Media, Audience and Place: A Reflection

The second year of my BCMS degree also commemorates my second year of public blogging. As I stated in my introduction blog post for Media, Audience and Place, I don’t regularly update my activity on social media. However,  I believe this subject was an excellent catalyst in not only developing my writing style, but also emphasising the importance of curating and aggregating. by considering all these elements, by writing has become far more personalised and conceptual. Throughout my public writing for this subject, I have come to appreciate the complex relationship between media, audience and place.

One of my favourite posts was in week five regarding ‘Cinemas – Strangers in public’. In this post I explored the current and changing attitudes towards cinema attendance in Australia. What I liked about this topic was how the cinema is contentiously blurred between what is considered public and private space. In this post I undertook a visit to the cinema, but decided to notice some of the unwritten social rules regarding this activity. One thing I noticed that week, and have continued to notice is that in an uncrowded theatre, most patrons don’t like to sit next to each other. As stated in my blog, ‘How hard is going to the movies?’, my friends and I would rather not sit directly next to or in front of someone if possible. Although I never addressed this in the blog, I would now consider this an extension to the authority constraint, in regards to Hagerstrand’s three classes of constraints (1970). Despite that this isn’t at all enforced by “certain people or institutions” (Corbett 2001), I would consider this a social guideline that, at least in Australian culture, is self-imposed.

Another significant post was in week 8. My post, ‘Being denied to a club is one thing, but a movie?’, explored the legal and ethical regulations in regards to films and audience. I thought that this post was effective as I began with a personal anecdote where I was denied entry to a film as I couldn’t prove my age. I than went into explicit detail about the law surrounding movie classifications in Australia, and how this differentiates in the US. What I liked most about this post is how the relationship between media, audience and place can be restricted by law or ethics. In several of my posts, I have included a short anecdote as Clark states, they “can make people laugh” and “immediately establish the main point of your post” (2006). Furthermore, I believe this post is a great example of using a variety of relevant hyperlinks. Throughout this post (and most others), I hyperlink all sources that are accessible to the general public. Therefore, throughout this post, whenever I refer to an news article, or government publication, I not only reference that evidence, but also provide a means of easy navigation for my readers.

Another key element I have included in the layout of my blogs is incorporating images, videos or graphs to break up large pieces of writing. Both as a blogger and a reader of blogs, I think this is necessary in communicating an argument or idea. For example, in my post ‘Australian Cinema of World Cinema?’, when referring to the film ‘Bait 3D’ I included the YouTube video to the official trailer. Furthermore, when I refer to the Australian film ‘Animal Kingdom’, I included the original poster image of the film adjacent to the writing. I believe these elements are a very effective and simple method to attracting the attention of the reader. As Bullas states, ‘articles with images get 94% more total views’ (2012). As such, I usually included some form of visual content that was relevant to the arguments I made regarding media, audience and place.

Following some feedback from several peers and my tutor, I realised my blog was in dire need of renovations. Conceptually, I perceive blogs as a direct channel to the audience. My blog is a personalised, yet academic source for my readers. As such, I wanted my blog to have a sleek and aesthetic design that assisted my ideas. As outlined by Clarke (2014), I determined to simplify my blog and add a few personal touches. I decided to change my blog design from the default 2013 model, to the ‘Hemmingway Rewritten’ theme. This theme created a more cleaner layout, with a greater amount of white space and a flowing transition from one blog to the next. I also discovered the importance of navigation, as Clarke states, “website navigation should feel intuitive to your visitor” (2014). This was achieved by categorising my blog posts, as well as adding a menu to the top for simpler routing.

In addition to studying Communication & Media Studies, I am also a Mandarin major and prior to undertaking this subject, I had just travelled to Shanghai and Beijing. Having enjoyed this experience, I wanted to share this with my audience. One of the great features of the ‘Hemingway Rewritten’ theme was that the header allowed for multiple large images. Although only one image would be presented at a time, this image would change as the visitor navigated between posts. I believe this provided a visually refreshing experience for the reader.

Media, Audience and Place also taught me the importance of aggregation. In previous subjects I would simply post my blog into the blogosphere and revel in the 3-5 views it may secure each week. However, BCM240 required me to not only post my blog, but also tweet the link. At first I was a little anxious. It is one thing to write in public, but to post and support my writing on social media was, at first, a difficult goal to tackle. It required me to re-evaluate what ideas, links and supporting media would best support my argument – particularly if it was to be criticised publicly. In addition to tweeting a link to my blog, I also discovered the assistance of tagging my posts. With every post, I would often include multiple relating tags to further seek interested readers. As I am new to twitter, I made the mistake of using ‘@BCM240’, rather than ‘#BCM240’. This mistake may have hindered my viewership, but regardless I still was able to aggregate a much larger regular readership by supporting tags to my posts.

I most definitely feel that public writing is a very efficient tool in exploring and presenting ideas and arguments. Throughout this semester, I believe that my skills in public writing, as well as my understanding of media, audience and place have matured.

Sources:

Bullas, J 2012, ‘6 Powerful Reasons Why you Should include Images in your Marketing – Infographic’, Jeff Bullas, 28 May, viewed 28 September 2014, < http://www.jeffbullas.com/2012/05/28/6-powerful-reasons-why-you-should-include-images-in-your-marketing-infographic/&gt;.

Clark, B 2006, ‘5 Simple Ways to Open Your Blog Post with a Bang’, Copyblogger, 19 September, viewed 29 September 2014, < http://www.copyblogger.com/5-simple-ways-to-open-your-blog-post-with-a-bang/&gt;.

Clarke, A 2014, ‘8 Blog design tips to make sure people stop to read your content’, Jeff Bullas, 28 April, viewed 28 September 2014, < http://www.jeffbullas.com/2014/04/28/8-blog-design-tips-to-make-sure-people-stop-to-read-your-content/&gt;.

Australian Cinema or World Cinema?

If I were to imagine what section your typical Australian film, a film shot in Australia, with Australian actors, that explores and projects Australian issues and values, would be shelved in a JB HIFI in Australia; it would probably be sitting under the World Cinema genre.

Unfortunately your typical Australian films simply do not interest domestic audiences, as Luke Buckmaster states, “Australian cinema is still big, it’s the audience that got small” (Buckmaster 2014).

Consider the film Bait 3D (2012).

The stereotypical marine slasher film was filmed on location in Coolangatta, Queensland. However, it was actually filmed in co-production with Singapore. As Khoo states, the film was able to secure greater financing and distribution by co-producing in Singapore, and as such, created a vaster distribution network amongst Asia (2014). Khoo also claims that the film, although distinctively Australian, was re-edited for Chinese audiences by introducing Chinese characters (2014, p. 8). As a result, the film that was not well received in Australia, but became a huge hit in Asia.

[POSTER]: Animal Kingdom, 2010.

[POSTER]: Animal Kingdom, 2010.

Although, not all Australian films are of poor quality, such as the 2010 film Animal Kingdom, directed by David Michod and starring Australian A-stars Jackie Weaver, Joel Edgerton and Guy Pearce . The film was received very well, garnering  several major award wins plus a Oscar nomination for Weaver. The film, despite it’s critical success wasn’t a hit at the box office, having only grossed under $7 million (Box Office Mojo 2014). However, it isn’t an issue with Australian cinema attendance. In 2010 Australian cinema attendance grossed $1.13 billion (ABS 2011) . Of this massive sum, I would like to know how much Australian film alone grossed.

So how can we attract domestic audiences to quality Australian cinema? With transnational partnerships becoming more prominent in Asia, such as those with Singapore, it is essential for domestic Australian cinema to strive. If I were to propose a potential qualitative research strategy to secure more funding and greater distribution within Australia, I believe it would be worthwhile to determine what makes an Australian film a success. A content analysis should be undertaken to determine what qualities result in reasonable success domestically. This could be narrowed down to certain actors or filmmakers, perhaps certain genres, or even certain locations. This data could establish  a variety of reasons why a film may not perform so well. For example, perhaps films shot and centred around regional Australia do not resonate with the metropolitan populous.

This could be achieved by studying not only cinema attendance, but perhaps also renting habits, amateur reviews and comments made in online blogging or forums, as well as purchases of films both online and in brick and mortar stores. I believe this approach could establish what makes a critical success, and this information could positively assist Australian filmmakers to connect with Australian audiences.

Sources:

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2011, Perspectives on Culture, cat. no. 4172.0.55.001, ABS, Canberra

Box Office Mojo 2014, ‘Animal Kingdom’, Box Office Mojo, viewed 28 September 2014, <http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=main&id=animalkingdom.htm&gt;.

Buckmaster, L 2014, ‘Australian Cinema is still big, it the audience that got small’, Crickey, 2 September, viewed 29 September 2014, <http://dailyreview.crikey.com.au/australian-cinema-is-still-big-its-the-audience-that-got-small/11426&gt;.

Khoo, O 2014, ‘Bait 3D and the Singapore – Australia co-production agreement: from content to creativity through stereoscopic technology’, Transnational Cinemas, vol. 5, no. 1, p.1 – 13.

How to take down a Government using 140 characters

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PHOTO: Ellen’s Oscar selfie. Most retweeted photo of all time, and elaborate Samsung advertisement.

In the Western world, Twitter and Facebook might have a uninspiring reputation. This isn’t hard to believe when the daily top trends often include Ariana Grande. Or that the most retweeted photo of all time was a selfie of Ellen and several others actors at the Oscars in an obvious Samsung advertisement. But to many other people around the globe, especially those in politically contentious regions, social media is revolutionary.

Citizens of nations involved in the Arab Spring actually used social media sites such as Twitter to mass organise protests and upload politically contentious content. In fact, social media has played a large role in nearly all protests since the Arab Spring. As Howard et al. states, “After analysing over 3 million tweets, gigabytes of YouTube content and thousands of blog posts… social media played a central role in shaping political debates in the Arab Spring.” (Howard et al. 2011).

This is similarly addressed in the video below.

As Cohen states, social media “allowed citizens to fill a gap that was left by mainstream media, where mainstream media was late to arrive” (ForaTv 2011). As such, the unprecedented level of immediacy in communicating information across international borders, whether it be images such as of Mohammed Bouazizi in the Arab Spring protests in Tunisia (ForaTv 2011), or videos of the riots in Turkey during #OccupyGezi.

The extent of the impact social media has had on these recent political revolutions is arguable. Obviously the real work is taken to the streets, but the immediacy of social media has given protesters a tool to organise and aggregate attention to their cause. And the effectiveness is obviously significant, so much so that governments of these protesting regions have tried to ban social media sites such as twitter. For instance, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan labelled Twitter a “menace” and an “extreme version of lying” (BBC 2013). Then, during the upcoming election in March 2014, Turkey banned both Twitter and YouTube (Ozbilgin & Coskun 2014). It is evident that the Arab Spring (and the many protests consequent) are a phenomena of social revolution, whereby social media has become as essential to a protester as a picketing sign and a microphone.

 Sources:

BBC 2013, ‘Turkey protests: Third day of anti-government unrest’, BBC, 2 June, viewed 28 September 2014, <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-22744728&gt;.

Howard, P.N., Duffy, A., Freelon, D., Hussain, M., Mari, W. & Mazaid, M. 2011, ‘Opening Closed Regimes: What Was the Role of Social Media During the Arab Spring?’, viewed 28 September 2014, <http://ictlogy.net/bibliography/reports/projects.php?idp=2170&gt;.

Ozbilgen, O & Coskun, O 2014, ‘Turkey lifts twitter ban after court ruling’, Reuters, 3 April, viewed 28 September 2014, <http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/03/us-turkey-twitter-idUSBREA320E120140403&gt;.

Ellen DeGeneres, 2014, Image, Twitter, 2 March, viewed 28 September 2014, <https://twitter.com/TheEllenShow/status/440322224407314432&gt;.

Technology’s Role in the Arab Spring Protests 2011, video, ForaTv, July 8, viewed 28 September 2014, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZwNb11n9zk&gt;.

Journalism 2.0

What we consider as journalism is currently in a state of convergence. The history of journalism is constantly adapting and shaping to new communication technologies. However, in the past few years an internet phenomena has occurred where everyday citizens are reporting their own news. This is addressed by Brian Conley in the Ted Talk below:

As Conley states, the emergence of the internet and Web 2.0 worldwide has essentially “leveled the playing field” (Conley 2013). Now sites such as Twitter and YouTube offer citizen journalists a platform to aggregate, participate and publish. With such sites, now all a citizen needs to become a journalist is a story and a camera.

But how do citizen journalists differentiate with regular, plain-clothed journalists? There are many concerns regarding citizen journalism, the main issue being credibility. As Morley Safer stated, “I would trust citizen journalism as much as I would trust citizen surgery,” (Krinsky 2009). Issues regarding credibility isn’t new to the public, considering how the News of the World Phone Hacking Scandal impacted on Murdoch media. Rather, the arguments regarding credibility, publishing and immediacy are all blurring as citizen journalism and traditional journalism are shaped and interchanged. As addressed in the Economist, citizen journalists, and in particular foreign correspondents, are pairing up with news branches by selling or providing their stories, photographs and videos (2013).  One such example is the Boston Globe during the Boston bombings of April last year. The Boston Globe used tweets and photographs from local tweeters to report on the event as it happened.

Throughout the day, citizens would communicate with reporters of the Globe through twitter to report current news. This level of immediacy is historically unheard of. Due to the efforts of the Boston globe and citizen journalists, hundreds of thousands of people were provided updates live from the scene (Twitter Media 2014).

So where does this leave the future of journalism? Although citizen journalism may be a groundbreaking source for information, many people are still looking towards news corporations for their source of news. Therefore, if the two work together (as many currently are), our news will not only be even more immediate, but perhaps more authentic too.

Sources:

Conley, B 2012, Citizen Journalism is Reshaping the World: Brian Conley at TEDxMidAtlantic, Tedx Talks, 17 December, viewed 20 September 2014, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kY-l9UQpf0Y&gt;.

Economist 2013, ‘Foreign Correspondents; Citizen Journalism’, The Economist, vol. 407, no. 8838, p. 62.

Krinsky, A 2009, ‘Morley Safer: “I Would Trust Citizen Journalism As Much As I Would Trust Citizen Surgery’, TV Newser, 21 May, viewed 20 September 2014, <http://www.mediabistro.com/tvnewser/morley-safer-i-would-trust-citizen-journalism-as-much-as-i-would-trust-citizen-surgery_b28441&gt;.

Twitter Media, 2014, ‘The Boston Globe uses Twitter during a crisis’, Twitter Media, viewed 21 September, <https://media.twitter.com/success/bostonglobe-uses-twitter-to-source-news-and-keep-the-public-informed-during-the-boston&gt;.

Being denied entry to a club is one thing, but a movie?

Early last year a few friends and myself decided to go see the new Tarantino film ‘Django Unchained’.

In Australia the film received a MA15+ rating for ‘Strong bloody violence and Themes’. At the time I was 17 and a Tarantino fanatic. I had conquered nearly all of his filmography by the age of 15, so I am a fairly seasoned Tarantino connoisseur. It is difficult to describe in words my level of excitement and anticipation to see this film. I even put off pirating the film’s screener that was leaked online, just so I could see it on the big screen.

Unfortunately I didn’t have my license at this point, and therefore didn’t have a proof of age. So after all my anticipation and excitement, when I arrived at the box office to grab my ticket, I was denied entry by the ticketseller (who would have been around the same age as myself, if not younger) as I couldn’t prove I was over 15 years old.

Prior to this event, I never realised that the movie classifications were legally restricted. In Australia, films are classified by the Australian Classification Board (Australian Classification 2014). This board is empowered by law to uphold the classification ratings under the The Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Amendment (Classification Tools and Other Measures) Act 2014. As such, films with a MA15+ and R18+ rating in Australia are legally restricted classification, of which cinemas must legally enforce.

However, in America this isn’t necessarily the case. Where in Australia the classification rating is bound in law, in America the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is voluntary and therefore, “No studio, distributor, theater, or video store is bound by any legislation to follow the ratings applied by the MPAA ratings board.” (Parent Preview 2014).

So what does this mean in terms of space? As previously discussed here, this aspect clearly identifies with Hagerstrand’s constraint of authority (Corbett 2011). In Australia, it is arguable that cinema’s do have a duty of care to uphold minimum standards – particularly since cinemas are considered a public space. And this standard is legally bound. However, this may not necessarily be the case in America. Parents in America sued a theatre claiming they had a ‘duty of care to the public when it adopted the Motion Picture Association of America’s voluntary film-rating system.’ (Gershman 2013) This complaint, however, was dismissed.

Sources:

Australian Classifications 2014, Understanding Classifications (Cinemas), viewed 20 September 2014, <http://www.classification.gov.au/Industry/Documents/Understanding%20Classifications%20Cinema.pdf&gt;

Corbett, J 2001, ‘Torsten Hagerstrand: Time Geography’, Center for Spatially Integrated Social Science, viewed on 30 August, <http://www.csiss.org/classics/content/29&gt>

Gershman, J 2013, ‘Do Theatres Have to Enforce Movie Ratings’, Wall Street Journal, 25 October, viewed 20 September 2014, <http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2013/10/25/do-theaters-have-to-enforce-movie-ratings/&gt;

American Movie Ratings 2014, Parents Preview, viewed 20 September 2014, <http://parentpreviews.com/movie-ratings/usa&gt;.

Apples and Oranges

filepicker-sgEhQPYIS5eJCUX7ynid_Apples-and-Oranges

In life, it appears that there will always only be two choices. Left or Right. Holden or Ford. Playstation or Xbox. Capulet or Montague. Capitalism or Communism. But the greatest, most life-changing is iOS or Android.

To many, they are just a type of phone/tablet/computer and now even a watch.

Both systems boast sexy and sleek electronics. And the differences between the two is almost like comparing apples and oranges. But to the dedicated many, it is a way of life.

iOS can be considered as closed or proprietary software. The decision to limit Apple’s products under this style of software was made with the release of the iPhone. As Zittrain (2010) states, after 30 years of products with open-source software, the iPhone dropped this feature, not allowing outside programming. This means that modifying, redistributing and sharing the software is exclusive to the copyright holder.

Android, in comparison, can be considered as open-source software. Android, which was founded by Andy Rubin in cooperation with Google, lays its primary foundations in open-source software principles. As Roth claims, Rubin interpreted Android as “a free, open source mobile platform that any coder could write for and any handset maker could install” (2008).

The two styles have their individual benefits. Raymond compares the differences between closed and open source software to a Cathedral and a Bazaar (2001). Raymond likened the closed software to a cathedral “carefully crafted by individual wizards or small bands of mages working in splendid isolation” (2001, pp. 2). Although the overall design may be great, it has difficulty in becoming improved or developed outside of that ‘small band’. Whereas open-source software, such as android, is similar to “a great babbling bazaar of differing agendas and approaches” (Raymond 2001, pp. 2). Each user, likewise to a seller at a bazaar, is a co-developer.

Interestingly, in China, Google isn’t the primary app store on Android mobiles. I came to this shocking realisation after touching down in Shanghai. As Google is banned by the Great Firewall of China, this made accessing the app store, maps or even my Gmail impossible. In China there is over  700 million smartphone owners, of whom the majority use android devices such as Samsung and Xiaomi. As Google is blocked, the Android open-source software allows the use of several other systems, such as the Chinese google-equivalent, Baidu. The Baidu app store is the most accessed alternative for android users in China (Millward, 2014).

Sources:

Bischoff, P 2014, ‘What you need to know about China’s 700 million smartphones and tablets’, Tech In Asia, viewed 14 September, <https://www.techinasia.com/chinas-700-million-smart-devices-umeng/&gt;.

Millward, S 2014, ’10 alternative Android app stores in China’, Tech in Asia, 3 June, viewed 14 September 2014, <https://www.techinasia.com/10-android-app-stores-china-2014-edition/&gt;.

Raymond, E 2001, ‘The Cathedral and the Bazzar’, O’Reilly Media, viewed 14 September.

Roth, D 2008, ‘Google’s Open Source Android OS Will Free the Wireless Web’, Wired Magazine, 26 June, viewed 13 September 2014, <http://archive.wired.com/techbiz/media/magazine/16-07/ff_android?currentPage=all&gt;.

Screen Genius, Image, Apples to Oranges, viewed 14 September 2014, <http://s3.amazonaws.com/rapgenius/filepicker%2FsgEhQPYIS5eJCUX7ynid_Apples-and-Oranges.png&gt;.

Zittrain, J 2010, ‘A fight over freedom at Apple’s core’, Financial Times, 3 February, viewed 14 September 2014, <http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/fcabc720-10fb-11df-9a9e-00144feab49a.html#axzz3DICiCqL5&gt;.

When’s a good time to multitask?

Multitasking is tricky. I work in a busy kitchen and bar and if you are only doing one thing at a time, you aren’t doing your job properly. It has just become regular activity to pour a beer and talk to a customer at the same time. But multitasking isn’t something I only do at work, or when I want things to get done quickly. In fact I am multitasking right now.

So what is media multitasking? Vega defines media multitasking as ‘engaging in multiple media activities simultaneously, including multiple windows on a single media platform and/or multiple media.’ (2009, pp. 3).  So, it would be considered media multitasking if whilst writing this blog, I am also jumping through multiple tabs such as various research journals, but also facebook, youtube, reddit all while listening to Kanye West’s Yeezus album.

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[SCREENSHOT]: Media Multitasking

But how effective is media multitasking? In a study conducted by Lee et al. they found that when it comes to media multitasking and learning, it “generates extraneous cognitive load that burdens the working memory” (2012, pp. 102). Therefore, media multitasking could in fact have the complete reverse effect we think it may have. When learning, rather than achieving multiple goals at a single time, media multitasking is overloading our cognitive load thus inhibiting our memory.

If that is the case, why do we still multitask? Similarly Wang and Tchernev found that multitasking resulted in a reduced cognitive response (2012). However, Wang and Tchernev also concluded that when people are faced with a frenzied workload, multitasking appears as the only option, as Wang and Tchernev state,  “cognitive needs are not satisfied by media multitasking even though they drive media multitasking in the first place” (2012, pp. 493).

So when it comes to sitting in class or a lecture, I guess it is time to close all those social media and online shopping tabs down and just listen for once.

Sources:

Lee, J, Lin, L & Robertson, T 2012, ‘ The impact of media multitasking on learning, Learning, Media and Technology’, Learning, Media and Technology, vol. 37, no. 1, p. 94 – 104.

Wang, Z & Tchernev, J 2012, ‘The ‘‘Myth’’ of Media Multitasking: Reciprocal Dynamics of Media Multitasking, Personal Needs, and Gratifications’, Journal of Communication, vol. 62, p. 493 – 513.

Vega, V 2009, ‘Seminar on the impacts of media multitasking on children’s learning & development’, Report from a research seminar, Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University.