The Bachelor

I never thought I would sink so low…But damn Bachie you got me good.

I was away last year when the Australian Bachelor was on and I’ve never had Foxtel so I’ve not had the benefit of watching the American version of the series. But this year it has become my guilty pleasure. This is definitely not due to the fact that I think any of it is socially correct…actually it is quite the opposite (its what makes it so funny). 30 women dating the one guy? And, come on, yes these women might be pretty desperate, but they’re not just on the show ‘to find love’. I’m fairly sure they wouldn’t be on the show at all if it wasn’t broadcast around Australia or if the producers casted an average looking, flawed but outspoken Bachelor.

Anyway, if you’re interested, check out this blog by Rosie Waterland which gives you a detailed scene by scene analysis of what The Bachelor really boils down to once you strip back the decent production values and vague interviews on screen.

Enjoy the finale next week guys *tear*, go Lisa!


I feel your pain

These blogs have definitely been good for at least one thing: knowing that others who are in a very similar position as you are feelin’ your pain. The majority of us who are doing Networked Media at the moment are very similar ages, with very similar ambitions and have been through a lot of the same shit in life (i.e. high school, work, travel). Anyway, sometimes its nice to know that others are struggling to understand the coursework as well…

Or even just struggling to see how what we are learning is relevant to…well…anything. Take Kenton for instance, who wonders why we need to know about nodes, the 80/20 theory and bell curves, when we are studying under a communication media degree. Hmmmm, yeah, not sure.

Secondly, I think everyone’s going through a bit of that ‘post-travel depression’ at the moment… including me. Out of the people that I know in this course who took a gap year in 2013, every one of them has posted a photo from their travels within the last week (Nethaniel, Evan and Angus). I think it’s gotten to that time of the year, where we’re realising it’s almost been a good 12 months since we got back and reality is starting to set in that studying and work is going to be the rest of our lives and maybe those were the best days of our existence. Okay, that’s a little cynical, but at least for me I know last year was a very rare time in my life where I was still able to live at home (thus not pay any rent), work 5 jobs, take a rest from study and disappear from Australia for as long as I wanted really. And unfortunately that opportunity may never arise again.

Popularity, Traffic and Bacon

There were a few interesting points that came up in this week’s symposium:

1. A person’s perceived ‘dominance’ in real life does not necessarily mean that they are dominant on the internet. A lot of bloggers proclaim that they are introverts and thus use online mediums to express themselves in a less ‘social’ environment. On the web, your dominance is not measured by how outgoing or authoritative you are, but how good of a writer you are and how good you are at tapping into the interests of your audience. Ultimately online popularity is measured by how many readers you have and how many links there are to your page.

2. The idea of power law distribution in comparison to bell curve distribution was also explained in more detail than in the Barabasi excerpt. When thinking about the internet as a network (the interconnectedness of webpages), Elliot claimed that the more people link out to a certain webpage, the more traffic it will get and the more other people will link out to it as well. Thus, the rate at which the webpage’s traffic will grow is exponential.

3. The discussion then lapsed into the idea of ‘dense connectors’, the nodes that connect separate clusters (essentially) in networks. Dense connectors are those types of people who have lots of acquaintances everywhere, or if we’re talking about the internet – Google. One example that was used was ‘The Oracle of Kevin Bacon‘. Bacon is an actor who has starred in many films and can therefore be connected to any actor through other actors, often only by 2 or 3 ‘degrees of separation’. We also conducted a quick survey of everyone in the symposium: Adrian asked us if anyone knew anyone in Lithuania – Betty and many others raised there hands. Thus, it was ‘proved’ that generally we can be ‘connected’ to any random person in any country somehow because most people know someone who will know someone from that geographical area.




I AM SO EXCITED. Well, maybe not as excited as I was when I booked my flights to Japan, but I am still over the moon to finally have a ticket from Tokyo back to Melbourne (I just booked it yesterday). I cannot physically wait to immerse myself within the crazy land of Japan – sumo wrestlers, culinary delights, robot shows, j-pop, dance machines, onsens… and well the list goes on and on.

(I do realise those examples are highly stereotypical, but it kind of makes me even more eager to get over there… my expectations of foreign places are never right, but are always exceeded).

Anyway, I managed to find an awesome blog on Japan, by Tim Urban, which included the video below. OMG.


Niche Markets and Power Law Distribution

The two readings for this week worked hand in hand. Although I wasn’t completely sure if all the mathematics in the first reading had much to do with my communications/media degree, it was kind of nice to sink my teeth into something very rational and scientific for once. As I read the second reading, all of the mathematical jargon from the first came into physical form and started to make sense…

Chris Anderson talks about the benefits of online media in comparison to physical media (i.e. print, video, dvd, music on cd/vinyl, books etc.) and how this has enabled the expansion of niche markets. How you ask…well the internet has one up on the ‘real world’. Online, there is unlimited space and time. For instance, whereas a video rental store may only have as much shelf space to fit 3000 DVDs or Videos, Netflix (the online alternative) has an infinite amount of space. As a result, video rental stores can only really buy in the ‘hits’: the mainstream film titles that they know are going to sell. On the other hand, the online ‘simulations’ of these shops can store as many different films as they want. Even titles that are only for very specific (smaller) markets, like alternative Bollywood films for instance, are valuable to stores on the internet. Anderson notes that ‘the average Blockbuster carries fewer than 3000 DVDs. Yet a fifth of Netflix rentals are outside its top 3000 titles’, thus when you ‘combine enough nonhits on the Long Tail, you’ve got a market bigger than the hits’.

When he speaks about ‘the Long Tail’, Anderson is referring to the power law distribution and the 80/20 rule – both of which were explained in detail in the first reading for this week. Therefore, it was extremely invaluable to have read and developed an understanding of what these scientific theories and algorithms were actually about. What mainly helped me to get a grasp on this mathematical ‘law’, was the graph which compared random distribution (a bell curve) to the power distribution (a graph that to me, at least, looks like an exponential).


If we were to look at the ‘hits’ versus the ‘nonhits’ of film sales on the web, the nonhits would be those on ‘the Long Tail’ – where the graph starts to get infinitely closer to the k axis.

One small thing that the article didn’t really look into was that of infinite time on the internet. An online store is always ‘open for business’, whereas video rental shops, music stores, book stores etc. all have opening hours and in turn, closed hours, as they need people physically working at the shops to sell their products. This is one reason why I sometimes resort to buying books through Amazon or other sites on the internet. I am generally at university or work during the day, so most physical stores aren’t open when I can actually go shopping. Thus online stores provide convenience.

I do think it’s a shame in many ways that the world is turning to online mediums more and more these days and so I try to support the local stores around me as much as I can. However, sometimes it’s just not possible to get those titles that you really want. For example, I love to read books that have been adapted for screen and often these can be hard to find if they are not well known. Take Robert Bloch’s Psycho – Alfred Hitchcock himself ordered that all the original books be taken off the shelves of book stores everywhere, so that the plot twist couldn’t be ruined by anyone for anyone when the film adaption came out. No book store could find a copy for me and so it was then I turned to Amazon to get one sent to me from overseas… I guess that’s a prime example of how and why these niche markets have been thriving on the internet.


Yesterday’s symposium seems to have made quite an impression on our cohort. Everyone has been bringing up different debates and theories on how to tackle the question of whether or not technology can be neutral.

Let’s start with Angus. His post ” talks about how the English language (or any other language I suspect) creates difficulties in explaining what the word ‘neutral’ actually means. When writing about technological neutrality on my blog, I also struggled with this concept because the word ‘neutral’ is used in many different ways, to mean different things, in different contexts. For a political example, Switzerland was ‘neutral’ during World War II. But how can we apply the meaning of neutrality in this instance to that of technology… it just doesn’t quite compute.

Kenton, Evan and Giorgia also discuss this topic, with varying different examples (Kenton illustrating his point using the Jack Fruit as an artifact – very amusing; Evan with day versus night; and Giorgia with the internet)…

Interestingly enough, everyone seems to be coming to the same confused conclusion – technology cannot be neutral.



Well that symposium was a little confusing to say the least. So I think it was definitely beneficial to re-discuss the issue of technologies being neutral in our tutorial.

I came away from the Potts and Murphie reading believing that ‘neutrality’ was just kind of the mid-point between technological determinism and cultural materialism. In very simple terms technological determinists would say that technology affects culture and conversely, cultural materialists would say that culture affects technology. Thus I thought that the theory of neutrality meant that technology neither affected culture or was affected by culture.

But then I thought of carbon neutrality; the only instance where I would probably use the word ‘neutral’ in an every day situation. If a house is carbon neutral it essentially means that it is creating just as much energy ‘naturally’ (for instance using solar panels) as it is consuming. So in essence, the word neutral in this example almost points to the idea of the ‘number’ zero (i.e. -1+1=0). But isn’t zero nothing? And isn’t nothing impossible to explain because it is…nothing? In trying to apply this example to technological neutrality, I gathered that this would then mean technology and culture had equal influence on each other. But no. That was slightly wrong too, because the definition of neutral is ‘impartial’ and if technology was impartial doesn’t that essentially mean that technology wouldn’t have an effect on anything and nothing would have an effect on it?

So trying to round this up – nothing in this world is independent of anything else. Nothing is completely unconnected to anything, thus nothing, can be neutral. Or can it?

Time, Electricity or Both?

This week’s reading by Duncan Watts looked at the idea of networks in general, reaffirming the idea that ‘the relationship between the parts is more important than the parts themselves’. The first example he used to demonstrate the unpredictability and interdependence of network structures was the power system, i.e. the electricity network. However, what I found most interesting about this example, was Watts’ position on electricity in general. He states that: ‘the
power system is arguably the most essential technological feature of the
modern world. More pervasive even than highways and railroads, and
more fundamental than cars, airplanes, and computers, electric power
is the substrate onto which every other technology is grafted, the foundation
for the grand edifice of the industrial and information ages.
Without power, pretty much everything we do, everything we use, and
everything we consume would be nonexistent, inaccessible, or vastly
more expensive and inconvenient. Electricity is a fact of life so basic
that we cannot imagine being without it.’

And in many ways I agree. Without electricity, my proposed career would be somewhat non-existent – anything to do with digital film or computer editing/animation would be impossible. Nevertheless, what intrigued me was how this idea contradicted what Murphie and Potts discussed in last week’s reading on technology and culture. Lewis Mumford claimed that the clock was the ‘key machine of the modern industrial age’. This era seemed to be obsessed with the idea of speed and efficiency…and of course to increase speed, you must be able to measure time. Mumford states that ‘a desire to increase speed…lies behind all politics, all wealth’, but then doesn’t electricity as well? So maybe both technologies, clocks and power stations, are to thank for ‘driving this relentless engine of civilization’.

283_Arg_ElChocon_alta_tensione Bahnsteiguhr


There’s been a lot of words on the street about this film. Pretty much all good from what I had heard. So I thought I better give it a watch myself.

If you’ve been tuned out from all media recently, you won’t know that this film was created over a 12 year stint, with the same primary cast, tracking the life of a boy in Texas, through childhood to adolescence. From when Ellar Coltrane (who plays the main character Mason) was six-years-old, the cast filmed once a year, every year, up until 2013. Thus, half of the joy of this film was tracing the changing hair cuts and body types of the characters; something that has never really been done before – in a narrative form of film anyway.

My favourite part of watching the three hour ‘time capsule’, was its historical context (if you can call it that). Mason is the same age as me and so his growing up through the late 90s into the naughties was particularly relatable. Richard Linklater (the director) takes you through the Harry Potter craze of the early 2000s, incorporates the ’20 Questions’ game, Motorola razor flip phones, ripstick skateboards, the introduction of Facebook, Coldplay, Lady Gaga, Bright Eyes and Britney Spears all during their primes, online porn and Dragon Ball Z. This film is pretty much as real as it gets…without becoming a documentary (although it does have a certain neo-realism feel). Sitting in the cinema I was rather surprised when Mason gets drunk and baked on the eve of his 15th birthday. For any film, but particularly by American standards, that is an incredibly young age to start getting involved with illegal substances. However, I quickly realised that it was around that 14 mark when all of my friends started doing the same things… it’s just how life actually is and this film isn’t afraid to show it.

This concept for a film is something that I think every aspiring filmmaker has thought about in their lives – what if you could actually get the same actors to play their younger selves? But for me, I always come back to the same problem – technology. What if camera qualities and film techniques and methodologies progress too far over the years of shooting? Wouldn’t it cause a weird discontinuity throughout the piece? This complication is what I was most interested in seeing Linklater tackle. I assume they used all the same cameras throughout the film as there was no change in quality (in regards to its visual ‘crispness’); but there was definitely a development in the cinematography and editing. The first hour or so is filled with unfocused shots; and I’m not talking nice shallow depth of field compositions, but that frustrating kind of ‘blurry edges’ look, where it feels like you’re wearing glasses of the wrong prescription. Nevertheless, it dramatically improved towards the end, specifically the last scene out at ‘Big Ben’ which has been carefully filmed for aesthetic effect. Similarly the editing is rhythmic and flowing in Mason’s later years, but at the beginning it seems too calculated and jumpy – when a character’s speaking the camera would be on them, no one else, so we weren’t receiving those critical reaction shots.

Overall, it was an incredible film… even just for the sheer amount of dedication the whole cast and crew have shown to finish it off. It’s long, but it seems to just wash over you and somehow gratify those inner-most voyeuristic tendencies we all have.

Shout Outs

Evan and I seem to have extremely similar interpretations and opinions about last week’s reading by Shields, see his post ‘Jigsaw Writing’ and my post ‘Mosaics’. Similarly, Steph talks about this fragmented style of writing in her post ‘Collages’, comparing it to one of Picasso’s pieces ‘Guitar’, an artwork we had studied last semester in Editing Media Texts.

On a different note, Michael gets deep and meaningful in the realm of social networking. His blog post ‘It’s Late And I’m Full Of Feels And This Is Semi-Related To Networked Media’ presents a topic that I’m sure everyone who has a phone or Facebook can relate to. He discusses the idea of a message being ‘seen’ and the resulting ‘disheartenment’ we all feel when we think the person on the other side is ignoring us. It really does suck. Especially when you crave the empathy of that particular person. Thus I agree with Michael in saying that these networks that are ‘designed to bring us together are even better at tearing us apart’. However, I do have something to add… it can be even more frustrating when you receive that tick of ‘receivement’ from the person you’re messaging and the message is something legitimately and professionally important. Just last night I contacted a girl who I needed to do an interview with for Broadcast Media. She had already agreed to do the interview, it was just a matter of organising a time and date to do it. I know she’s seen it… but still no reply grrrrrr.