Monthly Archives: February 2010

Global Communication and the Long Tail

I just wanted to add a few thoughts that I didn’t get to bring up in class from the Lister readings.  Lister et al spend a substantive portion of the text discussing the background of  the world economy in discussing capital’s impact on communication technology.  When we talk about the flow of communication and its link to capital, it is no surprise that entertainment, news, and information have traditionally tended to follow money.  What does it mean when a company that both reports the news and manufactures your television are one in the  same?

The consolidation of media corporations, I think, is particularly alarming especially when we look at news media, where 8 corporation control all of the mainstream news media in America.  I think that we can draw up the idea of the Long Tail and apply it to news coverage.  With the rise of independent news online and news and political blogging, there are so many more voices and sources that are available to the whole range of internet users.  While many people still rely on mainstream news outlets, there do exist the alternatives and they are read.  We can see how the internet can be a tool for niche journalism and niche news.  I no longer have to buy the newspaper that is in my city, and especially I don’ t have to only watch television news (which I hate).  In fact, if one is not bound too much by language, we can even get international news from another nation and increase our  awareness of what’s going on in the world, since international press coverage has been on the decline in the U.S.

I thought that the use of twitter in Iran’s protests were and excellent example of this:

http://www.thenation.com/blogs/notion/443634

Is It a ‘Big Deal’??

While reading Anderson’s article ‘The Long Tail’ I was reminded of how complicated issues surrounding new media can be. Although the ‘niche markets’ are now an important feature of the web media marketplace Anderson highlights the dark side when discussing one ‘Long Tail’ company:

Putting aside the fact that many people actually used the service to illegally upload and share commercial tracks, leading the labels to sue MP3.com, the model failed at its intended purpose, too. Struggling bands did not, as a rule, find new audiences, and independent music was not transformed. Indeed, MP3.com got a reputation for being exactly what it was: an undifferentiated mass of mostly bad music that deserved its obscurity.

Throughout most of the article Anderson paints these niche markets, such as Amazon.com, Rhadsody, and NetFlix in a positive light but I think it is very important to remember that while many of these companies operate under an extremely ‘we’re here for you’, ‘may we suggest’, and ‘others think you would like..’ guise, they are still markets with one bottom line….this bottom line is profit and profit for them, not the artist. I was also surprised that Lister only dedicated a paragraph to the ‘all kinds of disarray’, as he calls it, of Intellectual Property. I know that we discussed that there have always been problems with piracy (way before new media created more) but it’s interesting how none of our authors address this problem as worthy of remedy. How would we remedy it? And is it easier to say ‘we have to take the good with the bad’ and ‘it’s not that big of a deal’, ‘everything should be shared’, when we are not the ones trying to make a living off of selling our song?

Pandora Internet Radio

While reading “The Long Tail”, I was reminded of my experience with Pandora internet radio. I know most of you probably know what Pandora is, but just to be sure I’ll explain it briefly. Pandora is a website, and now an app on the iPhone, that allows you to pick an artist or a list of artists, and will play music by these artists and other artists that are thought of as being similar either lyrically or instrumentally. If a song comes on that you like you can approve and give it a thumbs up. If you don’t like a song, you can give it a thumbs down and Pandora will never play it for you again. Based on your input, Pandora will try to play songs that you will most likely enjoy.

I have been using Pandora a lot lately, and I started to notice all of the songs it played for me that I had never heard before. Some of these songs were early songs by bands that I listen to now, but some of the songs were by bands that I didn’t know were around. I found that I liked most of them, and have actually downloaded most of them on iTunes. This reminded me of the “misses” described in the article, and how these not so popular songs can make a huge profit when added together. Before this article I didn’t think less popular could make a seller any money, but I proved myself wrong by buying these less popular songs.

Virtual Identity

I found Lister’s discussion on virtual identity to be particularly fascinating. It has been a question of mine for a long time because I see a disconnect between how people behave online vs. IRL (to use tech-savy language) in many of my friends and family. Lister quotes Poster in saying “internet discourse constitutes the subject as the subject fashions him or herself (167)”, but also quotes Baym view that “online groups are often woven into the fabric of off-line life rather than set in opposition to it. The evidence includes thepervasiveness of off-line contexts in online interaction… (168)” It makes me wonder with how honest people are when they are in the virtual world and how they choose to be perceived by others.

My older brother, Steven, is a good example to discuss for a minute. He is very much into facebook status updates and twitter posts (I’m not saying this is a negative thing). He updates his online followers with sometimes 12 updates a day which is a lot of information to display semi-publically (since I’m guessing he has over 200 facebook friends). Since I know my brother very well, I can read into the context the Baym talks about, but there are MANY who cannot. So I see a large disconnect because though I still can see the same person in Steven that I do IRL, there are many who have a different perception of him because they don’t have the same context. Thus, there are two different identities that can be perceived. I often wonder if my brother realizes this fact and ignores it, or if he is just addicted to facebook updates and feels he needs to display many of the things that pop into his head during the day.

So my brother’s example really made me think about Lister’s quote of Massey’s idea of “differentiated mobility” that says that “some people are more in charge of [new media space] than others; some initiate flows and movement, others don’t; some are more on the receiving end of it than others; some are effectively imprisoned by it.” Where do I stand in those options? Is my brother the one initiating flows and movement and I am the one imprisoned because I’m stuck reading the posts (and subsequent comments)? Or is he imprisoned by the regularity and frequency of his status updates/twitter posts? What do you think?

500 bonus points for hitting that pedestrian…

Technology as the double-edged sword of Damocles, says what? (part 1 is pretty interesting as well)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1GaqoE_qLCs[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lTprV-dRmY[/youtube]

Thoughts?

The Power of Media and New Economic Model

Chris Anderson introduced an example of virtue of online booksellers representing a new economic model for the media and entertainment industries in the article, “The Long Tail”. This article was very impressive for me since I could not imagine this phenomenon about bestseller. I believe this case is showing one of the powers of media influencing our daily life. Also this media change has been bring the new phase of economical structures. It is obvious that now we are doing business in different ways. However, discovering bestseller by Amazon.com example gives us question. Are these all natural? May be not……

That case is a business achievement of Amazon.com’s effort, not for us. As author mentioned, popular taste of people can be artifacts of poor supply-and-demand matching. Hence healthy share of hits should earn their place so that great songs, movies, and books attract big, broad audiences.

The Long Tail and Streaming Video

Reading “The Long Tail,” I was reminded of the current conversation around Netflix’s Watch Instantly service and HBO’s new HBO Go streaming service.

The problem in Netflix’s use of the Long Tail is that it’s dependent upon content providers working with the company. Some content providers give access to older titles, but not new releases, which, going on Anderson’s argument, could lead to Netflix having problems keeping consumers if studios have their own streaming services that do offer access to those titles. Consumers have gotten used to the availability of everything all the time, first with the ubiquity of Amazon and Netflix’s mail delivery service, and then with online music and TV services. Being able to access everything without ever leaving your house is becoming something that people expect.

The problem is that you have to work with a lot of people to offer everything, and you have to continually lay out a large amount of money to license everything.

It makes me wonder what the actual cost of distributing movies and TV shows through streaming services is, and if people would actually pay more for it than they do now. Netflix doesn’t charge extra for its streaming service and it is commercial free, which raises the question of how they are paying for it and if that could possibly continue even if they didn’t have to eventually renegotiate streaming rights with studios. If Netflix had another revenue stream to support the service, I could see them negotiating with studios to pay more for content and still operating Watch Instantly at a loss (like lala.com will hopefully continue to do now that it has been acquired by Apple), and there is the advantage of having the widest variety of content in one place, which studio-specific streaming services like HBO Go wouldn’t be able to offer. But it still feels like, where Amazon and iTunes have found a way to make money using a Long Tail approach, streaming video services will have a harder time finding a way to make a profit while offering the hits people want.

Term Projects?

I haven’t seen a thread dedicated to the term projects yet 🙂

My background is in engineering and I have worked two summers as a video game designer for Electronic Arts. I would like to do a term project revolving around the business of games in new media, specifically social networking games on facebook/myspace/mobile phones.

I haven’t really thought out exactly what I want to look at, but I have several contacts in the industry.

What is the Internet (to you)?

One of the sub-headings of our reading this week was, “What is the Internet?” The Federal Networking Council agrees that the Internet refers to the global information system that is:

  • logically linked together by a globally unique address space based on Internet Protocol… (did they just use the word Internet to define internet?)
  • able to support communications using the TCP/IP protocol
  • provides, uses, or makes accessible, either publicly or privately, high level services layered on the communications and related infrastructure described herein.

    To me, the internet is a collection of people coming together to share information and technology. It is a means of communicating in numerous forms. I don’t generally try to visualize all of the internet at one time, but I think of a giant web. I use it for reading news, communicating, gaming, learning, and scheduling.

    What do you think of as ‘The Internet’? What do you use it for outside of reading news and learning? Niche interest groups? Direct to consumer sales? What random websites do you frequent? Lets hear some juicy stuff 🙂

    I frequent CheapAssGamer.com, a website dedicated to finding deals on video games.

  • Is that accreditation or are you just happy to see me?

    In Benkler’s section of relevance/accreditation, he explained how Slashdot’s comments section works and how “peer review” offers both relevance and accreditation without the need of professionals.  Although I agree with Benkler that this is an interest case study for relevance and accreditation, I don’t agree that this method or other methods such as Digg really offers relevance and accreditation.

    Because of the political, social, economical factors, users within these system tend to form into a group.  When a story or an articles are posted for comments, these group will start to follow a group mentality and rate the same.  In a worst case, groups will use their voting power to suppress or elevate based on their idea.

    When a normal user is exposed to these conditions of suppressed voice (Slashdot) or suppressed articles (Digg), a complete picture becomes incomplete.  On a grander level, if all of our data feeds are pre-evaluated by other individuals or groups, and given that we have almost uncontrollable data feeds from everywhere, aren’t we going to start to be more ‘group think’?