BCM 240

Taking a step back to take a leap forward

After a long nine weeks of weekly blogging I can finally say, it is coming to an end. Whilst this is bittersweet as it has been a very steep learning curve, I think I will miss blogging for this subject.

I have blogged since the start of university (last year) and feel that this is truly the first time that I have enjoyed blogging. The ability to write expressively and freely is important with a subject such as Media, Audience and Place as it is a very interesting, topical subject. It encourages you to speak freely and ask the hard questions, debate the set readings and most importantly, to research and find out the facts and not just take them for face value because they are written by someone with a lot of letters at the end of their name.

Originally, I tried to find research that would fit with my opinions and suit the blog topic. But by week 3, it was evident that, that was not going to work and I really did venture into new territory of debating – or arguing – against what the authors were saying. This was weirdly interesting because I got to say my opinions without the negativity that could come from face-to-face discussions. However, when I was struggling by week 7 to find an article, any article, that would somehow relate to what I was saying, I turned to my parents and family members. This – I think – was the beginning of including anecdotes of family holidays or just generally stories about my family. I liked this approach as it meant I could add a little humour or lightheartedness to the topics which could be at times very dry. But then again, from doing this subject and having to find weekly articles – including scholarly, online newspapers and other blogs – increased my ability to find other ways of scoping out articles that relate to the week’s topic.

The weekly topics I have found are very thought-provoking and also eye-opening. Firstly, there was this post  – Horror Movie Right There on My TV – where I interviewed my mother about her television experiences. I knew that she had a TV in her house and what it had looked like but I had not thought about what she would have seen on TV during her childhood – namely the man walking on the moon, President Kennedy’s death (although she was young but remembers the aftermath, she said similar to how we think of 9/11).

Secondly, I loved researching Champagne and the Cinema – not that I got to have champagne at the cinema – because I never knew that there were cinemas where you could eat food designed to be eaten during the film as an interactive tool. But more than this, I did not know that the statistics regarding cinema attendance were so drastic and dim. But the best part of this was going to the cinema as a university requirement – something my non-uni friend still cannot get over. But with the statistics freshly in my mind, it is amazing how differently you approach the cinema; I feel as if I should go more to help the cinema stay because it holds many childhood memories of having a “big day out” with my grandmother or being especially “grown-up” and attending the movies with just your friends and yourself! Moreover, Kate Bowles (lecturer) spoke about how we react to certain social situations and this was interesting to observe as well whilst at the cinema. Some people – like myself – sit in their assigned seats whilst others prefer to sit well away from strangers.

This subject is obviously about the ways in which people interact with the media in certain places. Whilst sitting in the Emergency Ward on a Monday night, I found myself judging the ways that other people used their mobile devices in a public space. Some had their eyes glued to the dim TV or sat, curled over their phones or iPads whilst others sat listening to music. No one, no one was talking to one another apart from Rose – my elderly neighbour – and I was completely stumped. A place where there are injured people with a relative or friend sitting by them in a time of need and no one was talking to them, seeing if they were still ok or even alive! But instead of dragging out my soap box and screaming at these people to look, talk, engage with one another for goodness sake! I instead ranted and raved in my blog post which was slightly therapeutic. Rose simply tutted and went back to her knitting whilst I sat there, mouth agape in complete amazement. It truly is as Sherry Turkle (2012) describes, we are slowly but surely becoming alone together – a frighteningly accurate social assessment.

Social assessments and studies conducted by Screen Australia Research were something I used quite heavily throughout the final weeks of blogging and has been a constant reference as I continue exploring Australian media statistics throughout the rest of my degree.

As mentioned previously, I have had to blog weekly for other subjects throughout my entire degree. But this is the first time that design, layout, linking and engagement has been an emphasised element. Whilst I am still far from a blogger-buff, I feel that I have redesigned a few things and have definitely streamlined the layout. This was mainly due to the increased number of blogs that I would be doing so adding subject menus was definitely needed! Moreover, adding photos and videos and hyperlinks were all pretty foreign terms before this semester and you have to learn quickly! Moreover, encouraging Twitter conversations was something else I had to learn fairly quickly. Whilst I did not tweet every week – oops – I did find it useful to have Twitter as another resource of information rather than just getting e-mails – it also meant I did not have to bother tutors relentlessly!

Overall, it has been an interesting, engaging semester and one that truly is eye-opening to how we consume media – or more realistically, how it forces us to engage with it.

 

 

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BCM 240

Do You Come From a Land Down Under?

“Yes I come from the land down under. No, I do not ride kangaroos to school, no I do not greet everybody with G’day, nor do I say strewth, and there is no such things as ‘drop bears’ as koalas are not bears and they do not ‘drop’. Oh and that thing that you are trying to pat is a Goanna and they are feisty so step away.” This was the conversation that I had with an American tourist who proclaimed to have watched every “Dinky di Owwzee (Aussie) film”  – namely A Cry in the Dark

Internationally, there are many films and television shows that like to squeeze in every Australian stereotype including heavy drawl that is a ridiculously fake Australian accent. So it is frankly disappointing when we have to witness the same stereotyping in our own films and shows which is best known as “cultural cringing” (Triple J, 2009).

This is about the only accurate thing that tourists believe about Australia

This is about the only accurate thing that tourists believe about Australia

So could this be why our film industry is lacking Australian audiences? In some part yes, Australians are sick of being constantly portrayed as “convicts – delinquents, struggling outsiders … trapped in a harsh environment they barely understand” (Vidler, 2005) whereas Americans in their films are portrayed as, “an individual with strong character can undertake a daunting task, overcome seemingly insurmountable odds, and become a great success” (Vidler 2005).

But as discussed over in this post, the number of moviegoers are rapidly diminishing worldwide. But Australia seems to be hit the hardest with statistics exemplifying that, Australian films made $38.5 million at the box office, which is an overall share of 3.5 per. Compare this to the figures in 1986 where Australian films made 44.4 million which equated to 23.5 per cent share.

“With a few exceptions – a Sapphires here, a Red Dog there – local features have been dead meat at the box office for at least five years” (Barber 2013) but feeble cinema turnouts do not necessarily mean Australians do not want Australian-made stories. Barber (2013) explains that the success of quality Australian television shows – such as Offspring, The Slap, Please Like Me and Underbelly – shows that audiences are keen for more.

So may be this is the answer to the film industry’s woes – find a happy medium, something that showcases Australia beautifully but is not so stereotypically draining.

 

Resources:

Barber, 2013, ‘Better to fund high-end global TV than back Australian films’, The Guardian, viewed 27 September, http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2013/oct/11/australian-film-funding-failure-tv

Vidler, 2005, ‘Hating Aussie film?’, Sydney Morning Herald, viewed 27 September,http://www.smh.com.au/news/The-Tribal-Mind/Hating-Aussie-film/2005/04/11/1113071903327.html

 

 

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DIGC 202

#Help, I need somebody

Connectivity is power. Knowledge is power. And now, social media is power.

The immediacy and ubiquitous nature of social media has no relevance to the general public until its power is unleashed – for the public to see – during mass demonstrations in foreign countries.

A poignant example of social media’s power dates back to November 2013 where a few thousands students gathered in Maidan Nezaleshnosti (Independence Square) to protest president Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to “ditch a far-reaching accord with the European Union in favour of stronger ties with Russia” (Fishwick, 2014).

A protester during the protests in the Independence Square, Kiev

A protester during the protests in the Independence Square, Kiev, 2013

Political upheaval is not new to the Ukraine – as the Orange Revolution was some nine years prior – but what made this significantly different to the previous revolution was that “new media, social networks and other IT tools for organising and sustaining protests” (Bohdanova, 2013) were implemented within the first few days. Tetyana Lokot (Mitew, 2014) reported that 3,200 tweets were published per hour on November 25th and up to 4,800 per hour on November 30th which was the first day of violent crackdowns by police.

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24th November protesters reached a record 100,000 people in Kiev

However, the November record was broken on December 1st when 700,000 protesters gathered in the aptly named Independence Square

However, the November record was broken on December 1st when 700,000 protesters gathered in the aptly named Independence Square

Twitter was a major platform used during the protests and a hashtag was created on November 21st – the first night of protests – #euromaidan. This hashtag started, spread and sustained a revolution.

Moreover,  Facebook  played a central role in informing wider audiences but soon became useful in “meeting the growing need for medical and legal assistance” after protests turned violent on the morning of November 30. Facebook pages such as Euromaidan SOS asked individuals to post information about victims of police beatings so they could send appropriate help to those in need.

But there are always some who do not believe in the power of social media during protests. Evgeny Morozov (2011) states that digital tools are simply that, tools. And that social changes requires “many painstaking, longer-term efforts to engage with political institutions and reform movements”. Yes, it does take a long time to overthrow a government or bring about any kind of political change. But does it not take one voice to begin that change? And what happens when that voice is amplified and disseminated to a thousand people? Ten thousand people? Well, you get change faster than ever before. And this is what the protest in Ukraine exemplified – that one platform, one idea and one hope was shared by so many people and it all started with one voice and one person.

And this is the power that social media has – its innate ability to provide ubiquitous connectivity and knowledge. And knowledge is power.

 

References:

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Bohdanova, T, 2013, ‘How Internet Tools Turned Ukraine’s #Euromaidan Protests Into a Movement’, Global Voices, viewed 27 September, http://globalvoicesonline.org/2013/12/09/how-internet-tools-turned-euromaidan-protests-into-a-movement/

Fishwick, C, 2014, ‘We were so naive and optimistic’: Ukraine Euromaidan protesters tell us what’s changed for them’, The Guardian, viewed 27 September, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/04/ukraine-crisis-protesters-kiev-euromaidan-independence-square

Mitew, T, 2014, ‘The social network revolutions: #mena, #arabspring, #maidan’, http://prezi.com/ikufthacaunr/mena-arabspring-the-social-network-revolutions/

Morozov, E, 2011, ‘ Facebook and Twitter are just places revolutionaries go’ The Guardian, viewed 27 September, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/mar/07/facebook-twitter-revolutionaries-cyber-utopians

 

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BCM 240

Raunchy Regulations

6 a.m. starts when I was a child were not rare. On the weekends my sister and I used to wake up, run to the lounge room, turn the TV and wait for Cheez TV to begin. However 90% of the time we were up too early and there would instead be, five petite women all dressed  in lycra bending, stretching with one woman at the front with bleach blonde hair and huge teeth saying, “and 5, good, four, three, two annnnd one! Very goooood!!” This was never a nice way to start the weekend.

A meme accurately portraying my childhood television consumption

A meme accurately portraying my childhood television consumption

But the early morning TV watching and general consumption of five free-to air channels throughout my childhood were the least of my parents worries as when I hit about ten, television viewing had became harder to control as I was going to bed later and Pokemon no longer interested me.

There have been numerous studies done examining the effects that heightened televisions consumption has on a child’s development from birth to age five. But there are limited resources examining the effects that TV has on children aged 11 – 15. Between these ages, I was not allowed to watch shows like Home and Away, Neighbours or Bold and the Beautiful as my parents hated the messages they sent to impressionable early adolescents. So for me at this age with only free-to-air TV, there was news, news or news. This could be the reason I always wanted to be a journalist not an actress.

But with more access to channels offering a wider range of programs, do we need tighter regulations regarding children’s television? I do not think so. Television has changed dramatically over the years as we are now bombarded with reality television; but, there is also now channels on free-to air that are dedicated to broadcasting age appropriate children’s programs such as ABC2 and ABC3.

Screen Australia (2013, p.5) conducted a study which explored children’s television consumption and found that Giggle and Hoot and Play School produced the most response from children aged 2 – 7 years. Whilst the study (Screen Australia 2013, p.5) found that the X Factor, Modern Family and The Block were popular with children aged 11 – 14.

Screen Australia's study examining children's consumption of Australian television

Screen Australia’s study examining children’s consumption of Australian television

 

They also explored how television was regulated within the modern family home. The majority of television consumption was restricted to the “adult selecting age appropriate programs for a child” or for those a little older, “children were able to select content from a specified list of channels” (Screen Australia 2013, p.6). This suggests that parents have a lot of control as they either select for children or they use parental controls to reduce the amount of content that the children can have.

This study by Screen Australia  exemplifies that rules and regulations surrounding the family television is primarily the adult’s responsibility. And frankly, so it should be; there are channels designed specifically for children and there are now parental locks so parents can relax slightly. But there will always be the opportunity to watch early morning yoga overlooking the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

 

Sources:

Screen Australia, 2013, ‘Child’s Play’, Issues in Australian Children’s Television,  pp. 1 – 16, viewed 20 September,  http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/getmedia/fb6b35d9-5a95-4521-bbdb-8b12f59d1a87/Rpt_ChildsPlay.pdf

 

 

 

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DIGC 202

I Spy With My Little Eye

Technology has become a major facet within our daily lives as smartphones are now spending more time in our hands than in our pockets. As a result of this, news and journalism are being dramatically enhanced, as citizen journalists are pressing record and uploading to social media as-its-happening footage. From racial slurs on public transport to protests and riots in the streets internationally, communication is changing.

But what does this mean for traditional journalism? Has it had its day?

The Internet has undoubtedly shifted the ways in which we consume information. Jay Rosen (2010) refers to us as “the people formerly known as the audience” as we are rapidly becoming prosumers – producers and consumers. Teodor Mitew states, “prosumers are an ecology where participation is its own reward” (Mitew, 2014). This is why citizen journalism is such a viable entity as it is satisfying to portray what is happening in real time as well as incredibly beneficial to the public and media.

“The beautiful thing about the Internet, for example, the effect it has on the media, is that it really levels the playing field” states Huffington Post’s journalist and media producer, Ahmed Shihab-Eldin, “anyone is a reporter…consumers are becoming news producers and it’s exciting.” Ahmed explains in this video (below) how journalism and citizen journalism are rapidly intertwining in this social media dominated society. But what is interesting is that he is extremely positive about this convergence, “it makes the job for a journalist that much harder because as a journalist now, you have so many sources.”

However, Ahmed (2012) does stress that there needs to be a symbiotic relationship between the two as citizen journalism is there to fill the gap that a parachute journalist – one who only reports when the story is trending- cannot fill. A citizen journalist contextualises stories where it may be difficult to do so because of historical, religious or cultural anomalies. A journalist’s role is to “contextualise, to report, to tray and be factual, to use stories to illustrate the human condition…to be progressive, to move society forward” (Shihab-Eldin, 2012). Moreover, Axel Bruns (2009) states that “at its heart, mainstream journalism offers news-as-product: a collection of easily digestible reports based on research, ready for consumption” conversely, “citizen journalism provides news-as-process: a continuing and necessarily unfinished coverage of topics and events inviting user participation”.

Axel Bruns has got it right. Yes, there are similarities but they both, offer something more, individually. Jay Rosen (2010) on the other hand has got it blindingly wrong as he believes that a journalist is “just a heightened case of an informed citizen, not a special class”. This made my blood boil. This – to me – is like saying a teacher is an overpaid babysitter. “A professional journalist knows how to get information, ask questions, tell stories and connect isolated facts. These are not esoteric or specialised skills, just heightened versions of things any smart citizen should be able to do” (Rosen, 2010). Few things Rosen; firstly, your argument was strong until you wavered at saying these are qualities any “smart citizen should be able to do” is a journalist not a smart citizen who is capable of asking intelligent, relevant, poignant questions?

I do not believe that any job is in its own “special class”; not a doctor, nor astronaut or a garbage man. They all however have fundamental skills that involve mundane, basic things that any “smart citizen” can do – a seamstress would make a wonderful doctor as she could do some amazing patchwork on a patient’s stomach; but there are so many other elements and finer skills that make a doctor, a doctor.

I understand I am not ever going to be qualified enough to do “brain surgery, or pilot a Boeing 747” (Rosen, 2010) but hell, I will write a damn good story that will inform citizens such as yourself on events you will never experience. And where I may falter in collecting valid, reliable, accurate sources then citizen journalists will be there at the helm to help me out.

Traditional journalism has not had its day in this vastly different mediascape as there still needs to be someone at the end of the day, to connect the dots, to fact check, to provide historical support and to generally write a story that is accessible for as many citizens as possible. We need to work collaboratively.

 

Bruns, A 2009, ‘News Blogs and Citizen Journalism: New Directions for e-Journalism’, e-Journalism : New Media and News Media, accessed 18 September 2014, https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/245673/mod_resource/content/1/Bruns%2C%20A.%20-%20News%20Blogs%20and%20Citizen%20Journalism.pdf    Also can be accessed here: http://eprints.qut.edu.au/32539/

Mitew, T 2014, ‘Bridges made of pebbles: Social media and the transformation of journalism’, Global Networks, University of Wollongong, accessed 19 September 2014, http://prezi.com/sh7b7p0osscz/bridges-made-of-pebbles-social-media-and-the-transformation-of-journalism/

Rosen, J 2010, ‘The Journalists Formerly Known as the Media: My advice to the next generation’, Press Think, accessed 20 September, http://pressthink.org/2010/09/the-journalists-formerly-known-as-the-media-my-advice-to-the-next-generation/

 

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DIGC 202

Six Months in a Leaky Boat

I have always been amazed at some people’s dedication but Sam Vieira and his friend Davor – who are two university students from Sydney – take the cake. They are willing to sit outside the Apple store for two weeks so they can be the first ones to get the new iPhone 6. If only they were that dedicated to their studies.

Whilst I do have a good rant over in this post, this post will explore the philosophies of the two heavyweight empires that dominate the smartphone market – Android and Apple.

2007 was a huge year not only for myself – starting high school – but also for Apple when in January, they released the iPhone with co-founder Steve Jobs stating to the world, “Today we’re introducing three revolutionary products…a widescreen iPod…a revolutionary mobile phone; a breakthrough in Internet communications…We are calling it…iPhone” (Mitew 2014). I can imagine the enamoured audience rising to their feet, applauding uproariously and trying with all their might not to bow down to their noble leader as he presents the future.

Conversely, in December of 2007, many waited with baited breath at Google’s response to this revolutionary device. But to individual’s dismay, they stated – on their own blog, no big showy press conference – that, “we’re not announcing a Gphone. However, we think that we are announcing the Open Handset Alliance and Android – which is more significant and ambitious that a single phone” (Mitew 2014). Well, ain’t those fightin’ words?

But ultimately, it is up to consumers and Apple – for the tech savvy – was somewhat of a let down as Apple, “remains tethered to its makers desires, offering a more consistent and focused user experience at the expense of flexibility and innovation” (Zittarian 2006, p.59) Whilst this is brilliant if you are like me and have no idea how to jailbreak or hack into anything but for those that wanted freedom to use their phone in their own unique way, Apple has sold itself short by applying  closed system to their products.

And I believe that this is why Android has the upper hand as they offer an open system meaning that the vendor has no control over the content, user or the platform. These are the statistics provided by Mitew (2014):

  • Android holds 85% of the global smartphone market
  • 1 billion devices are in use
  • 1 million activations per day
  • Estimated 1,000,000 apps

Finally, to tie this post in with current events, it is hard to go past the hacking of celebrities iCloud accounts. Whilst I do not believe that Apple is entirely to blame – as the security questions were answered correctly signifying a professional hack – I do think it is somewhat ironic that a closed system which dictates so much of your interaction with its devices as well as suggesting that this closed system is better for you, can ultimately have their fundamental philosophy tested. Maybe this will change Apple?

 

 

Mitew, T 2014, “DIGC202 The feudalism of the Internet”, lecture notes, accessed on 13/9/2014, http://prezi.com/qopqxh6ktl1j/the-feudalisation-of-the-internet/

Zittrain J 2010, A fight over Freedom at Apple’s core, Financial Times, viewed 11thSeptember 2014, <http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/fcabc720-10fb-11df-9a9e-00144feab49a.html#axzz3D9PE4npq>

 

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BCM 240

Being a Yes Man

The ways in which we work are vastly different to five, ten and definitely twenty years ago. As we grow an extra limb to enable extra social media and technology time, the question that begs to be asked is: should we stop taking on multiple jobs and just sit and complete one at a time? Is multitasking really a prominent issue within society?

But how bad can it be if we have been multitasking our entire lives? Walking and talking, eating and watching TV but as scientist John Medina researched the effects of multitasking on the brain within a work environment. He found that multitaskers experience a 40% drop in productivity, they take 50% longer to accomplish a single task and make 50% more errors. This is due to our short-term “memory can only store between five and nine things at once” (Merrill, 2012) and that includes thinking about what you are going to cook for dinner.

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Speaking of dinner, one of the long held beliefs is that women are able to multitask better than men due to “instincts” (Merrill, 2012) but in actual fact, “women suffer as much as men when forced to multitask and are less inclined to multitask when given the choice” (Buser & Peter 2012, p.641).

 

But when we look at multitasking with technology, the prevalence of watching, listening, talking and consuming is remarkably higher than I first thought.

A 2013 Nielsen report found that “three-quarters of viewers multitask with two sets of content while watching television” (Bowles 2014). That is unbelievable! I must admit that I am absolutely shocking when it comes to multitasking – my phone is switched off whilst working and when the news is on, that is my soul focus. But my sister on the other hand, is naturally good at multitasking as you can see here:

My sister showing us all how it is done Photo credit: Natalie Austin

Yes, she is texting, checking Facebook via her iPad and watching the news and then continues on to talk to me – level: expert multitasker.

An interesting research paper by Benitez et al (2012) examines if there are generational differences in multitasking skills between what they class as Baby Boomers born between 1946 – 1964, GenX born between 1965 – 1979 and NetGen which is anyone born 1980 – present. The report found that the “younger generations report lower difficulty ratings when multitasking and multitask more than the older generations.”

But my conclusion is that multitasking is detrimental to many aspects of our lives. Is our inability to sit and complete one task at a time, why we see so many reports on people more stressed, overwhelmed and overworked? I think so as we are finding it increasingly harder to turn off as we have not completed the day’s work hence why we are bringing it home with us. What do you think?

 

 

Sources:

Benitez, S, Carrier, L.M, Chang, J, Cheever, N.A, Rosen, L.D, 2008, ‘Multitasking across generations: Multitasking choices and difficulty ratings in three generations of Americans’, Computers in Human Behaviour, vol. 25, issue 2, pp. 483–489, viewed 13 September, http://www.sciencedirect.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/science/article/pii/S0747563208002033

Bowles, K 2014, ‘Week 7: The problem of multitasking’, lecture notes, BCM240 Media, Audience and Place, Wollongong University, 8 September, viewed 13 September, https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/287393/mod_resource/content/1/BCM240%202014%20week%207.pdf

Buser, T, Peter, N, 2012, ‘Multitasking’, Experimental Economics, vol. 15, issue 4, pp. 641 – 655, viewed 13 September, http://link.springer.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/article/10.1007%2Fs10683-012-9318-8

 

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