Broadband internet production has changed, if not everything then at least a tremendous amount of how media products are shared with audiences. If you have grown up in a broadband world, then this will be a ‘history lesson’. The over-30’s are starting to realise how little choice they had compared with today's audiences. Rather than nostalgically bemoaning the absence of ‘collective viewing’, they are waking up to the fact that they would probably not have organised their lives around weekly broadcasts of ‘classic TV programmes in the 1970’s if they had been able to stream an entire series of a more interesting show.
Rather than relying on published data for sales figures, you need to work in a group on a small scale research project for this task.
Target a research group of 50 people between you. This can either be a broad representative cross section of people in your local area (a range of gender, age, social status, ethnic origin and occupation) or a very specific group of similar people, but is must be one of these and nothing in between.
Through whichever research methods you wish to use, find out the proportion of media consumption by this group of 50 people in your chosen area that you would describe as hits (big well known media products) compared to the proportion that you would describe as niche.
When you have the results, our group can collate the data and apply Andersons theory. If you find that Niche consumption is equal or just less than equal (40% and over) to the consumption of hits, then his ideas will seem to be correct. If not you will need to consider whether your research group is untypical of the whole population or whether Andersons ideas are overrated.
Either way, you will have a very interesting and useful piece of applied audience research to include in your exam answer.
Wikinomics L.O: To display understanding of the impact of Wikinomics on a contemporary audience.
Dan Tapscott and Williams published Wikinomics in 2006. Along with Chris Andersons theory of the long tail, this is the other ‘big idea’ about business and commerce in the online age. The chapter headings are similar to Andersons: ‘Peer Pioneers’, ‘The Wiki workplace’, ‘Collaborative minds’ and ‘Enterprise 2.0’ are added to ‘Viral Marketing’ and ‘Endless Niche’.
You may personally take a cynical view to this discourse and assess it as nothing more than a bandwagon, or you might take this more seriously as a summary of changes. But either way, these two ‘big ideas’ are useful for us because they take us beyond the media text or the study of media products in the realm of economics. The subtitle of Tapscott and Williams intervention is ‘How Mass Collaboration changes everything. These arguments are about the media (distribution in particular), but also about consumption and exchange (buying and selling – the food and drink of a capitalist economics ) and about human behaviour. So perhaps for the first time, web 2.0 has brought cultural studies and economics together, and that is important for Media studies, as explored by Tapscott and Williams (2006:46)
“ As people individually and collectively program the Web, they’re increasingly in command. They not only have an abundance of choices, they can increasingly rely on themselves. This is the new consumer power. Its not just the ability to swap suppliers at the click of a mouse, or a prerogative to customise their purchased goods (that was the last century) It’s the power to become their own supplier – in effect to become an economy unto themselves”
On the next slide are the 5 big ideas form ‘Wikinomics’. Your job is to apply each one to a different example of online media, so you end up with 5 examples spanning 5 different media areas. (Convergence suggests that they will overlap) If you wish to work in a group and split up the examples this will save time. The easier is it to apply each idea and find an example, the stronger the Wikinomics theory. The harder you have to work to relate the ideas to the examples, the weaker the argument. The most important element of this activity, then, is the discussion about the outcomes. When you get to the exam , you will not simply be listing the examples. Additionally you will be able to offer your own researched critique of wikinomics in the online media world, as this will impress the examiners.
1. Peering – the free sharing of material on the internet – is good news for businesses when it cuts distribution costs to almost zero, but bad news for people who want to protect their creative materials and ideas as intellectual property. So the ‘roar of collaborative culture will change economics beyond recognition and corporations are forced to respond or perish.
Free creativity is a natural and positive outcome of the free market, so attempting to regulate and control online ‘remix’ creativity is like trying to hold back the tide. The happy medium is achieved by a service such as creative commons, which provides licences which protect intellectual property. While at the same time allowing others to remix your material within limits.
Web 2.0 makes thinking globally inevitable. The internet is the ‘worlds biggest coffee house’, a virtual space in which a new blog is created every second. In this instantly global communication sphere, national and cultural boundaries are inevitably reduced.
The combination of three things – technology (web 2.0), demographics (young people are described as ‘digital natives’ they have grown up in a collaborative virtual world which to them is natural and instinctive, and economics (the development of a global economy where business can, and must think of its markets as international, given that traditional, national production structures have declined as we have entered the knowledge economy) – results in a perfect storm, which creates such a force that resistance is impossible, so any media company trying to operate without web 2.0 will be like a small fishing boat on the sea during a freak meteorological occurrence.
But this is the really important bit: Lots of people disagree with all of this. It is a debate on which you need a critical perspective. Foe every ‘wikionomist’ there will be a sceptic. The sceptics believe that things are not changing as quickly and profoundly as Tapscott and Williams would have us believe. The think that the idea of digital natives assumes too much, and that in face many young people feel left behind and alienated by web 2.0. The sceptics think that the wikinomics argument ignores inequality and the fact that the vast majority of the worlds population does not even have access to broadband, so thinking globally is a luxury of the rich nations, not a worldwide ecological reality.
Collect your examples, assess the merits of the wikinomics ideas in relation to the media and then debate the pros and cons of the broader argument – the authors bold claim that mass collaboration ‘changes everything’ This quote from the book should get you started see if you can apply it to media companies and the ways they operate and succeed.
“ Winning companies today have open and porous boundaries and complete by reaching outside their walls to harness external knowledge, resources and capabilities. They’re like a hub for innovation and a magnet for uniquely qualified minds. They focus their internal staff on value integration and orchestration, and treat the world as their research and development department. All of this adds up to a new kind of collaborative enterprise – An Enterprise 2.0 that is constantly shaping and reshaping clusters of knowledge and capability to compete on a global basis. Is your mind wired for wikinomics?
It would be almost impossible to avoid relating this theme to your production work. Whichever brief you are responding to, you will have to pay attention to the way that your media products either rely on the internet for dissemination, make partial use of the online mediasphere or are competing against it.
If you are producing a website, what is the relationship between the site and the world of social networking, peer sharing and user reviews? For a piece of film work how will you distribute the product on line?
In addition your research planning and evaluation will themselves be created on line and shared on line in many cases, so you can share your work in progress on the internet and invite responses and suggestions.
When you write about your production work in the exam….
You should be well set to explain how your media products as micro examples relate to the broader macro ideas discussed here.
How did the ideas presented in Wikinomics, the long tail and viral marketing influence your production?
These notes need to be prepared in your revision folders ready for the exam.
Media in the Online Age Charles Leadbeater and We-Think
If you thought that we were done with the ‘big ideas’ after ‘the Long Tail’ and Wikinomics, think again. Charles Leadbeaters intervention – We-Think – takes a similar view on the revolutionary nature of the internet, but develops it further, - beyond business and consumption - to argue that the way we think and make sense of knowledge is fundamentally shifting in the on line age.
For Leadbetter, open access knowledge-building communities on the web allow ideas to be shared and tested much more quickly and effectively. Ultimately this leads to us becoming more creative and innovative, as we are liberated from the usual institutional constraints on how things are invented and changed by scientists and academics. Leadbetter uses World of Warcraft to make his point and extend it to challenge the world of education, which may be of particular interest to us.
“ In such games it’s the players who create the content. A computer game with a million players only needs 1% of them to create content for other players to use and the game has an unpaid development team of 10,000. If we could persuade the 1% of Britains pupils to be player developers for education, that would create 70,000 new sources of learning. But that would require us to see learning as something more like a computer game, something that is done peer-to-peer, without a traditional teacher.”
Activity: Using the information here and your wider research define Leadbetter’s theories in your own words.
When the BBC launched Iplayer, many media commentators heralded this as the beginning of the internet TV era for real. Whereas there had been divided opinion about whether TV through the internet would catch on, the incredible success of the online video and the newer development of internet protocol television are combining to make online TV an inevitability.
How long do you think youtube has been around for?
Look up the answer on the internet and you may be surprised.
Then consider its degree of success in that space of time.
You may get a sense of why older generations see the internet as so revolutionary – it is a simple equation of the impact of chane in relation to time. Compare this development to other fields of technology such as the motor engine.
The BBC’S Iplayer service was launched in 2008, and each month downloads have increased by a fifth. Within weeks, Virgin Media has included the service in its digital package, so immediately the on screen context was transformed. Virgin customers simply press the red button to go straight to iplayer, so the web context becomes invisible. This is already pretty revolutionary – the archetypal public service broadcaster contributing so explicitly and enthusiastically to ‘the death of the schedule’. But the next step is even more radical, as the corporation makes available software that allows iplayer to be viewed on portable devices such as the ipod or the psp. The technological urgency for the BBC can be viewed in many ways, but ultimately it is a public service response to a commercial threat, the BBC placing itself at the heart of online video in order to survive in the wake of its commercial competitors – by being free, wide ranging and having a very high quality picture and content in comparison.
Not only does Iplayer increase audiences share for the BBC – in 2008 the statistics showed that the East enders audience grew by 2.5 % overall with the addition of downloads – but it also acts as a market surveillance tool, as the cooperation can monitor downloads and thus gauge viewer performance more smartly than before – after all, downloading a programme is a more active choice than simply having it on TV.
Virgin Media Statistics for march 2008 provide us with an interesting insight into Veiwers use of online TV in the relatively early days, with 35 % of content veiwing Represented by people catching up with programmes broadcast over the previous Week. The same amount of viewings were of music video, and another 20% Accounted for viewings of episodes of older TV programmes of older TV series on Demand. Only 3% of viewings were paid for film, which seems to indicate that the Market is threatened in particular by the archive TV series offer. In a feature in The Guardian, the CEO of Virgin Media content, Malcolm Wall, Described the virgin offer as ‘TV for the ipod generation’ and the amount of music Veiwings would appear to be support that.
If you have looked at more than one theme area here you have probably noticed that they overlap, which is an outcome of the converged media sphere we are studying. Grand Theft Auto 1V, which also appears in contemporary Media Regulation and Post Modern Media.
What we need to know is the biggest difference between GTA 3 and Grand theft auto 4 is the internet.
Activity: Spend 10 minutes researching the differences between the two versions of Grand Theft Auto.
Players have the opportunity to access the internet within the game in order to access ‘hyper-textual’ information or to buy related items. They can play in multiplayer mode, taking part in a range of missions with friends. One outcome that is perhaps unexpected, is that players have the chance to just hang out in the game world with their friends as well as taking part in more strategic missions with an endgame in mind
“ Its not even like Rock star had to try too hard: putting you in its city playground with a bunch of mates was always going to be amazing, and now they have finally got the technology to pull it off. A motorbike race through the airport is another grin inducing spectacle, as 16 of us speed underneath moving 737’s with guns blazing and tyres burning. Absolutely awesome ”