Tag Archives: Technology

On switching off

My dad has this question that he rhetorically throws around whenever he’s with company and someone ask a Google question (for example, what’s the third flavour in a B52 shot?). He says “Oh gee, if only one of us had a small computer like device that we could carry around in our pockets that has access to all of the answers in the world…” and then inevitably pulls out his phone and Googles the question.

What I’m trying to say is that sometimes phones are great devices that can help out in certain social situations. For example a trivia question argument between two friends, or letting someone know you’re lost or running late.

Sometimes though, phones and friends don’t mix. I’ve heard that some people have a rule when they go out to eat with friends, that everybody places their phone face-down on the end of the table and the first person to pick up their phone to check it, also picks up the entire bill. Not a bad rule, but the fact that it exists surely reflects something about our society.

For our IRL 2013 event, we thought it might be difficult to ask people to actually switch off their phones for an hour and a half. I framed that time by suggestion to the planning team that it’s the same length as a short movie, and most people can go that long without checking their phone (although I know I am guilty of taking a phone call mid-movie, only once and I left the theatre, but still…). We were so worried about having to control the no-mobile-phone rule during the event that we even considered making one person the anti-phone police for the event.

Thankfully it didn’t come to that. In fact, we actually forgot to get everyone to turn their phones off at the beginning of the event! The switching phones off video that you can see here is totally staged. It happened right at the end of the event, and if you look closely, you can even tell that some of the phones weren’t actually turned off, just the screens switched to blank!

What I thought was amazing was that even though we all had out phones in our bags or pockets, not one person even peeked at their screen during the event. Nobody was tempted to check what was happening online because we were all too busy enjoy ourselves in the moment.

I think it helped that we didn’t all know each other too well. It’s easy to be rude in front of friend you know well, as you’d expect their forgiveness and even their understanding. With strangers you don’t know what to expect. I also think it helped that we had a lot of activities planned, and there was no down-time where people were wandering around wondering what to do. Boredom very quickly leads to checking your phone, seeing if maybe there’s something better happening somewhere else.

Reading Notes: “Users of the world unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media”

Kaplan, A. M., & Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the world unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media. Business Horizons, 53(1), 59-68. Retrieved from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0007681309001232

– Social Media is on the rise

– Firms have less control over what information customers can access

– The event of Social Media is sort of an evolution back to the original point of the Internet: to share information between users (but it’s more than that, and it’s different from Web 2.0 and User Generated Content (UGC)).

– Focus on six types:

  1. Collaborative Projects
  2. Blogs
  3. Content Communities
  4. Social Networking Sites
  5. Virtual Game Worlds
  6. Virtual Social Worlds

So these categories are making me think about Social Media in a way I haven’t considered before.  I’m thinking about how useful it is to divide Social Media into categories. I’m thinking about the six categories above and wondering about the ones I don’t recognise (1, 3, 6) and also thinking about the differences between the ones I do (2, 4, 5).

– Defining Web 2.0 as a place where collaboration became more common/valued than publication. For Web 2.0 to exist it needed:

  1. Adobe Flash
  2. RSS
  3. Ajax (asynchronous Java Script)

– Kaplan and Haenlein consider “Web 2.0 as the platform for the evolution of Social Media” (2010, p. 61).

– Three things are required for content to be considered UGC:

  1. Posted publicly (or to a select group) – so not IM or email
  2. Have creative effort- so not reproductions of other work
  3. Be created outside professional practice – so not created for an audience from a business POV.

– “Social Media is a group of internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technical foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of User Generated Content” (2010, p. 61).

At this point in the reading, I finally noticed that the references in this article were also hyperlinks. I was slightly disappointed to find that they only linked to the bibliography at the bottom of the article, but I think it’s a good idea to use in my report at the end of semester.

– Idea of Media Richness Theory is that the goal of communication is to resolve ambiguity and reduce uncertainty. More info: Daft and Lengle

Table 1

I’m not sure I agree with the table 100% but possibly because I don’t understand the Social Presence/Media Richness category. Will read the Daft and Lengle article at a later date to see if this helps my understanding.

I started skimming the rest of the article at this point (probably something I should have done before I began reading it) and came across a point later in the article that made me want to check the publication date of this article (also something I should have noted at the start). It’s an important thing to keep in mind, especially when reading articles about technology.

– Collaborative Projects

  • “democratic manifestation of UGC” (2010, p. 62).
  • eg. Wikis, bookmarking services like Delicious, Urban Dictionary
  • the idea behind it is that joint effort produces better results than a solo effort
  • can harm firms: the customer feedback cycle
  • can benefit firms: keep track of/in touch with employees

– Blogs

  • “The Social Media equivalent of personal web pages” (2010, p. 63)
  • usually managed by one person, interaction=comments
  • can be good or bad for firms, obviously?!

– Content Communities

  • eg YouTube, Flickr, Slideshare
  • risk of sharing copyright material
  • but reward of reaching potential customers through customer interactions or sharing recruitment videos/ keynote speeches/ press releases etc.

– Social Networking Sites

  • eg FaceBook, MySpace
  • firms can use SNS to promote themselves and reach customers

– Virtual Game Worlds

  • “Virtual Worlds are probably the ultimate manifestation of Social Media  as they provide the highest level of social presence and media richness of all the applications discussed thus far” (2010, p. 64).
  • eg WOW, Runescape (personal eg), X-box and PlayStation online games
  • not too much interest for firms except in collaborative advertising maybe

– Virtual Social Worlds

  • eg. Second Life
  • lots of opportunities for firms to become part of the VSWs and market to the “residents”

I skimmed the rest of the article “Five points about using media” and “Five points about being social” because I know this information already, as I often read it on creative/entrepreneurial blogs about online presence and branding.

Overall an interesting article to start my semester on, and I’ll be looking further into the Media Richness Theory before too long.

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.

Loving Technology

Do you know what the greatest thing in the world is?

Lying in bed at 10.30 on a Wednesday night thinking “gee I’m hungry” and then picking up your phone, pressing a few buttons find open restaurants that deliver to your area, paying for your food using PayPal (!), then hearing a knock on the door a short while later and opening the door to find someone standing there with a huge bag of hot, delicious food just for you.

It’s even better when the dessert is Gulab Jamun.

Isn’t technology awesome?

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