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Posts Tagged ‘new media’

Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

The 2017 OfCom Report on “Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes” (2017) covers different types of on-and-offline media use by children in the UK and it’s quite a treasure trove of visual and verbal information that will repay careful analysis – although at around 300 pages it may prove a little hard-going for most students.

Luckily, there’s a really good Executive Summary that pulls-together a shedload of interesting empirical / opinion data and disgorges them into concise, bite-sized and consumption-friendly chunks. This section is something you or your students can easily browse, taking whatever you want from what is actually a very rich menu.

If you’re interested in media and methods – and, let’s face it, who is? – there’s extensive details about the overall research methodology. It’s actually quite useful (in a sort-of “you know you should be interested in this stuff, but…” kind of way) because this knowledge lets you assess the likely levels of reliability and validity of some parts of the Report (such as interviews with parents about the media usage of their 3 – 4 year old children).

If you do decide to take the plunge and swim down into the deep waters of the main section of the Report you’ll find it contains some very useful charts, tables and summaries about all aspects of children’s media use.

However, if you’re anything like me the main takeaway from the Report is this rather neat little chart summarising “Media lives by age: a snapshot” – perfectly poster-sized for pinning on that pristine wall.

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Experiments in Visual Sociology

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

media_ownAs you might expect from someone who makes films I like to explore visual ways of adding content to what can be fairly plain text information and this particular project is the result of just such an exploration. The objective here was to distil essential course information into a series of simple tableaux that highlight the information without necessarily distracting from it.

Whether this works or not is probably something for you to decide and you can check-out three examples in terms of the following media modules: 

Defining The Mass Media: Traditional definitions of “mass media”; Old mass media / old media; New mass media / new media; Characteristics of the new mass media.

Ownership and Control 1: Key Concepts in the Ownership and Control debate: Media Ownership: State and Private; Owners and Controllers; Concentration: Product and Information Diversity; Conglomeration and Diagonal Integration.

Ownership and Control 2: Theories of Ownership and Control: Instrumental Marxism; Neo (Hegemonic) Marxism; Pluralism.

 

Postmodernism and New Media

Friday, October 14th, 2016

This set of Notes was originally part of a textbook chapter looking at the impact on audiences of different types of old and new media, something I mention by way of explanation for both the general focus and lack of depth in the Notes. pomo_media

Without wishing to bore you with the intimate details of dealing with publishers and exam boards, there’s always a certain tension between the amount of depth and detail demanded by the latter and the number of print pages a publisher is willing to support – and while each has their reasons it’s akin, for an author, to steering an unhappy course between Cilia and Charybdis.

The point of this little preamble is that textbook chapters are always a compromise between cramming in as much information as possible about a topic and the level of detail with which that topic can be treated. In other words, while these Notes mention quite a few ideas none are developed in any great depth.

What they should give you, however, is a series of signposts to some of the most significant ideas in this area that, should you see the need, can be pursued and developed with additional Notes of your own. In this respect the Notes cover things like:

  • social identities and social spaces
  • a post-effects approach
  • perverse spectators: immanent and activated meanings.
  • audience as media
  • positive effects of new media
  • negative effects of new media

Download Postmodernism and New Media pdf

 

Applying news values to contemporary events

Monday, September 7th, 2015

Chibnall (1977) defines news values as “The criteria of relevance which guide reporters’ choice and construction of newsworthy stories, learnt through a process of informal professional socialisation”. They are values determined by organisational needs that translate into the professional codes used by editors and journalists to guide their assessment of media content – and particular news values directly influence how and why certain types of information are selected and presented as news.

An interesting exercise here is to look at news values and how they can be defined and apply them to a contemporary news story such as, in the UK, something like Ebola.

Media Representations: Part 4 – Pluralism

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

Pluralist explanations recognise a variety of different media representations of categories such as gender. They also emphasise the importance of the role of the audience in interpreting such representations – ideas that relate to two dominant themes in pluralist explanations – diversity and choice.

In terms of diversity, contemporary media and audiences are characterised more by their differences than their similarities; wide differences within categories like class, age, gender and ethnicity makes the Marxist approach of reading audience responses from media representations increasingly problematic. Diverse audiences make diverse choices about what, when and how they consume different media – which puts the audience in control, rather than being controlled by that media. These ideas are brought into even sharper focus through contemporary forms of new media that increase the range and diversity of choices available to individual consumers.

For pluralists, the media follow the market; audiences are given the types of representation they want. For example, the kind of overtly racist, sexist and homophobic representations once found in British sitcoms reflected a society largely tolerant of such things; contemporary audiences are less tolerant and this type of television programme no longer exists because it would be commercial suicide. Media diversity is encouraged by changing audience tastes and higher levels of economic competition for audience share.

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Media Representations: Part 5 – Postmodernism

Saturday, June 20th, 2015

While Marxist and Feminist perspectives generally discuss media representations in terms of how and why they misrepresent particular groups, Baudrillard (1995) argues representations shouldn’t be considered in terms of whether something is fairly or unfairly represented; this follows because, he argues, how something is represented is its reality.

In this respect conventional approaches to understanding media representations suggest the media re-presents something like ‘news’ in a way that’s somehow different to the original event; ‘something happens’ that is then described (re-presented) to an audience. Conventionally, therefore, sociologists contrast ‘the real’ – the ‘thing’ that ‘happened’ – with its representation and examine the media to see if they can disentangle the real from the not real.

Baudrillard however argues “reality” is experienced differently depending on who you are, where you are and your source of information. Every audience, therefore, constructs its own version of reality and everything represented in the media is experienced as multiple realities, all of which – and none of which – are real; everything is simply a representation of something seen from different viewpoints. Thus, the ‘reality of anything’ can’t be found in any single definitive account or experience; that which we can “real”, therefore, has no definitive or essential features that distinguish it from how it is represented.

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New Media: 1. Features

Friday, April 24th, 2015

This short series of blog posts looks at various dimensions of new media, beginning with a broad overview of some key distinquishing features:

As Socha and Eber-Schmid (2012) argue “Part of the difficulty in defining New Media is that there is an elusive quality to the idea of new”. This “elusive quality” can, perhaps, be best captured by thinking about how Crosbie (2002) suggests three features of new media make them qualitatively different to old media:

  • They can’t exist without the appropriate (computer) technology.
  • Information can be personalised; individualised messages tailored to the particular needs of those receiving them can be simultaneously delivered to large numbers of people.
  • Collective control means each person in a network can share, shape and change the content of the information being exchanged.

As an example Crosbie suggests “Imagine visiting a newspaper website and seeing not just the bulletins and major stories you wouldn’t have known about, but also the rest of that edition customized to your unique needs and interests. Rather than every reader seeing the same edition, each reader sees an edition simultaneously individualized to their interests and generalized to their needs”.

A further feature of new media is its capacity to be truly global in scope and reach. While older technologies like TV and film have global features – the American and Indian film industries, for example, span the globe – they are fundamentally local technologies; they are designed to be consumed by local audiences that just happen to be in different countries while new media, such as web sites or social networks, are global in intent. They enable global connections through the development of information networks based on the creation and exchange of information. A significant aspect of these global features is the ability to create and share text, images, videos and the like across physical borders through cyberspace.

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New Media: 2. Issues

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

The various features of new media raise a new set of issues for both producers and consumers. In terms of the former, for example, the development of global computer networks have presented problems for media industries whose products are relatively easy to copy and distribute, with no loss of quality because of digital reproduction. The development of peer-to-peer networks, for example, has led to the rise of global forms of intellectual property theft (“piracy”), to which media conglomerates have responded in a range of ways:

  • legal prosecutions of individual offenders and attempts to shut-down illegal providers, such as Napster and Megaupload.
  • the development of new economic models. “Freemium” models, for example, provide a free service, such as software or a game, but users then pay a premium for “added extras”. Popular Facebook games, such as Farmville, have successfully taken this approach..

A further issue involves the “unauthorised access to computers and networks” (“hacking”), something that involves:

  • governments: cyberwarfare, for example, involves governments engaging in the politically-motivated hacking of rival government computer networks for reasons that range from espionage to sabotage.
  • organisations: In 2010 the American government claimed the cybertheft of copyrights and patents by China remained at “unacceptable levels”.
  • individuals: viruses and malware designed to damage computers, extort money or steal information.

Specific issues for consumers have a number of dimensions, particularly those surrounding personal privacy. Social media such as Facebook make money through advertising, which can now be individualised, personalised and targeted through the sale of users’ personal data to third-parties; users, therefore, exchange “free” services for some loss of privacy. While corporations such as Facebook simply monitor how their network is used in terms of what an individual likes or dislikes, discusses or avoids in order to deliver adverts matched to these behaviours, Kosinski et al. (2013) have shown it is possible to accurately infer a wide range of personal information, such as ethnicity, IQ, sexuality, substance use and political views, from an analysis of an individual’s “likes”.

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New Media 3: Implications – digital optimism

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

The development of new media has led to a general debate about the implications of changing technologies and their impact on economic, political and cultural life, polarised around two opposing views – the first of which can be characterised as:

digital optimism

From this viewpoint the defining characteristic of new media is a form of digital liberation based, for Negroponte (1995), on four processes:

These processes impact on society in a range of ways:

In economic terms we see the development of new models of production, distribution and exchange, particularly “free” or “gifting” models where the consumer pays nothing to use a medium. One significant new model is the development of open economic systems where software, for example, is developed collaboratively to take advantage of wide creative pools of talent – an idea Tapscott and Williams (2008) call “Wikinomics” to reflect the pioneering collaborative efforts of Wikipedia.

Producers, especially large corporations, have to be more responsive to consumer demands because the ability to act as a global crowd, passing information swiftly from individual to individual, means corporate behaviour is continually being monitored, evaluated and held to account. Surowiecki (2005) argues digital technology facilitates crowd-sourcing, a process based on “the wisdom of crowds”; if you ask enough people their opinion a basic “crowd truth” will emerge.

Politically, the global flow of information weakens the hold of the State over individuals and ideas. Repressive State actions are much harder to disguise or keep secret when populations have access to instant forms of mass communication, such as Twitter. The Internet also makes it harder for the State to censor or restrict the flow of information and this contributes to political socialisation by way of greater understanding of the meaning of issues and events.

Culturally, behaviour can be both participatory and personalised, processes that in cyberspace can be complementary. The global village combines collectivity with individuality; cooperation flourishes while people simultaneously maintain what Negroponte calls the “Daily Me” – the personalisation of things like news and information focused around the specific interests of each individual. Personalisation contributes to participation through the development of a diverse individuality that leads to the development of new ways of thinking and behaving. The ability to be anonymous on the web encourages both freedom of speech and whistle-blowing.

Taken from:

Cambridge International AS and A Level Sociology Coursebook (UK)

ciebook

Cambridge International AS and A Level Sociology Coursebook (USA)

New Media 4: Implications – digital pessimism

Monday, April 20th, 2015

An alternative interpretation – digital pessimism – argues the globalising processes on which new media depends are neither wholly beneficial nor unambiguous; while globalisation involves decentralising processes, for example, it also produces greater centralisation across economic, political and cultural behaviours.

In economic terms “free” business models are only free in the sense they have costs hidden from the consumer. These include:

  • exploiting free labour: The news and opinion site The Huffington Post, for example, was built around the free labour provided by its blogging contributors; the site was, however, sold by its owners for $300 in 2011.
  • driving out quality: companies that can’t rely on cheap or free labour must either cut their costs, thereby potentially undermining quality, or go out of business.
  • privacy: new media that are dependent on free labour, such as social networking sites where consumers create content, make money by selling user data to advertisers.
  • copyright: Some corporate social media sites lay claim to the copyright of user-generated content, such as photographs and videos, that can then be sold to advertisers.

  • Conglomeration is a related process that mirrors the behaviour of old media corporations. The highly-concentrated ownership of new media allows global corporations to buy-up competitors or emerging technologies. This leads, for Schecter (2000), to a decrease in digital diversity in areas such as news production. As he argues “The Internet, is not very diverse, even though it appears to be. The concentration in ownership that is restructuring old media has led to conglomeration in news transmission and a narrowing of sourcing in new media. It is cheaper for Web sites to buy someone else’s news than generate their own”. In a related issue, it is also “cheaper” for global corporations to simply take and republish content generated by individual users with little or no prospect of recompense.

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    New Media 5: Building a Better Mousetrap – Digital Incarceration

    Sunday, April 19th, 2015

    In the final part of this short series on new media we can note a significant extension to the idea of digital pessimism.

    While new media ownership is sometimes likened to what Socha and Eber-Schmid call “the growing pains of the American Wild West”, where a diversity of companies compete for market share, the reality is probably closer to its old media counterpart; various forms of vertical, horizontal and diagonal concentrating processes have increasingly come into play, leading to the notion of:

    digital incarceration. This involves the idea producers are able to create digital “prisons” that are entered freely by consumers; once there, however, they are locked in. Someone who puts their life online through social networks such as Facebook or Flickr finds it very difficult to leave. A further similarity between the behaviour of old and new media corporations involves two related processes:

    • locking-out competitors from markets.
    • locking-in consumers to products.

    A relatively small-scale example of these tendencies is Amazon’s development of an eBook reader (the Kindle) that gave them control over who could publish eBooks for this product and how consumers could use the product (to buy eBooks form Amazon). On a much larger scale Apple has, over the past 30 years, consistently attempted to lock-out market competitors and lock-in product consumers; this corporate strategy failed spectacularly in the 1980s because Apple was not sufficiently powerful to challenge IBM’s strategy of allowing anyone to manufacture a “Personal Computer” (Apple would only allow third-party manufacturing under licensing they controlled). More-recently this strategy has, however, proved spectacularly successful with the development of the iPhone and iPad that allows Apple to control both of these processes.

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    Another flipbook…

    Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

    As I said in the previous post, I really like the idea of flipbooks – possibly because they give the illusion of actually reading a book, magazine or document in a way that reading text on a web page or in a pdf document doesn’t.

    Having posted an example of a GCSE flipbook, here’s an a-level example; defining the mass media looks, as I suspect you might have guessed, at how we can define this particular concept both conventionally / historically and in contemporary terms that takes in the development of New Media.

    Defining the Media Flipbook

    Crime, Media and Postmodern Modalities

    Saturday, January 31st, 2015

    911Harari’s “The theatre of terror” article is worth reading because it explicitly sees terrorism as a form of “spectacle” in contemporary Western societies – an idea referenced by Kidd-Hewitt and Osborne (1995) when they argue crime in general can be seen in terms of postmodern spectacle, a general “crime discourse” driven by two main narratives:

    1. Fear, whereby crime and deviance are represented in terms of threat – ‘the criminal’ as a cultural icon of fear (both in personal and more general social terms) – a narrative that involves both warnings about behaviour, the extent of crime and its consequences and risk assessments, in terms of the likelihood of becoming a victim of crime, for example.
    2. Fascination: Crime and deviance represent ‘media staples’ used to sell newspapers, encourage us to watch TV programmes (factual and fictional), visit news sites and so forth.

    These two narratives (fear and fascination) come together when postmodernists discuss deviance in terms of spectacle – crime is interesting (and sells media products) because of the powerful combination of fear and fascination.

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    New Media: The Rise of the Selfie

    Friday, June 6th, 2014

    With the greater emphasis on New Media in the new 2015 Sociology Specs, what better time to examine the rise of the Selfie?