Thursday, November 19, 2009


From the issues covered in this blog, I understand now that responsibility and ethics are critical for the modern blogger. Opinions of bloggers carry weight and can impact the blogosphere in unexpected ways.

The semiotic significance of any image, written language or other signifier must be properly understood and explained to the public.

For a document designer, the globalization of information translates to an exuberance of new user generated content, delivered via new media. The blogopshere is important in both the vertical and horizontal transmission of this information.

Design for print should follow principles as outlined by Reep, but online media, with various multimodal interactions between different media, requires special principles as outlined by Walsh and Nielsen.

Blogging can be done for personal enjoyment, but it can also be an empowering tool for social change. In fact, blogging is a very flexible and versatile platform; different blogs can play multiple roles, or specific ones , depending on the audience.

As a person who is fond of writing, it was difficult at first for me to apply visual design principles to this blog. However , realize now the importance of New Media Literacy, and online design principles. These are valuable tools for making the words readable and interesting. Therefore good design complements good writing, in order for the message to be delivered.


Kress, G & van Leeuwen, TV, 2006, Reading images: The grammar of visual design, 2nd edn, Routledge, London

Nielsen, J 1999, Differences Between Print Design and Web Design, Alertbox, viewed 15 November 2009, <>

Walsh, M 2006, ‘The 'textual shift': Examining the reading process with print, visual and multimodal texts’ Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, Vol29, No.1, p.24-37

New Media and Citizen Journalists

Citizen journalists are people without professional journalism training. They utilize the tools of modern technology and the global distribution of the Internet to create, augment or fact-check media on their own, or by collaborating with others(Glaser, 2006).

Citizen journalists can take up alternative niches that coexist alongside the professional journalists, such as gatewatching (monitoring mainstream media content) rather than gatekeeping, report with multiple perspectives on affairs of global importance, and publish stories which are routinely overlooked or ignored by mainstream news services (Brun, 2006).

Urban Malaysians utilized New Media tools such as websites, blogs and SMS, to circumvent tight government controlled media in order to disseminate alternative news and viewpoints, particularly the opposition(Oon, 2008) .

The traditional media, particularly vernacular newspapers, played a part in informing the rural communities, who in turn supported online bloggers such as Jeff Ooi in the election.

Each had its niche and has distinct roles to play with room for collaboration. Another model would be the OhmyNews website with collaborations between professional and citizen journalists to create content.

Citizen journalists can carry out grassroots reporting which the mainstream media takes up and develops as a pool of tips, sources and story ideas. News Websites from Indymedia to Slashdot can do this more effectively than the mainstream media as they are decentralized and non-profit driven.


Bruns, A 2007, ‘Produsage: Towards a Broader Framework for User-Led Content Creation’, in Proceedings Creativity & Cognition 6, Washington, DC.

Glaser, M 2006 Your Guide to Citizen Journalism, Mediashift website, viewed 10 October 2009

Oon, Y. 2008, ‘What role did New Media play in GE 2008’, The Edge Financial Daily, 12 March

Blogging Communities


According to White (2006) there are numerous types of blogging communities, made up of many people with common interests. Some examples include Nufnag, Global Voices and FreshNetworks.

Rowse (2009) suggests a few ways to build your own online community. These include interacting with bloggers in the comments section, provide and encourage membership, posting topics of interest and having reader centric posts.You should also be an active participant in the community and contribute often.

An online community, while virtual and without face to face interaction, is nonetheless a powerful tool for communicating, making new friends and aggregating people and products together under a common theme or interest.


Rowse, D 2009, "8 Tips for Building Community on Your Blog," online, retrieved 18 November 2009, from

White, N 2006, 'Blogs and Community – launching a new paradigm for online community?', The Knowledge Tree, viewed 18 November, .

Privacy issues on social network groups


In November 2009, an activist group called Control Your Info (CYI) claimed credit for taking control of 289 Facebook Groups to expose how vulnerable shows the vulnerabilities of social media, especially identity tampering. (‘Control Your Info' activists hijack Facebook groups, 2009)

This could lead to spammers using a Facebook account and identity to express ideas and opinions that are not the users. This is a form of identity theft and invasion of privacy.

CYI claims that Facebook Groups suffer from a major security flaw, that is anyone can take over the group if they register as a new administrator. The usurper then had authority to change anything, including pictures, descriptions and settings.

Ragan (2009) states that unless you actively define your privacy settings on Facebook, you have very little protection; this is true for almost any social platform online. A rogue group administrator can release an application that steals up personal information or spreads malicious code.

In a large group, even a small percentage affected could mean thousands of people. Millions of people are exploited monthly, thanks to criminals turning a trusted source against them (Ragan)

I believe that social networking groups are mainly platforms that people utilize without understanding the underlying architecture. They are not aware of potential of the network to be manipulated, or the negative effects such as invasion of privacy and identity theft. In Malaysia, cybercrimes are on the rise (Patrick, 2009).

There are numerous other issues with social networks as outlined by Solove(2008). These include threats to privacy and reputations, rumour mongering, and ridicule, especially if a video of you doing something silly is blown out of proportion on Youtube. Also, companies collect and use our personal information at every opportunity.

Even Google researchers in a recent paper (Davis,2009) have warned of privacy issues on social networks. These include unwelcome linkage, lack of control of activity streams and making a profile of a person, by comparing his activity on all his friends network pages.

I concur with the Google researchers in their recommendation that users should be empowered to remove events and activity streams, and that application creators must also be held responsible to inform the user of the details of any program which is being run on their pages.


Adelaide Now, 2009, Control Your Info' activists hijack Facebook groups,, viewed 17 November 2009,22606,26335072-5005962,00.html

Davis, L 2009, Google Warns of Privacy Issues on the Social Web,, viewed 17 November 2009

Patrick, S, Cybercrimes on the rise: Calls for dedicated court to handle such cases, The Star 16 January 2009

Ragan, S, 2009, FUD: Facebook groups were not hacked and no one is at risk, The Tech Herald, viewed 18 November 2009

Smith, A.D. & Rupp, W.T. 2002, 'Issues in cybersecurity: understanding the potential risks associated with hackers/crackers' Information Management & Computer Security, vol. 10/4 pages 178-183. Full text. Available Emerald management xtra, viewed 22 January 2007

Solove, D.J. 'Do Social Networks Bring the End of Privacy?' scientifc, viewed 17 November 2009

Print vs online newspapers


Print newspaper readership is slowly declining. The majority (74%) of Americans, or nearly 171 million people, read a newspaper in print or online during the past week, according to a new report by Scarborough Research (Sachoff, 2009.

However, this does not mean that print newspapers are going bust completely, rather the statistics show that print newspaper are adapting. However not enough are utilizing social media online to interact with their readers.

Malaysians relied on the mainstream media for information on corruption but they were concerned with biased reporting on the issue (Center for Independent Journalism. Online newspapers such as Malaysiakini and Malaysian Insider are popular as alternative news sources, especially on politics (The Malaysian Insider, 2009).

The advantages of online newspapers is that they provide information that is updated constantly, as opposed to print newspapers which have only limited number of additions per day.

There is also large amounts of space on online servers, so a story can be reported in more detail and carried for longer than in newsprint.

There is also the interactive element where the readers can leave their comments on the website. It's also much cheaper to host on web servers than publish on print. Online newspapers can aggregate together a large number of related articles from many sites.

They can also reach a global audience through the Internet. The disadvantages are the danger of altering and manipulation of online publishing by hackers or crackers, and inflammatory remarks posted in the comments section.


Centre for Independent Journalism 2009, Public want media to be more effective in reporting on corruption, ,, viewed 17 November 2009

Sachooff, M 2009, Newspapers Not Effectively Using Social Media,, viewed 17 November 2009

The Malaysian Insider 2009, About Us, viewed 2 October 2009

Design for print and designing online


Online design differs from print, in that the human mind reads and processes details differently on the computer than when reading in print. Firstly, there is background illumination that emanates from the computer which strains the eyes. Colourful or cluttered backgrounds that must not detract from the text.

Using an example of Time Magazine, the print version has the iconic cover with a striking image partnered with engaging text, this is new media literacy (Kress & van Leeuwen, 2006)creating a powerful message.

The online design uses more multimodal formats and this effects the design (Walsh, 2006). All the different elements, including hyperlinks, videos and boxes, must be placed so that the readers scannability of the document is improved. Other difference are that print is visualized in 2-dimensions whereas web designs are ‘1-dimensional and N-dimensional’(Nielsen,1999). This encourages readers to scroll up and down, rather than left to right as in print.

As in print, headings are important for breaking up text (Reep, 2006). Online readers tend to read in F-shape, online text should be smaller than in print and paragraphs should be shorter and split into “chunks” for easier reading.


Kress, G & van Leeuwen, TV, 2006, Reading images: The grammar of visual design, 2nd edn, Routledge, London

Nielsen, J 1999, Differences Between Print Design and Web Design, Alertbox, viewed 15 November 2009, <>

Reep, D.C. 2006, ‘Chp 4: Principles of Document Design,’ in Technical Writing, 6th ed., Pearson Edu, Inc., New York, p.173-190.

Walsh, M 2006, ‘The 'textual shift': Examining the reading process with print, visual and multimodal texts’ Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, Vol29, No.1, p.24-37

Suharto and The Last Supper


The late second president, of Indonesia, Suharto, who ruled as a military dictator, died on January 2008 in the country’s capital of Jakarta.

In conjunction with his death, Tempo magazine published in its 4-10 February 2008 edition an image of Suharto and his family in a representation of The Last Supper. The original painting by Leonardo da Vinci depicted Jesus Christ and his apostles having their last supper before Jesus’s crucifixion.

With Suharto depicted as Jesus Christ, unsurprisingly Christians were outraged and protested vehemently against the publication. The editors claimed that they used the picture for its design qualities, unaware of the religious connotations.

Paradoxically, numerous parodies of the last supper featuring cartoon characters and dubious personalities, are widely available online, and are somewhat tolerated more, in Christianized Western cultures.

This issue highlights several points. Kress & van Leeuwen (2006, p.36) state that the electronic media, multiculturalism and globalization, change the semiotic landscape, and therefore the intended message as well.

In creating a document, especially involving images of deities, icons and other items religious significance, there must be research done on audience effects so that there is no backlash from the public, especially minorities, to avoid offending cultural sensibilities.

By putting the image online, the documents message was exposed to a vast audience, most of which they probably did not cater for. This definitely increased the risk of further cross-cultural miscommunication (Shriver, 1997).

Ironically, the original message of the document, which was a critique of Suharto (his family members are depicted as his ‘apostles’ (beneficiaries) while their plates are empty (symbolizing their pillaging of Indonesia’s economy for their own ends), was lost in the maelstrom of criticism. The message unintentionally morphed from political to religious. By Weber’s (1995) standards, the editors were ethical in their apologetic response.

I suggest that all images used in documents, especially those reaching a multicultural, multinational audience, must be accompanied with footnotes carefully explaining the symbolism and semiotic meanings contained within the images.

This is to retain the original context; so that the intended meaning is transmitted to whichever audience that encounters the document.


Indonesian weekly apologises over Last Supper Suharto cover 2008, ABC News, viewed on 11 November 2009,

Kress,G & van Leeuwen,T 2006, Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Communication, 2nd Edition, Routeledge, New York

Schriver,K.A. 1997, Chapter 6: Dynamics in document design: creating texts for readers, Wiley Computer Pub., New York

Weber,JH 1995, ‘Ethics in scientific and technical communication’ Wisenet Journal, vol.38 pp. 2-4