Category Archives: Lectures

Lecture Notes- IM1 Week 8

So the last time I did a lecture notes post was in week 4. There was the Easter break, I got sick and then I just avoided the online world in general for a few weeks, but I’m back now, so lets carry on with it.

This week’s lecture was a throwback to week one, we talked about industrial media, or heritage media again, this time in terms of scarcity.

First up, heritage media is capital intensive, requiring huge amounts of money to make media, after the upfront costs required to establish a media-making model. The consequence of this is that everything must be produced with the $return in mind. As Adrian says “advertising only works if people are watching”.

Heritage media celebrates scarcity (because it makes advertising spots worth more). Newspapers could print 1,000 pages daily instead of 50 but they don’t because not only would it make the actual paper hard to manage, but because nobody wants to pay $10 for the daily news, and the advertising spots would be worth less. Television can only play one thing at a time and so will put the popular shows on at times when they  know that the most people will be available to watch (hence making the advertising spots more valuable).

Because of this scarcity, heritage media can’t afford to take risks. If one outlet finds a new formula that makes a lot of money and draws a big audience (eg. Masterchef) then the other outlets will copy that format (eg. My Kitchen Rules) and so television becomes a sheep chasing sheep model.

Where’s the innovation there? There is only so much you can do, it’s like innovation in the car industry. You might update the engine, move the fins or add racing stripes, but a car will remain a vehicle with four wheels and an engine for a long, long time.

In the post-industrial media age (which we are entering into), scarcity is not valued. Access to the means of production has been flipped and there is no longer a huge financial barrier to set up a media institution (free blog anyone?). Adrian notes, “once you take scarcity away … everything else collapses” and so we are on the cusp, in the swamp between heritage media and new media. We are the one who have to figure out what that means, how we can make money (and meaning) from it, and where it all fits in this post-industrial media age. 

Pay attention to the things that push back…

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Lecture Notes- IM1 Week 4

This week’s lecture was question based. My favourite question was asked by Pete who wrote: “A friend of mine is debating internally whether this is an Arts course or not? How do you define the difference between an Arts degree and a Communication degree?”

The friend was me (despite the doctor jokes that were made during the lecture!). I have, for most of this semester now, been worried that I’m stuck in an Arts degree that’s masquerading as a Communication degree. Not helped by the fact that I’m studying modernist literature and post-modern philosophy. This worry was not assuaged when Adrian said, “You are in an arts course” followed shortly with, “It is an Arts degree”.

But! But, Adrian then went on to tell us that the difference between an Arts degree and a Communication degree is that a comms degree is much more constrained, more focused. And we talked about going into professional landscapes that are not causal, but are full of what-if?s and how-about?s and maybe?s. I think a more artsy style of degree will help me navigate such a professional landscape much more effectively than if I was studying a plainer, comms style degree.

So I feel better about being an Arts student now. Hurrah!

More interesting notes that I took from the lecture:

  • “We are now living in an environment of everyday media.”
  • This course is focused on getting us to become “network literate”.
  • Media is the new black (or the new engineering) – it’s the industry that’ll be running the world sooner rather than later… perhaps it already is. “It’s all media”.
  • “The ability to earn an income from your professional practice is declining.” The problem is “how do I get people to pay me to make stuff?”

photo (11)

iPads are changing the way that media is consumed. It’s no longer the “spectacle” that cinema is, and it’s not the social activity that watching TV is, it’s something more like a novel, more personal, more intimate…

Finally, a note on stories. The web, according to Adrian, is not about story telling. He says there is no story in twitter, or on a blog. He wants us to move away from the hegemony of narrative because media can be other (remember week 1? Dirty, messy noisy, other?). There are other ways of making that make sense and meaning that don’t require narrative.

Lecture Notes- IM1 Week 2

This weeks lecture was “thick” with context and back story and connecting ideas.  We spent most of the lecture discussing “units”. Some points I took from the ideas about units:

  • Units are thing/collections of things.
  • Units are self contained and can be part of bigger units.
  • Units have no preferred scale.
  • The important thing about units is the relationships between them.

Adrian gave the example of himself as a unit. Within the unit of self we have biological units, and we ourselves make up a part of external units as well:

Self Unit

Are we any one part of the units that make us? Or are we all the parts combined? After all can we say any one of the units that make us up contain our essence? Or do any of the units that we make up give us our essence? Or can we say all of the parts are but then become ourselves infinite?

“What happens if we shift the point of view?”

If external relations between the units can offer us different points of view, and these points of view become the centre instead of “us”… then “the world becomes a different thing.”

We are not

Just as the world was once considered the centre of the universe, so we consider ourselves the centre of our own universe.

Centre

The questions then is, “Why do I think I’m in charge?”.

“Things exist in relations. Relations are outside of things. Relations constitute how things matter”.

Adrien said to us, “You are media students in the middle of a communications technology revolution, why do you think there is an edge?” Objects (like smart phones as an example) have no edges anymore. They’re physically designed in one place, made in another, marketed and sold in yet another. They can be used to access information, media, entertainment from anywhere in the world. They’re linked to phone companies, the internet, bluetooth, infared, networks and more.

There are no edges.

Blogs don’t have edges either. Where does my blog end when my posts can be reposted on other blogs, I can be linked to from anywhere (outside of my control too!), anybody can leave a comment and I can link to content that isn’t mine.

“This is relational media”, and the importance lies in the relationships between the units.

Lecture Notes- IM1 Week 1

The first thing I wrote down from this lecture was “do cool things”, which, I think, is a pretty awesome way to start a semester.

Things that caught my eye/ears:

  • Looking at the web not as a place to publish, but as a place to make, create and interact.
  • No distinction between theory and practice, they are one. Learn by doing. “If you’re not thing of your making in the moment of making, you’re naive.”
  • Professional does not equal money, it equals experience and awareness about the artifact you’re creating.
  • Digital natives are not necessarily sophisticated digital citizens. In fact, digital immigrants are likely to have have more sophistaction if because they have experience with how digital stuff works, rather than why.

Actually, I want to expand on that last point a little. I first learnt of the terms “digital native” and “digital immigrant” when I was studying primary education. As pre-service teachers, we were told that all our future students would be digital natives and if we didn’t use technology to capture and hold their attention in class, they’d quickly lose interest in learning because they are used to being entertained with the push of a button. I never really liked this idea, and it bothered me that we were being taught that these kids would know more about technology than us, or even our parents. I have to say, my dad is technically old enough to be classified as a “digital immigrant” but he is easily a much more sophisticated digital citizen than I am. When Adrian explained the sophisticated citizen part, that made so much sense to me. And I never really like the terms digital native/immigrant anyway!

I like that there’s no road map for this course, it’s instead going to be a mix of making, thinking and learning, with our learning and questions sometimes determining which way we go at a crossroads.

learn-make-think

Some notes on sketch videos:

  • Use ready-to-hand technology, publish online, critique in class, make several per week.
  • Treat them like words: cheap and free!
  • Think of why writers have notebooks, and artists sketch. Learn by doing and doing and doing.
  • Shift thinking from big monuments and statement pieces to sketches and quiet observation, from imposing to listening, from naive to informed.

And finally, a few words about industrial media vs post-industrial media. We will be working in a post-industrial media landscape when we graduate and should think of ourselves as “the engineering media practitioners of the future”. The world is moving from a media that is clean, tidy, quiet, same to a media that disrupts all these notions of what media is. It is becoming dirty, messy, noisy, other.

Same vs Other