The Mini Mac Saga

At the time of writing this post, Australia is fairly content with the size of its burgers, especially in the wake of portion control and the awareness of obesity rates. Such was not the case back in 2010 however, and one YouTuber would inadvertently set off a powder-keg of opinions and revelations.

People were more concerned about the staggering downsizing affecting a majority of food products on the Australian market, with the fast food industry standing as the main target for shaming. This focus by the populace was only intensified when Leo Henry uploaded the following video to his YouTube account leokimvideo.

The video went viral immediately after its upload on April 23rd 2010, and currently sits on 280,000 views. In less than 2 months of being uploaded to YouTube, the video was featured by Today Tonight on a report on the downsizing of fast food.

Mr Henry became the poster boy for proof that McDonald’s at least were cheating customers with secretly downsized products, although his original video makes no accusation against the McDonald’s Corporation, but rather presents facts and reconstructed footage in order to inform an audience and allow them to make their own educated conclusions on the matter.

The video’s publication on YouTube’s platform was paramount in ensuring that it was publicly available for people to view. Despite being experienced in the Australian and international film industries, Leo Henry had no connections or prior credibility in regards to journalism. His only option when investigating and publicising his work was to make it available on the internet, with YouTube the optimal video platform to choose, due to Mr Henry’s pre-existing following and the sites substantial general audience.

While he cannot be solely classified as a citizen journalist, there are many examples on Mr Henry’s channel of Citizen Journalism, defined by Oxford Dictionaries as The collection, dissemination, and analysis of news and information by the general public, especially by means of the Internet” and it is inarguable that Leo Henry has contributed to this trend with his work. His BIG MAC Super Shrink Me video was the first comprehensive investigation into the size of Big Mac burgers made publicly available to inform the population and was the catalyst into further investigations by mainstream media. Consequently, he has continued to uploaded similar videos as recently as 3 weeks prior to the publication of this post.

The Concept of Citizen Journalism cannot be discussed without also discussing Media Convergence, which is defined by the Australian Government as The interlinking of computing and ICTs, communication networks, and media content that has occurred with the development and popularisation of the Internet, and the convergent products, services and activities that have emerged in the digital media space. This concept is at the heart of the video, and all of Leo Henry’s other investigative videos, and is vital in understanding why this video became so popular. Through the lens of Media Convergence we can understand that the video served not only as the catalyst to a wider investigation, but initiated and participated in a dialogue between the greater populace.

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Utopian Fantasy – The Internet of Things

Kermit

The Internet of things refers to the phenomena in which various items and products are given new operations through connectivity to the internet. These devices become data catchers of every day life and operate at optimal performance for their user. There is just one problem… most people simply won’t have access to the infrastructure necessary to make such a utopia happen.

While it would be wonderful to know that one day I will come home and my various household appliances will greet me hello, it’s hard to imagine that world knowing the energy crisis we face as a species already, and the fact that in Australia we still have laughably bad internet services (despite what the government and cooperating businesses would have you believe).

So I look forward to that day of a digital Utopia, but we have some very analog problems to overcome first to make it happen.

Welcome to the Dark Side

cybercrime

I’ve always advocated the internet as the ultimate platform for personal freedom in the modern world. That the risks associated with being active online were far outweighed by the potential benefits for society.

It seems I was naive in my thinking. There are not just hackers using cybercrimes for personal benefits and making millions of dollars in an underground industry worth potentially billions of dollars, but we have governments using these technologies to manipulate social media and various online forums so that it appears particular agendas are correct and entire worldly events can be swept under the carpet at will. Buzz destroying Woody’s childish optimism never seemed so poignant. Its okay Woody, I too feel like a toy.

Hacktivism as Activism, not Terrorism

Hacktivism

As a kid I was always terrified of hackers. I wasn’t even sure what it was about them that scared me, but from an early age I had it drilled into my head that these were bad people. As I got older I began to see the argument; that these people don’t understand the risk to national security and undermine the integrity of governments. Obviously Hacktivists target more than just governments, but this is what I saw a lot as a kid and understand the most. It wasn’t until the Julian Assange sage that I begun to question this notion. If these people were so smart and skilled, why would they do something so dumb? The truth is what they are doing isn’t so dumb, all they are fighting for is the freedom of information, and heartless gatekeepers make them out to be petty hackers than the activists they are.

Tools to Enhance

Revolutions

I’ve always been a big fan of social media. Most people in my family despise it. The truth is they don’t see the purpose for them outside of social utilities. These platforms were not seen as vital for society, just fun distractions. I spoke in my last post about how much of a fan I am of the freedom of information and how vital it is in our society. Little did I realise how important that idea would be for this post. Social media sites have always aimed to bring people together and widen communication, and various political movements have utilised this idea and taken it to the next extreme; to rally entire cultures of people together for revolutions, and even making it impossible for censorship of content to occur.

Stronger Together

Bridge made of pebbles

I grew up wanting to be a journalist. but as time went on I quickly reelised that a traditional Journalist job was not the job for me. Quite simply, there seemed to be the elitist mentality that permiated from many journalistic environments, or at least from legacy journalists. These people saw themselves as the gatekeepers of truth and knowledge, a power that should never be held by a select few. And the idea of the bridge made of pebbles is the perfect ideology to help bring down these self appointed gatekeepers down a peg. The media often shared across digital platforms is raw and can be critically analysed by every viewer, creating greater clarity and truth in reporting. Reporting and sharing information should be the responsibility of all people, and its nice to have behaviour finally head that way.

Just Two more Companies

Apple vs android

I always grew up believing that by having an Android phone and never really owning anything more than an iPod from Apple that I had rose above the barbarian scum who gave into the Appleverse and had arisen as an elite smartphone user. ANDROID IS OPEN SOURCE! IT HAS TO BE BETTER THAN APPLE. Of course this mentality was not founded in truth. The truth is that both of these OS have there reasons for being the way they are. It has nothing to do with the freedom of the user and everything to do with business philosophies. Neither of these companies are really good or evil, they are just 2 alternatives in the mobile internet. Balancing each other out and providing to equally valid options for consumers.

This is not the Internet anymore

iFeudalism

Hopefully I don’t offend anyone with that image, but it seems poignant to me. This is not the internet anymore; at least no the free internet that so many people fell in love with. We have moved into a world where the once free migrating content that was being shared across the world is suddenly all wrapped in our “walled gardens”. Suddenly we can’t just share whatever we want, even if we were the ones who originally curated the content, due to copyright and other censorship’s these media platforms force us to abide by if we want to remain a part of their space. I can’ share a video of that goal I saw scored because even though I filmed it the rights for the event belong to someone else. The internet was a free place once, but it feels like we are headed towards a fascist internet controlled by gatekeepers.

The Long Awaited World

drake

The idea of the long tail effect is one that I have essentially fallen in love with instantly. Growing up as a bit of an outsider (not even fitting in so much as a typical nerd) meant that I rarely related to popular media forms and various products. The internet’s role as the catalyst for moving away from popularity to niche markets through the minimization of production and distribution costs excites me greatly. I love quirky and weird little things, and the thought of having convenient access to all of these quirky things would have seemed too good to me growing up as a kid. Now no one has to conform to mediums, everyone gets to have what they love.

What’s Hidden? Youth Matters

You’d be forgiven for thinking the term “Youth Matters” is a general term for helping the youth, or some exclamation that our young people are really important. But Youth Matters, while incorporating these things, actually stands for so much more. It is the name of the Youth organisation run by the local Salesian parish of Saint John Bosco in Engadine; a quiet little suburb in the deep south of the Sutherland Shire.

Local Youth Minister Matthew Humphreys explained, “Youth Matters is there to support young people in life and in faith, to provide opportunities and experiences for them to develop in.”

In an age where the Catholic church and Youth relations are strained at best, this unique little community has provided a safe environment for young people to explore their faith and learn what it means to be a Christian in an engaging and meaningful way. Youth Matters is one of many ministries run by the Bosco Parish, who employ Mr Humphreys as the Youth Minister as well as his two assistant Youth Ministers. What makes Youth Matters unique however is the independence they are allowed to operate with as a part of the Parish.

“Calling it a subsidiary sounds too cold,” remarked assistant Youth Minister Jackson Taylor, “Its more like a member of this larger Parish family that we have.”

“I think what makes Youth Matters special is its Salesian background. The Salesians are an order of Priests and other religious advocates with a particular charism for young people. They have a very particular way that they reach out to young people, particularly a big focus on presence. They are very present to young people in a genuine way that makes them feel treasured. They make a choice to befriend and walk beside young people, trying very much not to be an authoritative kind of leadership, or dictating what young people do, but journeying with them and trying to understand them and being there for them, whilst also being a leader at the same time.” All of this is being said by Mr Humphreys while trying not to be too distracted by his son. As we are finishing his son runs over and starts shooting us with a toy gun.

“Maybe to sum it up I’ll give you one of my favourite quotes” He continues “It comes from Saint John Bosco himself; ‘it is not enough to love young people, they must know they are loved’ – I think that really sums up what we are about here”

You could see from the way he looked at his son this is a belief Matt and his team live out, and it shows in every single person who walks through their doors.

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