Friday, December 7, 2007

Final Assignment - Essay

Does the anonymity and ease of use of new communication technology make people act in ways that they would not act in their day-to-day lives – does this freedom induce Cyber-bullying?

With the advent of new communication technologies, comes the likelihood that they can and will be exploited for purposes other than that which they were intended to do. New communication technologies like mobile telephones have gone from being equipment of the elite in the 90’s to an essential item today. They have changed the boundaries between work and home; people are no longer tied down to a fixed phone line (Beaton & Wajcman, 2004). Today the mobile phone is a boon to parents who need to communicate with their children when they are not home, as well as children being able to call home. Personal computers and the internet have further opened up communication where millions of people are able to communicate with anyone, anywhere in the world. They do this by email, instant messaging programs, join social networks like MySpace and Facebook, blogging and taking part in interactive games such as Second Life and World of Warcraft. With these technologies, people have control over their identity and can remain anonymous if they desire. This anonymity gives people the avenue to behave in ways they would not in everyday living, or real life, as opposed to virtual life.

The term ‘cyber-bullying’ was coined by Bill Belsey a teacher working for the Canadian government. Cyber-bullying has emerged as a new form of bullying and harassment. Bullying is defined as an overbearing person or persons, who habitually bother, badger, intimidate smaller or weaker people. The definition of cyber-bully is aggression that occurs through new communication technological devices, specifically the internet and mobile telephones. (Slonje & Smith, 2007) Cyber-bullying has a number of features which differ from the traditional form of bullying. One is the difficulty of getting away from the bullying. In traditional forms of school bullying once the victim got home they were away from the bullying until the next day, with cyber-bullying the victim may continue to receive text messages or email wherever they are 24hours of the day, 7 days a week.

An Australian study conducted by the Queensland University of Technology, surveyed 120 public school students in Year 8 in Brisbane. Over a quarter said they knew someone who had been bullied by text messaging. Of the students studied 11% identified themselves as cyber bullies and 14% identified as targets (Campbell, 2005). Targets of mobile phone bullying usually suffer in silence and because they carry their mobiles wherever they go they are a perpetual target for victimization. There are no censors to monitor information coming to their mobile phones. If the victim does not report the bullying to anyone they suffer in silence. These young people who suffer in silence often do not realise that there are avenues they can pursue to stop the bullying. Their telephone provider can trace the number where the messages come from, but not necessarily the owner of the mobile because now anyone can buy a prepaid mobile telephone. Examples of bullying by mobile phone messaging litter the internet and one particular incident is the story of a student in Japan called Makoto which is typical of mobile phone bullying all over the world. Makoto was almost driven to suicide by the text messaging, photo messaging and prank calls. When Makoto stopped going to school, his tormenters continued to send messages and prank call his mobile. He became anorexic and rarely emerged from his room for about 6 months, he did not tell anyone about the bullying until it had stopped. In Japan 96 percent of high school students have their own mobile and common forms of bullying are sending pictures showing the victims’ genitals to classmates (Davis, 2007)

Communication technology is constantly changing and that means the avenues and nature of bullying are evolving. Young people have the ability to take photos, doctor them, post them on websites, and email hundreds of people to advertise the website. They can do this anonymously. The bullying is most common amongst 11 to 16 year olds and according to a survey conducted by Girlfriend magazine in 2006 where they surveyed 13,300 female teens and found that 42% of respondents said they had been bullied online or buy mobile phone (as cited by Bauman Ph.D, 2007).

An incident that received huge publicity all over the world was about a film made by a 15 year old boy from Canada where he was emulating a Star Wars fight. Classmates got hold of this film and posted it on and millions of people downloaded it. (Campbell, 2005) The child had to withstand chants at school “Star Wars Kid! Star Wars Kid!” and he became a worldwide object of ridicule. The boys who put the film on the internet thought it would be an interesting prank, another student who did not even know the original film uploaders took the film and created a website and posted the video on it (Ha Tu Thanh, 2006) This is an example of how communication technology has changed our world. Once, if you were bullied in the school yard, it usually was a localised problem and you could go home and escape. If the bullied person reported the problem, parents and authorities were called in to intervene. The child could change schools to get away. Today it is a different case as illustrated by the case of the “Star Wars Kid” he became the butt of jokes all over the world in a matter of hours. Another example of viral viewing and global bullying is the email spreading around the world where a young asian boy’s face had been superimposed on movie stars, politicians, Mount Rushmore and the Mona Lisa. Qian Zhijun also known as ‘Little Fatty’, was very upset about what had happened with his photograph, especially when it was superimposed on porn stars, or naked women. At the time, Qian’s mother wanted to take legal action but the problem was that she did not know who to sue. Qian has since taken control and now uses his fame from this to make money (Coonan, 2006).

Cyber bullying is not only restricted to school age children; there are cases of workplace bullying which does not greatly differ from school yard bullying. The perpetrators, under the cover of anonymity, may share images of the individual being bullied in humiliating and offensive poses, for example the persons face photoshoped to appear in a pornographic image or where the original photo has been changed by adding other elements. Another example is where supervisors who aim to correct an individual, but email a copy to everyone in the office. An Australian legal firm was caught up in a nightmare when two secretaries were sacked because of an email fight, the emails were forwarded to outside companies and spread around the country. It started when one sent a global email about her missing lunch and from the replies it deteriorated into a slanging match between the two women (McIlveen & Scala, 2005)

SecondLife is not safe from bullies either. Griefers are common on the site where they invade conferences with flying penises, and plaster obsenities and racist materials over the scenery. The idea of SecondLife being a free place to live your second life is said to be under attack by these griefers but it is the money makers who are worried because it can affect their revenue and so are turning to real world courts to settle disputes. An example of a griefer and their comments “I trolled, spammed, and overloaded in the 25+ burning life sims and crashed a lot of them before getting IP banned by Linden” (HierPower, 2007). This is an example of bullying, obviously this young person wanted to disrupt the over 25’s and show that his knowledge was far superior. Griefers can be individuals or organised groups such as the Patriotic Nigras who plaster buildings with virtual faeces, send flying genitalia and other offensive things around Second Life. The Patriotic Nigras – Ruining your SecondLife since 2006 is a group that sets out to destroy Second Life (Patriotic Nigras, 2006)

The legal world is where the real world and the virtual world meet and it is increasing with law suits coming to the courts for cyber bullying; ruining cyber property, which has been destroyed by the griefers, to the case of “Star Wars Kid” who took the people who originally posted the video to court and won. There is also the case of US teenager Megan Meier, a 13 year old, who committed suicide by hanging herself as a result of a harrassment she received on her MySpace site. The person who harassed her was a neighbour and mother of one of her friends. The mother said she was just checking out if Megan was going to say anything nasty about her daughter. The mother created a persona of a 16 year old boy who pretended to be interested in her and just before Megan committed suicide Josh sent her a message telling her that he would not see her anymore and told Megan the “world would be a better place without her” (AssociatedPress, 2007). Criminal charges could not be made there were no statutes to allow them to charge anyone in the case. The case was taken to the US federal authorities where they said no federal crime was committed because there was no proof that communication was made to harass, disturb or frighten. The parents of the child who was incidently too young to have a MySpace account are working towards changes in the legal system.

Due to the transient nature of the Internet and rapid advances in communication technology, adults often lag behind young people in the use and understanding of these forms of communication. Usually young people do not feel comfortable about telling parents or other authority figures about being victimized because they are frightened that their access to the Internet and mobile phones will be taken away from them. Young people are early adopters of anything new finding ways around any legal issues, learning ways to gain better access and even learning to abuse the system. The United States Government has started the “Stop Bullying Now” campaign which is used to educate people on how to handle cyber bullying. Another program called “Ctrl Alt Delete” is a musical campaign to show the truth about cyber bullying and its consequences. The teaching unions in Britain have also launched a campaign to combat cyber bullying of children and teachers with the support of mobile phone companies and sites such as Bebo, MySpace and YouTube. At home, the Australian government is trying to put procedures in place which offer advice and information about potential problems and dangers on the internet through the use of the newly initiated NetAlert system (Australian Government, 2007).

The nature of cyber bullying makes it hard to prosecute because of the anonymity. This brings us to the very basic level of freedom of speech. Do we want governments to legislate to put in place internet surveillance, and practices that watch what everyone is doing online, or have laws where ISP’s have to report any misconduct? Is that what we are asking for – a cyber democracy where the governments have control over content and free speech? On one hand, we want the freedom to say and do what we want. However, we also want the protection of governments. If we are to have our way in both cases, some happy medium needs to be obtained. One that protects our civil liberties. Governments cannot control the internet but can control the access to it from country borders. Where do we draw the line on what governments determine is right for us to have access to? Whatever happens, careful discussions in open forums need to be pursued so that communication technology can advance without harming the individuals who created and use it.

AssociatedPress. (2007, December 4). No Charges in MySpace suicide case. Retrieved December 6, 2007, from Brisbane Times:

AustralianGovernment. (n.d.). Protecting Australian Families Online. Retrieved December 6, 2007, from Australian Government NetAlert:

Bauman Ph.D, S. (2007). Cyber-Bullying: A virtual message. Melbourne, Australia.

Beaton, D. J., & Wajcman, P. J. (2004). The Impact of the Mobile Telephone in Australia.

Campbell, M. A. (2005). Cyber bullying: An old problem in a new guise? Australian Journal of Guidance and Counselling , 15 (1), 68-76.

Coonan, C. (2006, November 16). The Independent. Retrieved December 3, 2007, from Independent News:

Davis, Z. (2007). Cyber Bullies on the Prowl. CIO Insight.

Ha Tu Thanh. (2006, April 7). Star Wars Kid cuts a deal with his tormentors. Retrieved December 4, 2007, from

HierPower. (2007, September 29). Burning Life's fire got put out. Retrieved December 6, 2007, from mefeedia - Your friends, your media, your network:

McIlveen, L., & Scala, M. (2005, September 8). Secretaries sacked after cyber brawl. Retrieved December 5, 2007, from,10117,16528158-1242,00.html

PatrioticNigras. (2006). A storm brews. Retrieved December 6, 2007, from Patriotic Nigras:

Slonje, R., & Smith, P. K. (2007). Cyberbullying: Another main type of bullying? Scandinavian Journal of Psychology .

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Day 10…..Goodbye – Good luck to everyone

I certainly enjoyed the last 10 days. I got more out of my 2 summer courses than I have out of the other 6 I had done this year. Thank you Adam for making the course so interesting, and opening up my world. Good luck for your near future as Dr Adam Muir.

I am finding it hard to devote too much time to my blog because I am trying to finish my website. I don’t recommend that anyone does 2 summer semester courses in 10 days. The work is full on and not much time to get it in.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Technology - creates a "Brave New World"

A very apt quote began the lecture today “They were so obsessed with the fact that they could do it, they forgot to consider whether they should” – from Jurassic Park.

First (electronic) Media Age – centralised dissemination. Anyone could communicate with a minimum of technical and financial resources. Once source to many receivers.
Second (electronic) Media Age – decentralised interaction - The internet has made it possible to communicate with large audiences. We are no longer restricted to the telephone. Many sources to many receivers.

We also looked at the theme of how technology can give us a “Utopia” or create a “Dystopia”. I am a Star Trek fan and so would certainly welcome a Utopian future like Star Trek where humans had evolved to overcome their petty squabbles, where everyone had their basic needs met and be free to search the universe and as Captain Jean-Luc Picard said in the opening credits of Star Trek – The Next Generation – “Space... The final frontier...These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: To explore strange new worlds...To seek out new life; new civilisations...To boldly go where no one has gone before!"

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains…Jean Jacques Rousseau.

I s that what has happened to the internet? Was the internet born free? Can a democracy exist over the internet? Do governments have control over content? What happens to national borders?

The internet may have been free of any major constraints in the beginning but now the growing influence of commercialism is expanding exponentially and the internet is the new frontier to conquer, where people can set up shop and make their million.

Our freedom has been short-lived – not by the regulation of government on our rights to free speech. We scream out at the top of our collective voices about governments controlling the internet, curtailing free speech and the spying on our internet usage by monitoring the flow of information coming in and out of our countries. Yet we do not scream at the top of our voices, or stamp our feet about the commercialisation of the internet. We embrace it!!

How many of us are bombarded with emails from people or companies trying to sell pornography, penis enlargers and any number of money making scams. We have to have firewalls, antivirus scanners, spam filters etc or when I visit a web site only to have my computer monitor invaded with popups from companies trying to sell me stuff.
Is it our freedom to choose? I don"t think so…..

Tutorial Task – day 8

1. Given the conventional wisdom that traditional media are still the dominant form for getting "news" out to the world, do you think the internet will affect the audience for those old media?
Not will affect, it has already affected the old media. I don’t sit down in the morning with my cup of coffee and read the newspaper, I sit down at my computer and click through the headline and read the news online. Many people are now in the position to do this.
2. Check out the local IndyMedia website. What kind of news is there, and do you think a website like that has a place in your life?
It was a very interesting website and I have bookmarked it to add to my daily news routine. When I get up I go make a cuppa, sit down at the computer and read the ABC news, then look over a couple of other news sites, answer my email.
3. Do you think the internet is (was?) an effective tool for politicians to reach out to their intended audience?
I am not sure. During the last election campaign. I didn’t watch any television only listened to ABC Radio and read the news on the internet. I did not go to Youtube to look at John Howard, or Kevin Rudd’s short films. I received heaps of junk snail mail from the local member and the different parties. I think the internet would be more effective, especially we can choose what we wish to read or listen to. Unfortunately people who do not have access to the internet or who can’t read and write are stuck to watching the television or listening to the radio for their information.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


See me;
I am the musical note C

Play me, feel me,

Let my energy enter into you

Mingle with your energy, tap your soul.
I can change your mood, high C, Low C, Middle C
I am there for you in times of sadness, fear, happiness.
I create the images,
you can feel me,
Feel me, see me, hear me

I am C

I create colours, visions, I am the music of the universe,
I am sound.
I travel slower than the speed of light
There is a reason for this:
It is for you to feel me, as well as hear me
You cannot feel a photon, only see it
But with me, you can feel me

I do not give up on life, because I am slower that the more dynamic light.
No, I am determined
Insinuating myself into your lives
I surround you
Stop and listen to the sounds around you
I am the vibrations, the humming of the refrigerator
The washing machine, the computer.
I am the songs of the song writers, music writers,
Bad voices, good voices.
When you feel down,
Stop and listen
You will hear me calling you

Don’t wait for me, you can mould me
Play with me.
Learn about me
Even the gifted need to learn
Learn how to manipulate me, I am here for you
For free
You see
I am C

We are the sounds and are waiting for you to use us
Success or failure, we will not criticize
We love you, we were made for you to feel us and hear us
I take my bow and wait for you in antiCipation

What is Electronic Music???

Is it music that is created by electronic instruments like synthesizer music, electric guitars, electronic keyboards or turntables. Or is it computer software generated music from Cakewalk, Finale or Sibelius. Or is electronic music the media that transports the music to us like computers, Hifi’s, radios, cds, and iPods. Or is it the file formats that we use to store the music on our computers, iPods, cds like mp3, midi, wav, wma, mp4, Odg Vorbis, Flac,APE. It could also be the genre of music Techno, Electro, Dance, Trance, House, Ambient. Electronic music could also be the sounds of machines in our environment, the blood swooshing through our veins, our heart beat all powered by electronic impulses travelling about our nervous system.

Richard Stallman - What can Individuals do?

That was my question - what can I do an an individual. I found a Youtube movie with the answers. Thank you Richard.