Module 6: Storify

Storify Article: http://storify.com/as09em/the-story-behind-the-plastic-bag

Plastic bags have impacts on wildlife, natural scenery and waste management but the alternatives the policy is encouraging are not much better. Alternatives such as paper bags, biodegraded plastic bags, or cotton fabric bags are far from being good alternatives because of costs associated with them and additional environmental impact they are proven to have. The original policy intent was to obviously reduce waste and pollution that plastic bags were contributing to. The idea of reducing plastic bags and using reusable or cotton bags sounds superficially attractive when thinking about the environment. However studies have shown that the policy is in fact having an opposite effect. The policy has lowered the use of plastic bags but is encouraging alternatives that are just as detrimental to the environment. When limiting plastic bags consumers have no choice but to find alternatives to replace the plastics bags, which as the study shows are not a much better choice. The policy is encouraging the use of alternative bags that pose a danger to the environment as well as human health. For example cloth bags are a popular alternative especially for consumers doing groceries. These bags are shown to be much more at risk of being contaminated than plastic bags.                                                                                                                                                       This blog post will focus on the problems associated with plastic bags when it comes to the environment and human health. A Plastic bag is a type of packaging made from thin and flexible plastic film. Plastic bags are most commonly used in retail by consumers for transporting goods such as groceries, books, and clothes. The most common arguments used against plastic bags are that plastic bags pollute the air and water, and pose a significant litter problem that results in clogging of lakes, rivers, and oceans. In order to combat this problem the governments around the world have introduced a plastic bag policy imitative. The plastic bag policy is a public policy initiative implemented for the purpose of limiting the use of plastic grocery bags in order to sustain a healthier environment. The links I have added to the Storify article all support my argument. Most of the links I have posted are opinions pieces shared by individuals around the world. The links posted on the Storify article all recognize the negative impacts plastic bags have on the environment and also recognize the need for change.

By evaluating the policy and the outcomes it has had on the environment it is reasonable to conclude that this policy has been ineffective. Alternatives such as paper bags, biodegraded plastic bags, or cotton fabric bags are far from being good alternatives because of costs mentioned above. The studies presented in this paper indicate that the plastic bag policy initiatives have had an opposite effect on the environment. The policy that was intended to reduce plastic bag use is encouraging the use of alternatives that also have detrimental effects on the environment. In an effort to help the environment the plastic bag policy can be considered useful only if the policy aims to substitute plastic bags with more environmentally friendly alternatives. In other words, for the plastic bag policy to be effective the policy must be designed so that consumers are not encouraged to use alternatives that pose just as much of a threat to the environment. And the plastic bag policy in Canada has failed to do just that.

Module 6 Summative Blog Post : Citizen Journalism- Negative or Positive?

I’m glad we agree that social media has in fact transformed the journalism industry. In my previous posts I tried to cover both the negative and positive effects that this transformation has had in the journalism industry. However after reading the comments below it seems that I have left out some important negative effects the change has had. McGip has pointed out that the word restriction on twitter for 140 characters makes it hard to provide an accurate news story. This makes sense because usually in a news report there are many details covered which makes it really hard to transfer into a 140 character twitter post. With word limitations it makes it difficult for a citizen journalist to share a news story which includes all the information and actually facts. I agree that the word limitation but a constraint on the way the news story is delivered on twitter but just to play devil’s advocate what about quality over quantity? Does it really matter how long or short a news story is? You can argue that regardless of the length of the post, if the quality of the information in the post is good then there is nothing wrong with it. Short and sweet, it seems like that’s what we all prefer these days. The example blogger Stephanielavelle gave about the reaction over twitter when the Egypt crisis first began is something I also remember. Citizens were tweeting and posting about what was going on which is what initially caught the media’s attention. This again like Stephanielavelle says allowed for real time information.  The twitter uproar about the events caused a heated debate over twitter among thousands of people worldwide. Even though accuracy is a major problem with websites like Facebook, and Twitter, they are still very much appreciated because its allows for expressing public and individual opinions because there are no restrictions.

 

Module 6: Its Social Media Yo!

The article for module 6 discuss the impacts that social media has had on  the Journalism industry. From my personal understanding I think that Social Media has in a way expanded the means of journalism. Social media has opened new ways for information sharing between all members of our society.  AS a result the average citizen now has the ability to post current news updates on social media sites.   Therefore  introducing a new style in citizen engagement. Friedman describes this trend as “new media … with active citizen participation and news selection” (p. 63).Social media websites like twitter and Facebook started off with the purpose of connecting you with friends and family. However now we are able to keep up with news, economy and politics on the sites like Facebook and twitter. On twitter for example I follow @Cp24 which is a local news station that regularly tweets about current news. This for me has been so convenient and has helped me stay updated with what’s going on around me. As said in the Hermida article, “by 2010, all but one of the top 198 newspapers and TV stations in the United States had an official Twitter account”. This goes to show how many newspapers are relaying on social media outlets like twitter to reach an audience and connect with citizens.

Without a doubt we as a society relay on journalism to keep ourselves informed about what’s going on around us. But with our busy schedules it’s hard to sit down and actually read a newspaper or watch the 6’oclock news every day. Social media has provided a solution for this problem especially twitter. On twitter you can see news updates regularly on your phone with just a click of a button, it’s really that easy. And all the news updates are under 150 characters long. It’s the shortest and quickest way to keep yourself informed. However for that same reason credibility and accountability becomes a concern. Watching news stories unfold on Twitter is much different than just catching it on the 6 o’clock news.  On twitter for example people post information immediately so they can be the first but sometimes without credible sources backing them up.  With the number of people on Twitter, inaccurate information can take just minutes to reach thousands. It’s important to note here what Hermida says in the article in terms of what’s most important “journalists determine the truth, accuracy, or validity of news events”.

 

Hermida, A. (2012). TWEETS AND TRUTH: Journalism as a discipline of collaborative verificationJournalism Practice. 6:5-6, p659-668

Friedman, S. M. (2011). Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima: An analysis of traditional and new media coverage of nuclear accidents and radiationBulletin Of The Atomic Scientists, 67(5), 55-65.

Module 5 Major Blog Post/ Podcast: Evaluating the Plastic Bag Policy

Podcast: http://soundcloud.com/as09em/sounds-from-friday-afternoon

Passage
“The Crusade Against Plastic Bags “By: Kenneth Green and Elizabeth DeMeo
Published by the Frasier Institute

Green, Kenneth P., and Elizabeth DeMeo. “The Crusade against Plastic Bags.” Fraserinstitute.org, 2013.Web.
.

“Environmental activists note the production and decomposition of plastic bags emits greenhouse gases and other pollutants at every stage of a plastic bag’s life (New York Times, 2007). This, however, tells less than half of the story, as most analyses of bag impacts don’t consider the costs and benefits of plastic bags relative to alternatives.
A study released in 2011 by the Environmental Agency of England helps put environmental impact claims in perspective. In Evidence: Life Cycle Assessment of Supermarket Carrier Bags, researchers offer a “cradle-to-grave” review of seven different types of grocery store bags: conventional lightweight plastic bags; plastic bags treated with a chemical to speed its degradation; a lightweight bag made from a biodegradable starch-polyester blend; a regular paper bag; a heavy-duty “bag for life” made from low density polyethylene (LDPE); a heavier duty polypropylene bag; and a cotton bag (Edwards and Meyhoff Fry, 2011).
The researchers compared the environmental damage done by the bags using a number of indicators of environmental impact, including global warming potential, acidification, eutrophication, human toxicity, and others. They found that the conventional plastic bag had the lowest environmental impact of the lightweight bags in eight out of nine impact categories and that biodegradable plastic bags had even larger environmental impacts than the regular kind. Paper bags performed poorly on the environmental impact tests, and the study found that they must also be used four or more times to match the global warming potential of the plastic bags. In sum, cotton bags were found to have a greater environmental impact than the conventional bags in seven of nine categories, even when used 173 times—the number of times needed for its global warming potential to be on par with that of a plastic bag.”

My Discussion

In this podcast I will discuss the effectiveness of reducing the environmental impact of consumers by evaluating the policies for plastic bag reduction. Plastic bags have been proven to have an impact on wildlife, natural scenery and waste management. However the alternatives the policy is encouraging are not much better. Alternatives such as paper bags, biodegraded plastic bags, or cotton fabric bags are far from being good alternatives because of costs associated with them and additional environmental impact they are proven to have.

Globalization has opened up the policy window in local governments for environmental policy issues to reach the political agenda. In North America alone I’ve seen several initiatives implemented to protect and sustain the environment for a better future. In the last couple of years the Plastic Bag Policy has been a popular policy being implemented in many cities across the world in an effort to limit the uses of plastic bags. In order to combat this problem the Canadian government introduced a plastic bag policy imitative. Here in Canada, provinces including Alberta, BC, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and PEI have taken a variety of steps to limit plastic bag usage.

The plastic bag policy is a public policy imitative implemented for the purpose of limiting the use of plastic grocery bags in order to sustain a healthy environment (Bank, 2008).The policy’s main intent is to lower the use of plastic bags by encouraging the use of biodegradable, reusable or cotton bags. But how effective has the policy really been? In order to evaluate the policy it’s important to look at the five main initiatives that have been introduced by the government to lower the use of plastic bags by consumers.
“Life Cycle Assessment for Three Types of Grocery Bags – Recyclable Plastic; Compostable, Biodegradable Plastic; and Recycled, Recyclable Paper”. In this study standard plastic bags were found to have a significantly lower environmental impact than thirty percent recycled content paper bags and compostable plastic bag. These study results support the conclusion that the plastic bag policy has been ineffective because the costs are seen to outweigh the intended benefits of the policy. Plastic bag reduction initiatives have proven to be counterproductive causing significant increases in environmental impacts across a number of categories from global warming effects to water resources. The report also showed that replacing plastic grocery bags with either paper or compostable plastic grocery bags actually increase the emission of greenhouse gases thus contributing to global warming concerns Global warming is considered to be a serious environmental problem and the plastic bag policy initiatives were implemented to help combat these problems. I think that before the implementation of the policy it should have been taken into consideration what environmental impact the alternative bags would essentially have on the environment.

By evaluating the policy and the outcomes it has had on the environment it is reasonable to conclude that this policy has been ineffective. Alternatives such as paper bags, biodegraded plastic bags, or cotton fabric bags are far from being good alternatives because of costs mentioned earlier. The studies presented in this paper indicate that the plastic bag policy initiatives have had an opposite effect on the environment. The policy that was intended to reduce plastic bag use is encouraging the use of alternatives that also have detrimental effects on the environment. In an effort to help the environment the plastic bag policy can be considered useful only if the policy aims to substitute plastic bags with more environmentally friendly alternatives. In other words, for the plastic bag policy to be effective the policy must be designed so that consumers are not encouraged to use alternatives that pose just as much of a threat to the environment. And the plastic bag policy in Canada has failed to do just that.

 

Module 5 Summative Blog Post: Piracy From a Business, Legal, and Consumer Perspective

I’m glad everyone agreed with my analogy of Piracy being a cancerous disease spreading through the recording industry. It only makes sense with decline of sales that we all have observed. Accessing music by buying albums or record and then playing them in our homes or cars is outdated. The new way of accessing music via the internet is convenient, free and easily accessible. There are so many benefits with downloading music from software’s like Limewire that it almost overpowers the one weakness, which is its legality. Illegally downloading music is obviously wrong we all agree with that but the overall benefits we experience by doing so are tempting, making it hard to refrain from doing so. I found it interesting that we all understand the illegality of downloading music but still choose to do so. For instance when you’re driving we follow the speed limit signs because by law we are suppose to. We follow these laws out of fear of getting a ticket, which in this circumstance is a form of punishment. Should downloading music illegally be a punishable offence? Is that too extreme? Piracy is wrong so why not? McGip comments that “Remixing is like an arm or a leg, it is a part of a generation of Internet users”, I don’t think I could have said it any better. This is what is and will continue to happen on the internet as a way of expression and as a new form of hi-tech art. I think the problem the government and business have to address now is how we can find a middle ground. How can we encourage creativity and innovation with preserving our copyright and piracy laws? This week’s topic was definitely interesting. It made me think about the issue from a legal, business and consumer perspective. In order to conquer this problem all three perspectives should be taken into consideration as they are all stakeholders. 

Module 5 Initial blog post: Piracy vs. The Recording Industry

Piracy is like a cancerous disease spreading through the recording industry in full force. Piracy is believed to be the main reason behind the decline in sales within in the recording industry especially in the music sector.  In the Ted Talk by Larry Lessig he does a pretty good job with explaining that today’s culture is more about sharing and remixing already existing content. Consumers or in online terms “users”, are most interested in taking existing content and adding their own touch to it.  The youth especially has more of an interest in making their own versions of products, which already exist, and putting a creative spin on it. Its almost like taking something old and making it new again. Lessig also argues that although this is a form of creativity to remix these already existing files, it also restricts creativity because it is still not original or created by the user themselves. I completely agree with him. When we can easily take a developed product and technology and just change it up a bit to update it, we are then less likely to want to try and develop new technology. It definitely does discourage and limit innovative progress and development.

I know it’s easier said than done but I feel that the recording industry needs to take a step back and reevaluate things. The industry itself is on the verge of extinction because or piracy therefore should be willing to change.  To conquer the current problem of piracy I would suggest member of the industry to really look at the situation from the consumer’s perspective and really understand what the consumer wants and needs. This business strategy might seem selfless at first but at the end of the day the industry is run on consumers and without them they are nothing. The problem consumers have with purchasing licensed content is that is expensive. Right now consumers are able to access documents and files at no cost to them and with so much convenience. Access to content has obviously changed and in turn has affected the general public’s opinion of copyright laws.  We see this problem more predominantly in the music sector. Like Steinmetz K. and Tunnel K. argue these companies need to realize that consumers download music for four main reasons which are  “(1) to share culture/content, (2) to sample, (3) the inability to afford content and (4) to undermine the current copyright regime”. Buying a music album in the store can cost between $15-$20. The mentality consumers have is that why spending $20 when you can download it for free online. Everyone knows it’s illegal to download music like that but we all do it. I personally don’t know anyone that doesn’t. The only thing I can think of that the music industry can do to preserve copyright laws is to make their products more accessible and affordable. Lowering the price might encourage consumers to actually buy the album. I think the new initiative music companies have started with selling songs or albums on iTunes is a good step in the right direction.

Attack of the Plastic Bags- A Debate

This is the first video I have ever made so bare with me! This is a short video outlining the debate between using and not using plastic bags. Both sides of the argument are portrayed but the arguments against using plastic bags is emphasized. Information in this video is very informative and definitely worth the watch! Enjoy.

Module 4 Summative Blog Post: Copyright is a Producers Insurance!

After reading the comments on my last post I was glad to see my peers to appreciate YouTube for the same reasons I do. It seems there is generally a positive connotation associated with everything YouTube related. Like Mcgip’s it is also hard for me to come to terms with and comprehend the idea of an “online identity”.  But this my friend is reality; we need to have some form o of online identity whether it be through Facebook, email or YouTube. It is most definitely a strange concept but like Mannovich says “People build their worlds and identities out of these readily available objects by using different tactics”. I liked that kb09ky played devil’s advocate, thank you it’s always needed and appreciated. She brought up that some individuals may argue that what is put on YouTube is sometimes controversial or inappropriate. This can definitely be true but I do not think that this overpowers all the benefits YouTube has given us. Just like in real life we filter through things and decide what we like, dislike, agree with or disagree with. YouTube just presents a visual representation of reality.  We have the option of watching whatever video we choose, it’s in our hands no one is forcing us to watch something out of our comfort zone. We enter YouTube with consent!  
My peers also agree that copyrighting restricts people from posting and creating what they want but argue that it might be a good thing. Everyone needs a little privacy! Copy Right Laws form a protective shield around work or ideas, keeping them fresh and original. That’s what society appreciates. Nobody likes something that’s copied, repetitive and or plagiarized. It’s looked down upon in society; this is something we discussed in last week’s topic of Wikipedia. The reason there is a negative connotation attached with Wikipedia is not because it is deemed to be secondary research information that it not reliable nor is it accountable information. With copyright laws, people who contribute to different forms of literature are in a way left vulnerable. Their work is left in open to be copied or plagiarized without their consent and that’s not fair. When you buy a house or car, you want to buy insurance to protect it by having some sort of security. Copyright is producers insurance! With copyright producers are able to protect the work that they have put their blood and sweat into.
 

Module 4 Initial blog: Finding a Common Ground

The online community is growing faster than expected.  Hilderbrand explains in his article how YouTube has grown to become a majorly popular site for audiences to come and view videos and  share all types of information (Hilderbrand, 2007). I completely agree and believe that YouTube has in a sense formed an online community on its own. Communication is made possible through media outlets like YouTube. YouTube serves as a platform for individuals around the world to watch post and also comment on video of all types of genres. In my opinion it’s bringing everyone closer together.  YouTube connects you with others and therefore allows easy communication which is why there is an active audience on YouTube. In Toby Millers article he’s argues that when a community has an active and participating audience it makes it easier to understand and interpret the existing communities online. YouTube allows for everyone to execute their interests and essentially choose their own “community” to which they can contribute.  After watching “Everything is a Remix” by Kirby Ferguson, It really helped me understand how  all media is so different but is rooted from the same concept or idea. And I’ve come to the conclusion that this concept and idea is formed around our need to be “free”. YouTube has allowed us to be free and express our  cultures, ideas, thoughts and opinions But copyright laws  have in a way restricted our freedom online. In this day and age there are different type of copyright law that serves different purposes. These are needed to protect our opinions and ideas from being taken advantage of. Online communities of producers and consumers with new media work have made it hard to get past copyright laws in order to build accessible cultural commons. There seems to be a constant tug of war between producers and consumers who are pursuing creative endeavors with the producer’s content. This tug of war is bound to become more relaxed when they realize there is much more to gain from cooperation and collaboration. The incorporation allows users to more freely edit and remix videos. I know that YouTube has also provided for easy licensing of uploaded videos which makes content sharing more accessible to users of the site. For example now it is possible to access a YouTube video through Facebook and even send a YouTube link through email.

Hilderbrand, L. (2007). Youtube: Where Cultural Memory and Copyright Converge. Film Quarterly. Vol. 61, No. 1,  48-57.

Miller, T. (2004) A view from a fossil. International Journal Of Cultural Studies, 7(1), 55-65.

Module 3 Op-ed Piece

doneEverything on Wikipedia is open for criticism. In this day and age anything you publish whether it be online or in a book, is only considered valid and reliable if it is properly sourced. On Wikipedia some of the information posted at times does not have a credible source to verify the information which ends up making it less reliable. However this most definitely does not mean that nothing on Wikipedia is ever sourced, it would be wrong to say that. There have been numerous Wikipedia pages that I have come across that have information properly sourced. And upon checking some of these sources, I was surprised to see that some were even scholarly articles.

When searching for a Wikipedia page on Canada’s Plastic Bag Policy, it was quite easy. There seems to be a lot of information and different opinions about this topic on Wikipedia. I narrowed my search down to one specific page titled “Plastic Bags”. Based on the article itself and also the ‘Talk’ section of the page it seems clear that the information provided has been carefully referenced and reviewed by multiple Wikipedia editors. The talk page definitely adds to the authenticity of the site in general. The open discussion on the editing and publishing process on the site essentially can reassure users that the information is reviewed and reliable. In the ‘talk’ section there have been numerous people who have critiqued different parts of the article. The editors have in turn provided useful and verifiable information to address their concerns. 

From reading the “talk page” it is clear that this article contained bias information. The information on the page favoured one particular type of biodegradable plastic. The article failed to mention any disadvantages this type of plastic might pose to the environment or human health. A few comments mention the key word of this article being at times “bias,” which indicate that they share different opinions then one another. However editors have tried to eliminate this bias by including different alternatives to plastic bags rather than just focusing on biodegradable bags. Under the talk page there are numerous posts and comments concerning the bias nature of the page. The changes or edits made herein have been made to clear the bias and balance the argument. Additional edits made to the page were based on facts and not opinions. The facts and statistics were sourced from credible sources which assured me of the authenticity.

 The comments on the Talk page also refer to the fact that the Plastic Bag page on Wikipedia lack specific dates and statistics. Comments state that the writers should also add specific historical dates to the information. One commenter suggests that the text from the webpage has been pulled straight from a website. He or she also makes it a point to state that some citing and backing up of facts and figures mentioned would vastly improve the article. This specific Wikipedia page had links to some sources that were not accessible. There were however a couple of sources that were scholarly articles from academic institutions. I personally would like to see links to proper and accessible sources. If sourcing is done properly then dates and statistics can be added. Without proper links verifying the information the dates and statistics are surely going to be doubted by readers. The links provide the Wikipedia users with a second source to confirm and verify the information stated on the page.

As Jenson states in his article, Wikipedia is one of the most, if not the most, popular information sources for history and all other forms of Internet accessible information (Jenson, 2012). This is the exact reason why Wikipedia is so controversial yet so popular. Wikipedia loaded with basic and primary information for any given topic. The articles are short in length and straight to the point. Wikipedia is extremely user friendly, you can go in find what you need and essentially be out of there within seconds .The reason for the growing popularity of this free encyclopedia is because of the ease of accessibility. Users are able to quickly find general information about a topic they might know nothing about. However the problem most people have with Wikipedia is its reliability. The fact that anyone can change or alter information on a webpage makes Wikipedia less reliable and trustworthy in the eyes of the public. Anyone has the permission to edit entries and this is because of a, as Jenson explains, slim structure and a set of written rules for editing and publishing information. (Jenson, 2012). However its important to remind you what Giles discovered in her analysis of both Britannica and Wikipedia. In the article titled “Internet encyclopedias go head to head” Giles explained an experiment that was done where 42 submissions on the same topic were looked at from both Britannica and Wikipedia, and the mistakes that were found in both were considerably equal. There was an average about 4 mistakes in Wikipedia and around 3 mistakes found in Britannica (Giles, 2005). This really surprised me because we all consider Britannica to be a reliable and trustworthy source.  This leaves us with the question of whether we are being too critical of Wikipedia?  

Jensen, R. (2012). Military History on the Electronic Frontier: Wikipedia Fights the War of 1812. Journal of Military History. 76, 1. pp 1165-1182

Links to Peer Bloggers

http://environest.wordpress.com/2013/05/24/wikipedia-takes-up-less-space-on-my-desk/

http://mcgip.wordpress.com/2013/05/27/wikipedia-the-unreliable-encyclopedia/

http://jdibiase18.wordpress.com/2013/05/23/wikipedia-should-we-or-should-we-not-use-it/