Archive for the ‘M13A’ Category

Final Blog – Identity

May 29, 2009

Herring, Susan. “Questioning the Generational Divide: Technological Exoticism and Adult Constructions of Online Youth Identity.” pgs. 288-308

 In the last blog of the course, we perhaps arrive at what constitutes one of the most fundamental aspects of modern day media studies: identity. What perhaps primarily propel ‘media studies 2.0’ (Gauntlett, 2007) are us, Generation Y. Although this might seem overly simplistic and maybe even borderline narcissistic, there has never been such a radical shift in our understanding of the media for so long. However, this is the approach that many academic scholars not of Generation Y would say. They provide the definitions of today’s youth.

 A concept that Herring explores is the adult classification and interpretation of today’s youth as the “Internet Generation”. She argues that it was not technology that primarily influences the “Internet generation”, but rather our ideas which are expressed for the first time threw this medium. We can go further to argue that the Baby Boomers and Generation X were not so different to Generation Y. In the wake of the horrors of the Vietnam War, amidst the political and moral blurring of the lies between good and evil, the Baby Boomer (BB) Generation rose against their conservative parents, embracing ‘uplifting’ narcotics and freedom of speech. Their identity was broadcast through television spectacles of mass BB protests voicing their condemnation of conservatives. Yet despite this, many continue to insist that Gen Y is far more rebellious than their parents. Strangely enough, these opinions come from BB themselves.

Herring also goes on to define the identity of today’s youth. Today’s so called “Net Generation” is in fact not the first purely digital generation. Recollecting my own youth, I still remember my childhood devotion to children’s TV programs and endless Disney VHS’s. I also remember the confusing Title Menus of the then brand new DVDs. I remember when we got our first computer, shortly followed by dial up internet connection and how I spend hours fascinated by Microsoft word and internet flash gaming sites. I embraced these new changes.

 Yet, I remember the days of traditional board game and television entertainment, the days of analogue technology. It is not until 2050, as estimated by Herring, that a first ‘true’ Internet Generation will be clearly established and identified, where reliable accounts of the pre-internet life would be found in archives and historical accounts. By this definition, the identity of Gen Y cannot specifically be defined as the “Net Generation” but rather as the analogue-to-digital transitional generation. Herring concludes by suggesting that the adult construction of the “digital youth” as a generational identity signals the call for new approaches and rethinking of youth identity and new media research.


Week 10: Discourse

May 22, 2009

Macken-Horarik, M. “The Children Overboard Affair” Australian Review of Applied Linguistics 26.2 (2003), 1-16

 Today, everyone ‘knows’ that media journalists lie to us. Everyone ‘knows’ that politicians lie to us. Yet the two social bodies are highly trusted and hence greatly affect our social values, beliefs and morals. But sometimes, that trust is manipulated to turn our society for political reasons. Alan Jones did this with his inflammatory remarks about the homogenised demographic of Muslim men. The Cronulla Riots shortly followed.

Using Kress & van Leeuwen’s works as a basis for her analysis of media discourse, Macken-Horarik (MK) aims to address the “analytical challenges of multimodal texts as they contribute to production of racial anxiety about asylum seekers.” Specifically, she is analysing the media actions surrounding the 2001 Children Overboard Affair.  

She primarily highlights the use of the concept, multimodal metalanguage, by politicians and journalists during the media blowout of the scandal. Multimodal grammar enables writes to “create meaning through interacting communicative resources such as the visual…and layout.”

Specifically, she refers to the use of visual-text articles in the media, where the visual image would be the foundation of the text. Using a Daily Telegraph front page extract as the highlighted example of this relationship, MK highlights the issues of its multimodal usage in the Children’s Overboard Affair. The by-line of the article indicates to the visual image as “proof” or visual ‘evidence’ of children being thrown overboard by asylum seekers.

Quoting van Leeuwen on the visual-text collaborative media usage, “words provide the facts…that ‘need to be said in so many words,” images provide interpretations…and do so…by suggestion…by appealing to barely conscious, half-forgotten knowledge.”

 In assessing the use of multimodal grammar in the manipulation of images, facts, events and text, the impact of such misuse is profound; the consequences of the actions of Governmental figures and the media coverage that followed had a significant negative impact on our society’s beliefs and values, with societal resentment against “illegal” immigrants still echoes to this today, as highlighted by the recent examples of the intense media focus on the more recent asylum seekers.

Week 9 : Meaning in War Reporting

May 15, 2009

Lukin, A. “Reporting War: Grammar as Covert Operation” Dissent (2003), pg.14-20

“Truth is the first casualty of war.”

During the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, a predominate memory which stands out in my head is the 24 hours coverage of the conflicts. Images of warplanes, tanks and coalition troops were broadcast over all major forms of media. What we see in the media has had a mass impact on public opinion relating to the Iraq War.

The author of the reading, Annabelle Lukin, aims to “explore the ways in which grammar can conceal and distort real meaning”. Specifically, she focuses on how the use of grammar in media reporting during the Iraq war and influence or sway public opinion. “Grammar is our most important resource for creating meaning…Grammar is a theory of reality.”

Lukin puts forward several concepts and ideas about the use of Grammar in war reporting. The use of language and words themselves are used to shape used and distort certain facts to take a certain angle or approach to reporting a story. As Lukin says, the ‘facts can’t speak for themselves. The ‘facts’ only emerge by being ‘out into words’”. In other words, it is through the carefully constructed sentences of media release statements and journalists that certain aspects of ‘facts’ are highlighted and emphasised.

Another concept is the use of active and passive effective clauses to highlight her aim. She uses two headlines as examples for analysis: “Coalition forces dropped bombs on Baghdad” and “Bombs fell on Baghdad”. The active voice of the first headline hold Coalition forces as specifically responsible for bombing Baghdad. The passive voice enables the choice laying responsibility on Coalition troops, but the latter headline chooses to competently omit the human agent of ‘Coalition forces’. Using this clause, it was as if the bombs somehow made their way to Baghdad, as if it just happened, revoking responsiblity from the coalition soldeirs. Using the words of former US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld says, “Stuff happens.”

In assessing Lukin’s point, she raises interesting aspects and ideas about the use of meaning within the reading highlights the persuasive and distorted use of grammar and words  in war reporting. From my personal experiences, the grammer of war reporting and the impacting meaning they have upon the audience, greatly sways public opinion, both towards and against the war. This form of war reporting is bound to continue in furthur conflicts.

Week 8: The Diffused Audience

May 8, 2009

Couldry, Nick. “The Extended Audience: Scanning the Horizon.” In Gillespie, Marie. Ed. Media Audiences Berkshire: Open University Press, 2005, pp.184-196 & 210-220.

Over the past decade, the rapid integration of digital technology into everyday life and culture has developed a new kind of media and a new kind of receptive audience.  It is due to vast technological change that has led to a need to revaluate the ways in which media audiences are studied in modern society. The primary purpose or aim of Couldry’s text is to “consider the methodological issues involved in the research of the contemporary media audience.

The primary concepts and ideas raised by Couldry revolve around these changing media audiences. Primarily, the role of digital technology has had a profound impact on contemporary audiences. Over time, media audiences have become spatially dispersed. Couldry identifies three phases in the development of the media audience, but focuses on the most encapsulating term to describe today’s contemporary audience is the ‘diffused audience’. It is the ‘diffused audience’ that is the subject of talk in this reading.

With the total immersion of our lives and the permanent intertwinement of media and everyday life, we are presented with realisations. Reinforced by Abercrombie and Longhurt’s argument where,”the media and everyday life have become so closely interwoven that they are almost inseparable.”

The emergence of digital technology has led to a more interactive, mobile and responsive audience to which media producers must not attempt to capture.  Media today has shifted away from the temporal broadcast system that once appealed to the ‘mass audience’. In this attempt, audiences are now bombarded and surrounde­­d constantly by media. This is again reinforced by Abercrombie and Longhurt’s argument where, ‘being a member of an audience is no longer an exceptional event…rather it is constitutive of everyday life.”

But is this really a negative aspect of the ‘diffused audiences’? Although there is the age old argument of the media being a monolithic entity whose sole purpose is to manipulate and brainwash its audiences.  The ‘diffused audience’ has dispelled this notion, with media becoming more spatially orientated, resulting the reduced power of traditional media organisations.

Today, members of the media audience have the power to become media performers as Couldry suggests. With the redistribution of media audience viewership being split between multimillion dollar media organisations and everyday people armed with a $20 webcam. This break in authority may become the defining feature of the ‘diffused audience’.  Media researchers say that the media audience is ‘central to the way we understand and organise how the media operates.’ Perhaps this is true in many different ways.

Week 7: Networks

May 1, 2009

Rizzo, Teresa. “Programming Your Own Channel: An Archaeology of the Playlist”. In Kenyon, Andrew, Ed. TV Futures: Digital Television Policy in Australia. Carlton, VIC: Melbourne University Press, 2007, pg. 108-134

With the increasing significance and the perceived dominance of the new age of spatial viewing, traditional broadcast and temporal viewing are seen as dying. How this is so is highlighted in this reading, as outline in this reading, which aims to address issues related to the notion of the playlist and the personalisation of media.

The two main concepts and ideas raised by Rizzo were the creation of the personalized playlist and the notion of ‘flow’.

In the reading, Rizzo makes a connection with the personalized playlist to democracy, quoting Rob Cover who says “a desire for democratisation of the media process, by which I mean the desire or demand of audiences for co-participation in scheduling….and engaging with media and entertainment.” This ‘democratisation’ is the result of spatial viewing, which has given us the ability to create our own personal ‘playlist’. Here, we can see and view whatever we desire. As highlighted in Tivo’s (a Personal Digital Recorder) advertising slogan, “TV your way”. This choice that audiences possess can be seen as a ‘right’, in a context to that of democratic politics.

An interesting portrayal of this ‘democratisation of the media process’ is seen with the case of Youtube: Broadcast Yourself, where several countries around the globe (all non-democratic) have been known to block Youtube or at least certain videos related to sensitive national issues in those countries. It is perhaps this fear of Youtube, with its slogan “Broadcast Yourself” that non-democratic governments fear and attempt to quell, often with force. It has given power and information to almost anyone with a computer, and internet connection (sometimes even without a computer, as a mobile phone would be suffice). The singular power authority of Broadcast Media is being undermined by spatial media networks.

The broadcast propaganda of these regimes so very little difference in its content. It encourages unity amongst a nation’s populace; perhaps in a manner similar to William’s Flow, which ‘enables unity, (but) inhibits difference”. William’s flow characterised the dominant nature of temporal viewing. Although he intended this to be related to broadcast viewing, it can be applied to other networks as well, such as entire populaces as in the exampe above. Broadcast media have a certain agenda or attitude that it wants audiences to adopt. As suggested in Tim O’Reilly’s Web 2.0 theory, it is about where you can create information and content, and not just passively view and absorb it. It is as Rizzo says, “what users do with the flow rather than how flow is created.”

The argument of Deleuze & Guattari’s reinterpretation of William’s network ‘flow’ characterizes today’s new spatial rea­lm of television and media entertainment. Of course the theory is not perfect, as not everyone possesses a PDR or even access to digital television. Also, temporal & broadcast viewing still enjoys large popular in today’s networks and societies. Spatial media has not taken over temporal media, at least not just yet. Broadcast Media still enjoys a substantial amount of power. However, with the increasing popularity of personalised media, what would result in this new networked world of spatial viewing (and sharing) will perhaps permanently shape the course of human history.

Week 5: Mobility – The intertwinement of mobile technology and social communications

April 9, 2009

Ito, Mizuko. “Mobile Phones, Japanese Youth and the Replacement of Social Contact.”In Ling, Rich and Pedersen, Per, Eds. Mobile Communications: Re-negotiation of the Social Sphere. London: Springer – Verlag, 2005, 131-148

This reading has been one of the most interesting to me personally, mainly because the issues, reasons and logic behind mobile media (particularly texting) according to Mr Mizuko’s research is largely accurate by my own personal accounts.

The key aim being addressed by Mizuko is set to be analysing the apparent upheld belief (spread largely by popular media) that mobile media are destroying traditional household and authorities structures.

His research shows otherwise. By recording all forms of communication in-between the research subjects (largely mobile taechnology); he shows contrary evidence to suggest otherwise.

Instead of breaking down or destroying social hierarchy, Mizuko argues a key concept that mobile technology is rather a way of bypassing the hierarchy or social structure, in such a way that mobile technology is now accepted in its most frequently used forms.

By his research, Mizuko concludes how “the prevailing social norm is that no-voice mobile communication is permissible”, more precisely the use of mobile emails or text messages. Whilst voice communication over mobiles may be inappropriate at times (such as in uni lectures and tutorials) text based conversations are more permitable, being quite and discrete. If I recall correctly, the guest lecturer in the most recent ARTS1090 lecture (it may have been another lecture) said that text messaging was okay, but not voice conversations with each other.

Another concept raised in the reading is the creation of a rather new world of constant social communication through mobile media. With many people rarely ever turning off their mobiles, mobile technology has provided the means of constant social contact. Mizuko uses a text message conversation between a college couples as an example. Speaking from personal experience myself, I can clearly relate to this case. After spending a day with my plus 1, we usually send a series of text messages to each other, attempting to prolong our day which we spend with each other (albeit without physical contact).

Nowadays, there is little ‘alone’ in social communication, even when you may be physically alone at home. Whilst at home, mobile technology and the internet have strengthened social communication when physical contact is not possible. MSN Messenger, for example, represents a continuous text based conversation(s) with up to multiple people at once. If however, I have a desire to talk to one person or only a select few, then I personally use the ‘Appear Offline’ option, where you can see other contacts online, but they cannot register you as being online. Essentially, it can act as a one sided mirror (those used in police line up rooms). However, with mobile phones, it is common courtesy to reply to a text message of answer a phone call. We are technically never ‘alone’ thanks to mobile technology.

The live feed updates on Twitter and Facebook further enhance this notion of the “shared online space”. The option on some mobile phone carriers to have Facebook or Twitter applications on mobiles has further strengthens this notion of constant social communication.

Nowadays with mobile technology, we are now never really alone. There is always someone just a press of a button away. This is the social world in which we live in today.

Week 3: Time

March 27, 2009

Hartley J. (2004). “The Frequencies of Public Writing: Tomb, Tone and time” In Jenkins, H. And Thorburn, D. Democracy and the New Media. MIT Press, USA, pp 247-269

“…condense, if you will, the 50,000 years of man’s recorded history in a time span of but a half-century…and now if America’s new spacecraft succeeds in reaching Venus, we will have literally reached the stars before midnight tonight.” ( )

These were the words of former US president John F Kennedy in 1962 at the Rice University in Houston, expressing a philosophical point of view for the need for the US to expand its space program. Whilst Kennedy referral and meaning of ‘space’ is different to that of John Hartley, there approach on time is the same.

In the most recent years of human history, technology, our way of thinking and living have changed rapidly. In just 100 years (a mere fraction of the time that humans have existed) we have come from the Wright Brothers flight craft to the space shuttle. As Kennedy above points out, it seems that it is in the most recent years of human existence, there has been a higher frequency of occurrence of almost everything: Inventions, intellects, ideals and more recently through the media, perhaps most predominately journalism. Hartley’s main aim is to inform the reader about the nature of the varying ‘frequencies’ of which journalism (as well as public writing and other media forms) act in the past and in postmodern times.

Hartley’s 2 key concepts and ideas seem to be the intertwining relationship between technology and the temporal realm (time). Here, people are rather connected through time, rather than space. As technology advanced, the information and news we receive gradually became quicker. With the invention of Gutenberg’s press, news became daily. With radio and television, they became hourly. With the advent of the internet, information can now be sent and received across the globe almost instantaneously. People in different parts of the world now can receive information simultaneously. Physical space and distance are no longer issues concerning the transfer of news and information. It is the domain of time that now constitutes most of our society.

“…people are identifying with “virtual” communities based on coexistence in time, not coextension in space.”

For example now, the high frequencies of social sites such as Twitter and Facebook (which have live feeds that update instantaneously) have perhaps strengthened Hartley’s assessment. These sites tell us what we, our friends, their friends, and their friends ( and so on) are doing, reading, writing, posting, talking and even thinking at almost any given moment in time. We no longer need to be physically in the same place as our friends or any other people. We bypass the spatial realm. Through a computer and an internet connection, we are all linked together (as Hartley suggests above) in “virtual communities”.

At first Hartley seems to be providing a warning of sorts about high frequency media, at the very end, he concedes that is just perhaps that the very foundations of society are shifting: “Democracy itself may be migrating from space-based technologies to faster, time-based ones.”

Week 2: The Remote Control and the Couch Potato

March 20, 2009

Disciplined and Disciplining co(a)gents: The Remote Control and the Couch Potato.

The remote control and the couch potato. Stereotypically, the 2 fuse together to produce one of the most recognisable images in recent times (take Homer from the Simpsons for example). However, the text puts forward a rather unique and interesting perspective to this age old stereotype.

The author’s key aim is to highlight our changing habits with new technology (as the title of the book, “In Reconnecting Culture, Technology and Nature” suggests). In this reading, the author uses the remote control as the technological device which has altered our human habits.

The main key concept behind the author’s argument is ‘disembodiment’. This is in relation to how the remote control is making the human body rather redundant as the author phrases it, “There is a sort of bypassing of the body…” where it is almost perceived to the extent that the human mind is directly controlling what it wants to do (in this case just simply switch channels). A form of existential control so to speak. Although we are technically still using our body (primarily our fingers) and hence are not completely disembodied, the author uses the term in more of a metaphorical sense. According to the definition of ‘disembodied ‘in the Collins English Dictionary,

1. Lacking a body or freed from the body; incorporeal.

2. Lacking substance, solidity, or any firm relation to reality.

Using the first definition, the author uses the physicist Stephen Hawking as an example; the author highlights his case for disembodiment. “Hawking himself is not a body…but a pure mind that is in unmediated contact with the cosmos.” Despite being physically crippled with motor neurone disease (, the author has pointed out that he is a true genius, his physical disability doing nothing to damper his mind. Through technology (in this case his artificial voice box) he bypasses the human body the “medium of communication”, making it redundant. However, the author does acknowledge that Hawking and his technologies that have enabled him to communicate his thoughts and ideas are maintained through the help of Hawking’s assistants.

However, the second definition paints or more less idealic picture. In today’s domestic society, the introduction of the media of television along with its companion device, the remote control, have created a new generation of “unhealthy”, “unproductive”, “uncultured” and “uncivic” behaviour. There are stereotypically known as couch potatoes. Using Green’s (1995, p. 78) definition, a couch potato is “one who is addicted to watching television and does this while lying on the couch, as an inert and brain-dead as a potato.” In the introduction of the text, the author admits his guilt in practicing “couch-potato-ness” and it is rather embedded in our society, with nearly everyone participating in this lifestyle.

But really, assessing the author’s argument, we see how imbalanced his case of disembodiment is. Hawking is a rare case. On the contrary to the number of physically impaired, intellectual geniuses, how many people are there on the other end of the spectrum? How many completely able bodied people are there who refuse or reluctantly use any form of physical or intellectual activity, preferring the rather mundane routine of the coach potato? The scale tips vastly under the weight of the physically heavier of the two.

Week 1 Reading – What Do the Media Do to Us? Media & Society

March 13, 2009

O’Shaughnessy, Michael, and Jane Stadler “What Do the Media Do to Us? Media and Society”

Media and Society: An Introduction, Third Edition. Sough Melbourne, VIC: Oxford Press, 2006, 229-248

In discussing the role and the working functional elements of the media, O’Shaughnessy and Stadler have raised questions related largely to the interactions between the media and society. Instead of resolving these various questions, the authors have instead aimed to incite further debate amongst this issue of the actual role of the media. Primarily though, the authors attempt to raise the awareness of the reader, by revealing the extent to which it has been integrated into our society.

The two key arguments or concepts that are proposed are two opposing models of the media and society. The first portrays the media as a reflection of “the realities, values and norms of a society.” an image of society as it is, and how people act, think, behave and feel. However, in the opposing ‘effects model’ these ‘values and norms’ have been instead created by the media.

In debating these two differing views, an interesting idea raised is the apparent correlation between violence and sex in the media with actual violent and sexual assaults in the real world. The authors have pointed it out to be absurd though, as there are many other social factors that contribute to crime (such as family issues). If this simple correlation was true, then you, I and any person who ever watched television or read a newspaper would be convicted felons. This is obviously not the case. Rapes and murders occurred long before the media existed. In fact, the media may have even curbed crime, as the media generally shine a negative light upon it in its news and a current affair broadcasts. Only in fictional shows are violence and sex shown to be glorified, but it is assumed that us the audience has a responsibility to know the difference between fiction and reality (a point raised by the authors). Just because I enjoy action films, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I would enlist in the army to go on a Rambo style rampage against terrorists in the Middle East or so.

In this case, it was not the media creating the problem of crime, as O’Shaughnessy and Stadler state, “blaming the media is an excuse that denies our responsibilities.” Here, perhaps the media is now being used as a scapegoat. We blame it for all our social problems. Perhaps the problem lies with us humans as we are far from perfect entities. Let’s return to the media’s portrayal of violence and sex. Bluntly, we enjoy them, despite them being listed on the Ten Commandments and Seven Deadly Sins as crimes against God himself (maybe a testament to the imperfection of humans?).

To put thing historically, are the violent movies shown in cinemas today really any better than the Coliseum in Ancient Rome (a time before today’s commercialised media network) where god knows how many soldiers, slaves and animals were slaughtered? The Coliseum spectators demanded violence, much like today’s movie going audience. Through blood sports and various decrees, the Roman Empire was largely supported by the masses through maintaining consent (a point raised in the reading). Apart from border expansions, they enjoyed relative peace within the empire for centuries. Life expectancy also increased. So perhaps by this definition, the media is just a device used to help maintain law and order within society.

Whether this is true or not is not up to me to decide. All I have done is raised one point defending the reflection model. There are many others for the effect model that will almost definitely be discussed throughout this course.