Thursday, October 23, 2014


Social Media at Momiji: Week 4

THE ARTS

When it comes to the internet, one of the biggest issues for artists in all fields is copyright or intellectual property rights. Some social media critics/ academics believe that the claim an artist has to credit for a tune, image or piece of prose, is a thing of the past. While others believe that copyright needs even more protection now. Among Canadian authors, Corey Doctorow would side with abolishing copyright protection, while Robert J. Sawyer represents the opposite point of view. Record and the movie industries have come down hard on copyright protection. They stand to lose millions. You may have heard of Sony’s efforts to prevent piracy of music and films.  Visual artists, who always have the original hand-painted piece, aren’t immune, but some use ‘watermarks’ (a translucent logo superimposed on the image) among other options to protect our intellectual property online.  A program called ‘tineye’ was designed to search an artist’s image or photograph on the net, and turn up any copies including those used without permission.

The internet is jam-packed with artists in every field. More writers, painters, musicians than ever. Hobbyists are there alongside the professionals. It’s so easy to publish your artwork, songs or writing now.

Visual Art and Writing

One large and long-standing social media platform for both art and literature is Deviant Art, www.deviantart.com. ‘Deviant’ in the sense of a pastime or deviation, rather than the other meaning. However, you must be 14 or older to join the site. Marking work as “mature” is left up to the artist. And reporting spam, trolls and pornography (illegal) is up to community members. Artists tend to be more tolerant of those on the fringe than society at large. So this website is home to people with a variety of atypical sexual preferences (consenting/ legal). You can block and/or report any unwanted follower as with Facebook and Twitter.

The site allows you to set up a gallery for your fine art, illustrations, photography, short stories, non-fiction or poetry—and give and receive criticism and ‘favourites’. Daily contests are held by volunteer moderators. I’ve won a few for my writing oddly enough.  Experienced artists mentor new ones.  It was because of this website that I made the leap from traditional art media to digital. I received tremendous moral and technical support from my followers. Techniques are shared in comments, or in ‘tutorials’ put together by individual members. Groups and clubs encourage sharing of ideas and artistic feedback as well. You can designate your art or writing as available for sale via dA (as it’s known for short). The prices are very low, so I don’t participate in this aspect of the site.  Overall I highly recommend the site for emerging artists, or artists trying out new media.

Saatchi is another predominantly visual arts website. I opened an account some time ago, but didn’t fully investigate all of the features. Feedback is possible, but the main activity seems to centre around art contests. Sales are possible as well.

Writing specific social platforms abound. Baen’s bar, http://bar.baen.com/ , is a speculative fiction writing forum, but also a publisher. Members submit work to a ‘slush pile’ for critique. Editing may lead to a piece of writing move to the top of the pile and even possibly to being published in the online magazine or through a traditional publisher.  However, there are many vying for a limited number of spots. 

Fiction writers of almost every genre, freelance non-fiction writers and poets gather in online groups to exchange feedback.  Most writing forums simply offer a place to post your writing and give and receive criticism.  Not surprisingly erotica was one of the earliest forms of writing published on the net to make profits for writers. 

Fan fiction (there’s also fan art) is written by fans of specific authors for fun or as a tribute. Fan writers write continuations of famous series and works, or write stories based on the world and characters depicted in traditionally published novels or graphic novels. Fan work makes up a sizable part of online visual art and literature forums.  It’s doubtful the fan phenomenon could have grown to present proportions without the existence of creative social media. Not sure if this is a good thing or a not-so-good thing.

Writers more than any other artists have to watch being preyed upon by scammers. Some sites on- and off-line take advantage of writer’s eagerness/ desperation to be published by trying to sell them ‘editing’ or vetting services on the promise of hooking them up with agents or publishers.

Videos

Vines allows users, generally young people, to create and publish 6-second videos (including made via cell phone camera). As I mentioned in class, William Shatner had some fun with the idea of extremely short films in a recent talk. I haven’t created a vine, but I encounter other’s vines frequently on Facebook and Twitter. “Best” vines can be found on Youtube, on the Vines video website and elsewhere. They’re often smile- or cringe-inducing. http://vine-videos.com/

Youtube has been around for many years. Anyone can view youtube videos at www.youtube.com, or as links on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and more. Anyone can copy and paste the url of a video… virtually wherever they like. You must have an account to comment on other’s videos, and upload videos you have created.  In addition to countless cat videos, family videos and young musicians strumming and singing their favourite pop tunes, there is a wealth of archival film footage made available by various sources (mostly) with copyright permissions.  This includes organizations such as The National Film Board of Canada. It’s a wonderful resource for favourite film scenes and music old and new.

Music

If you or someone in your family likes to perform and record music, this is a good guide to musian’s platforms out there at present: http://www.socan.ca/content/guide-digital-music-platforms#AffectingCopyright 

Used to be that musicians could showcase their talent, keep fans up-to-date on tours and sell CDs from myspace. A few years ago, myspace inexplicably lost its popularity. You can now find many musical artists, bands using the platforms in the link above, often featured on their own or their distributors’ websites.

Youtube, is also a music platform (see above).  Music lovers can pay to download mp3 tunes or albums from itunes or join Spotify to stream music for a premium.  CBC Radio 3 has taken over “New Music Canada” which used to be a repository or ‘indie’ music (independent (garage) musicians and bands usually not signed to music contracts with big corporations):  http://music.cbc.ca/#!/artists?br=1&page=1&q=&parentgenre=&genre=&f=

 Handmade Goods

Pinterest as discussed above is a great place to share recipes, crafts and home d├ęcor that suits your taste.

Etsy is a place to buy and sell handmade goods and art: https://www.etsy.com/ca/ It’s like the one-of-a-kind show online.  The idea is to shop directly from crafters, artisans and artists. There are favourites to check out, which differentiates this site from straight shopping sites. The site is divided into ‘shops’. You can register and fill your shopping cart. Sellers are rated by clients. Shipping costs are clearly stated by sellers and can be high depending on your location and the seller’s country of origin.  
Pay Pal is an easy-to-use, secure web-payment service to use when shopping online. The idea is that you do not disclose your credit card information to the seller. Only pay pal has this info and they keep it locked up tight. I haven’t heard of any Pay Pal issues, including hacks and ID theft. That’s better than shopping in the real world.

Sports

I’ve never been much of a sports fan.  But here is a list of social networks where fans can get together to talk about playing sports or following pro sport:  http://mashable.com/2007/10/20/sports-social-networks/  They all appear to be rather manly, like a trip through a series of man caves.  These networks, I’m sure, focus solely on sport played by male athletes. I was unable to find social networks devoted to fans of women’s sport, but I did find many articles (often hopeful) about bringing more attention to women in sport.

Gamers don’t spend all of their time gaming. They too have social networks, often around specific games, game player systems and game-related technology.  Women are fighting for representation on these social networks as well.  Recently threats of rape and violence were issued by males on gaming social media against women. No one has been hurt at time of writing. Legal stuff is ongoing, but the gaming related social networks are working toward total respect for women game developers and female presence.  Cosplay (dressing up as game characters for fun or competitions) is an area of gaming fandom in which both sexes receive equal representation on related social media.

Computers

The best computer software rescue forum is My Bleeping Computer. http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/ This site is so good that malware have begun to include in their software instructions on evading the website. The idea is that expert moderators assist registered users with ridding malware from their hard drives. The site has also developed some excellent software for malware removal.  Do not, however, attempt to use advice given to questioners on My Bleeping Computer forums (or other computer forums) unless you have advanced skills.

CNet http://www.cnet.com/ and PCWorld http://www.pcworld.com/ are two great sites for reviews on software and hardware. They offer user review system and comments, but aren’t social media as such. I mention them here because they’re valuable resources for computer owners. Also checkout Tom’s Hardware http://www.tomshardware.com/.

Professional Networking

LinkedIn https://ca.linkedin.com/  is the biggest website for putting your professional credentials out there, and perhaps finding contracts or work. I do not have a LinkedIn page myself, but know people who use it to promote their small business, business skills and, as Steve mentioned in class, to keep in touch with former colleagues.

Facebook Pages offer space to share information about your career, business, events and achievements, to have followers and make new connections.

About.me, https://about.me/ allows you to create a single web page that advertises your skills, cause or interest and is linkable to Twitter, Facebook and other social media. I don’t have an About.me page, but know others who do. It’s for someone who doesn’t want or require a website but would like to network for professional reasons on social media.
 

Setting up your own website

A website is useful for large and small businesses, charitable and other organizations and knowledge bases.  Most individuals don’t require or want one. Facebook and Twitter often serves their needs.  

My website hosted by IX webhosting. This is the platform that I use to manage my website. My code and online content are stored there. I paid a student to create a simple (I hope elegant) space to show off my digital artwork. I use this website as a portfolio. It has four pages and I can update it easily with my limited knowledge of html. I use a free file transfer program called ‘Filezilla’ to upload content from my hard drive to the website. It has served my needs as a freelance artist and art instructor very well.

The first step in setting up a website is deciding on a host. Nowadays, your host will help you purchase (more like rent) a domain. This is the name of your website, usually the name of your business, organization or your name with a “.com” after it for businesses and a “.org” for non-profit organizations. Domains are registered and must be renewed yearly or biannually – or your domain name goes back on the market.

Like most web hosts, IX webhosting charges a nominal fee, but I’d like to think I’m getting extra services for the few bucks/month I pay. I can call IX 24/7 with questions, problems or complaints.  Most important to me: no ads appear on my website.  I felt ads would distract from the art I’m showcasing on my site.

Yes, some website hosts ask you to devote a percentage of your space to ads, which may be tailored to your site. Carrying ads should come at a lower price or greater searchability of your site.  WiX web building host http://www.wix.com/  lets you create your own website using readymade templates. It has both a free and for fee hosting services. Most webhosts offer design services for a price. You can also shop around for a freelance web designer (perhaps an IT student).  There are many web designers to choose from for a range of fees.  Consider what features your website will require, how you feel about sharing your site with ads, and your level of IT skills. Ask friends who have websites for recommendations, shop around.  

Here are reviews and comparisons of several webhosts: http://web-hosting-review.toptenreviews.com/ “Go-Daddy” was brought up in class.  Here’s a review: http://web-hosting-review.toptenreviews.com/godaddy-review.html  

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