Digital Disruption & Chill

So, I’m guessing we all know who this guy is. He’s obviously netflix. How though has this handsome streaming service changed our lives and, more importantly, what does it indicate for the future of media?

First up, let’s talk about the ‘digital disruption’. If you’ve never encountered the phrase before, essentially it refers to the fundamental industrial, economic and social shift we are experiencing from the physical to the digital. Simple, right? Only not only does digital disruption refer to the elimination of physical necessity in intangible products, it also applies to digitisation of processes resulting in a physical effect (Willis, 2015 p. 22). Complicated and long winded explanation you say? I like to make things sound more complicated then they are to seem smarter, if you hadn’t noticed. Chill.

Basically all it is the elimination of physical necessities in the distribution of goods and services. The netflix example is a simple one when compared with its predecessors, physical film distribution networks. Not only is Netflix replacing the physicality that was the local video store, but digital distribution and streamer services are replacing the physical medium we previously used to transport media. VCRs, DVDs and even BluRays will eventually succumb to a digitally disrupted world where a physical copy of something is entirely redundant.

Though the same process, the disruption applies slightly differently to traditionally safe sectors outside the media industry. The rise of Uber is a key example of the elimination of the need for physical ownership. Previously, cab companies had to own the car and employ a driver. Digital disruption has allowed the company to bypass the physical necessity, in this case a car, and rely on what is essentially the subcontract of both (Everett, 2016, p. 20).

That’s how Netflix is changing the rules in regard to physicality and distribution. What is most interesting about Netflix, though, isn’t just it’s cunning elimination of the physical, but it’s emergence from solely distribution to production as well. Though not a digital one, this move is incredibly disruptive in of itself. Netflix, with its phenomenally successful original programming like House of CardsOrange is the New Black and Daredevil, has simplified the production process of entertainment media. As well,  the economic success of Netflix and it’s original content has proven the concept for future production/distribution of entertainment, making the future domination of entertainment by a few, digitally based, producer/distributor companies a distinct possibility.

What then, happens to the old dominators of the media landscape? Well, dear reader, I don’t have the word count to do a long winded explanation that makes me seem more smarterer, so I’ll put it simply. The old dominators that relied on the physical have adapted too, but have not shied away from the physical. Instead, they have found a new home in what is, for now at least, one of the last, safe bastions of physical media necessity; specifically the management and ownership of communications infrastructure (McChesney, 2014, p. 69). Check that shit out, I strongly recommend it.

 

 

References

Everett, C 2016, ‘Disruption in the age of the digital business model’, Computer Weekly, pp. 18 – 22

McChesney, RW 2014, ‘The Global Media Giants’, Global Media Journal: Indian Edition, 5, 1, pp. 63-71,

Willis, P 2015, ‘Digital disruption: Our life-changing experience’, Access, 29, 3, pp. 22 – 24,

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Crouching Coldplay, Hidden Tourism

I was never that into Coldplay. Not now, and certainly not back in 2002 when my Mum gave me a CD for Christmas. Admit it, Mum, A Rush of Blood to The Head was more for you than it was for me.

Moving on… This weeks topic, orientalism, is something that I’ve always held close. Edward Said was always an interesting character to me and orientalism was one of the first theories I learnt about and really engaged with at university.

Do I believe that Coldplay video was an orientalist perpetuation? Yes and no. Yes, it subscribed to a romanticist notion of the occident and yes, at least to some viewers, it will promote an orientalist perspective. On the other hand, if we are to believe the director, Adria Petty, the music video was meant to be an homage to Chinese martial arts film, specifically the grandiose, over-the-top aspects some of them boast. If the music video is indeed trying to invoke the image of chinese film, is it orientalist or is the film it references itself the example of orientalism? Most importantly, this leads to a further question; can a film perpetuate orientalist ideal if it is made in and by ‘the orient’?

As Kenneth Chan, working out of the University of North Dakota in asian film, wrote in 2004 on the orientalist appearance of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

“On the one hand, a kind of cultural nationalism lured Chinese viewers to root for the film… On the other hand, the films success evoked suspicion of stereotyping, exoticism, traditionalism and orientalism.”

Later, Chan would go on to conclude that the film could definitely be considered orientalist if seen alone, but the origin and creators of the film allowed it a proviso. If the film was meant for western audiences in order to exploit its orientalist image, then it was orientalist . But, and this is important, if the film was designed by the those it represented and was intended to propagate an accurate reflection of the creators culture, it wasn’t (Chan, 2004, p. 15).

More research on the topic produced more writing, interestingly not related exclusively to Chinese film but also a concerted economic effort. Chinese tourism adverts have been brought under an orientalist lense and found lacking. Specifically, a short film advert, ‘China Forever’, was found to auto-orientalise in order to make a holiday to china seem more appealing (Santos & Yan, 2009, p. 314). By the stressing orientalist factors like mysticism, romanticism and exoticism, Chinese tourists boards have appealed to the orientalist perceptions of western audiences. Though relatively harmless in itself, this practice undeniably perpetuates orientalism.

So, not only is orientalism rampant in main stream media, it does so as well in advertising media. Not only is orientalism perpetuated by the west, it is also possible to be propagated by those it seeks to dominate the image thereof.

And that’s what I learnt about today.

References

Chan, K 2004, ‘The Global Return of the Wu Xia Pian (Chinese Sword-Fighting Movie): Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’, Cinema Journal , Volume 43, Issue 4,  pp. 3-1

Santos, C & Yan, G 2009, ‘“CHINA, FOREVER”: Tourism Discourse and Self-Orientalism’, Annals of Tourism Research, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp. 295–315

 

Controlling them Interwebs

I spend a fair amount of time on the interwebs. I am considered myself a level 9 crypto-wizard, with a 4.46 ppe on the meme scale, and that kid on the book was based on my image. So, as you’d  expect, I’m a little bit excited to be talking about the internet again. Specifically, I’m going to be talking about my least favourite forms of internet control.

Net Neutrality

Okay, so you’ve probably heard this phrase a couple hundred times. In case you’ve never encountered it, it’s essentially the idea that ISPs, and further governments, should not block, restrict or favour access to content. Though the implementation of anti-neutrality laws would mean that ISPs could restrict access to certain data, it also means that they could restrict data flow and essentially hold your bandwidth to ransom.

This found outrage, more than anywhere else, in the United States. In a post-GFC, corporately-aware America, the idea that exclusivity and market control would enter what was previously a relatively uncorrupted sector hit a nerve with very vocal sections of the American public (Metha, 2015); and even companies that made their fortune on the internet. In the end, net neutrality was defended, with very few concessions made, by the FCC in February 2015. Sweet, so that’s some comment about the economic freedom of the internet. What’s next?

Censorship

As I mentioned earlier, I’m one of the freakbags that inhabits the internet. As such, I am worried about the future. As the internet becomes both more mainstream and more powerful, I worry about the increasing focus there is on the internet, either justified or not, and it’s role. Because of this increasing power, I believe that eventually the internet will be restricted and limited. By god, I hope I’m dead by then.

Access to the internet allows you not just to access media, but to produce it and have it distributed en mass. Because of this duality, the internet is viewed by many of its users as the last free media platform in the world (Wiseman, 2015). In most western countries, anyway. What can be said of the Australian internet experience is completely different to that of the Chinese, Turkish and many others. Numerous countries around the world already hold tight control over the internet, making the imposition of internet restrictions in Australia, at least in concept, a possibility.

Surveillance

Who doesn’t love this guy?

Of course, government surveillance of media is nothing new. I’m sure it happens more than we are aware, as Snowden would attest, but what worries me most in the apparent move toward legislating and popularising internet surveillance in the public. Australia is already heading down a kinda awkward road, what with the whistle blower and blackout laws, but these things are to be expected. The real danger, I believe, lies with the likes of Brandis stirring public sentiment toward agreeing to surveillance. I long ago accepted that certain politicians would like to bring greater power, direct and through surveillance, to the state. What bothers me the most is that, at least in the Australian context, there is growing public support, manufactured or legitimate, for surveillance and internet control. That’s what scares me the most, rather than a government seeking restrictions and surveillance of its people, a people seeking to restrict and monitor themselves.

 

References

Mehta, A 2015, ‘Economics, Ethics, and Public Policy: Values in the U.S. Net Neutrality Debate’, International Journal Of Communication, 9, pp. 3460-3468

Weisman, DL 2015, ‘The Political Economy of Net Neutrality Regulation’, Economists’ Voice, 12, 1, pp. 13-18