All entries for January 2007

January 31, 2007

A2 Media Studies: Planning Your Website

A2 Media Studies Production Unit: Making a Website 

The planning phase 

In the overall specification for this unit you will need to place your website in the context of the rapid development New Media Technologies. Below I'm using a case study of the CD / Music industry  as this has been strongly effected by New Media and social networking. There are several things that you will need to do:

  1. Briefly research 6 websites that relate to the kind of service or product that you wish to make your website about
  2. You should now think about your target audience and carry out some initial research into that target audience. You should be finding out how much your target audience use the internet to find out about the cultural things that interest them. You should also find out how they use the internet: ask which search engines and which search terms they use, and whether they follow up from word of mouth.
  3. Now choose what you consider to be the best sites and do some textual analysis on them. Note aesthetic factors such as the colour and layout and all the other aspects of mise en scene. Think about whether the site is too 'busy' whether there are too many adverts etc. If images are used what do these images signify and how do they do this? You should also consider how effective the navigation is and evaluate whether there are useful links to relevant sites.
  4. The Current Industry Context. Quite a number of people are doing music related websites such as promoting a band that you know. It is particularly important to be aware of the latest business stories that relate to the upstart independents such as the Arctic Monkeys whose success was largely based upon an excellent web presence (See below for other links). This success can be compared with the struggles of the conventional 'record' industry. Look at the recent EMI results for example (see "Death of a Dinosaur?" below for stories about its problems). You should also consider the problems of the Music Zone chain You should have up to date information and think about how to apply this information to the aims and objectives of your site. You should be commenting on new forms of distribution such as iTunes. Make sure that you keep a bibliography and webliography
  5. Once you have analysed the current industry context you must start to plan out your own site. Remember that you must have a Home Page and at least four other web pages. These plans of the overall site must be handed in as a part of the assessment.
  6. You must take at least 4 of your own images and manipulate them in Photoshop or Flash. Print offs of these original images must be part of the planning section of your portfolio.
  7. You  must submit drafts of each of the pages you are going to put in your website: "...drafting is expected"
  8. Since the passing of the Disability Discrimination Act  (UK) you must design with disability accessibility in mind. please see separate posting for more commentary on this. As far as your action plan is concerned you must show that you are aware of this
  9. You should also be aware of the business issues concerning your website dealing with problems such as how will your target audience find it? You will need to be aware of the issue of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
  10. You should also be aware of the latest business tools which can help you to track how well your site is doing. These tools are provided free of charge by Google through their Google Analytics programme

This image from Google Analytics tells you how many of the day's or week's visitors to your site hahve visited before. There are an enormous range of parameters within the programme to help you make decisions about which the most popular pages are. For example on this blog I know that the podcasting pages have been quite popular with visitors from a number of countries.

Visitor information from Google Analytics

Death of a dinosaur? The latest on EMI. Will the rest of the majors be affected?

Below are some recent comments of the state of what was once an very important player in the music industry. New Media Technologies have put it on the back foot. The issues are: will it adapt and how can it do this? 

Implicit in the EMI announcement is an admission that the company has failed to change fast enough to match the rapid shifts in its marketplace, that costs remain bloated, and that an old guard respected for its deep relationships with artists may not have what it takes to prosper in the era of iTunes, MySpace and YouTube. (Financial Times)

But for the moment, the digital music market is still dominated by Apple’s iTunes, a distribution partner which has not proved very profitable for the record companies. The problem is that Apple makes most of its money from sales of the iPod device, while charging little for the individual tracks. (Financial Times)

EMI Shake Up You can get to other recent Financial Times EMI stories from this link.

Music successes via Web 2.0

Artic Monkeys Make Chart History

Wikipedia entry on Arctic Monkeys

This Guardian website has many useful links regarding the state of the music industry and the Web.


January 29, 2007

Lotte Eisner on Murnau's Nosferatu 1922

Writing about web page /michaelwalford/entry/the_weimar_cinema_1_2/

Lotte Eisner on Murnau's Nosferatu (1922)

Here I have summarised some of the key points that Eisner makes about Murnau's Nosferatu 1922. The complete title of the film is Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror). Eisner describes Murnau as the greatest of the German filmmakers through his creation of poignant and overwhelming images which go beyond mere decorative stylisation. Murnau was trained as an art historian and in many of his shots he plays with the memory of great paintings, whilst Lang by comparison tries to make faithful reproductions of great paintings when he has recourse to them. In Faust the shooting of a prostrate man stricken with plague there is a ‘transposed reflection of Mantegna’s Christ’. (Eisner, 1969:98)

Eisner notes that Murnau was gay and suggests that his films ‘bear the impress of of his inner complexity’ noting that born in 1888 he lived under the shadow of Paragraph 175 of the pre 1918 German penal code outlawing homosexuality. Fear of blackmail was thus always present. She suggests that Murnau’s origins in Westphalia a rural farming area influenced his work which came through in a sense of  nostalgia for the countryside.

Nosferatu was filmed on location which was unusual at the time. Using Gothic Baltic towns he filmed on the dunes of the Baltic ‘ He makes us feel the freshness of a meadow in which horses gallop around with a marvellous lightness’. (Eisner:1969, 99). The use of the architecture of these Baltic towns obviated the need to use artificial chiaroscuro. Murnau uses nature combined with editing to make waves foretell the arrival of the vampire. Murnau’s direction is tight with each shot having a precise function using momentary close-up of billowing sails to contribute to the narrative drive.

‘ It is reasonable to argue that the German cinema is a development of German Romanticism, and that modern technique merely lends visible form to Romantic fantasies’. (Eisner, 1969: 11).

On this last comment the short documentary by the art historian Christopher Frayling on the British Film insitute DVD usefully explores this notion in relation to Nosferatu


January 28, 2007

Planning and Producing a Media Product: Part 2

Follow-up to Planning and Producing a Media Product: Part 1 from Kinoeye

How to write up and present your pre-production planning

Introduction

It would be sensible to open up your ideas on planning this by recognising that you may be fighting a battle with the effects of previous advertising. This could be the case with many health campaigns including smoking and healthy eating style campaigns where the desires of the target audiences have been awakened. As a consequence they think often at an unconscious level that the product in question will somehow satisfy these desires. Below I have laid out the things you must include in your planning and how they must be presented.


Presentation of the planning section of your project file

  1. You should have evidence such as printed off web pages and / or magazine adverts leaflets etc of a minimum of two advertising campaigns. You must make sure that there is evidence of textual analysis written on these hard copies
  2. You  must explain  why you have chosen to develop an advertising campaign around a particular subject such as anti-smoking
  3. You must expain why you have initially decided to research a specific target audience. In the case of smoking it might be because the Government has identified in the past that few people take up smoking after the age of 18 therefore the best way to reduce the number of smokers is to try and reduce the number of young smokers
  4. You  must  do some primary research on your intended target audience. (Primary research is your own independent research. In reality an advertising company would probably contract this work out to a market rearch company)
  5. You must provide an analysis of the research data and explain how it will affect your advertising campaign
  6. You must then make some drawings and diagrams about how you want to take some photographs. You should mention things such as make-up, clothes and where the scene will take place anny lighting effects that you might want to use. You should also mention camera angles and how you want to compose and frame the shot.  This is all part of the mise en scene
  7. You must print off a page of 'thumbprints' of all the photographs for the project
  8. You  must also print off full sized examples of all the images that you are going to use in your project. On these you should make it clear that it is an original image taken before post-production in Photoshop. You must also mark on it the part of the advertising campaign you are going to use it.

Conclusion

These points must all be included. Overall they will gain you a potential 30 marks. 26 marks will get an A grade in this section which everybody can reach.


    Planning and Producing a Media Product: Part 1

    Planning Your Advertising Campaign


    Introduction


    It is difficult to overestimate the importance of this unit for the OCR AS level from an educational perspective. This unit gives you the opportunity to work through all the aspects of planning ANY media product bringing the product to fruition and learning how to consider it as a pilot project by testing it out on the audience to prove that it is a good product and by providing you with the necessary evidence to show any potential commissioning body that your product is worth backing.

    Advertising and Commissioning


    Let's take a step backwards for a moment and think specifically about the advertising industry which (like it or not & I don't) forms an important part of the media industry.  Most of the media industry is dependent upon advertising and has been since the beginnings of the growth of mass media in the 19th century.

    Advertising is commisssioned on a commercial basis. The financing can come from a variety of sources including government agencies, industry and commerce and independent charitable organisations.  Whatever the source of finance the commissioning organisation will want the best possible value for its money. It will want to reach it's target audience both in the content of the adverts and in terms of whether this advertising is designed to go in the right places.

    A Commissioning Brief


    Many organisations who want to run an advertising campaign will put an advertising brief *out to tender*. The advertising brief will ask advertising companies to compete with each other to win an advertising contract which could be worth a lot of money and also the potential to gain future business it it is a successful campaign.

    Imagine you work for an Advertising Company


    Imagine you work for an advertising company and you are responsible for making a presentation to a charity which will reward the winning company with a £100,000 contract to try and reduce smoking amongst teenagers.

    The first thing you should do is research other advertising products and campaigns. While you are doing this ask yourself the following questions based upon the master question _Why is it that teenagers persist in taking up smoking?_ This is an important question because despite considerable pressure through advertising and trying to tighten up laws on selling tobacco to young people and tightening the laws on smoking in pubs and with change in the law regarding the minimum age for smoking likely to be passed it is still a serious problem.

    Lets just consider the current disincentives to smoking:

    • Its extremely expensive. Students can't afford the price of essential equipment such as USB drives yet can apparently afford to smoke!
    • The short-term, medium-term and long-term health risks are very well known and very well documented.
    • Higher rates of smoking and dramatically increased rates of mortality are centered amongst poorer families who also have much worse diets because they claim they "cannot afford" good quality food
    • Kissing a smoker is very unpleasant if you are not a smoker.
    • Rooms smell disgusting the next day even when only a few cigarettes have been smoked.
    • Large numbers of fires causing loss of life, serious burns and enormous damage to property are caused by cigarette smokers.
    • The cost of treating smoking related ilness is an enormous burden upon the NHS. Large amounts of money could be spent far more effectively on developing new treatments for 'real diseases' and medical problems or put into better sports facilities etc to promote healthier lifestyles.


    On the surface then, no vaguely rational person would even consider smoking. The fact that many apparently rational people do smoke is therefore the issue that the clever advertiser will focus upon.

    Smoking and Desire


    Last Silk Cut Advert

    What a good advertising company needs to do is to understand what it is that is making their target audience tick. In this case we are looking at teenagers who take up smoking. what can it possibly be which makes them desire to smoke? This is the fundamental question for an advertiser. Once they have some ideas about this then they can design a campaign with counter-messages and alternative packages of desire.

    The functioning of desire should not be seen as anti-reason. The social and cultural desires which contribute to the culture of smoking are inherently resonable. On the surface smoking seems to offer a fairly straightforward way of developing ways of communicating with people.

    The idea that advertising can manipulate desire so effectively eventualy led to a ban on cigarette advertising by the government which came into force in 2003. Click here for a BBC story on the coming of this ban.

    Know Your Enemy!


    Shrewd tacticians and strategists try to know everything they can about their enemy.

    The tobacco industry has built itself up on the basis of appealing to unconscious desires. Sexy, a sense of rebelliousness, glamour, creating a sense of a smoking community through social interactions which can cross class / gender / ethnic divides, associations with celebrity,a sense of adulthood.

    There is then a deeply embedded cultural milieu of smoking. The fact that I have mentioned the term a sense of... several times shows you that these these cultural factors within our lives are hard to quantify and measure in a meaningful way. These factors are therefore more powerfully persuasive than the logical factors of health, expense etc. which anti-smoking has concentrated upon.

    Looking into a history of the smoking industry you would quickly be able to identify that at one time issues of class, status and gender were associated with smoking.

    From a class perspective being able to afford to smoke (literally burning up your money), was important. Then particular brands became more important in terms of class and status as the ability to afford to smoke became more common. 

    In terms of gender at one stage the notion of women smoking was extremely threatening to men who in better off society would withdraw to the smoking room after dinner to have male power conversations whilst women who at that time couldn't vote also couldn't smoke.

    The right to smoke in public therefore started to become associated with women's rights and rebellion against the system. Advertisers were quick to pick up on this. As the smoking market became increasingly saturated as most men at some point were smoking the attractions of doubling the smoking market by getting women to smoke became very attractive to the tobacco companies.

    A nephew of Sigmund Freud's was a senior executive in an advertising company and he arranged an incident when several upper class American Women on a 4th of July parade would start to smoke in public. Of course the press had been informed that something significant was going to happen on this parade and the subsequent media publicity on all the front pages was the launch of dozens of successful advertising campaigns glamourising smoking for women.   




    For an advertising company the enemy is all previous advertising campaigns which have helped to foster a culture of smoking. Previous advertising campaigns have made smoking glamourous, a symbol of status, a symbol of elegance, a symbol of machismo, a symbol of sexual attractiveness, a symbol of power, a symbol of sexiness or even just associating the act of smoking with being "Adult". A BBC story from 2003 notes:

    bq. The UK's second largest cigarette firm Gallaher, makers of Silk Cut and Benson and Hedges, now prints "For Adult Use Only" on every pack.

    Frequently these campaigns have relied purely primarily on powerful visual messages which are associative and work at an unconscious level. Film stars , leading politicians, "celebrities" even sports personalities have in the past been associated with smoking. Smoking equals success seems to have been the underlying message.

    The advertising aesthetics have in the case of Benson and Hedges been held up as models of good advertising. Often the cigarette brand is signified by the aesthetic rather than 'in yer face' kinds of promotion:

    Benson and Hedges Pure Gold


    Restrictions on advertising means that Brands known only for cigarettes are using other techniques to build their brand. the Marlborough brand owned by Philip Morris have done this as the BBC has also noted:

    bq. In recent years, tobacco companies have branched out into clothing and lifestyle products to build brand awareness. Marlboro launched a range of clothing and BAT has experimented with branded coffee shops



    Below Silk Cut trying to exude an air of elegance and sophistication

    Silk Cut symbol of elegance and sphistication

    Being associated with style, elegance sophistication and power places the brand very high ensuring the opportunity to charge a price premium. The sports below manage to be associated with all these highly valued traits:

    Silk Cut sponsored racing boat

    The Le Mans Winning Jag was also an important method of branding associating cigarettes with success:

    Silk Cut Jaguar at Le Mans

    Summary 

    In this section you should now begin to recognise that researching the subject which is the subject of your commercial brief is vitally important to the success of your project. You shouldn't just research campaigns against smoking. you may have much to learn from exploring campaigns to encourage smoking. In the next section we will consider how to execute and lay out the overall planning of your project.  


    January 25, 2007

    USB Microphones for Podcasters

    Follow-up to More on Podcasting Equipment from Kinoeye

    Sound on Sound on USB Microphones


    The February 2007 issue of the British Sound on Sound magazine has an interesting and useful article on USB microphones which are primarily aimed at the podcasting community as it develops. (Here is their 'teaser' article it'll cost £1.00 to read the whole thing). As I predicted in an earlier entry it was likely to be an exopanding market in 2007 and so it would seem.

    Basic principle of the USB Microphone

    The USB style microphone is a combination of a microphone pre-amp to boost the sound output and an analogue to digital converter (A/D converter) to enable the computer to read the information in a digital format. All this extra circuitry is in addition to the microphone itself.

    The A/D converters in these microphones apparently have a lower bit rate than conveters in preamp / interfaces. Because some of the available microphones do not have the posssibility of increasing the output or gain to these A/D converters these microphones will produce low signals unless the microphone is very near the sound source. Whilst individual podcasters propbably won't worry about this if you want to record two or more people in a round table discussion you may find that the microphone is not picking up the sound very clearly because of the loss of resolution.

    Another potential disadvantage of this type of microphone is that much of the available audio software only recognises items which give both input and output signals. Normally microphones by their very nature are input devices. Microphones like the Rode_Podcaster_mentioned elsewhere on this site have a microphone input which can circumvent the problem.

    There are other more technical issues which the  Sound on Sound article covers as well.

    The Range of USB Microphones so far 

    Sound on Sound report that the first USB microphone they looked at was the Samson CO1 U which they reviewed in June 2006. This article notes that it was "an unashamedly budget mic" and they also note that it was "rather noisy unless used close up". They note that Samson have released a USB version of their CO3 mic using a similar A/D converter to the CO1 U. They don't comment on the quality of this product. 

    The Rode Podcaster

    The Rode Podcaster has already been mentioned on this blog but this is the first serious review I have seen about it. It notes that the frequency range is optimised for speech. The article notes that it can handle a high maximum input "making it suitable for close-miked speech and vocals". The headphone input is in fact a mini jack. It will work out of the box with both Windows and Mac. There is additional software which is a free download which usfully provides metering, a mute button and recording level control. The reviwer found that the mic didn't work well with his voice. A point that highlights that there are always a large number of variables involved in finding the best equipment for any individual. Obviously on-line buying limits the opportunity to test items out first.  The normal retail price in the UK is around £150 however one advert is offering it for £124 so internet prices are beginning to become competitive as more products hit the marketplace.

    MLX USB.006

    The MLX USB. 006 is a low cost affiar but is "a true capacitor mic with a large-diaphragm cardioid capsule".  The is also a three position gain switch which helps  set the mic up for mid and close range work notes the reviewer who also notes that there was no technical specifation included. tonally the mic was "very warm in your face and radio DJ friendly". The ability to raise the gain made it just about possible to record two people in discussion but "it doesn't have the gain needed for recording group discussions , where the distances involved  are likely to be much greater." Current UK retail price £79.

    SE Electronics USB2200A

    At £222 UK retail price this mic was the most expensive featured in the review. The sound was big and flattering suitable for radio style voice-overs. The gain had two settings and there is also a pad which can reduce the impact of very loud sources. This model has the advantage of an analogue connection to a mic preamp unit which makes it more flexible than the other models mentioned. This comment on the internet notes that it played straight out of the box with the Linux operating sytem. Here is a link to a more technical announcement about the launch of this mic.

    SE USB2200A

    This link goes to a useful microphone blog which reports on the release of this SEUSB mic and has some useful archives.  Link here to IT Review on this product.

    Conclusion

    Given that this market has been going for much less than a year there is plenty of opportunity for more models to enter the markeplace soon. all these models look to be good value within their various price brackets and as they save the lone podcaster the necessity of buying mic preamps, interfaces and mixers all of them offer a good route into podcasting. Nevertheless if you think you may wish to record more than one voice at a time the USB route seems to be a less flexible option for the moment.  The Rode Podcaster and the SE USB2200A both offer headphone monitoring which makes a lot of sense and seem worthwhile saving up for. 


    January 21, 2007

    Mira Nair and Johnny Depp

    Just a quick post to alert visitors who may be interested in studying women and film of the latest project of the successful director of the insightful Monsoon Wedding Mira Nair.

    The Guardian has a recent story on Mira Nair


    Opinion 2

    Moron TV: Big Brother; Commercialism; The Public Service Broadcasting Ethos

    Introduction

    As noted in my Film Opinion One there is no mercy on this blog for crass commercial media products aimed at exploiting populist sentiment which belongs to the lowest common denominator. As Adorno and Horkheimer note in their article on the culture industry:

    something is provided for all that none may escape; the distinctions are emphasized and extended. The public is catered for with a hierarchical range of mass-produced products of varying quality thus advancing the rule of complete quantification. (Adorno and Horkheimer, p 123).

    Thankfully the denominator when it comes to so-called ‘Celebrity’ Big Brother can’t be described as ‘common’ in the sense of achieving approval from people in Britain. The large numbers of people taking the trouble to make formal complaints about this despicable programme can give all visitors some faith in the notion of the global Public Sphere – of which Web 2.0 is a part-, the question still remains whether this fissure which has opened in the sheer rock face of the culture industry can lead to something constructive. Can popular resistance really break through in a long term meaningful way? Can we get the media we would actually like?

    Normally I avoid links to commercial organisations unless they pay or unless the product is technologically of interest and of good quality. When dealing with media products the policy is that if the content is deemed to be of sufficient quality and relevance as to be justifiable then it can be included.

    As some visitors may have noticed there are links and products from Channel Four News programmes in the section which doubles as a news portal and offers media students the chance to get direct feeds to the better quality news programmes. The extremely dubious nature of Channel Four’s attitude to the whole of the Big Brother furore leads me to consider whether to include C4 links on this site or should it be voted off (by me)?

    The Growth of Celebrity

    At times it seems as though the growth of the discourse of ‘celebrity’ has grown alongside the increasing interest and use of the internet. As interest in user generated content grows so the weakest elements of the mainstream media resort to increasingly desparate survival tactics. (The continous profits squeeze upon the Music company EMI as it announced disappointing results last week is another example of change in the wind).

    The culture of ‘celebrity’ received critical treatment at least as far back as Adorno and Horkheimer:

    As naturally as the ruled always took the morality imposed upon them more seriously than did the rulers themselves, the deceived masses are today captivated by the myth of success even more than the successful are. The misplaced love of the common people for the wrong which is done them is a greater force than the cunning of the authorities. It is even stronger than the rigorism of the Hays Office… (Adorno & Horkheimer, p 134).

    Thankfully the totality of the culture industry has turned out not to be quite as homogenous as these Frankfurt School worthies were afraid of, nevertheless, the tendencies they identified all seem to be present in the ‘Celebrity’ Big Brother story.

    The Irony of ‘Reality TV’ finally breaks through into the Real World

    What could be better for the media company concerned than so called ‘reality TV’ than this mockery of the world actually impinging in a serious way upon the real social world.

    Concerns were voiced that the BBC was covering the issue too much, but when a representative came before Newswatch to defend News 24’s coverage it was hard to disagree that a sordid little moron TV show had managed to become in danger of causing a major diplomatic incident and was the cause of concern in Parliamentary questions and debate.

    I must say Ken Livingstone the Mayor of London came close to my thoughts when he argued that the Channel 4 producers had deliberately set up this confrontation to create the maximum degree of attention and controversy. A tactic of last resort as its failing formula and increasing desparation to find people who could be described as celebrity even in its most elastic construction.

    There is little doubt that this programme should sink without trace in a few weeks time. As C4 increasingly turns itself into the worst possible version of what might be described as ‘Tabloid TV’ with psuedo-documentaries and continuous soft-porn style content, it serves to firmly underpin the notion of the importance of Public Service Broadcast TV.

    The formula of Big Brother itself seems to have been invented by an increasingly wealthy ex Public School and Oxbridge character interviewed a few months ago in the Financial Times. That reminds me of Lindsay Anderson’s Oh Dreamland which has a little clip near the beginning of a Rolls Royce Parked behind a 1950s amusement complex. The camera then cuts to large numbers of working class people piling off coaches from London. The film charts their initial joy at having a flight from reality gradually become undermined by the dire quality of the content of the park.

    These Big Brother antics attract the sort of audiences who would like to watch cock-fights, bare-knuckle fighting, bear and badger-baiting. This is the 21st century equivalent.

    The joy of being able to vote somebody out of Big Brother is a mockery of democracy and an insult to the notion of real citizenship. Citizenship becomes spectacle as you pay 50 pence for the privilege of a telephone vote in any case although C4 will doubtless be trumpeting this a a modern form of ‘viewer democracy’ and ‘participative media product’.

    I heard the interview with a senior exectutive from Channel Four at about 6.15 a.m. as he happily criticised the BBC for getting too much license fee and then point-blank refused to make any comment whatsoever about the controversy.

    Well his senior executive pay packet was on the line and hopefully still is. Channel 4’s policy and behaviour this week has been seriously unethical and based purely on commercial greed. The 1990 Broadcasting Act has liberated the airwaves to junk TV. The stonewalling of this Channel 4 executive is the strongest possible argument for raising the license fee for the BBC to try and get this trash off air.

    Bye Bye Channel 4 News – Sorry

    I’m always being surprised that many of the links this site contains go to BBC sites, the trouble is they are so much better than the opposition most of the time. I have no doubts that Channel 4 News is an exception. Right from the first day of Channel 4 I have enjoyed C4 News on a regular basis, and it has always been interesting to compare the content and handling of stories with the BBC who at the end of the day still need to keep a weather eye on the government when it comes to increases in licence fees.

    This raises further issues of media policy about whether the government of the day should have such a direct influence on an institution which we all pay for. Perhaps a more independent body of licence reviewers needs to be established.

    After this I’m contemplating the notion that a separate licensed 24 hour news programme with a level of financial independence perhaps mixed funded partially by advertising and partially by a separate license fee controlled by a fully independent institution from government might be a sensible path. Perhaps the Channel 4 news organisation could be the anchor of this. In the meantime I’m afraid the link is going. I don’t suppose that will make the organisation quake but I hope that visitors to this site will make their views very clear to Channel 4.

    I rather hope that this outburst will prove to be the demise of C4. Those media and cultural theorists who continuously decry the Frankfurt School as being ‘pessimistic’ and ‘elitist’ and underestimating the intelligence of the audience would at least have a practical case study upon which to evidence their claims. I’m am optimistic that Adorno and Horkheimer will be proved right.

    For a moment there is a fissure appearing in the face of the cultural industry: can the popular masses led of course by the willing hordes of media theorists in the political vanguard escape the flight from the wretched reality described by Adorno and Horkheimer and actually develop some real resistance against the cultural industry. If like me you enjoy a regular supply of oxygen you are strongly advised not to hold your breath :-). The latest BBC story on this case reports the Association of Schools and College Leaders representative John Dunford as saying in response to demands from Alan Johnson demanding deeper cultural values in their approach:

    Schools can hardly be blamed for one person’s bigotry when the 82% who voted to eject Jade Goody are testament to the work already being done by schools to develop respect, understanding and tolerance.

    alan Johnson Minister of Education

    This seems to indicate that nearly 20% or to put it another way nearly one in 5 of people who paid 50 pence for the priviledge of voting are effectively racist! No I don’t blame schools I blame the crass greed of people like Channel 4 executives who seek to profit from this sort of ‘controversy’. The production company behind Big Brother are called Endemol. Will they benefit out of this? asks this BBC story

    Endemol seem to be one of these nebulous production companies which have sprung up in the wake of the 1990 Broadcasting Act. Interestingly they also provide the BBC with content such as Ready Steady Cook.
    If you want to know what programmes to boycott or complain about then here is Endemol’s web site.
    Its portfolio seems to fit Adorno’s astute comment of something is provided for all that none may escape remarkably well. Who is a pessimist and who is a realist! Get out there and prove me wrong please.


    The Growing Location Free Media Market

    Introduction: What is Location Free?

    Location free computing and media refers to the growing possibilities of both creating and consuming media products and content, anywhere, any place any time.

    This capacity is all part of the process of convergence which is based upon the rapidly growing hi-speed digitally based communications infrastructure which underlies everything. Increasingly higher speed wireless and broadband links and the potential for satellite uploads and downloads means that individuals wherever they are can access these links through their service provider and either upload or download content. In 2006 the advent of Sling-media (See New Media glossary) meant that somebody in the Phillipines could access a transmission of a live sports broadcast in Europe via their own home computer and a laptop connected to a broadband link in the Phillipines. Potenially this technology is reformulating audiences as broadcasting is now becoming far less nationally restricted than it was before.

    What’s coming in 2007?

    Predicting the future is an impossibility however identifying trends and visions of the movers and shakers in this world can give us an idea of the possibilities. At the end of the day it will be the audiences that decide whther something will be successful or not. Below is a prediction for an exciting year in mobile media from Keith Washo of memory technology company SanDisk. (They are the people who make things like SD cards for your digital camera).

    New MP3 players and phones, for example, can access music downloads stores directly without the need for a computer or cable, whilst others can tap into internet radio channels. Both developments open up a whole new world of wireless listening.

    Watch out for the Sansa media device from Sandisc which will allow you to watch and store moving images and show them on a TV anywhere.

    Sansa Prototype for mobile video

    For more on mobile futures check out this BBC Technology story.


    January 13, 2007

    New Media Glossary Continued: O–Z

    Follow-up to Glossary for New Media Technologies: A–N from Kinoeye

    Online advertising. See separate entry.

    Paid for Search. Internet search engines have rapidly become one of the most successful and effective ways in which new media has been able to act as a vehicle for advertisers. The main way that the search engines make money is by selling links to the advertisers websites which are displayed alongside the research results. Almost everybody who uses the internet (the number increases dramatically every year) needs to use a search engine. This means that there is effectively a captive market exposed to advertising. This is compared with other ingenious systems such as pop-up advertising which can be filtered out by the use of firewall software.

    Podcasting. Podcasting is rapidly becoming the new buzz thing at the time of writing. Podcasting allows anybody with digital audio recording technology to download programmes onto a computer and from there onto the internet. These podcasts can be downloaded onto iPods / MP3 players and represent a new way of finding audiences particularly for smaller organisations, however now there has been some success companies such as the BBC are looking at the potential. It has become an important part of Web 2.0. Watch this space!! Below the recent launch of the rode Podcaster microphone with USB connection and input for headphones has set the agenda for 2007. Expect to see more versions of this appear in 2007 from competitors.

    The Rode Podcaster in Action

    PSP or Playstation Portable. Launched in the UK on September 1st 2005. It is billed as the new ‘must have’ gadget which some are suggesting that will finally see the much vaunted term convergence start to happen.

    Sony Playstation Portable

    Rewritable digital media. The ability to record use and then record something else over the top as with the old analogue cassette and video-cassettes for example. Digital audio-cassettes followed by mini-discs were the first of these onto the domestic and semi-professional market-place and were expensive. The market driven by the PC means that most computers now come with rewritable-CD for backing-up information. It is now becoming increasingly common to get rewritable-DVD both as stand-alone machines and built into computers. These are likely to replace the domestic video-recorder in the next few years.

    RSS. RSS stands for ‘Really Simple Syndication’. RSS feeds are just a special kind of web page, designed to be read by computers rather than people. It might help to think of them as the free, internet version of the old-fashioned ticker-tape news wire machines. Not all websites currently provide RSS, but it is growing rapidly in popularity and many others, including the BBC, Guardian, New York Times and CNN provide it. Below is the icon for an RSS feed. Here is part of the Wikipedia definition. Users of RSS content use programs called feed ‘readers’ or ‘aggregators’: the user ‘subscribes’ to a feed by supplying to their reader a link to the feed; the reader can then check the user’s subscribed feeds to see if any of those feeds have new content since the last time it checked, and if so, retrieve that content and present it to the user.

    RSS Icon for web feeds

    Second Life. Virtual worlds are becoming a big thing. They are working on different models of development. The World of Warcraft is dungeons and dragons for the web however Second Life is a far more creative and dynamic model which is generating real interest in the world of business as well as individual adventurers. To get a better feel of what Second Life is about please use the tag in this blog’s side-bar which will give you a lot of pages which have relevant links. Please also see the entry which is summarising the Net interview with Philip Rosedale the founder of Second Life. Certainly some are beginning to see Second Life as the new ‘killer’ application for the broaqdband era for it is the availability of cheap broadband that is a core technology in allowing the model to operate. Broadband is to Second Life what roads are to a city.Potentially Second Life could become a huge business. Below see their recruitment poster:

    Recruitment Banner for Second Life Virtual Environments

    Set-top box. See digital set-top box

    Sling-box. Launched in 2006 this technology enables people to access their TV systems via a broadband connection and thier home computer enabling them to watch local live TV from anywhere in the world. House owners can access their security cameras and at least one owner discovered people breaking into his home when he was on holiday and he was able to alert the police!

    Slingbox TV

    Social Networking. Here is a recent BBC definition Websites such as MySpace give users a chunk of webspace they can personalise with images, video and blog entries.To this they add a messaging system that lets members keep in touch with friends on the same network. In the past few years these sites have become hugely popular among young people and some, such as MySpace, are by some measures challenging Yahoo and Google for the title of most popular site on the net. The link also reports on the popularity amongst US teenagers.

    Solid State Digital Recorders. The growth of podcasting has brought a much market to the relatively unknown solid state digital recording market. For podcasters, musicians and radio reporters these devices make recording live much easier and more reliable than DAT (Digital Audio Tape) and the Minidisc. It is expected that these older technologies will quickly die out.

    Edirol R0-9

    Tascam HDP 2

    Splog. This word is a combination of spam and blog. A splog exists in order to get ad impresssions or provide links to other sites. “Usually these sites contain giiberish or an unruly combination of content stolen from other sites.” (Grapone & Couzin. Search Engine Optimisation, 2nd Ed, 2008)

    Tagging. This is becoming an increasingly common way of navigating around sites. This entry has a range of tags at the bottom and you probably got her by using the tag for glossaries in the sidebar. This BBC technology story gives you more details. Below is a quote from Mr Weinberger from this story:

    “Tagging allows social groups to form around similarities of interests and points of view. If you’re using the same tags as I do, we probably share some deep commonalities,” he told Pew Internet.

    This story also debates the advantages and disadvantages of tagging as an important way of logging data effectively so that it can be easily searched for.

    T-commerce. The growing marketplace for commercial transactions via the idTV. Lottery tickets, games, sports-betting, pay-per-view, travel tickets and more. Will require new forms of micro-payments as the subscriber may not be the person doing the buying.

    Third Generation / 3G. Third generation mobile phones enabling customers to view video-footage. The mobile phone will then become a multi-media device. First company in the UK to deliver the service will be 3. Date of launch currently unknown likely to be early March 2003. Owned by Hutchinson a Hong-Kong based conglomerate which launched Orange. What the multi-media content is the key to success. Currently 100 content providers have signed deals with 3 including the FA Premier League and news companies ITN and Reuters. The video footage will not be real-time because of technological constraints.

    THX. Sound system for surround-sound cinema and home cinema systems licensed by Lucas Laboratories. There are very exacting specifications of sound reproduction required before a licence is granted.

    Total marketing. The elaboration of metaforms for the sake of greater profits. First seen in children’s popular culture with toy lines being developed into TV programmes or the other way around. Later developed into the usual sort of ‘spin-offs’.

    USB. Universal Serial Bus. The development of the USB port for computers meant that PCs finally caught up with Macs as items such as printers, cameras and cameras could ‘plug and play’. in other words just be connected to a USB port. Now microphones, audio interfaces and special headphones are coming out with USB connections to feed the voracious Web 2.0 user generated content market.

    User Generated Content. Old media and new media are interacting. Users are able to and frequently do send news companies instant news via texts, camera phones etc. The issue becomes how to rank these stories.
    Here is a Reuters story on ‘User Generated Content’ from Jan 03 / 07 .

    Viral Advertising / viral marketing. An extract from the Wikipedia entry. Viral marketing and viral advertising refer to marketing techniques that use pre-existing social networks to produce increases in brand awareness, through self-replicating viral processes, analogous to the spread of pathological and computer viruses. It can often be word-of-mouth delivered and enhanced online; it can harness the network effect of the Internet and can be very useful in reaching a large number of people rapidly. Here’s what Alex West who Alex West, who launched the first-ever Viral Awards says:

    What agencies are saying now is you need to buy consumers’ time, and to do that you need to entertain them and give them something back.

    Certainly this new advertising method is set to change the way advertising works. See Channel 4 article here.

    Virtual Reality or VR. The search for fully immersive computer generated environments which could be interactive games, or ‘game narratives’. See also the fascinating development under Second Life which is going beyond any of these.

    Voice over Internet Protocol. This is a service introduced by British Telecom /BT in January 2004. It enables users to use broadband connections to make phone calls to phones from computers and the other way around. This is an advance over previous systems in which users have only been able to make Internet phone calls between computers. In May 2004 a less sophisticated version of the system will be sold to the mass market domestic consumer. BT hope this will help persuade more consumers to upgrade to broadband systems. At time of writing Google have just announced a new internet based telephone service which is likely to be highly successful.

    Vlog a video based blog. see vodcasting below for a good link. Also see blogs for more on Web 2.0 publishing.

    VODcasting. This is podcasting but based upon the idea of Video on Demand hence the VOD. This article from Missouri University provides a useful explanation in full.

    VoIP. see Voice over Internet Protocol

    VR. See Virtual Reality and entry on Second Life

    Weblogs. See Blogs.

    Web 2.0

    Wi-fi.


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