The Gratified Graduate

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This is my first post as a recent graduate of the Converged Communications Bachelor’s Degree program at Florida State College at Jacksonville! My last semester was spent immersed in the broadcasting concentration and I loved every minute of it. I am energized and excited to apply my relevant knowledge and experience to the next chapter of my life.

When thinking back over the past two years, I am frankly astonished at the amount of ground this program covered. We addressed numerous emerging technologies that sharpened my skills in the digital media realm.

In addition to the digital communications arm of the program, my broadcasting concentration gave me the opportunity to script, shoot and edit digital video. The FSCJ Deerwood Campus provided the opportunity to work in a professional, live TV studio environment.

My studio production responsibilities ranged from one week to the next and included; writer, director, producer, camera operator, sound tech, teleprompter operator, technical director and on-air talent. My theater background proved to be very useful both in the live studio environment and remotely, when I shot footage for TV news packages.

This is a package I shot for my TV news class. The Color Me Rad race was a blast. They shot colored powder all over the runners…and our camera!?

 

10 – Meme Mania!

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Today’s calling card for participatory culture is the meme.  Memes have become a sort of cultural capital, rewarding those that understand its meaning, and excluding those that don’t.  Creating a meme is serious business that requires an understanding of the rhetorical and cultural significance of the image and text.  There is a code of ethics to consider when manipulating images that will become digital artifacts.

Author Limor Shifman defines memes in a new book titled Memes in Digital Culture as: “Digital content units with common characteristics of content, form, and/or stance, created with awareness of each other, and circulated, imitated, and transformed via the Internet by many users.”

I chose to create a meme with the character “Skeptical 3rd World Kid” since I had an argument with my ‘picky’ nine year old son this morning about appreciating the food that is available to him.  My meme addresses the issue of abundance for American kids.

Picky eater meme

I chose Skeptical 3rd World kid to illustrate my point about spoiled Americans because, according to the description on memegenerator.net:

He is extremely skeptical of white people, especially ones that look similar to Angelina Jolie. Every time she comes around, one of his friends disappears.
He is deeply disturbed about things that he hears about the 1st world, and their “problems,” and doesn’t trust anything that white person says to him.

I can’t help but wonder what the visionary Marshall Mcluhan, who predicted, analyzed and described media convergence would think about memes, since he is already the subject of one.

http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/3pt68v

9 – Net Neutrality

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Debate is raging over the hot topic of net neutrality. What IS net neutrality? Net neutrality refers to a free and open internet, devoid of fast and slow lanes. Why would net neutrality be at risk? In a nutshell, people or businesses who can’t afford to pay high fees, will be excluded from the Internet. This can’t be good.

According to President Obama,

Ensuring a free and open Internet is the only way we can preserve the Internet’s power to connect our world.

It seems obvious to me. Making the Internet available to all users at the same speeds, is a no-brainer. The problem is, the FCC is an independent agency, and the ultimate decision is theirs. That is where the fight comes in. The fact that there is any argument over net neutrality is a symbol of a much larger divide in America.

http://www.wired.com/wp-content/uploads/blogs/opinion/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/internet-freedom.jpg

Throughout this semester, our media criticism class has been discussing the larger issues of media convergence, participatory culture, and collective intelligence. Based on the study of Jenkins and Levinson texts, it is painfully obvious that limiting public Internet access based on variable pricing and tiered service is price discrimination, which effectively eliminates a free and open Internet.

A recent article in Wired magazine points out a disturbing feature of losing net neutrality,

No matter how things play out with net neutrality, the outcome is likely to hurt the poor.

This can’t be good.

8 – Transmedia Storytelling

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http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-OtlDd50XTyQ/T2UsWYDra6I/AAAAAAAAAoI/DN1tfV8GYUo/s1600/prometheus_full_trailer_00048.jpg

The term ‘transmedia’ refers to publishing creative material in several different, complementary platforms.  The platforms can include film, TV, YouTube videos, twitter accounts, comic books, video games and more.  Ideally, each platform should provide interesting pieces that contribute to the overall story.  An example of transmedia storytelling is the Star Wars franchise.  The story started as a film, branched into video games and books, and eventually TV shows based on the original series.

An eerie science fiction film by Ridley Scott titled “Prometheus” is a modern example of transmedia storytelling.  Months before the film release, the team created a fictional TED talk featuring characters from the film.  In addition, actors made live appearances in character and handed out futuristic business cards.  When users called the phone number on the card, they received additional ‘secret’ content.  The producers also created an interactive blog that encouraged users to ‘join the crew of the Prometheus.’  In return, Prometheus was one of the biggest grossing films in history.

Are transmedia artists more interested in making art or money?  While transmedia storytelling is a fantastic medium to create multi-layered referential art, most current users of the concept are merely using it to milk additional profits.  Marketers see transmedia spread as a means to generate more buzz for a product.

Henry Jenkins, author of Convergence Culture, coined the term transmedia storytelling.  He also talks about another aspect of transmedia on his blog called additive comprehension, which refers to the ‘secret content’ that some transmedia storytellers use to engage users.  Jenkins explains it this way:

Additive comprehension is a key aspect of transmedia entertainment/branding since it allows some viewers to have a richer experience (depending on what they know or which other media they have consumed) without in any way diminishing the experience of someone who only encounters the story on a single media platform. If one can convey to the readers that there are secrets there to be uncovered, you can potentially motivate more conversation and engagement as online discussion forums rally to mutually decode the layered content.

Hopefully, marketers will abandon the use of multi-platform storytelling to build massive profits.  This would leave the creative possibilities of transmedia storytelling in the hands of artists, where it belongs.

7 – Imagining Broadcast Media in 2025

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http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2011/08/15/what-will-the-world-look-like-in-2025/

When you imagine your life in 2025, will you be sitting on the couch in front of the TV with remote in hand, scrolling through the Comcast guide looking for shows? I doubt it. Broadcast media as we know it today, will be unrecognizable in ten years. We are currently witnessing the decline of broadcast television. According to futurist David Houle:

Ed Sullivan and Oprah Winfrey bracket the history of broadcast television in the U.S.  Sullivan was the longest running, dominant figure at the beginning and Winfrey the same at the end.  Yes, the end.  When, in 2025, media historians write about the broadcast television business, they will point to Oprah’s exit as the real end of the business.

Houle sees Oprah’s exit as a symbol of the end of the cultural impact of broadcast media. Today, millennials are watching movies and TV shows on their cellphones. Home viewers are streaming their favorite prime time sitcoms through Netflix, without the annoying commercial interruptions. The rapid changes occurring in broadcast media will gain momentum over the next decade.

The current success of streaming subscription-based sites like Netflix pave the way for tailored viewing over the next decade. Netflix Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt, believes that very few ads will appear in the future, which will force advertisers elsewhere.  Dissolving the need for advertising revenue can open up the medium for deeper artistry and flexibility.  Hunt also expects that smartTV’s will be a household staple in homes featuring streaming and interactive content through Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Xbox One and other devices that haven’t been invented yet.

A study titled Future TV: 2025 envisions huge changes in viewer behavior, monetization, new content distribution models and cloud-centric devices. Advances in media delivery will affect the nature of the stories we tell. Perhaps we’ll even be able to affect the outcomes of favorite programs through algorithms based on our interests.

There is no doubt that access to desired content in 2025 will be seamlessly integrated, making it simple for us to pull up old episodes from the Ed Sullivan and Oprah Winfrey shows.

http://www.trbimg.com/img-52fb53f4/turbine/mc-m11671685-jpg-20140211/1950/1950x1533

6 – Knowledge Communities

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http://media.washtimes.com/media/community/viewpoint/entry/2013/06/25/onlinelearning_s640x427.png?73b8e21685896c3f2859310aaa5adb253919b641I am reading a fascinating book for my media criticism class titled Convergence Culture, by Henry Jenkins. In the first chapter, Jenkins discusses an online community that seeks to spoil Survivor episodes. The ‘spoilers’ go to extreme lengths to investigate the reality TV show’s possible contestants, filming location and the final winner of the million dollar prize.

The collective community gathers information and shares minute details in online forums. They are determined to figure out the outcome of the show together, before the producers can even reveal the cast. I know I’m a bit late to the party, but this concept fascinated me.

The Survivor spoiler community is an excellent example of a knowledge community, which harnesses individual knowledge toward a shared goal, resulting in a collective intelligence. Collective intelligence refers to the ability of a group of people to be collectively smarter than the smartest individual in the group. According to media and cultural theorist Pierre Levy:

No one knows everything, everyone knows something, all knowledge resides in humanity.

The internet is the ultimate tool for connecting people with similar interests, creating knowledge communities that encourage individual members to seek out new information for the common good.

While I have never watched Survivor, or participated in a spoiling community, I have observed and experienced online knowledge communities through my children.  My sons are fascinated with a popular video game called Minecraft. There are many online forums with hundreds of thousands of posts about Minecraft. Users have created their own mass multiplayer knowledge community centered on Minecraft.

What would happen if we created mass online knowledge communities intensely focused on solving real-life problems like climate change, hunger and homelessness. I would like to be a member of that community.

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2286/5822675610_b017500d0b.jpg

Minecraft Fans

Is Google Scrambling Your Brain?

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http://shift4marketing.com/is-google-changing-our-memory/I wrote a blog back in June called Writing for the Web: The Death of Depth?  It discussed an interesting article by Nicolas Carr called Is Google Making Us Stupid?  Carr explained that he feels like someone, or something, is rewiring his brain and reprogramming his memory.  That someone, or something, is the Internet.  For about a decade, he has been “tripping from link, to link to link” online exploring an abundant information portal.  But Carr explained that the wealth of web knowledge comes at a price.

What the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles.

Carr is cautiously skeptical about the role Google plays on cognitive function.  But is Google the only memory-sapping culprit?

In an article titled The Technologically Enhanced Memory, Evan Selinger references a recent study that concludes memory loss is beginning earlier than we thought, as early as the age of 45.  He explains that, “Internet use affects transitive memory, which is the capacity to remember who knows what.  If we know information is available online, we’re inclined to remember where it can be found, rather than struggle to retain the facts.”

This frees the mind for deeper thought in other areas.  But what happens when we begin relying on technology to do more, and more, and more of our thinking for us?  Selinger agrees that we are caught in a rushing current of technology:

Although the memory transformation train has left the station, we don’t know where it will stop.

Google has definitely impacted our human development, and is rewiring the way we read, learn and communicate.  I suppose we need to accept, adapt and evolve gracefully through this technological transition.  Otherwise, we’ll be swimming against the current, up the swiftly moving stream of technology particles.

Levinson’s New New Media

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http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/machine-to-machine-driving-value-in-the-uber-connected-future/articleshow/26358836.cmsPaul Levinson’s New New Media is an insightful and comprehensive guide to the electronic new world where we currently reside.

New media is so 2005.  New new media describes on-demand, immediate digital content that encourages interactivity with users.

Levinson recounts his experience in the early days of online sites like MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.  He discusses all facets of new new media, from imagined Facebook “friendships” to the sociopolitical power of Twitter, and investigates the evolution, benefits, opportunities and dangers inherent in the era of new new media.

One of the most disturbing subjects in the book deals with the repercussions of a largely anonymous and cruel online society.  The dark side of new new media; cyberbullying, trolling and cyber stalking.

As a student in converged communications looking toward the next decade, there are several pressing issues that we (#concomms) will mediate.  The abundance of cyberbullying, and citizen journalists and bloggers posting “news” without fact-checking is a fear-inducing aspect of spontaneous communication in the future.

An article by James Fallows in The Atlantic rang true to me.  He spoke about the possible long-term effects of a wired society:

That our very ability to think, concentrate, and decide will deteriorate, as a media system optimized for attracting quick hits turns into a continual-distraction machine for society as a whole, making every individual and collective problem harder to assess and respond to.

We really don’t know what will happen in the next decade. It is astounding to think that YouTube and Twitter did not even exist ten years ago. One thing is certain; we are traveling at breakneck speed into the great unknown.

The Future of TV Tech

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Let’s be honest.  If I weren’t back in college, I would probably drop my kids off at school in the morning and then sit on the couch folding laundry and catching up on recorded TV shows.  My guilty pleasures are HGTV anything, cheesy dramas like Revenge and sitcoms like New Girl.  You can learn a lot about how someone unwinds by scanning their bookshelves or scrolling through their DVR.

I still get a little giddy when I realize I can pause anything 
I'm watching on TV to let the dog out or make nachos, because I
remember the old TV, before it was what it is today.

With the advent of the 24 hour news cycle in the 1980’s, TV has blossomed (or mutated, depending on how you look at it) into a technological marvel. Satellite, cable companies and streaming internet television has dramatically changed our relationship to TV.

In the past, the networks held a captive audience prisoner to their schedules and limited programming choices.  Today, viewers can record content on hundreds of channels and watch it whenever convenient, while forwarding through annoying commercials.

Netflix has revolutionized the accessibility of movies and television shows with streaming content that is available 24/7.  Pay per view makes it possible for us to search an expansive database of movies and watch them with the click of a remote.  Most recently, Internet-based Hulu and Apple TV are giving cable companies and Netflix a run for their money.

http://www.theguardian.com/digital-television/broadcasting-profits

With all of these choices available to consumers, what will the next decade hold for the boob tube?  In an online article by Gary Myer, one of the founders of DIRECTV, he discusses his belief that the future of TV lies in the centralization of providers:

Just imagine a web-based service that encompasses video on demand, subscription pay-TV channels, pay-per-view, ad-supported broadcast TV, and emerging internet-based content. Such an entity requires a centralized content aggregator and curator to become a neutral repository for movies and TV programs, stored in the cloud, and deliverable to televisions, tablets and smart phones. All that is needed is one ‘app’.

One centralized cloud based app for television and movies sounds good to me, but will cable, satellite and streaming content providers be willing to play nice with others?

The Media Filter Crisis

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“Violence, whether spiritual or physical,

is a quest for identity and the meaningful.

The less identity, the more violence.” — Marshall McLuhan

Warning: Graphic ImagesWant to see something horrible?  Casually flip through the channels on your TV, scroll down your Facebook or Twitter news feed, or search YouTube and you may see a video of a football player punching and kicking his girlfriend unconscious, or the savage beheading of an innocent journalist.

Real-life violence, is only a click away.

In an era of expanded citizen journalism and electronic surveillance, we are experiencing a crisis in the filtering of gruesome and violent media content. How should the media govern the practice of posting graphic images and video?

Media gatekeepers are tasked with the difficult position of providing content that serves the public interest. To post, or not to post, that is the question.  The media argues that posting the Ray Rice assault video was necessary in serving the public interest.  Domestic violence advocates felt that publicizing the Ray Rice issue brought much-needed attention to their cause.

According to a Star Tribune article by Gail Rosenblum, “The video could be a welcome turning point in domestic abuse awareness, since it’s hard to look away.”  It is hard to look away, even if you don’t want to look in the first place. If you feel a growing anxiety about the ubiquitous violence in the media, you are not alone.

Seth Lewis, a professor of new media and society at the University of Minnesota School of Journalism explains:

Traditional news sources, such as print newspapers and radio and television news stations, have decades of experience in editing, and they operate under strict professional codes. Now, relative newcomers such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook “are being asked to adjudicate what should and should not be in the public square.

Would strict Federal guidelines about the graphic nature of media content be enforceable across the vast Internet?

How do you feel about Mark Zuckerberg and friends adjudicating what content is appropriate in the public sphere?