Journal Post #3

August 27, 2014 | Uncategorized  |  Leave a Comment

Twin Peaks

Created by David Lynch, Twin Peaks came crashing into the TV industry, and it was a phenomenon. It was mainly a hit because it was different, a fresh medium for TV viewers.

Shows in the 80s followed a typical set of formula for success, similar set of storyline, clearly defined heroes and villains. These shows were entertaining, no question, but they were never shows that challenged viewers and kept them guessing. These were shows still routed in the ordinary, focusing on institutions that exist. Twin Peaks on the other hand played with weirdness, mystical elements, and can sometimes be downright creepy. At the same time, the show also plays out the soap opera. Affairs, the return of old flames, and fights over the ownership of a mill occur alongside alien abductions, possessions, and alternate dimensions. There were never any shows that would come close to as unique Twin Peaks was, and at a time where things were still relatively  conservative the show challenged the rest of the TV industry to do something original and exciting.

Twin Peak’s strength was no doubt in its aesthetics, especially the whole mystery element that the show introduced. But this aesthetic also proved to be the undoing of the show. The mystery element of the show (who killed Laura Palmer?) did a great jo TV b creating a hunger in the viewers for answers. People discussed, created theories on the real killer, and tuned into the show every week faithfully in hopes that they will be rid of their appetite for an answer. But as the season ended after eight episodes with no answer, people were frustrated, but they still wanted to find out who’s the killer. The show’s popularity and lack of closure easily signed them on for a second season. But in the second season, viewers became more irate and impatient with the writers and demanded the reveal of the killer. Although Lynch initially intended for the mystery to go unsolved, for viewers to enjoy the journey rather than focusing on the destination, ABC finally gave in to the pressure from viewers in fear that they might lose interest in the show. The viewers did lose interest anyway. After the killer was revealed in the seventh episode of season two, the show lost most of its direction. Even though the show went on for another 15 episodes, viewers count declined every week. The show did end with great final few episodes, but the reception could’ve been so much better had the show not lost its drive because of the reveal.

That being said, Twin Peaks still left a huge impact in the TV world. For a start, Twin Peaks flexed the muscles of the TV world to the people in the film industry. TV was no longer less exciting than films to viewers, and they became much more important. Film directors started to move into TV and created many successful shows, and it was Lynch who paved the way for them.

Twin Peaks have also showed that taking risk with TV can bring success, writers and executives began to take more risks and be more daring with their storytelling. Twin Peaks has also became an influence and inspiration to many writers with the introduction of the mystery genre. Shows like the X-Files, Lost, Pretty Little Liars, and even Disney’s Gravity Falls all possess the DNA of Twin Peaks; a tinge of mystery. These shows would not have existed if it wasn’t for Twin Peaks.

 

Journal Post #2

August 27, 2014 | Uncategorized  |  Leave a Comment

Building on my previous post on broadcast and post broadcast, I would like to further explore on the concept of Web Television in the post broadcast shift.

Netflix. Americans love it. Those of us in Australia have no idea what it’s like to stream HD shows (blame both availability of Netflix, and our shitty internet).

On a recent count, Netflix has announced that their online streaming services have accumulated a total of 44 million subscribers up to date. This high number of subscription owes a lot to the way Netflix runs. Netflix is fundamentally a platform where subscribers get access to a wide catalogue of movies/shows and allows them to stream them in high definition, unlimited, for only 8.99$ per month.

HD shows/movies, huge catalogue, accessible via streaming from the comforts of our homes, low price. What’s tmhere not to love about Netflix, right? Except that it’s killing television, nothing much.

Recently, Netflix’s CEO Reed Hastings updated his long-term vision for the future of TV and it seems that Netflix is set to radically upend the television industry. Hastings remarked about how linear TV is popular, but is ripe for replacement and that Internet TV is becoming more and more popular. Even the world’s leading TV networks like HBO, ESPN, and BBS are moving on to internet TV.

While 44 million is still a considerably small number considering the population of the US, Hastings insisted that internet TV will soon grow to replace linear TV. This is because:

1. The Internet is getting faster, more reliable and more available;
2. Smart TV sales are increasing and eventually every TV will have WiFi and apps;
3. Smart TV adapters are getting better and cheaper;
4. Tablet and smartphone viewing is increasing;
5.Internet TV apps will get frequent updates;
6. Streaming is the leading source for 4k Ultra-HD video ;
7. TV Everywhere provides an economic transition for existing networks; and
8. New entrants like Netflix are innovating rapidly and driving improvements.

Other than that, the fact that Netflix is an INTERNET platform gives them even more of an advantage over linear TV. According to this article by Andrew Leonard, because this is an internet platform Netflix is able to exploit data to track user behaviour. This means that whatever we do on Netflix, be it pausing and changing shows halfway, Netflix is able to record this behaviour and use it to cater their services better to the general target audience. Leonard said that “the companies that figure out how to generate intelligence from that data will know more about us than we know ourselves, and will be able to craft techniques that push us toward where they want us to go, rather than where we would go by ourselves if left to our own devices. I’m guessing this will be good for Netflix’s bottom line, but at what point do we go from being happy subscribers, to mindless puppets?”

I’m willing to bet that Netflix is not the only one manipulating user behaviour data to control how we consume their products, and if linear TV networks are slowly moving on towards internet TV, what’s to stop other TV networks from doing the same? How long before all of us become “lab mice” consumers for these companies to study and experiment on?

Journal Post #1

August 26, 2014 | Uncategorized  |  Leave a Comment

Post Broadcast News vs Broadcast News.

News broadcasting used to be prestigious back in the day, if “Anchorman” ever taught us anything, it’s that news anchors were the superstars in their community when news broadcasting was the best source for news available to everyone. Fast forward a few decades, the internet took over the world by storm. Youtube was created, what was meant to be a platform for personal talents showcasing suddenly became a platform where people shared news or real life events that they so happened to encounter and had their smartphones ready at the time. This changed the way news was meant to be distributed, media companies are no longer the only source of news, with internet the consumers have become the providers.

News became more diverse, consumers now have a lot more sources to choose from. Ratings for newsroom shows went down as people are moving on to an era of post broadcast, where news can be obtained online via our smartphones or tablets. This pushed news companies to adapt by either conforming to technology  (introducing apps, setting up websites) or become more varied and introducing an entertaining element into their news broadcasting. Take ‘Daily Show with Jon Stewart’ for example, the show doesnt only present news, they TALK about the news by separating the show into three segments.

First, presenting the news. Second, talk to the correspondent about the news. Lastly, roundtable discussions with experts or credible people on the news.

All of this, with a touch of humour in Jon’s personality.

This really goes to show the pressure that has been brought upon the broadcast industries to adapt coming into the post-broadcast era. The pressure is so much that certain companies would forgo credibility in exchange for spiced up news just to retain the interest of their consumers.

The question worth asking here is, is the post-broadcasting era better than the broadcast era?

I would say that the one big weakness that the post broadcast era has is credibility. With so many sources, and companies trying to attract readers and viewers with inconsistent or exaggerated news. It is hard for consumers to pinpoint accurate news and it is even hard for us to trust in the news that we read on our Facebook feed every day.

But on the other hand, I do think that this has lead to us being smarter consumers. We have learned to question news that are reported and we are learning to not jump onto bandwagons blindly. This era has trained us to be more literate in the media world.

Several news shows like ‘Daily Show with Jon Stewart’ are holding the media industry accountable by broadcasting credible news and pointing out when someone else doesn’t.

The broadcast industry, however outdated it may be, is the still the best source of live news reporting. While certain companies implement live news in their websites, most of them are in the form of texts and not visually helpful in helping consumers understand the event being reported.

As much as mediums in the post broadcast era are becoming more and more prominent and easily accessible to consumers, I still think that the broadcast industry holds an important place in journalism as I feel that the elements of live broadcast brings an irreplaceable feel towards consumer journalism. It feels more professional, more authentic, and there’s just something about receiving news from a physical person on live TV that makes it much better experience.

So I came across this TED talk video which discusses about how the social networks that we are embedded in affect our lives.

 

Booom, fast forward three years and we have a much more advanced and fast-paced social network via social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter. Information are getting by even faster today, more and more people are starting to find their “Internet Voice”.

Is the theory discussed in the video even more powerful today?

If so, time to clear out my friend list.

So, The International 3 has just ended, and boy it was a hell of an event.

Biggest e-sports event, ever.

 

For those who are not familiar with the term e-sports, it means electronic sports, and it is literally what it is; sports played on electronic devices. We’re talking about famous games like Counter Strike, Battlefield, League of Legends, Dota and many more being played competitively for prize money. Ten years ago e-sports would have been a waste of time. Your parents would probably kill you if you mention about a career playing games competitively. But today, e-sports is actually quite a big thing, the community is growing rapidly, and you can actually earn BIG money pursuing a career in e-sports.

Take The International 3 for example, it is the biggest e-sports event around. It is held yearly, and its prize pool is HUGE. This year’s prize pool featured 2.6million USD. Top teams from all around the world came to compete to get their hands on the money, and to some of the teams it was more than just the money, it was about making their efforts known.

It was like the World Cup for Dota 2.

I mean, check this team out. Neolution Orange E-sports is a Dota 2 team from Malaysia that snatched the 3rd place in TI3. Immediately their status in their home country was cemented, and they gained massive recognition for their efforts in the tournament. Hell, even the Sports Ministry of Malaysia is starting to back the country’s e-sports scene after Orange’s performance. 

Just so that you get a better picture of how huge this event was, here’s an article of it being covered by BBC News.

And here’s a video of it being covered by Q13 Fox’s morning report, who cannot believe “what a big deal this is worldwide”, and calling it an “amazing sub-culture that no one knew”.

During the grand finals of the event, it gathered a combined total of more than one million concurrent viewers online for its live stream. Yes, watching live streams of e-sports is totally a culture among e-sports enthusiast today. We’re not just talking about Dota, people are flooding stream sites for games like League of Legends or Battlefield as well. Everyday there are more than a million unique viewers tuning in to watch their favourite streamers play their favourite games.

Sponsors that are making this kind of e-sports event happen are attracting more and more players to commit their lives and compete. This has really improved the e-sports scene of late and its current stature is definitely looking healthy right now.

Who knows, five to ten years from now, this may even be a thing as big as the NBA, or the BPL. Perhaps, e-sports in Olympics?!

Essay, ese.

August 29, 2013 | Uncategorized  |  Leave a Comment

I bumped into a couple of interesting points while reading through “The Age of the Essay”.

In the things you write in school you are, in theory, merely explaining yourself to the reader. In a real essay you’re writing for yourself. You’re thinking out loud. But not quite. Just as inviting people over forces you to clean up your apartment, writing something that other people will read forces you to think well. So it does matter to have an audience. 

Are the essays that the University are making us students write essays that make us explain ourselves to the marker, or essays that challenges us to think out loud? I think it’s both. In a way, the questions raised make us think deeper in theory and express them out loud in our essays but at the same time, we HAVE to explain ourselves to the marker as well. It’s sort of like selling our ideas for marks, the way we write our essays in Uni. So based on the writer’s view on real essays, should the University really challenge their students with REAL essays, or academic essay is still the way to go? If real essays are all about us thinking out loud, I guess this blog post CAN be considered as a “real essay” as well?

So what’s interesting? For me, interesting means surprise. Interfaces, as Geoffrey James has said, should follow the principle of least astonishment. A button that looks like it will make a machine stop should make it stop, not speed up. Essays should do the opposite. Essays should aim for maximum surprise.

According to the writer, and I kinda agree, the most valuable ingredient in your essay is its surprise element. All of the essays that I did in Uni, I shamefully admit, have been written on subjects that I am most comfortable with. I have never went beyond the familiar zone of my subject to find a surprise factor that even I myself never knew. I am a very curious person, I like to find out about stuffs, but when it comes to assessments, I am more of a “just get it done with” kinda person.

Perhaps I should venture more into my chosen subject for my next academic essay.

Speaking of uni, the people from my class were responsible for coming up with symposium questions for this set of reading. One of the questions raised by a fellow student tingled my curiosity and I decided to research more about it.

Has modern technology made writing better, or worse?

This article about social media and writing surprisingly relates back to this reading. The writer stated that social media makes for better student writing. All the reasons behind why it is so all goes back to the first quote that I posted on earlier on. Just as inviting people over forces you to clean up your apartment, writing something that other people will read forces you to think well, and write better.

So yay, more reasons to spend time on the social media.

Reading on Bush’s article, it really amazes me how accurately Bush speculated the future of technology. Things that people have said was impossible several years ago are made possible several years later with the right resources.

Everything that can be invented has been invented.

Today, if you hear somebody say something like this, you’ll probably laugh that person off as an idiot. But this quote was said by Charles Holland Duell I, who was the commissioner of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. It has been regarded as one of the biggest misquotes of all time.

Doesn’t look like an idiot to me.

 

Bush’s stated that we humans have a limit in transmitting and reviewing the results of research during our time, but that limit is continuously expanding as time goes by. Whatever that we’d think is impossible, may not be the case 20 years down the road.

This has got me really thinking, will technology ever stop improving?

This article by The Economist believes otherwise. The writer argued that the economy has been “slackening the rate of innovation for decades” and suggested a few more arguments about why he thought that technology is getting stagnant, which kinda makes sense.

I mean, I cannot imagine how the smartphone can be as efficient as it is today. Yes, there may be slight improvements here and there for smartphones but I cannot imagine that there will ever be another day where something as ground-breaking as the first iPhone will come by.

But then again, I may be wrong. Ten years ago when Harry Potter fans wanted the “Invisibility Cloak” to be real, professional minds laughed it off as impossible. Today, there IS a working invisibility cloak.

There may not be any more ground to break in the smartphone industry, but there is certainly many other things for technology to grow on.

And I still believe in the possibility of TELEPORTATION.

SPOILER ALERT: I am going to discuss about the final episode of “Six Feet Under” in this post and the series in general. So if you’ve only started watching the series or you’re halfway through it. STAY AWAY FROM THIS POST. I’ve just finished watching the final episode of “Six Feet Under” and wow, just…WOW. The final six minutes of the episode blew me away. I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a greater moment in television. Kudos to Alan Ball (Oscar-winning writer for American Beauty for his works throughout the series and closing it in such a grand fashion. The thing about television series is, while books and films possess the capacity to provide a deliberate closure, television series struggle to do so because of long-form storytelling. When a series ends, viewers might feel that there are plotlines unfinished and suffer from the undetermined and ambiguous fates of the characters. There was no such thing with Six Feet Under. In the final six minutes of the finale, Alan Ball showed the viewers every death of the show’s regular character and it was effective in providing a sense of closure.

“Everybody’s waiting.”

Moreover, throughout the series every episode of Six Feet Under opens with a death, of which the body of the deceased will then be delivered to the Fisher & Sons (Fisher & Diaz later in the series) funeral home. These deaths make their way into the narration of the episode and carries death as the main theme that runs throughout the series. The fact that the show started with deaths (first death being the show’s patriarch Nathaniel Samuel Fisher Sr. played by Richard Jenkins) and ended with the deaths of every characters that the viewers have journeyed with and learned to love since brought me to awe of how the finale have succeeded where many have failed; closure.

This ARTICLE basically sums up how I feel for this magnificent piece of art.

Omg omg omg

July 22, 2013 | Uncategorized  |  Leave a Comment

Okay…

This is my first time handling a blog, ever.

Let’s hope everything turns out just fine.

Kidding, I’ve had blogS over the few years of my life. None lasted more than three months. So I’m kind of hoping that this whole blogging-assessment thing will work out for me. *gulps*

Ryan