All posts filed under: BCM 310

Emerging Issues in Media & Communication

We need Doctor Big Data, stat!

Katina Michael, in a conversation with The Register (2015), asked “How long does it take until we’re constantly being monitored and tracked, and people are predicting our next action?” – the answer is now, Katina. In fact, the new email extension Crystal informs users on how to construct emails based on the intended recipient, by predicting the best characteristics the person would respond positively to. Crystal does this by analysing all the Big Data on the subject and producing a profile from an algorithm. But Crystal, albeit new, has its shortfalls. Lucy Kellaway, on her podcast Listen to Lucy (2015), demonstrated the tool and declared that while it described her perfectly, the suggestion to send emotions to her in an email was so far away from the truth, she believes Crystal could just be guessing. But it’s undeniable that powering Crystal is a very complicated algorithm that can find and predict a person’s preferences based on just public data. But beyond emails, having data about someone before an interaction can be very helpful to predict other outcomes – potentially life saving …

The New Margins on TV

“On TV, shows are getting cautiously gayer, but Netflix’s breakout drama waves its rainbow flag like it just don’t care” (Lang 2014). Relatively new video-distribution platforms like Netflix and Amazon, are offering a wave of new content like ‘Orange is the New Black’, that represent a larger variety of genders, ethnicities, and stories than mainstream platforms. Smaller networks are allowing creators fewer limitations, like Amazon offering creative freedom to Jill Solloway with her show ‘Transparent’,  and “the guarantee that if the pilot didn’t get off the ground, [Solloway would] get the rights back” (Yuan 2015). Most networks never offer this deal, which is an important challenge to the standard control and limitations that creators face when working in the industry. It’s arguably the restrictiveness of the industry which prevents TV shows to represent a greater cast of genders and ethnicities. Industries have “justified this approach with the claim that audiences won’t tolerate non-white characters or actors in dominant roles” (Cox 2013). But there are a number of popular new shows which challenge this justification. Jill Solloway, the creator of the TV show …

Is Cloud Computing Green?

Cloud computing, sometimes boldly called “Green” Cloud computing, is utilising offsite computing power from large datacentres and servers to replace infrastructure servers in business. The issue is, we “all pay so little attention to the resources used by “the cloud” (Notley & Reading 2013). Cloud computing uses less power to the achieve the same results as regular servers. So much, that the “Smart 2020 report by the Climate Group estimates energy consumption of these and other cloud data centers to be 330 billion kilowatt hours per year” (Newton 2010). The green savings, is often attributed to the power savings the consumer will benefit from utilising cloud computing. But the power savings required to power the server is often invested back into more servers, as Samsung proudly remarks that replacing regular servers with thier Green DDR3 servers will reduce power consumption by 86% which can “add 55 more servers to your data center in just one year”.  Samsung’s “green” vision is undermined by statements like this and their reports never state how much CO2 emissions are reduced from …

How To Broadcast Survival Pornography

Bear Grylls’s The Island, showed contestants hunting and killing animals for food – contextually, if you’re trapped on an island, it makes sense – but on TV, the presentation of this event is debated as pornography for viewer ratings. Survival pornography – the broadcast of suffering and tragedy as entertainment for the pleasure of viewers – in this case, contestants on the reality show The Island are forced to their “limits” to survive as if stranded on an island. But it’s known that the Channel 4 production, hosted by Bear Grylls, can easily intervene with the contestants “as we were reminded when [Grylls] shipped in emergency new equipment because the … gang couldn’t light a fire” (O’Sullivan 2015). DailyMail (Crone 2015) even suggests  that producers were releasing extra pigs, iguanas, and crocodiles for contestants to eat. In light, it’s easy to understand the outrage that viewers experienced after watching “innocent animals … being snuffed out in the heartless pursuit of decent viewing figures” (O’Sullivan 2015). After killing a crocodile, the team cheers, slaps hands together and swear with smiles – it’s unsettling to see how close the production team, and …