The Disruption of Video on Demand

Due to my influx of thoughts on the topic of cyberculture and Hollywood (particularly VoD), this blog post is going to consist of me spitballing all the ideas I’ve been having in regards of what I may wish to include in my final project. From this, hopefully I can begin to better craft an outline of a legitimate research report.

  • Better diversity in Netflix/Hulu/Amazon produced content in regards to gender and race. E.G. A huge cast of women from many different backgrounds in Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black and Amazon’s Transparent (a show created by Jill Soloway that centres on a trans woman and her family). As this Inverse article states, “Like Fox in the 1990s, Netflix has turned ‘diversity’ into a winning formula, but this time, it looks to be a strategy that will have some longevity. While Hollywood is still full of pledges and apologies, Netflix is proving in practice what studies have shown for years: representation matters.”
    There’s also a brilliant Decider article on the proliferation of female-lead content on Hulu: “while Hulu was investing huge amounts of money to secure the talents of Hollywood’s most-esteemed male producers, women were morphing into the most potent creative forces behind their new original content slate. Realising this made me sit up for one big reason: It’s not the norm. For decades, the narrative has been that Hollywood — whether we’re talking television or film, comedy or drama — is a hostile environment for creative female forces. Hulu had quietly assembled a programming slate where women were not only equal to men behind-the-scenes, but often in charge of them”, going on to then suggest a theory about why streaming services tend to show more diversity in their original programming: “The hiring system in Hollywood tends to favour cronyism and advancing up-and-comers who agree with the establishment’s take on things. If Hulu has managed to think outside the box on this score that’s probably because Hulu, like its primary competitors Netflix and Amazon, grew out of the start-up culture of Silicon Valley”.
  • VoD services producing original content often lends more freedom to the artists in control of making the content. Writers are free to write an entire season of a TV show from beginning to end without the worry of episodes airing weekly as they’re still writing. Therefore there’s less influence from audience opinion on storylines. Also, not being subject to the opinions of advertisers frees up much of what can be included in a TV series and when storylines can occur. For example, the protagonist on Hulu’s The Mindy Project, Mindy Lahiri gave birth to a child early in the fourth season of the show, something that would be unheard of on a traditional network sitcom. As Decider puts it: “Traditionally, sitcom babies are only born in November and May. Why? Well, November and May are when ‘sweeps’ are. That’s when networks try their best to boost ratings so they can boost advertising dollars. Since everyone loves babies, they’re considered ratings gold. Hence, why you don’t see too many big births early in a sitcom’s season…Now that Mindy Kaling doesn’t have to write a show to fit network protocols — or please advertising schedules — she’s free to have her little bundle of joy as soon as she wants on her show”
  • Consumer habits favouring the content produced and bought by online streaming services. Everybody loves a binge-watch. Everybody loves Video on Demand. Audiences choose what they want to watch, when they want to watch it and for how long. This isn’t to say that traditional broadcast TV is dead – yet. Some people still enjoy the nostalgia of appointment-like TV watching. But even traditional television has been clued onto the consumer habits of wanting to chose when and how they watch content for quite some time. Hence the many years the ability to record, pause and rewind shows has been around.
  • Internet regulation and how Australian’s in particular have and continue to interact with online consumption of content. The introduction of Netflix to Australia has affected a number of things. 1) Piracy – Australian’s are pretty good at it, numbers are supposedly declining since VoD services entered the market2) The issue of Australian Netflix subscribers using VPN services to access content available in other countries – Netflix supposedly trying to ‘crack down’ on this behaviour, but is it really? Will they actually dedicate themselves to this issue or will they ease up on it? This issue leads to the discussion on making more content global. 3) Discussion regarding Australia’s terrible Internet quality. Slow speeds, poor connections, not up-to-standard infrastructure in general. In world where VoD services are only growing, Australia’s internet cannot keep up with the demands of such services.

Advanced A.I.: Robots with feelings

For my digital artefact I have decided to create a series of blog posts that will address super advanced artificial intelligence, how this may come into being, what the implications may be, what sort of resistance it will be met with and how it is currently imagined in film. I will explore different areas that relate to the umbrella concept of advanced machines that have a sense of self awareness or a ‘consciousness’.

My first area of study will be into the actualisation of robots who can think, feel and react on their own accord. I will look into the definition of ‘consciousness’ and argue wether or not it is possible for a machine to contain the same consciousness that human beings experience.

Next I will explore the sort of emotional relationships human beings have developed with technology to date and imagine the possibility of how deep these connections could go if machines appeared to or did have their own consciousness. I will also watch the films Her and A.I. Artificial Intelligence and analyse the human-technology relationships portrayed in them. From this I can imagine the possible depth of emotional relationships between humans and self-aware machines and the implications of this.

The last thing I will be researching is the type of resistance that may be met with the rise of super advanced artificial intelligence and the reaction to machines that appear to be conscious. The movies Ex Machina and Chappie will help me imagine the type of resistance there will be against advanced machines and the negative or positive reactions to them.

Each area of study will have approximately 700 words dedicated to it plus I will ensure to include images, links and videos on my blog to make it interactive and engaging.

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Instagram Snobbery – Identity in Social Media

After meeting someone do you ever go online to see what their social media profiles say about the person? When did we become so judgemental about people purely based on the basic things they post on social media. Can we really learn about a person from what they post on instagram? We identify ourselves through what we post and what we are communicating to others about our lives. Below are some cool statistics about teenagers and their use of social media. The most important social network to teenagers appears to be Instagram. The way i look at instagram as it being the king of “fakery” or the most staged form of social media. Facebook is a place for communication, watching videos and posting lots of photos. Snapchat is the almost #nofilter zone where people care less about how much they post and what they’re doing, its like the “no-makeup” zone of social media. Twitter is not overly popular with young people, its mainly used to share useless thoughts, ranting, winging and stalking celebrities. Instagram however is King of snobbery, where people are so planned and purposeful about what they post. It’s almost strategic, whether it be posting at a time of day to get more likes, posting only well edited and aesthetic pictures, staging a fake “caught in the moment” shot, adding useless hashtags to get more likes. If there was a social media that could cause anxiety it would be Instagram. Instagram is also more popular with younger people because their parents don’t have it, parents somewhere in the last 5 years took over Facebook so teens turn to Instagram and Snapchat to hide away from the “oldies.”

The art of Instagram.

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Humans are dependent on affirmation from others, the way we deem ourselves important or valued no longer comes from how many people we hang out with but how many likes and comments we get on our instagram. Below is a really sad truth video about how dependent we have become on sharing our entire life on social media and how it has consumed our lives and became the source of our identity.
Sunshine coasts Essena O’Neil has become a very influential voice behind the fact that social media isn’t actually real life. She has made a blog, edited all of her over thought, planned instagram photos as a almost expose on the world of a instagram celebrity. Heres an example of one of her edited Instagram captions. 
  • “EDIT REAL CAPTION: paid for this photo. If you find yourself looking at “Instagram girls” and wishing your life was there’s… Realise you only see what they want. If they tag a company 99% of the time it’s paid. Nothing is wrong with supporting brands you love (for example I proudly would promote Eco sheets or a vegan meal in exchange for money as its business for a purpose to me). BUT this ^^^ this has no purpose. No purpose in a forced smile, tiny clothes and being paid to look pretty. We are a generation told to consume and consume, with no thought of where it all comes from and where it all goes.”

 

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She is the perfect example of how social media effects how we see ourselves, our individuality, how we express ourselves. At the end of the day we aren’t receiving any real physical likability or love its all come through the double tap of someones thumb.

Out With the Old, In With the New

JESS MUSCAT

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Australians generate more than 140,000 tonnes of e-waste annually, most of which ends up in landfill. Rapid changes in technology and media forms are two of the main reasons for electronic waste around the globe. Nowadays, we spend a good portion of our lives efficiently using different forms of technology. There’s really no way to escape that. We watch television at all ages, use the school computer labs throughout primary and high school, learn how to read and write with iPads and apps, and even document our experiences using mobile phones and cameras.

Nothing lasts very long though, which can be a cause for concern when users don’t know how to properly dispose of these products. For tech-lovers who just have to have the latest gadgets, recycling and ‘re-homing’ can be very beneficial. More often than not, parents will hand down their old phones, iPads, etc. to their children or hand…

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It’s a…n AI?

Twitter is all a-flutter about Tay, the racist lady-AI from Microsoft who was taken offline less than a day after her launch. According to her makers, “The more you chat with Tay the smarter she gets, so the experience can be more personalized for you.” Unfortunately this makes her extremely easy to manipulate and she was quickly transformed into a genocide-loving racist.

Tay is an example of a phenomenon in AI theory: the emergence of a gendered AI.

AI has been described as the mimicking of human intelligence to different degrees: ‘strong AI’ attempts to recreate every aspect, costing much more money, resources and time; while ‘weak AI’ focuses on a specific aspect. Tay, as a female AI targeted towards 18-24 year olds in the US, is very much about communicating with Millennials. In my previous posts, I’ve mentioned a number of AI representations in the media, all of which are gendered, usually as female. Dalke and Blankenship point out “Some AI works to imitate aspects of human intelligence not related to gender, although the very method of their knowing may still be gendered.”

They go on to suggest that the Turing Test “arose from a gendered consideration, not a technological one,” wherein Turing’s original paper proposing this test, the examiner is trying to determine the difference between a man and woman and that the same differentiation process could be applied to humans and AI.

If AI is gendered, then the researchers are proposing there is an algorithm for gender, which in our post-feminist context seems to be oversimplifying the issue. Gender is entirely constructed and would be constructed on the part of the AI in its development in the same way that humans construct and reconstruct their own gender in tandem with their identity.

Tay is a glorified bot that responds to specific stimuli. Perhaps it’s the other way around – AI is a glorified bot designed to respond to stimuli and learn from it.

More sources to consider:

http://www.computer.org/csdl/mags/an/1996/03/man1996030047.pdf


http://www.jstor.org/stable/3178281?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
https://www.theguardian.com/science/the-lay-scientist/2016/feb/12/is-bb-8-a-woman-artificial-intelligence-gender-identity

Identity in Social Media

Young people in modern Australia no longer perceive popularity based on how many actual friends they have but instead seek affirmation and accomplishment from statistics of a high followers list. Generation Y grew up with internet being a normal part of every day life, from crappy nokia phones with snake to high powered iPhones we have watched technology rapidly advance. Generation I (the current generation) don’t actually know what the world was like before social media, iPhones and wi-fi. When we get bored of the current ‘real’ world we live in we turn to our mobile phones and immediately find a false alternate reality in our social media apps. Instagram isn’t just a feed of photos it has its own culture of people living to impress, prove something, communicate something. “It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens” – Danah Boyd looks at teenagers quality of lives being affected by social media. How the current world we live in paternalism and protectionism haven’t allowed young people to become informed, thoughtful and engaged citizens through their online interactions. Instagram users have shared over 30 billion photos to date, and now share an average of 70 million photos per day.

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A podcast I watched by Judah Smith titled “Instagram Isn’t Real” talks about how our Instagram isn’t actually real life, its a highlight real of our lives where we only display what we want others to see. When did we begin to link our understanding of identity with a piece of technology. We have understanding of self, through some online coded data and numbers that don’t actually mean anything in this world.

For my cybercultures research project I will be looking at how modern people find their identity through social media, specifically looking at Instagram and young people. I want to understand more about how cyberculture looks at human interaction with technology and how we have become online citizens that depend on social media to gain an understanding of self.  A case study I will look at will be Essena O’Neill and her expose on “Instagram isn’t real.”

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References

Boyd, Danah. It’s Complicated. Print.

Gauntlett, David. Media, Gender, And Identity. London: Routledge, 2002. Print.

LePage, Evan. “A Long List Of Instagram Statistics And Facts That Prove Its Importance”. Hootsuite Social Media Management. N.p., 2015. Web. 31 Mar. 2016.

Saul, Heather. “The Instagram Star Who Quit The Internet Is Now One Of Most Influential People Online”. The Independent. N.p., 2016. Web. 31 Mar. 2016.

Mandiberg, M 2012, The Social Media Reader, NYU Press, New York.

Online Branding and Power: Who has control over the presence?

So in my last post, I set up my ideas of branding, and started to explore how the concept related to cyberculture.  That post was a great foundation leading into the next leg of research: a series of questions about how these brands interact with users, and what the future could also hold.

Cybercultures allows for a great deal of interaction between brand and consumer, but I question who really has the most control?  The internet is a great space for open communication, but does that tip the balance of control in the opposite direction to where it has typically been.  The lecture on Cyberpunks let me consider this idea, in relation to users who have that power and choose to abuse it – trolls who are interacting with brands for the sole purpose of derailing the brand image.  The ‘trollpunk‘ audience hijacks the presence of the brand with the intention to disrupt the hierarchy of power, (Chen 2012) and this is becoming a social norm.  Chris’s comments in the wk4 lecture: “[I]n the absence of the body, means people can have powerful emotional responses” (Moore 2016), could also lead into this idea, of having heightened emotional responses. The lack of physical, real time presence means there is this time to plan, curate, and execute never-ending arguments – either to troll, or to respond.

This idea of trolling leads me to consider online presences, and automatic responses, either from brand or consumer.  Twitter bots are quick and easy to set up, and could be used for a great number of things, but does this mean that we are heading towards an online social media network of artificial intelligence?  If twitter bots are becoming more accessible to create and utilise, and the responses are becoming more realistic, then does the future of online branding lie in a self evolving AI structure with base ideologies that mirror those of the brand, and evolve depending on the audience that interacts with them.  Microsoft’s recent attempt resulted in something they were not proud of, however it mirrored the idea of “destabilisation of established order by the development of artificial intelligence” (Moore 2016) as users interacted with the AI account in order to change it from an ‘innocent’ bot modelled after a teenage girl, into a nazi sex bot (Horton 2016).  The Barbie brand is also planning on peering into the cyberculture world, incorporating their dolls with AI so that children can have real conversations with the toys, adding a new layer to the identity of both the doll and their brand, creating a new brand presence through each doll as they are interacted with.

*FURTHER OPTIONAL READING ABOUT PERSONAL BRANDING AND IDEAS CAN BE FOUND HERE*

 


Chen, A 2012, Trollpunk is the New Cyberpunk, The World of Today, viewed 30 March 2016, <http://worldoftoday.tumblr.com/post/24514056899/trollpunk-is-the-new-cyberpunk&gt;

Gershgorn, D 2015, Barbie Learns to Chat Using Artificial Intelligence, Australian Popular Science, viewed 30 March 2016, <http://www.popsci.com.au/robots/artificial-intelligence/barbie-learns-to-chat-using-artificial-intelligence,409334&gt;

Horton, H 2016, Microsoft deletes ‘teen girl’ AI after it becomes a Hitler-loving sex robot within 24 hours, The Telegraph, viewed 25 March 2016, <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2016/03/24/microsofts-teen-girl-ai-turns-into-a-hitler-loving-sex-robot-wit/&gt;

Moore, C 2016, Week Four – Experiencing Cyberculture, Cybercultures Blog, viewed 30 March 2016, <https://cyberculturesblog.wordpress.com/week-four-experiencing-cyberculture/&gt;

Shani, O 2015, From Science Fiction to Reality: The Evolution of Artificial Intelligence, Wired, viewed 30 March 2016, <http://www.wired.com/insights/2015/01/the-evolution-of-artificial-intelligence/&gt;