Author: Sam Cavanagh

Undergraduate at the University of Wollongong studying a Bachelor of Communications and Media Studies, majoring in marketing and digital media. Interests include branding and identity, social economics, and underground techno and house enterprises.

A Weibo Experience – Lucy Ronald, Sam Cavanagh and Tim Williams.

 

Sina Weibo (Pronounced way-bo) is a microblogging platform in China with over 222 Million users (Raponza, K. 2011). Weibo is the microblogging platform throughout China, holding a significant market following. The popularity of Weibo can be attributed to the 2009 Ürümqi Riots where the Chinese government blocked access to non-Chinese social platforms such as Twitter and Facebook (Blanchard, B. 2009), allowing for Chinese platforms to become centralised and capitalise on the opportunity within the market (Tong, Y. Lei, S. 2016).

14876162_10154663289964634_896535974_o

Due to study and career involvement in journalism and marketing the interest in Chinese social media was the driving factor for our digital artefact, due to the interest by western organisations in China’s expanding markets. Primarily we attempted to utilise RenRen the equivalent of Facebook, and 51.com which we struggled to graspe whether it was a gaming site or perhaps a dating site (or maybe both?). Various complications and restrictions imposed upon foreign users and organisations engagement on Chinese social platforms by the state resulted in the absent opportunity to experience RenRen.

Weibo is comparable to that of Twitter and is open to foreign engagement on the platform. However Weibo still implements strict internal censorship guidelines, such as the manual removal of any sensitive political comments with 30 per cent of censorship occurring within 5 – 30 minutes (Zhu et al. 2016). As Twitter users this was an opportunity for us to experience through our own knowledge of the western platform.  

14795887_10154663289959634_816609562_o

Our capacity as users was limited from the beginning, as all communication must be processed through Google translate prior to engagement. For example, the first interaction was translating a video of a dog:

只成精的泰迪, 当被主人嫌弃衣服太脏后, 不开心的它选择了

According to Google Translate:

‘Only into a fine Teddy, when the owner dislike clothes dirty, unhappy it chose’

Due to consuming content primarily within the Australian filter bubble, it was difficult to gauge an understanding of what topics may be trending throughout China. According to Chiu et al. (2012) China has the most active social network, with over 300 million users, all almost exclusively Chinese, engaging in Mandarin at one moment. Therefore we utilised the source ‘What’s on Weibo’ in an attempt to provide insight into how a foreign individual may interact and produce content. Furthermore, just like western platforms, we followed, commented and shared content all through the process of Google translate.

This however came to a halt when Sam’s IP address was flagged, or as we assume to be flagged, by the Sina Weibo organisation. This resulted in the freezing of the account and failing to recognise the verification number in order to retrieve the account. According to Gallo, F. T. (2012) microblogging has come under intense scrutiny by the Chinese government. While throughout Western countries we express a degree of free speech, internet censorship is widespread throughout China. However while this may be argued as a form of state control we believe that there is an underlying philosophy that influences this.

screen-shot-2016-10-23-at-2-37-48-pm

The three major schools of thought in China is Taoism, the belief in living in harmony with the Tao (the way), Confucianism, as a framework for a way of life, otherwise the importance of living in social harmony (Yao, X. 200). Finally Legalism which demonstrates the framework for the ideological and intellectual aspects of Chinese society. Legalism often is considered to be a progressive school of thought (Pines, Yuri. 2014).  

While the Chinese government enforces restrictions Weibo remains to be one of the more ‘open’ forums. Gallo, F. T. (2012) states that an unnamed Sina Executive illustrates the need for ‘balance.’ What China has done is produce a distinct response to the empowerment that the internet provides users, viewing it in a holistic manner or an organic part of society, rather than its own entity. Therefore reflecting upon the Chinese philosophies is that the reason our Weibo account was frozen, I am perceived by the Chinese state to be an entity that harms the ‘social harmony’ of Chinese society. Therefore I am unhealthy for Weibo.

References:

Blanchard, B. (2009) China tightens Web screws after Xinjiang riot, Reuters, viewed 20.10.16 <http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-xinjiang-internet-idUSTRE5651K420090706.

Chiu, C. Ip, C. Silverman, A. (2012) Understanding social media in China, Marketing and Sales Practice, McKinsey Quartley, viewed 22.10.16 <http://asia.udp.cl/Informes/2012/chinamedia.pdf>

Gallo, F. T. (2012) The Reality of Chinese Microblogging, Harvard Business Review, viewed 22.10.16 <https://hbr.org/2012/10/the-reality-of-chinese-microblogging>

Pines, Yuri. (2014) Legalism in Chinese Philosophy, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, viewed 22.10.16 <http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/chinese-legalism/#EpiLegChiHis>

Raponza, K. (2011) China’s Weibos vs US’s Twitter: And the Winner Is? Forbes, viewed 21.10.16 <http://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2011/05/17/chinas-weibos-vs-uss-twitter-and-the-winner-is/#5162494e646f>

Tong, Y. Lei, S. (2016) War of Position and Microblogging in China, Journal of Contempory China, 22:80, 292-311, viewed 24.10.16

Yao, X. (2012) An Introduction to Confucianism, Cambridge University Press, viewed 23.10.16

Zhu, T. Phipps, D. Pridgen, A. Crandall, J. R. Wallach, D. S. (2013) The Velocity of Censorship: High-Fidelity Detection of Microblog Post Deletions, Cornell University, viewed 26.10.16 <https://arxiv.org/abs/1303.0597>

Advertisements

Electronic Music: Japanese Cyberpunk and Germany’s Liberalism.

We previously discussed the concept of national philosophy and conflict influencing the structures of electronic music. This included for example societal expectations into artistic products. Upon further examination of Japanese dance music, such as artists Keita Sano and Takaaki Itoh, I believe that Japanese techno has been significantly inspired by cyberpunk. Techno has always been prevalent throughout the cyberpunk universe, however in comparison to the German dance music that I regularly consume, Japanese techno illustrates a dystopian and anarchic nature.  Japan developed into the realm of cyberpunk in the 80’s (Gibson, W. 2001), and the subsequent emergence of electronic music during the same period can draw a relationship between the two. The chaotic nature of Japanese techno is applicable to the recurring cyberpunk theme of social breakdown and conflict between institutions. This is due to the production of rapid and distorted musical structures and themes.

The cyberpunk impression can be heard by Takaaki Itoh:

Previously I stated that Kyoka, a Japanese producer and DJ (Luebs, E. 2016), argues that “the performer is seen as presenting their intellect.” In my opinion the multitude of complex layers heard throughout Japanese techno reflects this statement, as the incremental and intricate nature of achieving such work is a representation of the intellectual framework that Japanese society prides itself on (Ikeya, N. Ishikawa, H. 2001). Whereas consumption of European electronic music that swamps my personal platforms results in an experience that is a representation of the conflicting ideologies of the Cold War and the subsequent libertarian philosophies that followed. 

The sound of the grim history of Germany can be heard here by Sven Vath for example:

The liberalism can be heard by the same artist Sven Vath:

Due to personal philosophy demonstrating a mix of anarchism and liberalism, the culture of Cyberpunk in Japan and the political environment in Germany following the Cold War is encapsulating. My understanding of Japanese techno will be a reflection of teenage taste in thrash and punk. With both genres having associated anarchist culture and themes throughout, thus resulting in some degree of personal importance.

Reference: 

Ikeya, N. Ishikawa, H. (2001) The Japanese Intelligence Culture, Competitive Intelligence Review, Vol 12. John Wiley & Sons Inc. Viewed 03.09.16

Luebs, E. (2016) The shape-shifting landscape of Japan’s electronic underground, The Japan Times, viewed 03.09.16 <http://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2016/01/03/music/shape-shifting-landscape-japans-electronic-underground/#.V9oRmpN94ch&gt;

 

 

Ip Man and then we cut some シェイプ. Does emerging Japanese techno reflects the intellectual culture?

The film Ip Man, which follows the narrative of the Wing Chun Grandmaster Yip Man, opened the perspective to how current hostility between Japan and China has been a result of various historical occurrences, especially during the Second World War.  Personal interpretation of the Japanese portrayal throughout the film led to the understanding of significant partisanship throughout. Believing that the producers failed to illustrate the contrasting Japanese political environment and the role of the Japanese troops as primary antagonists. Whereas the Chinese individuals were portrayed under a ‘positive light’ throughout – it is important to note that these protagonists within the narrative are civilians. Given the thick historical attributes during that period in not only Chinese-Japanese history, but also internationally, I observed that Ip Man ultimately lapsed in its capacity to fully immerse the audience (me) into the experience. Not because of the language barrier, but due to the noted writing bias.

Retrospective thought on Ip Man is that it follows a standardised narrative structure to accommodate for a mass audience. In that the Japanese served as the primary antagonists, in addition to the history, as constructs for a profitable narrative.
Beyond Ip Man and preceding class texts,  I have decided to research into the consumption of electronic dance music such as house and techno in Japan. Beyond the genre that has emerged from Europe and the US, I acknowledge that Japanese dance producers have been absent on my personal music platforms. However as someone who uses music software and hardware, the house and techno products stemming from Germany are proficient throughout my library. In hindsight I expect that my perspective and consumption of these products will help in the understanding of Japanese electronic music.

My perspective of the German techno and house music is that it reflects the ideologies that have influenced Europe in the past century, as Techno has become the platform throughout western society for the shape cutting, drug centred cultural underground. I have observed that this is due to the development of techno music as a framework for the reunification of Berlin in 1989, using music to bridge the conflicting ideologies in Germany society (Bychawski, A. 2014). In my opinion the feel and emotion that is expressed throughout Berlin techno and house music stems of Germany’s dim history. Currently the foundation of my individual project will illustrate as to how cultural history impacts modern music.

Due to art stemming from conflict and ideologies of history, I aim to understand through personal experience of European electronic music, how Japanese techno reflects its own history and philosophy and whether the Japanese scene shares similar associations with drug use and dance music. Kyoka (Luebs, E. 2016) argues this stating that “the performer is seen as presenting their intellect.”  I assume that this philosophy is relative to the attitudes and history of Japanese society. Ikeya, N. Ishikawa, H. (2001) argues that the belief and admiration for knowledge is due to the strict regulatory systems that were prominent prior to the Meiji Era. Subsequently Japan adopted a free trade policy resulting in the scramble to catch up with Western information systems, attributing to the rapid rise in appreciation for intellect.

Here’s some journey inducing Japanese techno:

 

Reference:

Bychawski, A. (2014) The Story of How Techno Unified Post-Wall Berlin, Trump Vice, viewed 01.09.16 <https://thump.vice.com/en_uk/article/der-klang-der-familie-the-sound-of-the-family-felix-denk-interview-berlin-techno-berlin-wall-tresor-ufo&gt;

Ikeya, N. Ishikawa, H. (2001) The Japanese Intelligence Culture, Competitive Intelligence Review, Vol 12. John Wiley & Sons Inc. Viewed 03.09.16

Luebs, E. (2016) The shape-shifting landscape of Japan’s electronic underground, The Japan Times, viewed 03.09.16 <http://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2016/01/03/music/shape-shifting-landscape-japans-electronic-underground/#.V9oRmpN94ch&gt;

Sunda, M (2014) Top 10: Rising Japanese Electronic Music Producers, Red Bull Music Academy, viewed 14.09.16

 

 

 

State of Social Framing.

 

Prior analysis of State of Play demonstrated a degree societal stigma towards western gamers, and gender inequality in Korean eSports. While inequality occurs throughout western society, the traditional family role in Korean culture is still prominent comparative to personal perception within Australia. With each individual having a clearly defined role within that family unit, the male maintaining the ‘house head’ and a greater sum of inheritance going to the male spouse(s) (Sorenson, C. W. 2016). In the prior post, the lack of personal perception of the text was noted. Therefore through autoethnography personal assumptions illustrate a level of criticism towards a male-dominated industry. However it is important to note that criticism of traditional family approaches and female inequality display in State of Play, much of the deprecatory perceptions are the result of individualised libertarian philosophies. What we aim to illustrate is the critical arguments of inequality and stigmatisation is that of ‘social framing’   

Analysis of the previous autoethnography allowed for personal framework that differences between gaming, physical sport or even business is nil. In that the social stigma that the West experiences is relative to individuals and societal perceived bias and engagement with the activity. This was further demonstrated in 100 Yen: The Japanese Arcade Experience (2012) noting that gaming was perceived negatively by the American government due to association with children. If we were to breakdown these structures that produce these social activities, and the institutional and societal spheres that impact (such as gaming and physical sport for example), we can assume no distinct difference. Gaming and other activities can be deconstructed to illustrate series of individuals who form a network. These individuals, whether through this sphere or otherwise singly, then partake in activity X in a certain space that has been constructed and embellished to achieve a desired consumption relative to personal assumptions. Once this activity has been consumed to it’s absolute, these individuals and parties then progress to the next social activity.

Therefore upon watching State of Play the perspective of how gaming is ‘appropriate’ can be framed through these social constructs designed by individuals and networks within society. Subsequently the reason for the stigma within western society can relate to that lack of investment within western networks and how individuals rationalise their personal assumptions with gaming (Leeds-Hurwitz, W. 2009). Additionally we can illustrate how commerce perceptions fit into the spectrum, with the Korean adults in State of Play content with the idea that it provides support for the family unity. Whereas the opportunity to sustain oneself in Western gaming, while growing is still limited.

Reference:

100 Yen: The Japanese Arcade Experience (2012), viewed 22.08.16

Leeds-Hurwitz, W. (2009). Social construction of reality, Encyclopedia of communication theory, viewed 23.08.16

Sorenson, C. W. (2016) The Value and Meaning of the Korean Family, Asia Society, viewed 18.08.16 <http://asiasociety.org/education/value-and-meaning-korean-family>

State of Gender Representation

Western society illustrates a level of social stigma associated with video games. Such social stigma can be demonstrated through personalised experiences noted by autoethnography, such as family suggesting that one should ‘step away and go outside.’ That of media and institutional stigma towards individuals who play violent video games, employs a slanted association between societal violence and gaming. As a result of western categorisation we are left with a conceived image of gamers as social outcasts, contrast to how State of Play perceives Korean gamers as public figures. Additionally State of Play demonstrates comparisons to that of western gender representation throughout the gaming industry.

From a western perspective, Arnott, J. (2009) states that ‘for non-gamers there is something distasteful about a grown man investing time and energy into a seemingly unproductive activity.’ This was illustrated in State of Play in the form of older family members interrogating Jaedong about employment through gaming. While Arnott demonstrates the stigma associated with gamers he also underpins another noted throughout State of Play, the lack of gender representation association with certain recreation. This was prominent with female participants positioned as spectators, with traditional gender roles consistent. We can draw comparisons of such payment and participant equality in western sports and eSports, with female income significantly lesser than male income throughout the sporting industry. Gender representation isn’t limited purely to employment and income, but in the environment of the game itself, with Ubisoft stating that female protagonists in the Assassin’s Creed series would be difficult and costly (Gittleson, K. 2014).

Retrospective experience of live and digital sporting events within Australia, State of Play allows for comparison of such inequality, in that media representation and investment is limited for female participants and that male participants are displayed as communal and national idols. We can compare a western perspective of certain Australian sportsman to that of Jaedong, with varying personalities, but attributed as hero’s through sporting and appearance. This is illustrated through the bearing of gifts and post game interviews, with female consumers initial support for Jaedong occurring through the ‘love of his eyes.’ Additionally Kim Shee-Yoon, the first female Starcraft pro was selected due to not only skill level, but appearance as well (Chambers, B. 2011). The sexualisation of female sporting professionals is seemingly prominent for corporate sponsorship, with the American Lingerie Football League in the U.S for example.

Applying autoethnography to that of State of Play allows for the reflection of how gender portrayal in certain spheres is similar across various cultures. Additionally that of the social stigma of western gaming is absent throughout Korean eSports.