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Birding gets new life in this YouTube nature series - The Verge
"Jason Ward brings the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it world of birding to YouTube in the new video series, Birds of North America. The series follows Ward as he tracks birds through New York’s Central Park, talks bird-themed tattoos, and studies the preserved remains of extinct birds at the American Museum of Natural History.

The video series is only three episodes into season 1’s 12-episode run, and it’s hosted on the YouTube channel of digital storytelling brand Topic.com. In the videos, the camera shakes as it chases Ward to bird sightings, where Ward brings a lively approach to what’s often stereotyped as a stodgy pastime. Ward compares speedy peregrine falcons to sky Lamborghinis, and the hard-to-describe call of the rose-breasted grosbeak to the squeak of a basketball shoe on hardwood. The camera alternates between views of Ward, and his views of tiny birds hiding in branches.

Ward’s view of nature isn’t all peaceful bird-watching. “People occasionally think we live in this Disney-inspired world, where all the songbirds are just singing and getting along,” he says. “But no, these birds are all attacking each other.” Raptors eat smaller birds, songbirds shove each other off food sources, and hummingbirds? “Hummingbirds will attack everything,” he says."
jasonward  birds  birding  youtube  television  animals  multispecies  nature  2019 
21 days ago by robertogreco
The UX design case of closed captions for everyone // Sebastian Greger
"Are video subtitles really chiefly for users who cannot hear or lack an audio device? A recent Twitter thread on “closed captions for the hearing” triggered a brief qualitative exploration and thought experiment – there may well be a growing group of users being forgotten in the design of closed captions.

Most commonly perceived as an auxiliary means for the hearing impaired, video subtitles, a.k.a. closed captions (CC), have only recently started to be widely considered as an affordance for users in situations with no audio available/possible (think mobile devices in public settings, libraries, shared office spaces); the latter to the extend that contemporary “social media marketing guidelines” strongly recommend subtitling video clips uploaded to Facebook, Twitter et al.

So: subtitles are for those who cannot hear, or with muted devices?

Who else uses closed captions?

I’m personally a great fan of closed captions, for various reasons unrelated to either of the above, and have often noticed certain limitations in their design. Hence, the user researcher inside me just did a somersault as I randomly encountered a Twitter thread [https://twitter.com/jkottke/status/1091338252475396097 ] following Jason Kottke asking his 247.000 followers:
After seeing several photos my (English-speaking, non-deaf) friends have taken of their TV screens over the past week, I’m realizing that many of you watch TV with closed captions (or subtitles) on?! Is this a thing? And if so, why?

The 150+ replies (I guess this qualifies as a reasonable sample for a qualitative analysis of sorts?) are a wonderful example of “accessibility features” benefiting everybody (I wrote about another instance recently [https://sebastiangreger.net/2018/11/twitter-alt-texts-on-db-trains/ ]). The reasons why people watch TV with closed captions on, despite having good hearing abilities and not being constrained by having to watch muted video, are manifold and go far beyond those two most commonly anticipated use cases.

[image: Close-up image of a video with subtitles (caption: "Closed captions are used by people with good hearing and audio playback turned on. An overseen use case?")]

Even applying a rather shallow, ex-tempore categorisation exercise based on the replies on Twitter, I end up with an impressive list to start with:

• Permanent difficulties with audio content
◦ audio processing disorders
◦ short attention span (incl., but not limited to clinical conditions)
◦ hard of hearing, irrespective of age
• Temporary impairments of hearing or perception
◦ watching under the influence of alcohol
◦ noise from eating chips while watching
• Environmental/contextual factors
◦ environment noise from others in the room (or a snoring dog)
◦ distractions and multitasking (working out, child care, web browsing, working, phone calls)
• Reasons related to the media itself
◦ bad audio levels of voice vs. music
• Enabler for improved understanding
◦ easier to follow dialogue
◦ annoyance with missing dialogue
◦ avoidance of misinterpretations
◦ better appreciation of dialogue
• Better access to details
◦ able to take note of titles of songs played
◦ ability to understand song lyrics
◦ re-watching to catch missed details
• Language-related reasons
◦ strong accents
◦ fast talking, mumbling
◦ unable to understand foreign language
◦ insecurity with non-native language
• Educational goals, learning and understanding
◦ language learning
◦ literacy development for children
◦ seeing the spelling of unknown words/names
◦ easier memorability of content read (retainability)
• Social reasons
◦ courtesy to others, either in need for silence or with a need/preference for subtitles
◦ presence of pets or sleeping children
◦ avoiding social conflict over sound level or distractions (“CC = family peace”)
• Media habits
◦ ability to share screen photos with text online
• Personal preferences
◦ preference for reading
◦ acquired habit
• Limitations of technology skills
◦ lack of knowledge of how to turn them off

An attempt at designerly analysis

The reasons range from common sense to surprising, such as the examples of closed captions used to avoid family conflict or the two respondents explicitly mentioning “eating chips” as a source of disturbing noise. Motivations mentioned repeatedly refer to learning and/or understanding, but also such apparently banal reasons like not knowing how to turn them off (a usability issue?). Most importantly, though, it becomes apparent that using CC is more often than not related to choice/preference, rather than to impairment or restraints from using audio.

At the same time, it becomes very clear that not everybody likes them, especially when forced to watch with subtitles by another person. The desire/need of some may negatively affect the experience of others present. A repeat complaint that, particularly with comedy, CC can kill the jokes may also hint at the fact that subtitles and their timing could perhaps be improved by considering them as more than an accessibility aid for those who would not hear the audio? (It appears as if the scenario of audio and CC consumed simultaneously is not something considered when subtitles are created and implemented; are we looking at another case for “exclusive design”?)

And while perceived as distracting when new – this was the starting point of Kottke’s Tweet – many of the comments share the view that it becomes less obtrusive over time; people from countries where TV is not dubbed in particular are so used to it they barely notice it (“becomes second nature”). Yet, there are even such interesting behaviours like people skipping back to re-read a dialogue they only listened to at first, as well as that of skipping back to be able to pay better attention to the picture at second view (e.g. details of expression) after reading the subtitles initially.

Last but not least, it is interesting how people may even feel shame over using CC. Only a conversation like the cited Twitter thread may help them realise that it is much more common than they thought. And most importantly that it has nothing to do with a perceived stigmatisation of being “hard of hearing”.

CC as part of video content design

The phenomenon is obviously not new. Some articles on the topic suggest that it is a generational habit [https://medium.com/s/the-upgrade/why-gen-z-loves-closed-captioning-ec4e44b8d02f ] of generation Z (though Kottke’s little survey proves the contrary), or even sees [https://www.wired.com/story/closed-captions-everywhere/ ] it as paranoid and obsessive-compulsive behaviour of “postmodern completists” as facilitated by new technological possibilities. Research on the benefits of CC for language learning, on the other hand, reaches back [https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/19388078909557984 ] several decades.

No matter what – the phenomenon in itself is interesting enough to make this a theme for deeper consideration in any design project that contains video material. Because, after all, one thing is for sure: closed captions are not for those with hearing impairments or with muted devices alone – and to deliver great UX, these users should be considered as well."
closedcaptioning  subtitles  closedcaptions  text  reading  genz  generationz  audio  video  tv  film  dialogue  listening  howweread  2019  sebastiangreger  literacy  language  languages  ux  ui  television  ocd  attention  adhd  languagelearning  learning  howwelearn  processing  hearing  sound  environment  parenting  media  multimedia  clarity  accents  memory  memorization  children  distractions  technology  classideas 
25 days ago by robertogreco
Why Gen Z Loves Closed Captioning – The Upgrade – Medium
"Old technology finds a surprising new application

“Everyone does it.”

These were the words from my college-aged daughter when I caught her lounging on our couch, streaming Friends with 24-point closed captioning on. She has no hearing impairment, and I wanted to know what she was up to.

Does “everyone” do it? My wife and I turned to Facebook and a private, nationwide group for parents with near-adult children. “Anyone else’s college student (without a hearing disability) watch TV with the closed captioning on and insist that everyone does it?” my wife posted. Seven hundred responses (and counting) later, we had our answer.

“It helps me with my ADHD: I can focus on the words, I catch things I missed, and I never have to go back.”
Many parents expressed similar confusion with the TV-watching habits of their millennial and Gen Z children, often followed with, “I thought it was just us.”

I returned to my daughter, who had now switched to the creepy Lifetime import You.

“Why do you have captions on?” I asked.

“It helps me with my ADHD: I can focus on the words, I catch things I missed, and I never have to go back,” she replied. “And I can text while I watch.”

My multitasking daughter used to watch TV while working on her laptop and texting or FaceTiming on her phone. She kept rewinding the DVR to catch the last few minutes she’d missed because she either zoned out or was distracted by another screen.

Her response turned out to be even more insightful than I realized at first. A number of mental health experts I spoke with — and even one study I found — supported the notion that watching with closed captioning serves a valuable role for those who struggle with focus and listening.

“I do see this a lot in my practice,” said Dr. Andrew Kent, an adolescent psychiatrist practicing in New York and Medical Director of New York START, Long Island. “I believe auditory processing is more easily impacted upon by distractions, and that they need to read [captions] to stay focused.”

Closed captioning is a relatively recent development in the history of broadcasting, and it was designed with the hearing impaired in mind. According to a useful history on the National Captioning Institute’s (NCI) website, the technology dates back to the early 1970s, when Julia Child’s The French Chef “made history as the first television program accessible to deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers.” Real-time captioning arrived later, with stenographers typing at a blazing 250 words-per-minute to keep up with live news and sporting events.

They use captions to focus more intently on the content.
If it wasn’t for the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 and additional rules adopted by the FCC in 2012, it’s unlikely my daughter’s IP-based Netflix streaming content would even have closed captioning options today.

While the NCI doesn’t explicitly acknowledge the growing use of closed captioning by those without hearing impairments, it does note that “closed captioning has grown from an experimental service intended only for people who are deaf to a truly global communications service that touches the lives of millions of people every day in vital ways.”

It’s certainly not just a phenomenon for young people. There are many people my age who admit to using them because they have some middle-aged hearing loss or simply need help understanding what the characters on Luther or Peaky Blinders are saying. They use captions to focus more intently on the content.

The need to read captions for what you can hear might even have a biological base. According to Dr. Sudeepta Varma, a psychiatrist at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, some people may have trouble processing the audio from television.

“I believe that there are a number of individuals who have ADHD who may also suffer from undiagnosed auditory processing disorder (APD), and for these individuals… this may be very helpful,” Dr. Varma told me via email. Closed captioning can provide the visual cues that APD sufferers need to overcome their issues with listening and comprehension, she added.

APD refers to how the brain processes auditory information, and though it supposedly only affects around 5 percent of school-age children, there’s reportedly been a significant uptick in overall awareness. As Dr. Varma pointed out, there may be a lot of people who don’t realize they have APD, but are aware of some of the symptoms, which include being bothered by loud noises, difficulty focusing in loud environments, and forgetfulness.

There may be applications in the classroom, too. In a 2015 study of 2,800 college-age students on the impact of closed captioning on video learning, 75 percent of respondents mentioned that they struggle with paying attention in class. “The most common reasons students used captions… was to help them focus,” Dr. Katie Linder, the research director at Oregon State University who led the study, told me.

And even four years ago, there were hints that the use of closed captioning as a focusing tool would bleed outside the classroom.

As a report on the study put it, “Several people in this study also mentioned that they use captions all the time, not just for their learning experience. Captions with Netflix was mentioned multiple times. So, we know that students are engaging with them outside of the classroom.”

When the NCI first co-developed closed captioning technology some 50 years ago, they called it “words worth watching,” and it did transform millions of lives. Today, we may be witnessing — or reading — a similar revolution."
closedcaptioning  subtitles  closedcaptions  text  reading  genz  generationz  audio  video  tv  film  dialogue  listening  howweread  2019  lanceulnoff  television  adhd  attention  classideas 
25 days ago by robertogreco
Silicon Valley Nannies Are Phone Police for Kids - The New York Times
[This is one of three connected articles:]

"Silicon Valley Nannies Are Phone Police for Kids
Child care contracts now demand that nannies hide phones, tablets, computers and TVs from their charges."
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/26/style/silicon-valley-nannies.html

"The Digital Gap Between Rich and Poor Kids Is Not What We Expected
America’s public schools are still promoting devices with screens — even offering digital-only preschools. The rich are banning screens from class altogether."
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/26/style/digital-divide-screens-schools.html

"A Dark Consensus About Screens and Kids Begins to Emerge in Silicon Valley
“I am convinced the devil lives in our phones.”"
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/26/style/phones-children-silicon-valley.html

[See also:
"What the Times got wrong about kids and phones"
https://www.cjr.org/criticism/times-silicon-valley-kids.php

https://twitter.com/edifiedlistener/status/1058438953299333120
"Now that I've had a chance to read this article [specifically: "The Digital Gap Between Rich and Poor Kids Is Not What We Expected"] and some others related to children and screen time and the wealthy and the poor, I have some thoughts. 1/

First, this article on the unexpected digital divide between rich and poor seems entirely incomplete. There is an early reference to racial differences in screen usage but in the article there are no voices of black or brown folks that I could detect. 2/

We are told a number of things: Wealthy parents are shunning screens in their children's lives, psychologists underscore the addictive nature of screen time on kids, and of course, whatever the short end of the stick is - poor kids get that. 3/

We hear "It could happen that the children of poorer and middle-class parents will be raised by screens," while wealthy kids will perhaps enjoy "wooden toys and the luxury of human interaction." 4/

Think about that and think about the stories that have long been told about poor families, about single parents, about poor parents of color - They aren't as involved in their kids' education, they are too busy working. Familiar stereotypes. 5/

Many of these judgments often don't hold up under scrutiny. So much depends upon who gets to tell those stories and how those stories are marketed, sold and reproduced. 6/

In this particular story about the privilege of being able to withdraw from or reduce screen time, we get to fall back into familiar narratives especially about the poor and non-elite. 7/

Of course those with less will be told after a time by those with much more - "You're doing it wrong." And "My child will be distinguished by the fact that he/she/they is not dependent on a device for entertainment or diversion." 8/

My point is not that I doubt the risks and challenges of excessive screen time for kids and adults. Our dependence on tech *is* a huge social experiment and the outcomes are looking scarier by the day. 9/

I do, however, resist the consistent need of the wealthy elite to seek ways to maintain their distance to the mainstream. To be the ones who tell us what's "hot, or not" - 10/

Chris Anderson points out "“The digital divide was about access to technology, and now that everyone has access, the new digital divide is limiting access to technology,” - 11/

This article and its recent close cousins about spying nannies in SV & more elite parent hand wringing over screen in the NYT feel like their own category of expensive PR work - again allowing SV to set the tone. 12/

It's not really about screens or damage to children's imaginations - it's about maintaining divides, about insuring that we know what the rich do (and must be correct) vs what the rest of us must manage (sad, bad). 13/fin]
siliconvalley  edtech  children  technology  parenting  2018  nelliebowles  addiction  psychology  hypocrisy  digitaldivide  income  inequality  ipads  smartphones  screentime  schools  education  politics  policy  rules  childcare  policing  surveillance  tracking  computers  television  tv  tablets  phones  mobile  teaching  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  anyakamenetz  sherrispelic 
october 2018 by robertogreco
We interrupt this broadcast
"Between 1975 and 1982, The Open University broadcast a series of televised courses on the genealogy of the modern movement: A305, History of Architecture and Design 1890–1939. We have asked Charlotte Lydia Riley, Owen Hatherley, and Jonathan Bignell to watch the course television programmes with us. They interrupted them to add context for a contemporary audience, from the perspective of history, architecture, and media studies. Their live annotations invite a reflection on the timeliness of authoring new histories and what it means to disseminate these histories in an always-particular moment in time."
1970s  1980s  massmedia  television  tv  video  towatch  annotation  charlottelydiariley  owenhatherley  jonathanbignell  architecture  history  mediastudies  media  modernism  design 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Michael Wesch – Unboxing Stories on Vimeo
"2015 Future of StoryTelling Summit Speaker: Michael Wesch, Cultural Anthropologist

A pioneer in digital ethnography, Dr. Michael Wesch studies how our changing media is altering human interaction. As an anthropologist in Papua New Guinea, Wesch saw firsthand how oral storytelling worked for much of human civilization: It was a group activity that rewarded participation, transformed our perceptions, and created a changing flow of stories across generations. Reading and writing replaced oral storytelling with linear, fixed stories. Upon returning from Papua New Guinea, Wesch created the 2007 viral video hit Web 2.0...The Machine Is Us/ing Us, about the Internet's effects on our culture. At FoST, he’ll explore how our evolution from a literate culture to a digital one can return us to collaborative storytelling, resulting in a more engaged, participatory, and connected society."
michaelwesch  stories  storytelling  anthropology  2015  papuanewguinea  humans  civilization  perception  connection  participation  spontaneity  immersion  religion  involvement  census  oraltradition  oral  wikipedia  society  web2.0  media  particiption  conversation  television  tv  generations  neilpostman  classideas  web  online  socialmedia  alonetogether  suburbs  history  happenings  confusion  future  josephcampbell  life  living  meaning  meaningmaking  culture  culturlanthropology  srg 
april 2018 by robertogreco
9 Sitcoms Representing Today's America To Watch Instead Of 'Roseanne'
"black-ish**
One Day at a Time**
On My Block*
Fresh Off the Boat**
The Good Place*
Brooklyn Nine-Nine**
Speechless**
The Mayor*
The Carmichael Show*"

[*watched all of these
**watched a bunch of these]
television  tv  towatch  diversity  families  sitcoms  comedy 
april 2018 by robertogreco
OCCULTURE: 52. John Michael Greer in “The Polymath” // Druidry, Storytelling & the History of the Occult
"The best beard in occultism, John Michael Greer, is in the house. We’re talking “The Occult Book”, a collection of 100 of the most important stories and anecdotes from the history of the occult in western society. We also touch on the subject of storytelling as well as some other recent material from John, including his book “The Coelbren Alphabet: The Forgotten Oracle of the Welsh Bards” and his translation of a neat little number called “Academy of the Sword”."



"What you contemplate [too much] you imitate." [Uses the example of atheists contemplating religious fundamentalists and how the atheists begin acting like them.] "People always become what they hate. That’s why it's not good idea to wallow in hate."
2017  johnmichaelgreer  druidry  craft  druids  polymaths  autodidacts  learning  occulture  occult  ryanpeverly  celts  druidrevival  history  spirituality  thedivine  nature  belief  dogma  animism  practice  life  living  myths  mythology  stories  storytelling  wisdom  writing  howwewrite  editing  writersblock  criticism  writer'sblock  self-criticism  creativity  schools  schooling  television  tv  coelbrenalphabet  1980s  ronaldreagan  sustainability  environment  us  politics  lies  margaretthatcher  oraltradition  books  reading  howweread  howwelearn  unschooling  deschooling  facetime  social  socializing  cardgames  humans  human  humanism  work  labor  boredom  economics  society  suffering  misery  trapped  progress  socialmedia  computing  smarthphones  bullshitjobs  shinto  talismans  amulets  sex  christianity  religion  atheism  scientism  mainstream  counterculture  magic  materialism  enlightenment  delusion  judgement  contemplation  imitation  fundamentalism  hate  knowledge 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Ask Dr. Time: Orality and Literacy from Homer to Twitter
"So, as to the original question: are Twitter and texting new forms of orality? I have a simple answer and a complex one, but they’re both really the same.

The first answer is so lucid and common-sense, you can hardly believe that it’s coming from Dr. Time: if it’s written, it ain’t oral. Orality requires speech, or song, or sound. Writing is visual. If it’s visual and only visual, it’s not oral.

The only form of genuine speech that’s genuinely visual and not auditory is sign language. And sign language is speech-like in pretty much every way imaginable: it’s ephemeral, it’s interactive, there’s no record, the signs are fluid. But even most sign language is at least in part chirographic, i.e., dependent on writing and written symbols. At least, the sign languages we use today: although our spoken/vocal languages are pretty chirographic too.

Writing, especially writing in a hyperliterate society, involves a transformation of the sensorium that privileges vision at the expense of hearing, and privileges reading (especially alphabetic reading) over other forms of visual interpretation and experience. It makes it possible to take in huge troves of information in a limited amount of time. We can read teleprompters and ticker-tape, street signs and medicine bottles, tweets and texts. We can read things without even being aware we’re reading them. We read language on the move all day long: social media is not all that different.

Now, for a more complicated explanation of that same idea, we go back to Father Ong himself. For Ong, there’s a primary orality and a secondary orality. The primary orality, we’ve covered; secondary orality is a little more complicated. It’s not just the oral culture of people who’ve got lots of experience with writing, but of people who’ve developed technologies that allow them to create new forms of oral communication that are enabled by writing.

The great media forms of secondary orality are the movies, television, radio, and the telephone. All of these are oral, but they’re also modern media, which means the media reshapes it in its own image: they squeeze your toothpaste through its tube. But they’re also transformative forms of media in a world that’s dominated by writing and print, because they make it possible to get information in new ways, according to new conventions, and along different sensory channels.

Walter Ong died in 2003, so he never got to see social media at its full flower, but he definitely was able to see where electronic communications was headed. Even in the 1990s, people were beginning to wonder whether interactive chats on computers fell under Ong’s heading of “secondary orality.” He gave an interview where he tried to explain how he saw things — as far as I know, relatively few people have paid attention to it (and the original online source has sadly linkrotted away):
“When I first used the term ‘secondary orality,’ I was thinking of the kind of orality you get on radio and television, where oral performance produces effects somewhat like those of ‘primary orality,’ the orality using the unprocessed human voice, particularly in addressing groups, but where the creation of orality is of a new sort. Orality here is produced by technology. Radio and television are ‘secondary’ in the sense that they are technologically powered, demanding the use of writing and other technologies in designing and manufacturing the machines which reproduce voice. They are thus unlike primary orality, which uses no tools or technology at all. Radio and television provide technologized orality. This is what I originally referred to by the term ‘secondary orality.’

I have also heard the term ‘secondary orality’ lately applied by some to other sorts of electronic verbalization which are really not oral at all—to the Internet and similar computerized creations for text. There is a reason for this usage of the term. In nontechnologized oral interchange, as we have noted earlier, there is no perceptible interval between the utterance of the speaker and the hearer’s reception of what is uttered. Oral communication is all immediate, in the present. Writing, chirographic or typed, on the other hand, comes out of the past. Even if you write a memo to yourself, when you refer to it, it’s a memo which you wrote a few minutes ago, or maybe two weeks ago. But on a computer network, the recipient can receive what is communicated with no such interval. Although it is not exactly the same as oral communication, the network message from one person to another or others is very rapid and can in effect be in the present. Computerized communication can thus suggest the immediate experience of direct sound. I believe that is why computerized verbalization has been assimilated to secondary ‘orality,’ even when it comes not in oral-aural format but through the eye, and thus is not directly oral at all. Here textualized verbal exchange registers psychologically as having the temporal immediacy of oral exchange. To handle [page break] such technologizing of the textualized word, I have tried occasionally to introduce the term ‘secondary literacy.’ We are not considering here the production of sounded words on the computer, which of course are even more readily assimilated to ‘secondary orality’” (80-81).

So tweets and text messages aren’t oral. They’re secondarily literate. Wait, that sounds horrible! How’s this: they’re artifacts and examples of secondary literacy. They’re what literacy looks like after television, the telephone, and the application of computing technologies to those communication forms. Just as orality isn’t the same after you’ve introduced writing, and manuscript isn’t the same after you’ve produced print, literacy isn’t the same once you have networked orality. In this sense, Twitter is the necessary byproduct of television.

Now, where this gets really complicated is with stuff like Siri and Alexa, and other AI-driven, natural-language computing interfaces. This is almost a tertiary orality, voice after texting, and certainly voice after interactive search. I’d be inclined to lump it in with secondary orality in that broader sense of technologically-mediated orality. But it really does depend how transformative you think client- and cloud-side computing, up to and including AI, really are. I’m inclined to say that they are, and that Alexa is doing something pretty different from what the radio did in the 1920s and 30s.

But we have to remember that we’re always much more able to make fine distinctions about technology deployed in our own lifetime, rather than what develops over epochs of human culture. Compared to that collision of oral and literate cultures in the Eastern Mediterranean that gave us poetry, philosophy, drama, and rhetoric in the classical period, or the nexus of troubadours, scholastics, printers, scientific meddlers and explorers that gave us the Renaissance, our own collision of multiple media cultures is probably quite small.

But it is genuinely transformative, and it is ours. And some days it’s as charming to think about all the ways in which our heirs will find us completely unintelligible as it is to imagine the complex legacy we’re bequeathing them."
2018  timcarmody  classics  homer  literature  poetry  literacy  orality  odyssey  walterong  secondaryorality  writing  texting  sms  twitter  socialmedia  technology  language  communication  culture  oraltradition  media  film  speech  signlanguage  asl  tv  television  radio  telephones  phones 
january 2018 by robertogreco
IsumaTV
"About us

IsumaTV is a collaborative multimedia platform for indigenous filmmakers and media organizations. Each user can design their own space, or channel, to reflect their own identity, mandate and audience.

Indigenous media organizations can operate their own state-of-the-art media site, under their own design and URL, and at the same time share IsumaTV’s sophisticated back end infrastructure, without needing to re-invent the digital wheel.

The collective platform currently carries over 6000 videos, and thousands of other images and audio files, in more than 80 different languages, on 800+ user-controlled channels, representing cultures and media organizations from Canada, U.S.A., Greenland, Norway, Sweden, Russia, Australia, New Zealand and all over Latin America.

Users can register and open their own channels, upload videos as well as photos and audio files, share text posts and attach images or PDF files for download, upload multiple videos via FTP or email, embed on other websites, and distribute as downloadable podcasts.

Oral Languages Online

IsumaTV honours oral languages. We use less text for navigating our platform. We use icons and color-coded language to be user-friendly to oral cultures online.

IsumaTV’s main menu options are provided in Inuktitut Roman, Inuktitut Syllabic, English, French and Spanish. Content is in more than 80 languages. Our politics emphasize oral Inuktitut uploads rather than syllabic texts.

Contact us if you want IsumaTV main menu options to be in your language.

IsumaTV in Remote Indigenous Communities

By installing IsumaTV Mediaplayers in remote communities, IsumaTV has created an independent distribution network, allowing isolated communities in the world to interact at high-speed with other people worldwide, by contributing their own media content, and having access to the existing media on IsumaTV.

Indigenous communities worldwide face loss of language and traditional knowledge.

Foreign language media overload is only speeding-up this process.

New media democratization allows new groups of people to have access to media tools that were initially exclusive to them. People can use media to recover language and indigenous traditional strengths, and transform these into contemporary strengths.

IsumaTV is available to anyone with an Internet connection and a computer or mobile device. Unfortunately, most indigenous communities do not have sufficient internet bandwidth access, to view and upload multimedia, at full quality and speed.

The IsumaTV Mediaplayer is designed to allow remote communities to participate equally in a world driven by media, in their own language and in the immediacy of our times.

You can read more about the IsumaTV Mediaplayer technology here.

Our Story

IsumaTV is a project of Isuma Distribution International Inc., Canada's first media distribution company specializing in Inuit and Aboriginal films. IsumaTV was launched in January 2008 with programming from a coalition of independent producers and non-profit partners, including: Igloolik Isuma Productions, (producers of the award-winning Inuit-language Fast Runner Trilogy: Atanarjuat The Fast Runner, The Journals of Knud Rasmussen, and Before Tomorrow); Nunavut Independent TV Network (NITV); Arnait Video Productions; Artcirq; ImagineNATIVE Film+Media Arts Festival; Vtape; Native Communications Society of the NWT (producers of the historic TV series Our Dene Elders); and other non-profit agencies.

For information contact us at info@isuma.tv"
inuit  video  indigenous  media  oral  oralcultures  inuktitut  towatch  television  tv  multimedia 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Land of the Lustrous - Wikipedia
[via: "‘Land of the Lustrous’ is the Most Visually Interesting Show In Ages"
https://medium.com/@carolgrantr/land-of-the-lustrous-is-the-most-visually-interesting-show-in-ages-fbef949e9dca

"Few cinematic works really capture the horror and beauty of what it means to inhabit a body. Most recent to come to mind is Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin, a meditation on the ways bearing a human, female body fundamentally changes you and how you move through the world. And now there’s Takahiko Kyogoku’s Land of the Lustrous, adapted from Haruko Ichikawa’s manga of the same name, about the beauty and agony of inhabiting any body to begin with."



"Speaking of the body as ultimate totem to one’s self, the Gems are depicted as genderless and speak to each other with they/them pronouns. Many of their features are very femme, and they’re voiced by cisgender female actresses, yet they distinctly lack breasts and (presumably) reproductive organs. Their very design, like most elements of the show, is meant to exist in a state of inbetween, of non-binary. Despite being about the inseparability of the Ghost with the Shell, the presentation of bodies (and gender) is as fluid as it is weighty — like Cinnabar’s swirling mercury droplets — and it only adds to the unique physicality of their movements. Like everything else in Lustrous, these elements contradict each other, yet the show lives and breathes comfortably within the blur of those lines.

The shots that frame these bodies also contribute to their deeply physical presence in Lustrous’s environs. Unlike most of the American “Peak TV” shows that imitate Kubrick’s penchant for symmetrical compositions and negative space, Lustrous’s framing is always emotionally clear and concise. While these shots certainly assist with the uniquely cryptic mood and atmosphere, they’re first and foremost about the characters they’re framing, and their positions in the desolate world of the show."]
srg  manga  towatch  anime  cgi  television  tv  film  body  bodies  gender  inbetween  betweenness  non-binary 
november 2017 by robertogreco
The Transformative Experience of Writing for “Sense8” | The New Yorker
"A large number of the American writers I know, and I know a few, are involved in writing or developing long-form narrative television. One reason for this was recently provided by John Landgraf, the C.E.O. of FX Network, who said that four hundred and fifty-four scripted original series had aired in the U.S. in 2016; he thought that the number could rise to five hundred this year. Apparently, the industry needs writers and, black-hole-like, is sucking in galaxies of them. Until I was asked to work on “Sense8,” I’d never been interested in that particular black hole, even though I had come to believe that American television had overtaken narrative literature in its ability to deal with contemporary realities. No novel has addressed the Bush years’ crypto-fascist notion of “leadership” with the same clarity of thought as “The Sopranos.” If you wanted to understand the waste laid by the so-called War on Drugs, you wouldn’t read a novel—you’d watch “The Wire.” Television, in other words, offers opportunities to confront and report from the world as it changes.

Before “Sense8,” my screenwriting experience consisted of co-authoring a script with the Bosnian director Jasmila Žbanić for her comedy “Love Island,” in 2014. The rest of my writerly life had taken place in the self-imposed isolation of my head. I don’t take part in workshops or writing groups; I don’t share ideas or drafts with my fellow-writers for feedback; I make all the decisions and am responsible for every word in the book that I am writing, acknowledgments included. My solipsistic authorial habits would seem to feed into a common misconception about writing, which is that it is merely a conduit for the writer’s interiority, and that a good writer—or even just a capable one—possesses the skills to transfer the contents of that interiority onto the page with as little loss as possible. Much of the creative-writing industry depends upon that misconception and the promise, implicit or explicit, that the acquisition of those skills is unconditionally achievable. I’ve grown to be suspicious of that notion, as I have learned that writing generates the content and therefore transforms—or even creates—the interiority. Writing is a means of interaction with the world, and therefore it changes the writer. If it doesn’t, it contains no discovery and merely reproduces the already known and familiar. Writing, I believe, should be a matter not of execution but of transformation.

My screenwriting experience confirmed my belief. While Lana, Lilly, and Joe were responsible for the foundations of the show—for all the characters and their narrative trajectories—my role was to make proposals that would be taken up by the other people in the room and spun around a few times. The version of the proposal that emerged would have little to do with the original, yet belonged to me as much as to everyone else. In the course of one of those spins, I realized that, whenever I spoke or listened to someone, I was looking at the center of a circle that was delimited by the participants. Somehow, we started calling this space, and the collaboration that it housed, the Pit. A whole Pit-related phraseology soon emerged: “I’m going to throw this into the Pit.” “Let’s spin it in the Pit.” “The Pit concurs.” “The Pit needs a pendulum.” I enjoyed losing myself in the process, which felt all the more fascinating for the fact that the distinguishing characteristic of the heroes of “Sense8” is an ability to inhabit someone else’s mind. All this may be yesterday’s news to the film, television, and theatre people out there, but I’d never experienced the pleasure of temporarily losing my intellectual sovereignty—of watching my bright idea be destroyed, only to be transformed into something entirely different.

After that week in 2015, David and I went back home. (My home is about five blocks away from Kinowerks; David’s is in Ireland.) For the rest of the year, we were regularly assigned scenes to write on short deadlines. Cognizant of their place and role in the larger narrative, we were tasked with working out the dialogue and the details, tossing in our suggestions for a remote Pit spin. “The Wolfgang and Lila dinner, 2-3 pages, tomorrow,” Lana would write in an e-mail. The following day I’d submit the requested two to three pages. Lana and Joe would perform the bulk of the Pit work, developing, amending, or just rejecting the pages we sent in. Over the course of three months or so, I sent in some hundred and twenty pages, happy in the knowledge that not a single one of them would make it to the final seven-hundred-page script in the form in which I had written it."



"In my literary projects, the plotless structures I gravitate toward allow me to seek connections and meanings that emerge primarily not from characters and events but from language and the potentialities of thought within it. I think inside endless semantic, syntactic, rhythmic variations. Both David and I were continuously tempted to apply our respective colored pencils to the pages of the script (David’s grammatically persnickety alter ego is named Lawrence and likes to use a green pen), but there was little time and even less need to attend to the language in the way we were accustomed to. We did, however, often discuss the structure of individual events and their positioning in the larger plot. For instance, the second season of “Sense8” ended with a cliffhanger, the resolution of which would necessarily prohibit certain future plotlines. There was, nevertheless, an infinite number of possibilities for the plot that would follow; not unlike language, our plot was a discrete combinatory system, in which from a finite number of elements any number of combinations could be made. From our respective couches (which Lana, David, and I named, for reasons that I cannot explain here, “Illumination,” “Ireland,” and “Doom,” respectively), before making any notes, we spent hours reshuffling the abstract, as yet nonexistent structure of the story.

During one of those sessions, I had a near-Proustian involuntary memory of a time, some thirty years ago, when I was a freshman at an engineering college. My friend and I were studying together for an advanced-differential-calculus exam, solving tough integral problems, until we ran into one that we could not break. For two days, for at least twelve hours a day, we sought a solution; the process required reducing the integral to some identifiable type and then applying a preëxisting algorithmic protocol. (We finally called in a math-genius friend, who looked at the unbreakable integral and solved it in just a couple of steps.) The memory made me realize that plotting a narrative is a logical, algorithmic operation, albeit one that has an infinite number of possible outcomes, rather than one correct resolution. Building a plot is like creating an algorithm from scratch, starting before the problem is even defined and then backtracking after the desired solution has been selected.

The memory also suggested that my subconscious was following a logical algorithm. My dreams are usually amorphous, featuring a field of confusingly connected events—a description that also applies to most of my work, as well as to my waking mind. The subconscious authority governing my dream life, however, had lately begun to insist that the events and the characters in my dreams be logically connected, that they follow one another causally. In recent dreams, I’ve struggled to connect discrete events, so much so that I’ve woken in despair. Once, I dreamed that I was a screenwriter trying to untangle a plot knot. Some dreams have featured “Sense8” characters, others those from the New Project, who sometimes act like real people in my dreams and are sometimes just structural problems that I have to solve.

Back in my early years in the U.S., at the time when my English was in transition from tourist to survival mode, I’d catch myself dreaming in English, and noticing, in my dream, that the people who shouldn’t be talking in English were doing so. Even more bizarrely, I would recollect English conversations with my family or friends, which would certainly have taken place in our native language. I interpreted those dreams and memories as my subconscious mind welcoming this non-native language. If I hadn’t absorbed the new language in that way, I wouldn’t have been able to write any of the books I’ve written in English, or to have lived a full life in this language. I am writing this on the last day of the Pit’s screenwriting session, overwhelmed by the feeling that the sandbox is about to be dismantled, that my friends will go back to their separate lives and careers, and that, very soon, I’ll be returning to my former, stark, monastic literary practices. What the experience of exultant plotting at Kinowerks may have done to my mind, I cannot begin to know, at least not yet."
aleksandarhemon  2017  writing  sense8  collaboration  collaborativewriting  english  languageacquisition  dreams  dreaming  memory  kinowerks  television  screenwriting  howwewrite 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Kim's Convenience S01E01 HD - YouTube
"This playlist includes 1 main video and more Kim's Convenience: 1.Kim's Convenience S01E01 Gay Discount 2.Kim's Convenience S01E02 Janet's Photos 3.

Kim's Convenience S01E01 Mr. Kim decides to offer a store discount to gay customers. Meanwhile, Umma tries to find a hip."
via:jackcheng  towatch  television  tv  comedy 
august 2017 by robertogreco
Nick Kapur on Twitter: "Today we speak of "BBC English" as a standard form of the language, but this form had to be invented by a small team in the 1920s & 30s. 1/"
"Today we speak of "BBC English" as a standard form of the language, but this form had to be invented by a small team in the 1920s & 30s. 1/

It turned out even within the upper-class London accent that became the basis for BBC English, many words had competing pronunciations. 2/

Thus in 1926, the BBC's first managing director John Reith established an "Advisory Committee on Spoken English" to sort things out. 3/

The committee was chaired by Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, and also included American essayist Logan Pearsall Smith, 4/

novelist Rose Macaulay, lexicographer (and 4th OED editor) C.T. Onions, art critic Kenneth Clark, journalist Alistair Cooke, 5/

ghost story writer Lady Cynthia Asquith, and evolutionary biologist and eugenicist Julian Huxley. 6/

The 20-person committee held fierce debates, and pronunciations now considered standard were often decided by just a few votes. 7/

Examples included deciding "garage" would rhyme with "carriage" rather than "barrage" and "canine" (the tooth) sounding like cay-nine. 8/

In 1935, there was a crisis over what word BBC radio should use for "users of a television apparatus" (whom we now call "viewers"). 9/

To solve this conundrum, a 10-member "Sub-Committee on Words" was set up, chaired by the American, Logan Pearsall Smith. 10/

The Sub-Committee came up with the following list of possible new words for the users of the television apparatus: 11/ [contains screenshot of text: "auralooker glancer, looker, looker-in, optavuist, optovisor, seer, sighter, teleseer, teleserver, televist, teleobservist, televor, viewer-in, visionnaire, visionist, visor, vizior, vizzior"]

The Sub-Committee ultimately chose none of these, settling on "televiewer," which was shortened by the main committee to just "viewer." 12/

Emboldened by this early "success," the Sub-Committee on Words began to run amuck, inventing new words willy-nilly out of whole cloth. 13/

In particular, Sub-Committee chair Logan Pearsall Smith wanted to beautify English and "purify" it of foreign influences. 14/

He also disliked words with too many syllables and preferred English plurals to foreign plurals (eg. hippopotamuses over hippopotami). 15/

Some of the new coinages were reasonable and have survived. For example, "airplane" replaced "aeroplane" and "roundabout" was invented 16/

to replace the then-common "gyratory circus." Similarly the word "servicemen" was invented to describe members of the armed forces, and 17/

BBC radio was instructed to stop saying "kunstforscher" and instead say "art researcher," which has since become "art historian." 18/

Other ideas were...less successful. E.g. Smith proposed the BBC call televisions "view-boxes," call traffic lights "stop-and-goes," and 19/

call brainwaves "mindfalls." Other members of the Sub-Committee also came up with bizarre new words. 20/

Edward Marsh devised "inflex" to replace "inferiority complex," and Rose Macaulay wanted "yulery" to replace "Christmas festivities." 21/

By June of 1936, things were getting out of hand, and the BBC's Director of Program Planning Lindsay Wellington urged: 22/ [contains screenshot of text: "[H]aving read the minutes of the Sub-Committee's meeting, at which all kinds of suggestions had been made with regard to new words, some sort of restraint should be placed upon the Sub-Committee. It was not the Corporation's policy to initiate proposals of this kind, which were rather the function of some outside body… [S]ome of the suggestions — e.g. 'halcyon' in place of 'anti-cyclone' or 'view-box' for television set — were so ludicrous that irreparable harm to the main Committee's prestige might be done should any of these suggestions be broadcast."]"

Finally in January 1937, Chairman of the Governors R.C. Norman shut down the Sub-Committee on Words for good, arguing that: 23/ [contains screenshot of text: "The Corporation has read with interest the minutes of the Sub-Committee appointed to make recommendations as to the framing of new words. It feels that it must define more closely the extent to which it can accept the advice of the Sub-Committee. Such advice will be sought by the Corporation when new words have to be found for its own purposes — as in the creation of vocabulary of television terms. The Sub-Committee, however, has recommended the introduction to the public of new words for general use (e.g. 'halcyon', 'stop-and-go'). This responsibility is one which the Corporation feels it cannot accept."]
bbc  english  history  language  words  classideas  sfsh  structuredwordinquiry  radio  television  johnreith  standardization  georgebernardshaw  loganpearsallsmith  ctonions  kennethclark  alistaircooke  cynthiaasquith  julianhuxley  pronunciation  tv  edwardmarsh  rosemacaulay  rxnorman  1937  1926  nickkapur  invention 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Superheroes In Full Color
"This blog is dedicated to Racial and cultural diversity in comic books and derivative works (film, tv, videogames)"

[See also: https://twitter.com/HeroesInColor00 ]
tumblrs  comics  superheroes  race  videogames  diversity  film  tv  television 
june 2017 by robertogreco
BBC Radio 4 - FutureProofing, The Future of the Future
"Does the accelerating pace of technology change the way we think about the future?

It's said that science fiction writers now spend more time telling stories about today than about tomorrow, because the potential of existing technology to change our world is so rich that there is no need to imagine the future - it's already here. Does this mean the future is dead? Or that we are experiencing a profound shift in our understanding of what the future means to us, how it arrives, and what forces will shape it?

Presenters Timandra Harkness and Leo Johnson explore how our evolving understanding of time and the potential of technological change are transforming the way we think about the future."
future  2017  mattnovak  sciencefiction  scifi  timandraharkness  leojohnson  time  technology  learning  howwelive  change  1960s  1950s  alexanerrose  prediction  bigdata  stability  flexibility  adaptability  astroteller  googlex  longnow  longnowfoundation  uncertainty  notknowing  simulation  generativedesign  dubai  museumofthefuture  agency  lawrenceorsini  implants  douglascoupland  belllabs  infrastructure  extremepresent  sfsh  classideas  present  past  history  connectivity  internet  web  online  futurism  futures  smartphones  tv  television  refrigeration  seancarroll 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Breaking Down the Father on BBC Being Interrupted by His Children – Medium
"Here’s the deal: the male ego is both remarkably fragile and remarkably easy to satiate. Tell said ego he will be featured as an expert in front of a national or global audience and he will do whatever it takes — including 12 years of academia and wearing a suit at home—to ensure it is so.

The flipside of said ego-soothing, though, is a potential level of embarassment that is hard to fathom. In this case Kelly is fulfilling his self-selected destiny: he is appearing as an expert across the world on the BBC. But it’s not going well! His daughter has appeared, and while he certainly loves her, he must, MUST, keep up appearances. Thus the hand, and not the overt affection."
parenting  children  agesegregation  2017  appearances  gender  viralvideo  bbc  academia  experts  television  tv  internet 
march 2017 by robertogreco
When looking became seeing - Creative Review
"When John Berger’s BBC television series Ways of Seeing was transformed into a paperback book in 1972, its design owed much to its origins on screen. Forty years on from its first publication, it remains both an influential text and a pioneering example of the visual essay"



"Yet at its 40th anniversary, Ways of Seeing’s longevity exists largely because of the paperback book which followed the television series in the same year, a co-production from BBC Publications and Penguin. While the four programmes have been re-shown on the BBC (and were screened at the BFI in London earlier this month as part of its Berger season), they only really exist in any watchable form on the internet, in a batch of low res fragments.

The book has much more permanence: it remains not only in print, but as a set text on art and visual culture courses, and Richard Hollis’s design – in particular, his radical treatment of the book’s text and images – is lauded as a pioneering example of the visual essay.

“Everyone knows the book, and because it has a higher cultural standing than the TV programmes, people think it came first,” says Dibb. “But the book would never have been the way it is, if we hadn’t have made the series.”

Hollis’s clean placement of Berger’s text, interspersed with a litany of famous paintings, remains accessible and lucid, but its debt to the television series is notable. Hollis’s aim was to replicate the experience of watching and listening, but in print. “You can have a voiceover on television,” he says, “you can be looking and listening, and it was trying to get as near to that as possible.”


Hollis also treated Berger’s text in a new way. Deciding to set it in sans-serif Univers was one thing, but making it bold seemed to declare its difference from the traditional art book, as much as replicate Berger’s buoyant on-screen delivery.

“I wanted the text to be heavy, so that it was as heavy as the image,” says Hollis. “The idea being that you couldn’t read one without the other. I tried to make the text insistent.” In the majority of art books of the time, he recalls, “you tended to have rather spidery text, so people would go through the book and look at the pictures. There might be an explanatory caption, but often [there was] just an identification. So that’s why we kept the references to what things were in Ways of Seeing as minimal as possible, so that people would look at a picture, not because it was a Vermeer, but because it was interesting in relation to the text.”

In Hollis’s design the images become part of the text; they, too, are intended to be ‘read’, and are even indented at the same line length as the words. The large, colour plates common to more conventional art books exalted the image high above the text; Hollis’s conceit was to raise the level of the words to match the art.

But it was not for everyone – and Penguin’s head of design, Hans Schmoller, made that quite clear to Hollis, who received cover proofs scrawled with the typographer’s comments.

“I remember the biggest remark was ‘Is this meant to be centred?!'” Hollis recalls. But the control of the book was firmly in the BBC camp, in the hands of the late Peter Campbell, and so Schmoller’s objections to its radical appearance – the cover cleverly proffering the very first page of the book – went unheeded. (Hollis has previously told the story of when a finished copy of Ways of Seeing was placed on a Penguin director’s desk, it was promptly hurled down a nearby corridor.)

This violent break with the established traditions of art publishing also had its roots in the ways that Dibb’s 30 minute films reacted to the early conventions of art on television, as epitomised in art historian Kenneth Clark and his Civilisation series from 1969. Shot on 35mm film, Clark’s epic 13-episode history of Western art was one of the first documentaries to be made in colour. Clark’s delivery, as he took the viewer through his “personal view” of what were largely European artworks was establishment, patrician, and decidedly clipped in tone.

“Art history in the mid-1970s seemed to be limited by its commitment to a canon of masterpieces, largely the property of the wealthy,” says Professor David Crowley, head of the Critical Writing in Art and Design programme at the Royal College of Art.

“It was also stymied by connoisseurship; tweedy men talking about brushstrokes and style. Berger’s Marxism meant that he was as interested in the reproduction of images as their origination [and] concerned with the persistence of certain recurrent motifs in our culture, like the nude, whether in the gallery, or in an ad in a glossy magazine. This interest in all forms of visual culture, ignoring the pompous high and low distinction, is now the norm, but it was quite provocative at the time.”

Professor Teal Triggs, who uses Ways of Seeing on the London College of Communication’s Design Writing Criticism course, also acknowledges that Berger’s comments in the programme on the female nude influenced feminist readings on art and design – namely, she says, through his focus on the way of “seeing women” and “how these depictions are positioned in relationship to a male spectator”.

For Triggs, “Berger presents a framework involving the ‘surveyor’ and the ‘surveyed’, as one way we might understand sexuality and the female body, her ‘presence’ and sense of herself, personal relationships and who is actually doing the looking. Women are ‘objects of vision’ [and] such a perspective resonated at a time in the 1970s when women’s liberation was an urgent concern and notions of the body and self were being freshly questioned. Berger took these ideas onto national television.”

While both programmes aired on BBC2, compared to Civilisation, Ways of Seeing had a rather more modest budget. It was filmed over six months, mainly at a studio in Ealing in west London (bar a nighttime visit to the National Gallery) and unlike Clark’s grand tour of churches and museums to see the original works of art, Ways of Seeing relied, rather fittingly, upon a host of reproductions.

According to Dibb, a deeper layer of irony now also exists: the copyright of the works shown as reproductions in Ways of Seeing prevents the series from being available on DVD, whereas the rights to Clark’s films of the artworks themselves are held by the BBC. Hence Civilisation is now in glorious HD via Blu-Ray, while Ways of Seeing is scattered across several uploads on YouTube.

But even though many of the ideas that Berger took forward in the early 1970s are now commonplace (and Benjamin much more widely read), Ways of Seeing’s influence remains pervasive. For one, the use of the term ‘visual culture’, to imply the ubiquity of image-based communications – from art to advertising – was brand new territory when Berger, Dibb and Hollis began documenting its occurrence on film and then in print. Moreover, what Hollis was able to do with the format of the book still influences designers today.

James Goggin, now director of design, publishing and new media at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago says that his design for Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane’s Folk Archive book was a direct homage to Hollis’s design, specifically to his trick of seeming to start the book’s text on the front cover.

“While very much admiring Hollis’s direct approach with the book’s introduction starting right there on the cover, I’d always been slightly disappointed that it didn’t follow through directly on the inside front cover and title page, as one might have expected,” says Goggin. “So in designing Folk Archive with a very functional, almost objectively encyclopedic approach, the preface started on the cover [with] four images in a general text page format, as opposed to one single work in a more art book-like full-bleed. Crucially, the text continued directly across the inside cover and title page. The result was a gesture that I acknowledge as inspired by Hollis, but also a playful one attempting to belatedly fulfil the continuous text promise of his original cover.”

The influence of Hollis’s approach is also evident on the graphic design journal, dot dot dot. Peter Bil’ak, who worked on the publication with designer Stuart Bailey recalls “the directness and clarity of Hollis’s no-nonsense approach. Very often, designers see text as grey blocks, [in Ways of Seeing] Hollis is engaged deeply with the text, and helped the message to come across.”

For Crowley the idea of the visual essay as a kind of ‘filmic object’ is a construct with roots in the 1970s, within the ideas brought about by Jean-Luc Godard’s Dziga Vertov group, for example, and has become a concern of contemporary artists such as Ryan Gander and the Otolith Group."



"“There’s a nice connection between I, Eye, Hollis’s early visual essay recording his visit to Cuba in the early 1960s and the visual essay in Ways of Seeing,” Crowley adds, “despite the differences in content.” It’s significant that, in terms of charting his own influences, Hollis also looked to film, most notably to French filmmaker Chris Marker’s book, Commentaires I (1961), where the placement of text and image directly affected the way Hollis would treat Berger’s material.

For Goggin, Ways of Seeing continues the trend in the late 1960s where the trade paperback was used as a vehicle for communicating progressive ideas to a wider audience. He cites works by Marshall McLuhan, Buckminster Fuller and Quentin Fiore, Victor Papanek, Carl Sagan, and Bruno Munari as precedents.

But while the avant-garde nature of these texts has recently been re-examined in Adam Michaels and Jeffrey T Schnapp’s The Electric Information Age Book (CR April), it’s possible that Ways of Seeing is, in the UK at least, one of very few 60p paperbacks to have had … [more]
johnberger  2012  waysofseeing  books  television  tv  visualessays  design  walterbenjamin  richardhollis 
january 2017 by robertogreco
The Joys of ‘Atlanta,’ Where Real Life, for Some, Insists on Being Surreal - The New York Times
"Television’s best sight gag of 2016 comes near the end of “The Club,” the eighth episode of the FX series “Atlanta.” It begins with gunfire and ends with people being run over by a car, and it’s one of those rare, delightful moments when you see a great new comedy open up its possibilities before your eyes.

A group of characters is hanging out in a nightclub parking lot, laughing and making plans to get food, when shots ring out. People scatter and dive for their cars. You hear screams and a squeal of tires.

Suddenly, in the background — out of focus, unnoticed by the foreground characters — a man zips through the air in a seated position, a couple of feet off the ground, as pedestrians are upended in front of him, as if struck by the force of an unseen vehicle.

That’s the punch line. The setup comes in the episode’s first act. Alfred, a.k.a. Paper Boi (Brian Tyree Henry), is a midtier rapper making a paid appearance at a club, arranged by his cousin and manager, Earn (Donald Glover). But his visit is overshadowed by that of a bigger celebrity, Marcus Miles (Jason Simon), who’s hanging out in a better section of the club, surrounded by women and accompanied by his pet peacock in a leather jacket.

Alfred is jealous and irritated. But his friend Darius (Lakeith Stanfield) tells him: “Marcus Miles is pretty cool. He’s got that invisible car.” Darius pulls up Marcus’s Instagram feed, which has photos of Marcus pointing his thumb at an empty space and leaning on thin air. “That ain’t real, man!” Alfred scoffs, throwing in an expletive.

The invisible car is a variant on something called a brick joke: actually a pair of jokes in which the first sets up an unresolved element that returns as the punch line of the second, ideally after the listener has forgotten about it.

(In a common example, the first joke ends, puzzlingly, with a man tossing a brick into the air. The second joke ends with a dog on the wing of an airplane — it’s a long story — catching the brick in its mouth.)

In “Atlanta,” the invisible-car gag is partly an old-school tutorial in how comedy works. Surprise is key: When the joke comes back around at the end of the episode, you’ve long forgotten about that silly Instagram scene, and it hits you like an invisible wrecking ball.

Beyond that, a brick joke, like all good comedy, is a collaboration between entertainer and audience. The comic gives you pieces of the joke, and you assemble them in your head. That act of putting together — Wait, what is that? The invisible car! It’s real! — is where the comedy really happens. (This is also why explaining a joke, as I just have, tends to ruin it. You’re welcome.)

This particular gag, too, is a delight because it captures the sense of play and abandon that made the first season of “Atlanta” special.

“Atlanta,” understand, is not a science-fiction series. It does not take place in an alternative universe where automotive scientists have discovered how to bend light waves around large objects.

It is, instead, a music-business comedy marinated in specificity and local flavor, set in a real place with realistic people trying to get by. One episode takes place almost entirely during processing at a police station, after Earn and Alfred have a run-in with the law. Another involves Van (Zazie Beetz), Earn’s sometime girlfriend, who’s trying to pass a workplace drug test after smoking a badly timed joint.

But “Atlanta” also proved, with dry understatement, that it was a comedy in which anything could happen without warning.

One episode took place at a charity basketball game whose star player is Justin Bieber — who happens to be played by a black actor (Austin Crute). No one comments on it; it’s just a little buckle in the fabric of reality that calls attention to Mr. Bieber’s status as a white star trading in R&B music.

Another episode is meta-structured as a debate on a fictional black cable channel, complete with fake commercials so convincing that I fast-forwarded through them on first viewing. (One, for Arizona iced tea, spoofs convenience stores’ habit of marking up beverages. Tagline: “The price is on the can, though.”)

All these experiments are funny, and they also say something. The world of “Atlanta,” they say, is the real world, where bills are due, and small glitches can derail a life, and the color of your skin can affect the consequences of your actions.

But the form of “Atlanta,” they say, can be whatever it needs to be, because rendering its reality honestly requires a touch of surrealism.

“Atlanta” doesn’t glamorize the music business. But it recognizes that rolling the dice on a rap career requires — like Darius’s belief that the car is real — embracing the idea that you can make something amazing out of thin air, out of the breath in your lungs.

The joke is funny because — well, how can an invisible car knocking people over like bowling pins not be funny? But it’s joyous because it tells you that this “Atlanta” is a place where random wonders can strike you from out of nowhere."
atlantafx  donaldglover  2016  television  tv  comedy  reality  surrealism  via:jarrettfuller 
january 2017 by robertogreco
BBC Four - John Berger: The Art of Looking
[video currently available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3VhbsXk9Ds ]

"Art, politics and motorcycles - on the occasion of his 90th birthday John Berger or the Art of Looking is an intimate portrait of the writer and art critic whose ground-breaking work on seeing has shaped our understanding of the concept for over five decades. The film explores how paintings become narratives and stories turn into images, and rarely does anybody demonstrate this as poignantly as Berger.

Berger lived and worked for decades in a small mountain village in the French Alps, where the nearness to nature, the world of the peasants and his motorcycle, which for him deals so much with presence, inspired his drawing and writing.

The film introduces Berger's art of looking with theatre wizard Simon McBurney, film-director Michael Dibb, visual artist John Christie, cartoonist Selçuk Demiral, photographer Jean Mohr as well as two of his children, film-critic Katya Berger and the painter Yves Berger.

The prelude and starting point is Berger's mind-boggling experience of restored vision following a successful cataract removal surgery. There, in the cusp of his clouding eyesight, Berger re-discovers the irredeemable wonder of seeing.

Realised as a portrait in works and collaborations, this creative documentary takes a different approach to biography, with John Berger leading in his favourite role of the storyteller."
2016  johnberger  documentary  towatch  simonmcburney  michaeldibb  johnchristie  selçukdemiral  jeanmohr  katyaberger  yvesberger  waysofseeing  seeing  looking  noticing  biography  storytelling  skepticism  photography  rebellion  writing  howwewrite  collaboration  canon  conspirators  rebels  friendship  community  migration  motorcycles  presence  being  living  life  interestedness  interested  painting  art  history  france  belonging  place  labor  home  identity  work  peasants  craft  craftsmanship  aesthetics  design  vision  cataracts  sight  teaching  howweteach  attention  focus  agriculture  memory  memories  shit  pigs  humans  animals  childhood  perception  freedom  independence  storytellers  travelers  nomads  trickster  dead  death  meaning  meaningmaking  companionship  listening  discovery  understanding  sfsh  srg  books  publishing  television  tv  communication  engagement  certainly  uncertainty 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Trust Me - Freakonomics Freakonomics
"Societies where people trust one another are healthier and wealthier. In the U.S. (and the U.K. and elsewhere), social trust has been falling for decades — in part because our populations are more diverse. What can we do to fix it?"



"HALPERN: We almost seem to hardly notice that it’s there. So it’s incredibly consequential and we see it in lots of areas of policy that we touch on.

DUBNER: So you write this about low trust: “Low trust implies a society where you have to keep an eye over your shoulder, where deals need lawyers instead of handshakes, where you don’t see the point of paying your tax or recycling your rubbish since you doubt your neighbor will do so, and where employ your cousin or your brother-in-law to work for you rather than a stranger who’d probably be much better at the job.” So that has all kinds of business and ultimately economic implications. However, when you talk about high trust being good for us on a personal level, whether it’s health or individual income, do the two necessarily go in hand? In other words, can we have a society that has a business climate where there isn’t a lot of trust and, therefore, you do need all those lawyers instead of the handshakes, but where you have good social trust among neighbors, family and friends, communities and so on, or are they really the same thing that you’re talking about?

HALPERN: Well, there is a key distinction and Bob Putnam has often made this too, between what’s sometimes called bonding social capital and bridging social capital.

PUTNAM: Social capital is about social networks. But not all social networks are identical, and one important distinction is between ties that link us to other people like us, that’s called bonding social capital.

HALPERN: Bonding social capital often refers to your closeness to your friends, your relatives, those that are immediately around you. It’s particularly important, it turns out for, things such as health outcomes.

PUTNAM: Because, empirically, if you get sick, the people who are likely to bring you chicken soup are likely to represent your bonding social capital."



"PUTNAM: What strategies I would want to emphasize for moving in a positive direction would be more contexts in which people connect with one another across lines of race or economics or gender or age."



"HALPERN: People that go to university end up trusting much more than those who don’t, particularly when they go away residentially. It doesn’t look like it’s explained by income alone. So there’s something about the experience of going off as a young person in an environment where you have lots of other young people from different backgrounds and so on, hopefully, and different ethnicities. You learn the habits of trust because you’re in an environment where you can trust other people; they are trustworthy. And you internalize these habits and you take them with you the rest of your life. So we tend to not think of going away to university as being the reason why you’re doing it is to build social capital and social trust, we think about learning skills and so on, but it may well be that it has as much, or even more value, in terms of culturing social trust going forward. The question is: do you have to do that in university, can you do it another way? So in the U.K., following partly an American lead, the government has championed a national citizen service. And what this means is for every young person, essentially a 17-year-old, increasingly, starts off with a — not everyone does it alone, but more and more every single year, goes and does voluntary experience, community service. This deliberately includes a couple of weeks which are residential and deliberately includes mixing with people from all different walks of life. Look, it’s only limited data, but in terms of before-and-after data, we see significant impacts in terms of higher levels of trust between groups and individuals, as well as instantly higher levels of life satisfaction and well-being too. So it looks like we can do something about it."



"HALPERN: In the most recent data, it looks like it’s one of the biggest risers. So the Netherlands had pretty similar levels of social trust in the 1980s to America and the U.K., but whereas we have now drifted down towards sort of 30-odd percent, they are now up close to 70 percent in levels of those who think others can be trusted.

DUBNER: What would you say it’s caused by?

HALPERN: Well, I mean, one of the characteristics of the Netherlands, and you have to be a bit careful when you pick off one country, is it has wrestled quite hard with the issues of, not just inequality, but social differences. They’ve really tried to do a lot in relation to making people essentially build cohesion. Particularly Amsterdam, is a very famous area for — it’s long been an extremely multicultural city. It’s had issues over that over time, but they’ve really in a sort of succession of governments have tried to quite actively make groups get along with each other in quite an active way. So that may itself, of course, root in the Netherlands, it’s quite a deep culture of a strong sense of the law, being trustworthy and that contracts will be honored and so on. It’s what helped to power its economic success in previous centuries, so it does have that tradition also to draw on."



"PUTNAM: I looked hard to find explanations and television, I argued, is really bad for social connectivity for many reasons.

“More television watching,” Putnam wrote, “means less of virtually every form of civic participation and social involvement.”

HALPERN: As Bob sometimes put it, I think, rather elegantly, when we were looking forward in terms of technology or the Internet and of course, even pre-Facebook and so on, would it be, in his words, a “fancy television”? In other words, it will isolate us more and more. Or would it be a “fancy telephone” and would connect us more and more? Because technology has both those capabilities. So when I played video games when I was a kid, you basically did them mostly by yourself or with a friend. When I look at my teenage kids playing videos, they’re actually talking to each other all the time. To some extent it looks like, to me, that we get the technology that we want, and even this is true at sort of a societal level. So one of the arguments you can make, in my view is true anyway, by explaining some of these differences in the trajectories across countries is in Anglo-Saxon countries, we’ve often used our wealth to buy technology and other experiences. That means we don’t have to deal with other people — the inconveniences of having to go to a concert where I have to listen to music I really like, I can just stay at home and just watch what I want and so on and choose it. And even in the level of, if I think about my kids versus me growing up, I mean when I was growing up we had one TV and there were five kids in the household. You know, had to really negotiate pretty hard about what we were going to watch. My kids don’t have to do that and probably not yours either. There are more screens in the house than there are people. They can all go off and do their own thing. To some extent, that is us using our wealth to escape from having to negotiate with other people, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Some people and some countries seem to use their wealth more to find ways of connecting more with other people. And the technology has both these capabilities and we can’t just blame it. It’s the choices we’re making and how we use it and the technology which we’re, kind of, asking and bringing forth.

DUBNER: It reminds me a bit of — we once looked into the global decline of hitchhiking, for instance. One of the central reasons being that people no longer trusted strangers to not kill each other, really, is what it boiled down to, even though there was apparently very little killing involved, but just the fear of one. And yet now, Uber is a 60-some billion-dollar company that’s basically all about using technology to lure a complete stranger into your car. Which, I guess, argues, if nothing else, the fact that technology can be harnessed very much in either direction.

HALPERN: That’s right. Indeed, so, as you say, there’s actually two points here, and there’s a really important behavioral one, which I think we’ve only figured out in recent years to bring together these different literatures, how does it relate to behavioral scientists versus those people studying social capital? We look like we have certain systematic biases about how we estimate whether we think other people can be trusted. And in essence, we overestimate quite systematically the prevalence of bad behavior. We overestimate the number of people who are cheating on their taxes or take a sickie off work or do other kinds of bad things. This doesn’t seem to be just the media, although that may reinforce it. It seems to be a bit how we’re wired as human beings. So why is that relevant and why does this have to do with technology? Actually, technology can help you solve some of those issues. So when you’re buying something on eBay or you’re trying to decide where to go using, you know Trip Advisor, you’re actually getting some much better information from the experiences of other people as opposed to your guesstimate, which is often systematically biased. So it turns out it’s a way we can sometimes use technology to solve some of these trust issues. Not just in relation to specific products and “Should I buy this thing from this person?” but, potentially, more generally in relation to how do we trust other people because, ultimately, this social trust question must rest on something. It must be a measure of actual trustworthiness. "
trust  diversity  socialtrust  2016  us  society  socialunity  via:davidtedu  trustworthiness  socialcapital  australia  uk  netherlands  davidhalpern  stephendubner  bobputnam  italy  corruption  socialnetworks  civics  government  governance  community  brazil  brasil  norway  edglaeser  tobymoscowitz  hunterwendelstedt  ethnicity  stockholm  education  colleges  universities  military  athletics  multiculturalism  culture  law  economics  behavior  technology  videogames  socialmedia  television  tv  toolsforconviviality  hitchhiking 
november 2016 by robertogreco
The Brainwashing Of My Dad
"The truth behind the right-wing media machine that changed a father--and divided the nation"



"A filmmaker examines the rise of right-wing media through the lens of her father, whose immersion in it radicalized him and rocked the foundation of their family. She discovers this political phenomenon recurring in living rooms everywhere, and reveals the consequences conservative media has had on families and a nation."



"WAS HILLARY CLINTON CRAZY WHEN SHE SPOKE OF THE “VAST RIGHT-WING CONSPIRACY,” RESPONSIBLE FOR THE RELENTLESS AND COSTLY ATTACKS AGAINST HER HUSBAND, PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON?

As filmmaker, Jen Senko, tries to understand the transformation of her father from a non political, life-long Democrat to an angry, Right-Wing fanatic, she uncovers the forces behind the media that changed him completely: a plan by Roger Ailes under Nixon for a media takeover by the GOP, The Powell Memo urging business leaders to influence institutions of public opinion, especially the universities, the media and the courts, and under Reagan, the dismantling of the Fairness Doctrine.

As her journey continues, we discover that her father is part of a much broader demographic, and that the story is one that affects us all.

Through interviews with media luminaries, cognitive linguists, grassroots activist groups such as: Noam Chomsky, Steve Rendall, Jeff Cohen, Eric Boehlert, George Lakoff, STOP RUSH, HearYourselfThink, Claire Conner and others, “Brainwashing” unravels the plan to shift the country to the Right over the last 30 years, largely through media manipulation. The result has lead to fewer voices, less diversity of opinion, massive intentional misinformation and greater division of our country.

This documentary will shine a light on how it happened (and is still happening) and lead to questions about who owns the airwaves, what rights we have as listeners/watchers and what responsibility does our government have to keep the airwaves truly fair, accurate and accountable to the truth."

[trailer: https://vimeo.com/109066326 ]
documentary  towatch  media  politics  talkradio  tv  television  news  jensenko  noamchomsky  steverendall  jeffcohen  ericboehlert  georgelakoff  stoprush  hearyourselfthink  claireconner  rogerailes  1980s  1990s  powellmemo  brainwashing 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Don’t need no education: What Danes consider healthy children’s television | The Economist
"A DAY into my holiday (spent with my wife’s family) in Denmark, and the changes are striking enough to move me back to the keyboard. Perhaps it was the display of life-sized nude photographs of young women, kicking off discussion about whether the choice of bodies was representative enough. Or perhaps it’s the casual way Danes use the English word "fuck", not because they’re especially foul-mouthed but because the word was imported without much of its taboo force. On the flight over I heard a nicely dressed middle-aged mother use it with her young daughters, in mild irritation but not anger.

But perhaps the most striking raw difference is on television, and specifically Ramasjang, the public children’s television channel. (It is part of DR, Denmark’s equivalent of the BBC.) It is everything that American or British kids’ programming is not.

It is naughty. Perhaps its most beloved character is Onkel Reje (“Uncle Shrimp”), a sailor-themed character in a red suit with a scruffy beard. He picks his nose. His stinky socks tell each other jokes. But much more than that, in the best Danish tradition, he mocks beloved institutions: his grandmother lights a fart on fire. He says the worst gift he ever got for Christmas—from Queen Margarethe herself—was the washbasin she washes her bare bottom in. And God he says, lives in heaven with Santa Claus and their dog Marianne, implying that the Supreme Being is not only imaginary, but also gay.

DR should have known this is what they would get when they hired, for the actor playing Onkel Reje, Mads Geertsen, who had previously recorded as a kind of avant-garde musician under the name Je m’appelle Mads. It boggles the mind that the producers at Ramasjang saw this video—in which a mostly naked Mads offers rude tributes to Denmark like a dancing pack of cigarettes and a cow pooing—and said “let’s give that man a children’s show.”

Yet somehow it’s also incredibly wholesome. The adult actors are frequently fat or ugly, in a way they never would be in America. Some have tattoos or nose-rings, just as they do in the real world. The shows—mostly live-action or puppets, not animation—move at an unhurried pace, two or three characters on the screen at the time, with little frenetic music and infrequent special effects. Whether made in the 2010s or the 1980s, Ramasjang’s shows are downright languid. The contrast is all the clearer when a British or American animated show that DR has licensed comes on, with every corner of the screen buzzing with unnecessary and overstimulating movement.

Probably most striking, though, is another thing lacking: education. Quite simply, there is none, academic or moral. “Kaj and Andrea”, a pair of puppets, are sweet friends, but also goofily flawed: Kaj is terribly self-obsessed, Andrea is warbling and neurotic. When other characters do something wrong, there is little of the obvious consequence-and-lesson resolution of American shows; the results are usually left to speak for themselves. “Buster’s World”, a glacially slow live-action show from the 1980s, follows the title character through various realistic hardly-adventures in and around a country house. When an older boy bullies Buster’s sister, Buster, in revenge, sabotages the older boy’s motorcycle, causing him to go flying off it. This would only make it past American lawyers if a finger-wagging adult lectured Buster and the audience at the end. Instead, Buster finds that his revenge changed little, and the show wanders aimlessly on.

Finally, there is hardly any of the ABC-123 stuff that fills American public television like “Sesame Street”. Ramasjang is entertainment, not a replacement for parents or school. Parents are expected to know when to switch it off (but just in case, the characters go to bed at 8.00pm, and are shown sleeping until the morning) rather than pretend that it is self-improvement.

What’s the secret? DR, including Ramasjang, is a training ground for the much-admired Danish film and television industry. Though its budget is nothing next to the BBC’s or a big American broadcaster’s, it’s big for Denmark, meaning that it brings in the best young film-makers, writers and actors looking for experience. If this state-led approach seems typically Scandinavian, it is also Danish in the best sense of innovating constantly, while refusing to take itself seriously.

Danish kids begin school much later than they do in Britain or other countries pushing the beginning of formal education earlier and earlier. There is plenty of time for school, and when Danes get there, they end up doing rather well. But until then, they seem utterly unharmed by a childhood of hearing about the queen’s bottom and watching grandma light some bodily gas on fire."

[plenty of Onkel Reje on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Onkel+Reje ]
denmark  television  tv  education  parenting  society  via:tealtan  2016  us  uk  comparison  learning  animation  film  funding 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Yes, Stranger Things is nostalgic. But it's also just a really good show.
"Maybe Stranger Things could be named for its crazy DNA. A mix of ET and The X Files, of Stand by Me and Under the Skin, and The Twilight Zone and Twin Peaks, the show isn't exactly hard to describe; the trouble is that the descriptions sound insane. Imagine The Thing as written by John Hughes, or The Goonies directed by Ridley Scott with a strong assist from Reality Bites.

Stranger Things is weird, it's hyper-referential, and — for a touching coming-of-age story that's also a conspiracy thriller, a paranormal horror movie, and a nostalgic love letter to '80s cinema — it's really, really good.



The point is that Stranger Things is at least as good at the small-stakes stuff as it is at the grand gestures. Better, maybe: It's impossible not to be moved by the kids' conflicts and reconciliations, and these proceed according to a logic that the supernatural stuff, for all its drippy sickly snowy weight, just doesn't have. That these great young actors are entrusted with the burden of carrying something this serious is itself a nod to '80s nostalgia — a time when kids' movies were darker, scarier, and more adventurous.

It's worth saying, too — without going into specifics for fear of spoiling — that even though this is the kind of nostalgic ensemble show that lovingly reproduces the expectations of the genres it deploys, it isn't exactly subservient to them. "The sun rises in the east, and it sets in the west, right?" Dustin says, wearing the silliest tie in the world. And it does, but that doesn't mean the compass that points you there is always right."
lililoofbourow  millicentsomer  2016  strangerthings  1980s  1990s  nostalgia  tv  television  film  johnhughes  goonies 
july 2016 by robertogreco
TV’s Dwindling Middle Class - The New York Times
"Money worries and striving were part of the mainstream sitcom. Now most characters exist in a classless world."



"To the extent that TV has always been an advertisement for something, it was often an advertisement for the middle class: a job, a family, a home, products to put in it. But early sitcoms engaged with matters of aspiration and failure, and they were tied to work. If employment didn’t define a character from episode to episode, it sustained him (and it was usually a him). Some, like Jackie Gleason’s Brooklyn bus driver, Ralph Kramden, the human caldron of “The Honeymooners” (1955-56), had jobs. Some, like Dick Van Dyke’s Rob Petrie, the klutzy TV writer on “The Dick Van Dyke Show” (1961-66), had careers. Work, or the lack of it, slotted you into a clear socioeconomic class. Kramden’s dissatisfaction — he devoted a lot of time to hatching get-rich-quick schemes — became the tacit sadness of the “The Honeymooners.” It was the first rueful sitcom. Petrie had a suburban-New York living room that Kramden would have killed for.

By the 1960s, prime-time television was barely two decades old, and it was already a little nostalgic and class-neutral, broadcasting shows safely ensconced in either the suburbs or the distant past. But the decade’s relentless turmoil (civil rights, Vietnam, political assassinations, Watergate, feminism) demanded discourse. On TV, that conversation happened in the living rooms of the working class, middle class and working poor, on “All in the Family,” “Maude” and “Good Times,” each a creation of Norman Lear, each a demonstrable emblem of its characters’ social station. Archie Bunker (“All in the Family”) was a white foreman in Queens; Florida Evans (“Good Times”) was a sporadically unemployed black housekeeper in Chicago’s Near North Side projects. Bunker's armchair racism, sexism and all the rest wouldn’t seem to have anything to do with Evans's prideful despair. But the two shows dramatized their opposing dissatisfaction. Class was the perch from which to see who you were and were not, and from which members of the television audience could see who they were, too.

The discontent on those shows ran like a fuse through the 1970s into the late 1980s. The end of the Reagan era and start of the first Bush administration coincided with the arrival of “Married ... with Children” and “Roseanne,” a pair of long-running sitcoms about the white lower-middle class and working poor — the Bundys and Conners, respectively. The first was more bitterly toxic (my mother got a whiff of its vulgarity and forbade it) than the second. But each show descended from Lear’s righteous class consciousness. And each felt like a rebuke of the vertiginous affluence and physical beauty of soaps like “Dallas” and “Dynasty” and a rejoinder to the upper-middle-class comfort of “The Cosby Show.”"



"TV became — and still is — a medium struggling to understand “average,” “ordinary,” “normal.” When the economy began to tank in 2007, television was barely equipped to reflect the collapse, in part because the people who make shows were largely immune: They were well-compensated creatures of the entertainment industry, mostly unaffected by a shrinking economy. That disconnection sanitized TV against the complexities of race and class. Many sitcoms now are set in the places their creators know best: soundstages and writers’ rooms.

There is, currently, a diet version of the Huxtable-Conner dichotomy recurring on ABC. It pairs “The Middle,” about getting by in the heartland, with “Black-ish,” which asks whether prosperity dilutes blackness. But the network’s marquee show, “Modern Family,” a masterful machine that makes highly polished sitcommery, has so little to do with most modern families that its claim of modernity often feels like a joke.

People working for minimum wage or doing manual labor became the province of reality television shows like “Dirty Jobs” and “Undercover Boss,” which has company executives pretend to be employees. More than once, the revelations and class disjunction that emerge from the ruse have made me cry. We’re still some distance from “The King of Queens,” which was set at a UPS-like facility.

Watching “Modern Family,” “Two Broke Girls” and “Girls,” I often find myself asking what it even means to work. The characters on these shows, especially “Girls,” exist in an alternative realm — a kind of “whatever” class. Neurosis, there, is a condition of identity, not of social station. The work you do is on yourself. But after five seasons on HBO, even “Girls” suspects a problem. The show has always been a stealthily shrewd satire of Millennial life. Its characters’ relationship to work has ranged from nonexistent to insultingly indulgent. The triumph of the most recent season’s final episode is the glee it takes in thumbing its nose at gentrification in our neighborhoods and on TV. Flighty Shoshanna converts conscientious Ray’s empty cafe into a anti-hipster coffee shop. As the original owner, Hermie, goes on a tirade while pouring free coffee around the shop, you can see the place is busy with cops and nurses, the average-looking and the elderly, the solidly middle-class.

It’s a joke — if you’re not working, you’re not real — that doubles as a critique of both “Girls” itself and the cultural ravages of the hangout show, especially. Television is losing what work is and knows it. Sarah’s arousal by that old working man on “Horace and Pete” is a recognition that something primal has gone: the making, the doing that prove that we exist. We built this; we manufactured that. Those jobs are disappearing. The factories and mills and laundries are now lofts and cafes where characters sit around and talk — where all they do is hang out."
tv  television  us  class  wesleymorris  labor  inequality  realitytv  work  2016 
may 2016 by robertogreco
On technology, culture, and growing up in a small town
"Rex Sorgatz grew up in a small and isolated town (physically, culturally) in North Dakota named Napoleon.
Out on the prairie, pop culture existed only in the vaguest sense. Not only did I never hear the Talking Heads or Public Enemy or The Cure, I could never have heard of them. With a radio receiver only able to catch a couple FM stations, cranking out classic rock, AC/DC to Aerosmith, the music counterculture of the '80s would have been a different universe to me. (The edgiest band I heard in high school was The Cars. "My Best Friend's Girl" was my avant-garde.)

Is this portrait sufficiently remote? Perhaps one more stat: I didn't meet a black person until I was 16, at a summer basketball camp. I didn't meet a Jewish person until I was 18, in college.

This was the Deep Midwest in the 1980s. I was a pretty clueless kid.

He recently returned there and found that the physical isolation hasn't changed, but thanks to the internet, the kids now have access to the full range of cultural activities and ideas from all over the world.
"Basically, this story is a controlled experiment," I continue. "Napoleon is a place that has remained static for decades. The economics, demographics, politics, and geography are the same as when I lived here. In the past twenty-five years, only one thing has changed: technology."

Rex is a friend and nearly every time we get together, we end up talking about our respective small town upbringings and how we both somehow managed to escape. My experience wasn't quite as isolated as Rex's -- I lived on a farm until I was 9 but then moved to a small town of 2500 people; plus my dad flew all over the place and the Twin Cities were 90 minutes away by car -- but was similar in many ways. The photo from his piece of the rusted-out orange car buried in the snow could have been taken in the backyard of the house I grew up in, where my dad still lives. Kids listened to country, top 40, or heavy metal music. I didn't see Star Wars or Empire in a theater. No cable TV until I was 14 or 15. No AP classes until I was a senior. Aside from a few Hispanics and a family from India, everyone was white and Protestant. The FFA was huge in my school. I had no idea about rap music or modernism or design or philosophy or Andy Warhol or 70s film or atheism. I didn't know what I didn't know and had very little way of finding out.

I didn't even know I should leave. But somehow I got out. I don't know about Rex, but "escape" is how I think of it. I was lucky enough to excel at high school and got interest from schools from all over the place. My dad urged me to go to college...I was thinking about getting a job (probably farming or factory work) or joining the Navy with a friend. That's how clueless I was...I knew so little about the world that I didn't know who I was in relation to it. My adjacent possible just didn't include college even though it was the best place for a kid like me.

In college in an Iowan city of 110,000, I slowly discovered what I'd been missing. Turns out, I was a city kid who just happened to grow up in a small town. I met other people from all over the country and, in time, from all over the world. My roommate sophomore year was black.1 I learned about techno music and programming and photography and art and classical music and LGBT and then the internet showed up and it was game over. I ate it all up and never got full. And like Rex:

Napoleon had no school newspaper, and minimal access to outside media, so I had no conception of "the publishing process." Pitching an idea, assigning a story, editing and rewriting -- all of that would have baffled me. I had only ever seen a couple of newspapers and a handful of magazines, and none offered a window into its production. (If asked, I would have been unsure if writers were even paid, which now seems prescient.) Without training or access, but a vague desire to participate, boredom would prove my only edge. While listlessly paging through the same few magazines over and over, I eventually discovered a semi-concealed backdoor for sneaking words onto the hallowed pages of print publications: user-generated content.

That's the ghastly term we use (or avoid using) today for non-professional writing submitted by readers. What was once a letter to the editor has become a comment; editorials, now posts. The basic unit persists, but the quantity and facility have matured. Unlike that conspicuous "What's on your mind?" input box atop Facebook, newspapers and magazines concealed interaction with readers, reluctant of the opinions of randos. But if you were diligent enough to find the mailing address, often sequestered deep in the back pages, you could submit letters of opinion and other ephemera.
I eventually found the desire to express myself. Using a copy of Aldus PhotoStyler I had gotten from who knows where, I designed party flyers for DJ friends' parties. I published a one-sheet periodical for the residents of my dorm floor, to be read in the bathroom. I made meme-y posters2 which I hung around the physics department. I built a homepage that just lived on my hard drive because our school didn't offer web hosting space and I couldn't figure out how to get an account elsewhere.3 Well, you know how that last bit turned out, eventually.4"
jasonkottke  kottke  rexsorgatz  2016  rural  internet  web  isolation  connectivity  change  subcultures  media  culture  childhood  youth  teens  socialmedia  college  education  universities  highered  highereducation  midwest  cv  music  film  television  tv  cable  cabletv  cosmopolitanism  worldliness  urban  urbanism  interneturbanism  1980s  northdakota  minnesota  homogeneity  diversity  apclasses  aps  religion  ethnicity  race  exposure  facebook 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Has the Internet Really Changed Everything? — Backchannel
[See also: http://kottke.org/16/04/on-technology-culture-and-growing-up-in-a-small-town ]

"How have decades of mass media and technology changed us? A writer returns to his remote hometown — once isolated, now connected. And finds unexpected answers."



"In the Napoleon of the 1980s, where I memorized the alphabet and mangled my first kiss, distractions were few. There were no malls to loiter, no drags to cruise. With no newsstand or bookstore, information was sparse. The only source of outside knowledge was the high school library, a room the size of a modest apartment, which had subscriptions to exactly five magazines: Sports Illustrated, Time, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, and People. As a teenager, these five magazines were my only connection to the outside world.

Of course, there was no internet yet. Cable television was available to blessed souls in far-off cities, or so we heard, but it did not arrive in Napoleon until my teens, and even then, in a miniaturized grid of 12 UHF channels. (The coax would transmit oddities like WGN and CBN, but not cultural staples like HBO or Nickelodeon. I wanted my MTV in vain.) Before that, only the staticky reception of the big three — ABC, CBS, NBC — arrived via a tangle of rabbit ears. By the time the PBS tower boosted its broadcast reach to Napoleon, I was too old to enjoy Sesame Street.

Out on the prairie, pop culture existed only in the vaguest sense. Not only did I never hear the Talking Heads or Public Enemy or The Cure, I could never have heard of them. With a radio receiver only able to catch a couple FM stations, cranking out classic rock, AC/DC to Aerosmith, the music counterculture of the ’80s would have been a different universe to me. (The edgiest band I heard in high school was The Cars. “My Best Friend’s Girl” was my avant-garde.)

Is this portrait sufficiently remote? Perhaps one more stat: I didn’t meet a black person until I was 16, at a summer basketball camp. I didn’t meet a Jewish person until I was 18, in college.

This was the Deep Midwest in the 1980s. I was a pretty clueless kid."



"“Basically, this story is a controlled experiment,” I continue. “Napoleon is a place that has remained static for decades. The economics, demographics, politics, and geography are the same as when I lived here. In the past twenty-five years, only one thing has changed: technology.”

Photog2 begins to fiddle with an unlit Camel Light, which he clearly wants to go smoke, even if it is 8 degrees below zero outside. But I am finding the rhythm of my pitch.

“All scientific experiments require two conditions: a static environment and a control — a testable variable that changes. Napoleon is the static environment; technology, the control. With all else being equal, this place is the perfect environment to explore societal questions like, What are the effects of mass communications? How has technology transformed the way we form ideas? Does access to information alone make us smarter?”

“How am I supposed to photograph that?” asks Photog2."



"As we discuss other apps on his home screen — YouTube, eBay, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo — I realize that my line of questions are really just attempts to prove or disprove a sentence that I read on the flight to Dakota. The sentence appears on page 20 of Danah Boyd’s book, It’s Complicated, a study of the social lives of networked teens:
What the drive-in was to teens in the 1950s and the mall was in the 1980s, Facebook, texting, Twitter, instant messaging, and other social media are to teens now.

I cannot shake the sentence, which seems to contain between its simple words a secret key, a cipher to crack my inquiries into technology and change. Napoleon didn’t have a drive-in in the 1950s, or a mall in the 1980s, but today it definitely has the same social communications tools used by every kid in the country. By that fact alone, the lives of teenagers in Napoleon must be wildly different than they were 20 years ago. But I lack the social research finesse of Boyd, who could probably interrogate my thesis about technology beyond anecdote. So I change the topic to something I know much better: television."



"Whether with sanguine fondness or sallow regret, all writers remember their first publishing experience — that moment when an unseen audience of undifferentiated proportion absorbs their words from unknown locales.
I remember my first three.

Napoleon had no school newspaper, and minimal access to outside media, so I had no conception of “the publishing process.” Pitching an idea, assigning a story, editing and rewriting — all of that would have baffled me. I had only ever seen a couple of newspapers and a handful of magazines, and none offered a window into its production. (If asked, I would have been unsure if writers were even paid, which now seems prescient.) Without training or access, but a vague desire to participate, boredom would prove my only edge. While listlessly paging through the same few magazines over and over, I eventually discovered a semi-concealed backdoor for sneaking words onto the hallowed pages of print publications: user-generated content.

That’s the ghastly term we use (or avoid using) today for non-professional writing submitted by readers. What was once a letter to the editor has become a comment; editorials, now posts. The basic unit persists, but the quantity and facility have matured. Unlike that conspicuous “What’s on your mind?” input box atop Facebook, newspapers and magazines concealed interaction with readers, reluctant of the opinions of randos. But if you were diligent enough to find the mailing address, often sequestered deep in the back pages, you could submit letters of opinion and other ephemera.

This was publishing to me. My collected works were UGC."



"“What are your favorite apps?”

This time my corny question is fielded by Katelyn, another student who my mother suggests will make a good subject for my harebrained experiment. During her study hall break, we discuss the hectic life of a millennial teenager on the plains. She is already taking college-level courses, lettering in three varsity sports, and the president of the local FFA chapter. (That’s Future Farmers of America, an agricultural youth organization with highly competitive livestock judging and grain grading contests. It’s actually a huge deal in deep rural America, bigger than the Boy and Girl Scouts. Katelyn won the state competition in Farm Business Management category.)

To the app question, she recites the universals of any contemporary young woman: Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest. She mentions The Skimm as a daily news source, which is intriguing, but not as provocative as her next remark: “I don’t have Facebook.”

Whoa, why?

“My parents don’t support social media,” says the 18-year-old. “They didn’t want me to get Facebook when I was younger, so I just never signed up.” This is closer to the isolationist Napoleon that I remember. They might not ban books anymore, but parents can still be very protective.

“How do you survive without Facebook?” I ask. “Do you wish you had it?”

“I go back and forth,” she avers. “It would be easier to connect with people I’ve met through FFA and sports. But I’m also glad I don’t have it, because it’s time-consuming and there’s drama over it.”

She talks like a 35-year-old. So I ask who she will vote for.

“I’m not sure. I like how Bernie Sanders is sounding.”

I tell her a story about a moment in my junior civics class where the teacher asked everyone who was Republican to raise their hand. Twenty-five kids lifted their palms to the sky. The remaining two students called themselves Independents. “My school either had zero Democrats or a few closeted ones,” I conclude.

She is indifferent to my anecdote, so I change the topic to music.

“I listen to older country,” she says. “Garth Brooks, George Strait.” The term “older country” amuses me, but I resist the urge to ask her opinion of Jimmie Rodgers. “I’m not a big fan of hardcore rap or heavy metal,” she continues. “I don’t understand heavy metal. I don’t know why you would want to listen to it.”

So no interest in driving three hours in the snow to see AC/DC at the Fargodome last night?

“No, I just watched a couple Snapchat stories of it.”

Of course she did.

While we talk, a scratchy announcement is broadcast over the school-wide intercom. A raffle drawing ticket is being randomly selected. I hear Jaden’s name announced as the winner of the gigantic teddy bear in my mother’s office.
I ask Katelyn what novel she read as a sophomore, the class year that The Catcher in the Rye was banned from my school. When she says Fahrenheit 451, I feel like the universe has realigned for me in some cosmic perfection.

But my time is running out, and again I begin to wonder whether she is proving or disproving my theories of media and technology. It’s difficult to compare her life to mine at that age. Katelyn is undoubtedly more focused and mature than any teenager I knew in the ’80s, but this is the stereotype of all millennials today. Despite her many accomplishments, she seems to suppress the hallmark characteristic of her ambitious generation: fanatic self-regard. Finally, I ask her what she thinks her life will be like in 25 years.

“I hope I’ll be married, and probably have kids,” she says decisively. “I see myself in a rural area. Maybe a little bit closer to Bismarck or Fargo. But I’m definitely in North Dakota.”

I tell her that Jaden gave essentially the same answer to the question. Why do you think that is?

“The sense of a small community,” she says, using that word again. “Everyone knows each other. It’s a big family.”"
internet  technology  rexsorgatz  2016  isolation  cv  web  online  culture  distraction  media  film  music  quietude  publishing  writing  worldliness  rural  howwelive  thenandnow  change  community  smalltowns  schools  education  journalism  books  censorship  fahrenheit451  raybradbury  thecatcherintherye  jdsalinger  newspapers  communication  socialmedia  snapchat  facebook  instagram  pinterest  theskimm  news  danahboyd  youtube  ebay  yahoo  twitter  videogames  gaming  subcultures  netflix  teens  youth  connectivity  childhood  college  universities  highered  highereducation  midwest  television  tv  cable  cabletv  cosmopolitanism  urban  urbanism  interneturbanism  1980s  northdakota  homogeneity  diversity  apclasses  aps  religion  ethnicity  race  exposure 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Métis In Space
"Welcome to Métis in Space - the podcast where your hosts, Molly and Chelsea, drink a bottle of (red) wine and, from a tipsy, decolonial perspective, review a sci-fi movie or television episode featuring indigenous peoples, tropes and themes."

"Métis In Space hilariously deconstructs the science fiction genre through a decolonial lense. Join hosts Molly Swain & Chelsea Vowel as they drink a bottle of (red) wine, and from a tipsy, decolonial perspective, review a sci-fi movie or television episode featuring Indigenous Peoples, tropes & themes."
mollyswain  chelseavowel  scifi  sciencefiction  film  television  movies  indigeneity  decolonization  tropes  themes 
april 2016 by robertogreco
How Snapchat Built a Business By Confusing Olds
"Snapchat, which was most recently valued at $16 billion, doesn’t look or feel like any normal form of communication. Open the app, and you’re confronted by a full-screen viewfinder that looks a lot like your phone’s regular camera app. Mysterious abstract icons hover in corners. Swiping right reveals your messages. This is where committed users send hundreds of selfies a day to their friends, annotating them with emojis or doodles, or applying one of Snapchat’s constantly changing collection of rainbow-vomit-type filters.

Swiping left gets you to the meat of the app: stories. These are short video clips that run in a series and disappear within 24 hours. You, your friends, and people you follow, like DJ Khaled, can post. The upper half of the screen is devoted to variations on stories: the day’s Snapchat-produced Live Stories, as well as Snapchat Discover. There are 20 Snapchat Discover channels, each produced by established media brands such as People, CNN, ESPN, and the Wall Street Journal, as well as up-and-comers such as Vice, BuzzFeed, and Refinery29. Coles’s Cosmo channel is on Discover, as is Sweet, a publication run by the magazine’s parent company, Hearst.

Discover partners generally post 10 or more videos a day on its channels. App users can tap a channel icon to start watching the stream, and tap again to skip to the next clip. Or, if they’re intrigued by a clip, they can swipe up to watch a longer version or read an article. No matter how they tap or swipe, users stay in the app. Links to the Web aren’t allowed. Publishers love not having to compete with a steady stream of links from other publishers, as on Facebook or Twitter, and advertisers love that users actually seem to watch the ads. Since last year, Snapchat has broadened its advertiser base by introducing less-expensive products. Today, buying time on Discover costs $20 per thousand views—more than twice what an ad goes for on Facebook and Instagram. The proceeds are split between Snapchat and its media partners.

The number of Discover slots is limited—right now it’s just the 20 that fit on one Snapchat screen—and competition among media brands is fierce. In July, Snapchat dropped Yahoo! even though Spiegel had personally recruited Katie Couric, Yahoo’s lead news anchor. BuzzFeed got that slot. Snapchat declines to explain why it bounced Yahoo, but traffic to the channel was reportedly poor. Shortly after replacing Yahoo on Discover, BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti disclosed that 21 percent of his company’s overall audience came from Snapchat, a share exceeded only by Facebook and BuzzFeed’s own website and apps.

For less-established companies, getting a Discover slot can be transformative. “That was a dramatic moment in the life of our company,” says Steven Kydd, a co-founder of Tastemade, a four-year-old media startup focused on food and travel videos. Since joining Discover in August, Tastemade has added 20 employees, raised an extra $40 million in venture capital, and reoriented itself around Snapchat. Tastemade started out producing videos primarily for YouTube, then expanded to Facebook, Instagram, and Apple TV. To be eligible for Snapchat’s Discover feature, not only did Tastemade have to produce even more videos, it also needed them to work on a smartphone screen, which is more complicated than it sounds. “This,” Kydd says, pointing at a TV mounted vertically on the wall in Tastemade’s studio in Los Angeles, “is how millennials view content.”

The company built a set, specifically designed for vertical videos, that’s roughly 15 percent skinnier than a standard set and has cameras turned on their sides. Tastemade still has to fill up the other platforms, so it shoots the rest of its videos horizontally on high-resolution cameras, while keeping the action in the middle third of the screen so the footage can also run on Snapchat. TV monitors in the studio are marked with black tape that shows the Snapchat version’s frame. Afterward, segments are edited into multiple cuts: vertical for Snapchat, square for Instagram and Facebook, horizontal for YouTube and Apple TV. “Everything in the industry is designed around landscape video, so to do portrait you kind of have to hack the process,” says Jay Holzer, Tastemade’s head of production."



"History suggests that cookie-based media, and Snapchat in general, may be a fad. In 2013, several viral video companies thrived, thanks to a knack for being able to rank highly in Facebook’s News Feed by using teasing headlines. For a time, it worked; Upworthy, for example, saw traffic hit nearly 90 million unique users. But Facebook changed its News Feed, consumers tired of the click bait, and traffic sank. “Facebook changed and we adapted,” says Upworthy co-CEO Peter Koechley.

Before he helped start Tastemade, Kydd was an executive vice president of Demand Media, which ran content farms, websites that cranked out posts by the thousands on a daily basis. Posts had little informational value—for instance, “How to Put on a Speedo” was a classic—but they generated huge traffic, and ad revenue, by exploiting a quirk in the way Google handled search queries. The company went public in 2011 and peaked at a valuation of roughly $2 billion—at the time, about 25 percent more than that of the New York Times. Then Google updated its algorithm, and Demand Media’s traffic collapsed. Today its market capitalization is roughly $100 million, and it has a new management team. Kydd notes that Tastemade has always focused on high-quality content.

In late February, Snapchat announced it would provide detailed demographic information about users through Nielsen’s digital ratings service, a welcome development for some advertisers wary of the hype. “Snapchat is awfully expensive, and there’s pretty much a lack of data and visibility,” says Thom Gruhler, a marketing vice president at Microsoft. Another complaint: Meetings with Snapchat executives are rare. “Whether it’s Imran [Khan, Snapchat’s chief strategy officer] or Evan, it’s like getting an audience with the pope,” says an executive at one of the largest ad agencies. With Facebook and Twitter, the big agencies get as many meetings as they want.

Snapchat declined to comment on this critique, but it has informed media buyers that it plans to improve ad targeting and measuring while promising a more hands-on approach. And in February it struck a deal to allow Viacom to sell ads on Snapchat’s behalf. “They’re in the midst of growing up,” says Carrie Seifer, president for digital at Starcom MediaVest Group.

For now, that’s been enough. Advertisers don’t have a lot of good options to reach under-30s. The audiences of CBS, NBC, and ABC are, on average, in their 50s. Cable networks such as CNN and Fox News have it worse, with median viewerships near or past Social Security age. MTV’s median viewers are in their early 20s, but ratings have dropped in recent years. Marketers are understandably anxious, and Spiegel and his deputies have capitalized on those anxieties brilliantly by charging hundreds of thousands of dollars when Snapchat introduces an ad product. OMD’s Winkler calls this a “shrewd strategy” that “instantly elevates the conversation—often to the CMO level,” which means that Snapchat ad buys are often subject to less budgetary scrutiny than normal. “Every CMO’s kid is using it,” says Starcom’s Seifer."
snapchat  2016  genertions  age  video  mobile  television  tv  tastemade  verticalvideo  portraitvideo 
march 2016 by robertogreco
American Spring
[See also: “The Technorati vs. the Left Behinds”
https://medium.com/@johnrobb/tectonic-shifts-in-american-politics-55940872e94e#.w2ujxzmoo ]

"A one party system ran the United States, and the United States ran the world.

The US had checks and balances – governing required consensus, and the people were freed from kings. To protect speech, the framers left out a rule against conspiracies to monopolize the vote.

Political parties formed to monopolize the vote. The losing parties kept ganging up until only two parties remained. Resembling vast and immortal corporations, they consolidated all political power.

The parties need mass media to win elections. Media literally intermediates reality and programs voters by framing the acceptable parameters of any debate. Mass media costs mass money.

The elites, a plutocracy of the top few percent, bought the parties. So cheaply in fact, that they bought both.

The elites are merely people that went to the right schools, grew up in the right neighborhoods, and came from the right money and the right families. It’s not a formal conspiracy – rather an intricate and distributed system, organized by the invisible hand of the market, voting with dollars and newspaper ink, and controlling the country all the same.

Within some parameters, the elites argue – bombs from the air or boots on the ground? How much should we tax income?

Mostly the elites agree to keep power with elite institutions, controlling the masses who cannot be trusted. Yes to wars, yes to mass surveillance, yes to bailouts, yes to war on drugs, yes to war on terror, yes to endless copyrights, yes to monopolies and oligopolies, no to term limits, no to wealth taxes… On these and others, pick R or D, there are no choices.

The Elite Party runs the system and it basically works. The elite stay elite. Income may be taxed, but wealth compounds. The most belligerent and implacable of the masses are sent to fight in mercifully distant wars. Crime happens in other people’s neighborhoods. The prisons are full and everyone is being watched. The pie expands, slowly and un-evenly, and all is well.

One weakness – the presidency is a single office of great visibility and power, directly and democratically elected. One person, one vote. Regardless of education, ethic, breeding, knowledge, achievement. Is everyone actually, really, equally qualified to vote, the elites wonder?

The elites lock the crown behind two massive gates – it costs a billion dollars to run for president. And incalculable, favorable mass media exposure.

This works well – so well that the elites get lazy, handing off presidential power within dynasties – between fathers and sons, husbands and wives.

Statistically speaking, what are the odds that the two most qualified candidates to be president out of 300 million people are siblings? Or married?

Barack Obama interrupts an in-process coronation. Using hope, change, and emerging alternative online media, he organizes and brings new voters to the polls. But back then, it still takes television, money, newspapers, and the party apparatus. He can’t and doesn’t do it alone, and eventually joins the elite.

Today, it’s a different world. YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook let one human broadcast to billions, without permission, without censors, without delay. Social media makes mass organization and resistance possible.

The Arab Spring is just one consequence. The American Spring of 2016 is another.

Social and alternative media dominates and disintermediates mass media. Every column brings a hundred rebuttals. The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are stood like commoners next to bloggers, begging for tweets, likes, and votes. We are all journalists and editors now.

Bernie can play this game. The MoveOn crowd organizes effortlessly using the new media.

Trump can play this game. The reality show vet generates outrage and impressions, tweeting as he goes.

Meanwhile, the Internet kills the political ad. Everyone is online – skipping, blocking, or just mis-clicking.

Bernie spends a bit on ads. Trump doesn’t bother.

It’s not just publishing – the Internet lets anyone donate little bits online. Bernie taps the crowd – over a million dollars a day from small donors! Again, Trump doesn’t bother. He just self-finances.

The mass media barrier is down. The money barrier is down.

A mob is pushing Bernie. Trump is pulling one behind him.

The elites are livid. They sneer at the masses – Uneducated. Socialist. Racist. Luddite.

Throughout history, elites and plutocrats have feared direct democracy. One-person, one-vote logically leads towards mob rule. Socialism. Tribalism. The masses are always “crazier” than the elites. The elites like the status quo, so they pull policy towards the center. It’s the masses that want real change.

YouTube killed TV and Twitter ate the news. Donald’s tweeting from his jet and Bernie’s kickstarter went viral. Software is eating politics and the elites have lost control.

Now we see “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” The neatly labeled bundles of “Democrat” and “Republican” are going to get re-assembled by the voters, one vote at a time instead of one dollar at a time.

Sanders’ voters think the rich stole their money. Trump’s voters think the illegals stole their jobs.

There is no more establishment. Like all things Internet, social media and crowd financing are unstoppable. Every large future election will have outsiders out-organizing, out-raising, and out-raging the establishment.

America is going from a republic of elites to a direct democracy. Look to your left, and look to your right. Wake up – the people are here."
americanspring  arabspring  politics  2016  culture  economics  us  democracy  media  donaldtrump  twitter  youtube  television  tv  moveon  barackobama  elites  elitism  inequality  oligopoly  plutocracy  johnrobb  classism 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Clay Shirky on the why's behind current US Presidential Election cycle - Loose Leaves
[Now available here too: http://civichall.org/civicist/clay-shirky-on-the-whys-behind-current-us-presidential-election-cycle/ ]

"I started writing about both parties becoming host bodies for 3rd party candidates. Instead of an essay, it turned into 50 tweets. Here goes

Social media is breaking the political 'Overton Window' -- the ability of elites to determine the outside edges of acceptable conversation.

The Overton Window was imagined as a limit on public opinion, but in politics, it's the limit on what politicians will express in public.

Politically acceptable discourse is limited by supply, not demand. The public is hungry for more than politicians are willing to discuss.

This is especially important in the U.S., because our two-party system creates ideologically unstable parties by design.

In order to preserve inherently unstable coalitions, party elites & press had to put some issues into the 'Don't Mention X' category.

These limits were enforced by party discipline, and mass media whose economics meant political centrism was the best way to make money.

This was BC: Before Cable. One or two newspapers per town, three TV stations; all centrist, white, pro-business, respectful of authority.

Cable changed things, allowing outsiders to campaign more easily. In '92, Ross Perot, 3rd party candidate, campaigned through infomercials.

That year, the GOP's 'Don't Mention X' issue was the weakness of Reaganomics. Party orthodoxy said reducing tax rates would raise revenues.

Perot's ads attacked GOP management of the economy head on. He was the first candidate to purchase national attention at market rates.

Post-Perot, cable became outside candidates' tool for jailbreaking Don't Mention X: Buchanan on culture war, Nader on consumer protection.

After Cable but Before Web lasted only a dozen years. Cable added a new stream of media access. The web added a torrent.

What's special about After Web -- now -- is that politicians talking about "Don't mention X" issues are doing so from inside the parties.

This started with Howard Dean (the OG) in '03. Poverty was the mother of invention; Dean didn't have enough $ to buy ads, even on cable.

But his team had Meetup & blogs and their candidate believed something many voters did too, something actively Not Being Mentioned.

In '03, All Serious People (aka DC insiders) agreed the U.S. had to invade Iraq. Opposition to the war was not to be a campaign issue.

Dean didn't care. In February of 2003, he said "If the war lasts more than a few weeks, the danger of humanitarian disaster is high."

Dean said "Iraq is a divided country, with Sunni, Shia and Kurdish factions that share both bitter rivalries and large quantities of arms."

Dean said "There is a very real danger that war in Iraq will fuel the fires of international terror."

For All Serious People, this was crazy talk. (Dean was, of course, completely correct.) This was also tonic to a passionate set of voters.

Mentioning X became Dean's hallmark. Far from marginalizing him, it got him tons of free news coverage. Trump is just biting those rhymes.

After webifying Perot's media tactics, Dean pioneered online fundraising. Unfortunately for him, his Get Out The Vote operation didn't.

That took Obama. Obama was less of an outsider than Dean (though still regarded as unelectable in '07) but used most of Dean's playbook.

Besides charisma, he had two advantages Dean didn't have. First, the anti-war position had gone from principled oppositon to common sense.

Obama could campaign not just on being prescient (as Dean also was) but on having been proved right years earlier.

The second advantage was that Obama's voter mobilization strategy--the crown jewels--was superior to that of the Democratic Party itself.

This was the last piece. Perot adopted non-centrist media, Dean distributed fundraising, Obama non-party voter mobilization.

Social media is at the heart of all of this. Meetup and Myspace meant Dean and Obama didn't have to be billionaires to get a message out.

Online fundraising let outsiders raise funds, and it became a symbol of purity. Anyone not raising money at $25 a pop is now a plutocrat.

And then there was vote-getting. Facebook and MyBarackObama let the Obama campaign run their own vote-getting machine out of Chicago.

McLuhan famously said "The medium is the message." This is often regarded as inscrutably gnomic, but he explained it perfectly clearly.

The personal and social consequences of any medium result from the new scale introduced into our affairs by any new technology.

The new scale Facebook introduces into politics is this: all registered American voters, ~150M people, are now a medium-sized group.

All voters' used to be a big number. Now it's <10% of FB's audience. "A million users isn't cool. You know what's cool? A billion users."

Reaching & persuading even a fraction of the electorate used to be so daunting that only two national orgs could do it. Now dozens can.

This set up the current catastrophe for the parties. They no longer control any essential resource, and can no longer censor wedge issues.

Each party has an unmentionable Issue X that divide its voters. Each overestimated their ability to keep X out of the campaign.

Jeb(!) Bush, who advocates religious litmus tests for immigrants, has to attack Trump's anti-immigrant stance, because it went too far.

Clinton can't say "Break out the pitchforks", because Democratic consensus says "We've done as much to banks as our donors will allow."

In '15, a 3rd party candidate challenging her on those issues from inside the party was inconceivable.("I don't think that word means...")

So here we are, with quasi-parlimentarianism. We now have four medium-sized and considerably more coherent voter blocs.

2 rump establishment parties, Trump representing 'racist welfare state' voters, and Sanders representing people who want a Nordic system.

Trump is RINO, Sanders not even a Dem. That either one could become their party's nominee is amazing. Both would mark the end of an era.

We will know by March 15th whether a major party's apparatus can be hijacked by mere voters. (Last time it was: McGovern.)

But the social media piece, and growing expertise around it, means that this is now a long-term challenge to our two-party system.

Over-large party coalitions require discipline to prevent people from taking an impassioned 30% of the base in order to win the primaries.

The old defense against this by the parties was "You and what army?" No third party has been anything other than a spoiler in a century.

The answer to that question this year, from both Trump and Sanders, is "Me and this army I can mobilize without your help."

Who needs a third party when the existing two parties have become powerless to stop insurgencies from within?"
clayshirky  politics  us  rossperot  berniesanders  2016  politicalparties  cable  marshallmcluhan  themediumisthemessage  media  television  control  messaging  facebook  fundraising  platforms  discipline  issues  division  donaldtrump  jebbush  barackobama  hillaryclinton  democrats  republicans  coaitions  thirdpartycandidates  howarddean  2003  meetup  internet  web  socialmedia  1992  getoutthevote  myspace  money  campaigns  campaigning  mybarackobama  rino  georgemcgovern  elections 
february 2016 by robertogreco
CHARACTER MODEL
"Concept Character Art, Character Model Sheets from Games, Movies, Comics, Toys and Animation. Some good Fanart too."
tumblrs  art  characterdesign  comics  television  film  animation  games  videogames  gaming  toys  via:robinsloan 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Williams Gibson: On Technophobia and the Power of Film | Literary Hub
"In part one [http://lithub.com/william-gibson-on-phones-fiction-and-the-end-of-the-world/ + https://soundcloud.com/lithub/william-gibson-part-one/s-0Jwns ] of Paul Holdengraber’s phone call with William Gibson, topics included dystopias, the universal screenwriter, and the disruption of the telephone. In part two,

[https://soundcloud.com/lithub/william-gibson-part-two/s-my54E ]

William Gibson on the availability of culture…

If you had never heard recorded music and you didn’t have it as a category of experience—if it simply never existed for you—I think that your concept of what music is would be fantastically different. Something that’s happened, a change that’s occurred over the course of my own life that I think somewhat puts this vague claim I’m making into perspective, is the way in which seeing a film used to be something that was so dependent on so many factors that it made it largely unrepeatable. You could see the film on its theatrical release, but unless you lived in, say, New York, there were no repertory cinemas. So people saw a film once and then lived with it in memory, there was no television, there were no videotapes of films. Film existed primarily in memory, and the experience of actually seeing it was very intense.

William Gibson on Chris Marker…

I first saw Chris Marker’s La Jetée in a film history course when I was an undergraduate at the University of British Columbia. I had been vaguely aware of it earlier because it is, you know, technically a science fiction film even though it’s a short avant-garde French film. I had had in my life no opportunity to see any avant-garde French film, so I had no idea what to expect. I wasn’t really expecting very much. It had this extraordinarily profound effect on me, and it’s very, very brief. I actually left the lecture hall feeling uneasily that I had somehow—that something had happened, that I’d experienced some sort of transformation, and I didn’t know what it was.

William Gibson on technophobia…

I’m dubious about ranking… I’m not sure about ranking. I’ve long suspected that what our descendants will find quaintest about us it that we made distinctions of that sort. That they’ll be looking back and they’ll be going, So strange they didn’t think Facebook was “real.” There’s a wonderful, weird book, the title of which I will probably be unable to remember, but it’s a collection of first-person accounts of Victorians encountering new technologies. It’s taken from diaries and letters—it’s not famous people, just ordinary people. The one that always struck me was an Anglican clergyman who went to a garden party, heard an Edison phonograph talking, and went home and wrote this completely terrifying description of this demonic, satanic, mechanical voice speaking to the children in the garden, and how this probably presaged the end of the world. He was just writing for himself, so he wasn’t exaggerating, and I thought, Oh, wow. He had this absolutely intense experience, but I don’t think I could say that what it caused him to fear came to pass."
williamgibson  technophobia  film  chrismarker  lajetee  culture  2016  television  tv  paulholdengraber  interviews  experience  memory  recordings  music  audio  listening  nostalgia  lajetée 
january 2016 by robertogreco
When Television Is More Than an “Idiot Box” — The Development Set — Medium
"Around the world, TV educates while it entertains. It can teach the internet a few things, too."



"When it comes to education and technology, it is not television but the internet that is hot and wired. The United Nation’s Broadband Commission, packed with luminaries from Mexico’s Carlos Slim to Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, suggests that the internet can “enhance learning opportunities, transform the teaching and learning environment… and ultimately rethink and transform” education systems.

At first glance, the internet could be a very attractive tool to overcome a global learning crisis. At the turn of the 21st century, the World Bank reported that about seven percent of the world’s population was online. Last year, it had reached 41 percent.

But it turns out just giving kids access to the web doesn’t do much for educational outcomes. Across countries that take part in the Programme of International Student Assessment (PISA), children who use computers more intensively do worse on tests. One Laptop Per Child, which distributes cheap computers in developing countries, has been beset by failure. In Peru, they had no impact on math and language test scores. Similar findings emerged in Nepal. Likewise, extending access to broadband in schools in Portugal led to lower grades — although the impact was reduced if YouTube was blocked.

There is a simple explanation. When you give kids a computer, they’re not suddenly more excited by math and social studies. Children are, for the most part, more interested in the medium’s entertainment capabilities."



"Under some circumstances, television can be at least as effective as traditional instruction. Mexico’s Telesecundaria programming broadcasts six hours of lessons a day to children in remote areas of the country where there is no secondary school.

For the most part, though, television has remained an adjunct in the classroom, rather than a replacement for teachers. But as a more holistic tool for learning outside the classroom, it has had a massive impact — particularly when it serves its primary function to entertain and not educate.

Recent research suggests there can be a considerable upside to hours “wasting time” in front of the television screen. Take Chitrahaar and Rangoli. Illiterate school kids who watched the shows were more than twice as likely to be functionally literate five years later than kids who didn’t watch the shows. The effect was particularly noticeable for girls. Given the reach of these two programs, it’s possible that millions of Indian kids became literate largely thanks to the simple and very cheap approach of same-language subtitling.

Perhaps the most well known form of educational entertainment, or “edutainment,” for children is Sesame Street, which is now broadcast in more than thirty countries around the world. In the US, children who grew up in areas where the television signal was stronger — and so had better access to Sesame Street — were much less likely to have to repeat a grade in school. In Mexico, viewers of Plaza Sesamo do better in literacy and mathematics tests. The results are the same in Turkey (Susam Sokagi), Portugal (Rua Sesamo), Russia (Ulitsa Sezam) and Bangladesh (Sisimpur), to name but a few.

elevision’s educational power extends beyond childhood, and beyond skills traditionally learned in a classroom. As cable access rolled out across India, for example, viewers of all ages started watching shows where comparatively strong women characters had financial and social independence. Women in villages with cable access reported more power over making decisions and less acceptance of wife beating. These villages also began to see declining birth rates and rapidly rising school enrollment for girls.

Similar effects have been observed around the world. In Brazil, as the Rede Globo channel extended across the country in the 1970s and 1980s, parents began to have fewer children, perhaps mimicking the characters on their favorite soaps. Recent research in Nigeria finds that areas where the TV signal is stronger see parents wanting fewer children and using contraceptives more, alongside lower rates of female genital cutting. In South Africa, World Bank researchers found that viewers of one locally produced soap opera, “Scandal”, which was specifically developed to incorporate plot lines dealing with financial responsibility, were almost twice as likely to borrow from formal sources of credit like banks rather than informal sources. They were also less likely to engage in gambling.

When soap opera characters are relatable and believable, audiences begin to associate with them. If a beloved character stands up for herself in front of her husband, or gets in over their head in debt, or gets pregnant by accident, viewers learn from that experience. And that knowledge translates into changed behavior: more control within the household, less informal debt, fewer children.

Heavy-handed public service messages on television, like condescending “the more you know” spots, may impart information but rarely engage viewers. The same may well be true of the internet. For most children in particular, it is primarily used as a source of fun and not education.

Pioneers around the world are already experimenting with internet-based edutainment for kids. Sites like ABC Mouse, among countless others, produce educational games for children. Pratham, an Indian NGO, has developed a program combining math questions with an arcade game. Children who used it for two hours a week saw their math test scores considerably improve. Given the internet’s interactive nature, perhaps the impact of well-designed web edutainment will end up being even greater than the broadcast variety.

Edutainment will never be able to replace teachers in a classroom. But well-designed programming — whether it arrives by broadcast or broadband — can have a dramatic impact at low cost."
charleskenny  television  tv  education  learning  howwelearn  2016  olpc  entertainment  mexico  turkey  russia  portugal  bangladesh  india  sesamestreet  literacy  math  mathematics 
january 2016 by robertogreco
The Pickle: A Conversation About Making Digital Books — Medium
"But I also wonder if there’s a factor beyond straight economics — a way in which the currently ascendant Startup Narrative can get applied where it doesn’t quite belong. Robin, you brought up the question of platforms vs one-off, artisanal apps. I think the answer has got to be somewhere in between — an assortment of platforms, plus an accrual of code libraries and lessons learned. But I also think that question itself can be inhibiting to the creative process — this drive to anticipate the future, to guess correctly, to fit optimally within larger trends. To me, maybe that’s the true reality-distortion field — the blurring of “worthwhile” and “scalable,” the idea that valuation will tell us whether something’s a good idea. That standard might work well for, say, grocery-delivery startups, but is it how we want to think about our novels, our stories, our art-whatevers? Publishing has grappled with these tensions for centuries, but they might be less familiar in the tech world.

Sorry to sound like an elderly hippie! I guess what I’m trying to say is this: If every novel is an implicit declaration of a definitive Future of Publishing, we’ll miss out on a lot of great novels — and, what’s more, we might miss out on some great futures of publishing too. I don’t know if these answers can really be found without rolling up our sleeves and just Making Stuff — seeing what works, what doesn’t, what’s annoying, what’s fun, how many dumb pickle jokes are too many, etc. Having a strange idea and then bringing it into reality, regardless of efficiency or scalability.

This comes back to Russell’s description of the process — meandering, playful, with lots of back-and-forth between the two of us and between the various demands of the project. What he describes is typical of many creative endeavors, but it might be a bit unusual for a traditional programming job. Pickle could never have resulted from me handing Russell a finished text and a list of specs — I mean, we thought we had a decent idea about what we were making two years ago, but we were very wrong. The project had to find itself, and that required actual collaboration, not just outsourcing — fluidity and looseness, experimentation and fun.

As for whether “eight years of ebooks” is a blink or an eternity, I have no idea. But I do know that there’s no guarantee that we’ll end up in a place that serves us as individuals, as readers and writers. I mean, look at television — finally flowering after, what, sixty years? And not as a result of any fundamental change to the medium, but just a bunch of smaller evolutions that opened the door to new creators and new audiences. I’m hoping we won’t have to wait til 2068 for ebooks to do the same (though I’m sure Russell is itching to whip up a multiplatform rendering of 91-year-old Eli’s epic poem, Incontinence on Mars)."
elihorowitz  2015  books  creativity  publishing  economics  tv  television  playfulness  play  making  experimentation  future  thepickleindex  storytelling  scalability  scale  platforms  suddenoak  russellquinn  fluidity  looseness  glvo  srg 
december 2015 by robertogreco
The Digital Disparities Facing Lower-Income Teenagers - The New York Times
"The study found some overarching themes. Teens and tweens, for instance, generally reported spending much more time watching television than they did on social media.

The study also analyzed the differences in children’s media use based on entertainment prototypes — such as mobile gamers, social networkers and heavy consumers of television and music — and by race, gender, household income and parents’ level of education.

The stark differences in daily activities among teenage and tween subgroups are likely to spur further research into the implications of such divergent media access and use.

“The reason that we need to be concerned about disparities here is that technology and media are now part and parcel of growing up in America,” said Ellen Wartella, the director of the Center on Media and Human Development at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. A professor of communication, she has conducted research on children, media and race.

“When there are disparities, even if it’s a question of how smart your phone is, teens and tweens may not have access to what they need — not just for school, but for other parts of their lives as well,” Dr. Wartella said. “They aren’t able to participate in the way that more wealthy teens and tweens are able to.”

The study also found that, while black teenagers and teenagers in lower-income households had fewer computers at home, those who did have access to smartphones and tablets typically spent more time using them each day than their white or higher-income peers."
us  inequality  digitaldivide  2015  teens  youth  socialmedia  media  television  tv  smartphones  laptops  computing  internet  web  online  ellenwartella 
november 2015 by robertogreco
No Country for Young Women | Incisive.nu
"Of course that’s what he thought, crooned the snake in the brain. And on the bad old days, when the snags were fresh: Not one of your heroes believed you’re a person.

But eventually you remember the snake is a shit. So I clawed through the stacks till I found writers who did cast women as people. Virginia Woolf and Toni Morrison and Anaïs Nin and Nicola Griffith and Elizabeth Hand and Jeanette Winterson and William Gibson and Gertrude Stein. (Meshell Ndegeocello, Martina Topley-Bird, Beth Gibbons, Diamanda Galás, Missy Elliott, Nina Simone.) They even gave me the headroom to appreciate a few of the male writers who dehumanized women in literature or abused them in life without losing my actual mind."
books  feminism  gender  reading  erinkissane  2015  women  writing  television  film  music  virginiawoolf  tonimorrison  anaïsnin  nicolagriddith  elizabethhand  jeanettewinterson  williamgibson  gertrudestein  meshellndegeocello  martinatopley-bird  bethgibbons  diamandagalás  missyellitott  ninasimone  literature 
august 2015 by robertogreco
Dish Blight: The Ruins of Satellite TV Are All Around | Atlas Obscura
"There’s a name for this growing eyesore: dish blight.

Satellite dishes, of course, are a global phenomenon. Dish blight, as it’s been called since around 2010, is a focus mostly in American cities, but it’s an issue that will hit every country that goes through the same pattern of cable/internet replacing satellite TV that we have now. For the time being, it’s American cities that have begun to take note of the phenomenon. DirecTV alone has over 20 million subscribers in the United States and nearly that many in Latin America, and given the rapid turnover of satellite TV, that leaves thousands abandoned in any given city.

“We understand there are upwards of 5,000 that are not in service, just sitting on the facades of properties,” Philadelphia councilman Darrell Clarke told Newsworks. Clarke, who represents a large stretch of Philadelphia’s many historic districts, pushed a bill through the city council in 2011 that’s designed to reduce the eyesore of satellite dishes in his district through efforts like repainting them to blend in with the building itself.

In turn, organizations ranging from the satellite companies to affordable housing advocates have protested the new bills, which they see as removing a low-cost connection option in favor of more expensive solutions like cable—in other words, some advocates see the fight against dish blight as a proxy war against the poor.

But how did we even get here? What is the deal with satellite dishes littering America’s urban homes?"

[via: https://twitter.com/harmancipants/status/618249394371043329 ]
antennas  2015  infrastructure  urban  landscape  television  tv 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Sense8 and the Failure of Global Imagination | thenerdsofcolor
"There should be word for the exhilaration of a half-success coupled with the glowing disappointment of the half-failure, that two-sided coin. People who don’t speak German would say that there must be a long-ass German word for it. There isn’t, but German has the virtue of allowing someone to make a half-assed attempt at coining it. Ehrgeitzversagensschoene? I mention this, because this is one of the primary failures of the show: it attaches itself to Americans’ perceptions of how things are in other idioms, as much as, or more than, it attaches to how things actually are.

To put it plainly: Sense8’s depiction of life in non-western countries is built out of stereotypes, and of life in non-American western countries is suffused with tourist-board clichés. The protagonist in Nairobi is a poor man whose mother has AIDS and whose life is ruled by gangs; in Mumbai we have a woman in a STEM career marrying a man she doesn’t love and engaging in Bollywood dance numbers; in Korea we have a patriarchally oppressed wealthy corporate woman who also happens to be a kickass martial artist; in Mexico City we follow a telenovela actor. London and Reykjavik are filmed using tourist locations and anonymous interiors.

Worse, the filmic clichés of each country are brought to bear on the production in each location — each organized by a different director: Nairobi is sweaty, garish, earth-toned, radiantly shabby; Mumbai is multicolored, and Hindu iconned, full of the jewelry, silks, flowers, and jubilant crowds that burst out of classic Bollywood; Seoul is clean to the point of sterility, with little patches of grass and mirrors and windows everywhere, a grey, hi-tech aesthetic; Mexico City is jewel-toned, rife with skulls, full of melodrama deliberately reminiscent of the telenovela; etc. I believe, quite literally, that the filmmakers primarily learned about these other cultures through their films, and considered that enough.

And finally, the pop-cultural elements of the show are all American. There’s no evidence of local or national culture influencing how the non-American characters view themselves or live their lives. The Kenyan sensate idolizes Jean-Claude Van Damme (who is, granted, not American, but known for his role in American action films). The German sensate claims Conan the Barbarian quotes as his personal philosophy. The Icelandic DJ in London puts on 4 Non Blondes’ hideous anthem “What’s Goin’ On?” and infects the entire cluster with a dancing/singing jag. Where there’s no American cultural lead — in Korea and Mexico, and even in the Ganesh-worshipping Indian sensate’s life — the characters’ life philosophies are a blank.

The Wachowskis take advantage of the apparent international ascendancy of American pop culture to unify disparate cultures, when the way American pop works on non-western cultures is often counterintuitive to Western minds. Sense8 also displays a profound lack of recognition of local pop cultures even when they would definitely have influenced such characters. In the show, American pop is specific, non American pop is generalized and clichéd, as in the Bollywood dance, or entirely absent.

The universality being promoted here is a universality of American ideas, American popular culture, American world views. It’s like Stephen Colbert’s idea of freedom of religion:

“I believe that everyone has the right to their own religion, be you Hindu, Jew, or Muslim. I believe there are infinite paths to accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior.”

If the entire show were an even spread of such thin notions, I could dismiss the show, or even enjoy it as as a guilty or problematic pleasure. But Sense8 has two great counter virtues.

The first is in the depiction of the San Francisco sensate, which is the best representation both of the city and of that particular community that I’ve ever seen on TV. Nomi, a trans woman, is first seen wandering through a very locally-informed San Francisco cityscape during Pride weekend. At every level, the limning of Nomi’s character and the study of San Francisco are intimate, layered, nuanced, and above all, specific. Nomi doesn’t fall off a bike somewhere in San Francisco, she falls off a motorcycle in the Castro during the Dykes on Bikes parade, which she rides in every year with her girlfriend, a gesture of extreme importance to her identity. She doesn’t meet-cute her girlfriend in a random park; she remembers a key moment early in their relationship where her girlfriend stands up for her against a hostile TERF during a picnic in Dolores Park.

It’s the specificity that rings true to this San Franciscan, and that signals to all viewers that this world is real, and the character is alive within it.

It’s a vision of how the entire show could have been, if the Wachowskis could have figured out in time how to bring this level of intimacy and specificity to their depiction of all the characters, and all the cities. Because Tom Tykwer, himself a Berliner, directs the Berlin sequences, you see a little bit of this familiarity in the locations chosen for that city and in the character of Wolfgang — his East German origins, his family’s Slavic name and orthodox religion, etc.

But none of the other sensates, including the idealistic Chicago cop, bear anything close to the level of intimate knowledge or specific detail that Nomi or Wolfgang have. In fact, pay attention and you’ll see how generalizing the locations and incidents are. For example: in Nairobi, the sensate’s bus is robbed in what the characters themselves call “a bad area,” i.e. they don’t refer to the district by its name.



But even this failure in the rest of Sense8’s world is countered somewhat by its second great virtue, which is that it commits totally to its clichés and rides them out to their conclusions. Thank the slow pacing for this. The entire 12-episode first season covers a story arc that would generally be covered in the first two episodes of any other show (the sensates are introduced, discover each other, start to learn the rules of their condition, meet their antagonist, and finally successfully pull off their first combined action). The very deliberation with which the story unfolds forces the writers to unpack details of each character’s life and situations that bring a kind of life and reality to the clichés they’re embedded in. Details are forced into the narrative — one by one in each character’s arc — and each character eventually becomes rooted in these details, even though they often come late in the season.



In a discussion before I wrote this piece, I disagreed with a friend about the handling of language in the show. I really appreciated the choice of having all characters speak English without forcing them all to speak English in cheap versions of their “native” accents. And, given that this was an American TV show, I didn’t expect the makers to force American audiences to read subtitles. My friend, however, pointed out that it would have been… well, less hegemonic for everyone to be actually speaking their own languages.

Upon reflection, I have to agree that having the dialogue in non-English speaking countries translated would have offered the translators an opportunity for input about the content of the dialogue. And if the Wachowskis had hired writers from each culture to translate not merely the text but also the entire culture and idiom — up to and including changing plot points and points of view to better fit with the local culture of that character — this could have solved their whole problem.

Whether or not you believe in the universality of human experience — whether or not you believe in a single global imagination — the only way to attempt to depict a true global imagination would be to create — in the writers room and on the directors’ chairs — a facsimile of a sensate cluster. Just imagine it: eight equal auteurs, each in their own physical location and cultural context, striving together — and frequently pulling apart — to achieve a single, complex story on film. Even the failure of such an enterprise would have been far more ambitious, far more glorious, far more Ehrgeizversagensschoen, than the Sense8 we actually got.

And if it had succeeded?

There are four more seasons to go on this show — if the Wachowskis get their way. Let’s hope that in the future their globalism is more than just an aesthetic decision.

Bottom line: yes, watch it. Binge it. Its failure is far more interesting than the success of almost anything else happening at this moment. And it’s truly one of the most diverse shows on TV right now."
sense8  tv  television  wachowskis  universality  language  culture  global  2015  clairelight  stereotypes  universing  translation  humans  human  humanexperience 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Learning Networks, Not Teaching Machines
"But what can we say about the Villemard vision of “a learning network”? Does it meet our standards today, our belief in the ways in which networks can transform teaching and learning? I’d imagine it does not because this particular learning network is centralized. In that way, it is more akin to Edison’s vision of the future of education – where the knowledge is delivered by (and this power resides in) whatever replaces the teacher and the textbook. For both Edison and Villemard here, the students are receptors, not transmitters of knowledge.

When we talk about the potential for “networked learning” today, I think (I hope) we mean something different. The promise: the Internet – and the Web in particular – enable a readable and a writable platform, where a multitude of voices can express themselves as creators not just consumers and not just through text but through a multitude of media – audio, video, still images, code. These new wires have powerful implications for self-organized learning, some argue – a new participatory culture of learning that need not be managed or monitored by formal educational institutions or by traditional sources of information. The new networks, like the Web itself, ostensibly act as this very postmodern sort of technical infrastructure whereby power is decentralized, distributed.

But it’s not decentralized entirely. It’s certainly not distributed evenly. It never has been. Yet there’s that tendency once again to recast the history of technology as equitable if not equalizing – a nostalgia for a “web we lost” – such as when last year Sir Tim Berners-Lee said it was time to “re-decentralize” his invention, the World Wide Web. Berners-Lee noted – rightly so, I’d say – that “for-profit internet monopolies such as search engines and social networks,” along with government surveillance, threaten the Web’s original, open infrastructure.

Ostensibly open.

I’ve been thinking about this faith we’ve put in online networks – this trust that they are open, for example, or that they flatten hierarchies. I’ve been thinking too, as I’ve researched the history of education technology and teaching machines, about other, older networks. Indeed, many of these networks have not gone away. The telephone company or the television cable company is likely now – in the United States at least – your Internet provider as well. We are building our learning networks on these older technologies. We are building them on and with pre-existing and emerging monopolies.



Despite the promise of the Internet and the Web to “democratize education” – we hear the MOOC proponents talk about this a lot – or to offer this new and radically meritocratic form of “networked learning,” we must remember that our technical infrastructure is controlled by a small number of powerful corporations, alongside – in terms of support, censure, and surveillance, the world’s governments. To repeat David Golumbia, “The network map is not the political territory.”



The Internet and the Web do not exist at the end of history. Technology will change. But the geopolitics, the economic forces will change the Internet and the Web as well. Networks change – canals are replaced by railroads; radio stations are replaced by television and now the Internet. The Internet will be likely replaced by something else. And no doubt, we can see already its consolidation and centralization. We can see the battles for who owns the signal. (The FCC plans soon to license off more wireless spectrum for the “Internet of Things” via auction – that is, to the highest bidder.) We can see the battles for who owns, who controls the network.

Education has not historically fared well when it comes to competing with commercial providers – not on the radio, not on the television, nor I’d argue on new computer-based technologies. These networks have triumphed commercially, politically. In turn, they frame what we mean by network – what we expect them to do, who gets to participate in them and how.

There is no inevitability here. And resistance and alternatives are certainly possible. But we must act to shape the future – to shape the technology and the politics that we want to have. We must act to shape the learning networks we want to have – starting, as I originally intended this talk to address – that we do not want the centralized control, the automation, the teaching machines that Villemard envisioned for us a century ago. If, as some argue, learning networks are powerful new ways for us to organize and share as learners, then we must consider how we can build and wield them (or at least, how they are built and wielded). Networks – not just as analogies, but as what is becoming the very real architecture of how we learn and live.

“The network map is not the political territory.” What territory do we maintain for the future of education? Whose network map are we using to find our way?"
audreywatters  2015  networks  networkedlearning  learning  education  schools  pedagogy  monopolies  power  decentralization  television  tv  content  davidgolumbia  maps  mapping  history  villemard  edtech  centralization  control 
june 2015 by robertogreco
The Internet Of Things And Things. | MORNING, COMPUTER
"The term “Internet Of Things” is a desperate attempt to make a pointer for a field that barely exists yet.  We do this a lot these days.  We use the word “television” to point at a field of industry that doesn’t particularly use television sets anymore.  We use the word “telephone” for a class of mobile devices that we very rarely use telephonically anymore.  And we act like the term “Internet Of Things” makes sense for the field we’re trying to define.  And, unless the modern internet was originally biological in nature, it was always an internet of things.  I always got my internet out of boxes of various kinds.  Didn’t you?  If you think Internet of Things is a good name, did you previously obtain your connection through whalesong or echolocation?  Did you pour Soylent on your Internet Lobe to get online?  Did you send your packets by raven? It’s always been an internet of things, and those people have never been any good at naming stuff, and that’s how we ended up with “tweets.”"
warrenellis  internetofthings  iot  2015  television  telephones  internet  language  naming  classification 
may 2015 by robertogreco
THE WONDER YEARS, Involuntary Memory, and Mourning | judgmental observer
"This scene was just one of many that has resonated with me in new ways since I began rewatching The Wonder Years, some 24 years after it first aired. This experience has resulted in a doubled viewing position. On the one hand, I am watching as a 35-year-old and so the historical and cultural touchstones that I missed when I was 12 (the changing meaning of the suburbs in America in the 1960s; the anti-war movement; the students protests of 1968; The Feminine Mystique) are suddenly visible and significant. But at the same time, as I watch, I am still watching as a 12 year old."
thewonderyears  memory  nostalgia  childhood  parents  2015  via:jslr  amandaannklein  television  tv  proust  memories  mourning  age  aging  relationships 
april 2015 by robertogreco
The Many Faces of Tatiana Maslany - NYTimes.com
"In its subject matter, “Orphan Black” broods on the nature-nurture debate in human biology, but in its execution, the show cleverly extends the same question to matters of genre. What does the exact same woman look like if you grow her in the petri dish of “Desperate Housewives” or on a horror-film set in Eastern Europe? What about a police procedural? The result is a revelation: Instead of each archetype existing as the lone female character in her respective universe, these normally isolated tropes find one another, band together and seek to liberate themselves from the evil system that created them.

By structuring the story around the clones’ differences, “Orphan Black” seems to suggest that the dull sameness enforced by existing female archetypes needs to die. Early in the first season, there is a serial killer hunting down the clones ­— it turns out to be Helena, the Ukrainian — who ritualistically dismembers Barbie dolls after dyeing their hair to match that of her next victim. It’s a creepy touch, but one that can also be read as a metacriticism of how women are used on TV: the punishing beauty standards to which they’re held, the imposed uniformity. (Need a new sitcom wife? Grab the prototype and change the hairstyle.) Our low tolerance for difference among female characters means that they will almost always be less interesting, less memorable and less beloved than their male counterparts. In this context, Helena becomes a kind of hero, slaughtering televisual conformity and constituting, in both her savagery and her warmth, a radical expansion of what women on television can be. And each character, including the criminally insane one, gets considerable attention and respect, even when it comes to questions about butter."



"She expressed some ambivalence about the way fame produces demand, especially in an age of social media. “People just want want want want stuff,” she said. There are awards shows, red carpets; she appreciates it all, but is careful not to let it control her. “You exist without this stuff,” she said. “This stuff doesn’t define you or anything.” Maslany has pointed out that her “Orphan Black” characters, too, must deal with the discovery that they are — in some sense — property and refuse to let it define them. “That always resonated for me as a woman,” she told Vanity Fair in an interview, “this idea of our bodies not being our own. That they’re owned by someone else. That the image of them is owned by someone else.”"



"On “Orphan Black,” the clones fight constantly for control of their own lives and bodies, and Maslany obliquely linked their struggle to her own experience with the publicity machine. “This is about volition and autonomy,” she said of the show, “and that was resonating with me, being an actor who was suddenly being interviewed or being dressed.”

It was an offhand remark, but the connection she drew between self-­ownership and the alienating experience of press interviews — especially given our circumstances — was as subtle as it was smart. I thought about it that night, back at my hotel. Interviewing is a strange business, and I was impressed by the tact and frankness with which Maslany had articulated her discomfort. “Glancing blow, warmly delivered,” I scribbled in my notebook.

Weeks later, Maslany walked the red carpet at the SAG Awards, dressed and styled to the teeth. She smiled brightly. Her fans cheered her gleefully on Twitter. But when Maria Menounos invited her to use the “mani-­cam” to display her nails and jewelry (an invitation some actors walking the red carpet refused, finding it sexist), she bashfully confessed that she hadn’t gotten her nails done and then pulled off what I’ve come to think of as the ultimate Maslany maneuver: She stuck her unmanicured hand in and gave the camera a thumbs-­up, concealing her nails. A glancing blow, warmly delivered."



"“But it’s not about insanity!” Maslany exclaimed. “Her emotional life is so enormous that it can’t be contained, and I think there’s something really beautiful about that. It’s weird to call it insanity, or weird to dismiss her as a victim. I don’t see her as a victim in the slightest. She’s just off. She’s off. She’s just odd.”

I confessed that I agreed with her. Watching “A Woman Under the Influence,” I too fell for Rowlands and her fragile, nutty, compellingly huge character.

Maslany described her favorite scene in the film to me. She prefaced this by saying, “It’s not the most feminist scene on the planet.” In it, Mabel has returned from being institutionalized and manages to perform a broken kind of normalcy with some success. But her husband can’t take it; he’s devastated by what she has become — what he has done to her. He tries to slap her back to herself. “It’s just the two of them silhouetted, and he’s slapping her and going, Bah-bah! Bah-bah!” Maslany said. “And he’s telling her to do the thing that she does, which is just be herself. He can’t handle the fact that she’s been sent away to be changed and to be made homogeneous and made easy to palate.”

There are traces of Mabel in Maslany’s Helena, whom Maslany allows to become off-­putting and even genuinely frightening in ways that female characters rarely get to be. Mabel is not the safe, charming bumbler of the romantic comedy. Nor is Helena, who is erratic, hilarious and homicidal — but never predictable. As Maslany put it, “she’ll probably poop on your face or something.” Maslany cherishes roles that leave room for that kind of unlikability and risk. “The greatest gift as an actor,” she said, “is you get to go, Well, I’m doing this as a character, but really, this is me, this is me at my worst, my worst bits of me.”"



"One of the most interesting things about the show, and its metacriticism of the genres it juggles, isn’t just how elegantly it addresses the solitude that the lone female character on many shows suffers in her particular TV universe. It’s also how resolutely the show refuses to place these genres in opposition to one another. There’s no condescension here; Alison’s suburbia gets as much visual and narrative respect as Rachel’s evil corporate empire. The characters find one another because the system that produced them and scattered them is breaking down. What emerges is a full, generative map of the possibilities that emerge when you let the Strong Female Character and her lonely sisters from other genres mix. By exploring the different directions that “genetic identicals” can take when differently nurtured, “Orphan Black” shows what a single actor can do when given the opportunity — and, by extension, reveals the interesting stories that emerge when women are afforded the chance to exist in rich narrative relation to one another.

Despite Maslany’s reluctance, I managed to steer our conversation back to her magical quick-change act. I still wanted to know how she does it. “I think there’s something about being prepared enough that you can surrender,” she said. Then she quoted to me something the dancer Martha Graham told the choreographer Agnes de Mille in 1943.

At the time, de Mille was confused and bewildered by her sudden rise to fame, and Graham offered her words of encouragement. It is a beautiful pep talk, practically written in verse. I can see why it has special meaning for Maslany as she navigates the challenges of the fishbowl herself. The part Maslany recounted to me is this: “It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable it is, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”

De Mille asked Graham when she would feel satisfied, and Graham replied: “There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.” I asked Maslany what her divine dissatisfaction was. “I don’t know how I would label it right now,” she said. “I think if I looked back on this time, I’d probably see where it lived.”"
2015  tatianamaslany  orphanblack  acting  television  lililoofbourow  tv  naturenurture  gender  marthagraham  agnesdemille  feminism  volition  interviews  self-ownership  identity  genre 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Original Fare - YouTube
"Join Kelly Cox on her weird adventures across the U.S. as she hangs with chefs, hunters, moonshiners and other characters. She cuts through the pretty packaging and buzzwords of the foodie movement to make the food we eat real."
food  video  tv  television  srg  kellycox  towatch 
april 2015 by robertogreco
FutureEverything 2015: Alexis Lloyd & Matt Boggie on Vimeo
"From New York Times R&D Labs, Alexis Lloyd and Matt Boggie talk about our possible media futures, following the early days of the web - where growth was propelled forward by those making their own spaces online - to the present, where social platforms are starting to close down, tightening the possibilities whilst our dependency on them is increasing. Explaining how internet users are in fact participatory creators, not just consumers, Alexis and Matt ask where playing with news media can allow for a new means of expression and commentary by audiences."
public  media  internet  web  online  walledgardens  participation  participatory  2015  facebook  snapchat  open  openness  alexisloyd  mattboggie  publishing  blogs  blogging  history  audience  creativity  content  expression  socialnetworks  sociamedia  onlinemedia  appropriation  remixing  critique  connection  consumption  creation  sharing  participatoryculture  collage  engagement  tv  television  film  art  games  gaming  videogames  twitch  performance  social  discussion  conversation  meaningmaking  vine  twitter  commentary  news  commenting  reuse  community  culturecreation  latoyapeterson  communication  nytimes  agneschang  netowrkedculture  nytimesr&dlabs  bots  quips  nytlabs  compendium  storytelling  decentralization  meshnetworking  peertopeer  ows  occupywallstreet  firechat  censorship  tor  bittorrent  security  neutrality  privacy  iot  internetofthings  surveillance  networkedcitizenship  localnetworks  networks  hertziantribes  behavior  communities  context  empowerment  agency  maelstrom  p2p  cookieswapping  information  policy  infrastructure  technology  remixculture 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The Next Internet Is TV - The Awl
"Websites are unnecessary vestiges of a time before there were better ways to find things to look at on your computer or your phone."



"In this future, what publications will have done individually is adapt to survive; what they will have helped do together is take the grand weird promises of writing and reporting and film and art on the internet and consolidated them into a set of business interests that most closely resemble the TV industry. Which sounds extremely lucrative! TV makes a lot of money, and there’s a lot of excellent TV. But TV is also a byzantine nightmare of conflict and compromise and trash and waste and legacy. The prospect of Facebook, for example, as a primary host for news organizations, not just an outsized source of traffic, is depressing even if you like Facebook. A new generation of artists and creative people ceding the still-fresh dream of direct compensation and independence to mediated advertising arrangements with accidentally enormous middlemen apps that have no special interest in publishing beyond value extraction through advertising is the early internet utopian’s worst-case scenario."
future  internet  media  television  tv  2015  johnherrman  hosting  journalism  content  snapchat  facebook  channels  buzzfeed  vox  youtube  video  delivery  syndication  advertising  ads  fusion  espn  cnn 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The BBC, the licence fee and the digital public space | openDemocracy
"The Controller of the BBC’s archive strategy maintains the institution’s fundamental role within the media ecology and argues that the Licence Fee should safeguard a new democratic digital public space."



"So what would the ‘Digital Public Space’ look like?

It should have all the original values of the ‘Analogue Public Space’, plus some amazing new features and services that were previously impossible or unimaginable:

1. It would ensure a guarantee of access to a protected allocation of internet bandwidth for every citizen, free at the point of use, at home and in key public places – conceptually similar to frequencies within the broadcast spectrum reserved for Public Service Broadcasting

2. The Digital Public Space will offer an ever growing digital library of digitised media and assets from our publicly funded organisations: our public service broadcasters, our museums, libraries and archives, our institutions of education and our public services.

3. The Digital Public Space will offer innovative products and services that allow people to access, contribute to and communicate with the public and cultural sectors

4. Users can be safe and secure to discover, use and share without fear of loss or theft or unintended exposure of their personal data and creative endeavours

5. The Digital Public Space works through unmetered consumption, free at the point, of use for every person, regardless of status or ability. The Digital Public Space will not require a broadband subscription. It will be available anywhere across the UK, at any time, to anyone.

6. And finally: the Digital Public Space cannot be taken away.

To get there, perhaps we may need help from the source that created the BBC in the first place – an ambitious desire for there to be an infrastructure constantly developed in the public interest. The combination of Real Thought and Significant Engineering. In fact we already have that remit written into the BBC charter. The sixth public purpose for the BBC states:

(f) in promoting its other purposes, helping to deliver to the public the benefit of emerging communications technologies ...

I believe that to understand the BBC’s relevance in the 21st Century, we need to ask, not just “what is the BBC for?” but also “what is the Licence Fee for?” They are not the same thing but, inadvertently, we have allowed them to be seen as the same.

I think we should go back to first principles and consider the emerging needs of all Licence Fee Payers – not only those who actually pay the fee itself – and ensure that in the future each and every one of us has guaranteed access to the public sphere, control over their own data and identity and enduring services that they can trust and depend on.

We used to be broadcast beings. We are now internet beings. However with more and higher barriers to entry to the digital realm we must work hard to ensure that nobody is stripped of the ability to be a citizen of the future.

I believe that is, and has always been, the higher calling for both the BBC and the Licence Fee."

[See also: “A digital public space is Britain’s missing national institution | Technology | The Guardian” (Jemima Kiss)
http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/mar/05/digital-public-space-britain-missing-national-institution ]
2015  tonyageh  bbc  uk  digitalpublicspace  digitalsocialism  jemimakiss  history  television  tv  media  publicgood  publicspace  licencefee  web  online  internet 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Review: UK Filmmaker Cecile Emeke's 'Ackee & Saltfish' Okayafrica.
"Cecile Emeke has a talent for dialogue. In the opening scenes of Ackee & Saltfish, when best friends Olivia (Michelle Tiwo) and Rachel (Vanessa Babirye) banter over breakfast or on the hunt for Jamaican take-out, they’re easily able to explore topics both intimate and broad without losing a beat. These seamless conversations allow Tiwo and Babirye’s spot-on comedic instincts to shine, forming the backbone of Emeke’s smart but highly relatable brand of comedy.

Emeke’s portrayal of two young Black women is unlike anything else on TV or the web right now. Yet something about it feels familiar. There’s no contrived romantic subplot, no barriers the characters need to overcome, no existential crises they need to work through. Rather, Emeke has the confidence and skill to let her characters do what two young Black women are so rarely allowed to do on screen – just hang out.

Prior to Ackee & Saltfish, Emeke worked primarily with short documentary style films, including the equally stellar  Strolling series. This latest project is fictionalized, but shot more like a series of mini docs, with each episode playing like a snapshot, wholly contained, and tied up nicely at the end. While there is no overarching narrative that ties the pieces together (nor with the film), each installment broadens our understanding of the emotional core into Rachel and Olivia’s characters and friendship. Olivia, the bleeding heart of the pair, is upfront with her progressive politics, and Rachel is the embodiment of the carefree black girl as the two broach issues related to race, class, gender and ethnicity with subtlety. The effects of gentrification, for example, are manifested in Olivia’s frustration at not being able to find a Jamaican food joint in her neighborhood. Through deft storytelling, Emeke makes bigger picture problems specific and personal without losing their social and cultural implications.

Emeke’s approach to filmmaking is lean. There‘s no excessive dialogue, no unnecessary scenes. It feels natural to get comfortable in the company of Olivia and Rachel. By the time the film closes you don’t really care if the friends finally manage to get their hands on some ackee and saltfish– you’re just glad you got to tag along."
cecileemeke  ackee&saltfish  2015  adwoaafful  dialog  film  filmmaking  television  tv  comedy  friednship  politics  storytelling  blackness  women  gender  conversation 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Supercargo: an interview with Peter Moosgaard — pasta and vinegar
"Nicolas Nova: Can you tell us more about your supercargo tumblr? What's the logic behind it and how did you become interested in this?

Peter Moosgaard: I think it was about 2005 in south-tirol when i read about cargo cults on a trivial persuit card. i was studying digital arts at that time and got extremely bored with technology. Media arts and digital culture seemed too much about technological progress at that time. everybody was just celebrating technology itself, but technology is never just a cool tool. its pure ideology. the artistic approaches on the other hand were extremely lame. do you know ars electronica festival? it became more and more of a toy expo. i was intrigued by the cargo cults because they celebrated and mocked technology, culture, imperialsim at the same time. i thought, well maybe theres a strategy! when i was crippled by a major depression and panic attacs in 2013 i started the Supercargo Blog. i found myself completely unable to work, but could still surf tumblr, repost stuff etc .. posting became a daily ritual for me and it still is. i just try to put together sets of images with found material, maybe some day i will be able to work again.

NN: There seems to be a growing interest in this kind of projects, this sort of logic. I'm thinking about this Futur Archaïque exhibit in Belgium I mentioned, but also other art/design projects related to it. Why do you feel this is happening now?

PM: I think something like this is in the air, and its getting bigger. why, i dont know .. maybe its an archaic revival in connection with digital media. Terence McKenna described that conclusively decades ago, and i think he is still right. as advanced these technologies are, they set us back into a mystic perception, a general attraction to archaic forms. we just have to adapt to immense data income every day, logic has to be set aside simply to cope with a hypernervous global culture. it all becomes archaic and mythological. it is just a necessary strategy. another more mundane explanation would be, that people are just getting fed up with the slick, sterile utopia apple is trying to sell us.

NN: Do you see this relate to this "post-digital" art scene that we see popping up these days? A need to go beyond the digital?

PM: Yes the postdigital aspect was always very important in my work. i started making postinternet stuff before it even had a name. i tried to see art and technology from the viewpoint of the simple consumer. basically because i myself had no skills at all, no programming skills, no crafting skills etc .. and i find everybody can relate to that everything else is not subversive/emancipatory in my eyes. in my view we´re more and more trying to work like machines, like computers. but how would a simple human do that, not trying to imitate a machine? the postdigital has many forms, and with "supercargo" i took my simplistic position. use only poor materials, embrace capitalist mythology, make a second hand utopia. its a free party from now on!

NN: Lots of these projects are fascinating because they interrogate us about the nature/culture debate. From your perspective, as an astute observer of such projects, what do they tell us about our relationship to technology?

PM: Culture, art and technology are basically utopia factories. you can relate and research (maybe subvert) that in form of simple products. messianic devices, artwork masterpieces, they are part of a larger system. they all have their histories, rules, all these invisible forces manifest in products. the way i see it, we are living in a time governed by cybernetics alone. it was allways in the interest of cybernetics to describe organisms and technology alike. to make a supersystem for processes be it biological or cultural. that is frightening in the end. anyway, maybe through cybernetic thinking we can realise that technology isn't artificial at all. we are just a material processing species, like bees producing honeycombs. i find it interesting to look at the material world again, as we are absorbed in informational worlds. Mcluhan said that every new medium absorbs the old media as its content, therefore making it visible AGAIN. Look at todays TV Shows, they became an artform after the internet absorbed TV. Now the World itelf is upon total simulation. The physical world is becoming visible for the first time i think, and material world will be a cult- a fetish.

NN: It's interesting to see Cargo Cults as the new sort of belief, beyond the Western/non-Western distinction, a sort of general perspective on things with a strange relationship to consumerism and material culture, what's your take on this?

PM: As written in the Supercargo Manifesto: Surprisingly the local performers of the Cargo Cults succeeded: By remaking western technology with bamboo, they attracted actual planes full of tourists and anthropologists. People got interested in the exotic parades using western imagery. The John Frum Movement (“John from Merica”) suddenly had an audience, soon bringing actual stuff (cargo) to the island. The cargo shaman once said: You build your plane too and wait in faith. the waiting is the hardest part. According to some shamans the planes awaited will also bring weapons to throw off colonialist oppressors. The cargo cults are strange mockups of imperialism, at the same time keeping old traditions. But is the cult for real or just performance? It does not matter, no difference, it is about the act. The Tale of the Cargo ringing true on so many levels. The cult of the cargo is our world exactly: We perform meaningless routines we call work,in hope for future cargo. With a technology that could navigate us to the moon, we write LMAO. The western world itself is a giant cult of imitating things that somehow work: dressing in suits, using buzzword-vocabulary, mimicking old forms of art. who knows why.. The longing for godlike goodies on the horizon, the usage of things we don´t understand: a big parable of desire. The waiting, the waiting is the hardest part!"
petermoosgaard  nicolasnova  cargocult  performance  2015  consumerism  materialism  cybernetics  culture  art  technology  marshallmcluhan  television  digital  physical  anthropology  imperialism  mediaarts  digitalculture  post-digital  supercargo 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Holy Shit, I Interviewed the President — Medium
[via kenyatta and via http://interconnected.org/home/2015/01/26/filtered ]

"Walking around the White House, seeing the Press Briefing Room and all of the two-hundred-year-old chairs and decoy helicopters reminded me that the history of post-democratic power is really the history of legitimacy."



"There is nothing actually legitimate about Fox News (or MSNBC for that matter) and young people know this. They don't trust news organizations because news organizations have given them no reason to be trusting."



"Legacy media isn't mocking us because we aren't a legitimate source of information; they're mocking us because they're terrified."



"The source of our legitimacy is the very different from their coiffed, Armani institutions. It springs instead (and I'm aware that I'm abandoning any modicum of modesty here) from honesty. In new media this is often called "authenticity" because our culture is too jaded to use a big fat word like "honesty" without our gallbladders clogging up, but that's really what it is.

Glozell, Bethany and I don't sit in fancy news studios surrounded by fifty thousand dollar cameras and polished metal and glass backdrops with inlayed 90-inch LCD screens. People trust us because we've spent years developing a relationship with them. We have been scrutinized and found not evil. Our legitimacy comes from honesty, not from cultural signals or institutions."

[Matt says http://interconnected.org/home/2015/01/26/filtered :

"We have been scrutinized.

Sharpest analysis I've read in forever re: What Is Going On.

The internet means we don't have to trust second-hand signals, and we choose not to because second-hand signals have been abused. In who we get our views from - and who we give our money to - we can scrutinize."]
hankgreen  socialmedia  authneticity  foxnews  bigmedia  media  journalism  politics  youtube  2015  honesty  legitimacy  news  msnbc  trust  mainstreammedia  tv  television 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Mongolian nomads: Ambitious program uses solar panels to connect region’s 800,000 nomads to the grid.
"An ambitious program is bringing modern tech to Mongolia’s 800,000-strong nomadic population."



"Before the program, about 90 percent of nomads relied on candles, coal, and yak dung to light and heat their homes, shelling out more than the cost of a solar panel in the space of a few years for smoky and inefficient power. Just over half managed to power a phone or radio with a diesel generator or motorcycle battery, draining more of their meager budgets. In cutting down on energy costs and increasing availability, the solar panel program freed up cash, creating a brand new industry of small appliance providers in the countryside. The industry is so robust that now 70 percent of nomads have a color TV and satellite dish and 90 percent are hooked into a mobile phone network.

Those mobile phones and televisions, in turn, have hooked nomads for the first time into the information superhighway. Gaaj now has access to weather reports and makes phone calls to markets to manage his livestock, keeping more animals alive and fetching a higher price for their wool, milk, and meat. His phone allows him to stay connected with young family members attending boarding school in the towns and to seek out medical advice from distant clinics."



"Many nomads believe that the power of mines, 90 percent of the national economy today, allows mineral extractors and developers to flout laws protecting the forests, water reservoirs, and grazing grounds vital to nomads from degradation.

The sense of encroachment made national heroes out of four nomads who, in 2010, opened fire with their old hunting rifles on an empty mining camp and, the next year, organized a 100-man horseback demonstration in Ulaanbaatar, firing arrows at the Government House. In 2013 President Tsakhia Elbegdorj won his second term on a platform of tighter foreign mining controls. And even with these boosts to the rural economy, more than 800,000 Mongols, many of them nomads, still live below the national poverty line.

Their way of life is under threat, and they have not achieved parity with their urban kin. Some contend that these forces are breeding a nascent anti-mining, pro-traditionalist eco-terror movement. Tsetsegee Munkhbayar, one of those who fired on the mines, and his Gal Undesten movement now stand accused of planting bombs outside government buildings in 2013. “We are a small group of simple herders fighting powerful people,” Munkhbayar told a New Zealand journalist in 2011. “It’s not an easy fight but we cannot stand by idly and watch our land and way of life come to an end.”

But Gaaj is a savvy and entrepreneurial man. He has the tools to utilize his wits and to sustain his family without just scraping by now. The flimsy tinfoil-looking contraption outside his ger is enough of a lifeline to stand on and fight from, and that’s worth something out in the brutal emptiness of the steppe."
mongolia  nomads  2015  technology  solar  markhay  electricity  energy  television  mobile  phones 
january 2015 by robertogreco
'In the 2000s, there will be only answers' -- Fusion
"Some writers we know write about the future: William Gibson, Margaret Atwood, Octavia Butler, Philip K. Dick, Ursula Le Guin. We expect them to find insights about how humans might live. But what about someone like Marguerite Duras, an influential post-war French novelist and filmmaker? She had important things to say about the 20th century. What might she say about the future?

Photonics researcher Antoine Wojdyla stumbled across an interview with Duras from September 1985 in the French magazine Les Inrocks. Struck by Duras’ perspective on technology and deception, he translated the article out of the goodness of his heart and sent it to me. It’s strange and remarkable, an uncanny interpretation of our present.

I read her statement as a kind of pre-answer to Google and wearables and the quantified self. When former Google CEO Eric Schmidt told the Wall Street Journal in 2010, “I actually think most people don’t want Google to answer their questions. They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next.” That’s what Duras means when she says, “In the 2000s, there will only be answers.”

In any case, here’s Duras as translated by Wojdyla:
In the 2000s, there will be only answers. The demand will be such that there will only be answers. All texts will be answers, in fact. I believe that man will be literally drowned in information, in constant information. About his body, his corporeal future, his health, his family life, his salary, his leisure.

It’s not far from a nightmare. There will be nobody reading anymore.

They will see television. We will have screens everywhere, in the kitchen, in the restrooms, in the office, in the streets.

Where will we be? When we watch television, where are we? We’re not alone.

We will no longer travel, it will no longer be necessary to travel. When you can travel around the world in eight days or a fortnight, why would you?

In traveling, there is the time of the travel. Traveling is not seeing things in a rapid succession, it’s seeing and living in the same instant. Living from the travel, that will no longer be possible.

Everything will be clogged, everything will have been already invested.

The seas will remain, nevertheless, and the oceans.

And reading. People will rediscover that. A man, one day, will read. And everything will start again. We’ll encounter a time where everything will be free. Meaning that answers, at that time, will be granted less consideration. It will start like this, with indiscipline, a risk taken by a human against himself. The day where he will be left alone again with his misfortunes, and his happiness, only that those will depend on himself.

Maybe those who will get over this misstep will be the heroes of the future.

It’s very likely, let’s hope there will be some left…
"
alexismadrigal  2015  answers  questions  askingquestions  questionasking  margueriteduras  predictions  passivity  reading  howweread  online  internet  web  thewaywelive  indiscipline  happiness  misfortune  travel  traveling  tv  television  media  screens  information  infooverload 
january 2015 by robertogreco
The 60-second interview: Tim Carmody, independent technology journalist | Capital New York
"CAPITAL: You were a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania before becoming a journalist. Why did you decide to leave academia?

CARMODY: “Decide” might be the wrong word. I was on the academic job market for two years, 2008 and 2009, which were really just a slaughterhouse. Getting a tenure-track job or a good postdoc in the humanities is kind of like getting drafted into the N.B.A. in any year, but schools were cancelling searches and trimming their adjunct budgets right and left, and more and more jobless PhDs were piling up. I was in the top two or three for a couple of really good jobs, which was harder in some ways because it felt really close. Some people keep playing the lottery for years and years, but I just didn’t have the heart to keep doing it.

But I was really lucky; I’d been writing online for popular and crossover publications while I was still in grad school, a couple of essays in The Atlantic. I wrote a future-of-media blog with Matt Thompson and Robin Sloan called Snarkmarket that was really smart and fun and popular with the right people. Jason Kottke liked my writing and asked me to guest-edit his blog. Then Wired took a chance and hired me—I really couldn’t have asked for a better first job in journalism. After that, all the momentum for me was in journalism, so I’ve been doing that ever since.

Still, I’d totally be Professor Carmody in UC-Santa Barbara’s English department if things had gone my way, and I don’t know, maybe that would have been a happy ending too.

CAPITAL: Does your academic background still inform your reporting, or have you found that the skills valued by academia and those valued by journalism are total opposites?

CARMODY: I think the tools of journalism and scholarship complement each other. I had to learn how to be a reporter: do phone interviews, develop sources, write up different genres of articles. In some ways, I appreciated the tools of reporting more, because when you’re writing about Citizen Kane, you can’t get Orson Welles or Gregg Toland on the phone. If you’re writing about Netflix, you might be able to get Reed Hastings or Ted Sarandos on the phone. That’s pretty amazing.

In other cases, I think my training gave me some significant advantages. I’m really good at research, at context. I’m good at breaking down a document, whether it’s a press release or a letter to shareholders or an interview, and digging out what’s important. I’m good at linking things that are happening right now to big changes that happen over decades. I’m really comfortable with the publishing and media industries; I speak their language.

Also, besides research, I was a teacher for ten years. I love working with younger writers, whether it’s as an editor or just helping them think about what they do, because that was my job. And a lot of the students I taught in college have gone on to have really great careers in the industries I write about, which is really satisfying too."



"CAPITAL: You've extensively studied the history, theory, and future of writing. So what’s the future of writing?

CARMODY: I’m bullish on writing. Movies, radio, television, and now digital media—everything was supposed to push us away from text, to video or “back” to speech. First, there’s no going back. We’re always stumbling forward. Second, writing is invincible. Thirty years ago, we thought we’d all be talking to our computers; instead, we’re all typing on our phones. Can you believe we get to play and work on machines that give you new things to read all day? If you’d told me this when I was six years old, I’d have fainted from happiness.

We live in such a hyperliterate world, soaked and saturated in writing: on our machines, on the streets, on our television screens. It’s just that writing doesn’t live in the boxes that it used to. The genie is out of the bottle. But that just means that the magic could be anywhere."
timcarmody  interviews  academia  journalism  highered  highereducation  writing  text  media  snarkmarket  context  research  television  radio  film  literacy  multiliteracies  hyperliteracy  2015  howweread  howwewrite  cellphones  mobile  phones  voicerecognition  readingmachines 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Sarah Churchwell: why the humanities matter | Opinion | Times Higher Education
"The renowned scientist E. O. Wilson recently described the humanities as “the natural history of culture, and our most private and precious heritage”. The humanities are the study of what makes us human, of what it means to be human. As they penetrate every aspect of existence, they can, and should, intersect with the natural and social sciences, but literature, history, art, music, languages, theatre, film – and yes, television and computer games – are the stories and ideas through which we express our humanity.

We understand ourselves and our world through the telling of stories. Visual dramas teach us sympathy, empathy, pity, encouraging us to break out of our solipsistic shells. They explore ethical issues, ask challenging questions, inform the way we view each other. Today we live in a culture more defined by images and stories than ever before. Given this, it is vital that we approach the media, advertising and marketing discourses that influence and often manipulate us with critical thinking. We need improved communication skills; no one is born with them, and just chatting with your family and friends does not teach the precision of language needed to negotiate and reframe our complicated world. In a global age, we need to understand other societies. Anyone who has ever studied a foreign language knows that different phrases can prompt new perspectives and open our eyes to cultural values; studying foreign languages also improves mastery of our own. This rule holds by analogy more generally: when we learn about other people, we also learn about ourselves.

The politicians and corporations telling us that the humanities do not matter are, by no coincidence, the same people who think of us only as workers and consumers, not as citizens or individuals, and who strip away our human rights, one by one. It is the wealthy who insist that we should seek only to work: we don’t need the humanities, they tell us, all we need is to labour in a marketplace that will enrich them, not us.

If we agree that the humanities do not matter, or fail to challenge this assessment, we are colluding in the very practices that reduce our humanity, that impinge upon all the other ways in which we can enrich our lives, our abilities to express our creative individuality. Until we reconsider what it means to lead a truly satisfying life, what the ancient Greeks considered the “good life” – who are by no coincidence the people who invented the study of the humanities – we should not be surprised if we have the politicians and plutocrats we deserve. Why should any politician seek to challenge the source of his (rarely her) power?

The humanities conserve and safeguard those aspects of our being that intersect with the meanings of human existence beyond industry. A certain playwright was said to love humanity as a concept but to have less time for human beings. The same can be said of our so-called leaders, whose lofty rhetoric in support of humanity is belied by their contempt for the study of the humanities. That said, as the historian James Truslow Adams wrote some years ago, it is absurd to think that the powerful will abandon their power “to become spiritual leaders of a democracy that despises spiritual things”.

There is a story that may be apocryphal but is illustrative. Supposedly, Richard Dawkins was once visiting an art gallery in Florence, and as he left was heard to ask, “But what’s all this art for?” Regardless of whether Dawkins actually said it, this question articulates a widely held view among the instrumentalists and technocrats who decide our society’s priorities. Last year it was revealed that scientific studies had “proven” that reading made people more empathetic. At last, some book lovers cried, what we always knew has been proven: book lovers are better people! Anyone who has spent time in a literature department might challenge this jolly notion, but I agree with the critic Lee Siegel, who responded by defending his right to love books regardless of whether they “improved” him. Let me answer the question: what’s all this art for? It’s for us.

When we stopped being citizens and began to think of ourselves – or rather, each other – only as consumers, we relinquished thousands of years of human development. How can we sustain our civilisation if we don’t understand how it works? How can we interpret Magna Carta and defend our rights if no one reads Latin? How will we protect our own laws? How can we hope for transcendence in a secular age if we give up on beauty? Even in instrumentalist terms, the humanities represent 5,000 years of free research and development in what it means to be human. I think we should make use of that.

The humanities are where we locate our own lives, our own meanings; they embrace thinking, curiosity, creation, psychology, emotion. The humanities teach us not only what art is for, but what life might be for, what this strange existence might mean. What kind of humans would think that the humanities don’t matter? We need the advanced study of humanities so that we might, some day, become advanced humans."
humanities  2014  sarahchurchwell  eowilson  humanity  culture  literature  art  history  language  languages  stories  storytelling  theater  film  music  socialsciences  videogames  tv  television  humans  capitalism  policy  politics  markets  richarddawkins  technocracy  technocrats  instrumentalists  leesiegel  secularism  thinking  criticalthinking  thewhy  why  existence  existentialism  purpose 
december 2014 by robertogreco
My Favorite Holiday — The Message — Medium
"So, sure, Buy Nothing Day is a made-up holiday, popularized by Adbusters and Wired, and even so I’m certain that I “celebrate” it in some sort of non-canon way. At the same time, when I come back to Vermont to my part time public school job and see the tiny menorah that is buried somewhere under the “holiday” tree in the school’s display, I appreciate having one day of celebration that I can be all in on. I campaigned for that menorah, and yet seeing it under the tree gives me a feeling of defeat.

I’ve commemorated Buy Nothing Day in some fashion or another for the past two decades — it’s only been an official thing since 1992 — in two basic ways.

1. I don’t spend any money at all. No matter what.
2. I spend part of the day outside. No matter what.

One of the initial impetuses for #2 was Bill McKibben’s first book The Age of Missing Information which he wrote in 1992. Bill McKibben is better known as the guy behind 350.org. He’s an earnest, sensible Vermonter concerned about climate change and other things that are ruining the world. This was back in the earlier days of cable television and the endless ruminating on what would actually be on those 500 channels we were promised.

In 1992 I was just out of college, living in Seattle, just learning about the Internet, didn’t have cable TV. McKibben found the US city that had the most cable channels, Fairfax Virginia, and recorded 24 hours of programming on all 93 channels. He watched these over a period of about six months, a thousand hours of television. Then he spent 24 hours in the Adirondacks, just thinking about things, and compared the experiences and wrote about them.
“What sets wilderness apart in the modern day is not that it’s dangerous (it’s almost certainly safer than any town or road) or that it’s solitary (you can, so they say, be alone in a crowded room) or full of exotic animals (there are more at the zoo). it’s that five miles out in the woods you can’t buy anything.” ― Bill McKibben, The Age of Missing Information

Now it’s pretty easy to fall into a lazy “Kids today…!” rant about the effects of technology on our lives and our culture. In my current life, I have more jobs that are online than offline, and even the offline ones are about teaching people to get online. I make jokes about becoming a raspberry farmer to get away from it all, but I could never hack the hours. Farmers get up early. McKibben’s not a snot about his observations, he just makes them and moves on. He later wrote a book, Hundred Dollar Holiday: The Case for a More Joyful Christmas, which was a project done with local churches to spend more money and time making sure everyone had their basic needs met and less money and effort on the shopping part of Christmas; creating genuine traditions that instilled a sense of well-being and fellowship, not feelings of urgency and competition."
jessamynwest  buynothingday  consumerism  holidays  2014  consumption  cv  glvo  christmas  blackfriday  traditions  billmckibben  environment  sustainability  well-being  money  time  fellowship  urgency  competition  technology  tv  television  life  living 
december 2014 by robertogreco
10 (Not Entirely Crazy) Theories Explaining the Great Crime Decline | The Marshall Project
"Over the course of the 1990s, crime rates dropped, on average, by more than one-third. It was a historic anomaly; one that scholar Frank Zimring dubbed “the great American crime decline.” No one was sure how long the trend would last. Then, in 2010, the Bureau of Justice Statistics announced that the homicide rate had reached a four-decade low. (Since then, overall crime rates have remained relatively flat.)While everyone agrees this is fantastic news, no one, least of all researchers and experts, can agree on exactly why it happened. Below are 10 popular theories for the decline, from abortion to lead to technology to the broken windows theory, with unvarnished views from three leading researchers—Zimring; Richard Rosenfeld, chairman of a National Academy of Sciences roundtable on crime trends; and John Roman of The Urban Institute—on which are the most plausible.

The “abortion filter” […]

The happy pill thesis […]

The lead hypothesis […]

Aging boomers […]

The tech thesis […]

Crack is whack […]

The roaring ’90s (and Obama-mania) […]

The prison boom […]

Police on the beat […]

Immigration and Gentrification […]"
crime  theories  theory  marshallproject  abortion  lead  prozac  ritalin  behavior  moods  babyboomers  population  demographics  technology  airconditioning  television  tv  cars  debitcards  currency  transactions  crack  drugs  economics  unemployment  greatrecession  recession  prison  incarceration  police  lawenforcement  gentrification  immigration  boomers 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Media Hint - Unblock the Web - Easy to Use Proxy
"Content unblocked

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We believe an open internet is a better internet. Media Hint is your key to unlock the web and keep it worldwide. Get access to the content you want and deserve, whenever you want it, wherever you are.

Browse privately and securely. Media Hint protects your identity when visiting your favorite sites. Surf the web without revealing your location to intrusive governments, corporations or web sites.

Speak Freely! Un-blocking the internet has the power to change the world. Media Hint makes it possible."
chrome  extension  netflix  proxy  tv  television  firefox  proxies  hulu  amazonprime  music  video  socialmedia  extensions 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Get iPlayer Automator for Mac | MacUpdate
"The goal of Get iPlayer Automator is to allow iTunes and your Mac to become the hub for your British Television experience regardless of where in the world you are.

Currently, Get iPlayer Automator allows you to download and watch BBC & ITV shows on your Mac. Series-Link/PVR functionality ensures you will never miss your favourite shows. Programmes are fully tagged and added to iTunes automatically upon completion. It is simple and easy to use, and runs on any machine running Mac OS X 10.6 or later."
bbc  itv  television  tv  streaming  iplayer  mac  osx 
october 2014 by robertogreco
MatchStick
"Matchstick is the world's first open software and hardware HDMI streaming stick based on Firefox OS

A streaming stick that lets you fire up online content from a mobile to a TV"



"Matchstick is a pocket-sized wifi-enabled stick that you plug into an HDMI port on your TV or monitor. With Matchstick, you can “fling” your favorite content from any smartphone, tablet, or laptop to stream to a big screen TV. Use your smartphone or tablet as a remote control or to interact with the TV in ways never thought before possible!"

[See also: https://hacks.mozilla.org/2014/09/matchstick-brings-firefox-os-to-your-hdtv-be-the-first-to-get-a-developer-stick/ ]
firefox  firefoxos  matchstick  tv  television  mozilla 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Norway the Slow Way - NYTimes.com
"I eventually called Rune Moklebest, a producer at NRK who was in charge of the Slow TV programing. “[Slow TV] feels different than anything you see on TV,” he said. “If you slow the pace down... if you wait past the moment you feel you should cut away, a whole new story emerges. And then it doesn’t take much to become dramatic.” He pointed to a particular 10-minute sequence from “Hurtigruten Minute for Minute” in which the only action is a cow walking across a beach.

“Will the cow keep walking? Will it stop?” he said. “You just don’t know. And this is exciting.”"
internet  sparkfile  videos  longnow  timelapse  encapsulation  slow  slowtv  norway  2014  television  tv  via:sha 
september 2014 by robertogreco
'The Wire' and the Realism Canard - The Awl
"Q: So I wonder what you think of Pam Newton's argument that one of the ways that The Wire is not true to life is that it downplays police corruption?

A: Truth is always from some subjective point of view. If you read David Simon's Homicide, which is one of the two books of non-fiction which feeds into the lore and the data of The Wire—Simon just loves those cops. He was like a twenty-four-year-old reporter who got to follow the cops around and go drinking with them, and I think that there are ways in which he is blind to things that were wrong with the police. But he knows a lot about the cops and their ways, and he knows a lot about the drug dealers and their ways. Because he did a year long study of both that was ethnography. And then he loves them—more than he loves the politicians, for example.

Q: You referred to David Simon's methods as ethnography, and I was thinking about Christina Sharpe's piece in The New Inquiry, where she talks about Alice Goffman's On the Run and the ethical issues raised by urban ethnography. Sharpe suggests for example that studying black people and policing black people are often part of a single continuum of control. Is The Wire a way of rationalizing and controlling and consuming the lives of certain black communities, in the interest of letting white people say, "I understand them now"?

A: I understand that criticism. And I certainly understand the criticism of the anthropologist, the journalist, the ethnographer, who goes to the foreign culture and tries to understand it, and then gets praised for their own marvelous understanding of that which would be beyond the pale if we didn't have that mediating white voice to present things. That's precisely what I think is less good about David Simon's journalism, and great about The Wire: The journalism is full of this kind of white interpretive voice that really does see an us and a them. The thing I quote from his early journalism, where he says, "The ants are here. The picnic is us," in that piece called "The Metal Men,” there it is: The ants are the people he's studying, the drug addicts, and "the picnic is us"—our houses in Baltimore, we propertied middle-class white people.

I think you're suggesting that there are ways in which The Wire has not totally divested itself of that voice, and you may be right. But it's done it better precisely because we lose David Simon's voice, and we get Bubbles, Colvin, everybody else. I would say that The Wire is more exempt from that criticism than most other works of the imagination that try to get into a culture of the other. There is a criticism of melodrama there that is well-founded, though; melodrama is what we're stuck with here."

"Q: We're stuck with melodrama because that's what The Wire is doing?

A: No. We're stuck with melodrama because it's what the culture does. It is our lingua franca of popular entertaining culture. These are the stories that we tell ourselves, in the broadest sense. Melodrama is limited; all it can do is point out these discrepancies in justice. There is a little democratic impasse that is inherent to melodrama. And yes, you can get ironic in melodrama—there are ways to handle it, but it is a limit. We want to identify and identify with the people to whom injustice is done. The only problem with that is that can end up being the white people in Birth of a Nation. Melodrama does not have a progressive ideology necessarily.

Q: In Birth of a Nation you identify with the Klan as the victims of injustice?

A: Yes, it's the former slaveowners who are oppressed by the former slaves. So that's the limit of melodrama. But I think it's important to identify the works that move us, and that grab us so well, as melodrama, and then study the way it operates. Rather than to always say, it's not melodrama, it's real, it's true. Or, Simon's way of doing it, which is to say it's tragedy.

Q: So would you identify ethnography as a kind of melodrama?

A: That's a good question. I think in many cases it is. Why do you become an ethnographer? It's because you want to understand disappearing cultures. I know that's a simplification. But you want to go travel to the Amazon and learn the language of the people who are disappearing because their culture cannot operate in this world. That kind of salvage ethnography is a kind of melodrama—“I'm going to do something to save them”—and that saving comes through a kind of understanding of the meaning and the logic of that culture."
thewire  davidsimon  2014  noahberlatsky  ethnography  alicegoffman  ethics  christinasharpe  lindawilliams  film  television  melodrama  pamnewton 
september 2014 by robertogreco
What Happens to #Ferguson Affects Ferguson: — The Message — Medium
"This isn’t about Facebook per se—maybe it will do a good job, maybe not—but the fact that algorithmic filtering, as a layer, controls what you see on the Internet. Net neutrality (or lack thereof) will be yet another layer determining this. This will come on top of existing inequalities in attention, coverage and control.

Twitter was also affected by algorithmic filtering. “Ferguson” did not trend in the US on Twitter but it did trend locally. [I’ve since learned from @gilgul that that it *briefly* trended but mostly trended at localities.] So, there were fewer chances for people not already following the news to see it on their “trending” bar. Why? Almost certainly because there was already national, simmering discussion for many days and Twitter’s trending algorithm (said to be based on a method called “term frequency inverse document frequency”) rewards spikes… So, as people in localities who had not been talking a lot about Ferguson started to mention it, it trended there though the national build-up in the last five days penalized Ferguson.

Algorithms have consequences.

Mass media, typically, does not do very well covering chronic problems of unprivileged populations, poor urban blacks bear the brunt of this, but they are not alone. Rural mostly white America, too, is almost always ignored except for the occasional “meth labs everywhere” story. But yesterday, many outlets were trying, except police didn’t let them. Chris Hayes says that police ordered satellite trucks off the area so that they could not go live from the area. Washington Post was only one outlet whose journalists were arrested — citizen journalists were targeted as well.

On the scrappy live feed kept up by frequently tear-gassed, coughing citizen journalists, I heard the announcements calling on them to “turn off their cameras.”

But maybe in the future, they don’t have to bother to arrest journalists and force cameras off. In California, legislation is being considered for “kill switches” in phones — a feature I honestly cannot imagine a good use for this in the United States.

The citizen journalists held on, even as choked from the gas, some traditional media started going live from the region, and today, it’s on the front page of many newspapers.

Maybe, just maybe, there can be a national conversation on these topics long-ignored outside these communities. That’s not everything: it may be a first step, or it may get drowned out.

But at least, we are here.

But I’m not quite sure that without the neutral side of the Internet—the livestreams whose “packets” were fast as commercial, corporate and moneyed speech that travels on our networks, Twitter feeds which are not determined by an opaque corporate algorithms but my own choices,—we’d be having this conversation.

So, I hope that in the coming days, there will be a lot written about race in America, about militarization of police departments, lack of living wage jobs in large geographic swaths of the country.

But keep in mind, Ferguson is also a net neutrality issue. It’s also an algorithmic filtering issue. How the internet is run, governed and filtered is a human rights issue.

And despite a lot of dismal developments, this fight is far from over, and its enemy is cynicism and dismissal of this reality.

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

What happens to #Ferguson affects what happens to Ferguson."
zeyneptufekci  censorship  internet  netneutrality  twitter  facebook  news  media  2014  ferguson  algortihms  class  race  economics  television  tv  citizenjournalism 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Michel Serres Interview (1995) | Hari Kunzru
"HK: You say our work, our modern work is as communicators and message bearers. In the book you give a history of labour. Tell me more.

MS: There are three steps. In the beginning our parents, our ancestors were working with physical energies, with the body, with their muscles, as peasants. Do you remember the caryatids who supported Greek temples, or Atlas, who carried the sky on his shoulders? These are figures of the first type of work.The second step is transformation of metals by engines and machines - the industrial revolution. I use three words which are the same word - form, transformation and information - the three steps. In the first step this form was solid as a statue. Atlas, the caryatid. In the second it is involved that the metal becomes liquid. In the third step we are living in the volatile transmission. This word volatile is angelic form. The transmission of message, of code, of signal is volatile. We say now about money that it is volatile, it is turning into the transmission of codes, of messages.

HK: This seems to link with what Deleuze says about relations of speed and slowness

MS: Yes, the faster and faster. The caryatid was steady. Dissolution is taking place. The urban space of Newtown (Villeneuve in French) is a volatile space. All points can be connected to all other points.

HK: Stratification.

MS: Exactly. If you read medieval angelology you find exactly the same demonstrations because all the problems for angelology - what is a message? who are the messengers? what is the messenger's body? - like Saint Thomas Aquinas, the early church fathers, the Pseudo-Dionysius, and so on. In the beginning of my book I quote the problem of the sex of the angels. Everybody smiles about this problem, but it is a serious one, a problem about transmission.

HK: A serious functional problem.

MS: Exactly

W; This is what I began to find when I looked at scholastic philosophy. Having thought it was full of ridiculous problems about angels on pinheads I found that serious problems were simply framed in this vocabulary.

MS: You are right. I was very surprised to find that in the beginning of my career.

W; Let's talk about television. You return again and again to the negative things that tv brings us. I'm interested to know whether all media is a form of pollution, or whether its just the mass media, which makes the viewer or listener passive. I am interested in the possibility of two way media, two way means of communication, an interactive form. Do you think that would be less socially damaging than the mass media?

MS: In the beginning of our history many centuries ago, the Greek fabulist Aesop said that the tongue was the best and the worst thing in the world. This very ancient sentence is exactly the same for us. It is so for the tongue, for language, but also for very sophisticated channels of communication and for instance your question about the TV is a good question because TV is one of the best channels in the world to have information, to have education, to receive instruction, to have OpenUniversity, to have a good lecture, to discover the world. It is the best channel, but on the contrary, do you know that in the US now a typical teenager has seen 20000 murders already in his life, already at fourteen years old. It is the first time in history that we teach murder to children in this intensive way. It is the best channel and the worst at the same time, and it is not a discovery because Aesop told us this centuries ago. I think it is a paradox of communication. When all channel is neutral it can carry the best message and the worst.

HK: You used the word spectacle in your discussion of TV. Do you accept Debord's views on the society of the spectacle, and the way in which the media is used to control us?

MS: It is difficult to control the media

HK: No, is the media an agent of- what is your relation to Debord's analysis of the media, that's what I'm really asking.

MS: I think that Debord wrote many many things which are very ancient opinions. Because power is always spectacle. When you take the example of your kings in England, or our kings in France in the seventeenth century the spectacle always and already exists - on the stage, on coins - it was always spectacle. Alexander the Great discovered that sentence too. But in our day it is the case all power is in representation, of course. But I think, maybe I think the contrary. In the beginning of our conversation we spoke about the invisibility the disappearing of the angels, you remember? But I think that power is more powerful when it is invisible."
michelserres  1995  harikunzru  interviews  television  tv  education  learning  communication  gillesdeleuze  guydebord  deleuze 
july 2014 by robertogreco
The Digital Revolution Will Not Be Televised: 10 Shows Breaking the Hollywood Mold | TakePart
"7. 'Knights of Sidonia’

This Japanese anime series was already a hit in its home country when Netflix bought the rights to air it in the U.S. (It began airing the show, both with subtitles and dubbed, earlier this month.) Its premise will sound familiar to science fiction fans—set in the distant future, it is a story of the last human-colony spaceship in the galaxy (the titular Sidonia), which must protect itself from aliens with giant robots—but it builds its dramatic tension in original ways, and it looks supercool while doing it."
knightsofsidonia  towatch  tv  television  anime  manga  scifi  sciencefiction  edg  srg 
july 2014 by robertogreco
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