Archive for April, 2010

CON-vergence

April 28, 2010

Without actually discussing American Idol I do want to discuss the Jenkins reading because I want to talk about the commercial side of convergence.  The overall theme I got from the reading was a power struggle between the producers and the consumers.  When you look at the structure of reality television shows with audience participation there is an allusion of control given to the audience, but the reality is one step forward four steps back.

The audience has always had an opinion, but as long as they continue viewing you can see how networks and producers would ignore the value of that.  Enter cable television, the ability to view almost any show online as well as the ability to post your own creations online.  All of a sudden with numbers dropping you can see how there is now value in that opinion, Jenkins’s puts it nicely in saying “the need to quantify desire.”  So through convergence, the input of a public voting system, all of a sudden the public feel they are being heard and making an instant difference.

I feel like Triple J are an organization that over time has truly embraced convergence in order to maintain their audience and have them form “ a long term relationship with the brand.”  Traditional radio, in comparison with new technology, is a rather limited medium as it’s only audio and it’s set in real time.  Triple J realises that they can’t maintain the same loyalty through just one medium so they now have Triple J T.V, JMag, as well as podcasts, blogs, websites, online streaming and a heavy facebook and twitter following.  Essentially if you want to take part in Triple J there is no excuse not too, their brand is set up to cater for the zappers, casuals and loyals.  The important part of this convergence is that all of the above mentioned formats are linked.  Twitter lets people know what will be played next for that feel of exclusivity, the magazine announced competitions but you need to listen to the radio to win them and while you can always catch up on anything you have missed by listening to the blogs you can only participate through talk back or win competitions if you are listening live.

Triple J and reality television alike have used convergence to give the audience choice and a sense of power.  In the same way that in reality television the choices made make very little difference to overall outcome, Triple J’s multiple formats all still direct the listener back to the traditional radio if they want the full experience.  What we can see here is that in a commercial world convergence gives the allusion of power to the audience but inevitably it is just another strategy for the big guys to gain more power.

The Economics of information

April 27, 2010

After reading this weeks two readings on ‘convergance’, i find myself sitting between two ideals or trains of thought. Firstly, i wholheartedly agree that medias (am i allowed to pluralise?) are converging, whether or not for better or for for worse. However secondly the main feeling i took away from the readings, and especially the second, H. Jenkins “Buying into American Idol: How we are being sold on Reality Television”, is really how much of our information, our entertainment, is dictated by the economic interests of the networks/papers/websites.

This has surely always been the case, and i realise it was naive to assume the television content was run for the good of the people and in the best interests, however the fathoming of how far marketers go to attract our consumer interest i believe is astounding. Jenkin’s cites American Idol as his case study, and instead of the network (FOX in this instance) pitching its program to the audience, by having the audience as the program it affectively targeted the advertisers.

Essentially television stations work off the basis of advertisement dollars, and in order to gain greater advertisement dollars, they must run programs that are successful and popular. However Jenkin’s american idol study revealed to me personally that the marketers are looking for so much more than simply how many people watch, but rather:

  • who is watching
  • why are they watching
  • will they buy products if they feel “loyal” to the show?

I for one feel that most of the time i watch tv the ads are simply a time to carry out small tasks or simply tune out. And whilst i’d say this is the viewpoint of the majority (lol we all like to think we are normal), the marketers in U.S reality shows are digging deeper and deeper into viewer habits, converging not only ads and tv shows across medias but across consumers.

Take this video for instance, which is targeted at other businesses in helping them define the audience. I for one find it just a little creepy all the information they want to know so we can buy their product:

Both articles dealt with the convergance of media, and also the battle between old and new medias, and also introduced us to the new wonderful terms such as ‘internetisation’. They survey how media is increasingly leaning towards conveniance on the behalf of the user, yet in the same instance also developing more targeted advertisement and marketing campaigns. So as Virginia Nightingale pointed out, they are both “positive and negative implications” – which are of course present with all new technology; i guess we just have to work out for ourselves how we can best control it to our benefit, and not the advertisers.

Although at the end of the day, i guess we are all waiting for our 15 minutes of fame (including me haha) even if it is nowadays the zappers ‘3 seconds’ of fame …

Media Haves and Have-Nots

April 26, 2010

In Nightengale’s article, New Media Worlds? Challenges for Convergence, of the two arguments presented in the article, between media digitization and convergence versus internetisation and mediatisation I would have to say I identify with Fortunati’s approach of internetisation and mediatisation. The first argument, presented by Evans and Wurster suggests that firms must make compromises in order to adapt to the ever-changing world of media. Fortunati on the other hand suggests that as media evolves it is becoming more unified, allowing greater diversification, Fortunati continues to suggest that media has opened up many new opportunities for firms to access their audiences and reach consumers. Media growth is viewed not as a burden on firms (although many companies are slow to change so maybe it is slightly a burden) but rather as an opportunity for growth and improvements.

Additionally, I found Nightengale’s point regarding media haves and have-nots to be really interesting and tie in well with other things we have discussed throughout the semester. As media continues to evolve with technology, the gap is growing greatly between those who are media savvy and those who are not, whether or not it is by choice. In a prior media class that I took we talked about Web 2.0, which ties in with what Nightengale is talking about. In Web 2.0 users have a much greater say in what content in online, they are able to customize their media and influence producers. Rather than consumers watching what programs are on TV because that is the only option they have, consumers now dictate what they watch, when and where. And not only can they watch a television program at a different time of the day, they can now also make their own content and put it on websites such as YouTube or BlogSpot to share with the world. Consumers are no longer reliant on media producers to get their media fix- they can get it anywhere they want.

We are now encouraged to be our own media producers- that is after all what we are doing currently as we post these blogs online. However, Nightengale argues that this is leading to greater discrepancies in the media world, widening the gap between those who participate and those who do not, or cannot, creating a media literate and illiterate society. As media continues to evolve, creating greater opportunities for companies to reach their audiences in creative new ways, it is also creating disparities between the media haves and have-nots. In countries where technology is fairly advanced, this gap may exist more by choice as some people chose not to have televisions, mobile phones, etc. However in other countries this gap is growing by a lack of technology, resources, and funding. This will greatly impact information sharing- or the lack thereof- and largely effect the ability of these people to stay caught up with their international counterparts. I leave you with this: as media develops and consumers become more involved in the content production, will those who are unable to interact be subject to media poverty? What will this mean as our world continues to globalize and what will be the effect on relations between those who are media- devolved and those where are subject to media illiteracy?

New and improved- for better or worse?

April 25, 2010

The idea of convergence is assessed in the Jenkins article “Buying into American Idol”. The argument articulated is that “emerging discourse of affective economics has both positive and negative implications”; i.e. that media conglomerates direct consumer knowledge for their own benefits but at the same time this knowledge allows consumers a “collective bargaining structure” that permits them to be shown and use the media in which they favour most.

This makes some sense when you take a look at the reality shows like American Idol. Though a lot of us (myself included) may complain about the stupidity and obvious product placement of these programs, the numbers of people tuning in don’t lie so these shows are given a number of series for the producers and associated advertisers to cash in on. I must admit they I have even tuned in to shows like Big Brother (I am ashamed of it too). I think that these shows allow us to see ourselves in a better light when we see the actions of these “reality stars” and as such makes these shows more popular to boost our own self-esteem. And then when you look at programs like Idol we find ourselves connecting emotionally to the participants, finding those we like and willing them to go as far as we can get them to go, in a sense living through them. Does this mean by tuning in to these reality programs we are losing our own sense of reality? Or is it just us escaping our own lives for those 30-60 minutes?

Here is the recognisable picture most of us know of the guy crying over the media attacks on Britney Spears on you tube. It is great in showing just how much media and its associated identities can impact on an individuals everyday life. 

Jenkins goes on to say that people are changing and controlling the amount and flow of media into their household as a result of changing technology. Like many of us the computer has evolved into our television as well as we can access programs within a desired schedule- just like we read when “my time” was explained. My argument, however, is: do we really have more control? Has convergence allowed a greater space in which media affect and inevitably control our everyday life?

Remixing Content

April 24, 2010

As per usual, i found the readings this week really interesting. My focus for this blog will be on the first reading of Convergence. I think the reason that i enjoyed this reading so much was because of the way that it tracked the development of media uses and the functionality of the specific mediums over time.

Traditional media, for example the newspaper, has been slow to adapt to digitalisation or internetisation (i think that’s the most ridiculous term). It was only a month or two ago now that SMH online launched it’s iphone friendly mobile web page. It appears to me that more often than not, these traditional media structures are taking too long to respond to convergent media that they are loosing a cutting edge advantage that other sources are taking, such a gaming.

It is understandable that traditional media has higher overheads than consumer created content and thus they must diversify their product values. However, with such big budgets behind these tycoons, it seems disappoint that there isn’t more a response to these convergent media sources. Many of the great convergent media examples today came about through small budget (if budget at all) ideas, for example, facebook, google, etc.

My argument here is that perhaps this disintermediation will be a good thing for traditional media responding to convergent change. Change is happening within these convergent sources likewise through the way we use content. As touched on in the reading, content, creation and copyright are issues facing institutionalised media businesses. I came across the idea of Remixing – this is the notion that enough content is out there that we feel we need not create more, but use, essentially recycling the material creating something original.

Here is a website with more info if you’re keen to check it out, it also has some great stats and facts about the content production in America.

http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/Social-Media-and-Young-Adults/Part-3/6-Content-Creation.aspx?r=1

You are here

April 20, 2010

I actually didn’t mind Clara Völker’s Mobile Media and Space reading this week. In fact I think it was a better take on the subject of Space than Shaun Moores’ Doubling of Space.  A really good reading to go with it is Railroad Space and Railroad Time by Schivelbusch.  The use of the railroad is a great metaphor for what technology does to space – it diminishes it and expands it.  He says that the speed of the train eliminates the space between two points but at the same time creates more space as we are now able to travel further than before. It’s here that we turn back to Völker where Space is created by acting on given places and it’s the technology once again (like the train) that enables us to act upon previously untouchable places.

Then there comes the argument of whether all this expansion is endangering reality.  I quite liked McLuhan’s way of putting it – technology being an extension of our nervous system.  Mobile Media has made us more aware; the virtual space created adds a layer of depth to our physical world rather than replacing it.  Volker’s talk of Semapedia and Socialight seem hard to envision but take a look at Foursquare http://foursquare.com/

Heres a little video interview with the creator:

You can see a usefulness to it, its like social networking meets a zeiget guide meets someone trendy who has been living in a big tourist city but know all the secret local spots.  Or more simply put “Social space being localised in between physical space and mental space.” It’s not just the development of foursquare that depicts an overlay of spaces; most of our virtual space is anchored in the physical world in the symbols and language we use.  Think when using email CC means carbon copy and an envelope is still the symbol used for mail.  We aren’t replacing the physical we are simply “translating it into another medium” and then constantly updating and adding information.

Mobile technology: gaoler or prisoner?

April 20, 2010

After perusing this weeks readings i have surmised that we as generation Y are either the forefathers, (excuse old-fashioned sexism, foreparents) of technology or the harbingers of doom. I found it intriguing that many of us asked “when will technology go too far” and indeed Clara Volker’s article “Mobile Media and Space” rigidly looks into the future of what may be for mobile technology. I for one, prefer to take a somewhat futile opinion that technology has already gone too far, in that it is rather pointless for me to know what Kim Kardashian and Ashton Kutcher will have for their social media breakfasts (although the shameless today show plug did little to quell my enthusiasm. Nonetheless, the developing age we live in the one already gaining social etiquettes, as described by Mizuko Ito, is fascinating as the old adage goes, if you can’t beat em’, join em’.

I found Volkers article to be quite conceptual as opposed to Ito’s more pragmatic study much like our own media diaries (why didn’t i ask any Japanese!!?!?!?!). Volker here analyses the connection we are increasingly shortening between what we perceive as being ‘home’ versus being generally ‘out’. However i think (feel free to argue) that Volker is not so much trying to say that the gap is being bridged but rather we are creating our own separate entities, or ‘spaces’. This ‘space’ therefore becomes an alternate reality if it is taken on by enough people, even so in a purely theoretical one (and who’s to say that our own perceived reality isn’t just as theoretical? It’s like one of those ‘if a tree falls in the woods and no-one is there to hear it…’ scenarios).

To quote a quote, Volkers refers to William Gibson’s determined or defining of what we now appreciate as ‘cyberspace’:

“Gibson refers to cyberspace as a reality into which humans can immerse themselves, a hybrid cybernetic space, ‘a consensual hallucination’ of ‘unthinkable complexity’, a graphic representation that exceeds the represented ‘nonspace of the mind’, as opposed to ‘Meatspace’.”

What we know take for granted as ‘cyberspace’ was once a scholarly and theoretical study into the digital reality matching the physical one. And whilst i quite humourously agree that humanity’s “tweeting” is as Gibson describes, a “nonspace of the mind”, Volkers’ reference to him raises the question as to how closely can a digital space or reality, emulate a physical one? To this Volkers answers:

“Hence, space is actualised and modified through mobility.”

Mizuko Ito’s article was one that i found altogether as interesting as it was confronting; not in the sense that it shocked me but rather that my seemingly normal patterns were being analysed in a way that treated them as anomalies – quite a strange feeling indeed. I found his views from his research were ones that by this time have bridged the east-west divide and translated into our very own culture, with myself being namely responsible for at least a few. However the point i found perhaps most interesting is the title of this blog: is this mobile technology enslaving us to ourselves, or being enslaved for our benefit? I for one believe we are becoming addicted to need, to efficiency, to easiness and perhaps most of all, convenience. And far from preaching i would point the finger at myself in too needing the nicotine patches for my fix of convenience when convenience isn’t warranted.

To summarise, Volker’s article taught us the creation and development of new ‘spaces’ by mobile technology, rather than merging old ones; whilst Ito’s piece analysed the social functions we are creating through this rapidly dynamic technology. I for one, argue that technology has gone too far, in that we are now so bombarded with convenience our communications have lost importance, familiarity and most of all emotion.

But that’s just me and look forward to your opinions!

No Place for Space

April 19, 2010

Circumventing the communicative limitations of the classroom. That statement from Mizuko Ito sums up a lot of what i feel that mobile technology is moving towards. We are very much a generation born and bred into mobile advancement. Much like Lauren, i can always remember technology changing, upgrading, getting smaller, more difficult to understand for my parents and easier for me to understand.

I loved the video Lauren, I think it’s very funny and an accurate depiction the arrogance that new technology brings. The more we put onto our phones (maps, music, books and all the rest) the more we think we have control over our media use. But is that necessarily the same or are we just conditioned by the media that has surrounded and been tailored to our “every need”? We think we are able to “circumvent the communicative limitations” that life presents, but are we just creating another limitation? I think the research conducted in Ito’s case is very interesting when thinking about this.

Don’t get me wrong, i love me some technology, i love my iphone –  all the apps, all the ease of an integrated calendar, mail, you name it, it does it! But sometimes this compartmentalised structure of space gets a bit confusing, i forget where i wrote down my shopping list on my phone, i forget how my phone categorises my groups of contacts, and i never remember to update my music. And then i just take out my favourite Kikki K diary and write down my weeks activities again. Am I blemish on the name of Gen Y?

I think not.

I don’t like being on constant contact with people, some people are an exception of course, such as my boyfriend. I do favour text messaging over calling in the majority of cases, however, sometimes a call is just need and i will never shy away from that opportunity. I don’t think it’s healthy to be having a constant “co-presence” of private communication with someone as Ito describes most Japanese youth of having.

My only experience of this, was dating a boy from Port Macquarie in year 9. Phone calls were the only form of relating to each other, as we only physically saw each other once a month, if that. It became so obsessive that i would be in tears if i missed his call because my parents wouldn’t let him call during dinner. We were in constant conversation and texting, calling. But what was at the heart of these conversations? How much i loved him? What we were going to achieve in life? Plllleeeeeaasssseee, most the text messages consisted of “I had a really boring english class” or “Mum packed me a peanut butter sandwich again, doesn’t she know i’m allergic?!”. Phone conversations consisted of, “what did you do today?” “Oh i had english.. it was so…” “…boring? I know you told me” *Silence*. True love was shattered when the phone bill came. $1400 in calls over a month. And what to show for it? A texting speed that would blow your mind, countless love letters, and a boyfriend who’s face was a forgettable memory.

I’m no so convinced that this new space of private text communication is really the way forward for people relating in society in a constant way. There has to be a balance of space. I cant stand another big phone bill, please, coffee is cheaper!

Technology Out-Smarting Us all

April 19, 2010

Since I can remember phone technology has been rapidly changing and evolving. I still remember being very young, sitting in my car seat as my dad answered his car phone to talk to his employees, my mom, or whoever. At the time I assumed this was normal- just like a phone at a house, but really car phones were the first huge step towards being able to communicate while moving from place to place- and the phenomenon has continued ever since. It is remarkable how far mobile technology has come over the years. From car phones to beepers and pagers to mobile phones to a new bread of mobile phone that really deserves a different name, we have come a long way with our mobile technology over the years.

There is no way to compare the original mobile phone in which you could barely make calls to what I think of as the second generation- where you could text and even take pictures on color screens! And now, what seems to be the third generation is this hybrid product in which depending on what you want to do with it your mobile can have cameras, video cameras, touch screens, music players, internet, gps tracking, really whatever you can imagine is on there. I found this video to be very amusing- sorry if it offends at all but it is a good reminder of how far we have come over the past 15 years and really humorous towards the new technologies and how they seem to take over.

Clara Volker brings up some really interesting points in the article Mobile Media and Space in which she argues that virtual space (computers, the internet etc) is colliding with reality. Through her examples of Semapedia and Socialight, it is obvious that there is no way to separate these to spaces from one another. Virtual space impedes on every aspect of our lives and it is only going to continue to do so in the future. Technology is only getting smarter- almost to the extent that it is a little scary. At times I definitely feel out-smarted by the technology I use. The fact that you can GPS track the location of your friends (or parents and track their kids!) or hold your phone up to the radio to get the title and artist of a song is great in theory- but it leads one to wonder when will technology take it too far.

Technology is changing the way we view spaces and bringing multiple spaces together. We cannot simply separate virtual space and reality anymore. Rather our increased mobility in terms of technology has allowed us to merge our spaces- breaking boundaries such as public and private, and redefining typical definitions of what it means to be mobile.

Into The “Mobile” Wild

April 17, 2010

The mobile phone: friend or foe? This highly sought after answer highlights the ambiguous nature that the mobile phone represents to us as a society. Is it intrusive? Does it allow surveillance? Does it intrude our public space and open up our private? Can it makes us breakfast? When you sit down and think about the impact of the mobile phone you find yourself answering “yes” to these questions (except maybe the last one, although you can always call some to bring it for you…)

The Mizuko Ito research “Mobile Phones, Japanese Youths, and the Replacement of Social Contact” allows us an interesting insight into the mobile phone’s role in social hierarchy and inevitably how this media adds more rules for us to follow in its own hierarchal system. The concept of ‘mobility’ (the ability to move through space, in terms of mobile phones- communicative space) is seen as Ito takes us into three separate places: the home, school and transport and how the mobile phone has changed how we mediate our way through these spaces.

He describes how “the phone has always provided a way of overcoming the spatial boundary of the home”, that is, we can stay in contact with others regardless of our physical limitations. He shows how the mobile phone allows teens to “enjoy a sense of co-presence with peers that they are not able to realize physically”. They see it as privacy from the family but you can also hit back at this idea and ask: when do you have privacy from you mobile phone connections? When you’re sleeping? Is that it? Is that all you need?

He also admits the mobile phone is a modern technology to challenge the communication hierarchy i.e. instead of passing notes in class, txt messages are sent instead. We find that the mobile phone is changing relations but merely following them in a different way whilst still respecting social norms (e.g. be silent while the teacher is talking). Except the repercussions of not following these rules can be more damaging than just reading your note to the whole class.

The notion of a mobile phone hierarchy is also highlighted where users have to follow a set of undefined but well known rules – ignoring text messages being a big no no. So we can look at mobility accessed through new technologies to just be adding to our set of social rules in which we follow specific hierarchal ideas, how can we keep up?

Then there is physical mobility in association with communicative mobility (can we call this the tripling of space?). Who can’t say they have been sitting alone at the train station and pull out their phones and send a text message, make a call, or even pretend to take a call? Why do we do this? Ito’s research showed a spike in mobile communication whilst travelling and normally alone. The mobile phone can be seen as a symbol of friendship, of (I’m going to make up a word here) our “un-nigelness”. Is it necessary? Probably not, but we all feel more connected socially by doing it.

The concept of mobility has definitely broadened its horizons as new technologies come in to play a hand but in the end we have to decide – when does it become too much communication? When do we lose all privacy and alone time?

I leave you with this sad thought: raise your hand if you have been on the phone whilst doing the most private of all acts (in my conservative mind) – going to the toilet…