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Archive for June, 2009|Monthly archive page

News article: Podcast Audience Up 22% Since Last Year

In Honours blog on June 22, 2009 at 9:20 am

This is evidence of the ongoing growth of podcasting. The article is form podcastingnews.com, a great resource for my research.

Podcast Audience Up 22% Since Last Year

Apr 17th, 2009 | By Elisabeth Lewin

“According to the report, the podcast audience has grown by 22% since last year, expanding from 18% of all Americans in 2008 to 22% in 2009.”

Podcast Audience. Forty-three percent of Americans are aware of podcasts, up from 37% last year. Twenty-two percent of Americans have ever listened to a podcast (up from 18% in 2008), and approximately 27 million (or 11%) have listened to one in the past month (up from 9% last year).”

Again, very America-centric. But what can you do? You gotta go where the information is!

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Blogosphere statistics

In Honours blog on June 22, 2009 at 9:07 am

Singer, Adam. “49 Amazing Social Media, Web 2.0 And Internet Stats”. TheFuture Buzz, 2009 http://thefuturebuzz.com/2009/01/12/social-media-web-20-internet-numbers-stats/

“Blogosphere stats

133,000,000 – number of blogs indexed by Technorati since 2002 346,000,000 – number of people globally who read blogs (comScore March 2008)                                                                                                          900,000 – average number of blog posts in a 24 hour period 1,750,000 – number of RSS subscribers to TechCrunch, the most popular Technology blog (January 2009)                                                                        77% – percentage of active Internet users who read blogs ” (accessed, 7/6/09)

Sifry, David. State of the Blogosphere 2008 Wrap-up: Brands and the Blogosphere

“To wrap up a long data-filled week, we’ve rolled out part 5 of the State of the Blogosphere report, which is all about how traditional brands are perceived and how bloggers interact with brands in the blogopshere. This data is taken from the large survey done on Technorati bloggers earlier this year, as described in our methodology. Here’s a few of the interesting things we learned:

  • More than four in five bloggers post product or brand reviews, and blog about brands they love or hate.
  • One-third of bloggers surveyed have been approached to be brand advocates.
  • Of those, more than six in ten were offered payments of some kind.
  • One in five bloggers don’t think that newspapers will survive the next ten years.
  • Half of bloggers surveyed believe that blogs will be a primary source for news and entertainment in the next five years.
  • 37% of bloggers surveyed have been quoted in traditional media based on a blog post.
  • Bloggers are most open to receiving marketing messages from other blogs. Even non-blog web content is more influential among this group than traditional media sources for brand information.
  • Bloggers spend twice as much time online as U.S. adults 18-49, and spend only one-third as much time watching television.” (accessed 7/6/09)

This is just for some prespective on how many people are actually consuming new media.

TWIT’s view on the future of journalism

In Honours blog on June 22, 2009 at 8:47 am

I was listening to the TWIT (This Week in Tech) podcast, hosted by Leo Laporte tonight when they started talking about some very relevant stuff to my research! Here’s the transcript of the 197th show.

They have a lot to say about the future of newspapers and what’s working and what isn’t working. It all stemmed from a story about a bunch of newspaper heads getting together to figure out how they can make the public pay for content.

Leo LaporteWell, that kind of to lead us to story one of the week, which was the old guys getting together colluding trying to get you to pay for content. What happened, Jeff, what was going on? Boy there was a lot of talk about it on Twitter, Jay Rosen and you were going back and forth. What was the event?

Jeff JarvisThere was a meeting, brought together by the Newspaper Association of America and it probably would have been less suspicious if we’d known about it ahead but they got together in a cruddy motel in Chicago area, because that’s all they can afford now.

Leo Laporte It’s like the Sopranos, where families were meeting.

Jeff JarvisAnd they were met by a couple of companies, yes, that are trying to start ways to pay for content. And I am not against paying if you can do it but I’ve argued that by trying to pay you – put your content behind a wall, you’ll lose Google Juice, you’re out of the conversation. But these guys are trying to preserve the little they know of the old world and the new world and they don’t understand the link economy. So I think we are going to see a lot of papers that are going to try to charge, I know entrepreneurs who’ve said good, please do that because it will kill you sooner and we can come in afterwards.

This young guy James Kotecki who did all kinds of wonderful things during the campaign made a video saying please, charge and then you’ll all be gone. And I am afraid it’s going to hasten their deaths.

Leo Laporte They just don’t get it.

Jeff Jarvis No, and I think the other problem is there’s an anti-trust issue. I went and looked up the data on – the information on the FTC site about what does it mean to be anti-competitive and the very definition of it is to…….

Leo Laporte Get it together in a motel in Chicago.

Jeff Jarvis Right, what a better place to do it. So they are all going to raise prices and I am afraid they’re all going to get sued.

Leo LaporteYes, yes, and what’s interesting is how it came out and how publicly it became and this is an example where Twitter really exposed this very quickly and got a conversation going as I am not fond of the conversation on Twitter. It’s kind of a limited situation. But at least it was there and it was happening.

Jeff JarvisJames Warren who used to be an editor on the Chicago Tribune got the entire agenda and he put it up on a blog before hand and then it spread on Twitter like that.

Leo Laporte Like wild fire. Yes.

Don TapscottYou know what this thing whole thing reminds me of. This monetization of content, I just got to asked to speak at a conference on this topic and it’s sort of like trying to create a movie by filming a stage play basically. That these people are trying to take their old model and just run it on a new platform and get people to pay for it, when really GNet should have invented the Huffington Post and NBC should have invented YouTube and AT&T should have invented Twitter and Yellow Pages should have invented Craigslist.

Leo LaporteIt strikes me that’s a very difficult thing to do because your business model is based around dead trees or whatever and it’s very hard to change a business model in the middle. Gina, you’re going to say something, I am sorry…

Gina TrapaniYes, I just kind of agree, I mean, I think that Clay Shirky’s piece on this was so good. And that it shouldn’t be about preserving a business model, it should be about preserving journalism, right, and like how is that going to happen.

Leo Laporte Yes, fight for journalism not for newspapers.

Gina TrapaniRight, exactly, exactly, I mean, of course I feel bad for people who are going to lose their jobs and all those things. But, I mean, I don’t know. It’s kind of the laws of evolution.

Leo Laporte Are they going to lose their jobs, I mean – does it mean they are out of business?

Jeff JarvisWell, a lot are. But I met with some people last week like Debbie Galant who runs Baristanet, New Jersey and there’s 40 people from The Star-Ledger who are now starting their own blog. I’m running a project in new business models for news. I think that hyperlocal bloggers and interest bloggers can make a living at it. Gina has, TechCrunch has in the tech area. But I think it will happen in our towns as well.

There are going to be independent agents not working for a big company and that’s hard. But I do think that there is a market demand for journalism and the market will meet it.

Leo Laporte Do they do that by charging for content like the newspapers?

Jeff Jarvis No.

Leo Laporte No.

Jeff Jarvis News ads.

Gina Trapani Yeah, they are doing ads.

Jeff Jarvis And none of them better at selling ads.

Leo Laporte Yes.

Gina TrapaniYes, I mean, I think it’s important to remember that starting a small company like Gawker and paying bloggers like me to write Lifehacker and Gizzmodo and even TechCrunch is just a small company. Things aren’t so easy there either. Advertising – it’s a struggle there too but we don’t have the infrastructure that newspapers do. So I don’t know. Gawker just had this thing happen this week where they started selling, they basically sponsored a separate blog and was putting posts on Gawker blogs that look like ads, but weren’t marked as such. So there’s much like experimentation going on and lots of pushing the envelope, but things aren’t exactly easy. The answer isn’t like ‘oh, just these little companies spring up and there should be bloggers and the advertising will pay.’ There are a lot of challenges there too. I think it’s important to remember.

Jeff Jarvis But you’re right, Gina, that the cost structure, having 300 people in a news room, a lot of people who just put out the paper or another movie critic or another golf columnist. You have to – the link economy of the internet demands that you specialize and that you do something really well. To do the same stuff everybody else does? There’s no value in that.

Gina Trapani Agreed.

Don Tapscott Yes, like the one funding model that’s of interest: to preserve The New York Times in its existing form is of course that it become an NGO.

Leo Laporte A non-governmental organization?

Don Tapscott Yeah, like a foundation. And these exist. There are foundations that support this.

Leo Laporte A non-profit basically.

Don Tapscott Yeah. And I think it was Geffen who was trying to – do you know – did that happen?

Leo Laporte He was going to try and buy it or fund it.

Don Tapscott He was going to invest a couple of hundred million and the idea was not as an actual investment.

Leo Laporte But here’s a guy steeped in the old business world. He may not be the right guy to do this, right?

Don Tapscott Yes.

Jeff JarvisBut Don, there was this great quote in the Times about a year ago, a young woman in college aged a little older than Jake who said ‘if the news is that important it will find me. ‘

Leo Laporte Right, yes.

Jeff JarvisAnd I am sure you found in your research that people just don’t have the same magnetic interaction with media that they have to go to the site anymore. Now they expect the site to come to them.

Leo Laporte They want it pushed not pulled.

Don TapscottYou know I had an amazing experience on this. I was chairing a panel of young people, it was a big crowd. It was like, I don’t know, 6,000 people in the audience and I was sort of socking the kids with these stereotypes about their generation. So I said to this one youngster by the name. By the way her name was Rahaf Harfoush, H-A-R-F-O-U-S-H.

Leo Laporte I know Rahaf, yeah.

Don TapscottYes. And she has a book that comes out tomorrow. And the book launch is in Toronto this week. I wrote the foreword to the book, but she was like 20 years old. She was born in Syria, she was in Paris studying; her boyfriend is in Toronto. So they turn on Skype all day long to keep their relationship going. So – and I put it to her about the media, I said ‘aren’t you the dumbest generation? You are ignorant, you don’t read the newspaper, you don’t watch the TV news. You get your news from Jon Stewart in the Daily Show on Comedy Central’ and she says back to me, she says ‘I don’t think that’s a fair stereotype of my generation. I think we are informed.’ She says ‘it’s true I don’t read the newspaper.’ She says ‘have you ever seen one of those things?’ They come out like once a day and they don’t have hyperlinks.

Leo Laporte How slow can you get?

Don Tapscott And they’re not multimedia and you get this weird black stuff all over your fingers.

Leo Laporte Have you ever tried one of those?

Don TapscottAnd then she makes this point about the news comes to me and she describes she’s got 60 RSS feeds and she says I like to triangulate the news to form my own opinions. She says ‘it’s true I watch the Daily Show but not to get the news.’ She says ‘the Daily Show isn’t funny unless you know the news’

Leo Laporte You have to know ahead of time, yeah.

Don Tapscott Yeah. So – but here’s a generation that’s interacting with media totally differently and…

Jeff Jarvis I can never beat Jake to a story.

Leo LaporteI was going to ask. Jake, you are our example, our exemplar of the new generation. How do you get your news? Do you – first of all do you care about the news?

Jake JarvisYeah. I figure if something big happens then I’ll hear about it on Twitter first or Facebook or through a friend. I always go to a news site or newspaper for more information. But the big news always comes to me first.

Leo LaporteYeah, I’m a FriendFeed fanatic and it’s an aggregator of all of that stuff and it’s real time, it’s scrolling up on the screen and it is more efficient, but it’s not in depth. So you do have to then pursue the links down and this is, the question is, well who’s going to do the in-depth reporting? Who’s going to create the content that all these quick feeds lead to? Aren’t we losing kind of the base, the source of all of this stuff if we say ‘oh who needs newspapers?’

Jeff JarvisWell Leo, I think you will have. The problem is we assume that you’re going to have kind of a single new product replacing the single old product. We are not; we are going to have an ecosystem of news with many players. There will be hyperlocal bloggers and interest bloggers like Gina and there will be, I believe, some level of publicly supported journalism, not necessarily taking over the whole New York Times which I think can still be a business but things like The Huffington Post Investigative Unit and ProPublica and Spot.us

Leo Laporte Does the Huffington Post really have an investigative unit? Come on.

Jeff Jarvis Yes!

Leo Laporte Really?

Jeff Jarvis They just got $1.3 million and they hired away the editor in charge of investigations of the Washington Post.

Leo Laporte Well, that’s very encouraging in that case. I mean that’s extremely – that’s extraordinarily good. You have seen this site, allvoices. This was an interesting idea. It was kind of an open media site encouraging people all around the world to contribute to it. I really like the idea behind it but they have had some struggles. I mean not all the content has been great on here. We need some editorial control, don’t we or is that old school too. Is that…

Don Tapscott I think it is old school. You know Wikipedia doesn’t have editorial control.

Leo Laporte There’s nobody in charge.

Don Tapscott And there is wisdom in the crowd if you’ve set the context right. The crowd can be really stupid if you don’t have the right context as well but I wonder about something like the Huff. Like this is – this has got a lot of traction now and when I write something on the Huffington Post, I typically get a better reaction than I do if I write in the New York Times.

Leo Laporte A smarter reaction and more active…

Don Tapscott No, just a bigger reaction.

Leo Laporte Bigger.

Don Tapscott And – it’s very – it’s a lot savvier too actually if you think about it and it’s valuable for me to do that. I wonder if they could start charging people like me, charging the writers.

Leo LaporteDon’t say that. Don’t. Stop Don before he kills again! So Jake, do you then, okay so you’re following Twitter. You’ve seen the headlines, you click through to the links and read the stories in depth, I mean do you spend as much time reading as if you were reading a newspaper.

Jake Jarvis I think so. I’ve never really read a newspaper much.

Leo Laporte I love it.

Jake Jarvis The thing is I can choose what I’m interested in and read into that as much as I want to.

Leo LaporteHow about this issue Jake that people say that you’re only going to pursue things that are consistent with your point of view and you’re not going to get serendipitous other points of view? What do you say about that?

Jake JarvisI think it’s hard to avoid things that you don’t agree with online. I mean you’re always going to run into things that don’t go with your views and I don’t know I find that interesting, I don’t know if anyone else does.

Leo LaporteI have to confess though that I look on FriendFeed and I’ll block people who are really virulently right wing because I’m virulently left wing and it does concern me. Is it important to train people to seek out other opinions? What do we have to teach people like Jake as they grow up in this environment where we don’t have these other, there isn’t any serendipity or is there maybe there is?

Leo Laporte Well, I think Jake makes a good point actually that I mean like how do you stay away from Fox News? I mean it’s everywhere.

Leo Laporte It’s everywhere.

Leo LaporteAnd I was in Wyoming last week and I met someone who said her parents just turn it on in the morning and they watch it all day long and it might explain why we have some problems in the world but they are going to bump into it. On the other hand, I think that it’s a good point that we need to like this is the first time in history when young people are in authority about something real important

Leo Laporte We got an 18-year-old, or a 17-year-old on the show. I mean my daughter was just on!

Don Tapscott I was an authority on model trains when I was 11.

Leo Laporte I was collecting stamps.

Don Tapscott Today the 11-year-old at the breakfast table is an authority on this thing that’s changing every institution. But just because they’re an authority on something doesn’t mean they are an authority on everything and there’s certain things – I think that it makes sense that we would sort of build training programs or certain educational programs into our schools like, just something like privacy. That worries me a lot.

Leo Laporte Right.

Jeff JarvisDon I think that media literacy isn’t just about consuming media now. It’s also about creating media and what happens when you do.

Don Tapscott Yeah, that’s a great –

Leo LaporteWell, in fact you can’t, you know if you’re – Facebook’s a really good example. You don’t just get to sit and passively consume Facebook. If you don’t contribute to it, you’ve got nothing. Modern media like Twitter, Facebook and so forth requires participation as much as consumption. I love that.

Jeff Jarvis It’s the only way you connect to people.

Leo Laporte Yeah, I love that.

Jeff JarvisYou can’t connect unless you reveal something of yourself and that scares people my age, but the young people, that’s how they interact and I think it actually will be healthy because they will be connected with friends for the rest of their lives.

…And then they start talking about web privacy and social media. Worth listening to the whole episode if you’re interested.

So it seems that the death knoll for newspapers could be ringing if you agree with some of the people on this episode of TWIT. But there are lots and lots of opportunities for niche content producers. It’s just instead of getting paid for what you write, ads will probably be paying people’s income.

Article summary: James Lewin

In Honours blog on June 7, 2009 at 8:03 am

James Lewin. “Podcasting Goes Mainstream” Podcasting News. Mar 4th, 2009

“They peg the podcast audience at 9% of Internet users now, and are predicting the audience to nearly double, to 17%, within five years.” (pg. 1) Compared to growth in other areas of online media this doesn’t seem like a huge jump.

Podcasting has evolved from an odd, funky blogging experiment into a broad medium with mainstream trappings. Today, the vast majority of the top-rated podcasts come from recognizable media entities that are using podcasts to expand their existing radio, TV, cable or satellite audiences.” (pg. 1)

eMarketer’s research suggests that podcasting has evolved from a niche channel to a mainstream one.

The podcast audience also deserves special attention from online marketers, because it appears that the podcast audience is more likely to shop online than Internet users or consumers as a whole.” (pg. 1)

Article summary: Shayne Bowman and Chris Willis

In Honours blog on June 7, 2009 at 2:39 am

Shayne Bowman and Chris Willis. The Future Is Here, But Do News Media Companies See It?” Winter 2005.

Again, this article is very much related to my topic, but it’s four years old, and the situation they describe is not necessarily the same as today. This article sees journalists as clinging to their old ways, not keen to embrace the internet as the future of their industry. They mention some innovators who see the potential and the actuality of online news, but many aren’t ready to give up the past.

The 90’s put doubt in people’s minds about the impact of the internet, ” But in retrospect, the news media might have completely underestimated the influence of this new medium.” (pg. 6)

“The Internet is a unique phenomenon that has delivered not just technological innovations but become a conduit for change, accelerating the rate, diversity and circulation of ideas. It affects nearly everything from culture to competition. It has also altered the economics of media in two important ways. First, it enables nearly limitless distribution of content for little or no cost. Second, it has potentially put everyone on the planet into the media business, including the sources, businesses, governments and communities newspapers cover.” (pg. 6)

“Add other ingredients—easy-to-use, open-source publishing tools, a generation who finds it more natural to instant message someone than to call, a greater demand for niche information, and a rapidly growing shift of advertising dollars to online media—and you have a recipe for radical change in the news media landscape.” (pg. 6)

“Cost cutting with no investment for the future limits chances of an encore. Only a few exceedingly rare exceptions of online news operations are profitable, such as The Wall Street Journal, but most are still unwilling to engage in a different relationship with their audience.” (pg. 6) This is a good point, how can an industry grow and develop when budgets are being slashed and people are getting fired?

Consultant and media critic Jeff Jarvis frames it this way: “The Number One lesson of the Internet, whether you’re Howard Dean or a media company or a marketer, is that you have to give up control to gain control.”” (pg. 6)

“The audience is now an active, important participant in the creation and dissemination of news and information, with or without the help of mainstream news media.” (pg 7)

“With great trepidation and reluctance, mainstream media are beginning to learn how to evolve their business from an authoritarian “top-down” approach to integrate and report on user-generated news, as well as establish ways to collaborate meaningfully with their audience. However, they still have trouble letting go of control.” (pg. 7)

“According to Alexa, Internet users are twice as likely to visit Wikipedia as The New York Times.” (pg. 8)

“Citizens are interested in participating and contributing to subjects that traditional news outlets ignore or do not often cover.” (pg. 8)

” Podcasting, the creation and distribution of audio recording online, went from the fringe to the mainstream in about 18 months.” (pg. 8) Things change rather fast nowadays don’t they?

Podcasts show that amateurs can gain mindshare in a new medium as, or more effectively than, pros.” (pg. 8)

“Citizen journalism continues to be an evolving and frustrating concept for mainstream media. It offers the tantalizing idea of an active and engaged democracy better informing itself. It also can represent an evolving and reckless endeavor that might result in just the opposite.” (pg. 9)

Here are some predictions for the future the authors included. Enough time has passed since this was published to see that some of these have come true.

“…mainstream media will more tightly integrate citizen content with the core news offerings…The mobile internet will proliferate…more professional journalists will begin to blog…Authority will continue to shift from once trusted institutions to communities or individuals who have earned credibility though hard-won public discourse and will directly impact news media…expect media organizations to take a leadership role in educating its audience in becoming better news creators,” (pg. 9).

“Citizen media represents not the end of journalism or news media companies but a shift in where value is being created. In the traditional broadcast model, value was created solely by the newspaper or TV station. In the future, more of the value will come from creating an infrastructure for citizen participation and nurturing trusted communities.” (pg. 10)

“Both eBay and Google show that there is great value to be created if you are willing to embrace a different role in the value creation process.” (pg. 10)

“Sambrook says the BBC’s role is shifting from broadcaster and mediator to facilitator, enabler and teacher. “We don’t own the news anymore. Our job is to make connections with and between different audiences,” he said.” (pg. 10)

This is a relevant paper for my research, but I’m worried it’s already too out of date. I want more sources from 2008 and even 2009 ideally.

Article review: Marc Tuters

In Honours blog on June 5, 2009 at 6:21 am

Tuters, Marc. “The Locative Commons: Situating Location-Based Media in Urban Public Space”

This is something that I want to explore a bit more, psychogeography and the dérive (drift). Since I want to be creating a series of podcasts that is about Melbourne, and being immersed in the city, this seems like a relevant theory.

“The central trope of psychogeography is the “drift” or “dérive”, a kind of meditative walking practice through the urban landscape. The walk encourages the drifter to “get lost” in order to break with ingrained patterns of routine. According to the SI, the dérive reveals the landscape as a source of endless possibilities in which a multitude of paths open for remapping the city.” (pg. 1)

“The psychogeographic dérive is contiguous to the political tradition of urban theory…which claims that random encounters in public spaces, often referred to as “the Commons” are essential to the functioning of the democratic society. Psychogeography encourages encounters from outside our own contained and carefully constructed realities.” (pg. 1)

“Only very recently come collaborative research and development projects between artists designers and technologists, have begun to address the problem of designing an interactive urbanism aware of the potentials and problems of a mobile, networked connectivity.” (pg. 3)

“The Locative Media Network seek to marry the interests of the psychogeographer (whom we may frame as a “city hacker”, after Social Fiction) with those of the online community networking enthusiast. (pg. 3)

Overall: good.

Article summary: Jeff Samsonow

In Honours blog on June 5, 2009 at 6:18 am

Samsonow, Jeff. “Multicoloured Trash Bins and Lost Marbles” City Life,
This is an article by a journalist who takes a psychogeographic tour, and reports on what he notices.

“Adam Waldron-Blain, my guide, admits the idea has an air of pretention about it. “The Situationists who came up with this, especially in its original incarnation — it’s not about taking random groups of people on tours,” he explains. “It’s about ‘I’m an artist so I’m going to drink a lot and wander randomly around the city and that is why I’m an important person.’” (pg. 1)

“We’re told to pay attention to what we see, hear (both near and far), and smell — the kinds of things we tend not to notice while moving from one place to another intent on work, home, meetings,
and parties.” (pg. 1)

The group bumps into a drunk guy with a vacuum cleaner, Samsonow reflects, “had I just been walking through this neighbourhood on my way to work or the busy parking lots of Oliver Square. I would have been out on the sidewalk, and ignorant of all the action in the alley.” (pg. 2)

“Garbage bin colours don’t speak much about how we’ve built our city, nor to where we may be headed. But I still find it telling: if I haven’t noticed such a minor detail before, what else about this city have I failed to notice?” This banal detail about his city is very small, but telling of what a derive hopes to achieve. A heightened awareness of your urban environment, among other things.

Article summary: Theory of the Dérive

In Honours blog on June 5, 2009 at 6:10 am

Debord, Guy-Ernest.”Theory of the Dérive” Les Lèvres Nues #9 (November 1956)

This is one of the seminal texts for the theory of the dérive. Debord is where to start from when looking into this theory.

“In a dérive one or more persons during a certain period drop their relations, their work and leisure activities, and all their other usual motives for movement and action, and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there.” (pg. 1)

“Chombart de Lauwe notes that “an urban neighborhood is determined not only by geographical and economic factors, but also by the image that its inhabitants and those of other neighborhoods have of it.”” (pg. 1)

“We can say, then, that the randomness of a dérive is fundamentally different from that of the stroll, but also that the first psychogeographical attractions discovered by dérivers may tend to fixate them around new habitual axes, to which they will constantly be drawn back.” (pg. 1)

“The average duration of a dérive is one day, considered as the time between two periods of sleep…But this duration is merely a statistical average. For one thing, a dérive rarely occurs in its pure form: it is difficult for the participants to avoid setting aside an hour or two at the beginning or end of the day for taking care of banal tasks; and toward the end of the day fatigue tends to encourage such an abandonment.” (pg. 2) So you can dérive without being completely true to the theory. Purity is not compulsory, which works for me, I will probably be doing a partial dérive only.

The spatial field of a dérive may be precisely delimited or vague, depending on whether the goal is to study a terrain or to emotionally disorient oneself. It should not be forgotten that these two aspects of dérives overlap in so many ways that it is impossible to isolate one of them in a pure state.” (pg. 2)

I’ve got a book written by Debord on hold at the library, so I’ll continue the Debord summary a little later.

Was my documentary learning contract successful?

In Transient Spaces on June 4, 2009 at 7:29 am

I thought a good way to evaluate the success of my documentary would be to have a look at whether I did everything I planned. So here is my documentary learning contract, with comments in italics.

CONTENT

1. What is the community that you will make your documentary about?
Queen’s College. A student residence attached to Melbourne University. I attended Queen’s in my fist two years at university.

2. What interesting issues about community and identity will you be able to explore in relation to this community? (with reference to the theory you have read)
I would like to explore the strong bonds that communities can have. Queen’s is a good example of a strong urban community. Through communal eating, organised functions and living in corridors they maintain a Gemeinschaft level of intimacy and support.
I’m also interested in exploring the theory of delinquency and the way bad behaviour is viewed and dealt with in a college situation.
Finally I want to explore the insular nature of Queen’s as a community. The closed off and feeling of exclusivity that a close community can generate.

I feel that I explored all of these issues in my three mini-documentaries.

3. What theorists will you incorporate into your documentary? (summarise the ideas you will engage with)
Communities in modernity are not the same as the communities Tonnies describes. It is quite possible to have an urban community, Queen’s is an example of one. They function effectively and meet the general criteria of a community.
Despite being in an urban setting, Queen’s hasn’t become corrupted. Tonnies views on community are no longer appropriate, (were they ever?) to society. By looking closer at Queen’s College I want to demonstrate just how effective an urban community can be.
Delinquency, what the administration (middle aged white men) views as delinquency is often diametrically opposed to what the students think.
Jensen sees delinquency as due to the “absence or breakdown of communal institutions”. Which is why I want to explore whether students and staff believe there is a problem with delinquency at Queen’s, and what causes it. Queen’s is a community that is organised and involving, and I would suggest is not an example of a “breakdown”.
I am guessing that most student will say there isn’t a delinquency problem and the staff will say there is. Which will be an interesting result when you look at with the theory of delinquency in mind. And the criticisms of the theory as being developed by conservative men who don’t really understand the group they criticise.

I’ll also be looking at borders within communities, as described by Delanty. Who is inside a community and who is outside. How welcoming a community like Queen’s is of outsiders and what form the borders can take.

The themes were infused through the documentary but I deliberately didn’t make them conspicuous. Considering my main audience is going to be young people, students, and members of social networks like youtube and facebook I didn’t think it was appropriate to have a heavy theoretical approach. Instead through the interview questions I asked and the footage selected I included the documentary theory in a subtler way.

4. Why are they relevant / important? (a critical analysis of these ideas in relation to the community you are documenting)

Tonnie’s views on communities are outdated, he holds rural communities on a pedestal. But there are many urban communities that can function just as effectively as those in an urban environment. Which is why I want to explore what makes an urban community work; the things that make it a great group to be involved in.
As many of the students at Queen’s College have come from rural backgrounds they have an interesting perspective. As they have been exposed to communities in both settings and will be able to reflect on what makes a successful community with this in mind.

I think the view of delinquency is very interesting, especially as you can have diverse views within the same community. Considering that the term was invented and largely explored by white, male, academics it’s no surprise that the Master and VM appear to have similar views.

Whereas the students would define delinquency as for more serious and anti-social issues. They don’t condone extreme drinking practices, and the General Committee does discipline people who put themselves and others at risk through excessive drinking. Students don’t see drinking as an act of delinquency, rather certain individuals who take it too far.

In regards to nudity, this is something that the Master has in recent years taken a very hard stance on. He has said that any student caught naked in Queen’s will be kicked out and he did this at the end of last year.

Nudity is a big part of Queen’s culture. Often after College events students, males and females, will strip and run around Melbourne University’s football oval. It’s called doing a “Nude Main”. People aren’t made to feel uncomfortable if they don’t want to participate, plenty of people don’t. But those who do have been outraged at the Masters rules. They consider it a freedom of expression, liberating, freedom. The Master sees it as pure delinquency.

Issues such as this would be interesting to explore in the documentary. Two completely different opinions within the same community on a certain behaviour. The difference of opinion became so strong that a vote of no confidence was considered against the Master. This is a very serious issue for the people in the community.

The idea of borders is very interesting to explore within a community. Generally communities are thought of as warm, welcoming, inclusive places. But this often only applies to those already part of the community. To those outside the community they can feel ostracised, unwelcome and intimidated. It will be interesting to see what those within the Queen’s community think exists in terms of borders.

5. How are you going to introduce their ideas? (in terms of the structure of your documentary or the argument you are proposing, how does the theory come in, and where/when?)
Because of the structure of the documentary I think I will have each theory discussed in a mini-documentary. So people can click on a video link and see each theory discussed separately. They will be an edit of interviews, images and footage from Queen’s events.

Along with this I will have links to Queen’s Colleges online presence. Youtube, Facebook, etc.
In this way it will be a fragmented documentary, but people will be able to explore in pieces. And look at the part that they are most interested in.

This is very much how the structure of the documentaries ended up.

6. What is the structure of the documentary? (this could be a short treatment of the way you see your documentary unfolding)
Presented on my blog I will have links to various websites that Queen’s has an online presence. Similar to the example of skittles.com I put on my blog.
Along with this there will be three mini-documentaries. Each exploring a different theory and theme of life at Queen’s College.
This is a multimedia documentary and will be published in a wide range of social networking sites. In this way I will be able to reach a larger audience. Each website I publish the different elements of the documentary on will have a link back to my blog, which will function like a homepage.
Below is an outline of the three mini-documentaries:

While my blog entry that included the documentaries and links was nowhere near as slick as the Skittles.com example. But I included all the elements I wanted.


Exploring the theory of delinquency

-Footage of “bad behaviour” at Queen’s, drunkenness, rowdiness, etc.
VO 20th century sociologists stigmatise some groups because they don’t fit the mould of their values. What really is bad behaviour? Is it a hard and fast rule, or is it all about your perspective. Students and staff have (opposing, similar) views…
– Master’s comments on anti-social behaviour.
(footage of examples of this)
-Students response on what makes anti-social behaviour
(footage of examples of this)
-Seb Brown got kicked out at the end of last year. A short interview with him describing whether he believes his behaviour was anti-social and whether the punishment was justified.

Exploring the theory of Borders in the Delanty reading.

-Footage of Queen’s gates and fences
VO Physical fences sometimes indicate the borders in a community, but more often it is an unspoken thing. Most communities have some degree of seperateness to society. Some are welcoming of new members, others not as much. The very intimacy within a community can be a border to outsiders.

-Master’s view of the insular nature of Queen’s.
-Footage of students singing “Queen’s for sure, the greatest college…”
-Students view, is it exclusive? Are people made to feel left out if they don’t belong to Queen’s community? Stranger Danger problem.
-Footage of some of the whole college events
VO Big groups can be intimidating simply by their numbers. Despite individuals being welcoming at Queen’s the intimacy of Queener’s can amke visiotrs feel unwelcome.

Exploring Tonnies idea of what makes a successful community

-Footage of people having a good time
VO Queen’s is a successful urban community, but what is it that makes it work? Does living together give Queen’s an advantage against other uban communities? Is Queen’s unusual for urban communities?
– Master’s response
-Students response
-Footage of students eating together, socialising

Surprisingly these plans are very similar to the final outcomes. I expected I would drift further away from my original concept. But considering the amount of time we had to create the documentary, there wasn’t really enough time to be changing your plans mid-way through.

7. What is the style of the documentary? (you can refer to documentary theory if you know it; if you don’t, discuss how you see the relationship between you the documentary maker and your subject, and how that will influence the work you produce. Examples of other documentaries will be relevant) are you a member of the community
I have been a member of the community, but am now a Wyvern (alumni) of Queen’s. This of course means I have a bias. I am going to present both sides of the issues I explore. By interviewing the administration as well as students and providing both responses together I will enable the viewer to make up their own mind.
As I’m no longer an active member of the community I have the advantage of reflection. I can see what worked well, and what didn’t. The good and the bad. I will attempt to convey this through the documentary.

I tried very hard to allow the viewer to form their own decisions about the issues being explored. While I do have opinions, I didn’t want that to guide my editing. Feedback from those inside and outside of the community has indicated that this was pretty successful. Hopefully after watching the documentaries you will feel you’ve seen both sides of the argument and are able to reflect and form your own opinion.

TECHNICAL

8. What type of media will your documentary consist of (eg audio files, text, stills, video, animation etc) Video, still with text and audio over the top.
The primary part of the documentary will be three edited mini-documentaries.
There will be images with a voice over to introduce each documentary. Then the interviews will be edited together, with footage of various Queen’s events spliced through.
Supporting this will be a slideshow and links to various social networking sites where Queen’s already has a presence.

I didn’t include a slideshow. In the end this seemed a bit redundant. Flickr already has everything available for easy viewing. So I decided to embrace social media and allow it to do the hard work.

9. Given that your documentary will be published online, how will you tailor production and post-production to be appropriate (eg image size, frame rate, design issues, copyright)?
The three mini-documentaries will be short enough to be published on youtube and facebook. I’ll use flickr to create a slideshow as well as link to any already existing Queen’s photos.
I’ve contacted the person who took the footage of Queen’s events last year and he has agreed to sign a form allowing me to use his work.
I’m going to send out a facebook message to everyone who is in photos I have myself taken alerting them that I would like to use them online, and asking if anyone would not like to be included.
Any images I use will need to be resized to whatever the standards are for the various social networking websites I’ll be using, see further down for their specifications.

I decided to not include any photos of people that obviously showed their faces while they were doing extreme things. I used a lot of footage of myself as I felt more comfortable exposing my own past behaviour. At several stages during the edit I took out footage or photos that I thought people might not want shown. It was a very difficult process because I didn’t want to sanitise the project. I really wanted it to reflect what the community is like. So it was a fine line, and I hope I succeeded in not offending anyone!

I got permission from Nathan, head of the video committee to use their archival footage, and attributed it to QCVC in the credits.

10. What are your skills in making this style of media?
I can operate a video and still camera. In my undergraduate degree I have edited photos and video and done page layout and web design.

11. Are you enlisting the help of any crew during the production phase of your documentary?
At this stage I’m planning on doing all of the filming and editing by myself.

Got a bit tricky with some of the filming, but overall was fine.

12. Will you need to borrow technical equipment from the Applied Communication techs? If yes, what do you want to borrow? When do you want to borrow it?
A video camera, tripod, batteries, microphone.
I want to borrow in Week 8 for the student interviews. And In week 9, on the 28th April for the interview with the Master.

PERMISSIONS

13. What talent do you need to get release forms signed for?
Phil Woodward: filmed events at Queen’s last year
Professor Runia: Master of Queen’s College

Michael Currie: General Committee member at Queen’s College

Jess Hickey: Wyvern of two years
Seb Brown: kicked out of Queen’s in 2008

And I will possibly interview a fresher at Queen’s as well.

I interviewed Tess Sidnam instead of Jess. Tess is still at Queen’s so it made the interviewees even, two alumni, two residents.

14. Are you going to interview any minors? (if yes, you must get their release form signed by their parent / guardian)
No.

15. Do you need permission to shoot on location?
Yes, I have contacted Queen’s College to see if I’ll be allowed to film on their grounds. I am still in negotiations for an interview with the Master, if all goes well, I will interview him the 28th April.

POST-PRODUCTION

16. What software do you need to edit your documentary?
I will edit my video footage on Final Cut Pro.

17. Do you have sufficient skills with that software?
Through my undergraduate degree in Journalism I have used this software several times to edit news stories.

18. Do you have sufficient access to that software?
I can access this program in the Communication editing suites as well as in the Labsome Honours room.

PUBICATION

19. What social software environment will you publish your documentary to?
I would like to publish it across a range of different social software platforms. Using my blog as a launching pad I will send people to Facebook, Flickr, youtube, myspace, google.maps etc.
Similar to the example seen at http://www.skittles.com/default.html. They have a main page and then link to various social networking sites to see different aspects of their product.

This all happened, except for myspace. I had technical difficulties and in the end decided it’s not the place that I’ll get the most viewers anyway. My target audience spends more time on facebook and youtube.

20. Is the media you are creating appropriate for that environment?
I think so. Web 2.0 is all about ease of communication, involvement and different mediums. This will hopefully reach a broad range of people by using so many different platforms.

21. Have you become a member of that environment?
I have been a member of facebook and myspace for some time. I’m a recent member of the other social networking sites.

22. Have you done a ‘test’ publication?
Not yet, but I have already used many of these social software websites in the past. I will upload a test onto youtube, and flickr by the end of Week 6.

I never ended up putting up the test. I think I got way too involved in the filming and editing and didn’t prioritise it. In hindsight not the best move, because I might have run into technical difficulties. Luckily no issues!

23. Does the environment stipulate any limits (eg file size, dimensions, file types, copyright, legal issues) that you will need to meet?
Facebook: under 1024 MB and 20 minutes.
Myspace: There is no time limit, however each video must be under 500 MB.
Supported file types: avi, asf, dv, wmv, mov, qt, 3g2, 3gp, 3gp2, 3gpp, gsm, mpg, mpeg, mp4, m4v, mp4v, cmp, divx, xvid, 264, rm, rmvs, flv, mkv, ogm.
Youtube: Up to 1 GB in size. Up to 10 minutes in length.
Flickr: videos are limited to 90 seconds in length, and 150MB

24. Are there any competitions or other deadlines that the environment imposes?
No , these sites can all be used at any time.

LEGAL

25. Have you got copyright permission for all the content you use?
Only through Phil Woodward’s footage. But I will ask him to sign a form giving me permission to use his work.

I generally used my own footage and images. And I also got Nathan’s permission, the head of the QCVC. All the music was from Creative Commons and I attributed it to the artist in my credits.

26. Do you have an appropriate credit list that attributes every work and everyone involved?
I will ensure to attribute all of Phil’s footage to him.

Actually to the Queen’s College Video Committee.

27. There is no defamation or slander?
I will ensure while I’m editing that anything that could be defamation or slander is edited out.
28. Any other legal issues?
None that I can think of at the moment!

RISK ASSESSMENT

29. What are the most likely things that could go wrong with your project?
The Master could decide to not allow me to interview him. This would be very unfortunate as I really need to be showing the administrations perspective of the Queen’s community.

Luckily this didn’t happen!

30. What is your back-up plan if these things occur?
I will film it without an interview of the Master or filming on Queen’s grounds. Through interviews with Queener’s and Wyverns I’ll attempt to express the Queen’s community accurately. I would attempt to find someone that was sympathetic to the administration point of view so the documentary wouldn’t have too much bias towards students.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT

31. What is the date of your rough-cut showing?
Week 11 in the tute

Achieved.

32. What is the final due date?
Week 12 in the tute, Friday the 29th May

Achieved

33. When do you intend to start post-production?
Week 10

I started a bit before this, I was editing my first interview before I’d finished all of my filming.

34. When do you intend to start production?
Week 8

This was achieved.

35. Given your production start date, have you already booked any technical equipment you need?
I have gotten equipment hire forms and have filled them out, I will get them signed in the Week 5 tutorial. Until I confirm dates for the interview with the Master I can’t lock in that particular date. But I will hire them for a day in Week 8, and tentatively for Tuesday in Week 9.

Got them signed a little later. But ran into no difficulty with hiring equipment.

36. How do these dates work in with assessment deadlines from other courses?
Communication Revolutions: Essay due Week 5, essay due Week 10,
Research: Blogs (ongoing), Essay due Week 14, Research assignment Week 8

There are two assignments due while I’ll be filming and editing. I’ll have to make sure I’m organised with these and get them done ideally before their due dates. As I know that filming and editing tend to monopolise my time!

It certainly did monopolise my time to some extent. But I made sure that I had been organised with my other subjects work before I started editing. So there was no big issue for my other classes…just my social life.

37. If you are using talent, does their availability suit your production schedule? The students are quite flexible with their time. Using social networking sites like facebook I’ll be able to easily set up interview times.
The Master will be away until the 27th of April. I have an interview tentatively booked in for the 28th. This is a week after I will have begun production. I will have already interviewed the students by this stage and he will be the only remaining filming to take place.

It was all fine.

Overall I’m quite happy with how everything has turned out. I’ve lots of feedback from a wide range of people. It’s great to have your work “live” online and seeing people’s responses. Lots of work, but a good experience.