Monthly Archives: April 2009

Programming Your Own Channel (Wk7)

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Rizzo, Teresa. “Programming Your Own Channel: An Archaelogoy of the Playlist”.

From Kenyon, A. (Ed) “TV Futures”. Melbourne Uni Press, 2007. (108-134)

In this chapter, Teresa Rizzo addresses the technological and cultural changes in digital media through the notion of the playlist. The chapter is divided into three main sections; the first looks at three case studies and the role of the playlist. The second section considers the term ‘flow’ as defined by theorist Raymond Williams and later explanation of flow from Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. Finally, the the third section ponders the consequences of the shift in television programming through the individualised play list.

By considering three case studies – Foxtel iQ, YouTube and the iPod – Rizzo examines the role of the playlist and its effect on our attitude towards the television. Using the example of the Foxtel iQ PDR, she distiguishes two modes of viewing – the temporal mode which consists of tuning in to the TV at a specific time for a particular program and the spatial mode of time where the channel is seen as a place to visit rather than time-structured program to tune into. Foxtel iQ ultimately gives viewers the control to create their own personal playlists which can be viewed at anytime and are highly personalised. The next example, YouTube, takes the personalisation even further by inviting users to create their own channel. Rob Cover describes this as the ‘democratisation of media texts’ which ‘stems from a desire for co-participation’. The iPod also enables personalisation and customisation as well as mobility, changing completely the original notion of the domestic television that brings families together .

Williams provides a concept of flow grounded in ideas about sequence where there is ‘a specific arrangement of and approach to timing, organisation and viewer experience’. Sequence can also be approached by enticing audiences to watch an evening’s viewing of programs rather than just the one. StarWorld, for example, has Monday Night Comedy Night and Thursday Lock & Load (Action) to attract audiences and keep their attention.

Deleuze and Guattari see flow as the connection of different kinds of ‘machines’ – bodies, institutions and discourses. It is the connection that creates a machine which can be seen in the analogy of a bicycle from Claire Colebrook; “The human body becomes a cyclist in connecting with the machine; the cycle becomes a vehicle.” In their definition, interruptions are just as important to create a multiplicity of connections. For the internet in particular, these ‘interruptions’ allow for the flow of following different hyperlinks. This notion of flow moves away from the passive, one-way flow and towards interactivity.

Flor relates to the shape and culutral form of television in a digital environment. We have always seen it as a one-way process which we have little control over, but this is now changing. With the democratisation of the playlist, audiences now have greater control over their media.

Buying into Americal Idol (Wk6)

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Jenkins, Henry. “Buying into American Idol: How We Are Being Sold on Reality Television” in Convergence Culture. New York, NYU Press, 2006.

Jenkins’ chapter in this week’s reading examines popular reality series American Idol as an application of media convergence which he describes as ‘the big new thing that demonstrated the power that lies at the intersection between old and new media’. As our media consumption changes with the proliferation of media, advertisers and network companies must find a way to hold on to their viewers.

Jenkins introduces us to a few terms which ultimately reveal viewers’ emotional investment as the underlying concept. CEO Worldwide of Saatchi & Saatchi Kevin Roberts place importance on ‘lovemarks’, branding that commands ‘the “love” as well as the “respect” of consumers’. Advertising plays on our emotions to attract our attention and win our loyalty. Jenkins illustrates this with an example of Coca-Cola’s story section on their website where consumers share personal stories which eventually become the core of promotional themes. Furthermore, this is how American Idol forms its relationship with views. The contestants become ‘real people’ as ‘views get to know the contestants, learn their personality, their motives for competing, their backgrounds, and in some cases, other members of their families.’

The classification of Zappers, Casuals and Loyals caught my interest. I change channels every couple of minutes, but there are a few shows that I watch from beginning to end. Phillip Swann, author of TV.Com: How Television is Shaping our Future, puts forward that ‘few viewers today can sit through an entire program without picking up the remote and checking out another channel.’ Interactive television is one way to combat the short attention span of Zappers.

Jenkin’s illustrates this by the research conducted on the family and college students watching American Idol. The Loyals pull in the Casuals and the Zappers. This is exactly what happens in my family; I watched season 7 of American Idol last year, and my parents ended up being sucked in! Similarly, when everyone is constantly talking about a show it is difficult not to become intrigued or curious as to what the attraction is.

Audience participation in shows like American Idol give a sense of empowerment that creates a stronger relationship between viewers and what is being viewed, enabled by media convergence.

Mobile phones: the empowering of youth (Wk5)

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Ito, Mizuko. “Mobile Phones, Japanese Youth, and the Replacement of Social Contact.”

From Ling & Pederson (Eds). “Mobile Communications.” Springer, 2005. (131-148)

What’s the one thing a person can’t leave the house without? That’s right, the mobile phone. In her chapter “Mobile Phones, Japanese Youth, and the Replacement of Social Contact”, Mizuko Ito draws our attention to the role that mobile phones play in the lives of a teenager. She argues that the mobile media enable youth to ‘escape the demands of existing social structures and parental surveillance’ rather than the negative view that they ‘erode the integrity of existing places or social identities’. Using her research on mobile phone use, particularly among Japanese youth, Ito illustrates this idea of empowering youth through their phones and creating new social disciplines that coincide with already existing ‘power geometries’.

Ito presents one example of youth overcoming their limitations through mobile phones in a class situation. While most schools ban the use of mobile phones in class, interviews with high school students revealed that many students discreetly sent and received messages during class. Essentially, text messaging is the that teenagers of today overcome communicative limitations in the classroom, just as note-passing was used pre-mobile phones. According to Ito, text messaging in class allows students to communicate with each other while recognising their place in the existing classroom. From experience, I can see how the mobile phone does provide more freedom in a classroom of strict rules.

Ito also illustrates the circumvention of boundaries and the power geometries of the home and the streets. New disciplines emerge and new social expectations arise. A text message awaits an instant reply and Ito’s research shows that many of the youth believe there is some social expectation as to a quick reply. This is also the case with e-mails; when letters were the norm, a slow reply was acceptable. Now with e-mails, there is a feeling of obligation to reply quickly.

The mobile phone allows teenagers to be ‘with’ their friends at all times, not necessarily in the same physical place. Ito’s study reveals that many student couples ‘were in ongoing contact during the times when they were not at school’. As Ito points out, teenagers don’t have the same social structures that adults have such as their own home, and mobile phones function as the enabler in a private space. However, this is the same idea that has created the need to always be carrying a mobile phone.

Essentially, Ito uses her research to describe the large role that mobile phones play in the lives of teenagers. As they are restricted by adult social structures, the mobile phone allows them to overcome these limitations in situations and power geometries of the home, the classroom and even the streets.

The Doubling of Place (Wk4)

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Moores, Shaun. “The Doubling of Place: Electronic Media, Time-Space Arrangements and Social Relationships”.

From Couldry and McCarthey. Media Space: Scale and Culture in a Media Age. Routledge, 2004, 21-37

In this chapter, Moore’s familiarises readers with Scannell’s concept of the doubling of place and the notion that an event can occur twice and in two different places. He uses the example of Princess Diana’s funeral to illustrate this point; while the actual event occurred in one place, the media coverage was so present that viewers around the world were able to experience the event, as if they were present at the funeral themselves. This broadcasting of an event is what attracts all sorts of people to watch sports matches, the Academy Awards and other major events that only a few can actually physically attend. The key point here is that viewers are in two places at once; in their living room watching TV (or wherever they are) and in the location where the event is taking place.

Moores goes on to describe the role the internet plays in the doubling of place. The main difference here is that sometimes people can get so engrossed in online activities, that reality and the surroundings are forgotten. Chatting online and talking on skype bring us closer to people though we don’t physically move in any way. Yet the internet has the ability to diminish the space that separates us.

Lastly, Moores addresses what he entitles “Two ‘theres’ there in mobile phone” which provides the example of a young woman talking on her cell phone while travelling on a train. So engrossed in her conversation, she is in two places at once – on the train and on the phone. She almost forgets her physical positioning as a result of her phone conversation which almost carries her to her boyfriend as they talk. When one passenger meets her gaze, she feels as though her private space has been intruded upon, despite being in a public train carriage.

Thus, these three examples demonstrate how media transforms our experience of the space around us and the distance between places. It can take hold of us and make us less aware of our physical space and it can bring us closer to an event or person on the other side of the world.