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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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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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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BCM 240

Zoning Out

Last week, I had to take my elderly neighbour to the hospital as she fell over and needed a few stitches. Whilst sitting in emergency for who knows how long, I took the time to observe how people around me interacted with one another. But to my surprise, they didn’t.

Eyes were glued – not literally, I know it is emergency but no one had actually glued themselves to their phone – to a myriad of illuminated handheld devices or necks craned to see the TV screen replaying a soap opera. Crying children we handed a phone or tablet to distract them from their pain, teenagers looking like mummies, all bandaged up, texted and scrolled through Facebook whilst their parents did the same. Rose and I simply sat there, reminiscing as it makes her “not feel like such an old, clumsy bugger”.

This is what is happening to our public spaces, they are encroaching on private as we all curl around our devices to seem occupied and as Sherry Turkle (2012) says, “increasingly alone together”.

But what defines something as a private or public space? Miep (2011) asks who makes the rules? Private spaces tend to be controlled by one or limited owners and this ensures that they dictate the rules over the area they deem to be theirs; houses, offices and businesses are common private spaces. Conversely, a public space is one that is opened to many and has democratic rules which are entrenched in us as children – does anyone else remember their parents scornfully saying through their teeth, “we’re in public!“. These spaces are shopping centres, parks, gyms and airports.

So whilst we all sit there in our own little world and refuse to look up, take notice and engage with the world around us, we miss the little things. In saying that, our shopping centres have released that we are now time poor, working when we get home and when we are out. But do not worry, they have a myriad of TV screens screeching at you about a wonderful fry pan, “all yours for just $59.99! It’s a steal!”.

Most technologies are  starting to redefine and reshape most of our lives and it is no different for public and private spaces.  Our public space’s characteristics are beginning to blur with what defines the public sphere. Is this a bad thing? Or is it simply progressive?

P.S. Just in case you were wondering; Rose is back home and doing well and I now have a lifetime supply of homemade strawberry jam – Rose’s speciality

Sources:

Miep, A 2011, ‘Public Space vs. Private Space: Four Questions’, Daily KOS, viewed 7 September, http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/03/13/956112/-Private-Space-vs-Public-Space-Four-Question

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BCM 240

Champagne and the Cinema

empty_cinema_room_by_malypluskwiak-d38x4pp

 

The experience of being in a room filled with people who want to see the same film at the same time as you used to fasinate me as a child. I would sit there eagerly waiting for the lights to dim, the first boom to sound and slurp the last bit of my drink – yes I am that person who finishes everything before the adverts. But going to the cinema today, is a whole other experience and it has a lot more to offer.

In 1969, Torsten Hägerstrand (p.50) developed three constraints known as: capability, coupling and authority constraints. The first constraint, capability, asks whether a person can get to the destination. The second restraint, coupling, asks whether an individual can get there on time. And finally, authority constraints asks the question of am I allowed to be here?

So when the task of going to the cinema was a requirement for uni – something my friend could not believe – I jumped at the chance to sit and stare at a screen for an hour or so. I thought about Hägerstrand’s constraints throughout the entire planning and execution process and it became clear how difficult it was to plan the night out. Firstly, capability; I am able to drive and my friend who joined me lives about six minutes away and the cinema is a short ten or fifteen minute drive. So far, I have aced Hägerstrand’s theory. Secondly, coupling; my wonderful, beautiful friend who has so many great qualities is notorious for being late and last night was no exception. We were planning to get to the 6:30 session for A One-Hundred Foot Journey but ended up arriving at the cinema at 7pm and after speed buying overpriced drinks, we ran into the dark cinema where the majority of people rolled their eyes and groaned as we wiggled through to our assigned seats as the cinema was absolutely packed. Finally, authority – am I allowed to be here? The cinema is a public space despite it being a temporary space, and we were both over 15. Two out of three is not bad.

But can this form of cinema exist in the next four, five or ten years?

Well, maybe.

One potential selling point that the cinema has is that it is an opportunity to leave the house without having to leave comfort which is a pretty good trade. But these cinemas in London, are really setting high standards. Electric Cinema  on Portobello Road in London, offers different forms of seating – from standard cinema chairs to plush, velvet and leather armchairs. Ummm, yes please! Or if it is something more upmarket and fancy then the Edible Cinema offers themed food and drinks, “each guest is supplied with a tray of numbered boxes containing mini cocktails and bite-sized tasting menu tailored to specific moments in the film.” The most popular is Romeo & Juliet – of course.

The Electric Cinema offers the luxury that one would experience at home

The Electric Cinema offers the luxury that one would experience at home which is why it is a popular cinema in the central London area

But the mere, humble cinema that we see in Australia is not going to survive the next few years. According to Schwartzel and Fritz (2014) in the U.S., box office revenue increased 17%  in 2013 but that is not due to attendance rather the increased price which went from $7.96 to $8.13 – which is small compared to Australia where a student ticket will set you back $13.50. Moreover, the number of tickets sold fell to nearly 11% between 2004 and 2013.

So the cinema may not last any longer than a few more years. That is unless they introduce something that will make it more than just a movie on a screen. A Capulet Cocktail anyone?

 

Fritz, B & Schwartzel, E, 2014, ‘Fewer Americans Go to the Movies’, Wall Street Journal Online, viewed August 30, http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303949704579461813982237426

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BCM 240, Media

Internet Makes a House a Home

I tell this story to anyone who is willing to listen. My parents packed my sister and I up, at the tender ages of 9 and 7 and travelled around Australia for six months. Most people ooo and ahh at the stories and idea of just walking away from reality for six months; but what baffles many, is the fact that the only technology we had was a mobile phone and my sister and I both had Sony Walkman CD. Yes, that was it. No iPads, no TV screens, not even a GPS system. And you know what, it was the best thing that my parents could have done.

A Sony Walkman CD was the only thing that provided entertainment for six months travelling

A Sony Walkman CD was the only thing that provided entertainment for six months travelling around Australia in 2002

 

Internet Cafes were our main source of communication to family and friends back at home as the Internet was a well and truly developed at this stage – 2002 – it was not yet a widely accessible service.

At home, I cannot remember a time without a computer or the Internet. Whilst we were still limited to what we could do on the Internet – mainly homework or later, MSN messenger – it has always been a part of my life.

A year or two ago, we had the National Broadband Network (NBN) installed in our house as one of the trial towns. Oh my, it was wonderful. I am not going to pretend I know what the actual benefits and try to explain the terminology as I have no idea. But I do know that it is kind of great because things load faster than ever before.

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The NBN's plans for one year were a big ask

The NBN’s plans for one year were a big ask

Despite having a networked home, my parents always placed a huge emphasis on actually talking to one another of an evening as well as not allowing television, gaming consoles or Internet into our bedrooms. My father finally relented and allowed for WiFi access in our rooms and even now, we still have to emerge from there of an evening to eat, at the table, with technology not allowed. This is strict, yes, but I am grateful because I am able to survive in social situations without having to turn to my phone to escape. And this is why I admire Sherry Turkle’s Ted Talk on how we are increasingly becoming Alone Together. She describes it as craving to be with each other but also being elsewhere via our technologies.

Turkle (2012) says that we are forgetting what it is like to have a real conversation, in real-time, without editing and perfection. We are now talking in “snips” which satisfies us briefly but this feeling is not sustained over a long time. So what does this mean for our households where we want technology to reciprocate the same values as our homes do? I think it means our homes are breaking down. Not the abrupt zombie apocalypse style but slowly we are losing what used to hold our homes together such as the family dinner where families sit down, interact with one another. The Internet and technology are hindering our relationships.

Danah Boyd explores this notion of how the Internet is impacting our relationships and lives via various studies of teenagers and their use of the Internet. My parents – especially my mother – scoff at the idea of how much time teenagers spend with their technologies playing, searching, watching, generally consuming the Internet.

Some of the areas Boyd examines are identity in a digital age and addiction but I feel most importantly and timely, she touches on cyberbullying. An issue that many of us have witnessed or experienced.

Boyd (2014) discusses that “networked technologies complicate how people understand bullying. Some people believe that cyberbullying is a whole new phenomenon. Others argue that technology simply offers a new site for bullying, just as the phone did before the Internet” (Boyd 2014, p.132). I believe the latter and sincerely see a networked home as somewhat of a concern for families that have young children and teenagers as there is a lot of time spent without . Home is supposed to be safe but with bullying not ending at the school gates and literally following you home everyday, this issue needs to be addressed when discussing or debating the future of the networked home.

However, I do begin to pull myself back up on to the middle of the fence when further reading Boyd’s (2014 p.133) paper where she states, “heightened visibility…prompts people to assume that technology must inherently make bullying more hurtful and damaging”. So are we really in the middle of an ‘epidemic’ or is because we are more aware that we are panicking?

Overall, a networked home is the future home. One where we will not be able to disconnect as such programs as the NBN roll through and our lives are overcome with technologies as we slowly but surely move towards forever being alone together.

Boyd, D 2014, It’s Complicated, Yale University Press, Yale

Turkle, S 2012, “Connected, but alone?” Online video, TED Talk, February, accessed online 23 August 2014 http://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together

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