Archive of ‘Lecture Reflections’ category
Unfortunately I was unable to attend last weeks symposium, but here’s what a few of my media pals had to say about it (killing two birds with one stone for the sake of the participation form… genius!)
Evan sidesteps the main discussion around databases and instead focuses on an interesting quote raised: ‘In 8 years time we could have cars that drive themselves, and remote control camera’s. We will have remote control cameras.’ – Adrian Miles Evan highlights the benefits that remote control cameras will have for content creators, in terms of a budgeting, time-efficiency and safety features. I certainly hope such a technology becomes accessible soon as it definitely sounds like it will make our lives, as future industry professionals, a great deal easier.
Nethaniel discusses the levels of the media industry food chain, of which was also raised by the panel in the symposium. Individuals who’s work depends merely on practical skills, such as graphic designers and cinematographers, are supposedly at the bottom of the food chain, and receive the lowest income. Conversely, directory/consultant type media professionals who have an educated understanding of the functions and changing nature of the industry are at the top of the of the food chain, and are those who rake in the big bucks. Whilst their monetary value might vary, I believe both roles are almost equally important as the industry as they both heavily rely on each other. The big boss media guys would be nothing if they didn’t have the practical minds of others to make their ideas come together.
Similar to Nethaniel, Steph outlines the differences between design students and media students in terms of how they are taught and subsequently apply knowledge. According to the panel, designers are taught in a strictly technical way, learning practices that will have an effect on the future. The media course, however, supposedly focuses more so on the past and history of the subject, enabling students to think conceptually and critically about the shape of the industry today. I don’t really get this, though, as our course thus far has probably had equal emphasis on the past, present and future of the industry. Say whaaaat?
After attending this symposium and eventually getting around to reading week nine’s second text, the relevance of the power law distribution became a whole lot clearer. The example of how the practices of both music industry and consumers has changed, as discussed in the reading and symposium, is perhaps the best way to clarify what it’s all about. Examine the following power law/long tail:
The big hits in the music industry can be found in the ‘head’ of the power law. These are the mainstream artists and/or songs that are replayed on the radio millions of times across the globe, and independently generate the most revenue. On the wider scale of things, there are fewer of these big hits than there is music commercially available all together. This fact leads us to acknoweledge the ‘long tail.’ In the lower tail of the long tail resides the rest of the music out there, typically those less known or obscure. Collectively, the long tail generates greater revenue than the few million-dollar hits found in the head.
In the past, music was only accessible on physical media, like CDs and records. Not all producers had the opportunity to mass produce CDs or gain access to major distributors, consequently limiting the consumer’s access to their music all together. Today, however, the music industry has completely transformed, with digital media and the Internet opening up so many opportunities for both music producers and consumers. It is much easier now for small music makers to get their content out there, through uploading their content for download on platforms such as iTunes, Spotify or Soundcloud. This gives rise to many more obscure artists and enables consumers the access to a broader, more diverse range of music. It is also great in the sense that old tracks do not disappear from the music scene like they did previously.
Long live the long tail! Pretty cool stuff.
In this week’s symposium, Adrian’s discussion of the following excerpt was particularly noteworthy:
How is it that assembling a large collection of components into a system results in something altogether different from just a disassociated collection of components? (p. 24.)
Similar to the workings of an ecosystem, individual components function differently than they do as a collective. There is no hierarchy, no centre and instead a networked space of relationships (links) between species (nodes). These relationships result in dependencies between species that can determine the efficiency of the ecosystems overall functionality. For example, if one species were to go extinct, the entire ecosystem may fall apart. It is like deleting a single node from any networked space – links to that node are consequently broken, causing interruptions to the flow of the system.
Furthermore, the point that networks such as these have ‘no centre’ was also something that was stressed in the symposium. Whilst you could argue that a node with the most links could form a central point, this is not necessarily true. This is where Kevin Bacon comes in. The ‘Oracle of Bacon’ ‘rests on the assumption that any individual involved in the Hollywood, California, film industry can be linked through his or her film roles to Kevin Bacon within six steps.’ Despite how this phenomenon may portray him, Kevin Bacon is by no means the centre of Hollywood, but is instead simply a dense connector.
In this week’s lecture, the discussion primarily revolved around the concept of neutral technologies. Looking to my notes, the very first thing I’d scribbled down was ‘what does a neutral media mean?’ A good place to start, one would think. Scanning through however, I found myself lacking in a definitive answer. Adrian outlined the fact that ‘technology has affordances’ and that ‘nothing exists independently.’ I agree with these statements completely, however I was still somewhat confused as to what a ‘neutral technology’ actually was. I suppose it is difficult to define as it is unclear if a neutral technology can ever truly exist, also too because it is a mostly subjective matter.
We continued the analysis the following day in our tutorial, and the meaning of the concept became clearer. To my understanding, if ‘neutral technologies,’ should exist, they do not motivate cultural movement or change, nor have positive or negative effect over a society. We also established the idea that technologies can mean different things to different people – some devices may seem neutral to particular cultural groups whilst grossly influential over others. This I found particularly interesting as I began to research isolated tribes and consider how they remain unchanged by technologies we rely upon on a daily basis.
Consider the most isolated tribe in the world, the Sentinelese – indigenous people of the Andaman Islands of India. They live in complete seclusion from the rest of the world, and are most noted for their resistance to contact from outsiders. The tribe follow very traditional and out-dated means of living and actively maintain a hunter-gather society. This in itself indicates how their relationship to modern technologies is seemingly neutral. The tribe remain unknowing, by choice, of so many technologies that we utilise everyday – proper housing, cooking and cleaning utensils, cars, phones, computers etc. If you were to hand them an iPhone, I am sure they would have no idea of its purpose or function. Obviously, this piece of technology much more neutral for them than it is for western culture. Considering it from this perspective, you could assume technologies/ideas are neutral until we discover/understand them.
This is merely one way you could look at neutral technologies.
It is no secret that individual privacy is not what it used to be. Whilst intrusions into personal space and physical belongings remain as issues in today’s society, modern digital technology has opened a multitude of doors to make privacy invasion even easier. As Evan points out, our privacy is no longer protected even when on the commute, as public mobile phone conversations can reveal personal information to nearby eavesdroppers. Is reasonable, however, to consider situations such as these as an invasion of privacy when the information is made public by the ‘stalkee’ themselves?
Social media is probably the greatest and most controversial factor in this area. Users may post or feature in content that, dependent on their given privacy settings, may unintentionally become available to the wider public’s eye. It should also be noted that once content is out there, you can not always trust and rely on the delete button. Just because you’ve erased something from your site, does not mean it has been eliminated from the Internet all together, OR from a strangers hard drive, for that matter (creepy I know, but it can happen).
Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter make it extraordinarily easy for anyone to access your content. In my personal instance, being no ‘Smith’ and having a unique surname makes me even more identifiable on the net. Being merely one of two Laura Doguet’s of Facebook, I must be extremely wary of what I post as future employers, or anyone else on a mission out to sus me out, don’t have to go to much effort to track me down. Therefore, I must be mindful of any material that could potentially be detrimental to me socially and/or professionally later down the track. In saying this, the same applies to anyone, regardless of the commonness of his or her second name.
I want to stress that I’m not saying you must curl up in the ball in the corner and stay away from the Internet all together, but we simply need to be careful. We must all be mindful about how we represent ourselves online – both in a visual and literary format – as you can never be sure what might come back and bite you later on. We can not blame others for invading our privacy when it is our own actions that have lead to the content becoming visible to their eye. So the next time you think about posting a racey photo on Facebook, an abusive subtweet on Twitter or paying a bill over the telephone whilst on a train, for your own good, I’d advise you to think again!
Although not directly related to the presented question, Adrian’s venture into the shape and form of hypertext was particularly memorable. This point took me back to good ol’ symposium two – yes, that one with that frustratingly slow yet effective book example. At that time, I found the concept of the Internet as a medium without beginnings and ends somewhat unclear. The issue here was that I was not considering the Internet as a hypertext system, and instead was more so focused on the content that it contains. My understanding however has since changed after the multitude of lectures and readings revolving around this previously foreign notion.
I often start on a webpage of one kind, end up somewhere completely new and wonder how I got there. This, is the power of hypertext.
Hypertext forms the structure of the world wide web as we know it, enabling users to click from one hyperlink to the next as they ‘surf’ the net. The underlying complexity of the system allows for an interactive user experience, offering users the choice of which online path to take out of billions of possibilities. There is no formulaic approach saying that you must start on Google and end up on Wikipedia; no standardised beginnings and endings. Contrastingly to the static form of print literacy, the user of hypertext is free to make it up entirely for themselves as no page numbers exist to guide their journey. As Adrian put it, media online has no edges or endings. As I like the put it, the hypertext is metaphorically a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ book on steroids.
Keeping it short, sweet and straight to the point.
An interesting point in last week’s symposium was the industrialised nature of the school system, and whether or not network literacy should be more of a focus.
I would argue that some aspects of the school system are in fact out dated. Thinking back to highschool (the entire nine months ago that it was), one of the most used phrases in the classroom was undoubtedly…
‘When am I ever going to use this in life?’
Although the question was always ineffective and we’d inevitably have to do the work regardless, the annoying kids who would ask it often did have a point. As Elliot mentioned, the retention rates of content learned in high school are remarkably low. In my experience, I can safely say my knowledge of the steps of cellular respiration is quickly slipping away from me, and I couldn’t even tell you what the point of a matrix is. Was this content therefore useless? What good will it do for us in the real world?
It’s difficult to say if more of an emphasis on network literacy will solve this issue. However, the extent to which technology is becoming increasingly abundant in the school classroom should be made known. Laptops, iPads and interactive whiteboards are consistently used for class activities, and are arguably driving the classic pen and paper out of the picture. If children and teenagers are making use of these devices and the Internet to such an extreme, wouldn’t it be logical that they are taught at least a basic understanding of network literacy?
I tend to think that there is not much point in attempting to educate a grade five to code HTML – like my diminishing knowledge of cellular respiration, it is something that they are likely to never use again. In saying that, there is certainly a basic level of Internet etiquette that should be taught and understood, and will in fact be useful for almost everyone post graduation. For instance, the fundamentals of copyright and the ability to judge the validity of content on the net is something that all children and teens should be aware of. In a world that has become extremely reliant on the Internet, we should at least have an understanding of the medium we are dealing with, and where our online actions could lead us.
It’s always interesting to see where the discussion in the weekly symposiums heads. One simple question can take us to a whole new branch of different concepts for us to consider.
A key thought that I took away is the idea that there is no fine line between being illiterate or literate in any given area. More specifically, there are many different LEVELS of literacy. It is much more appropriate to arrange these levels on a continuum rather than dividing them into two discrete categories.
For example, take network literacy. There is no defined checklist of things you must know or do in order to be given the title of being ‘literate’ in the area. Sure, you might be able to code HTML and CSS to make a simple webpage. Don’t get me wrong, that’s impressive and all, but it is very probable that someone else has a higher level of expertise in the area. They might have a more extensive knowledge of HTML and CSS, or maybe they’re even responsible for the development of the tools you use to input your HTML. However, this does not mean that they are network literate and that you are not. They simply have a higher level of network literacy on the continuum.
I was thinking about this in relation to my own life. I would think that I have a reasonable level of network literacy – I’ve been an avid internet user for 10 years and have experimented with a range of mediums. By no means am I an expert, but I also am not completely naïve. On the other hand, my Mum was quite late to conform to the realms of the Internet. With time and painful teaching procedures however, she has since developed the basic skills necessary to perform Google searches and the like. Have a look at the continuum now:
Evidently, we all lie somewhere on this continuum. I think it is almost impossible to reach the pinnacle at either end.
The arrangement of yesterday’s ‘Q&A-style’ symposium was unique to any lecture I’d experienced before. It almost felt like I was a part of a studio audience on some sort of talk show –call it ‘Media Talks,’ heat up the debate a little and insert some dramatic sound effects. Jokes aside, it was interesting to hear the variation in tutor’s answers to the questions raised.
Related to the week’s previous readings on copyright, the first question discussed the fine line between critique and defamation. A key concept I took away was the fact that your ‘intention is no defence.’ I thought I’d write a little story to explain this further…
Bob is your everyday top bloke. Builder by day, blogger by night. He writes a blog post on his view of how male tennis players should be paid more than female tennis players. He critically outlines his reasoning, such as how males play longer games, attract bigger audiences, and so on. Bob uses the tennis player Sally as an example to add some depth and substance to his argument. Bob has no intention of offending Sally, and tries to be as gentle as possible in addressing the sensitive subject. However, Sally happens to come across Bob’s post and she is immediately shocked and offended. She claims that Bob is being a sexist pig towards her, and thus her people take action against him. Despite Bob’s protests that he didn’t mean anything by it, he is sentenced to prison.
Okay, so that ending was a bit dramatic. I’m unsure of what the specific consequences of that scenario would be but whatever the case, the outcome wouldn’t be a good one for poor ol’ Bob. A hefty fine is more probable than a jail sentence, but for the purpose of the story, let’s just roll with it.
My question is, what if Sally made these claims, but she was clearly out of line? What if Bob said something so innocent and the only one who interpreted it as being sexist was Sally? Does a formal judge decipher if something is truly sexist, or is that only Sally’s call to make? It seems almost ridiculous that merely one interpretation can be the determining factor. There are some pretty oversensitive people out there, and how is it fair on Bob if Sally is one of them?
I might have to do some more research or raise these ideas in class. #fightforbob!
I’m feeling proactive tonight – fresh out of the lecture theatre and straight into blogging! Adrian Miles continues to surprise us with his unique approach to networked media, and today’s symposium was no exception. Adrian delved into ideas of materiality and storytelling – how they interrelate and what they mean for networked media. He encouraged us to question our familiarity of common objects by analysing their purpose and function.
Through the use of long-winded analogies and naïve questions, we established the fact that materiality matters, and the way through which a story may be told is subject to its physical form. For example, a paper-back book always has a beginning, middle and end, not only for completeness sake, but also due to the limitations of the material it’s composed of.
In today’s generation, the means of storytelling has drastically changed as a result of material evolution. A 300page book generally only contains one story, yet a slim, portable iPad can contain thousands. The Internet then takes this notion to a whole new level, leading us to wonder if a traditional narrative can ever exist in this form. I would argue, however, that independent stories with a beginning, middle and end, can absolutely exist within the world wide web. It is true though, that due to the internets ‘unlimited’ capacity, networked media has great strength as a medium and thus stands out among many traditional forms.