Monthly Archives: March 2009

Frequencies of the media (Wk3)

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Hartley, J. (2004). “The Frequencies of Public Writing: Tomb, Tone and Time” From Jenkins, H. And Thorburn, D. (Eds) Democracy and New Media. MIT Press, USA, pp 247 – 269.

Time Magazine. CNN. Sydney Morning Herald. Media and public writing all act at different frequencies; instantaneous, by the hour, monthly, annually etc. How do the different frequencies alter our attitude and our operation of these media? While the instantaneous, high frequency media such as the internet allow readers and viewers to be informed with minimal time lag, is it not the relics like cave drawings that are everlasting?

It is no surprise that the Internet has successfully established itself as major media provider. John Hartley explains how this collaboration of high frequency media and new technology have impacted our sense of time. The regular hourly or daily programmes start becoming obsolete as there is no need to wait to be updated on current affairs or even watch your favourite TV show. The ‘defined’ time schedule that we are accustomed to is slowly fading away.

How is the frequency of circulation related to the wavelength of consumption?  As Hartley argues, ‘news that is golly-gosh today is chip wrapper tomorrow”. The ‘hot’ story will eventually become cold until it’s been long enough for its value to increase again. This is the high frequency media that is important ‘in the moment’.  However, low frequency media such as carvings will last for a long time.

Though it seems that the rapidness of the internet may put print media out of business, other lower frequency media are not suffering as would be expected. The fact that they are produced less often indicates that the relevance of their topics are likely to last for a longer span of time. Thus, reading last weeks issue of Sydney Morning Herald may seem outdated, yet reading the previous months issue of Cosmopolitan does not feel as out of date.

Thus, we are presented with a web (and not the world wide web): the speed which public writing is produced, the frequency of its production, the topics covered and the period of time it is consumed are all interconnected.

Couch potatoes taste bad…(WK2)

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Michael, Mike. “Disciplined and Disciplining co(a)gents: The Remote Control and the Couch Potato.”

Sitting home all day in front of the TV that has been playing non stop for hours, legs up on the sofa, and where your fingers are the only body part that receives decent blood circulation…there’s no denying; couch potatoes need discipline!

In this chapter, Michael draws up the love-hate relationship of the couch potato (or co(a)gent) and the remote control. Remote controls are what makes a couch potato, without them channel surfing is impossible. And yet, as Michael points out, it is this same magical object that can prevent a couch potato from ‘doing his thing’ i.e. watching tv without having to move.

By having a quick look at the negative aspects of being a couch potato, it becomes clear that couch potatoes are neither productive nor healthy. But how can they save themselves? That’s where the remote control comes in; when it is lost a co(a)gent is either forced to look for it or get up each time to change the channel, both of these involving movement and action. Possibly the most exercise a couch potato will ever get.

Written in a lighthearted way, Michael’s chapter also presents co(a)gency in a positive light. Ultimately, he implies that couch potatoes are not great, but it is this section that causes me to think that he’s not being harsh enough. The new markets opening up for the co(a)gent consumer – the armchair, the websites – are beneficial to who exactly? In fact I would argue that though he subtitled this section ‘Good couch potatoes’, there’s really nothing ‘good’ about it. Creating these markets and encouraging co(a)gency is condoning sitting on the couch and watching TV where we should be encouraging less TV-watching and more healthy activities that benefit the individual as well as our whole society.

I had never thought about this so-called ‘positive’ side to couch potatoes and this chapter opened my eyes to where society is heading. Yes, we’re becoming more accepting of people who are different but I think co(a)gents should not be encouraged to be happy and content with sitting and watching TV. This worries me slightly and I suppose the fact that the simple act of losing a remote is a way to ‘police’ couch potatoes is not much comfort. It makes sense, but is depressing at the same time.

What do the media do to us? (Wk1)

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O’Shaugnessy, Michael, and Jane Stadler. “What Do the Media Do to Us? Media and Society”.

The chicken or the egg. Yes, it’s cliched but rightly so. The question  of whether media’s effect on us or society’s influence over the media comes first is yet to be resolved. O’Shaugnessy’s chapter ‘What do the media do to us? Media and society’ addresses this issue by imploring us to question the media’s place in today’s society; leader or follower? By taking a look at the purpose in which the media is executed in its various forms and the groups behind these deliveries, we can come to some sort of understanding as to the media’s construction of reality and society’s role in this.

O’Shaugnessy is keen to establish that the media do not present the real world to us, but merely a representation. They only provide an interpretation of the world that gives us guidance into our interpretation of the world. Often, this interpretation of one or a few groups who control the media and is therefore limited in its outlook. We’re shown the view of these groups have access to the resources required and are often, according to O’Shaugnessy, in an advantageous position based on the race, class and gender. Completely unfair? Totally. And yet, true. The minorities are not heard and sometimes portrayed incorrectly in the media i.e. steretypes,

One point that hit me was that the media need to sell themselves. They get nowhere producing what no one’s interested in – one of the reasons why many TV series don’t continue for more than one season. This supports the society’s influence argument – the media has to gain our interest by providing us with what we want. On the other hand producers may see society enjoying one type of media or topic and overfocus and overproduce it. Gossip Girl is basically a replacement the O.C – rich kids doing nothing with their lives – but to a greater extent. This is how it works though, to sell the product you have to focus on what society likes.

In argument against increased censorship, O’Shaugnessy claims that we have some autonomy and control over our actions and that we don’t mindlessly follow and believe media representations. Here’s where I disagree. Not everyone is firm in their beliefs and when the media is constantly portraying similar ideas, that’s what sticks in the mind. It’s the sneakiness of the media that is able to so confidently present images and make us think in that way. Yes, to some extent we have autonomy but when we’re frequently exposed and begin to be driven by the medias ideas, it’s more and more difficult. And as O’Shaugnessy says, children are the most at risk and prone to confusing the fictional media representations with real life. The many Harry Potter incidents says it all.

Ultimately O’Shaugnessy’s chapter brings to attention the difficulty in distinguishing how much society affects the media and how much the media reflects our society. We shouldn’t be afraid of the media because it’s not corrupting our minds or desensitising us, nor should we take it as reality because it’s definitely not. However, this incredibly long chapter is evidence that this is not an easy issue with a simple answer – so many factors arise that emanate from us being the complex society that we are.

me & the media

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The ‘news’ was always the most boring thing to me in the world when I was younger. My dad would endlessly try to get me to read or watch the news, failing incredibly. But later I started realising how ignorant I was and decided it was time to get up to date!

I occasionally watched CNN or BBC on TV, though CNN focussed a lot more on the States obviously but they were both good because they were 24 hrs pretty much with interesting programs. I also used to read ‘The Cambodia Daily’ which was actually just a compilation of articles from other newspapers like ‘The New York Times’. Sometimes I would read the ‘Bangkok Post’ which had more world news.

At the moment I have a subscription to ‘Time’ magazine though the articles are more commentary and narrative and less informative. Sometimes I listen to the radio, some AM station but I don’t know what’s it called. That’s pretty good for local news and it’s usually instantaneous as well (almost…). Other than that, I don’t have specific TV news or other newspapers but I just watch or read what’s around.

I don’t use any language tools but sometimes if I’m reading or have read an article that’s interesting but don’t know that much about the topic, I might read some other things about it so I understand more.

Deadlines and me are pretty tight. I don’t mind them cuz I’m pretty organised and if I know a due date in advance, I’ll plan my work. The only thing that bothers me is when it’s an unrealistic deadline or when there are so many assignments at once that it’s practically impossible (which happened every school year when reports were due!).