Transcending Television: Public Media Screens – [BCM240]

As we continue to move forward through the information age and technologies become faster, smarter and cheaper to produce, so too does the number of public media screens that consume our attention on a daily basis. Everywhere you look, it seems as though, what was once just an activity confined to one room of a house or shop front, has now become a social norm amongst society.
Since the 1980s, the rollout of digital networks, the proliferation of mobile phones and the installation of large electronic screens in urban centres have created novel forms of mediated interaction within the public sphere (Maguire, 2009). From creative advertising to simplest forms of delivering information, public screens have fast become increasingly relevant amongst society. As I walk through the city centre of Wollongong, I am bombarded with screens all trying to capture my attention. From ads selling big and expensive high involvement products to even the smallest screens directing citizens to the nearest railway station. Public screens occupy each end of the spectrum.

It was interesting to note that although there were countless media screens bombarding my brain trying to cause a sensory overload, very few of them actually received my full attention. Although I have never visited the media screen spectacles of New York’s Time Square or Tokyo’s Shibuya, these two places typify how powerful media screens in public places can be. If you were to recount a list of landmarks that you wish to see in New York, Time Square with its monumental media displays would be as equally as high on the list as Madison Square Garden. These electronic screens have been used to extend and amplify the notion of the urban spectacle. We are all so immersed with content on televisions and media devices in our homes that we just accept that the spectacle will spill out into every aspect of our lives.

For some the proliferation of media screens throughout society can be seen to increase social engagement.

At present count my work place contains 42 television screens broadcasting a comprehensive array of sporting events, gambling advertising and club promotions. However, at 5:30pm Monday to Friday the main media screens are all tuned into one station to watch the Channel 9 game show, Millionaire Hotseat. Club members (mostly 55 to 90 year old males) gather around their tables enjoying a few brews after a hard days work to sit and analyse as a collective, which answer it could be. To some this could be seen as a very uninteresting aspect of work life however, the way in which each question stimulates social interaction and generates discussion about issues within the public sphere is a very interesting occurrence. At 6pm the news is shown, generating more debate and conjecture. In its simplest form this form of social interaction through public media screens, to those who are seeking social interaction at the last half of the ‘innings’ is priceless.

Here are a few example of media screens that I took around my workplace. As you can see the gambling industry has capitalised on the shift towards the proliferation of media screens and media content.

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Luke Macdonald
2nd Year Media & Communication & Commerce Student @UOW
Majoring in Digital Communication & Marketing

I’m Your F.A.N – [BCM240]

When you think about fan culture you are immediately drawn to remember those peers you went to high school with. The one’s that dressed up as their favourite characters, collected all the books, DVD’s and what ever remaining merchandise that had their favourite characters emblazoned upon it. Having been at high school from the early half of the ‘naughties’, I remember the biggest trend that drew a tremendous amount of fanfare was the Harry Potter craze. Students and staff alike were not only engaging in talking about the series, it had almost become a part of our curriculum.
Just as the Harry Potter obsession raged through my school, the history of fan culture has a long and interesting story. In particular the early nineteen seventies ‘doowop’ rock and roll era. For those of you who are unaware of what a fanzine is, it is a publication put together by fans of a particular interest.
Prutner explains, that at the beginning of the 1970’s the fanzines were created “to meet the needs of the fans of music that were not being expressed by mainstream media” (1997, pg.11). “They created the magazines because the real story of rock and roll wasn’t being told” (1997, pg.11). Again in the early 90’s grunge era, fans were creating their own publications to tell their stories about the artists and bands they admired.

Fast-forward to today’s current fan culture and you will find the same publications with one exception. They are now digital, with content strewn throughout blogs, Facebook fan pages, aggregated story telling domains and devoted fan websites. If there are dedicated fans, you can be assured to find related content on the Internet.
Pearson states “The digital revolution has had a profound impact upon fandom, empowering and disempowering, blurring the lines between producers and consumers, creating symbiotic relationships between powerful corporations and individual fans, and giving rise to new forms of cultural production” (2010, pg.84).

However, what the Internet giveth, the Internet taketh away”.
Jenkins reminds us “The differences between the ways corporations and fans understand the value of grassroots creativity has never been clearer”. As always at the heart of the debate is the economic value of fan works. Should the incredibly talented authors/illustrators and lovers of a particular show/film/artists have to pay royalties to the creators of the original works? After all these are adaptations of story lines created by someone else. As Jenkins points out in the article above, most fan fiction is “a labour of love; they operate in a gift economy and are given freely to other fans who share their passion for these characters”.

Until media industries begin to see the real value of user generated content, the debate about copyright and fan fiction is sure to be a point of great interest through many eras One Direction, Miley Cirus to come.

References

Pearson, R 2010, ‘Fandom in the Digital Era, Popular Communication: The International Journal of Media and Culture, Summons Database, viewed 5 September 2013.

Pruter, R 1997, ‘A history of Doowop fanzines’, Popular Music & Society, 21, 1, p. 11, Humanities International Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 5 September 2013.

Luke Macdonald
2nd Year Media & Communication & Commerce Student @UOW
Majoring in Digital Communication & Marketing

Are We ‘Friends’ ? – [BCM240]

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The other day as I was trawling through my social media empire I can across an interesting observation. As it currently stands I have just over 300 hundred friends followers Twitter (go me!). After some thought, I decided to look at some of my tweets to my gang of followers. It was the tweets to some of my fellow peers that sparked the most interesting reflection. After all these are people that I interact with on a weekly basis, yet the line of dialogue with most stops at the keyboard. We pass in the hallways, wait patiently out the front of lecture theatres and even share the same classes together and barely a word is spoken. Yet online we share witty remarks, favourite each other’s tweets and even share content with one another.

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It seems we are all comfortable to share our thoughts and opinions within the realms of digital space, yet we are cautious to do so person to person. I know that I am just as much to blame for the lack of upward communication so in no way am I taking issue with any of my fellow peers, I am just simply making an observation.

As a strong advocate of digital media and convergence this is a very interesting topic of discussion. Has social media inhibited our ability to communicate in the real world? Now I know this is a very broad statement and many of you will be sitting down reading this and promptly answering, “No, I have many friendships outside of social media”, however I urge you to consider and re ask yourself the question.

When asked about the impact that social media was having on our ability to comfort and interact face-to-face Dr Subrahmanyam proposed, “ I don’t think that youth are giving up face to face communication” (2010, pg.12). So is all this talk of ‘backwards communication’ regarding social media just a form of moral panic?

For every negative view of social media there is an equally opposing positive opinion. Just recently I came across a news story highlighting a study conducted in the USA about the negative effect and potentially life threatening dangers that social media and digital devices can have on us as a society. Now as someone who admits to walking into several telegraph poles, people and even a parked car whilst trying to tweet, I can understand the medias concern. All jokes a side, this can actually be a very dangerous occurrence. As a society it seems as though we are all trying to stay connected at all times of the day that we are forgetting simple cognitive functions.

Lazaros, Xu and Londt state that “ Text messaging while walking is a significant area for concern. The number of text messages sent is expected to be more than 8 trillion in 2012. The dangers of multitasking have hit the streets as people are becoming involved in more accidents while walking as they text on mobile phones” (2012, pg.88). So has social media destroyed our common sense? If you listen to some media reports you will most likely think twice before sending that driving ‘Snapchat’ or whilst texting and walking (I have the bruises to prove it is a bad idea).

As for my digital friends I promise to make more of an effort to engage in conversation in the real world. Apologies to all if I open the lines of dialogue with a ‘dad joke’.

References

E J, Lazaros , R, Xu & S, Londt (2012) Using an Activity to Simulate the Dangers of Multitasking with Technology while Walking, Science Activities: Classroom Projects and Curriculum Ideas, Summons Library, accessed 31st August 2013.

K Subrahmanyam, (2010), Teens, social media, and relationships: an interview with. The Prevention Researcher, Summons Library, accessed 31st August 2013.

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Luke Macdonald
2nd Year Media & Communication & Commerce Student @UOW
Majoring in Digital Communication & Marketing

Good Evening & Welcome To Television – [BCM240]

We take for granted the availability of television and media in this day and age. Information readily streamed into our own homes via broadcast channels working 24/7 to keep us all abreast and informed about the goings on both locally and abroad.
After recently speaking to my Grandpa I learnt that Australia’s affinity with television hasn’t always been the same.

Meet Ross Macdonald. Recently retired, family loving man, born in the quiet suburban streets of Sydney (Concord West). Yesterday I set up a Skype conversation to recall his first memories of television, his thoughts, emotions and his views on the current landscape of Australian television. Below is an excerpt from our conversation.

Pa: “When television commenced transmission in Australia in 1956 I was just 10 years old. Regarding the viewing of television, one of the shops in the strip was an Electrical Appliance and Record store and they had one TV in the store window, which was hooked up to a speaker outside the store just under the awning.

They used to have it turned on in the evening from about 6pm (just after the pubs closed) and the locals including my Mum and Dad, together with brother Malcolm (Mal was 4 years old) and myself would gather and bond outside the shop for about one hour to watch whatever was being broadcasted.

In the very early days in Sydney there were only 3 channels i.e. ABN Channel 2, ATN Channel 7 and TCN Channel 9. Most of the day all they transmitted was a Test Pattern until about 6pm when they usually broadcast the News and a few other programmes until about 10pm when they would close with the National Anthem. Nothing that would really excite a 10 year old.

However 1956 was also the year of the of Olympic Games in Melbourne. My Dad arranged for the family to travel by train to Melbourne (travel by air was ridiculously expensive compared to today) so that we could experience this “once in a lifetime opportunity” (if only they had known what the future would bring!).
There was no need to pre-purchase tickets as you could just buy them at the gate on the day, however most of the events were either shown live or filmed (no video then) and would be on the TV later that evening. The best thing that ever happened to increase the sale of Television sets in Australia during 1956 was the Olympic Games. They were not cheap but everyone wanted one!

During the first week of the games my grandparents purchased a HMV (His Masters Voice) TV, which I suspect they probably went into some sort of a hire purchase agreement to buy. The surge in sales together with the popularity of the games changed the whole dynamics of TV programming with longer hours including movies, serials and live variety shows starting to fill the viewing hours.

This was where the real excitement of TV began for me!!! It probably also spelt the beginning of the end for the Saturday matinee at the local movie theatre since pretty much what they were showing started slowly to appear on TV. When we returned to home after the Olympic Games the pressure was on for the purchase of a TV which I think my dad held out for about another 3 years when he finally rented one. By this time the programmes would start at midday (usually with a movie) and run until midnight still finishing with the anthem”.

Taking a look at the direction television has taken today my Grandpa summed it up very nicely; “well all you have is reality programs that aren’t a true reflection of reality”. When asked about the future of Australian television his response was “I think Australian television is coming to a defining moment in its short history. Technology is easily winning the battle. Very much the same as the matinee was destroyed by television, mobile tablets and high speed Internet are destroying television”.

Again these are statement that I agree with wholeheartedly.
The boundaries between audiences and spaces are being removed. “Family bonding” as my Grandpa described it is no longer part of Australian culture. As we become more reliant on convergent media and devices, we become less reliant on spending time building relationships around us.

Does this mean that all family values are forsaken? Probably not. However Hardenbergh describes the viewing of television as a “presentational environment” (2010, pg.171). No longer do we occupy and share the same spaces to view our media. As a prime example of this fundamental shift, currently two of my housemates and myself are all watching the same program in three separate parts of the house. We have a communal lounge area with a television; however the program we are watching is easily streamed online.

Hardenbergh’s statement regarding the superiority of television “ it was the greatest mass medium” (2010, pg.171) is a bold statement of which has some merit in today’s media environment. Technologies will inevitably come and go but the legacy that a medium leaves on a generation can never be forgotten. Television changed the lives and introduced many to the world.

As for my Grandpa’s thoughts on the best show on television at the moment. “It is still the 7pm ABC News Luke”.

Some old habits will die-hard.

What are your first recollections of television? Mine are the ABC educational/ entertainment programs, of which included Lift Off. Memory lane :). Feel free to leave a comment or tweet me at fluke_aus with your favourite TV memories.

References

Hardenbergh, M. (2010). The death of television. ETC.: A Review of General Semantics, Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA240918884&v=2.1&u=uow&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w, accessed 22nd August 2013

Luke Macdonald
2nd Year Media & Communication & Commerce Student @UOW
Majoring in Digital Communication & Marketing

Media ~ Space ~ Memories [BCM240]

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Forgive me If my blogging skills have lapsed since the previous Communication’s subjects of BCM 112 and BCM 110. I feel that I should start a fresh. Hi my name is Luke and I am a Media and Communications (and newly a Commerce student as well). Some of you may have read my blogs from previous subjects, some of you have not.

For this weeks task we have been asked to share an image that we think best represents a connection between media and space. After some deliberation about the exact point of this exercise I found this image.

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This image was taken during Daft Punk’s 2007 Alive tour. For those who were in attendance (such as myself) OMG! the memories! For those who missed out, granted probably most the BCM class wasn’t even old enough to attend you all missed one of the finest displays of entertainment that has since yet to be beaten (and probably never will).

I digress. This image to me represents the connection between media and space. How so you are asking? Well for those of you who know Daft Punk,  you are aware that they are essentially they are the most futuristic connection earth has too space. However, if you look closely at the image you will see a crowd of people with their technologies recording, sharing and creating a digital imprint of that specific moment in time. It is these images, videos and files that are shared amongst us that create media spaces. Which is pretty cool when you take a second to think about it.

For those of you who are blissfully unaware of such awesomeness I have included some links to my favourite 2 Daft Punk albums. Feel free to share your thoughts. 🙂

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