2090 Essay

  1. It makes increasingly less sense even to talk about a publishing industry, because the core problem publishing solves—the incredible difficulty, complexity, and expense of making something available to the public—has stopped being a problem.’ Are digital and networked media dismantling the “publishing industry”? Is it being replaced? If so, what is replacing it? If not, what is the publishing industry becoming, and how is it doing so? Are there new difficulties and complexities or expenses involved?

Digital and networked media are both an answer to the demise and the continuation of the publishing industry. The publishing industry is being dismantled as we know it but it is evolving. Publishing has always been a product of the technologies available – it’s efficiency solving the difficulty, expense and complexity is reliant upon the technology that makes that available. The Publishing industry thus evolves due to the changes in technology and as a response to the public demand. Through looking at the history of cinema and film distribution from the 20th century until now, this essay will explore the complexities that arise from an ever-changing publishing platform that is driven by technology and social needs and how that affects the hierarchies of publishing.

 

Television was to cinema as networked media is to content distribution. The history of cinema is short in terms of all the publishing methods humanity has to offer, but with the continual advancement of cinematic technology and distribution, history has already begun repeating itself.

 

From the creation of motion pictures from Edison’s short films with the creation of the Kinetoscope in America in 1893, to cinematograph patented by Lumiere brothers in France 1894, Hollywood had created an oligopoly in the motion picture industry by 1930. The whole world had a film industry but none were so successful as Hollywood was and still is today (to varying degrees), which can be accredited to their publishing techniques.

In the beginning of the new film technologies, inventors and early filmmakers sought to share their experimentations with film through already existing entertainment businesses. Film was the newcomer to the entertainment business and so had to adhere to the already existing hierarchy of the industry which meant having films exhibited in vaudeville shows and fairs. The popularity of these inventions led then to the nickelodeons, “that from 1905 to 1910 presenent hour-long all-movie shows; and it was the nickelodeon that formed the basis of the film industry that within a decade became Hollywood” (Gomery, 1998, p. 246).

It was clear that the public wanted cinema, and so it continued to evolve. Hollywood created the Studio System, a financially viable way of producing and distributing the complex technology of film for a profit.

Hollywood’s Big Five, the five most powerful and influential corporations, Paramount, Loew’s (MGM), Fox Film (later 20th Century Fox) Warner Bros., and RKO all used the process of vertical integration to secure their market. Between 1929 and 1948 the weekly motion picture attendance averaged at 85 million (Belton, 2013, p.322). The Big Five took up three quarters of the average box office receipts (Gomery, 1998, p.247) by block booking theatres so that only their films were shown for a number of weeks, before letting smaller theatre companies have the rights to show their films.

 

After World War II, the industry began to struggle. Hollywood had already lost its monopoly on distribution due to the Antitrust Paramount movement which decreed they could no longer use block booking but more importantly there was a change in technology and a change in social structures.

 

Hollywood was suddenly up against the demands of Television, which became the preferred American recreation. Due to the baby boom after 1949, Americans began to stay at home a lot more, move out of the inner cities and create family lives in suburban areas, away from the theatres.

The new technology of Television meant that families could stay at home with free entertainment, albeit funded by advertising. By 1960 90% of American home had televisions and this meant a change in the hierarchy of the entertainment industry.

Whilst the American masses were changing the way in which they spent their leisure time ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­– post world war 30 million americans took up gardening, the sale of power tools went up 700%, $21 million was spent on fishing licenses and $800 for sporting goods (Belton, 2013, p. 324) – Hollywood had to change the way it did its business.

Drive in movie theatres, 3D movies, Cinerama were all created to combat the television, to create a viewing experience that could only be had at the movies. Technology has thus been continually reinvented and improved so that previous publishing oligarchies could regain power but also, to suit the social needs of a nation, and also the world.

 

The Film Industry’s new challenge is the networked age. With the new technology of the Internet, the world has become increasingly more connected, a networked age that has lead to the ability for people to find and distribute their own information. What this globalization means for the industry can be summarized by Michel Bauwen’s analogy of the Roman Empire:

“For example, faced with an increasing crisis of extensive globalization, the Roman Empire could not longer afford the same kind of extensive militarization and coercive power which could maintain a slave-based system. Faced with structural crisis, and probably combined with a pressure from below in the form of slave revolts, some slave owners started their slaves into coloni, the earliest form of serfdom (a different process is also mentioned by historians, that of freeholders converting to serfdom). For slaves, this was undoubtedly an advance, as they could now have families, construct local communities, and only had to give part, instead of the totality, of their produce to the new domain lords. This new system, which created enhanced motivation, more autonomy and interest for innovation, was more productive than slavery.”

How does Social Change Occur: P2P Theory vs. Socialist Theory, 2009

We can use this analogy to describe the relationship with the Film Industry and Pirating communities. Due to the globalisation of the world, people are connected instantaneously over social networks, there is a new precedent for the speed in which we create and share content with eachother. Which means for the traditional forms of publishing and distribution, they have a new structural crisis in which their slaves, or consumers, are able to create their own content and share or they are able to circumnavigate the hierarchies and acquire the content they want. This would not be an issue if our modern day Romans evolved with the times and changed their distribution methods.

The new methods of peer-to-peer torrenting has created an interest for innovation, enhanced motivation and is more effective than the traditional methods of distribution. By using slow release methods of making content available only on certain platforms in certain mediums, such as a rental DVD that can only be leased in America and the UK, all those who are excluded from that opportunity can now find faster means to access that content.

Through the refusual to innovate earlier, torrenting and piracy has been pegged as an a corruption of an industry rather than the industry’s failure to evolve. The Film Industry is still operating of a free market basis, in which the values of capitalism are prescribed to, however the social and economic tide is shifting and it seems as though we are moving towards a more commons based society.

 

“A commons-based society holds considerable appeal for progressives after a long period in which the bulk of their political work has been in reaction to initiatives from the right. Activists across many social movements, now aware that an expansive political agenda will succeed better than narrow identity politics and single-issue crusades, are starting to experiment with the language and ideas of the commons. This line of thinking also makes sense to some traditional conservatives who regret the wanton destruction of our social and environmental assets carried out in the name of a free-market revolution. In the truest sense of the word, the commons is a conservative as well as progressive virtue because it aims to conserve and nurture all those things necessary for sustaining a healthy society.”

Jay Walljasper, The Commons Moment is Now, 2011

Through this rejection of an industry that is consumer based in old models of free market we are moving towards a commons ideal market where access to information, and entertainment, is shared freely. Though the old hierarchies will still resist.

Because of the inability to adapt to social demand and new technologies, we have seen many law suits taken up against BitTorrent, Mega Video Upload, The PirateBay, etc, due to Copyright Law infringement. Lawsuits have also been taken up against idividual torrentors, with the Film Industry often winning out, costing torrenting companies and individuals their money and their freedom. Yet these legal actions have not abated the trend of torrenting. In a recent case Lions Gate has filed for a restraining order on BitTorrent websites due to the torrenting of their film Expendables 3, requesting that “the Court enter a temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction and a permanent injunction … prohibiting Defendants [and others] from … hosting, linking to, distributing, reproducing, performing, selling, offering for sale, making available for download, streaming or making any other use of any copy or copies of the Stolen Film or any portion thereof in any form.” (IBT, 2014).

Yet this is in contention to the Pirate manifesto which states that:

  1. “ The right to property arises from within individuals, but the machinery which creates property is a social construction. Throughout time new forms of property have been developed, starting with nomads settling on land and continuing through shares in limited liability corporations, copyright and patents. Not one of these forms of property was an inherent right before the form of property was created: rather they are socially constructed expressions of a fundamental right to property, in the same way that a newspaper is a socially constructed expression of the right to free speech.

  1. In the long run, no form of property or rights is beyond our ambition. Copyright and patent are relatively young laws, in a state of flux because of new technology, and therefore are our first targets for radical sanity. However, it is not beyond imagination that Pirate policy may extend to all fundamental human rights and the environment given time. A learning approach to politics gives us time to work on what we are sure of now and develop a wider mandate in time.”

 

Bruce Sterling, And Yet Another Pirate Manifesto, 2009

 

As Bauwen’s has stated before, “fundamental change is only achieved by a congruence of change, both from the bottom and from the top, a double reconfiguration of classes to the new system” (2009), the fundamentals of both concepts of market and commons must be met, and perhaps has.

 

We are beginning to see a change in the way that the film industry is operating with the creation of sites such as Netflix and soon to be Australian answer Stan. By embracing the technology of P2P and streaming the industries are able to create a product that can be sold for money and can be distributed fairly and evenly. By opening up the market but still requesting a cost through these systems we could be seeing a creation of a new method of publishing filmic content. It is essential that there are reforms to copyright policy and distribution laws but what could be created is the prolonging of existing publishing industries under a new business model.

 

It is not the new networked era that is destroying the traditional publishing industries of old as they have never existed solely in one form. Along with social demand and the creation of new technologies, publishing industries are continuously reinventing themselves. The industry replaces itself with new versions of itself in response to societal and cultural changes.

 

References:

Gomery, D., “Hollywood as an Industry” in the Oxford Guide to  Film Studies, eds. John Hills and Pamela Church Gibson, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998, pp. 246-245

Belton, J., “Hollywood in the Age of Television”, American Cinema/American Culture, New York: McGraw Hill, 2013, pp. 3-40

Baweuns, M., How does Social Change Occur: P2P Theory vs. Socialist Theory, 2009

http://blog.p2pfoundation.net/how-does-real-change-occur-p2p-theory-vs-socialist-theory/2009/04/09 (last accessed 7/11/14)

Walljasper, J.,  The Commons Moment is Now, 2011

http://www.commondreams.org/views/2011/01/24/commons-moment-now (last accessed 7/11/14)

Sterling, B., And, Yet Another Pirate Manifesto, 2009

http://www.wired.com/2009/10/and-yet-another-pirate-manifesto (last accessed 7/11/14)

Varandani, S., ‘The Expendables 3’ Leak: LionsGate Takes Legal Action Against Torrent Sites, International Business Times, 2014

http://www.ibtimes.com/expendables-3-leak-lions-gate-takes-legal-action-against-torrent-sites-1646940 (last accessed 7/11/14)

 

Advertisements

Visualisations (week 9) ((very late))

what-is-an-infographic

 

The visualisation of raw data can bring understanding to concepts that may have been difficult to perceive beforehand. By making the “invisible visible” through visual representation of difficult concepts, we are able to more easily disseminate information to a wider audience.

Sometimes infographics can be created like the one above to represent data in a visually appealing way and present the data closer to its statistical nature. However sometimes it is just as effective to represent data in a symbolic way.

wpid-polarbear_450x450

From this article from Metro UK about the decline in population in Polar Bears and the US Government’s position on climate change, the concept of a critically endangered species is conveyed. The lone polar bear perched precariously on a small piece of ice is more effective in communicating the concept of climate change and its effects on the species than the raw statistics of climate change data juxtaposed with the the numbers of polar bears over the years.

This image may not be representationally accurate, out of frame there might be large masses of ice with more polar bears but the image has been framed and used in a way that it is symbolic of the nature of the concept of climate change. It is emotive rather than accurate but still serves as the same effect as perhaps an infographic would.

References:

Metrowebukmetro, “strugglung polar bears put on endangered list”, metro, may 15th 2008 [metro.co.uk/2008/05/15/struggling-polar-bears-put-on-endangered-list-137306/] last accessed 26/10/14

Culture and Data

Data is an essential part of culture, culture cultivates data and uses this data to inscribe meaning. Again I use the word meaning as I did in my last blog but it is intrinsic to understanding culture. The term Data Friction can be the processes that can make obtaining and culminating data difficult. Paul Edwards uses the example of scientists using global temperatures to track climate change. The difficulties they have faced has been the fact that there is not one standard for this collection of data, they would have to assimilate data from different metrics, different methods, or change platforms in which the data was collected. Climate change experts have been discredited by skeptics because of the nature of data friction, their argument being that they cant possibly conclude conclusive data as the methods around the would conflict.

This example calls for a standardization of data collection around the world, a change in the scientific culture that could lead to a better understanding of data itself and therefore science but that also effects the wider culture outside of the science world as the general public’s knowledge of climate is effected and can change publics behaviour.

Bibliography:

Edwards, Paul N. (2010) ‘Introduction’ in A Vast Machine: Computer Models, Climate Data, and the Politics of Global Warming Cambridge, MA: MIT Press: xiii-xvii

Distribution Aggregation and the Social

Because we live in flows, how we distribute and aggregate effects the social. As Dannah Boyd said “This idea suggests that you’re living in the stream: adding to it, consuming it, redirecting it” (2009). With an abundance of information to consume, it becomes vital to sort the information that is most relevant to us. More traditional forms of aggregation may be filing away important documents into a labelled folder, with each type of document – doctors letters, bills, receipts – in separate sections so that all the information is readily accessible but organised in a meaningful way. As the web becomes our most prevalent source of information these systems have to be put in place as otherwise information loses meaning as it can not be defined in its proper context. The consequences of having so much information available is also the demands of attention. Danah Boyd explains that while more people are able to add to the assemblage of information, attention is not divided equally. Hierarchies of attention are involved and one of the ways this is done is through aggregation. An example of online aggregation in the simplest forms is Facebook. The platform provides the ability to prioritise certain friends though categorizing them as aquaintences, friends, close friends or compiling other custom catagories. Notifications can then be received for those close friends and less notifications for those who are only aquaintences. Thereby directly affecting the social of our everyday lives. This example then becomes more complicated as Facebook algorithms try to predict what is deemed more relevant to you and what you want to consume on your feed, showing only what has the most likes, or showing things that can be monetized. This automatic aggregation can be slightly modified by choosing the “most recent” tab on the newsfeed options but it does serve as a possible issue of the future. By having our information aggregated for us ethics could be called into question as distributors have the ability to censor information.

What Is Implied by Living in a World of Flow, Hubert Guillaud, Truthout January 2010
http://truth-out.org/archive/component/k2/item/87704:what-is-implied-by-living-in-a-world-of-flow
last accessed 16/10/2014

Visualisation

Originally we thought we should choose to create a visualisation around ‘how’ a colourblind person would see the world day to day by comparing photoshopped images. However, we realised that this is a fairly common visualisation to find via a simple google search. Instead we chose to visualise the statistics around the prevalence of colourblindness, and we were shocked at how common it is.
The core of this assessment is to make the invisible, visible. Our research on colourblindness led us to colourblindawareness.org- this website provided an abundance of statistics from which we could construct our visualisation. The form which we thought our visualisation aligned with was a point of debate amongst our group. On one hand, our visualisation does represent scientific data. However we concluded that the form concerning the visualisation of science within the public sphere is more suited, as you do not need a scientific understanding to engage with our visualisation.
We chose this form specifically so that our visualisation would act as a point of engagement but also a medium through which we would inform the public about awareness of this condition- which effects more people than expected.

8% of men world wide are colour blind, to put this into context colourblindawareness,org uses an analogy : At an all-boys school with 1000 pupils would have approximately 100 colour deficient students. 12-13 would be deuteranopes, 12-13 would be protanopes, 12-13 would have a form of protanomaly and 62 would have a form of deuteranomaly.

This analogy does not explain that these percentages focus on the two different types of colour blindness.  Those with deuteranomaly and proanomaly have Anomalous Trichromacy, where the colour receptors are damaged and Deuternopes and Protanopes have a form of Dichromacy, in which a colour receptor is missing . So our diagram includes this information to avoid confusion.

100 in 1000 are effected.

About 25% will suffer from Dichromacy and about 75% will suffer from Anomalous Trichomacy

The percentages of those with Anomalous Trichomacy are:

62 would have a form of deuteranomaly (can see blue)

12-13 would have a form of protanomaly (reds can be mistaken for black)

The percentages of those who suffer from dichromacy are:

12-13 would be deuteranopes (can confuse blues with purples),

12-13 would be protanopes (everything seems red)

We chose to represent the analogy rather than raw statistics as the numbers were simplified but the scale and concept was still difficult to understand. To make this image we thought it would be best to represent the statistics with male figures as colour blindness is most prevalent in men. To better represent the sub divisions of colour blindness we chose to animate the transition of our images rather than try to make it all one image as there was a lot of information to visualize.

Unfortunately, as we made it ourselves in photoshop and prezi, scale was sacrificed so that the image was more representational.

When researching, designing and constructing our visualisation we came across a few issues, which placed limitations upon our visualisation. Firstly, as a result of extensive research we were left with an abundance of information and statistics- which made narrowing down what we wanted to include difficult. We though we had done well when we designed our first visualization, which included far more detailed statistics that we thought were necessary to increase the information our visualization communicated. To test the impact of our visualisation we showed it to a friend and received feedback concerning our visualisations complexity. It was then, that we decided to narrow it down even further by only focusing on the prevalence and the variations colour blindness. By simplifying the information we avoided confusion around that statistics, and stuck to our original goal of awareness as opposed to overloading information.

Prezi slides here: http://prezi.com/n_09w__q8gkt/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy

Attention Assemblage

Within 24/7 capitalism, a sociality outside of the individual self-interest becomes inexorably depleted, and the interhuman basis of public space is made irrelevant to one’s fantasmatic digital insularity.

Jonatan Crary 2013

Today’s current model for capitalism and information revolves around the theory of “24/7 temporality” (Crary, 2013), we have an abundance of information that is readily available for consumption outside of natural perceptions of time. It is understandable then that there might be a shift in the way that, what we could call the “business model” of the internet, would change, as values shift.

From this week’s readings I have gathered that the currency of the contemporary information age is based on old models of capitalism where information is exchanged for profit/information but that the way we understand profit is shifting. The intangible notion of Attention “can ground [as] an economy because it is a fundamental human desire and is intrinsically, unavoidably scarce” (Goldhaber, 1997).  The way that we consume information is informed by preexisting, or rather more traditional methods of consumption. Whilst new technologies change how much and when we access information, the question of why is informed by our public practices – what our friends and family are interested in and recommend, what is needed for work, etc. These are what draw our attention, the things that are important to the individual as informed by their public. The new Net economy would be to identify these informers of attention and marketing attention in return for attention.

But how does a capitalist regime of attention currency fit with the emergence of The Commons?

The Commons goals are “for large numbers of people of diverse ideological stripes” to come together to “chart a new, more cooperative direction for modern society.” A capitalist society depends on hierarchies of ideology, that commoditoes in demand are exclusive to only those who can afford them, to open the commodities up to the collective and share them freely would be a clash in ideals, essentially capitalism vs. communism.

The Commons transcend capitalism in a fourfold way: ending, fulfilling, preserving, elevating. They end the logics of exclusion of capitalism and replace them with inclusion as social principle. They fulfill the promises of individual unfolding of personality. They preserve meaningful achievements and products. They elevate human needs to the norm of societal mediation and its satisfaction to the meaning of societal life.

Stefan Merratz

It would seem the two concepts are fundamentally at odds and that the future economy of the Net can go either way. Unless hybridized.

Archive Fever

To think about the implications ofhaving an archive does open up deeper questions about the way that we publish, record,store and reuse information and how that effects society. 

Perhaps the ever growing number of social media sites exist because we are trying to find the best way in which we can record our personal history in a meaningful platform. The idea of having websites such as “facebook” which record your life chronologically but also encourage interactivity with other peoples personal databases is the future of archiving human history. Imagine a future where Facebook has combined with DropBox and the Cloud,so that we could access our personal information and files, anywhere and at any time, but it was also part of a larger network where everyones information was collected and stored, so that we could have ready access to personal records. A kind of WikiLeaks future, where the tonnes of information are not just government files but also archives on the self. 

“there is no archive without consignation in an external place which assures the possibility of memorization, of repetition, of reproduction, or of reimpression,” – Derrida

Is an online archive an external place? When somuch information is stored in one place and without a smart search engine to locate specific information, are we really creating archives which will allow us to memorise, repeat, reproduce or create new impressions from?