This mediated life

This-American-Life

From Showtime, the fantastic NPR radio program, This American LIfe, is now a TV show. This short clip is a beautifully poignant tale of how play acting and media soon corrupted an innocent playground. The animation is by the great comic book artist, Chris Ware.

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Imaginary futures

Imaginary Futures

The future aint what it used to be…

Looks like a fun book. Some chapter drafts and other interesting links are available at the link below.

Imaginary Futures:

How do we imagine the future? What does it look like?

This book is a history of the future. It shows how our contemporary understanding of the Net is shaped by visions of the future that were put together in the 1950s and 1960s.

Richard Barbrook argues that, at the height of the Cold War, the Americans invented the only working model of communism in human history: the Internet. Yet, for all of its libertarian potential, the goal of this hi-tech project was geopolitical dominance: the ownership of time was control over the destiny of humanity. The potentially subversive theory of cybernetics was transformed into the military-friendly project of ‘artificial intelligence’. Capitalist growth became the fastest route to the ‘information society’. The rest of the world was expected to follow America’s path into the networked future.

Today, we’re still being told that the Net is creating the information society — and that America today is everywhere else tomorrow. Barbrook shows how this idea serves a specific geopolitical purpose. Thankfully, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, the DIY ethic of the Net shows that people can resist these authoritarian prophecies by shaping information technologies in their own interest. Ultimately, if we don’t want the future to be what it used to be, we must invent our own, improved and truly revolutionary future.

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Save Small and Independent Publishers

This important action from FreePress. If you live in the US, please read and follow-up.

Take Action: Save Small and Independent Publishers:

Postal regulators have accepted a proposal from media giant Time Warner that would stifle small and independent publishers in America. The plan unfairly burdens smaller publishers with higher postage rates while locking in special privileges for bigger media companies.

In establishing the U.S. postal system, the nation’s founders wanted to ensure that a diversity of viewpoints were available to “the whole mass of the people.” Time Warner’s rate increase reverses this egalitarian ideal and threatens the marketplace of ideas on which our democracy depends.

It’s time stand up for independent media. Demand that Congress step in to stop the unfair rate hikes. The deadline for comments to the Postal Service is fast approaching.

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Deconstruction is fun

Kool
Click here to how this ad is deconstructed

Ever wanted to deconstruct an ad but don’t know how? The New Mexico Media Literacy Project has some sample ads with decontructions and instructions to give you a sense of the how to do it. Click here to see the gallery. You can also download my free media literacy handouts here.

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10 myths about school shootings

As the horrible tragedy in Virginia unfolds, we as media watchers must immediately guard against the tendency of the pundocracy to use this as anecdotal evidence for their various causes, especially those who demonize youth. MSNBC.com has a really good article on the ten myths about school shootings. Please read it via the link below. I highlighted the last point, because despite the sensationalism of the event, this kind of violence is extremely rare. Meanwhile, our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims and the community at large.

10 myths about school shootings – Crime & Punishment – MSNBC.com:

Myth No. 10. “School violence is rampant.”

It may seem so, with media attention focused on a spate of school shootings. In fact, school shootings are extremely rare. Even including the more common violence that is gang-related or dispute-related, only 12 to 20 homicides a year occur in the 100,000 schools in the U.S. In general, school assaults and other violence have dropped by nearly half in the past decade.

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Fake news out-duels “real” news

Knowledge-Graph

The PEW Research Center has released its latest study that correlates what people know and how they consume news media. Turns out not much has changed since the advent of 24/7 cable news, but the most interesting tidbit is that those who watch the so-called “fake news”- The Daily Show and Colbert Report- are the best informed. (I knew it!)

Summary of Findings: Public Knowledge of Current Affairs Little Changed by News and Information Revolutions:

There are substantial differences in the knowledge levels of the audiences for different news outlets. However, there is no clear connection between news formats and what audiences know. Well-informed audiences come from cable (Daily Show/Colbert Report, O’Reilly Factor), the internet (especially major newspaper websites), broadcast TV (NewsHour with Jim Lehrer) and radio (NPR, Rush Limbaugh’s program). The less informed audiences also frequent a mix of formats: broadcast television (network morning news shows, local news), cable (Fox News Channel), and the internet (online blogs where people discuss news events).

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Kidzania: branded career paths for the young

I hope this is one Japanese trend that doesn’t catch on.

Advertising Age – Martin Lindstrom Video Reports:

TOKYO (BRANDFlash) — Kidzania, a theme park offering intense brand engagement with young children, is a new twist on branded entertainment. It charges a $30 admission fee to allow children to “work” in one of 70 different kinds of jobs for a day. Young customers are outfitted in uniforms, hats or helmets as they take up their places in child-sized brand venues ranging from a Coca-Cola bottling plant and a Mo’s Gourmet Hamburgers restaurant to a Johnson & Johnson hospital ward and a Mitsubishi auto world. Admission is now sold out months in advance and marketers are fighting to become part of this branding bonanza.

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Colony collapse disorder

Honey-Comb

Now a theory on why bee colonies are disappearing: cell phone radiation. Ironically, cell phones take their name from the honeycomb like network that relays wireless signals. This is exactly why media should not be considered in isolation of environmental issues.

Are mobile phones wiping out our bees? – Independent Online Edition > Wildlife:

The theory is that radiation from mobile phones interferes with bees’ navigation systems, preventing the famously homeloving species from finding their way back to their hives. Improbable as it may seem, there is now evidence to back this up.

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) occurs when a hive’s inhabitants suddenly disappear, leaving only queens, eggs and a few immature workers, like so many apian Mary Celestes. The vanished bees are never found, but thought to die singly far from home. The parasites, wildlife and other bees that normally raid the honey and pollen left behind when a colony dies, refuse to go anywhere near the abandoned hives.

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Conscious Choice: Mission Possible

I-God
IGod by Ranci11

Daniel Pinchbeck has some choice words on ways to think about a new paradigm for mass media. I acknowledge that I am somewhat guilty of focusing on negative trends in media, so I think it’s always good to point a finger in the right direction. This article provides a short and succinct map for what is possible in order to build a more sustainable world.

Conscious Choice: Mission Possible:

One way that massive change could happen quickly is through a paradigm-shift in the mainstream media. While the United States has lost much of its standing in the world in recent years, we still operate the controls of the collective dream-machinery for the planet. The blueprint for a better life now being pursued by the masses and entrepreneurial classes across Asia, India, and the Third World is the “American Dream” of unlimited affluence, promoted by our television shows and films over the last half-century. A transformation of values — a spiritual revolution — in the US could initiate a global shift in priorities. If we used our genius for marketing and storytelling to project a different vision and value system, we could repattern and reprogram the collective psyche in a very short period of time.

This new media paradigm would encourage participation over passivity, collaboration over individual success, attunement to local differences over acquiescence to mass marketing, and sufficiency over abundance. The “new news” would focus on trends that support sustainability and higher consciousness, and relentlessly expose techniques of fear-mongering, social control, and “greenwashing.” Rather than exploiting violence and sex to grab at the public’s fleeting attention, our media would present strategies of conflict resolution and nonviolent practices, while offering a positive revisioning of eroticism as a tool for personal growth.

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Eternal Sunshine of the sci-fi mind

[youtube]WNZwrgFo3GE[/youtube]

This is not necessarily media related, but since I love sci-fi, I just want to gush at the possibility that Sunshine may be the next “2001.” Shot by Trainspotting director Danny Boyle, Sunshine has an intriguing plot. From IMDB:

The Sun is being destroyed from inside out by a type of highly stable form of matter that renders nuclear fusion impossible, by turning common matter on its own kind. The only hope is to send a team of astronauts to detonate a massive, highly energetic bomb, able able to destroy this strange matter and restore Sun’s natural state. Written by Anonymous

50 years into the future, the Sun begins to die, and Earth is dying as a result. A team of astronauts are sent to revive the Sun – but the mission fails. Seven years later, a new team are sent to finish the mission as they are Earth’s last hope.

Assuming this is an allegory of the present moment, it will be interesting to see what the film is saying about climate change. I can’t wait to see.

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The age of compression

Bratz

USA writes about an interesting new youth media phenomenon: age compression. The article states:

Jill Brown almost cried the day her 9-year-old daughter sold several American Girl dolls at a yard sale so she could buy a Juicy Couture sweat suit.

It was a painful reminder that the emotional and psychological distance between childhood and the teen years is far shorter than ever.

“It was such an indication of her moving to a different place,” says Brown, a marketing consultant in Northbrook, Ill. “It was also a little bit of an indication that she was starting to solve things for herself.”

Chalk it up to “age compression,” which many marketers call “kids getting older younger” or KGOY. Retail consultant Ken Nisch says it shouldn’t be a surprise or an outrage that kids are tired of toys and kid clothes by 8, considering that they are exposed to outside influences so much earlier. They are in preschool at 3 and on computers at 6.

One of the sad by-products of this trend has been the increasing sexualization of younger and younger kids, as evidenced by the controversy around Bratz dolls. There has also been much written about the “disappearance of childhood.” For me the jury is out. I think often times it’s the parents who act more like kids, and the problem is not that childhood is disappearing, it is that responsible adulthood no longer exists.

You can read more here:
As kids get savvy, marketers move down the age scale – USATODAY.com:

Generation Y, those between about 8 and 26, are considered the most important generation for retailers and marketers because of their spending power and the influence they have over what their parents buy. But just as the 8- to 12-year-old “tweens” are pitched with a dizzying array of music, movie and cellphone choices, the nearly 10 million tween girls also are getting more attention from fashion, skin care and makeup businesses. Last year, NPD Group says 7- to 14-year-old girls spent $11.5 billion on apparel, up from $10.5 billion in 2004.

With their keen but shifting senses of style, tween girls present some of the biggest rewards and challenges for retailers and brands. What’s called for: a delicate marketing dance that tunes in tween girls without turning off their parents, who control both the purse strings and the car. Retailers to tween girls also must stay in close touch with the fashion pulse, because being “out” is even more painful for girls who haven’t hit the teen years, say retailers and their consultants. They’ll drop a brand faster than you can say Hannah Montana if the clothes become anything close to dorky.

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What is a film masterwork?

Cineramadome-Screen
Film Society of Lincoln Center:

CANON FODDER: As the sun finally sets on the century of cinema, by what criteria do we determine its masterworks?

Read the Preface and Introduction below. The entire article, one of the longest published in Film Comment history, can be found in the 2006 September/October issue.

Motion pictures were the dominant art for the 20th century. Movies were the center of social mores, fashion and design, politics—in short, at the center of culture—and, in so being, dictated the terms of their dominance to the other art forms: literature, theater, and painting were all redefined by their relationship to cinema. Movies have owned the 20th century.

It will not be so in the 21st century. Cultural and technological forces are at work that will change the concept of “movies” as we have known them. I don’t know if there will be a dominant art form in this century, and I’m not sure what form audiovisual media will take, but I am certain movies will never regain the prominence they enjoyed in the last century.

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Is it really only getting worse?

Cohen-Book

Truthdig – Interviews – Media Critic on Why It’s Only Getting Worse:

Once upon a time, TV news put journalists on camera. Today, cable news has on-air “talent”—who are “cast,” not just hired. A Walter Cronkite would have big trouble getting a job today in TV news. But an actor? No problem. CNN a few years ago cast a former actress from “NYPD Blue” as one of its “Headline News” anchors. At Fox News, where lip gloss and blond hair go further than a background in journalism, I could find no proof to the charge that executives reviewed audition tapes of potential female anchors with the sound turned off.

Jeff Cohen, a founder of FAIR, has been one of the best media watchdogs of the era. His new book, Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media, is out. It’s probably a good read (and funny too, I’m sure), but I wonder if it’s worth caring anymore about how bad cable news is. Do people really care what they say? Do these networks really have that much influence on people’s opnions? I’m thinking out loud here, but I’m guessing that we place more importance on this kind of programming than the actual impact. I wonder if these networks exist within a self-genereating reality and the Internet will bypass them as it has with newspapers. What do you think?

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DIY film festival at home

Film-Connection

A novel concept: hold a film festival with your friends.

The Film Connection:

Who We Are

The Film Connection is a community of film lovers, social activists and lifelong learners who use our non-profit online film library to watch, discuss and act on compelling films from around the globe. An initiative of the global humanitarian agency Mercy Corps, The Film Connection offers a growing library of DVDs that tackle the issues facing the world we live in.

The Film Connection was founded in Seattle, Washington in 2003 by a group of social entrepreneurs who believe in the power of film to effect change. In 2006, it became a part of Mercy Corps, one of the world’s leading humanitarian aid agencies, and relocated to Mercy Corps’ headquarters in Portland, Oregon. The Film Connection lets Mercy Corps engage with thoughtful, active cinema fans across the country; meanwhile, Mercy Corps provides Film Connection members an opportunity to take direct action on a host of important issues. To learn more about Mercy Corps, visit www.mercycorps.org.

Our library consists of hundreds of DVDs, and it’s growing all the time. The films include documentaries, dramas, foreign rarities and American blockbusters. We work to acquire entertaining and compelling films with authentic visions and voices that explore the world and the human condition. Using member recommendations as a starting point, we do our best to provide films that approach a broad range of subject matter from a wide variety of viewpoints.

How It Works

Getting involved with The Film Connection is free and easy:

* Form a film group.

* Sign up.

* Pick the films you wish to see, and we’ll ship them anywhere in the United States.

* Return them in our postage-paid envelopes within three weeks.

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News war

Frontline

Watch it online.

FRONTLINE: news war: introduction | PBS:

Bergman traces the recent history of American journalism, from the Nixon administration’s attacks on the media and the post-Watergate popularity of the press to new obstacles presented by the war on terror and changing economics in the media business and the Internet. The topic has special resonance for Bergman, whose career as a journalist for FRONTLINE, The New York Times, ABC News and 60 Minutes has included reporting on the issues that are critical to the current controversies. “There has been a perfect storm brewing in the world of news,” says Bergman. “Not since the Nixon administration has there been this level of hostility leveled at news organizations. … [But] unlike the confrontations of 35 or more years ago, today’s news war sees the very economic foundations of the business shifting.”

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Mailer vs. McLuan

Medium

From the fantastic blog DailyGalaxy, this tasty little morsel of a video featuring a debate between Marshal McLuhan and Norman Mailer.

See the video here.

Quest for Identity in the Digital Village -Daily Video Classic | The Daily Galaxy: News from Planet Earth & Beyond:

McLuhan, a Canadian a philosopher, professor of English literature, literary critic, and communications theorist who died in 1980, was the first person to popularize the concept of a global village and to consider its social effects. His insights were revolutionary at the time, and fundamentally changed how everyone has thought about media, technology, and communications ever since. McLuhan chose the phrase “global village” (a harbinger of the Internet Era and the conflicts we’re currently experiencing-violence, alienation, life in the electromic envelope) to highlight his observation that an electronic nervous system was rapidly integrating the planet — events in one part of the world could be experienced from other parts in real-time, which is what human experience was like when we lived in small villages.

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DIY Native media

[youtube]SCA22d0CYsM[/youtube]

Some cool Native media and an important cause. Please support the Native Rights Fund. The performance is by Culture Shock, check out more info on them below.

Culture-Shock

Culture Shock Camp, comprised of Marcus “Quese IMC” Frejo and Brian “DJ Shock B” Frejo, is a Pawnee/Seminole hip-hop group originating out of Oklahoma City. Culture Shock’s sound and vibe is defined by its unique and powerful blend of hip-hop and Native music, language, and culture that promotes a message of wellness, unity and Native pride. Culture Shock was named “one of the most celebrated hip-hop groups in the Native American world” by The Source Magazine, one of the largest-selling hip-hop magazines in the country.

Culture Shock Camp has successfully toured nationally and performed before thousands of fans in more than 400 cities and reservations. Culture Shock also conducts youth leadership and wellness training for Native American youth using both hip hop and Pawnee/Seminole cultural teachings as the basis of their message of empowerment for Native youth.

At MySpace

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Are media companies imploding?

Deconstruction

Advertising Age – Caught in the Clutter Crossfire: Your Brand:

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — Somewhere between 254 and 5,000 is a number that represents just how many commercial messages an average consumer gets each day. Attempts to beat clutter only end up yielding more of it, a bitter irony bound to have dire consequences for a business already struggling with questions of relevance and effectiveness. There’s no consensus on it, but just about everyone agrees on two things: It’s way too high, and the industry’s not doing anything to reduce its own overproduction.

That’s our clutter problem — and yours.

I appreciate AdAge’s candor (truly); they are almost as hard on their own industry as we media critics are on advertisers. In particular the article above verifiers my own belief that we give marketers too much credit for forming our attitudes. As the story indicates, there is just too much clutter. How is one to from meaning from this chaos other than, as The Clash would say, to be lost in the super market? This is not to say there other ideological consequences, but rather than position ourselves as victims of marketing abuse, perhaps we have an opening here, a leverage point, if you will.

As one executive quoted in the article states,

“At the end of the day, the ability of the average consumer to even remember advertising 24 hours later is at the lowest level in the history of our business,” said Bob Barocci, president-CEO of the Advertising Research Foundation.

As opposed to this being a problem, I love the situation. However for activists this creates two difficulties. One, to deal with the predicament, the industry will simply create more clutter. Second, how do you spread socially constructive messages in this kind of environment? A PSA would be like a glass of water thrown into Niagara Falls. The solution I think is that more interactive, peer-to-peer media is the solution, not for marketers, but for us activists who want to reach people. If we focus on our own grassroots strategies rather than trying to repeat the corporate model, I think we will ultimately succeed. Look, for example, how much the Internet has transformed national politics. Whereas Dean’s grassroots media efforts flew under the radar of national media, ultimately most candidates are now emulating his 2004 campaign’s approach.

Finally, I have enjoyed Bob Garfield’s “Chronicles of the Media Revolution” in AdAge, and his latest dispatch, “The Post Advertising Age,” is worth a careful read. AdAge also provides a really nice downloadable chart that details a timeline since Garfield’s “Chaos Scenario” originally appeared. One choice snip:

Mass media, of course, do not exist in a vacuum. They have a perfect symbiotic relationship with mass marketing. Advertising underwrites the content. The content delivers audience. Audiences receive the marketing messages and patronize the advertisers, and so on in what for centuries was an efficient cycle of economic life. The first element of Chaos presumes the fragmentation of mass media creates a different sort of cycle: an inexorable death spiral, in which audience fragmentation and ad-avoidance hardware lead to an exodus of advertisers, leading in turn to an exodus of capital, leading to a decline in the quality of content, leading to further audience defection, leading to further advertiser defection and so on to oblivion. The refugees — audience and marketers alike — flee to the internet. There they encounter the second, and more ominous, Chaos component: the internet’s awkward infancy.

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OldTube in new media bottles

Colorbars

As the article below indicates, there is extensive hype about NewTube (a placeholder name until NBC Universal and News Corp. come up with a brand identity), which is essentially the big media response to YouTube. Although considering that google now owns YouTube, it’s getting harder to view Internet behemoths as the “little guy” anymore. But I think there is something missing in the discussion about the looming battle of on-line media networks. The essential difference (to me) is that NewTube will not allow users to upload media. So whereas YouTube has spontaneously self-organzied into a “people’s archive,” NewTube is just going to be a venue for corporate media that pays lip service to consumer democracy through its remixing feature. No doubt there will be stuff that people will want (or think they will want due to extensive marketing bombardment that is surely in the works).

I’m not surprised that “traditional media” responds favorably to NewTube, because it fits the paradigm of top-down content generation. I think some old media companies will adopt more citizen journalism and locally produced content as new media practices seems to favor, but if NewTube is any indication, it’s more an example of OldTube put into new media bottles.

NewTube Is Just The Beginning:

For media geeks, NewTube (its executives, unsurprisingly, prefer the clunkier handles NewCo or NewSite) is big news. But the venture, expected to launch this summer, is merely one of myriad developments that will remake the world of Web video in the next few months. Google (GOOG ) is expected to begin rolling out advertising systems for YouTube this summer. This spring, News Corp.’s MySpace will formally push into YouTube’s video-sharing turf, launching an offering that insiders currently call MySpace TV. And top executives at Time Warner suddenly sound confident that a mutual technical solution to copyright issues with YouTube—the subject of a lawsuit Viacom (VIA ) filed in mid-March—is close enough to make likely a content-licensing deal. (Spokespersons for YouTube and other companies declined to discuss potential deals or negotiations.) Mingling within these overlapping layers of competition and cooperation is the suddenly less remote prospect of making some actual money.

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Onion TV (finally!)

Deadiest-Dangers
Lookout pundits, in case you haven’t seen this yet, The Onion lambasts you on its new network. Ouch! (And yeah!)

In The Know: Our Troops In Iraq

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