Just a great Aussie Classic.

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“Australia is a great place to make film and television … entertaining global audiences for 40 years.” claims the Screen Australia website on the ‘Doing Business with Australia’ homepage but is this the case? Aussie producers are very good at creating fish-out-of-water comedies, quality adult drama, animated children’s programmes and intriguing documentaries but in terms of Australian film, the quality as determined by the audience size is questionable. With only 3.5% (Screen Australia) of the total Australian box office being Australian made and an average of 21 Australia films being released locally per year (15 in 2013) the numbers do not create the identity of a world dominating film industry.

From the get go I want to establish my stance on Australian film; there are certainly areas in which growth is needed, where marketing needs to improve in order to receive a higher proportion of local audiences and where diversity needs to be showcased to a higher standard. However, Australian film is unique from any other film industry in the world, in terms of cultural influences, audiences and size.

So how do we know Australian Film is even supported? AACTA (Australian Academy Cinema Television Arts) is committed to connecting Australian and international audiences with great Australian film and television content. “The primary role of AACTA is to recognise, encourage, promote and celebrate film and television excellence in Australia through the nation’s highest screen accolades – the AACTA Awards.” It through the Austraimages-2lian Film Institute (AFI) and the Academy that Australian film is recognised, encouraged and disseminated. These awards, although not an Oscar are held in high esteem within the industry in terms of content production, artistic skill and producer direction. With Internationally known actors Geoffrey Rush, Cate Blanchett and Nicole Kidman being recognised along with Baz Luhrmann’s countless internationally successful film’s, the Institute celebrates the success of the local industry.

It is also vital mention how the Aussie Film Industry caters for and represents diversity in both content and audience structures. With an ageing population it is important for new industries such as Australian film to cater for older generations both in output of content as well as enetertainment mediums such as cinemas. In 2001 Captioned Cinema was introduced in order to appeal to a wider range of audiences in order that they may be able to enjoy the movie-going process. Media Access Australia is a site that makes available information about accessible cinema attendance as well as a vast range of other media technologies. Through this, the website is attempting to break down social barriers that may limit an older generation from attending the cinema.

images-1There is also the identification of Indigenous Australians being represented in the film industry. With a rises in Aboriginal creatives producing hits in the box office such as Samson and Delilah (2009), Bran Nue Dae (2009) and the Sapphires (2012), this historic trend of Indigenous Australians merely being represented is fading away. These movies have created their own genre, building the versatility of the Australian film industry with the Australia Screen site  demonstrating just how far Indigenous actions, film producers and content has come.

When the research merely focuses on the numbers and digestible figures, a part from assessing a net worth, it fails to identify causes and opportunities. The Australian Film industry is a gem to the local economy, not so much in monetary value, but in people power and worth. Screen Australia has acknowledge this by providing both quantitative and qualitative research results on their site allowing readers to assess a whole image of the industries position. In order for Australian film to gain greater success in the future, it needs to work to its strengths and focus on highlighting those to potential audiences. There needs to be an increase in marketing through using social media platforms and other new means of disseminating in order to break through the crowd of options for audiences. They also need to establish who is their current audience and who is their future. In this they will find the right means of success.

Oh, and on a side note: Don’t bother comparing to Hollywood’s standards Australia, we’ve got more class than that.

References:

Screen Australia 2014, Industry Statistics, Strategy and Research, Accessed 29th of September 2014, http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/research/default.aspx

AACTA 2014, About AFI/AACTA, Accessed 29th of September 2014, http://www.aacta.org/about-us.aspx

Australian Screen 2014, A short History of Indigenous Filmmaking, Accessed 29th of September 2014, http://aso.gov.au/titles/collections/indigenous-filmmaking/

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I am 1 of 1 billion.

4539909788_15b20fd72c It’s a modern day rite of passage: Turning 13 and being legally able to sign up for your very own Facebook account. I emphasise legally as there is also that one or two eager twelvie wanting to be connected earlier than the rest of their peers. The number of youths signing up before their time has reached 7.5 million world wide and while that may seem like an astronomical number, on a singular level, most would say that it is not the big of a deal. However The NewYork Times has highlighted one core reason those breaking the age restriction may find trouble further along in the Facebook lifetime:

“A child could be found, for instance, if she was 10 years old and said she was 13 to sign up for Facebook. Five years later, that same child would show up as 18 years old – an adult, in the eyes of Facebook — when in fact she was only 15. At that point, a stranger could also see a list of her friends.”

Stranger-Danger, as a society this is still one of the major anxieties we have for our children, only now it has escaped into our online worlds. The issue of child predators and online sleuthing has come hand in hand with Facebook and other social medias success in the same way that other new technologies has brought social anxieties in the past. So much so that there are now computer protection programs that allow parents to install software that both protects and restricts children’s online capabilities. Facebook has recognised the issue within their regulatory proceedings and have moved to make changes. According to a Wall Street Journal the first change is that Facebook may allow users to be under the 13 years old age bracket with new mechanisms being in put in place to link the child’s account to their parents. The second is a new scanning system which Facebook uses to watch for potential predators or terrorism threats.

But let’s talk about Facebook in more broad terms. Established in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg and having only just reached it 10th birthday, the social media sites has over 1 billion users and a with the company worth of $US150 billion, it is safe to say this is a major player on the technological sphere. USA Today sums up the good and bad of Facebook in one word: Intimacy. It is both the core strength of the media platform as well as it major weakness, allowing communities to come together but also facilitating communication between perfect strangers.

There are new anxieties from an outsiders perspective with images of an anti-social, aggressive, lonely future for ‘the children’. There are also internal anxieties from actual Facebook users with a study being conducted that took technology away from 200 students for 24 hours.

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“I clearly am addicted and the dependency is sickening,” said one student.

The study found that this thought resonated with the majority of the students as well as characteristics that were identified as traits held by alcoholics such as withdrawal, cravings, anxiety and a sense of detachment. The students themselves acknowledged that the need for technology and Facebook was also however a way in which they could feel connected, accessible and in control. That highlights one of the biggest anxieties users feel when they can’t access the social site, being disconected, uninformed and therefore not able to participate in what they consider society, they’re biggest concern is being cut off from the constant and instant flow of information.

The following video is just one of many different media examples on how the users and audience of Facebook are able to discuss the effect of the platform. It is a casual view of the world Facebook has created which presents the idea that media in itself should not be or rather is not taken to seriously by its users.

Another perspective from Hub Pages attempts to present both positive and negative impacts Facebook has on children, however when the article paints Facebook as an addictive, society damaging, delinquent creating media it is hard to view it as a useful tool for children.

“As if parents did not already have enough to worry about, now they need to worry about their children displaying negative psychological effects from over-using Facebook”

Debate.org is a way in which members of society can voice their opinion about Facebook in a debate like format. This in itself demonstrates how society is using the very thing it has concerns about in order to discuss those concerns. Ironic? This movement to an online sphere along with the anxieties that are presented are all relative to space. We are now a digital nation, with a constant flow of information, being greater connected but with broader concerns for societies well being. Facebook is merely a media platform by which social change is facilitated, therefore concerns and the ability to shape the future go hand-in-hand.

References:

Huffington Post 2014, Facebook Age Requirement, Accessed 28th of September 2014, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/30/facebook-age-requirement-lying-study_n_2213125.html USA Today 2014, How Facebook changed our lives, Accessed 27th of September 2014, http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2014/02/02/facebook-turns-10-cultural-impact/5063979/ Psych Central 2014, New College Addiction? Social Media, Facebook or Friends, Accessed 28th of September 2014, http://psychcentral.com/news/2010/04/23/new-college-addiction-social-media-facebook-or-friends/13108.html

Are you paying attention? No really, are you?

As I sit blogging at the family Mac, I have three other pages open for research, my iTunes account is up running as well as my word page for note taking, my laptop is beside me so I can read pdf’s as well as my iPhone in case I receive any “important” texts. Some (mostly my Mum) would say this is an overload of noise and therefore a severe distraction from completing anything to a high standard. Others would say that I am simply demonstrating a modern technologically focused example of multi-tasking. But what if these two views are put together: I am multi-tasking, but I am also being quite distracting moving from one thought process to the next, slowly loosing concentration, and why is that?

The concept of mulit-tasking is that the individual can complete more than one task at the same time. However, the only way that this can be done successfully requires two elements: The first is that at least one of the tasks being untaken must be so well learned that it requires little thought (i.e. walking) and the second is that the two tasks being completed must involved different types of brain processing. It is for this reason an individual can exercise or paint or even drive whilst listening to music. But why is there such a debate about whether studying and music can work together?

There is an overarching thought that music in general has negative impacts on ones ability to concentrate, however, upon more thorough consideration it is important to note that it is the kind of music being consumed as well as the individual. Music with lyrics activates the language section of the brain and can therefore hinder study when the subject requires word construction or concentration on language, yet this same form of music can be incredibly useful with spurring on students who are finalising mathematic equations. In the same way some students found classical music was enough of a distraction from external ‘noise’, but simple enough that they could focus almost entirely on the task at hand.

BrainFacts.org describes multi-tasking in a different way acknowledging a study conducted by the National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) the focus was how the brain reacted when two or more tasks were being undertaken. This study found that a prefrontal cortex which spans across the front of the brain in effect splits in half or rather the two sides were able to function separately when completing two seperate tasks. It was also found that when one tasks completion would recieve a reward, that task took priority. This could be something as simple as when you are listening to music and your favourite song somes on, the section you are studying or your train of thought will jump to focus on the song rather than the work. This is the potential danger of listening to music that is of direct interest to the studier.

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However an incorrect use of music is not the only distractor of ones ability to study. In a report by Annie Murphy Paul 263 American school and college students were observed during their designated study time. The outcome of the research was that only 63% of time was actuallly used to complete work while the other 37% was spent on other social media outlets. Although I agree with these findings and know I myself am I fine example of how not to study the majority of the time, I found the methods in which this study was conducted to be a little unsettling. In this I mean the students were only observed for 15 minutes, not every student had the same level of task to complete (“something important” was the requirement) and with each student there was a strange individual, their observer sitting in, changing the dynamic of a normal study environment. However, I will agree with the statement “It’s multitasking while learning that has the biggest potential downside … when students are doing serious work with their minds, they have to have focus.”

The end result from this research is that studying with music can be a useful tool, however, that music must find the balance between being interesting enough to lift the students mood, but not distracting enough that the students ends up singing and forgets where in the essay they were up to. It is also important that the subject of study is receiving the necessary attention and not being drowned out by other multi-media distractions.

Elizabeth Axford, an online instructor in the University of Phoenix College of Humanities and Sciences, she has determined that there is no definitive answer on whether studying with music is appropriate. “Based on everything I’ve read, it really depends on the individual. Some students can study effectively with music playing, while others are distracted by any outside stimulus.”

So if you are student reading who needs to listen to some jamming toons while studying, feel free to keep your ear-phones in, just maybe avoid the Top 30 Hits. However, the phone sitting beside the key board with Snapchats, messenger alerts and texts, yeah, that is a distraction!

 

References:

Psychology Today 2014, Technology: Myth of Multitasking, Accessed 27th of September 2014,  http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-power-prime/201103/technology-myth-multitasking

BrainFacts.org 2014, The Multitasking Mind, Accessed 26th of September 2014,  http://www.brainfacts.org/sensing-thinking-behaving/awareness-and-attention/articles/2013/the-multitasking-mind/

No phones at the table!

There has been a shift in public and private places, just as our use of personal technology is infiltrating into the wider world. There is no longer a constant concept of space, time and place as this now depends on who is involved, what is being done and for what purpose. What this means is that what was once viewed as a shopping centre, now becomes a social meeting place, now becomes a hotspot for free wi-fi online shopping, it now morphs into a public space for digital advertising and hive for countless social media users. Because we are all so connected, spaces and the way they are used are constantly changing.

Semi-pubic/semi-private media spaces: The idea of a semi-public or in some regard semi-private media space is occuring more readily for the large majority. This in which an individual will enter the public realm, but immerse themselves in their personal devices. As part of our tutorial task we were asked to go round uni and take photos of other students interacting with technology. It was up to our discretion (or discomfort) to ask the individual if they would mind if their photo was taken. It is not illegal within Australia to take a photo of another, without their knowledge or consent. It is not illegal, but it certainly raises questions of ethical behaviour. It is for that reason I went straight up to the lovely couple below, explained the situation and asked if they would mind if I take a photo of his photo taking. The man then air-dropped the photo of the woman to my phone and “hey-presto!” I had two images of technological inception (my own term!).
They were on cute date I think.

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There is another concept that has arisen out of our current public media usage, this being known as spontaneous publics. This notion is not based off new activities undertaken by the public, but instead the extent to where this happens has greatly increased. Let me explain: a spontaneous public is connected by one media outlet, for one particular reason. Whether that be watching the television at the Doctor’s office with other patients or sitting awkwardly arranged at the pub watching the football, it is in some means a spontaneous spacial network connecting people by a simultaneous event. In a more organised or established manner this could be also include being a part of watching the royal wedding of William and Kate  (something I desperately wanted to partake in first-hand, but I hadn’t booked to fly out that early!) like so many hundreds of thousands did; watching the event, away from the actual location such as the gatherings in Hyde Park and Trafalgar Square, but also countless other international locations. As audiences we become such because of the screen that joins our common interests.

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Recently my Mum joined Facebook to stay in contact with school friends and family in England. She isn’t on very often, just enough to post slightly too long but still lovely messages on my profile pictures and send me links to fun videos. One of these videos was about being connected online so readily that face-to-face communication or interaction has lost its apparent worth for many. What I found most interesting about both the concept and the circumstance is the method by which the message was disseminated: social media. Mum never called to say how wonderful it was and we certainly didn’t talk about it over dinner, instead I received a notification while sitting in the library. The video challenges ideas about experience and involvement with technology in a way that suggests we are missing out on the real adventure of life.

Through this concept (however extreme or idealistic it may be) along with my own observations of technological use through the week that I began to question segmentation. Personal use of our devices in public is leading to a form of self-segmentation in that we are present in society, but individually digitally involved. So what kind of implications will this have on we known to be the public sphere (click here for further insight)? Foremost it will affect the way we conduct our technological use in public, whether it be texting in certain situations or phones being on silent, changing rules of when it is okay to be on the phone and when it is not. The acknowledgement of this changing environment is the first stage in successfully handling it.

Out to the movies on a Sunday afternoon.

The act of going to cinema in terms of finding time, organising friends to accompany you and the agreeing on a film are bit of a fine art in todays multi-digital expressive landscape. However, when assigned the task of going to the movies for this weeks uni assessment, I took the challenge in my stride. In 1969 Torsten Hagerstrand (p.50) determined  three constraints within a concept known as time geography, these are capability, coupling and authority constraints.

As the first constraint, capability, ask the questions, “Can I get there?” In this instance, my local cinema is only a short drive into town so access to the cinema was easy, however, as my sister and I share a car I could not be certain that I would have the ability to drive myself. This problem did not last long as my movie venture would most certainly be a date whereupon my boyfriend’s car would become our mode of transport.

The second constraint coupling, asks whether one can get there at the right time. With my uni work piled up, my best friend’s Hens night on the weekend and my boyfriend’s early-start-late-finish personal training times, the only session we could make together would have to be on Sunday afternoon. Luckily the movie we wanted to watch, Guardians of the Galaxy, did have a session time that suited, but it was in 3D, not my first choice.

The third constraints recognises the element of authority, or rather, am I allowed to be here? Firstly the cinema we were going to was a public space and the movie we were seeing had no age restriction, although with both parties being over 20 that was never an issue. The point of this third constraint is the assess the appropriateness of the plans; i.e. the party may be able to get there at the right time, but is it suitable for them to be there.

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With most cafes and shops closed by 4 on a Sunday, I was not sure if the cinema would be a ghost town, however as it turned out as we arrived just as a film that obviously appealed to older generation had ended. This group of  people were determined to hang around after the movie, standing chatting about what they had just seen and what they would do afterwards, also blocking the way for any other cinema-goers to move. The cinema is known as a transitional space or ‘non-place’ (Marc Auge, 1995), this being that those who visit are only intended to do so for a set time. It does not become a space, instead similar to a supermarket or airport, it is a means to ends.

After grabbing popcorn (we were sneaky and brought our own lollies due to the overpriced nature of the candy bar!) we walked into the smaller of the four cinemas 5 minutes before the start of the film. Choosing where sit in a cinema is both a personal and a spatial consideration. I personally try to sit right in the middle of the seating; middle row, middle seat: ultimate viewing potential. However, as a number of different groups were already scattered around, we tried to find a spot not close to anyone. This did not last long as a group of 8 young teenagers excitedly sat in the row directly in front of where we had chosen, this potentially ruining the whole endeavour before it had began!

To some extent there is a certain social ettiquette expected once you the sacred location of the cinema, it is a public space that becomes in essence, very private once the lights dim and the entertainment begins. The Sydney Morning Herald recently released a lost of 10 basic standards that are set when a movie ticket is purchased, expressing the frustration people feel when these rules are not followed.

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The future of the movie going experience (p. 82-90) is uncertain for some in terms of the serious growth in home entertainment, downloading increases and personalised viewing spaces. In a recent blog post by Kevin Jagernauth, he acknowledges that these changes are impacting the cinematic audience culture, but so with it is the movie experience and the ways in which movies are allowed to be viewed. It is also noted that  However, for people like me who eagerly await the new releases, the cinematic experience will be forever held in high esteem. As Christopher Nolan states:

“The theatrical window is to the movie business what live concerts are to the music business—and no one goes to a concert to be played an MP3 on a bare stage.”

While I have always been one to venture to the movies in a group or as a date, going alone has always been something I would like to try. It takes away from the argument of being anti-social as well as incorporating the new identity of personliased media consumption. Now there’s an idea that could change the trends of the movie experience: going solo!

 

 

It’s life Jim, but not as we know it.

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“Alright, who’s online? My page isn’t loading!”

“It’s not me, I’m just on Facebook.”

“It’s Zach, he’s watching Minecraft videos again!

“No, I’m not! I’m playing a game, it’s not even online!”

 

This is an every day conversation in my family, shouted from bedrooms, the kitchen and the rumpus room: The age old battle of who stole the internet. In my household online usage, supply and demand, connection speed and connectivity are vitally important. We are living in a shifting realm, where home, work, education and recreational spaces are becoming more entangled online and therefore with each other. In the evenings after the work, uni and school times are finished, each family member will retreat to their own space and continue doing, pretty much what they were doing during the day, but in the home environment.

This phenomena, the networked home, is a common occurence causing two ideologies to emerge. The first is from Sherry Turkle who suggests that the more we connect online the less we are able or willing to connect in person. The online world has enabled sharing across boarders, but without restrictions has disabled sharing in our own homes. Through her presentation she recommended a home detox, actually being with our families and learning the skill of conversation. The other side of the spectrum was developed in Danah Boyd’s novel “It’s Complicated”, where she creates the concept of the online world becoming a retreat for teens and therefore and innate feature for their involvement in society.

With these two thoughts in mind as well and the slow but imminent truth of the NBN’s arrival across

ss Australia, I spoke once again to my  Mum to gain a different perspective. As a side note, I will add that my Mum knew more about the NBN and what they were planning than I did prior to watching at home with the NBN and therefore I went straight to the horses mouth and found out exactly what Australian’s were to expect. From this, I learned that the roll-out of the new fibre optic cables will take no time at all with everyone having access, the new system going in is designed to be upgraded and the idea of the faster internet enhances all areas of living. However, I am well aware that the National Broadband Network is selling a product to some and an idea to others, therefore, these goals, for the most part could be unrealistic.

When asked how she felt this increased internet access would affect her she replied:

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“I like people, not machines.”

In her opinion, the arrival of the NBN in our country town, however long it takes, will make no difference to her. Now, don’t get confused, my Mum is fairly tech savvy, knowing how to find her way around online (in fact she is better at using search engines than myself) but for her, online usage and remaining ‘connected’ in the IRL sense comes from choice. She believes the increased speed and connection of the internet will cause an increase of uninterested interaction in the home life. My sister then added an idea that blatantly proved her point: more people can be online at the same time, downloading their own videos, to watch in their own time. This conversation in itself, highlighted the difference in thought from generations, with one side suggesting that it will only increase barriers to communication saying this is negative, with the other rejoicing in this fact.

I wanted to stretch my reach of insight on the impacts the internet in general will have on a our society with this mindset as a backdrop and so went to the Pew research page to see different thoughts presented. This then lead me to the article “15 predictions for the future of the internet ” which looked at thoughts from nearly 1,500 internet experts on the progression of the web. In these findings they believed that the internet will become like electricity, central but invisible to our societies core functionality. However, even though most agreed on this, there was great debate about what the implications of this movement would be and therefore how it would shape values within cultures.

When I looked at these predicted outcomes against the thoughts my Mum had towards the NBN, I found it easy to understand why she would have considered this kind of growth negatively. In our home where family time is encouraged through joint meal times, movie nights, continual flow of conversation and a general jovial, loving vibe, it would be a negative thing to disrupt that flow, or hinder any other family from experiencing the same joy we do in our house. Therefore, I’m glad the introduction of the NBN will take its sweet time; it allows us to understand what matter most and hopefully enjoy it for longer, even with faster connection speeds.