Tag Archives: Media

A Year Without The Internet

I was wrong.
One year ago I left the internet. I thought it was making me unproductive. I thought it lacked meaning. I thought it was “corrupting my soul.”
It’s a been a year now since I “surfed the web” or “checked my email” or “liked” anything with a figurative rather than literal thumbs up. I’ve managed to stay disconnected, just like I planned. I’m internet free.
And now I’m supposed to tell you how it solved all my problems. I’m supposed to be enlightened. I’m supposed to be more “real,” now. More perfect.

Paul Miller has written an excellent article about what the Internet really does to you and why it matters. Worth a read, see the whole article here.

Lecture Notes- IM 1 Week 9

Disruption.

Disruptive technology.

Disruption is important. Adrian wants to change (disrupt) the way we think about things.

“The world is deeply unstable… it’s a soup… an ocean of connections.”

“Unless you want to be an academic, no-one in this room will write an essay again. Ever again.” (Reminds me of my last athletics carnival at school, “after this I’ll never have to run ever again…”).

Blogs are disruptive. Blogs are  porous . In a blog, nearly anything goes therefore they disrupt the traditional “professional standards”.

bb vs blog

“In the making we express knowledge.”

Future making. Not knowing what might happen = moment of risk. Fight or flight, or stand your ground and make cool stuff.

Most of our models look backwards. Think ahead. Methods for future making. Methods for dealing with things you don’t know. Want future change, always.

Respond to the uncertainty of the making. Surrender agency to the system.

We are the “Media Blahs” of the future…

Do Cool Stuff

That was my introduction to this semester. Week 1, day 1, lecture 1 started with “do cool stuff”.

Today Adrian talked a bit more about ‘cool stuff’ and how to make it. Sort of. In a roundabout way. The lecture focussed a bit on heritage media and the way they can’t afford to take risks. We were basically being told to take risks. Do cool stuff.

Korsakow can be used to answer the ‘yes and’ question of “what will happen if…?”

Constraints generate sophisticated work. Like Adrian said way back at the beginning, one video of round things doesn’t make sense, 100 videos of round things and you’ve suddenly got something. Something because of a pattern. Patterns are created by constraints. Let’s create a rule and respond to it.

Sometimes it’s hard to find the pattern (especially in a k-film), the media is then dirty, messy, noisy, other, which makes it harder to understand. Why are these words negative? Dirty, messy, noisy, other?

Same vs Other

When everything is linked and we are in a “cluster of stuff” why do we look for clean, tidy, quite, same? Pay attention to the things that push back, the things that challenge, and use them to do cool stuff.

Lecture Notes- IM1 Week 8

So the last time I did a lecture notes post was in week 4. There was the Easter break, I got sick and then I just avoided the online world in general for a few weeks, but I’m back now, so lets carry on with it.

This week’s lecture was a throwback to week one, we talked about industrial media, or heritage media again, this time in terms of scarcity.

First up, heritage media is capital intensive, requiring huge amounts of money to make media, after the upfront costs required to establish a media-making model. The consequence of this is that everything must be produced with the $return in mind. As Adrian says “advertising only works if people are watching”.

Heritage media celebrates scarcity (because it makes advertising spots worth more). Newspapers could print 1,000 pages daily instead of 50 but they don’t because not only would it make the actual paper hard to manage, but because nobody wants to pay $10 for the daily news, and the advertising spots would be worth less. Television can only play one thing at a time and so will put the popular shows on at times when they  know that the most people will be available to watch (hence making the advertising spots more valuable).

Because of this scarcity, heritage media can’t afford to take risks. If one outlet finds a new formula that makes a lot of money and draws a big audience (eg. Masterchef) then the other outlets will copy that format (eg. My Kitchen Rules) and so television becomes a sheep chasing sheep model.

Where’s the innovation there? There is only so much you can do, it’s like innovation in the car industry. You might update the engine, move the fins or add racing stripes, but a car will remain a vehicle with four wheels and an engine for a long, long time.

In the post-industrial media age (which we are entering into), scarcity is not valued. Access to the means of production has been flipped and there is no longer a huge financial barrier to set up a media institution (free blog anyone?). Adrian notes, “once you take scarcity away … everything else collapses” and so we are on the cusp, in the swamp between heritage media and new media. We are the one who have to figure out what that means, how we can make money (and meaning) from it, and where it all fits in this post-industrial media age. 

Pay attention to the things that push back…

Korsakow Film Reviews

I’m going to talk about four Korsakow films that popped up in my reader last week (that actually had titles!) and do a mini review of each. The point is that in watching other students’ work and identifying what I liked and what I didn’t, I’ll be able to create a better project for the second assessment. Unfortunately, two of the members of my live assessment group didn’t show up, so this is also my own kind of way of addressing what I missed out on there, which is looking at what other students have done with their k-films.

Starting with The Nature of a City (which is a really clever title once you’ve figured out the theme). What I like about Lauren’s k-film is the different interface backgrounds, I find that they help pull her overall theme together really well and make it more obvious to the viewer what direction they’re going in.  The interface is also nice and easy to navigate, and choosing the thumbnails feels almost intuitive. I also like the text she’s used because the fragments are lyrical and that makes them flow really nicely in any order that you read them in. I don’t really like to looping of the clips, but I am yet to find a k-film in which I do like the looping, so that’s probably just a personal preference.

Next is Life by Issy. First impression is the title slide? Title page? Opening credits? I’m not sure what to call this, and I didn’t know it was possible to do, but it sets the mood and theme for her k-film straight up. Wow. This k-film has one of the most creative ways of using text that I’ve seen so far. Issy combines text below the video which links to preview text on each of the thumbnails. It creates almost a mini narrative for each video, but then the “narrative” so to speak, changes once the thumbnail is clicked. Life also has a clear ending, which is nice to experience. The interface background is also fitting as it draws the theme together and presents the videos within the context of “life”. I’d say this is one of the best k-films I’ve seen so far.

Potatoes is a k-film by Elizabeth who also uses the title/credit/opening thingy, though not to any effect. Elizabeth’s interface is similar to mine, all grey scale  however her background image is really fitting. Not only does it physically fit, but it also helps create the mood for the film. The text that goes with the videos here are lines from a Sylvia Plath poem, Potatoes, which makes the haunting theme even more apparent. I will say though, that the text needed to be visually different, as I found that it tended to get lost against the background image and so I sometimes clicked onto the next clip without remembering to read the text. Perhaps a different layout would have helped with this too as my attention went from the thumbnails to the video without going above or below too much. Now, the thumbnails! They were both really cool and very frustrating. Elizabeth used the same image for all the thumbnails (a black-and-white close-up of an eye) which essentially took a lot of my choice out of the viewing experience, as the “choosing” the next clip was almost like a lucky-dip. If that was the feeling she was going for, it worked very well, but I didn’t think it actually quite fit with this project. Also, I was confused as to why some of the clips were in black and white and some in colour, I felt that if they were all in black and white the project would have been a bit more harmonious. And again, the looping clips weren’t to my personal taste, although I can see why they almost worked in this film.

Finally, Ben created Melbourne Unknown. Holy smokes, this one is scary, scary good! Not like, super scary, but I hate horror movies, and this definitely has that spooky, paranormal theme to it. It’s also, hands down, the best k-film I have seen. Ben has taken the restraints of the task and used them in unexpected ways. A good example of this is the thumbnails. Instead of square thumbnails where a detail of the next clip can be seen, Ben has made long rectangular thumbnails that stack underneath the main clip and are so zoomed in on a point of light that it’s impossible to tell what the clip is about. I hadn’t even thought to do something like that with the thumbnails! This k-film also has a clear beginning and end, even though there are many different paths to take in between. In fact, the beginning and end clip help to set the mood, theme and idea behind the k-film quite nicely. Another thing I really liked about Melbourne Unknown is how the clips ended. Each clip only played once and most of them ended by a quick pan or turn towards a bright light source, enhancing the creepy, spooky factor in the clips and giving the overall project a feeling of something outside the clips. The only thing that Ben could improve in this k-film would be the text. The choice of text was really good, but no attention was paid to how it looked visually, perhaps a change of font, size or colour is all the text needed to be taken to the next level.

So, what I took overall from these k-films is:

  • Carefully consider the interface in terms of layout, background colour, thumbnail size and text position.
  • Pick appropriate text that will create links between the videos but also be able to stand alone.
  • Push the boundaries! With text, thumbnails, interfaces and “story progression” (for lack of a better term).
  • Loop videos only if there’s a clear purpose that the viewer will understand.
  • Use title slides/opening credits to add value to the project.

Clearly the more thought that goes into a project, the better it is, and I think it clearly shows where a project has been carefully considered right from the start. Some interesting points to consider going into the second k-film project making stages.

Impulse Buying

The way I use technology to navigate my media degree changes every semester.

First semester I only owned a netbook and took it to uni each day to take notes and do work between classes. Anything that I needed actual computing power for (read anything more complicated than opening a web browser or tying an essay, I’m looking at you video and sound editing!) I had to do at uni in the computer labs. In second semester I bought a larger more powerful laptop to use at home and still took my netbook to uni for note-taking etc. Then all my editing was done at home on my laptop, which I used more like a desktop as it rarely moved.

This semester, my big laptop has died (I’m in the process of going through the warranty to get it repaired) and I’ve stopped taking my netbook to uni. I take my notes with a really nice pen in art sketch books and use my phone to take photos and blog about my lectures. I then sort of work on my video and sound editing at home on the netbook, but that’s driving me nuts.

Once my big laptop is fixed, I should be okay to use it for my editing work, but in fact I’ve grown to hate it over the last few months. It’s just not quite good enough for what I feel like I need to get through this degree. So, I’ve decided to invest in a new computer. Something that I can use to edit video that won’t make me want to rip my face off (nb- this is not an exaggeration, I feel like doing this sometimes when trying to load a program on my netbook for the twelfth time!).

My budget is $2000, and that has to include shipping, accessories and an extended warranty (preferably three years). This is more than double what I’ve spent of computers previously, but I’m now looking at this purchase as an investment in my education, so I’m taking it more seriously.

I see three options at this point.

  1. I can buy a nice, large screen laptop (either a Macbook or a PC) that will mostly stay at home and be used like a desktop, but that can be taken to uni if I really need to use it between classes or for group assignments.
  2. I can buy a nicer, larger screen iMac that doesn’t travel with me, but that does have a bigger screen (useful for editing, although I do have a very large TV that I can use an an external monitor if I don’t go with the iMac option…), is less likely to be damaged due to it’s lack-of-portability and has a bit more oomph in terms of processing power.
  3. I can buy an Asus Taichi 21, because it’s cool. Actually, it’d be handy because it’s portable enough to take to uni (and I could use the tablet function to take notes in lectures, much like I do with my art books now), but it’s also capable of editing videos and sound because of it’s processing power and ability to be a laptop as well as a tablet.

I’m leaning towards to Asus Taichi at the moment, partly because it is super cool and partly because as a media student, I feel like I should be one of the people out there testing the cool new things and coming up with innovative ways to incorporate them into my professional media practice. In this review of the Taichi, Steve Chippy Paine says:

“In all the years of testing mobile devices we’ve never struggled this hard to think of a target customer. The ASUS Taichi fits as a high-end presentation device, a first-class-cabin PC but mainly as food for thought.”

And as a media student, especially reflecting on the most recent Integrated Media lecture, I want to take that food-for-thought and do something cool with it. Something unexpected. Something amazing. But I’m worried that it won’t be the best tool to help me with my degree in general, no matter how cool it is or what I end up doing with it.

On the other hand, all the computers we use at uni are Macs and most students have Macbooks. It would be useful to be part of the Mac crowd for group assignments and for transferring my work to the computers at uni. And I really should learn how to use a mac instead of being surprised every time my fingers brush the touch pad and something new happens!

This morning I was all ready to purchase the Asus Taichi, but using my super power of restraint (which seems to have been granted to me today, as I usually just click that buy button…) I have decided not to make an impulse buy, but to weight up my options over the next few days and make a rational decision based on facts and not emotions. Holy smokes!

So, I’ve already asked my dad for advice (“Think about what you’re going to use it for, then buy something that fits your needs rather than your whims…”), and I’ve asked the RMIT media Facebook group, and now I’m asking you, my blog readers. If you were in my shoes, what would you go for? Actually, without being in my shoes, what would you go for for yourself? And why? I’m interested, so tell me in the comments

Lecture Notes- IM1 Week 4

This week’s lecture was question based. My favourite question was asked by Pete who wrote: “A friend of mine is debating internally whether this is an Arts course or not? How do you define the difference between an Arts degree and a Communication degree?”

The friend was me (despite the doctor jokes that were made during the lecture!). I have, for most of this semester now, been worried that I’m stuck in an Arts degree that’s masquerading as a Communication degree. Not helped by the fact that I’m studying modernist literature and post-modern philosophy. This worry was not assuaged when Adrian said, “You are in an arts course” followed shortly with, “It is an Arts degree”.

But! But, Adrian then went on to tell us that the difference between an Arts degree and a Communication degree is that a comms degree is much more constrained, more focused. And we talked about going into professional landscapes that are not causal, but are full of what-if?s and how-about?s and maybe?s. I think a more artsy style of degree will help me navigate such a professional landscape much more effectively than if I was studying a plainer, comms style degree.

So I feel better about being an Arts student now. Hurrah!

More interesting notes that I took from the lecture:

  • “We are now living in an environment of everyday media.”
  • This course is focused on getting us to become “network literate”.
  • Media is the new black (or the new engineering) – it’s the industry that’ll be running the world sooner rather than later… perhaps it already is. “It’s all media”.
  • “The ability to earn an income from your professional practice is declining.” The problem is “how do I get people to pay me to make stuff?”

photo (11)

iPads are changing the way that media is consumed. It’s no longer the “spectacle” that cinema is, and it’s not the social activity that watching TV is, it’s something more like a novel, more personal, more intimate…

Finally, a note on stories. The web, according to Adrian, is not about story telling. He says there is no story in twitter, or on a blog. He wants us to move away from the hegemony of narrative because media can be other (remember week 1? Dirty, messy noisy, other?). There are other ways of making that make sense and meaning that don’t require narrative.

Lecture Notes- IM1 Week 1

The first thing I wrote down from this lecture was “do cool things”, which, I think, is a pretty awesome way to start a semester.

Things that caught my eye/ears:

  • Looking at the web not as a place to publish, but as a place to make, create and interact.
  • No distinction between theory and practice, they are one. Learn by doing. “If you’re not thing of your making in the moment of making, you’re naive.”
  • Professional does not equal money, it equals experience and awareness about the artifact you’re creating.
  • Digital natives are not necessarily sophisticated digital citizens. In fact, digital immigrants are likely to have have more sophistaction if because they have experience with how digital stuff works, rather than why.

Actually, I want to expand on that last point a little. I first learnt of the terms “digital native” and “digital immigrant” when I was studying primary education. As pre-service teachers, we were told that all our future students would be digital natives and if we didn’t use technology to capture and hold their attention in class, they’d quickly lose interest in learning because they are used to being entertained with the push of a button. I never really liked this idea, and it bothered me that we were being taught that these kids would know more about technology than us, or even our parents. I have to say, my dad is technically old enough to be classified as a “digital immigrant” but he is easily a much more sophisticated digital citizen than I am. When Adrian explained the sophisticated citizen part, that made so much sense to me. And I never really like the terms digital native/immigrant anyway!

I like that there’s no road map for this course, it’s instead going to be a mix of making, thinking and learning, with our learning and questions sometimes determining which way we go at a crossroads.

learn-make-think

Some notes on sketch videos:

  • Use ready-to-hand technology, publish online, critique in class, make several per week.
  • Treat them like words: cheap and free!
  • Think of why writers have notebooks, and artists sketch. Learn by doing and doing and doing.
  • Shift thinking from big monuments and statement pieces to sketches and quiet observation, from imposing to listening, from naive to informed.

And finally, a few words about industrial media vs post-industrial media. We will be working in a post-industrial media landscape when we graduate and should think of ourselves as “the engineering media practitioners of the future”. The world is moving from a media that is clean, tidy, quiet, same to a media that disrupts all these notions of what media is. It is becoming dirty, messy, noisy, other.

Same vs Other