Week 5 Reading Response

In Judy Wajcman’s ‘Finding Time in a Digital Age’ (2015) she discusses the idea of time and how we currently live in what she calls an ‘accelerated’ society. She contends that technology ‘reconfigures’ time and suggests that we ought to recognise that time is a man-made creation, its source a machine: the clock. Although machines were made to save us time and make work/production more efficient, they have in fact done the opposite: ‘the unparalleled velocity of computerisation, telecommunications, and transport, which was expected to free up human time, has paradoxically been accompanied by a growing sense of time pressure’; an acceleration, as it might be. For instance, a computer is a mechanism that was meant to ‘save’ us time, in simple areas such as word processing. This kind of technology was supposed to leave room for more leisure time in our lives. However, today, there is a blurred line between work and play, because these kinds of technologies have intruded on our home lives. The ability to work from home, as a result of advanced communication devices, has allowed employees and employers to design their own business hours (rather than sticking to the traditional 9-5 office hours). People are now able to work as little, but more significantly, as much, as they would like to. Wajcman has found that people are now working more than people were during the first industrial revolution, even though they are actually far wealthier. She believes that this is because the western, capitalist society that we live in ‘…inflames our insatiable desire for consumption of goods’. I agree with this argument, because I think that the capitalist mindset of working hard, and being rewarded for this in the form of success, has given rise to the idea that we can’t enjoy our leisure time for the sake of leisure. As a result, Wajcman asserts that the unemployed have been demonised  in society, as they are perceived as ‘time-wasters’.

I found this article interesting because I think there is value in ‘wasting time’, day dreaming and procrastinating. I believe this is where a lot creativity stems from (at least for me). If you’re always in a rush, how can you possibly develop a fully formed idea? Without enough rest from work, how can your brain function at a high enough level to come up with an original and innovative concept? Wajcman’s belief that we are ultimately our own timekeepers is an empowering theory and is a reminder of the importance of ‘slowing down’.


Week 4 Reading Response

Two different approaches to work are presented in Cal Newport’s chapter on ‘The Clarity of the Craftsman’ in his book ‘So Good They Can’t Ignore You’. He entitles the two approaches as ‘the passion mindset’ and ‘the craftsman mindset’. ‘Whereas the craftsman mindset focuses on what you can offer the world, the passion mindset focuses instead on what the world can offer you.’ Newport mainly concentrates on creative work, such as music and comedy, and contends that if you adopt the craftsman mindset first, then the passion and love for your work will follow. Essentially the craftsman mindset is when you are constantly working towards getting better and improving your ‘craft’ or your ‘art’. Newport quotes music veteran Mark Casstevens in saying that ‘an obsessive focus on the quality of what you produce is the rule in professional music’ as this ‘trumps your appearance, your equipment, your personality, and your connections’. This concept can definitely apply to other art forms as well.

On the other hand, the passion mindset is when you do what you love, because you think it will provide you with happiness and success. However, Newport suggests that this can lead people to become hyper-aware of what they don’t like about their art/work, which then leads to ‘chronic unhappiness’. I found this interesting because it goes against everything my parents used to tell me about finding work. When I was still in high school, trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life, my parents and teachers all used to tell me that I should just do what I love, because the grades and the success would simply grow out of that passion. However, this article asserts that ‘the craftsman mindset offers clarity, while the passion mindset offers a swamp of ambiguous and unanswerable questions’, like ‘Who am I?’ and ‘What do I truly love?’.

Nevertheless, I think there is a bit of push and pull between the two mindsets. It is hard to have the craftsman mindset of trying to constantly get better at what you do, if don’t have any passion or love for what you are doing. The case studies that the writer uses for the craftsman mindset, the musician Jordan Tice and comedian Steve Martin, obviously both love what they do (at least enough to continue with the same trade for many years), as well as wanting to hone their craft. I think it is also important to sometimes think about what your work might be offering you. If you just ‘put your head down and plug away’ at work, as Newport suggests, you may ignore the fact that the workplace you are in is exploiting you or there may be a better job out there more suited to you. To counter this argument, Newport says that ‘regardless of how you feel about your job right now, adopting the craftsman mindset will be the foundation on which you’ll build a compelling career’.

Week 3 Reading Response

Overall, Ramon Lobato and Julia Thomas’ article on Work in their book ‘The Informal Media Economy’ was completely terrifying for me and made me remember all of the anxieties I have surrounding work in the Media industry. Although they mainly talk about journalists (whose work took a hit very early on due to the internet), the article can apply to almost all creative industries. Lobato and Thomas concentrate on ‘informal’ and flexible work, like freelancing, which is a definite possibility for me, as an aspiring filmmaker, in the future. They have found that: ‘for many people involved in the actual labour of media production and distribution, much of which is repetitive and lowly paid, informal media work has a real downside: it can mean insecurity, overwork and low pay’. Even in my very limited experience working in the media industry I have found this to be true. I am constantly letting people exploit me (for instance, interning for over 6 months without being paid) and working overtime, all because I am getting experience doing something I love.

This article also looks at outsourcing creative work, which has become a common occurrence due to the internet. Media companies (whether it be video production houses or newspapers) can pay people next to nothing for content creation, as there is no minimum pay standards or unions for these creatives, and they are competing on a global forum. These companies are thus free to cash in on young and unexperienced people’s need for building a ‘wholesome’ resume. As a result of this outsourcing, journalism in particular, has become ‘deprofessionalised’, making it harder and harder for audiences to trust what they are reading, seeing or hearing. Lobato and Thomas quote Bakker (2012), in saying that ‘for professional journalists, this whole industry is an affront that devalues research and writing and floods the internet with rubbish’.

Wow, I cannot wait to be a media professional.

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…