Week 2 Reading Response

Chris Lederer and Megan Brownlow’s report A World of Differences contends that ‘E&M [Entertainment and Media] is a dynamic, diverse industry with steady and sustainable growth’, despite more and more people moving towards ‘free entertainment’ sources. The article concentrates on five ‘dimensions’ of the global E&M market: demography (particularly looking at young people’s effect on the industry), competition, consumption, geography and business models.

The most relevant information for me stemmed from the demography and competition sections of the report. Lederer and Brownlow found that ‘…there’s an almost perfect correlation between markets with more youthful populations and those with higher E&M growth’, thus suggesting that young people are leading the trends in the E&M market, particularly the digital media market. They assert that younger people consume media in a different way to older audiences: they tend to multitask, consuming lots of different media at the same time. Youth demographics are also ‘…more open to adopting [new] digital behaviours – and therefore more open to digital spending’. I agree with this to an extent, but I think that it can be difficult for younger audiences, like myself, to have access to new technologies because they can be expensive, thus limiting large amounts of ‘digital spending’. Furthermore, youth audiences who have grown up in ‘the digital age’ are accustomed to spending little or no money on E&M, because it is so easy to pirate most video, music or gaming content. I am always tentative to spend money on digital media, because it can seem like a waste of money when it is available for free online.

Nevertheless, Lederer and Brownlow’s information suggests that as a video content creator, I need to figure out a way to tailor my content for younger audiences, with increasingly shorter attention spans, who are consuming a lot of media at the same time, on various different platforms and devices.

In the competition section of the report, Lederer and Brownlow mention that Netflix’s future is in ‘…locally produced content’. Although US produced movies are still doing very well, there is more demand for locally produced media, particularly in the film industry. This is good news for me, because I would love to produce films in Australia, for Australians, about Australia. However, it is difficult for Australian production companies to create good quality films, when there is limited funding (in comparison to the US). Hopefully streaming services like Netflix may be able to offer local production houses funding to create high quality content.

Week 1 brainstorm on Empowerment

During today’s (Friday) class we were split into groups to talk about various ideas linked to the theme of ‘Empowerment’. My group talked about the issue of censorship and surveillance, which was brought up quite a lot in Klaus Schwab’s article The Fourth Industrial Revolution (week 1’s reading for Media 6). The way technology is heading, in terms of it’s ability to track everything we do, could lead to what we called the ‘North Korea’ option; where the whole of society is tracked and limited in terms of what they can do/view due to censorship laws. A slightly more commercial version of North Korea would be a society where everything civilians do becomes data, essentially a 100% ‘open information’ society where there would be no privacy. This potentially means that people would have microchips put in them – this would be their I.D, their credit card, maybe their phone and it would make it incredibly difficult for anyone to commit crimes (and get away with it). Information would be (and is already being) sold to companies to target specific people and insurance companies (particularly health insurance companies) would be able to track a client’s well-being and charge them more or less depending on this factor.

Society could also end up going in the complete opposite direction due to the advancements of technology; everything could become globalised and decentralised and governments would have less of a role in society. Civilians could become autonomous and (kind of) ‘be their own boss’, working for online platform businesses such as Uber. This decentralisation would make it harder for governments to track exactly what people are doing (for example, not knowing exactly how much money they are making and thus being unable to tax them the correct amount of money) and also potentially eradicate the ability to censor any media content.

This brought us to the question that was raised in this week’s reading: to what extent are civilians willing to trade their privacy for technological advancements? According to Astrid Scott, who talked at this week’s lecture, very few people actually care that their personal information is being used by commercial corporations.

Week 1 Reading – Media 6

This week’s reading, by Klaus Schwab, looked at the idea of The Fourth Industrial Revolution and how this would effect various facets of society, particularly within the next ten years. He begins by listing the technologies which he believes will ‘drive’ the fourth industrial revolution: the driverless car, 3D printing, advanced robotics and ‘new materials’ like graphene (an efficient conductor of heat and electricity). He asserts that these digital technologies will significantly effect the global economy, power structures/politics and the environment, as well as the everyday civilian.

Schwab brings up an interesting point about how the internet and various other digital technologies are already changing the way businesses/enterprises are running. The internet has provided entrepreneurs with the ability to create ‘platform businesses’, such as Uber, Airbnb and, in Australia, Deliveroo and Foodora. These websites and Apps essentially work as ‘middle men’, connecting those who are in need of a certain service, with those who can supply that service, for the purpose of financial gain. By allowing users to interact and provide feedback, the platforms help to build a sense of trust between strangers, which may not have been possible in the ‘physical’ world. Schwab supplies a quote from Tom Goodwin, a media strategist, who wrote that ‘Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate.’ Although I don’t personally agree with the statement that Facebook creates no content, I think it is still important to note that these new online enterprises have minimal physical assets, in comparison to traditional companies; yet, there are very few people who would rather drive for Uber and own a car, than own Uber.

So what does this mean for the future? Schwab is certain that more and more platform businesses will start to pop up and other businesses will look to move online. However, it is still questionable whether it will be the people, like Uber drivers, who will be empowered, or whether these types of businesses will give more power to those already at the top of the economical hierarchy. Ultimately ‘…whoever has the knowledge to operate the technology also has the power to do so’, which could potentially create a power imbalance in society. I suppose we will just have to wait and see…