ARTS 2090 – Final Assignment by Marvin Kenny, z3332235

But what’s happening today – the mass ability to communicate with each other, without having to go through a traditional intermediary – is truly transformative.’

How is the diminution of traditional, and often hierarchical, “authoritative” intermediaries changing the role of publishing in social life?

1.0 Introduction

The diminution of authoritative publishing intermediaries has seen a shift in power roles, platforms of publishing and reception of information in the world of journalism. Publishing is defined by Wikipedia as the process of production and dissemination of literature, music and information — the activity of making information available to the general public. In the journalism industry the role of publishing has undergone somewhat of a revolution. For traditional journalists, the rise of social networks and the invention of multimedia-based platforms has seen a significant increase in the power and influence they have. As Alan Rusbridger writes in his article ‘The Splintering of the Fourth Estate’, published in the Guardian, “the social web is not really about the end of what came before, but the starting point for what comes next: richer and more complex societies. I am sometimes giddy with the possibilities new technologies offer us for being better journalists: for reaching even larger audiences; for having more influence; for being embedded in the most astonishing network of information the world has ever seen or could ever have imagined.”

It is not only traditional journalists that have seen an increase in power due to the diminution of traditional intermediaries. Citizens of the public now also have the power to publish on the same multi-media based platforms. Almost any one with access to a computer may publish news and information on a variety of platforms such as blogs, Youtube and social networks like Facebook and Twitter. This social revolution has seen the invention of the blogosphere and more importantly the rise of the citizen journalist. Citizens of the public are increasingly taking on traditional journalists fourth estate role. When you consider the inherent political and economic bias of the traditional media intermediaries, the rise of the citizen journalist is of the upmost importance.

Furthermore, with this shift comes a new responsibility on citizens of the public. The power we have to publish and share on our networks has seen a dramatic change in the reception of news and information. In the past our news flow was disseminated from the hierarchical media companies. Citizens were given little choice in the information they received and were basically told what to think by journalists of these media companies. How things have changed. Citizens now have the ability to collate and aggregate their own news flows. We may personalize what material we receive. A perfect example of this comes by way of the social network; Twitter. The user ‘follows’ only the people he, she or what they want to receive the information from and excludes those with little relevance to their life. In short, their Twitter news feed is filled with information completely custom to their preference. Imperatively, the citizen has a choice and perhaps even more significantly the citizen has a voice. We now live in a ‘prosumer society.’ We critically analyze information and most importantly we respond to it via our own newly established modes of publishing.


2.0 – Changing power roles in Journalism

The diminution of hierarchical intermediaries has altered publishing’s power roles in journalism. Publishing is no longer a luxury or an exclusive practice reserved for media companies with power and influence. Rather, the public now has the power to publish. Throughout history publishing was used as a powerful tool to communicate to the masses and therefore was imperative in swaying the opinions of society. Although unethical and in some aspects illegal, this power could be used to further certain political and economic agendas. Australia being a Liberal Democratic state fully supports the notion of the ‘free press’. Essentially the ‘free press’ dictates that all forms of media output, should be free of government intervention such as political bias and economic motives, however, it has been noted that there is in fact, an intrinsic nexus between media, politics and power. The word to describe this relationship is ‘Partisan Patronage’. As Errington and Miragliotta state in their book ‘Media and Politics – An Introduction’;

Politics is all about power, its effects and its distribution […] and media outlets have power: the power to project images of politicians, set the political agenda, debate important issues and influence the outcome of elections.”(Errington, W. & Miragliotta, N. 2007, p.142, edit mine)

An example of Partisan Patronage was evident in the 1990’s under the Hawke Keating Government. New media legislation was introduced resulting in an Oligopoly of just three media providers in Australia, of which, Rupert Murdoch’s News Ltd. owned 60%.

Australia’s media landscape is dominated by News Ltd and Fairfax Media, of which both control major newspapers such as The Australian, The Daily Telegraph and The Sydney Morning Herald. When you consider that these huge Multinational Enterprises (MNE’s) are responsible for the ‘diverse’ range of media and opinion we are to be presented with, the inherent hypocrisy of our so-called ‘Liberal Democratic’ government is exposed. This also presents further ethical dilemmas that throw into question the validity of the medias ‘Watch-Dog’ function; Has the traditional ‘Fourth Estate’ role of the media been sub-ordinated by a lust for power and economic greed? (Schultz, J. 1998. Pg 49).


All too often the hierarchical media companies and journalists have failed in their ‘Fourth Estate’ role (Carlyle, T. 1840) and instead have taken on ‘Muzzled Watch Dog Function’ (Tiffen, R. 1999, Pg. 214). This problem is exacerbated when you consider the power and tools that journalists have at their exposure today (Rusbridger, A. 2010)  – the multi-media tools for publishing, the vast amounts of data and meta-data that are stored in easily accessible archives and the social networks they interact with. In contemporary society it is often up to the citizen journalist to ‘un-muzzle’ this function, so to speak and respond critically to economic and political bias in journalism. “Prudent citizens are suspicious of the necessarily complicated and close relationship between politicians and the media, and so this relationship has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years.” (Savage, S. 2004)

Thankfully, the diminution of the authoritative intermediaries has seen a shift towards a prosumer society where citizens are able to actively engage with the information journalists put forward to them. If necessary, they can respond and criticize through a variety of multi-media platforms or simply choose to exclude information they see as bias. This is because of the vast amounts of news and information that is now afforded to us through the vast majority of modern networks such as the Internet.


 3.0 Changing platforms in Journalism

The diminution of traditional and often hierarchical intermediaries along with the prevalence of modern technology today has been the catalyst for numerous changes in the platforms upon which journalists publish. A platform is essentially a means by which something can be represented such as a book or webpage. Traditionally authoritative media companies and their journalists were publishing on print platforms. Print media dominated news flows and information and the media landscape consisted solely of newspapers and magazines. Obviously print media still exists however in contemporary society journalism is not confined to the boarders of a newsroom and publishing on a desktop computer. Journalism is defined as the investigation, and reporting of events, issues and trends to a broad audience. According to former times editor Harold Evans a journalistic story “is about necessary information and unusual events, should be based on observable facts, should be an unbiased account, should be free from the reporters opinion” (Evans, H. 1972). However, journalism nowadays is an umbrella term and with in it is a range of practices. These include news journalism, broadcast journalism, photo-journalism, documentary making and alike.

Anyone, professional journalist or not, may participate in the practice of journalism as the platforms laid down by traditional media companies have become peripheral to news flow and information. The catalyst of this change is of course technology and all the new multi-media platforms it has afforded society. Therefore, news journalism can be likened to a citizen journalist publishing news on their blog. Broadcast journalism is much the same as a member of the public posting a Youtube video about a current issue, or making a podcast about new trend. Photojournalism can even be someone taking photos and posting them on their tumblr. As the definition of journalism states; “the reporting of events, issues and trends to a broad audience.” What broader audience than the Internet.

Perhaps the most powerful form of Journalism today does not come from the traditional media companies rather it comes through the revolution of social networks. Wikipedia defines a network as a supportive system of sharing information among individuals and groups that have a common interest. Twitter is an example of a social network, which provides a powerful platform on which to publish and also receive information. Referring back to Alan Rusbridger’s article he summarises the power of Twitter in 15 steps. Among the most notable for journalism; “a highly effective way for spreading ideas [and] it’s where things happen first.” As he writes many reporters find Twitter and excellent tool for finding and aggregating information “You set Twitter to search out information on any subject you want and it will often bring you the best information there is. It becomes your personalised news feed.”  Twitter is also a huge archive (Derrida, J.) “As a search engine, it rivals Google … harnessing the mass capabilities of human intelligence to the power of millions in order to find information that is new, valuable, relevant or entertaining.” Most importantly he states “Instead of waiting to receive the “expert” opinions of others – mostly us journalists – Twitter shifts the balance to so-called “peer to peer” authority. It’s not that Twitterers ignore what we say – on the contrary they are becoming our most effective transmitters and responders.” Twitter demonstrates that the diminution of traditional media practices has opened society to far more powerful publishing platforms. Both journalists and citizens are harnessing the power of these new platforms as a way to communicate ideas and information.


4.0 Changes in the reception of journalism

The diminution of traditional authoritative intermediaries has altered the way in which the public receives journalism. Traditionally all facets of life and the economy were dominated by production. During the industrial revolution and periods after, the focus of was to produce. For media companies and the reception of information by citizens, this was much the same. Citizens were told what to think and had limited choice in choosing information sources because of the scarcity of resources and the power in which companies held. Hierarchical institutions dominated news and information in these times because they had the ability to publish or produce. In modern times we have seen a shift towards prosumption where we there is not only intermediaries producing and people consuming, rather it is a mix of both. Journalism is not the only source of news anymore because citizens both consume information and produce it. We respond critically to the information we are given by publishing responses on a wide variety of platforms.


Alvin Toffler first coined the term prosumer in 1980 (Ritzer, G. 2009). In Toffler’s view, contemporary society has shifted from a clear distinction between production and consumption to a pastiche of the two – prosumption. The diminution of traditional intermediaries has led to ‘the rise of the prosumer’ (Ritzer G, Jurnegson, N.). The invention of the social network presents a prime example in which to view Toffler’s ideology. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter are users generated networks and are apart of what is known as Web 2.0 (Ritzer, G., Jurgenson, N. 2009). As Ritzer and Jurgension write “It can be argued that Web 2.0 should be seen as crucial in the development of the ‘means of prosumption.’” Facebook for example is a social network where users create profiles consisting of photos and videos of themselves and also their thoughts. These are then shared with the rest of the network.


As Clay Shirky writes “It makes increasingly less sense even to talk about a publishing industry, because the core problem publishing solves — the incredible difficulty, complexity, and expense of making something available to the public — 
has stopped being a problem.” Citizens are increasingly becoming the publishers and generators of content and this is what the diminution of traditional media companies has led to. Citizens have become journalists in their own right through the rise of prosumption. The information we now have access to is often self published, user-generated material with little interference or influence from traditional intermediaries. The diminution of authoritative intermediaries has led to the rise of the prosumer and changed the way in which society receives information.



Brooker, Charlie (2010) ‘How to report the news’, YouTube,

Computing Platforms:

Cross Platforms:

Defintion of Networks:

Derrida, Jacques (1996) Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression Chicago:University of Chicago Press

Dodson, Wes (2009) ‘Dawn of the Systems Age’, Page 3.14

Evans, Harold 1972, Editing And Design Volume 1, definition of Journalism

Errington, W. & Miragliotta, N. 2007, Media and Politics – An Introduction p.142

Enszer, Julie R. (2008) Julie R. Enszer (personal blog), ‘Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression by Jacques Derrida’, November 16,

Rizter G. & Jurgenson N, 2009, University of Marylands USA, Production, Consumption, Prosumption: The Nature of Capitalism in the Age of the Digital “Prosumer”, pp 1 – 15


Rusbridger, A 2010. Article in The Guardian ‘The Splintering of the Fourth Estate’, date accessed 4th June, 2012


Savage, S. 2004, Politicians and the media: nothing new? University of Sydney, Australian Review of Public Affairs 2010, date accessed 4th June, 2012.

Schultz, Julianne (1998). Reviving the fourth estate. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. p. 49 – Fourth Estate

Shirky Clay, Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable, date accessed Monday 4th June 2012,


Stokes, Jon (2003) ‘Reading Notes: Archive Fever’, Ars Technica, June 27

Tiffen, R. 1999, The Muzzled watch dog, Scandals: Media, Politics and Corruption in Contemporary Australia, UNSW Press Sydney, pg 214.

Thomas Carlyle (Lecture V, May 19, 1840), “The Hero as Man of Letters. Johnson, Rousseau, Burns”, On Heroes and Hero Worship, retrieved November 18, 2006 – Fourth Estate


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A platform is essentially a technologically based structure in which something may be represented. Perhaps the world’s most dominant platform is the internet. The internet provides a means for millions of people all over the world to communicate, interact and also publish material. Within this umbrella that is the internet we find a series of network systems, in what Dodgson refers to as the ‘systems age.’ He argues that in this new digital age we are accustomed to “sensing, collecting, and manipulating data in near real-time with little to no human supervision.”

Social networking sites demonstrate Dodgsons ideology. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter are a continual stream of data, updated every second and stored into archives. They are a platform in which ones personal information or data is made readily available to their own network of friends whether they are interacting with the site or not. Furthermore, through these sites we as a user of the platform are afforded the ability to view other peoples data, interact with it, collate it and aggregate it so that it suits our personal preference. What we ‘like’ on Facebook or who we ‘follow’ on Twitter is stored in our own network for future reference. Therefore social networks provide the platform for us to shape our own network (and we do not neccessarily have to be at a computer to do so).

Naturally one platform may not be compatible with another. For example an Xbox 360 game will not play in a Playstation 3 console. However, technology has evolved to overcome such problems. Welcome the concept of ‘cross-platforming.’ A cross-platform enables an application to run on existing platforms. The best example of cross-platforming can be found in computer systems and the internet. Internet applications are for the most part, accessible across most computing systems. A good example of an internet application performing a multi-platform function is PDF. A PDF file will open on both PC and Mac, as well as other operating systems if required.

Drawing back to a social network perspective the ability of Facebook users to use the hash tag and integrate their twitter posts with their Facebook status’ is another example of a platform evolving from a singular structure into a multi-platform.

In summation, a platform in a technological sense affords people the ability to communicate, interact and publish material. Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are perfect examples of a platform executing its key function. Where incompatibility occurs, cross-platforming solutions such as a PDF file enable users to perform tasks on a multitude of platforms.


Computing Platforms:

Cross Platforms:

Dodson, Wes (2009) ‘Dawn of the Systems Age’, Page 3.14

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Information Graphics.

Wikipedia states that Information graphics are graphic visual representations of information, data and knowledge, however this merely just scratches the surface and the significance of this concept is far greater than this definition alone. Information graphics for the large part can make the invisible, visible in the sense that often it is graphical and visual representations of data  that allow humans to process the information more efficiently and with a higher level of coherence. The ability to communicate with visuals rather than words is a powerful tool. People will often understand and appreciate if information is concise like that in a visual form, rather than say reading an essay. For those who publish data and material, the implications of this last point are of extreme importance. Publishers who can communicate their material with simplicity and visual effectiveness stand the best chance of relaying their intended message to the public.

Information graphics may come in the form of;




and alike …

What these images above have in common is their ability to compress huge amounts of complex data into a simple form that is easily understood by the public. Information graphics and the visualisation of data break down barriers to information and grant people access to data which was otherwise too complex to comprehend. is a perfect example of information graphics. In essence the website is an archive of all types of information brought together in a simple and easy to use format. Readers are able to view, read and perhaps most importantly interact with this array of information, thus making the data contained in the website easily accessible and interesting. The website demonstrates the effectiveness of an information source that condenses various forms of data and makes them appealing to the public.

In summation information graphics and the visualisation of data presents a simple and effective way to represent masses of raw data. It is appealing as it compresses large amounts of data  presents the information in a way that is interesting easily understandable for the public. For Publishers, information graphics provide an easier and more effective means of conveying their intended message.


Information Graphics:

Visualisation of Data:

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Piracy was originally defined as an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea and in many cases it still is as we see prevalent acts of Piracy in places like Somalia today. However, Piracy has somewhat of a dual meaning in that it can be transposed across a range of mediums. For instance Piracy is also a highly prevalent factor in Copyright Infringement laws and as this is a media studies course this is what I will focus on in this post. Wikipedia defines Copyright Infringement as;

“the unauthorized use of works under copyright, infringing the copyright holder’s “exclusive rights” such as the right to reproduce or perform the copyrighted work, spread the information contained within copyrighted works, or to make derivative works. It often refers to copying “intellectual property” without written permission from the copyright holder, which is typically a publisher or other business representing or assigned by the work’s creator.”

This quotation above would be considered copyright infringement if I had not acknowledged the source Wikipedia. Essentially that is was Copyright Infringement laws protect; the intellectual property of the original source of material or data. Piracy, as the original meaning suggest is the robbing of this intellectual property and basically ignoring the true source of the information. Without Copyright laws there would be no incentive for people to create new ideas, products and technologies because someone else could come along and say they had done it first. There would be a lack of initiative and creativity in the world. Copyright laws give origin and prevalence to a source of information.

Piracy travels across all media from print to digital and it is in the digital realm of media that we see the most common acts of piracy today. Do you download music for free? Or videos or other online content? We all do and that classifies us as pirates. Why? Because we are gaining access to information whether it be a song, a movie or text without giving recognition to the original source either economically or in the case of text, by citing it in a paper for example. Music producers make music to earn a living (some focus on this more seriously then others) and by downloading their song for free, you are virtually cyber-robbing them.

So why does Piracy still exist and should there not be strict laws in place to combat Pirates? The fact of the matter is everyone does it and if everyone thinks everyone is doing it, then everyone will keep doing it. It has become somewhat of a social norm. Economics also plays a large factor. People at home download music “illegally” for their own personal benefit, because they want to listen to that track. At this individual level Piracy is extremely difficult to regulate, and although immoral there is no real harm being done. If your a good enough music producer then there will always be die hard fans willing to buy your album or pay excessive prices to see you live in concert. Where regulation does come in is when someone ‘steals’ content for the purpose of economic gain. A perfect example is those dodgey $5 DVDs you buy from your corner shop then take it home and realise why the picture is so shaky and unfocused. It is for a commercial purpose and thats why companies such as LimeWire and Napster were shut down.

Copyright laws, at the moment, I think are a fairly accurate representation of societies view towards Piracy. After all that is the laws sole purpose, to reflect the values of society. Although it poses ethical questions, no one really minds if a person downloads a couple of songs to listen to on their iPod, the real issue lies when companies steal content for economic gain.



Copyright infringement:




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Infotention. defines Infotention as; “a combination of attentional disciplines and information-handling tools. It is a method for turning information overload into knowledge navigation.”

From my understanding Infotention is a pastiche of two terms, information and attention. It deals with one’s ability to filter and aggregate data so it has a purpose to a certain task or function. If the data we are filtering through is not of interest to the subject then he or she is less likely to pay attention to it and ceteris paribus. This term is becoming of exponential importance in the modern digital age, especially with the huge influx of different types of information and date we are now being exposed to via the web.  Attention has become a commodity in this age of technologic excess. It is scarce and thus has become somewhat of a valuable resource. This concept is known as the economy of attention. This is best illustrated in advertising. Advertising companies fight for our attention. In an economical sense, these companies spend millions of dollars to increase the salience and exposure of their product therefore our attention is a commodity.

There are differing levels of attention and these levels correlate directly to the information, material or data we are giving that attention too (thus infotention). The three most distinguished levels of attention are full, divided and lack of. A crude yet sufficient example of this would be a Husband who is a football fan watching the game on TV. He would obviously give the broadcast he is watching his full attention whilst his wife sitting next to him may only give it divided attention.

A detailed visual description of infotention is provided below. Please give it your full attention 😉


Kinsley, Sam (2010) ‘The Technics of Attention’, Paying Attention

Yoffe, Emily (2009) ‘Seeking: How the brain hard-wires us to love Google, Twitter, and texting. And why that’s dangerous’ Slate

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Archive Fever.

An Archive is essentially storing and organising information so it is easily accessible at a later date. Examples of archiving can be found through out history from Ancient Roman manuscripts to your itunes collection. With archiving comes a certain sense of power and authority simply because an archive has the ability to determine what information and material future generations and yourself for that matter are able to access. Archives select the most important pieces of data at any given point in time and therefore dictate which parts of history are to be documented and passed on from generation to generation.

Jacques Derrida termed the phrase ‘Archive Fever’ in what he literally meant as the inherent human condition to gather and organize information in a form of archive and then reorganize and re-gather and so on. This term, ‘Archive Fever’ is becoming exponentially more relevant in todays society than it was when it was first coined some 18 years ago. This is because the fast paced, need-to-know construct of modern society. People today want things instantaneously and easily. They don’t want to have to go through the manual and laborious task of flicking through a CD case to find their favourite track, rather they would prefer pressing a few buttons and clicking play on iTunes. So all this fever around archiving looks great, doesn’t it? People are able to organise their information, data and material far more efficiently and easily in the digital age. Think of social sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Subconsciously we are archiving our thoughts, experiences and photos on the web through these social platforms. However this then poses problems.

As Matt Ogle writes in his online article ‘Archive Fever: a love letter to the post real time web’ “Except we can’t quite, you know, do much with it yet. What he is referring to is the fact that these new digital forms of archiving such as Twitter and Facebook often dictate which parts of our personal information are important, not us the user. This poses serious questions about who really is the archivist. As Ogle states “The current philosophy underlying most of the real-time web is that if it’s not recent, it’s not important” thus defeating the purpose of an archive. However there is change on the horizon “This is what we need to change.”

With the invention of such online tools as Facebook’s Timeline, the social medium is giving the power to archive back to the user. Rather than chronologically listing information in a sequence, which disappears at the bottom of your page after merely a day of serious Facebooking, only to be retrieved by a serious of annoying clicks of the next button, Facebook now organises your photos, posts, comments and everything in between so that it can be searched easily and found instantaneously. This is where Ogle believes archiving and the fever associated with it is going;

“The past couple years have seen an increasingly beautiful array of mashups, art experiments, utilities and even a few ahead-of-their-time startups explore the latent potential in personal archives and alternatives to real-time and the relentless reverse-chronological list … These experiments are vital, and they suggest that letting us discover and interact with both the near-present and the deeper corners of our own personal archives need not be something relegated to the margins of the early-adopter web. It’s time to integrate archive mentality directly into existing products and services, and in some cases create entire new ones.”


Derrida, Jacques (1996) Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression Chicago:University of Chicago Press

Ogle, Matthew (2010) ‘Archive Fever: A love letter to the post real-time web’,, December 16

Stokes, Jon (2003) ‘Reading Notes: Archive Fever’, Ars Technica, June 27

Anon. (n.d.) ‘Derrida: Text Citations’, The Derrida the Movie web site

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An Assemblage at its simplest definition is “an assembling of elements or relations”. The concept of Assemblages is derived from Latour’s ‘ Actor Network Theory’ or ANT. One of ANT’s key concept is that of the “flat ontology” meaning no hierarchy. That is, all parts in the assemblage are equal and no one part is more important that the other.

Within the Assemblage both human and non-human actants co-exist. Drawing from the readings in a school the human actants involve human actants such as the children, the teachers, other members of staff and parents. Non-human actants in this example come by way of the class room stationery, computer equipment and even the basic table and chair set up. In this basic example both human and non human actants are interdependent on one another. In order for the assemblage to function all actants must co-exist in harmony. In terms of publishing assemblage, below is the the mindmap of ideas I came out with. Not to forget, external forces such as technology and regulations will influences it as well.

In 2006 Manuel De Landa published a book entitled: A New Philosophy of Society: Assemblage Theory and Social Complexity (ANPS). “ANPS employs Deleuze‘s theory of assemblages to posit social entities on all scales (from sub-individual to transnational) that are best analysed through their components (themselves assemblages).” When employing ANPS two axis are used to determine components of the assemblage; material – expressive axis (which roles the component will play) and the territorialising – detteritorialising axis (processes in which the component is involved). According to DeLanda, components are self-subsistent and not defined by their role in the larger assemblage. Rather a component may be swapped back and forth between different assemblages without losing its identity.

By my own admission I didn’t really align too much with these theories and found the concepts hard to grasp.


‘Actor Network Theory’, Wikipedia,

‘Actor Network Rochambeau’, any-space-whatever blog

A New Philosophy of Society: Assemblage Theory and Social Complexity’, Wikipedia, <>

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