Category Archives: BCM240

The Great Firewall of China

This week’s topic concerns media regulation and the effect space, time and place has upon audiences and what they are or are not able to consume.

Immediately this reminded me of the mass regulation of Chinese internet imposed in the region, which has interested me for some time. The Chinese government have a firewall in place which has the ability to block anything and everything not approved. This includes many Western sites such as Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and Instagram leaving residents and tourists unable to access their outside accounts when in the country.

The Chinese constitution states that its citizens have freedom of speech and the press however in practice the Government utilise a loophole to control this through claiming news articles and websites can expose state secrets endangering the country. As the definition of ‘state secrets’ is vague, this gives authorities a broad scope on what they can regulate in the media. (Xu, B 2015)

Despite having blocked many international websites, China made their own social media platforms which are just as popular and very much like their western counterparts. This also gives the government the ultimate control of what is able to be accessed on the internet in their country instead of attempting to censor and regulate international media sites.

Although Google does operate in China it is heavily censored with a number of search terms banned or blacklisted including terms such as ‘democracy’, ‘human rights’, ‘freedom’, ‘reform’ alongside names of various Chinese Politicians and events like the Tiananmen Square Massacre. However it is mirrored by the Chinese search engine Baidu, which is the most popular search engine in China and many users utilise it form downloading pictures, music and TV shows. Although a lot of the content it provides is unavailable outside China due to copyright. (Bethany, 2014)

chinese-internet-cartoon

Weibo is the Chinese version of Twitter and Facebook mixed together in a hybrid. People follow their friends and celebrities and have a 140 character limit on posts. However due to language differences, a character in Chinese can say a whole word as opposed to English where a character is a single letter. This leads to a lot more information being shared and explored in a single post compared to the western counterpart. Weibo reportedly has 503 million users registered making up 30% of internet users worldwide.

China’s Youtube is in fact called Youku. Widely used for watching dramas, music videos and other viral content circulating throughout the Chinese internet, audiences are presented with a means of watching online videos. Again it is quite similar to the Youtube platform but users are only able to view Chinese government approved content. (Bethany, 2014)

The Great Chinese Firewall means audience members have a different internet experience due to their physical space and location regardless of where an individual is from, the rules apply to everyone.

 

 

Millennial Attention Spans in the Technological Age; an Experiment

This week’s topic is about short and distracted attention spans when in the presence of multiple different media platforms. The first thing that came to mind is a perfect example of this; university lectures. You’re engaging with the content being presented to you by taking the occasional note, while having a Facebook tab open on your computer to keep up with the group chat and texting your friend on your phone. If you look around you can immediately tell that everyone is doing the same thing. Especially when the lecturer is playing a video and the person at the end of the row is vigorously tapping on their keyboard. You just know they’re not avidly taking notes but are probably planning their weekend or bitching about the new guy at work.

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So to test how crap our millennial attention spans really are, I set up a test involving myself, my 18yr old brother, a movie called ‘Hush’, and a bunch of junk food to see if we could go 1hr and 27 mins without picking up our phones, computers or engaging with any other media content other than the movie in front of us. It sounds easy but my brother and I are notorious for getting distracted. We are always messaging people or doing a quick Facebook scroll in boring parts of movies (leading us to miss important bits and be left unsure of what is going on). On the occasion we look up stuff on Google which we don’t understand but once we actually paused a movie to watch a video on Youtube.

It wasn’t even a good video. It was this one if you really want to learn how pathetic we are.

I picked the movie Hush because it’s a scary movie (apparently) and I’m not so keen on them. Therefore, on a normal viewing I would probably distract myself with my phone. I also chose it because I’ve heard from friends it’s not the best movie anyway, meaning we would probably get bored, tempting us even further for distraction. So after pressing play on my phone so the movie could sync to the Chromecast on my TV, we put both of our phones down on the desk beside us so they weren’t within arm’s reach. We also turned them onto silent to avoid further temptation.

In the end we did last the whole hour and 27 mins of our social media purge, but it was only because we were so avidly committed to proving we aren’t completely useless. We also had no legitimate excuse to check our phones or social media during the movie without being pathetic. Thankfully there were no calls from mum or dad which would’ve realistically been the only reason we could use them because no assignment is worth our parents wrath.

The movie wasn’t too bad in the end,  it was more gory with a cool concept than actually scary so we found ourselves enjoying it. It was nice to not be distracted as we realised we actually understood the plot of the movie for a change. No Googling of the synopsis was needed in the end because we payed attention this time.

In conclusion, yes I believe people do have short attention spans and can get distracted very easily. However if you actively set your mind to a task and remove distractions from the picture you can achieve your goals.  (because lets be real we all know how to, we just don’t want to actually do it.)

“Hey did you see what I tagged you in?”

For my digital project I want to investigate the social protocols, spoken and unspoken rules, regarding phone and social media use in different situations in today’s world of expanding connectivity and technology use. I aim to discover the reasons behind why it is deemed acceptable to engage with media forms in some situations such as when hanging out with friends but perhaps not when you are with your parents.

Week 6 and 8’s topics were related to public spaces and media use alongside how distracted people are in today’s society when constantly surrounded by multiple different means of consuming media.

In our tutorial we discussed some of the situations where it would and wouldn’t be acceptable to pull out your phone such as in the middle of dinner with your parents as opposed to friends. We discussed that this is because of the generational difference between our parents and our friends, as older generations would deem pulling your phone out to Snapchat the awesome lasagna mum cooked up disrespectful and rude. Whereas, your friends are more likely to take it as a compliment that you were bragging about their cooking on social media.  I’m also interested in the relationship between phones in a workplace environment including university. I’ve observed some tutors don’t seem to mind if you send a text during class where others see it as very impolite.

Further many places I’ve worked at, have all had different rules regarding phone use, however in the majority of these, employees would either blatantly disregarded these or found ways to get around them. (myself included) Usually this  involved keeping your phone stashed on your person and ducking off to the bathroom a little too regularly or hiding in a back corner of a warehouse to send a quick message.

Two of the more notable places I’ve worked which had explicit rules banning phones was a trampoline arena and a retail store. In both of these places employees were constantly utilizing the above tactics and had their phones on their person at all times.  In the case of the trampoline arena I believe this was due to two factors, one was that the staff was made up of 16-24 year olds who all experienced growing up with technology. The second was that it was in general a very quiet and frankly boring workplace without much to occupy employees with. Even the managers would sit up in their office aimlessly scrolling through Instagram and Facebook. Online shopping while at work was not an uncommon occurrence.  The retail store wasn’t as extreme in the online shopping scene, however it was similar in the sense that on quiet days, it was really boring so people would satisfy their short attention spans with the usual social media consumption.

I now work at a café and leave my phone in my bag because it’s so busy I don’t have a second to go to the bathroom for real let alone to do the sneaky bathroom scroll every hour or so.

I find this all really interesting and will explore the rules and the reality of phone use in the workplace in my digital assignment.

To complete this project, I will undertake a few social experiments involving my friends, parents, fellow students and co-workers and report on the different reactions to my phone use in different situations. I aim to take all factors which may influence their actions into account and will interview them about what they would constitute acceptable phone use in different situations.

References;

-Image Credit

Jackson, K, Cellphones at Work, Pintrest, viewed 28 September 2016, <http://quotesgram.com/img/cell-phones-at-work-quotes-and-sayings/6752216/&gt;

The Cinema; A Happy Place Until You Let Seth Rogen In

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Ruby’s Bar, Dalston Credit My Halfpenny’s Worth, 2013

A trip to the cinema has always been an exciting experience for me. It reminds me of the school holidays growing up where mum would pay for us and a couple of friends to go see a movie just so we would sit down and shut up for an hour and half while she had some breathing time. Of course we didn’t see it like that, the cinema for us the most exciting thing ever, we could see the full movies of those awesome trailers playing on TV all the time. We got popcorn and ice cream and got to sit in the dark watching  screen 100 times bigger than ourselves.

The first movie I ever saw at the cinema was Scooby Doo when I was probably about 5, and I loved it so much I have re watched it over 20 times since. I loved the corny jokes (which don’t seem corny until you do re-watch it years later) the loud noises and the colourful monsters. Since Scooby Doo, I’ve had many other memorable movie viewings like dressing up for the midnight screening of the final Harry Potter movie with 30 of my high school friends and watching The Incredibles with my dad and brother at the age of 10 after a bad day.

The cinema for me is a happy space, you don’t need to talk to anyone for a prolonged period of time and once you’re in there who really cares if you’re wearing pajama pants honestly? You’re going to stand up after the movie covered in popcorn anyway, I think everyone should just embrace that comfy clothes is the best attire for sitting down and doing nothing publicly for 2 hours. You wouldn’t be wearing jeans and high heels to watch that Lord of the Rings Marathon at home now would you?

I only have one bad cinema experience which I can remember and it stands out so poignantly because it happened to me very recently. It had less to do with cinema etiquette and more to do with my very wrong first impression of a movie I was going to see.  Now I was so excited for this movie I’d seen the trailer months ago and thought it looked very clever and hilarious as it investigated the way humans consume food and other products. It was animated but for adults and as I love myself a good Pixar I thought this would along the same lines. Boy was I wrong.

I don’t go to the cinema all the time, but when I do it’s because I really want to see something. So I convinced 4 of my friends to come watch it with me despite their lack of enthusiasm, which at the time I found ridiculous because how on earth could a Seth Rogen movie go wrong?

You probably know what movie I’m talking about and you’re right, it was Sausage Party.

For anyone who hasn’t seen Sausage Party; don’t.

My friend I was sitting next to said he saw the exact moment I started hating my life choices and questioning everything I’d ever believed in. Without getting into the details of the movie because that will turn this blog post into a scathing review of a movie no one should waste their time on, this movie was terrible. I can honestly say a very misleading trailer lead me to the most disappointing cinema experience of my life. I strongly advise people to do their research and not to trust Seth Rogen because it will ruin happy places such as the Cinema.

Technological Nostalgia

I had a conversation with my Dad about what TV and media was like for him growing up. My Dad grew up in Christchurch, in New Zealand in the 1960s-70’s, in a 3 bedroom house on a ¼ acre section. He lived with his brother, 3 sisters and his mum and dad. His family bought their first television in the early 70s when dad was about 10 or 11. Until then their TV viewing involved having an early bath on a Sunday afternoon and getting into their pyjamas by about 4pm and heading over to the neighbor’s place to watch whichever Disney movie was playing that afternoon. The kids would usually lie a metre or so in front of the TV while the adults would sit behind them on the couch without anyone’s views being blocked by stray heads. He notes that the TV would be situated in the living room which was a relaxed area, with the aerial placed on top in the middle of the TV. As TV was a big expensive electrical piece of equipment, it was given a wide berth from any decorative pot plants which people may accidentally spill water from when they’re being watered. Also unlike today, the TV had nothing to do with dinner in the sense that meals were eaten at the dining table, not from the laps of a family engrossed in reality television from the couch.

Dad’s most memorable moment watching TV wasn’t the moon landing (which he can’t actually remember watching at all unlike most people from his generation) it was in fact, waking up at 3am with his mum to watch the 1973 FA cup final being played live on TV. Sunderland beat Leeds 1-0 in good old black and white definition. New Zealand didn’t get colour TV until the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch, and they only got it then because they needed to broadcast it in colour to the rest of the world. Australia were 18 months or so behind New Zealand getting colour television in 1975.

Dad also remembers people in intermediate school, coming to school and discussing the latest Sesame Street episode, which really goes to show it’s not always been just for little kids.

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A L&P can featured in a 1970’s ‘Stubbies’ Advertisement in New Zealand.

I asked him about what advertising and commercials were like on TV when he was younger. Dad replied that they wouldn’t interrupt the programs as frequently, instead of commercial breaks running every 7 or so minutes, the shows would run for about 15-20 minutes before being forced to watch some jingles. Dad and his brother when they were about 12, begun doing a little active protest against advertising and would refuse to watch the ads by turning around or covering their faces so they couldn’t see. However,this quickly backfired when they begun to make a competition out of who would name the ad first, often taking only a few opening notes or half a word before they would name the brand. Dad claimed that although they weren’t watching them, they ended up paying more attention to them by actively trying to avoid seeing them because they could still hear them! Albeit he claims that ads and jingles on TV were a lot more enjoyable and funny compared to the ones we have today, as they seemed to be better thought out.

 

So when asking Dad’s opinion on how he thinks TV is different in today’s society, this is what he has to say;

“Television, is possibly less pervasive now than it was 10 years ago. People don’t stop everything to watch TV. Because they have their smart devices, they can watch TV later…In Australia they talk about ‘ The race which stops the nation’ (Melbourne Cup)  that everyone huddles around their TV to watch, that type of thing, yes that still occurs. But for example the Lindt Café Shooting, people would’ve had to have rushed off to the nearest department store to watch the TV, but now they just look it up on the internet. The only other thing that I’ve read about TV is that your brain is more active when watching an open fire than it is when you’re watching TV. There’s more going on in your brain. Because people have shorter attention spans now days and the unfortunate thing is, that the commercial reality of TV is that people want to sell things from it. It’s not so much product placement but it’s just everywhere. The one thing I really hate about Australian advertising and also the rest of the Western World is how everywhere you look you see gambling ads. These ads make Australian kids unable to unassociate rugby league from gambling. They see it all the time, if I go to look up on google what games are gonna be on at what time, like the NRL this afternoon the first thing that comes up are the odds. “

 

Television is a media space which has offered people insight into what is going on elsewhere in the world since its invention in 1926 in Scotland. It has been shaped with different technological innovations however still does basically the same thing it has since it then, through conveying a message to the audience through video images and sound projections. No matter how you define it, it has always had the ability to bring people together, even if it’s just heading over to the neighbour’s in your pyjamas at 4pm to watch Disney Movies, and that’s wonderful.

Media Spaces and Those Fortunate Enough With Access

Growing up at the end of Gen Y, I have been exposed to many different media formats from a young age. I witnessed the rise of the DVD and the fall of the VCR. The first ‘Media Space’ I constructed to begin the shaping of my online identity was a Bebo profile made at the age of 12 quickly followed by an MSN account. These accounts spread like wildfire through school with everyone asking each other

 

‘You gonna be on MSN this arvo?’

 

Is that not the most Aussie playground phrase ever?

 

These accounts gave us kids a means of communication and a link to the outside world, as back in the day only a lucky few had access to mobile phones. Jumping on our parents computers and internet connections which were shared with the phone line, was an easy means to communicate with our peers. The most exciting thing was that it was not only new to us as children, it was a new concept for the rest of the world and we were among the first to test out instant messaging.

 

Now today that feels like ancient history as I type this on my laptop connected to the internet through Wifi on the lawn at Uni. For me ‘Media Space’ is less immersive these days in the sense that it is so easy to connect to anywhere in my world no matter where you are. You’re less grounded to a particular place such as the computer room, rooted to the desktop computer connected to the phone line. Of which, you would have to quickly vacate when mum had to call her friend Kate. The notion of engaging with one aspect of technology at a time is long gone. I personally have on numerous occasions scrolled through Facebook on my phone using Wifi, while my friend is on speakerphone, sitting in front of the TV and having my laptop on my lap to do uni work simultaneously.

 

Currently I am studying a Bachelor of Communications and International Studies majoring in Global Communications and Sustainable Development in my 3rd year. My degree is constantly shifting and changing with the times and I firmly believe if I tried to take it in say the 1980’s, my degree would either be a completely different course or not exist entirely. I constantly rely on the different Media Spaces to complete my course work both on Moodle and researching for assignments. I think I have only ever used a hard copy book in one assignment and I hated every second of it.

 

Wifi access is something you don’t think about until it’s not there or not working. I have scoped out all the best places for decent Wifi at uni, nothing worse than trying to watch a lecture that keeps dropping out. Throughout my 3 years studying at Wollongong they have improved their internet connectivity immensely which I find makes lectures and tutes less stressful. If you don’t understand something, a decent connection means you have instantaneous information at your fingertips. Which is an incredible concept.

 

Media Space has become a part of everyday life for many privileged individuals living within the global north. However there are still many people globally who lack internet and even phone access, inhibiting communication. The Washington Post reported  that a lack of internet connectivity worldwide affects 4.4 billion people and this correlates for the most part with individuals living in impoverished areas who already lack basic necessities like health care, education, infrastructure and employment with a further 900 million of those people being illiterate.

 

I find this puts an interesting perspective on what we call ‘the world wide web’. As apparently it doesn’t have the global reach once thought. As Media Spaces not just online, but through TV and phone communications can be enriching learning experiences about the world around us, the fact that this is unequally distributed means that 4.4 billion people miss out on educational experiences, having their say and creating online personas to connect to the world around them. With this in mind, I feel it puts another take on the concept of ‘Media Spaces’ which could be visualized as pockets around the world connected to other pockets, instead of a globally encompassing form of communication.

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This image highlights the areas where those are connected and the dark pockets of the areas where individuals miss out.
However, as immersed as my world has become in alternative media spaces, realistically I only got my first MSN account 8 years ago. It feels that we have progressed so far in those 8 years already, imagine what media spaces will hold for the next 8.