the South during the American Civil War and the Nazi Party during WWII into contemporary US politics and law.

These symbols, despite being representative of enemies from two different wars, are shown to be harmonious in nature by these protestors. This is a highly controversial statement due to the fact that approximately 400,000 American soldiers were killed in World War II  and another 750,000 killed in the American Civil War (Chambers, 1999), and as a result could be interpreted by many as incredibly disrespectful. But after all, that is just part of their freedom of speech, isn’t it? Does it matter if some ancient war vet gets upset or some German immigrants feel ashamed when they see these people on the 7:30 news? But then again, is it right to criminalise a person’s basic right to political expression? And if so, what does that mean for the future? These are all questions that this seemingly simple text makes one consider.

Reference List:
1. Volokh, E (2014), Freedom of Speech in the USA, Britannica.com
2. American Nazi Party (2012), Advancing National-Socialism into the 21st Century, ANP.com
3. Lakin, M (2010), Three arrests, no violence at National Socialist Rally, Knoxville News Sentinal, Knoxville
4. Mastromarino, M.A (2000), The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, vol. 9, 23 September 1791 – 29 February 1792, University Press of Virginia, Charlottesville, pp. 178–180
5. Gerald Fleming (1984), Hitler and the Final Solution, University of California Press, Berkley
6. United States Holocaust Museum (2013)
7. Chambers J.W (1999), The Oxford Companion to American Military History, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 849
8. http://www.ozpolitic.com, 2014

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