Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I cannot believe how fast this first semester has gone. It still hasn't hit me yet that i've already completed two exams and after December 5th i will have completed my first semester of University.

I am going to miss Wednesday's very much. Mass Communication was a very enjoyable class with the most creative freedom i've had in a course in quite some time. My eyes have been opened to many new things that i did not know or had not noticed before about the Media and our society. This was a growing experience for me. I have become so much more aware of the consequences of certain media, and its influences on people.

Overall, i'm sure i will continue blogging at some point in time. Maybe once classes have finished and i have more time over the holidays. The chance to express my own opinions and thoughts without being judged is quite liberating. I don't think i'll be able to stop blogging :)

The best of luck to everybody with your exams, school
and any challenges that come your way.


13) Activist Project.

Unfortunetly, there isn't one single activist project that i am passionate about, but while in high school i was on Student Council for all four years and i managed to get involved and volunteer in several things that i was proud to be a part of.

In grade 9 and 10 i participated in a Pilgrimage for Haiti at my school St.Francis Secondary. We walked from the school all the way downtown St.Catharines on a Sunday morning for mass and a barbeque with the other Catholic schools in St.Catharines. We would raise as much money as possible, trying to surpass the goal that we would usually make in order to renvoate or even build schools in Haiti. In 2003, 330 students participated, raised 21,000 dollars which went towards funding for solar panels for a school in St.Marc [1]. Other projects that i participated in which raised money for Haiti was a haunted house fundraiser where the Art Club created from scratch a haunted house at Halloween in the gymnasium and charged a dollar entry fee for students, friends and family to walk through. There was also games and food in the cafeteria. My last year at St.Francis in grade 10 i think we raised 1,000 dollars from people walking through the haunted house alone.

At St.Francis we always had some sort of fundraiser happening like backpacks with school supplies that was also sent out to Haiti, or food drives for the local shelters. It felt good knowing that i helped a good cause, even if it was something small.

In the summer before grade 11 i moved to the Alliston, the town that i live in now. I attended Banting Memorial High School with 2,000 other students. One of the major fundraisers i helped out with both years was the Diabetes Walk/Run. We would get the students to raise as much money as they could from their families and friends, and the day of the Walk/Run we would host a huge barbeque at the back of the school by the football field. Students that were involved would either walk or run the course which was around the neighbourhood close to the school. In grade 11 i managed to do my duty on Student Council in running the games and events on the field for after the Walk/Run and also run the course myself. In grade 12 i didn't run the course but i donated money and helped out with the barbeque and assembly. Did you know that in 2007 alone, 6.5 million dollars was raised for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation! [2].

Although these are only small projects they were dear to my heart because i felt like i was actually making a difference by helping out and getting involved with something important. I think more people should help out more often, even if its small fundraisers or food drives. Help in any way shape or form no matter how small or big will make you feel better as a person knowing you're making a difference in someone else's life who may just need your help more than you might know.



12) Participatory Culture.

Before talking about my favourite participatory culture, here is a definition of what a participatory culture is: according to Henry Jenkins:

1. With relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement
2. With strong support for creating and sharing one's creations with others
3. With some type of informal mentorship whereby what is known by the most experienced is passed along to novices
4. Where members believe that their contributions matter
5. Where members feel some degree of social connection with one another (at the least they care what other people think about what they have created).
Fairly simple and easily achievable, since most participatory cultures these days are very popular, like Facebook, video games PostSecret, some sort of knowledge community etc. The one that I like the most is blogging. I’ve said before that I’ve never really had the chance to keep my own blog. I used to when I was younger and I had just found myspace. It was nice to be able to talk about whatever I wanted. It was like keeping an online journal for myself. After a while, school caught up with me and it was harder to keep up or post daily. So when I was told one of the main assignments would be blogging, I was rather excited to start.

Not only was it fun to write blogs, it was twice as interesting to read them. “Bloggers don’t have constraint. They can obsess, they can focus, they can get serious” (Lessig, 43).
This is one of my favourite quotes from Free Culture. Blogs enable people to do all of these things plus more so when I would get to read other peoples blogs, it was like opening a whole different way of thinking. I would read about people’s different opinions about topics ranging from politics, to art, photography and graffiti, to sports and BMX riding.

Despite bloggers being known for having little credibility, they are useful. Bloggers provide different perspectives. They are able to think openly since they are in an open knowledge community where there isn’t any disapproval of thinking differently. They are updated frequently thus providing timeliness and new information. They are a form of subvertising and sharing of information, using your right of freedom of speech.

I don’t think there is a better way of starting if you want to be heard. Continually updating and working hard maybe eventually get you somewhere. Just look at Perez Hilton - he updates his blog more than a couple of times a day reporting about celebrity’s lives and what is new with them, plus issues or events going on around the world today. If it weren’t for him blogging so frequently I wouldn’t have been so caught up on the American election. Or that Ashlee Simpson had her baby and named him after one of the Jungle Book characters. It’s become a full time job for him and it allows “…public discourse without the public ever needing to gather in a single public place” (Lessig, 42).

When it comes down to it, blogs are fun and interesting. Like I mentioned earlier, they can be considered an online journal for some, or an outlet for frustrations about our government or corporate advertising etc. Or it could be an academic blog like mine and the others in my class that are writing about some serious topics that happen or have happened, creating a very tight knit knowledge community with different perspectives and opinions about the same topics, just looked at through different eyes.

Work Cited

Lessig, Lawrence. Free Culture. New York: Penguin Group, 2004

Combs, Nate. "Participatory Culture". Terra Nova Blogs. 26 Oct 2006. 25 Nov 2008.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

11) Culture Jamming.

According to one website culture jamming “sticks where rational discourse slides off. It is, simply, the viral introduction of radical ideas. It is viral in that it uses the enemy's own resources to replicate itself -- corporate logos, marketing psychology, clean typography, "adspeak". It is radical because--ideally--the message, once deciphered, causes damage to blind belief. Fake ads, fake newspaper articles, parodies, pastiche. The best CJ is totally unexpected, surprising, shocking in its implications” (Abrupt).

There are three kinds of culture jamming:

- Commercial: “Probably the most well known form of culture jamming is subvertising. Subvertisements are creative anti-ads targeted at conspicuous consumption considered endemic of capitalistic societies. These images variously target consumers themselves or large corporations, often with a specific message to get people thinking about what and/or why they buy” (Weburbanist).
- Political: “Less common but equally powerful are political forms of culture jamming. The above examples play on everyday symbols people normally wouldn’t think twice about. By subtly changing their meaning, the ordinary becomes extraordinary, and takes on significance beyond what is expected. Respectively, the above signs deal with complex issues of political asylum in Australia and the contentious Iraq War” (Weburbanist).
- Social: “Of course, some culture jams are playful in nature and target society in general, being satirically oriented at anything from a holiday to a particular political leader or recognizable symbol. They may cause one to rethink reality, or simply laugh at something twisted to be slightly more-than-ordinary. The best subversive street art videos and images, of course, cause us to do both” (Weburbanist).

This ad would be considered commercial subvertising. It has the original Calvin Klein title and font “OBSESSION” except the normally air brushed beautiful skinny-bodied women that usually clad the covers and photo shoots for their advertisements isn’t the main focus of this advertisement. Instead there is an anonymous young woman, nude, bending over a toilet with one arm holding on to her. The lighting in the photo falls just on the spine of her back, leading the viewer’s eye down towards her slightly protruding rib cage. The message this fellow culture jammer was trying to portray is well timeless and one that almost everyone would understand.
“As human beings we communicate with each other by referring to common experiences” (Franklin, 146). Each person has at one time or another had a feeling of inadequacy with who they are at that moment because they don’t look like the models in the magazines or their favourite celebrity or some reason or another. This specific suvertisement was able to send a fairly worldly message without confusing anybody like some culture jamming art can sometimes do.

That is one of the most important things to keep in mind when culture jamming- being aware of the news and the things that are going on around you and that are affecting the people around you. Sometimes messages get lost in culture jamming because not a lot of people know what the culture jammer is trying to say. Despite this little flaw that sometimes occurs, I personally do believe culture jamming is an art form, and an effective one at that. What better way than to piss off corporate companies by altering their advertisements or their billboards (like Ron English!) without permission and exposing the truth behind them to unknowing people like you and me. I think of it as a domino effect – as soon as one person looks at that advertisement and gets the joke or message right away, they’ll most likely pass it on, or the next person to see it will laugh out loud and point it out or someone will stop and take a photo of it and paste it on the web where millions of people might eventually look at it etc. The message will eventually get out and this awesome concept won’t go to waste. The effort of that culture jammer will have created awareness in whatever subject or issue that they feel is important to pay attention to and do something about it even if it is one advertisement at a time!

Works Cited

“Culture Jamming”. Abrupt. 23 Nov 2008.

Urbanist, “3 Kinds of Culture Jamming: Commercial, Political, and Social Signs of Our Time”. Weburbanist. 08 Oct 2007. 23 Nov 2008.

Franklin, Ursula M.. The Real World of Technology. Toronto,
On: House of Anansi Press Inc., 2004

Monday, November 24, 2008

10) Buy Nothing Day

I recently just started my new job at a Bluenotes clothing store in the Woodbine Mall. It was one of the most hectic 5 hours of my life. Customers were coming in and out of the store every 30 seconds, maybe even less. Christmas time is coming so I knew it would be busy, but I didn’t expect it to be that crazy. My task for the day was to be the greeter in the front of the store, tidying up the clothes and telling each customer about the promotions going on. Personally, I hate it when salespeople hover or attack you as soon as you walk in. I feel bad so I usually stand and listen, knowing that everything they just told me I would forget in point five seconds (my attention span is easily deteriorated). When there was a 30 second break I asked my manager how I was doing, and I confessed that I feel bad bombarding the customer (speaking from my own experience) but I was told not to worry because it was part of my job. Speak up and speak loudly I was told. We had a goal to make for how much of our products we sold and we only had about 2 in a half hours left to make it. So that’s what I did. I bombarded each customer with the promotions we had (which were pretty darn good if I do say so myself) and even made a couple sales myself. I dealt with complaints that the line-ups were taking too long because there were so many people waiting to buy stuff. At the end of my shift I didn’t have a voice left and I couldn’t feel my feet.

My experience working for the first time in retail was enjoyable but it made me think of today’s blog subject: Buy Nothing Day. I chuckled to myself because where I was and what these people were doing was complete opposite. Walking through the mall during Christmas time is like walking through a pack full of lions waiting for their chance to attack and try to sell you the ‘latest trend’ or product that if you just bought two more in different colours, you could save yourself oh about 5 bucks. In the mall you are bombarded with promotions and sale signs that are taller then you advertising in bright colours and font that everything is 50% off and then in small print only if you buy the first product full price will the next then become half off. I have a tendency to walk into these giant signs. They’re usually put in the most inconvenient places, like the front door of a store; you’d think I’d notice them eh. Oh maybe I walk into them cause I’m too busy trying to read the fine print so I don’t get suckered into buying more than I had intended to.

Buy Nothing Day is trying to spread awareness about over consumption – something our generation is known for. Some may not admit to it but we all subconsciously know we are or have been guilty of it at some point in our lives. What the frightening thought is that some people still don’t or cannot understand why they are in debt. Or how they went over their Christmas gift limit they tried to go by when buying gifts for their families. It seems as if people have become dependant on these materialistic things to achieve happiness. Adbusters Culturejammer Headquarters has a scary statistic: The average North American consumes 5 times more than a Mexican person, 10 times more than a Chinese person and 30 time more than a person from India. There is something gravely wrong with those numbers.

Upon first hearing of Buy Nothing Day, I did not think it would be possible to complete. People would just go out the day before and get the stuff they need and everything would be just dandy the day of so they could say ‘oh yeah Buy Nothing Day, I didn’t buy a single thing!’ Once researching the topic more, I then realized that doesn’t matter. It’s getting people to understand what the message is that matters. How to determine the difference between do I NEED that? Or do I WANT it? It can be a tricky question to answer most of the time. It is a question I argue every day of my life.

Do something different on Buy Nothing Day this November 28th 2008. Don’t give in to consumerism, spread the awareness tell your friends, your family. Make gifts this year for Christmas. They’ll have a heck of a lot more meaning than something that may or may not have been made in a sweatshop and you’ll know you’re giving back to this place called the Earth, the place that we call home.

Works Cited

“Buy Nothing Day”. Adbusters Culturejammer Headquarters. Adbusters. 23 Nov 2008.

PS. Here’s 10 things you could do instead of shopping on Buy Nothing Day

1. Go to a library. Pick up some new books. here are a few reading lists to give you some ideas, the worsted witch, canada reads, 1001 books you should read before you die.
2. Bake something using things you have in your cupboard. Or bake something you've never made before. check out Orangette for some great ideas, (i've enjoyed everything I've made of hers).
3. Make a list of raw materials you have in your house, (things you could recycle or alter to create something new). Find some projects to make using things on your list. Resources: Make, Craft, Instructables, Readymade, Supernaturale, get crafty, make your own gifts out of recycled sweaters, (see example here.)
4. Write a letter.
-to someone you care about
-to a politician (requesting change on a topic you care about)
-to a corporation
5. Plan an expedition. Take a walk in nature. collect a variety of items you find on your travels. Use the items to a) make a mobile, or b) decorate your home.
6. Create some guerilla art pieces & install them with friends.
7. Install your very own Portable Xmas Tree, (completely free!) And while your at it, create some Instant Snow.
8. Have a clothing (or stuff) swap party with friends. for directions see the Naked Lady Party.
9. Donate to something you believe in. (or sign up to volunteer somewhere).
10. Write about the best gifts you ever received. (my story)

Visit the link: for more ideas!

PPS. Also check out youtube videos for Reverend Billy - his personal mission is to rid our culture of consumerism, he asks 'what would Jesus buy?' He uses humour to get his message across. If you're looking for a good laugh check him out too!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

09) Net Neutrality

"We are in a war against piracy as the Internet makes it possible to have efficent spread of content" (Lessig, 17).

Main Entry: net neutrality
Part of Speech: n
Definition: the principle that basic Internet protocols should be non-discriminatory; esp. that content providers should get equal treatment from Internet operators.

Who: Largest telephone and cable companies
What: These companies want to be gatekeepers who block, speed up or slow down Web content based on its source, ownership or destination (“Save The Internet”).
Why: Money money money! Power power power!
Where: Most media coverage has been in North America, particularly the United States.
How: Privatizing the Internet by gaining control of it as much as possible. Up until now there hasn’t been a single unit or person or company in charge of the Internet.

I’d like to think that the 5 W’s are quite important features of this conflict- the facts of the conflict. To think I had never even heard of net neutrality or the increasing problems that have come with it despite the facts that if these companies were to gain this power that they want, our lives would be so dramatically changed.

What these telephone and cable companies like AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner want to do is “to tax content providers to guarantee speedy delivery of their data. They want to discriminate in favor of their own search engines, Internet phone services, and streaming video -- while slowing down or blocking their competitors” (“Save The Internet”). Like we don’t have enough taxes to pay as it is! Apparently these companies have been “spending hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying Congress and the Federal Communications Commission to gut Net Neutrality, putting the future of the Internet at risk” (“Save the Internet”).

When the Internet was first created, Tim Berners-Lee had intended it to be a neutral network. This issue has been going on since the 1930’s but it has only exploded in the last few years. One of the most important features in my opinion to know about net neutrality is how it affects you as well as others and the freedom of the Internet. According to, “such corporate control of the Web would reduce your choices and stifle the spread of innovative and independent ideas that we've come to expect online. It would throw the digital revolution into reverse” (“The Threat Is Real”).

An example of discrimination against websites by these companies is occuring already. An example is “in August 2007, AT&T censored a live webcast of a Pearl Jam concert just as lead singer Eddie Vedder criticized President Bush” (“The Threat Is Real”). Those that would be affected are small businesses, innovators, bloggers, google users, ipod listeners, online shoppers, telecommuters, parents and retirees, political groups, and non profits are only just a handful.

There is hope though, people are fighting back, people are getting the word out in all ways possible. Websites like have been protesting for about two years now. Presidential candidates like Barack Obama addressed the issue during the election, check out the youtube video below for a short clip.

This has to be a group effort in order to take these CEO’s and their dollars down. We have a freedom of speech and that should apply to the freedom of the Internet as well. We need to be more media concious of this issue, I know for a fact if net neutrality fails and these companies do start taxing us, our worlds would crash (no pun intended) because so many people, like myself included, would not know what to do without the same Internet we know today.

Work Cited

“The Threat Is Real”. Free Press: Save The Internet. 2002. 22 Nov 2008.

“Frequently Asked Questions”. Free Press: Save The Internet. 2002. 22 Nov 2008.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

08) Media Hegemonies

Oh Walt Disney, where dreams come true. When I was younger I had always wanted to go to Walt Disney World or Land or whatever one where Mickey and Minnie mouse lived (when I was younger I didn’t know there was a difference between world and land). I didn’t end up going till the tenth grade when I had realized Santa wasn’t real, neither was the Easter Bunny OR tooth fairy (thanks mom) and I knew that Mickey and Minnie were just people dressed up in costume. I never got to experience that feeling, ‘where dreams come true’ or honestly believed that I’d get to be a princess and live in that ridiculously large castle. I watched and owned all of the Disney movies on VHS and then watched the Disney channel repeatedly and daily. I also owned majority of the Disney princess Barbie dolls among a few princess shirts here and there. Looking back I feel really bad for putting my parents and sister through that haha. Oh well, my point being that Disney has been around for a VERY long time. They have some smart people working there that is for sure because the Walt Disney Company has accumulated cross media everywhere possible over the years.

When I first learned about cross-media I thought of when an actress decides to release a CD, and then eventually make their own clothing line branded with their name or the witty one they came up with. Maybe go back and do a movie and then have their own fragrance again branded with their name etc. Eventually having assets or holdings in multiple medias that attract the attention of fans also known as consumers.

“As the media conglomerates spread their tentacles, there is reason to believe they will encourage popular tastes to become more uniform in at least some forms of media” (McChesney). Disney is one of the top eight companies that dominate the global media market. Mickey mouse has his pockets overflowing with holdings in so many medias. The Disney Company has holdings in 5 film companies, 10 broadcast television stations plus ABC network, 18 cable television stations, FIFTY-ONE radio stations across the United States! 3 companies in music, 18 companies total in publishing, 16 magazines with 50% holdings of US Weekly, 8 parks and resorts and lastly 16 different holdings in the ‘other’ category. Did you know that Disney owned the Baby Einstein Company? I sure didn’t.

“The major media companies have moved aggressively to become global players. Even Time Warner and Disney, which still get most of their revenues in the United States, project non-US sales to yield a majority of their revenues within a decade” (McChesney). The goal is to appeal with a wide variety of people because if they appeal to your wants, needs and desires the company benefits in profit. So what better way then to use cross-media to achieve that goal fast in larger sums. Not to mention having more power in influencing what consumers buy through their different owned medias. This is a pretty big advantage to conglomerates because it gives them great hegemony through the ability to influence large numbers of a people faster.

It really is such a shame that these days, goals always come down to making more money and profiting off of young children. As Reverend Billy might say, Mickey Mouse is stealing the imagination and hopes and dreams of your children…or your parents money.


-Annual revenues: $23 billion (FY 1998)

-Non-US sales: 21%

-Non-US sales in 1984: 8.4%

-Disney has established a strong presence in China, Japan, Europe and Latin America.

-Its ESPN International is broadcast in twenty-one languages to 155 million households in 182 nations.

-Want to know who owns the movies? Check this link out:

-If you want to see the complete list and titles of The Walt Disney’s Company’s holdings go to this website:

Work Cited

“Who Owns What: The Walt Disney Company”. Columbia Journalism Review. 07 30 2008. 21 Nov 2008.

McChesney, W Robert. “The New Global Media: It’s A Small World of Conglomerates”. The Nation. 11 11 1999. 21 Nov 2008.