Monthly Archives: September 2012

Longshot Magazine & TK Zine

Really, it all began with a name change: in 2010, 48HR Magazine was nearly sued for exercising what CBS believed to be an infringement of its copyright on “48 Hours”. Consequently, the name of the publication was altered to “Longshot Magazine”
Longshot Magazine’s “About” page neatly summarizes almost anything you’d want to know about a magazine that sought to be entirely created and published in a 48 hour time frame (hence the original name). The magazine allowed 24 hours of submission relevant to its predetermined theme, then used the remaining half of the time to choose what content would be allowed and to create the design of the issue. Anyone in the world was eligible to submit a work, regardless of profession, education, etc. (I believe the authors featured in the third issue received monetary compensation). As Longshot itself stated: “We want you to make it. We want to publish it first. We don’t want your rights.” This certainly ambitious and entirely new way of going about creating a magazine resulted in Issue Zero of 48HRS magazine in early 2010. Longshot Magazine also produced Issue 1 between Aug. 27-29, 2010. The following year, Issue 2 was created from July 29-31.

Alexis C. Madrigal, Sarah Rich, and Mat Honan are the people responsible for founding Longshot Magazine. In Madrigal’s article in The Atlantic, “The Almost-Free Toolkit We Use to Make Longshot Magazine”, he lists the “tools” used to produce the magazine, including Google Docs, HP’s MagCloud, Kickstarter, etc.

Joel Johnson of Gizmodo.com expressed his enthusiasm about the magazine in his article, “Making a Magazine”: “you don’t have to sit idly by and watch a bunch of writers and artists wank away at a project from afar—you can get right in there and wank alongside.”

TK Zine, according to its Tumblr page, is a “crowd-sourced, collaborative zine created by Caitlin Dewey and Kuan Luo”. In a May 2011 post on her WordPress, Caitlin Dewey announces the initial call for submissions for TK Zine, which she describes as being “inspired” by Longshot Magazine. It appears that Dewey followed the same format as Longshot, hosting a 48 hour window for submission, editing, and design. However, TK Zine was planned to include only submitted workds that were “from and about graduating seniors” (of Syracuse University, presumably).

Longshot created a magazine without using the model of traditional institution. Instead, with the creative works of members of the public, and with a small group of founding members dedicated to accomplishing their goal. Nor did they use a professional publisher. As Madrigal stated, Longshot used tools available to anyone on the internet to publish three issues of the magazine. Madrigal also pointed out that these tools were not available to use just five years prior to the publishing date of the third issue. TK Zine followed in Longshot’s example, using only crowd-sourced material to produce a publishable, collaborative work. These magazines represent new models of publishing and authorship in that the people responsible for the content also have published it. The magazine in itself has had no outside editing or approval.

As well, the authorship of these magazines are vague. Individual entries are attributed to their authors. Caitlin Dewey and Kuan Luo are responsible for the editing of TK Zine. Just whom own the “rights” to these magazines, however, is undefined.

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Shirky Chapter 3

This sudden shift in the way amateur user-generated content has challenged professional journalism is the first of what I believe will be many changes in mass media that will occur during mine or my children’s generation. Essentially, the rise of blogging and other online publishing has broken down the professional barriers of journalism. No longer must one hold a degree or two and have their work published by a large publishing company or written-word outlet to be a published author.
A downfall of this “mass amateurization” is that because anyone with an internet connection and basic grammar and typing skills can potentially become an author, that the value of the written words as a means of communicating important ideas will decrease. A blogger can either write about the current political revolution or natural disaster or war happening in their country, or start a blog about the day-to-day activities of their cat.

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Plagiarism: An Analysis

Plagiarism, as I have always been told and understood to be, is a serious violation of the code of ethics taken on by a write, especially in professional journalistic circles. I know that plagiarism is using the words of another author in your own work, either without citation, or by presenting it as your own words. In high school research papers, this issue had always been avoided by a clever re-arrangement of words. However, the column about Fareed Zakaria blurred the lines between what I thought to be acceptable paraphrasing and blatant plagiarism. Although the section of his article that has been brought up as plagiarism is not a verbatim copy, Zakaria barely endeavored to even change the order of sentences in the small paragraph. Knowing that he has been suspended from several of his positions at large media outlets, I realize that, even in my own seemingly unimportant assignments, simply paraphrasing information will not suffice.
In Jonah Lehrer’s case, he has been called out on a practice that I didn’t even know could be considered plagiarism: copying and pasting a prior work of your own into a new piece, without citing yourself, or at least acknowledging its original context. Of course, his made-up quotes from Bob Dylan are untruths and should serve to discredit him as an author of high moral standards, I did not know that bullshitting was a from of plagiarism.
Lehrer resigned from his position at the New Yorker, which begs the question: should Zakaria be called to resign from his journalistic positions as well? Do not all forms of plagiarism deserve the same scrutiny? Or are some instances less severe? For instance, Chris Anderson’s recent run-in with allegations of plagiarism have hardly affected his professional career. Because Anderson has a seemingly plausible excuse for his lack of citations, and because his publisher publicly accepted his apology, his book is still set to be released. Is this difference of punishment due to the fact that Anderson has an alibi? Perhaps the question is not whether different cases of plagiarism are more or less severe than others, but rather if the difference in backlash faced by the alleged plagiarists is acceptable.

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“Here Comes Everybody” & Wikipedia

In his first two chapters of Here Comes Everybody, Clay Shirky describes how people have been using the social media found on the internet to create groups, collaborations, break news, or organize things without the use of traditional institutions or “organizations”.

Human beings have been apt to share since the dawn of time. Through the internet, one person sharing a few photos can become an international news story. Not only can everyday people (you, me, Evan) work with the internet and “social tools” to draw awareness to a subject or recruit others with common interests to join a community, we can use that community to achieve something tangible and bigger than the sum of its parts. Wikipedia is made of hundred of thousands of entries that can be written and edited by anyone with an internet connection (and approved by the moderators, of course). It maintains its complex connections between

Bypassing the traditional “org chart” in which management oversight is trickled down through several stages of people (and in which communication is limited between these different layers), new social tools have made it possible for people to communicate ideas, news, and to collaborate much more freely and without managerial costs. As well, Wikipedia can has kept its cost of existence down considerably simply by not becoming a traditional institution. Institutions have often not ventured to pursue an activity because the cost of maintaining its managerial overhead. Wikipedia, as well as other social media are, as Shirky says himself on page 31, “altering this equation by lowering costs of coordinating group action”.

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“Organizing without Organizations” and the StolenSidekick

Clay Shirky begins the first chapter of Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations by introducing a story of Ivanna, a woman who lost her cell phone. As a reader, this nontraditional opening to a class-required educational book was confusing and irritating. I wanted to Shirky to get to the point, not make me wade through 20-odd pages of a story about some lady in NYC whose left her Sidekick in the back of a cab, had it stolen by a teenager, asked her friend to help her recover it, and subsequently recruited a mass of people from all across the country and possibly the world to join her cause.

However, there is a reason for this story to be the first thing in his book that the author wants us to read. It’s a demonstration, one of the first examples of, as Shirky puts it: “how a story can go from local to global in a heartbeat”. How did Evan form a community of thousands of people who volunteered their support, professional knowledge, time and effort to recover a stolen mobile phone?

The answer is of course, the newest and most influential change to the way we communicate, the internet. No longer must small local happenings remain relevant to only that community. Social media, social software, whatever you call it, has the potential to create an infinite amount of communities of people connected only by a common cause or belief and an internet connection. Together, any of these groups with an adequate amount of motivated people can accomplish goals far greater and faster than any single person could do by themselves. Shirky uses the StolenSidekick story to point out to readers that ordinary citizens of the world, not just corporations or other professional organizations, can come together to realize goals or accomplish tasks.

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