Symbolic Databases

Thankfully this week’s reading resonated with me a little stronger than last. Focusing on the first instalment, ‘Database as Symbolic Form,’ it explored why databases don’t follow the narrative structure we’re so used to seeing in many forms of cultural expression like novels and cinema.

This got me thinking about the structure of our impending Mixed Media Creative Critical Essay and the correlation with how hypertext is used in new concepts of narratives. Writing has transcended the traditional form and with the rise of the blog and online journalism, links coming and going from every which way allow users to end up somewhere other than where the author intended to lead them.

Databases appear as a collection of items on which the user can perform various operations: view, navigate, and search.

The above quote is the simplest way I could’ve explained the nature of databases and why they don’t follow the linear narrative we’re so used to seeing. A database and how it is navigated is similar to what our reality is like, not necessarily linear, and ultimately an unstructured collection of happenings created by the user’s operations.

The most obvious database that comes to mind is one’s digital music library. There are various ways to organise, play, and search through an iTunes library.

I particularly found the section titled ‘Database and Narrative’ useful in understanding the particulars between the two contrasting sides. Put simply:

Narrative: cause-and-effect of seemingly unordered items. Algorithms aren’t necessarily needed to proceed through narrative.

Databases: a list that is not ordered, corresponds to data structures.

However, these two mechanisms do not have the same status in computer culture. In terms of new media objects, regardless of how they present themselves, underneath they are all databases, and databases are dominant in the new media landscape.

“Everybody breaks up at Pomodoro”

The title of this particular post is a quote from Seinfeld. Now, it doesn’t necessarily have an exact relation to what this post is about barring the single word ‘Pomodoro,’ (but I did immediately think of the quote as I saw it written on the whiteboard) but I found that my first experience with the Pomodoro Technique of writing had me feeling like I needed to break my ties with the method early on into the technique.

The Pomodoro Technique employs a method of planning, tracking, and processing in intervals, in a way that flow and focus is not interrupted. The technique is named as such as it’s based on the tomato shaped timer (pomodoro is Italian for tomato) which is originally a kitchen timer.

The technique’s fundamental principles is as follows:

  1. Decide on the task/topic
  2. Set 25 minutes of work
  3. Take a short break (3-5 minutes)
  4. After four repeats of #2, take a longer break (15-30 minutes)

Now in class the technique was slightly varied but the process followed the same intervals. To get a feel of the rhythm for our Mixed Media Creative Critical Essay we were to write for 25 minutes, then assess the work for 10. For me, it was super difficult to just start writing for 25 minutes. I wrote for maybe a straight 4 minutes, took a 3 minute break, and that pattern continued on until the time was up. I found myself consistently Googling to come up with material for the essay.

After 25 minutes was up, I already came to the conclusion of changing the perspective in which my essay was to be written in. I think that’s a pretty big compliment to the technique, as my regular routine would’ve had me writing in the initial perspective, only to find out 4 paragraphs in that I hated what I had written.

After a bit of discussion about people’s experience with the demo, in-class version of Pomodoro, we spent 10 minutes reading through, and finding what needed sources, what needed evidence to back up these currently unsubstantiated claims. I found this step to be very useful. It allows you to step away from your work, proofread (which is something I admittedly hate doing and avoid at all costs, once I write something, I want it gone from my immediate vicinity), and research.

The ‘technique’— if you could call it that— I use would have me reading heaps of my sources that I’ve compiled beforehand, then regurgitating that information into a written piece. The Pomodoro Technique has enabled me to work my way backwards which lessens the stop-start mode I’m usually in as I’m citing and sourcing as I’m writing. Also, as I’m already referencing as I’m writing, chances are whatever flow I had going is being consistently interrupted and my train of thought in ruins.

I’ll be trying to employ this technique as my final year rolls along, and hopefully it drags me away from consistently experiencing this:

Those pesky 2-7am bursts of genius aren’t usually bursts of genius. They’re more like thinly veiled cries for help.

In the meantime, have a gander at Dale’s post on her experience with the writing exercise.


In class we discussed the nature of memes. I guess in our generation we’re familiar with memes as those funny little pictures adorned with captions but as I discovered in class, the word ‘meme’ is derived from ‘mimetic structures,’ fragments of informational constructs.

The term ‘informational epidemiology’ was explored. I was only familiar with the second half of that term as there was an episode of Community titled ‘Epidemiology‘ where the characters found themselves victims to a virally spread virus that turned people into zombies. I guess where I’m going with this is that it immediately clicked in my head that the virility of memes going ‘viral’ is likened to the spread of a bodily virus. And they say TV kills brain cells…

‘Meme’ was coined in Richard Dawkins’ 1976 book, ‘The Selfish Gene‘ where the spread of informational ideas and cultural phenomena is conceptualised and theorised for discussion.

I found this to be a really clever way of referencing the nature of the spread of memes to that of a virus. I guess the term going ‘viral’ is also true to form for the meme.

But the short lecture also got me to thinking what makes memes, memes? The term ‘natural selection’ comes to mind which funnily enough leads me back to Richard Dawkins.

Recently the Super Bowl XLIV aired and during the halftime show, an elusive #LeftShark overshadowed headliner Katy Perry.

Now, while I was watching the Super Bowl, the shark didn’t necessarily stand out to me (I was more invested in the rebirth of Missy Elliott into the mid-21st century), but somehow the sharks (most specifically, the shark on the left who seems to be going Han-Solo with the choreography) got all the attention.

Throwback to two years ago to Beyoncè’s halftime show, I also recall the focus to be on Michelle Williams (the under-appreciated Destiny’s Child) also forgetting choreography.

So I guess the pattern here is under-achieving efforts turn into memes.

And just because:

I’d like to learn more about how memes come about and how (and why) they’re able to spread so quickly and to see if there’s something that’s consistent about their nature. Whatever the commonality is, it’d probably be really valuable to marketers and advertisers.

More to come on this as I spend more time looking at memes. In the meantime, Allison penned a great post to do with this very subject.

Surfing the Blogs

Last time I compiled a list of faves it was general pages of entertainment, news, and culture. I thought this time around I could list some of the people from my favourite shows who’ve kept up some interesting blogs.

Rejected Jokes

Rejected Jokes

  • Rejected Jokes – Ben Schwartz writes a LOT, and it’s wonderful. His latest post documented his history as an intern on The Late Show with David Letterman, all the way up to his debut as a guest on the very same show to promote his work on Parks and Recreation and House of Lies.
Aziz Is Bored

Aziz Is Bored

  • Aziz is Bored – Okay so it’s starting to be clear I love Parks and Recreation, but Aziz is an avid food blogger. His Instagram is essentially #foodporn, and a I recall buying one of his comedy specials digitally and in the zip folder contained a .txt document with his favourite places to eat around America. Tell me that’s not dedication… and his blog mirrors that energy.


  • MsJWilly – Jessica Williams, a correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, is constantly dropping mics on feminism, class struggles, and racial issues.
Amy Poehler's Smart Girls

Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls

  • Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls – Originating as an advice web series for young women, it has grown into a beautiful movement. I don’t think I can explain it better than they can: “Change the World by Being Yourself. What began as an online show for young girls and an excuse to host spontaneous dance parties, has become a place for information, comedy and community.”

In terms of what I’ve peeked on other’s blogs this week, I found Maëlle’s post on Le Grand Journal very interesting. It’s a show that has it’s own folder on my hard drives as many of my favourite musicians often perform there, so reading about the structure of the show (considering I hadn’t seen much more past the live performances) was intriguing. On top of it being familiar to me, it got me intrigued about the Broadcast Media class she also takes as it sounds very similar to my TV Cultures class from last semester. Broadcast and post-broadcast was something I actually wrote about on my TV Cultures assessable blog regarding ‘fake news’ (that of Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart) and broadcast journalism.

I also read Emerald’s blog and she featured two posts regarding the Galloway reading. Her post Centralised, Decentralised, or Distributed? touched on the different networks and how networks in history have played a role in the way we interact with the Internet today.

The post The Internet. Who’s In Control? focuses on a more general understanding of the reading and I personally found it very helpful in segmenting the giant chunk of reading I struggled through. It at least gave me the comfort that my train of thought was on the right track during the reading.

Societies and Protocols

I’ll readily admit that this week’s reading ‘How Control Exists after Decentralization‘ went way above and beyond my head. I’ve had the PDF open for several hours and I keep requiring a Tim Tam break away from taking notes that even I’m not sure I can comprehend properly. (I did come across a word—metaphysical—that True Detective’s Rust Cohle used in one of his existential monologues and that was enough to give me an idea of what level this reading was working on). If anything, I think I gather more from the whiteboard digram of hubs and nodes than I do reading about them… damn my need for visual stimuli.

Actual screenshot of the notes I was taking during the reading. You'll notice the abundance of question marks.

Actual screenshot of the notes I was taking during the reading. You’ll notice the abundance of question marks.

Here’s what I did gather from the reading, though succinct and overly simplified (for now?), hopefully after it’s further discussed in class I’ll have more to work off of.

Beginning with the histories of ‘protocol,’ not within technology but the use of protocols within human society, this understanding helped me identify how protocols can be used in regards to technology and the Internet.

“Protocols may be more democratic because it strives to eliminate hierarchy, but it is still very much structured around command and control and has therefore spawned counter-protocological forces.”

The above quote resonated with me, because I read it in regards to societies rather than explicitly relating it to the Internet. It’s as if the ingrained protocols in societal structures were challenged, those that did the challenging would be rejected.

At first glance the Internet might be seen as chaotic when in fact it is highly controlled. This rings back to a few weeks ago when we were discussing the network dynamics in class and the Internet fell under the ‘bell curve distribution’ which are highly regulated networks.

Throughout the reading I also identified several familiar acronyms that I’ve come across during my browsing and amateur troubleshooting. Acronyms which now I know stand for:

  • HTML: Hypertext Markup Language
  • DNS: Domain Name System
  • TCP/IP: Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol
  • UNIX: …now I know it’s not an acronym and just the name of an OS.

More to come on all of this, hopefully I get a stronger grasp on societies in the land of networked media as it goes along.

What’s on TV?

Arriving home from work last Friday and just wanting to unwind with whatever digital had to offer was right up my alley, considering I rarely watch free-to-air and my viewing consists of what my collection consists of, I was more than disappointed flicking through the TV guide.

What I was greeted with was 4 different channels (albeit spawning from one parents channel, but still) all playing the very same episode of dreary game show Family Feud. Salt in the wound was that while I was hunting for another channel, an advertise came on to inform me that Family Feud had even been promoted from a 5-night a week program to 6. Oh joy.

A photo I took of my guide telling me that Family Feud is playing on 4 different channels.

Next was commercials for Gogglebox on Channel 10. A show which is literally watching people watch TV and comment about it in their living rooms (the tagline is ‘a show about people watching television). Not to mention the incessant run of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here commercials. Both of which originated in the UK and are (to my shock horror, pretty huge hits). This was all discovered within the small window of television watching I endured, before I quickly put an episode of Parks and Recreation on. And they wonder why Australia is riding high on the world piracy scales.

I did, however, also see an ad for a new watch-on-demand service being introduced. It’s called Stan, a venture by Nine Entertainment and Fairfax, which actually caught my attention. It’s a service that is powered through an app on your device. What the downside was for existing streaming service that I’d seen is the content available wasn’t the content that people were after. Stan however has rights to the back catalogue of Breaking Bad, as well as it’s spin-off Better Call Saul.

Now, I've already 'collected' all seasons of Top Gear but it being available is a plus for me.

Now, I’ve already ‘collected’ all seasons of Top Gear but it being available here is a plus for me.

With Netflix expected to launch March 2015, the worry of segmented shows across several streamed entertainment providers is now the worry. I guess it never ends. Foxtel continues to have a monopolized hold on HBO content so when Netflix does arrive without the haul of favourites Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, and Better Call Saul, it’s difficult to make a solid decision yet… but it will be interesting to see what titles Netflix uses to get out there. There’s also the existing Presto, brought to you by Foxtel, which does offer a wide selection of HBO content, and yet Game of Thrones is still unavailable due to HBO making the fantasy drama unavailable on streaming services worldwide.

What is exciting about all of this though is that there seems to be a solid future for streaming services and paid television in Australia, though exclusivity deals amongst providers puts a dampen on consumers who want it all, and who can still access all through piracy.

Let’s keep a watch on these developments. I actually signed up for the 30-day trial of Stan so more to come. I gave it a test drive with one of my favourite shows that they have in it’s entirety, The Shield.

The Shield on 'Stan'

The Shield on ‘Stan’

It did as expected, played just fine and had the ability to satisfy my binge-watching habits. I’ll definitely check out Australian Netflix when it launches. I’d already had my try at US Netflix when Arrested Development Season 4 was airing and the selection was insanely immense, fingers crossed for the Australian release.

The String of Clicks

I thought I’d check out a few of my classmates posts this week as I felt a bit stuck in what I could publish for the Week 3 posts.

In doing so, I began on Maëlle’s blog and she had a post regarding hashtags (with some pretty kick ass photos from the #foodporn Instagram hashtag, if I may say so myself), but then the post led me to where she got the hashtag post reference which was from Georgina’s blog.

This just got me thinking with how I (and from what I can tell, a lot of my friends) browse the Internet. How often have I found myself watching something, then Googling it… and the next thing I know I’m on YouTube watching something completely irrelevant and 5 hours has passed? Too often.

Just for reference, I’d recently become entangled in watching The X-Files. Just this past Australia Day weekend, I shot through the first season (24 45 minute episodes, mind you). Now not only did I sit and watch these episodes, but after almost every episode ended, I’d find the review on AVClub and read not only the recap, but the user comments. More often than not the user comments consistently link to something else, only sometimes they’re slightly relevant. For example, one of the links led me to a techno remix of dialogue from the show:

Kind of relevant, yes. But according to my Safari history, I then clicked on True Facts of Truth with Jimmy Fallon and Zach Galifianakis which is clearly of zero relevance to what I was initially in search of.

… and I still wonder where my time goes.


This post is essentially a published mental note for myself, I have yet to even finish the Murphie and Potts reading but it’s already just slightly blown my mind.


tekhne (Greek) means art or craft and logos (Greek) can mean word, study, or system. The modern use of the word began to emerge in the 1860’s, when it came to mean ‘ the system of mechanical and industrial arts’ due to the rise of science.


Thankfully the reading states that it’s a difficult word to define, because I’ve always had trouble with it. It can refer to encompassing all human activity, to as little as devoting it to a self-contained culture. Many periodicals use culture as the title for the arts and entertainment section. Cultura (Latin) means tending or cultivation, and holds an agricultural reference which later transferred to other denominations.


It’s important to have a distinction between technology and technique. While technique can be defined as ‘the use of skill to accomplish something,’ William Barrett puts technology and technique hand-in-hand as ‘technology is intimately involved with the techniques by which we use it.’

It never really occurred to me that ‘technology’ existed way before computer systems came to prominence in the early 80’s. I guess I was only really aware of the current denomination of the word and the current way in which we use the word as well as technology itself.

More to come as I continue reading…


This week’s reading bundle included an article entitled “The Long Tail” by Chris Anderson for Wired in 2004. The article describes the rise of niche markets over purely mainstream entertainment.

The rise is attributed to ‘The Long Tail’, in which selling more is (wouldn’t you guess it) selling more. A business model in which providers make many, many things available, both mainstream and eclectic, to capture a larger audience; a model which had previously been more difficult to accomplish without the Internet marketplace we have today.

In 2004, when the article was published, these 3 rules were listed for the ‘new entertainment industry’:

  1. Make everything available.
  2. Cut the price in half. Then lower it.
  3. Help me find it.

We’re now 11 years past the establishment of the aforementioned article, and with these 3 rules working hand in hand and in full force, there is an audience. We now see online marketplaces gaining steam such as Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, and Spotify, and brick-and-mortar establishments are also finding ways to break into the booming online marketplace. I certainly remember when my last Blockbuster finally gave in.

Now I’ve seen this model work first hand. Sure, my generation seems to be all about the piracy, but if I can find remastered original doo-wop classics from the 50’s at a good price, then you bet I’ll shell out to have the best quality I can get. I just need to have it available to me.

But with a slight focus on the Blockbuster/piracy/Netflix phenomenon in this post, the Long Tail makes itself completely relevant. For example, comparing what is available to consumers now, it almost seemed silly for Blockbuster to continue with it’s business model without taking into account how they would adapt with the new distribution methods taking shape. Blockbuster did however take into account ‘what customers wanted‘ which to them, was the ‘latest, greatest hit’.

What Anderson’s article presents is that these blockbuster (heh) movies of course had an audience, but if there was no hit, there was no pull. The Forbes article ‘The Internet Didn’t Kill Blockbuster, The Company Did It To Itself‘ describes how Blockbuster could’ve incentivised their customer relations by recommending films that didn’t fall into the ‘blockbuster’ category that was initially bringing the customers into the store, much like the ‘if you liked this, you might like…’ method of recommendations we so often see in online marketplaces.

Though, the Forbes article also states that ‘Blockbuster didn’t lose its customers to Netflix NFLX +4.69% or digital; they’d already long ago stopped belonging to the company in anything other than name.’ I see this to be only half true. While the Forbes article appears to be focusing on Blockbuster’s demise in terms of the customer relations, Blockbuster did in fact lose it’s customers to digital.

Online, the vast, vast array of films available isn’t something that could’ve been available for Blockbuster, at least, not when it was alive. The Long Tail discusses niche markets that would’ve been difficult to tap into while in Blockbuster. Sure, they had arthouse sections and world cinema, but the little corner wasn’t enough for what is actually being produced. And of course, as a brick-and-mortar business, Blockbuster wouldn’t prioritise importing in titles that would only be rented maybe a handful of times a year, they’d lean to getting 40 copies of a summer hit that was sure to bring in the big bucks.

The countless films available to consumers online is possible because it doesn’t cost the online marketplaces much to make it available, at least not as much as a tangible, physical store would. Blockbuster hit the ground running on the idea that consumers would miss something big in the theatres, but they could find those titles in their establishment. What wasn’t taken into account was the larger market they could’ve tapped into, had they changed with the times and not simply continued on as they did.

Blockbuster failed to adapt with the ‘new entertainment industry’. The three rules as stated above could’ve been Blockbuster’s step-by-step comeback. They already had a name and a well-known reputation in their industry, they just failed to change their operations to suit their consumers’ needs.

I found the Anderson reading particularly relatable, and will hopefully be able to discuss more about the different industries and their relationships with The Long Tail.


As someone who was born in the early 90’s, the Internet was prominent in my juvenile journey. I vaguely recall touching on basic HTML in Year 10 Information Technology, creating web pages that link to more pages, in an endless motion of opening pages featuring only a single link and photo.

If you’d seen me during those formative years of high school, you’d think I had less than zero interest in learning to code, and maybe that was actually the case.

Then came the age of social media. I didn’t get into the social media boom until MySpace gained attention through the up and coming musical acts being found on their many pages. This is where I, and many of my friends, gained a flare for basic HTML.

Profile Edit page of a MySpace profile

The MySpace boxes asking for short descriptions of various interests for display on your profile quickly went from plain text to being riddled with HTML that casual users were learning for the sake of their profiles to pop. Soon after, I found myself being able to write out entire lines of varying text appearances, just to show that I could.

Just to give you a taste of a bit of my overwhelming expertise, the code displayed below:

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 3.52.14 pm

shows up on a page like this:

This sentence is here.

This is a link to Google.

In my blogging adventures that I’d previously mentioned on this blog, I’ve also uncovered several Tumblr users that have immense knowledge in creating entire website themes, yet they weren’t schooled professionally in coding, it just came about through trial and error. With the help of the Internet’s many tutorials, getting at least a light grasp in HTML is no longer ridiculously intimidating and easier to accomplish than ever.

What I’ve also discovered is that in my possible future career of being a Public Relations practitioner, HTML experience is vital in getting noticed amongst the sea of applicants. With the world of PR (much like many industries) shifting focus to online counterparts, the ability to code even at a basic level will allow you to stand out in a crowd that may have no experience at all. With employers streamlining competencies, a PR practitioner may find themselves handling various outlets of a campaign that are online, and the basic knowledge can avoid them from being intimidated by a prompt to create HTML material.

Anyway, I guess all this post is uncovering is why I have a (shockingly) basic grasp on HTML which has helped me stay afloat in several classes that require it. Perhaps Networked Media (for which this particular blog has been set up for) will allow me to attain a tighter grasp, and even a further interest in delving deeper into coding.

A close tie of mine has also made an observation regarding our voyages in the class into HTML on her blog, Dale Cridland.