Open or Closed?

Is closed media better than open media types?  First of all, what are open and closed media?

Open media is when a technology or platform is able to be tinkered with by its users and can be completely controlled by its users whereas a closed media is when a user is unable to change anything about the device and all programs or software are preloaded and cannot be modified, it is completely controlled by the producers.  When I think of things as opened and closed systems I think of the Xbox 360.  It is only closed to a point, it can be modified or hacked to be modified.  There are ways around closed technologies if people with the skills are willing to take the time to find them.

I have an android phone, an open media platform, but I know it wouldn’t bother me if I had an iPhone, a closed technology.  They do the same things, make calls, take pictures, keep me up to date.  I guess that’s just revealing my technologically passive nature.  I haven’t got a clue what I’d do with my phone if it was entirely under my control.  I would be absolutely petrified of stuffing something up that’s for sure.


So, what’s better?  Open or closed?  Television and newspapers are a perfect example of closed media.  The producers of the content expect us, the consumers, to be passive to their brainwashing ways.  Whereas the internet is open to anyone’s ideas, opinions, lives, anything.  We become active in the production of content.  It’s like a cycle, we produce content for ourselves therefore we produce what we want to see.  Sometimes we see closed media, like TV, catch on to what we as consumers want to see.  This can be seen when a show is taken off air because there weren’t enough viewers.  This means that the so called consumers of the show didn’t consume as predicted, therefore what’s the point in keeping something on air that isn’t doing what was expected?

Henry Jenkins makes an interesting point in his International Journal of Cultural studies article “The cultural logic of media convergence”, page 40.  He mentions that the current music, film and television industries (closed media types) have reacted to consumer driven activity in ways that do not promote evolution in the industry, that is they have quashed any possible creative improvements or ideas.  He goes on to say that the gaming industry is reaping the benefits of their creative audiences and listening to their opinions to make improvements using “the best user-generated content” (Jenkins, H 2004).  I feel that the gaming industry has found the middle ground.  They allow their consumers to be producers, to improve on what is already there.  Many successful games would not be so if the players were not listened to and their ideas built on.

What I’m trying to say is, sometimes it’s not that black and white, sometimes the line between what is open and what is closed is blurred.  Even if we’re supposed to be passive to what we are “fed” there are ways in which we can make a closed media platform open.

What other ways can you open a closed media platform?