Assessment Blog!

Well, this blog is due to day. It’s not perfect. But it is… what it is. To be honest, I’ll be glad to see it go. If/when I ever try starting a blog, it would certainly not be on the subject of net communications. It might touch on google wars, apple vs. android, the decline of microsoft, the intrigues of facebook every now and then. But not the way that this did.  I’d be one of the massess giving a haze of unresearched general opinion, and I’d be pleased to be so. For a while. Then i’d get bored, and quit. It wouldn’t be a tool for managing the self. It would be a tool for procrastinating the self. Like this post right now is, actually. I have about 25 windows full of research open right now. I’m ignoring them for a little.

This doesn't really do it justice, but here's a screenshot from my laptop right now

so what will my last EVER post be about?
… Well, I’m going to muse on<a href=”Hershberg (1995), “Anatomy of a Controversy – Anatoly F. Dobrynin’s Meeting with Robert F. Kennedy”, The Cold War International History Project Bulletin, Issue 5, sourced 3/6/11, “> social networking and why it’s so popular.
Many newspapers will talk about twitter, youtube, even facebook status updates as everyones secret desire for a little celebrity. No link for that. I read it in the paper ages ago. I don’t think that’s true. My father questions the validity of social interaction which doesn’t happen in person, but online. He has a point – I don’t think that a human relationship should be confined to online interaction. However, what happens online is absolutely real. The awesome conversation, or the hurt when someone ‘blocks’ you, the totally major step in a relationship when you become ‘facebook official’, the jealousy when somebody posts all the time on someone elses wall, but never on yours, the poke wars you have with peoples.  It’s all real. It influences relationships with people, it influences how you feel about yourself. and the problem is, when you cannot see the other persons reaction, it is difficult to know when you’ve gone too far, difficult to realise that people might be upset or jealous. See below clip for fun and arj barker in a mildly relevent comedy sketch.

http://www.tubechop.com/watch/172406

Evolutionary Pscyhology says that social networking could be the new way to form more relationships – an upgrade not unlike Monkeys grooming to humans talking. Even adjusting privacy settings tells us who is close and closer. So we really do need to sort out a way to be rid of, or at least adjust to, possible misunderstandings, if social networking is to survive in its current form. One way we’re currently doing this is to share very little real information on social networks. While privacy settings are generally quite low, it is considered inappropriate ettiquette to share too much online. SO even while people decry the end of privacy,  people are finding ways to deal with the social networking effects on their life. I think most studies now, because they are being done by people who have not grown up with the technology, have difficulty evaluating the dynamic. It’s not that big a deal for my generation. We just do it.

Update: I found submitting the work awfully unpleasant. Mostly because the instructions were written with bolded and capitalised text thorughout to exaggerate important points. But it felt to me like I was being shouted at.
Kinda says something about how much time I spend online

Finding it harder to make up topics for the compulsory 15 blogs. I have 3 assignments due within three days. In the first week of exam period. So this is not easy for me to do. So.
What I’ve been using a lot lately is google books, online. Because going to an actual library means leaving my comfy house with chocolate and beer and tracksuit pants. And I thought the copyright issue is interesting. For the books I use, I can only read 10%, and then it will shut me down. Very frustrating for my research, but legally sound.

But there was a lot of controvery surrounding the whole deal at one point.  Google is liberal with scanning out-of-copyright books, and no-one can object. But what about those that are out of print, but not out of copyright? I mean, it’s good people can read even a portion of these now difficult-to-find books, and if they’re out of print, then who exactly is losing profits?

One of the main problems was the Google was using an ‘opt-out‘ system, in which they were scanning books from a selection of libraries, and authors had to demand their publication was not included, rather than ask that it was.

Google defends itself in this website, quoting a number of people supporting them. For example,

Cameron Stracher: “The lawsuit filed by publishers against Google over its plans to scan millions of books is both shortsighted and legally flawed. Google doesn’t propose to scan books and then make them available for free. It intends to scan them in order to make them searchable over the Internet and available for purchase. It’s hard to see how authors or publishers can lose. Millions of obscure(d) books get a second life, while publishers retain the ability to make money. So go ahead, make my day: Google me.”

On the whole, I don’t understand what the issue is .Google is in fact providing an excellent and free marketing tool for out of print texts – publishers and authors should be making money from this. But that’s after several lawsuits and settlements. Maybe originally it was a more flawed concept. I don’t know.

my heart is not in this.I’m going to have a nap.

At least one of the most interesting things about this subject was actually learning what nice catchwords like ‘web 2.0’ and ‘interactive’ and ‘the long tail’ is. Just to clarify

web 2.0 – newer generation of internet web pages which focus on user-generated content and ‘interactive’ activities. Somehow, the meaning of ‘Web 2.0’ has been a little lost, and we have more of a vague sense of ‘social networking and stuff… y’know. Like, erm, Facebook and shit?’ rather than a clear definition. Since it is now mainly used as a buzzword, that is not actually so wrong. Web 2.0 is the latest interactive fad. So I include a nice diagram of general web 2.0 attitudes. Because I think in pictures.

What I get from this is that web 2.0 is about harnessing the users collective work and directing it towards a particular area per site. It seems a good business model to me, as one doesn’t have to constantly work to provide new entertainment – the users will do that themselves. Sites instead simply provides a designated area with designated rules to work within, so that people can find the type ofuser-generated content reasonably easily. eg. Youtube is videos. Facebook is social connection. Flickr is photos. 4Chan is…. scary.

The Long Tail – After the few core hugely visited sites, we have a loooong tail of less visited sites. These sites can be very successul, but only a very few sit in the head of the long tail. According to this recent record of the top 1000 visited sites (as compiled by google) ,the top 10 websites attracted 42% of unique visitors. However, to sit in the top 100, you have to have at least 22 million

The Top 1000 sites, according to http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/2010/jul/06/graph-top-1000-websites-long-tail-internet, really does prove the long tail is a thing.

It’s nice to have proof, don’t you think?

The stuff at the ‘head’ tend to be very generic, all-in websites. Facebook, Wikipedia, youtube, etc. The further into the tail we get, the more audience-specific the website is likely to be. I would list some of those, but I’ve not heard of many/any. So you can check it out yourself. This applies to pretty much every region of the internet.
Theories that the long tail would not apply on the internet as there is no limited shelf space forcing one product to replace another have proved to be false so far. People do have limited attention, limited time and limited amounts of information they can absorb.

Interactivity -As far as jargon is concerned – ‘interactivity‘ is allowing the user to generate content, comment on content, click around links, play and redesign, etc. They are made very aware of the fact they are somehow influencing the content and culture of the site, if just a little. Or at the very least, follow links and so on to make you more aware of ‘delving’ into the site, and having a relationship with it.

I actually really enjoyed the reading that we had on this by Gane and Beer. They tell us that interactivity is always present – to read a book, one must imagine characters, infer scenes, etc. To view a painting or picture, one infers story, tries to imagine outside the frame, etc. To watch a movie, one must follow story, take visual and audio cues, etc. Some argue that things like books, photos, movies etc. are more interactive that ‘interactivity on the web, as the user must fill in more. They are just not made as aware of it, as is purposefully done in internet and computer media. That’s one argument.
I think it’s interesting.

I have no picture for this. So here’s another picture of the long tail, except with a dinosaur!!! 😀

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/2010/jul/06/graph-top-1000-websites-long-tail-internet

A) Medosch argues that: “CC does not pay any attention at all to the issue of an economic model for supporting cultural production” (Reader, page 315).

Discuss [this] arguments while giving an example online.

I was just rick rolled. It made me smile. Even though it’s annoying and distracting and immature and unnecessary and so passe and done I sorta love it. It’s just a funny little piece of internet culture. Oh? What’s that I just said? CULTURE. What I mean by that is go have intercourse with yourself Medosch, you pretentious poopybum.This is one of those really annoying readings where you can actually hear the tone they’re writing in, and it’s holier-than-thou twaddle. On the whole. Even if it a perfectly valid perspective with correct and right and true arguments, I strongly dislike this person.  They’re an ego-centric nincompoop who seems to think their work and opinions are invaluable to society. Cultural values and products are, more often than not, made by somebody or a group of somebodies who thinks ‘I can haz cheezburger?’ is bleedin’ classic. Not idiots like Medosch.

http://s618.photobucket.com/albums/tt267/JamboLeelan/?action=view&current=i-can-has-cheezburger.jpg&newest=1

Hilarious.

Shall I get on to being valid now?

Obviously, I deliberately misinterpret Medosch in that little above exerpt. The point stands, but Medosch does say that he refers to ‘the professional… who has devoted her or his whole life [to the production of cultural and digital content]’ (pg. 76). I simply do not beleive this is correct, either.The majority of blogs I have scene which are created profesionally or semi-profesionally do use creative commons, and don’t seem to have issues. While the Creative Commons provides many license options, some less workable as an economic model than others, the license which is most viable for artists wishing to make money with their workis the ‘Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives’ license . It’s used by a variety of bloggers and internet published writers and artists. This option does not allow people to alter the production or use it for commercial purposes.Bloggers then make their money through ad-click revenue, donations, and merchandise. Furthermore, if someone wishes to use their work commercially, the blogger is payed.

The fact is, downloading and file-sharing is widely done by anyone even mildly tech-savvy, and within youth culture, acceptable. This seems to me simply a realistic portrayal and official acknowledgement of what really largely happens for a great deal of creative work when the creator doesn’t press charges for people who download it. This option means that people can enjoy the product, as long as they are not profiting from your work.

However, many artists may be more comfortable keeping all their rights reserveswith the option of waving rights, even if they are open to the idea of free sharing of their work, rather than only reserving ‘some’ rights, and losing the option of not granting permission for another to use their work (McGivern).

The issue Medosch has with this, the most limited model, is that an artist does need an income, and this ‘free distrubution’ model could potentially mean such a professional does not make enough/any money from their product. An artist who cannot charge people for the right to perform their work or would lose potential customers to buy/read/listen to/enjoy their creation may lose inscentive to create as they cannot support themselves.  There are a number of issues which limit freedom of the creator even as it allows more freedom to those who wish to enjoy the work.

I offer no solution. I don’t support current copyright laws in America which restrict use of the work for up to 120 years, which just seems a recipe for limiting potential creativity and losing value of culture as is not permitted to go through some steps necessary to keep things relevant. Nor do I agree with any model that could mean artists cannot support themselves sufficiently with their work.  I think work should be widely and freely distributed, if possible. But I understand that could mean a large financial loss for the creator,even as they gain popularity.

I talk more about Piracy and the Creative Commons in other posts. Read those.

Medosch 2008, ‘Pain in Full: Copyright, Piracy and the Real Currency of Cultural Production’ in Deptforth. TV Diaries II: Pirate Strategies, London: Depforth TV, found in the Media and Communication Subject Reader, 314-326

Gordon-Murnane 2010, ‘Creative Commons: Copyright Tools for the 21st Century’, Online, Vol. 34 Issue 1, p. 18-21, <http://ehis.ebscohost.com.ezp.lib.unimelb.edu.au/ehost/detail?sid=f67bd7ba-dd65-4336-8aa0-d0b32856c01b%40sessionmgr14&vid=1&hid=6&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=iih&AN=48218623&gt;

McGivern 2007, ‘Common Understanding’, ASCAP, sources 1/6/11, <http://www.ascap.com/playback/2007/fall/features/creative_commons_licensing.aspx&gt;

Burgess and Green argue that: ordinary people who become celebrities through their own creative efforts “remain within the system of celebrity native to, and controlled by, the mass media” (Reader, page 269).

Discuss, giving an example of a YouTube video (embed it into post)

Youtube. Rock. this is not a good thing for me to write on, because it gives me an excuse to procrastinate (watching this kitty stalk the hamster is TOTES part of my study) and my house is already disturbingly close to going over our monthly download limit.

Actually, to be honest, I’m not big on youtube culture. I’ve had restricted internet for too much of my life to have any attachment to it. So my example shall be perhaps the most famous/successful example in the brief history of youtube – Justin Bieber.

There are lots of other perfectly viable options, but he’s the most notorious example, and people (or at least I) often forget he started off as a youtube bedroom singer. I will discuss his work as a serious pop star, and avoid bringing up the internet meme of ‘lesbians who look like Justin Bieber‘. Oops. Sorry.

First of all,I must justify this as an example. Burgess and Green hold that there is a difference between a yotube ‘celebrity’ and a youtube ‘star’, a ‘star’ being someone who is able to make money or even a career from youtube fame, and are actively participating in youtube culture by creating more videos (pg. 270). Celebrities, on the other hand, don’t. While they and their video(s) may become famous, they are often not ‘liked’, and often don’t produce more than one popular video. Bieber is somewhere between the two.  I personally believe that celebrity and stardom are far too intertwingled (that is an awesome word and I thank this subject, Nelson and Berners-Lee for bringing it into my life) to be clearly defined or separated. You can see in Bieber’s ‘Baby’ clip, as posted below, that more people seem to ‘dislike’ than ‘like’ him.But on to the main argument.

Bieber is an example of a youtube star who is well and truly embedded in the system of celebrity native to and controlled by the mainstream media.Bieber tells the story of how this happened here

As can be watched, Bieber began as a regular poster on youtube. He entered talent competitions and sung in malls and all the usual schtick, but was ‘discovered‘ through the popularity of his youtube videos. His success has since been measured almost entirely by mainstream measures, such as the sales of his since released albums, his new(ish) documentary of his 2010 concert tour, called ‘never say never’, and his overwhelming appearance in mainstream media such as magazine covers, news stories, etc. The fact that the video ‘baby’ is now the most watched youtube video of all time demonstrates that, while youtube fame is desirable, it is an aspect of fame which is extremely supported by more traditional media, and has been adopted and incorporated into more traditional methods of celebrity. They both interact with each other – Bieber would not likely have been ‘discovered’ without youtube, and his video would not have been so widely watched without mainstream media.


I would like to add – this was an exceptional case. More exceptional – Rebecca Black. Poooor Rebecca Black. well. Rich Rebecca Black. This is a possibly better example of ‘going viral’. She is now the most disliked video on youtube. People came to love her song for its awfulness, then hate it for people going on about how they love how awful it is within a matter of days. Within a week, she was old news. Her video defines what youtube can do – in a bad way.

Ok. enough with examples. Lets get down to business.While youtube does currently still operate within the system of fame and celebrity as established by traditional mass media, and many people’s successes are defined or exaggerated by their relation with this mainstream media, I doubt this will be forever.

There are already people making money from their youtube films. Content providers are paid 55% of advertisement  click revenue (google keeps 45%). In many ways, this means that youtube as a whole is becoming more like mass media in order to maintain a sustainable business model, in which people continue to post quality videos, and google makes money from it for being permitted to place ads on the page of popular videos. Sounds somewhat like television. In other ways, youtube (for the stars) is becoming more like television. They have regular subscribers who watch their ‘chanel’, they update on a regular basis – what effectively happens is a low-budget television show which is broadcast by youtube for free. If you want to make money from it, youtube gets to as well. The more viewers the video has, the more likely it will earn adclick revenue.

This ameteur, low-budget broadcasting is highly related to current mass media, both in model and in basis of fame. People will produce content free of charge, leading to a low risk business model for google.This is not ‘controlled’ by mass media anymore (although it is highly assisted by it, as Bieber shows). But it certainly is native to mass media celebrity-dom. Were we expecting any different? Mass Media has to transition to the internet – my generation uses tvs and newspapers less and less. Youtube is just a facet of that

Humphreys and Kozinets 2oo9, ‘The Construction of Value in Attention Economies’, Advances in Consumer Research, Vol. 39, found 1/6/11 <http://www.acrwebsite.org/volumes/v36/NAACR_vol36_87.pdf&gt;

Burgess and Green 2009, ‘Youtube and the Mainstream Media’, in YouTube: Online and Participatory Culture, Cambridge:Polity Press, pp.15-37 in Subject Reader ‘Media and Communications’, pp. 264-278

Also, quick plug for a choir my brother has recently joined – this is ‘Australian Voices’ promotional video, which is ON YOUTUBE about FACEBOOK! So it even kinda relates

WIKILEAKS! WIKILEAKS! WIKILEAKS!

It’s time for another ‘I don’t feel like writing a full proper post that will get maked down for poor spelling and poo language and po structure. Po structure being like ‘no structure’. Actually, I just wanted to continue the pattern. Before I got started on skimming the surface of the wikileaks debate, I thought I’d try and endear myself to you by showing you a picture I drew in computer-crayon

I had a no-mark-shall-be-deleted policy, so some of the pictures get a little crazy

That’s me (looking a little crazy, for some reason) on the farm. My parents have promised they’ll be buying ducklings, so they’re following me around hoping to get food. The kitty isn’t using the ducks as food because it’s a ghost cat. See the ethereal markings surrounding him? I actually drew him before remembering my parents had him put down while I was away… so… that was a bit sad. The sun has a face and sunglasses because that’s how I used to draw suns when I was a kid. He may be flaming hot, but he’s a cool dude.

Yeah. So. that was constructive.

Wikileaks. Well, the major controversy has been over for a while now, but It’s still an interesting little case study. I will try and ignore the irritating, arrogant and generally unlikable Julian Assange and instead focus on the action of the institution, ‘wikileaks’. Which may be difficult, since media attention and perhaps the format of the institution itself make it very difficult to seperate the two. It is hard to know the latter, because Wikileaks has, somewhat hypocritically, been very opaque in how it is structured. As we gather, people submit information. A group of hacker/geek/political activist/writer volunteers edit and fact check. Then they post on the website, Wikileaks, and release to more mainstrea media companies the information they have. Usually papers and companies regarded as ‘left wing’. There is definately a political agenda going on, even if you just take is as face value desire for more free speech and open government.

I personally am damn glad that such an organisation exists. I don’t really like Assange, I don’t like how they have chosen sensationalism, but if that’s how they need to get attention to what they’re saying, then so be it. Although, I would think with the content they’re releasing, it hardly needs to be such a circus.

I loathe the reaction. Companies who get political, like visa and mastercard, and the somewhat lawless, disrespectful ‘anonymous’ getting involved to defend assange – it really distracts away from the importance of the information. It needs to be known what is done at war time. Some of the information released may be a security risk, and  that should not be released – I’ll be honest, I’m not really sure. I haven’t read. But others, like the collateral murder video – that’s just wrong. and the US government shouldn’t have reacted how they did for their deservedly bad PR over it. So, they’re actually punishing Bradley Manning, the guy that released the information more than the people who committed the murders. Which is disgusting.

This isn’t really about net communications so much I guess. The wikileaks story couldn’t have been possible with reliance on tech to store information, and hacking abilities, hacking culture from the 80’s and 90’s, etc. But the real emotional impact is in what was released, rather than how. and the reaction.

My crayon drawing seems so trite now.

Lovink (Reader, page 219) argues that bloggers are creative nihilists “who celebrate the death of centralized meaning structures and ignore the accusation that they would only produce noise”. Discuss [this argument] giving an example of a blog…

The only blogs I bother reading regularly are the ones with amusing pictures.Think  ‘hyperbole and a half’. So I don’t feel very qualified… but regardless

Lovink discusses this perceived nihilism from both sides, and seems to settle on the idea that ‘just because you can blog doesn’t mean you should’. Not a direct quote from him.  Or maybe I’m projecting my own opinion? The way I percieve this – he discusses that blogs are largely  ‘hastily written personal musings, sculptured around a link or an event. In most cases, bloggers simply do not have the time, skills, and the financial means to do proper research… what ordinary blogs create is a dense cloud of impressions around a topic’ (pg 212) Blogs are therefore rarely more than a reaction to already produced news presented by traditional, organised media structures rather than creating, discovering or reporting news in a way that subverts centralized meaning structures.

Furthermore, Lovink argues against the idea that blogs are a competitor to mainstream media with the beleif that blogs are predominately opinion and self-realization rather than news and social concerns, and says that ‘the more one knows about [the] meta level…the more dispirited one can become about its overall direction” (pg. 225). And as we all know,  one usually meaning ‘I’ in such contexts. He then goes on to quote Carr – “in the end we’re left with nothing more than ‘the flat noise of opinion’ – Socrates nightmare’ (pg. 225).

The popular 'outsider' view of blogging, brought to you by http://fapit.net/v/1258/blogging.jpg.html

Because of this, and because so many people write blogs which remain mostly unread (like this one) ,blogging is for the majority, a  personal exercise. While meaningful to the individual, and perhaps to readers who feel they have a connection to the writer, it is a largely pointless exercise. Liao, Liu and Pi find that, amoung the 117 bloggers surveyed, most bloggers found it unlikely that any extrinsic rewards would occur, and found intrinsic value, rewards and motivation more important because they were more likely to occur. In this sense, bloggers are very aware of there position rather than try and gain popular following, the bloggers surveyed used their blogs as a social tool to communicate with people they already knew (pg 11). Given this study occured in Taiwan, it is possible that there is a different mentality in internet and blogging culture. However, I will assume a universality in feeling. It is certainly the motivation the bloggers I know admit to. Lovink all but dismisses this social scene because of the one-to-many structure and the difficulty for equal discussion(pg. 218). This dismissal makes little sense to me, since a community does exist, regardless of his statements of worthlessness becuase of homogenity and poor format.

According to the blog ‘Sandhill Trek‘  who lists 36 bloggers reasons for blogging, including his own, a large number of bloggers to begin in order to meet people, most often other bloggers who they admire. I notice he has 0 followers, and yet writes a lengthy post with interesting content. Nihilstic? Hardly. I’m using it. Anyway. This result supports the findings in Liao, Liu and Pi’s studies. Bloggers also site trying to find their voice, a desire to share their experiences, to pass the time, to be famous, to make money, to have the freedom to publish what [they] want without censor, because ‘I’m a writer’ (said so often it needs to be in quotation marks… these people seem to have a compulsion to write), to express themselves, and many more along similar lines. each of these answers are from hardened bloggers who do seem to find it a near spiritual experience. A lot of them also can’t seem to give a concise answer. Almost none of them answered ‘to compete with mainstream media’. Seth Finkelstine gave one of the most concise, general and readable answers, and therefore my favourite –

Short Answer: “To be heard”

In my view, there are three regimes, roughly:  One, few, many.

“One” == Diaries. Some people keep their diary on-line, and don’t mind if others read it.

“Few” == Socializing, chatting. The intended audience is close friends, and events only of interest to that circle.

“Many” == Punditry. The goal is to reach as many people as possible with your ideas.

These categories aren’t strict walls, but are general aims.

It is important to consider why bloggers blog to know if it is a creatively nihilstic act. Very few seemed at all interested in ‘celebrating the death of centralized meaning structures’, instead being more anxious to feed of such meaning structures for their own personal reasons, usuallysimply the desire to write, or the desire to participate in a community.

So. From the perspective of wider media, blogging is a nihistic exercise, which is often acknowledged by bloggers themselves. Most blogs have a very narrow audience, if any, and do wholly express common opinions about news which is already widely known. The best that can be hoped for is to do it in an entertaining way that lots of people want to read. When bloggers manage to make money,even if what they’re saying is just a wave of impressions, it means other people are enjoying it. andI think very few can consider nihilistic unless they are against the capitalism and/or rehashing anything that was ever done previously.

will I get in trouble for the swear in this...? blame http://sandhill.typepad.com/sandhill_trek/2004/11/why_do_we_blog.html

Meanwhile, we have the blogosphere community, about which which Lovink rightly says ‘blogging is a deeply social commitment…there are no blogs without a sphere’. While he see’s this social scene featuring a wash of opinons and impressions as unsustainable, perhaps rightly, this cannot be seen as ‘creatively nihilistic’ anymore than any social scene can.

For those who blog only to write – this may be nihilistic, when they realist that nobody is reading, but they blog anyway.The act of posting it is nihilstic. the act of writing it is not, if it helps acheive self-actualisation and satisfaction.

Liao, Liu and Pi 2011, ‘modeling motivations for blogging: an expectancy theory analysis’, Social Behaviour and Personality: An International Journal, Vol. 39 Issue 2, p 251-264, viewed 30/5/11 <http://ehis.ebscohost.com.ezp.lib.unimelb.edu.au/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=aab9a410-74b6-4f1b-9564-f5875b3e8040%40sessionmgr11&vid=3&hid=121&gt;

Lovink, ‘Blogging, The Nihilist Impulse’, in Zero Comments: Blogging and Critical Internet Culture, Longon: Routledge, pp. 1-38

 

Does anyone else find it funny that we’re required in compulsory blogging to discuss someone saying that blogging is pointless?

Old Stuffs

Mundane thoughts from a mundane mind

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This work by Stephanie Firth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.