Author Archive

A Retrospective view of Media Ritual

June 9, 2010

When I read the Nick Couldry’s ‘Media Rituals’ 13 odd weeks ago I wrote “Maintenance of societies in time rather than transmission of messages across space” on a post-it note.  At the time I don’t think I completely grasped this concept, that media and communications isn’t just about the sending and receiving of messages but an institution that contributes to the maintenance of our society and culture.

When you think about media being a display of our current reality it worries me to think that in the same way 18th Century letters of past political figures are studies, that perhaps some day our facebook page will be a relic of our time?  While current forms of media such as social networking sites and reality television may be considered low culture in terms of entertainment, it does illustrate a change in the tradition power structure of media of producers and audiences.  If media rituals are going to be a representation of our reality then it seems more accurate now that we more actively participate in that process.

Granted I still feel that we are still acting in a time of functionalism, where we act and adapt to media technologies but with the emerging popularity of YouTube we can start to see media being shaped by the general public.  The way we shape our days and space around the media links us to a sense of society that we otherwise may have missed, but the changes in how we act in that space and time is the start of a shift where it’s not this omnipresent power centre, but a dispersed space of interaction.


Who am I?

June 3, 2010

In the debating identities reading During points out that in no way is our identity the whole of ourselves.  Even if you take into account that an individual has multiple identities depending on their public/audience there is still never a way to succinctly and accurately label the whole of a person.  So why do we bother?

The key point, and what I feel sums up the course accurately is that an identity is what links an individual to society as an identity is a form of branding that relies on outsiders.  A person’s control of their identity traditionally relied on how they presented themselves physically, how they spoke, whom they spoke to and their public actions and activities.  In online communities you can see the emergence of hybrid identities as the individual has more control and the audience gets a deeper look at some aspects of life that would otherwise be private; you can see how ones identity would be constantly evolving and changing over time.

But why do we bother with facebook and the like?  Why do we open up our private lives to the public?  In the Herring reading he states that we, Generation Y are the most watched over generation.  Think about everything from pressure on the HSC to internet censorship, sometimes I watch kids younger than me and worry about how much cotton wool they are coated in.  Online identities create a forum of freedom where the internet realms are endless and that control is back in their hands.  Teenagers cant vote, rally they are legally bound to go to school until yr 9 even creative outlets like music concerts often have an age restriction so whether the complete shift from public to private is dangerous or negative is irrelevant, it may not be the best way to express yourself but it is completely understandable to appreciate why it is happening.  Teens and tweens, like anyone else are searching for a way to gain control over their identity.

Give me a sign

May 19, 2010

A key point I that I felt was illustrated was that we can make explicit the meaning we want to create through the use of binaries.  For example if someone said the picture a sandwich to me today I would automatically think of the chicken schnitzel sandwich I had as a late night snack last night.  If this person were trying to tell me a sandwich was a healthy choice, in the context of my reality it wouldn’t work –I wouldn’t make the connection.  However if they were to say, “you could eat a greasy Big Mac, on the other hand you could have a sandwich” by explaining what they are not talking about I gain an understanding of what they are trying to convey.

The problem with Saussure’s ideas on semitoics and signs is that he doesn’t take into account that the signified (concerpt being evoked by the signifier) is also a signifier in itself.  If you say cats I think

But then when you think about it that image of a cat can change from person to person and therefore depending on the image evokes a different concept.

I felt that the Lury reading further explored Peirce.

“something which stands to somebody for something in some respect or capacity. It addresses somebody, that is, creates in the mind of that person an equivalent sign, or perhaps a more developed sign.”

When doing some further reading on Peirce his ideas involving the connection between a sign, the object and interpretant follow very closely to Saussure it still leaves room for interpretation and context.

I guess essentially signs/logos/language is all about the attempt to control meaning and therefore a power struggle between those conveying a message and those receiving.

Who is watching you?

May 12, 2010

I finally just finished 1984 and it seems highly appropriate when considering ways to monitor audiences these days.  The moment you actively realise how diverse the term ‘media’ is the more you realise how surrounded you are by it.  The problem in monitoring audiences when the media is so diffused is that out attention becomes the commodity, and unlike dollars and cents it’s impossible to measure. is a fantastic blog that I think truly illustrates the notion that we are all performers if we so choose.

Despite me saying this, I don’t feel as if the power is as evenly distributed as Couldry would have us believe.  Taking into account Foucault’s conception of power I do think as an audience with the technology available we have a lot of potential power but when you consider the dominating strength of the mainstream, I don’t believe we are taking advantage of it.  Instead of focusing on T.V I think music is a huge example of this.  In 2007 The Presets performed a free show at the Roundhouse to a disinterested crowd for a uni event.  Less than 2 years later the very same band played a sold out show in the same venue.  People paid money.  We had the technology and the means to know who they were, and yet it wasn’t until they were recognised by the powers of the mainstream (traditional media forms – T.V and Radio) until they were truly appreciated.

Since doing my assignment and monitoring the life of an alternative 20-something year old living out of home, I would have suggested a belief in the downfall of mass media.  She doesn’t own a T.V and watches what she wants online.  But living at home with my parents and watching facebook and twitter updates during the week still showed most of the people I know were watching Masterchef on commercial television.  Sad truth.  Maybe it’s a matter of generation X vs Y?

Just a little fact (ok so I’m using the word fact very loosely) before I leave you: 1 in 4 Americans have been on T.V.


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.

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

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.

Value of time

March 30, 2010

I concentrated on the John Hartly reading because I liked the idea that time determines how we value media.  Essentially the traits that we value are polar opposites, the first being frequency.   With Internet and mobile media the information we receive is now second by second and it is a standard that we have come to expect.  Daily Newspapers are feeling the pinch, as their morning delivery is no longer relevant by the early afternoon and as a result have moved to online news.  When you think about it, News has always been time sensitive the difference is that now we are aware that we are behind whereas before technology meant that we were calmly ignorant.

Media leaks and “coming up” sound bites on radio and “breaking news” are an attempt at news before it happens.  The problem here is in the rush to publish first there is a decline in quality.  Consider Chk chk Boom Clare went to air before her story was even checked

Channel 10’s nightly News still boasts the slogan “First at Five” illustrating the competitive nature of time in media.  Notice it doesn’t at all mention the quality of the news (ABC states that’s it’s the most respected news source in the country) nor does it mention that a majority of the news stories have been reported on their website already throughout the day.  I feel like more traditional forms of media are like parents getting facebook in an attempt to keep up with the times.  While the effort is there, it isn’t a smooth transference.

The Onion is a good example when it does work:

On the other side of the spectrum, longevity it the other time trait that determines media value. Hartley refers to it as the wavelength of consumption, the period a text spends in a public domain.  When you consider academic writing, it takes years for to be written and just as long in the editing and publishing stages but due to this quality control they remain on shelves, in stock and relevant for much longer than a news flash.  It’s able to maintain stability.

While I’m sure broadcasters, networks and newspaper publications and publishers alike could put a dollar value on which they would prefer, as a consumer comparing frequency and longevity is like apples and oranges.  It depends what your after and as the reading goes on to say –in terms of media we are hunters and collectors.  We know what’s available and pick and choose to our own taste.  I personally read the ultra trashing telegraph online but balance it up with the ABC news at night.

My Place or Yours?

March 29, 2010

I think it’s funny that we have so many synonyms in the English language especially when it comes to describing our relationships that we still double up when it comes to the language we use in media.  It’s no accident though -creating new terminologies for online/electronic interaction and relationships would mean disregarding their importance and connection to the “real world.”

I want to smooth out how I think both this reading and new mediums for communications have broadened our definitions of some spatial language:

When thinking about PLACE we should consider the actual physical location, or electronic placement (notice the words we use when talking about technology) we are in as well as our place in society.

I am IN my bedroom

I am ON my bed

I am logged ON facebook

I was ON the phone

As well as

I am a daughter and a student on minimum wage in the real world but thanks to the old school medium of radio my place in a different hierarchy is a little higher.  My age and qualifications are hidden and I have the power to play who and what I want.

Being CLOSE to someone is also vague now.  You could be standing next to a person but never met them and that still counts as close.  Online thanks to facebook you can know the everything from a persons relationship status to what they ate for breakfast to their deepest thoughts and fears (ok so typically these are known depending on what tacky song they quote) without ever physically meeting them –does that mean your close?  In the news its often said that “such and such tragedy brought the country closer together” – so now even simply sharing an experience even if that experience is only watching the same show redefines relationships and even our place in society…is it too far to say even our national identity?

Consider this video. 

Ben Fold was playing a concert to approximately 2000 people in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Those 2000 audience members were THERE at the concert in the same PHYSICAL place as Ben Folds.  But when he performed this improvisation song on chatroulette who was closet to the action or most involved?  The audience did get to see the whole thing unfold on a big screen but the ‘strangers’ who were ON chatroulette WITH Ben Fold got to talk and interact with the singer.  That said, they only got to see him in the instant they were paired with him.  Then there is us to consider –the views of the video.  We get to see the whole thing –from Ben to the ‘strangers’ to the audience.  We can see it clearly without a head popping up or a squeal muffling the sound –does that mean we are closest to the action?

Then even after that, while if we talk about this video when we should be paying attention in our tut does that shared experience bring us closer?

In the end my point is the same as the main argument of the reading – that it’s not an either/or situation.  Both online and ‘real world’ exist in the same world and interact and effect each other –they are not in a vacuum.  Taking this into account we can be and probably are in more than one place at once. Magic.

Domesticating Domestication

March 16, 2010

Its lovely to be part of this little blog family honestly great to get insights into readings this week. I actually really like the Silverstone reading -I think he argued both side of domestication well although when I applied my own personal experiences to his theories I didnt always come to the same conclusion. Hope you enjoy the little twist.

The title surprisingly says more than it first appears to. Silverstone’s analysis of the domestication of technology starting from the very reason we domesticate to its pros, con and continuous negations neuters the subject in a way that we can see it applied in our everyday life.

We could pretend that new technologies emerge, exist and improve our lives without us the individual’s emotions and idiosyncrasies interfering but we will only be disappointed when systems we didn’t expect to be interfered with inevitably are. Take for example Facebook; we could believe that it is only used to connect, reconnect and share with friends and family, as it was intended and deny that friends of friends, strangers, admirers and strange admirers also, guided by natural human curiosity, take a look at your profile. The consequences of this denial can be as inane as your crush gaining access to embarrassing photos or as destructive as a paedophile looking at minors. The point is a required awareness that technology, especially when relating to media and communications, does not just float above us and as a result changes like personalised privacy settings are put in place.

Silverstone describes this change as a move towards constructivism where we gain knowledge and meaning from experience. We use technology as a means to make sense of our world and how we use it is then taken into account when building upon those technologies. Think about using a book light so you can read in bed with the lights off to electronic readers having what now seems like a very obvious automatic backlighting. The problem Silverstone finds in us mere mortals domesticating technology by moulding it to our everyday lives is that perhaps it stunts the potential of so many new technologies?

There will always be a struggle between producers and consumers as they aim to please us. But do we really know what we need or does the domestication of our goods mean we are just lazy and familiar with the way things are without considering their efficiency and effectiveness? Consider the Apple Ipad; it looks and functions in a remarkably similar fashion to the well-received Iphone. The product is guaranteed to sell as a result, but I think the possibilities of the Ipad could have been so much more if it wasn’t stunted by a design we already have and like.iphone Vs ipad

Don’t get me wrong media technologies are advancing at a rapid pace and it means that our traditional morals and ethics that we have in place for social interaction need to adapt as well. Only the other day I decided to try a chatroulette (the lovechild of Skype, chatrooms and a dark alley) because it seemed like such an interesting and unusual way of interacting. I happened to stumble across the Jonas Brothers, Disney’s squeaky clean, purity ring wearing, singing virginal hope for the future. Nick Jonas who is under 21 asked me to show my breasts. In this new social realm there are no names, no sign in and no logistics. I was face to face with a completely untamed medium.

Through my experiences domestication needs to be a negotiation. It in itself as the title of the reading suggests needs to be moulded to fit in our culture and we too need to be adaptable