19
Mar
09

So to the end of the module…

Just thought i’d reflect somewhat on what i’ve learnt on convergent media. I’d been aware of the fact that technological advances meant that media was changing i.e. with people watching tv on their laptop, phones etc. but had not considered deeply the changes and the effect that this is having on the media industry.

Especially in terms on the music industry, i do generally have a view that music shouldn’t be downloaded, as i personally like to own something physical. However, the lecture on the music industry in particular has made me take a bit more of an open minded approach, realising that it can be beneficial to artists and labels to accept that convergence can benefit them, and that they may be left behind if they do not embrace this technology.

I have gained much deeper knowledge concerning privacy on the internet, which i hope will make me much more informed when considering entering my detials into a website. It is good to be aware of how social networking sites like Facebook use personal details, for advertising for example, and to have a greater understanding of the internet in general.

I feel that i have gained important skills, using three pieces of software that i have never used before – Photoshop, Dreamweaver and Flash. I always claim that i’m rubbish with computers, and it’s good to have a basic understanding of concepts like HTML and CSS to make me feel more confident when using software. I feel that i used all three programs well enough to create an artefact that eflects just how much experience and technical knowledge i have gained from this module.

The next step for me to improve, i feel, would be to develop my skills especially in Photoshop, which is a basis for much in Media Production, and to be more confident using Dreamweaver and Flash at a higher level. I have also never kept a blog before, and i think that doing so has increased my skills of self reflection, and allowed me to engage at a much deeper level with the issues of convergence, and relate them to my own life.

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19
Mar
09

How will convergence affect me?

As a media student, media convergence will be a key factor in making decisions surrounding production, research and distribution. Particularly in terms of distribution, i have learned that the internet is an extremely valuable resource, eaching an audience possibly greater than physical advertising. Viral advertising and distribution means that anyone can access the media at any time, and Web 2.0 also allows the audience to feedback on what they have seen. This would be extremely useful for me, producing various media. With projects that i have already done, the reuslting work always ends up getting put on Youtube, because we know that this is how it will be most widely seen.

Examples of my media production work on Youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEeynGJlv0g

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3LppUIghjs

The internet can also be helpful in conducting audience research, particularly by using social networking siytes such as Facebook. Tagging would allow me to pinpoint a certain target audience, characterized by age, interests or whatever. This would be much more efficient than carrying out paper based research, and could allow for more relaible results as a broader audience could be sampled.

All in all, convergence is something i’ll need to be aware of, but it also seems very beneficial, and something that i could use to my advantage 🙂

19
Mar
09

Evaluation of my final artefact

My final artefact is a combination of Flickr slideshow, website using HTML, CSS and DIV tags, and Flash slideshow, to demonstrate media convergence. In terms of the data visualisation images that i created using photoshop, i am very happy with the message they convey and feel that it is powerful and impacting. This is most likely because i compared consumption of media over a long period of ‘my life’ as opposed to a day or a week for example.

The website itself is admitedly quite basic, but i found that if i over complicated it, it would take away from the actual content, being the images and accompanying description for each. I used DIV tags to structure each page, and although i found it difficult at first to get to grips with DIV tags, i found that when i had structured one page, it made it much easier to use this as a template for all of the pages, just editing the content. This made the site as whole appear much more consistent and professional looking. I did, however, find it particularly difficult to structure the text in my navigation bar, using padding, and eventually had to just centre the text on order to achieve a similar effect. I feel this could have been improved aesthetically be using padding instead, but i couldn’t seem to get it to work effectively.

In terms of the flash slideshow, incorporating my images from the Flickr slidshow, i found that the colour scheme i used for the background of the slideshow fitted in well with the whole colour scheme of the site, making it look much better embedded in the website. I found the actual process of importing the flash slideshow into the website rather problem free, and the only way that i feel i could have really inproved the slideshow would be to develop it further, using fades in and out for the images. However, as i mentioned in my blog on Flash, i found this really hard to follow in the workshops and decided for a simpler approach.

In general, i feel satisfied that i have created an easy to use website with linkable pages and easy navigation, which gets my point about convergent media across to the audience clearly.

19
Mar
09

How reliant am I on media convergence?

Whilst being presented with the impact of media convergence on society in this module, i thought it would be good to consider just how reliant i personally am on these convergent technologies. Before university i would say that i used a computer quite frequently, but only for about 3 or 4 days a week, mostly to chat to people online or do academic work. However, since coming to uni i find that i almost constantly have my laptop on, and that (quite sadly!) alot of the thigs i do tend to revolve around it. I wondered why, and i suppose, it’s simply because its easier, and cheaper.

For example, i have a CD player at uni with me, with lots of CDs, though more than often i’ll find myself playing music through Itunes, because it saves on having to swap CDS, and gives me the freedom to listen to one or two random songs, then move on to other ones. Instead of taking my digital camera to a shop to print my photos to put in a physical album, i’ll just upload them onto Facebook where all my friends can see them with a click of a mouse. This is good in a way, as technology is intended to make our lives easier, but i do worry that all this convergence may make people, including me, much more lazy.

The fact that i’m not really rolling in money also makes convergent media the easier option. I don’t want to pay for a television or license, and why should i when i can watch programmes on BBC I Player, 4OD etc. as well as listen to radio and have interactive elements that would not come with a normal television.

Even when i am doing things that would be considered unrelated to the internet, i seem to end up on the computer in some way. I play electric guitar, but i go online to download guitar tablature, and will play along to songs through itunes. Applications like this online metronome http://www.metronomeonline.com/ mean that i do not have to go out and spend upwards of ten pounds on equipment that is free online. I’ve taken to learning to speak a bit of Finnish, but instead of buying an expensive textbook, i’ve downloaded software from the internet for much cheaper. This is convenient, but a little sad in a way i feel, as there is nothing physical to have. I don’t like the feeling of being so dependant and attached to one piece of technology (a laptop), and even though i feel that convergence is important in this current society, and advances such as Web 2.0 do seem to bring people together, i feel that i do rely possibly a bit too heavily on the convergence of media.

16
Mar
09

Using Flash

For the third artefact for this module, we had to create a slideshow of the images from artefact one using Flash. Having never used Flash before, i thought that this would be extremely complex, though i found that i got to grips with importing images into a simple sequential slideshow pretty easy. I was able to add buttons that add an  interactive element to the slideshow, which makes it more complex and interesting as web content. One problem that i did encounter, however, was that my images were much bigger than the stage in Flash, as using my digital camera results in quite huge files when put onto the computer, in order to make the images good quality. This meant that in Flash i had to make my images much smaller, and this compromised on quality, and particularly with some of the images that included text it was more difficult to read the text clearly.

I also added a background to my slideshow to make it more aesthetically pleasing, by creating another layer underneath the imported images.

Screenshot of a slide from my Flash slideshow

Screenshot of a slide from my Flash slideshow

 However, i found that i had more of a problem when it came to fading in each image on the timeline, as  a movie clip. I found this to be a very complex process with lots of steps of follow, and kept getting left behind in the workshop. In the end, after attempting to find online tutorials i decided to keep my slideshow simple and not fade the images in and out, though i appreciate this could have made the slideshow more appealing to an audience and generally better looking. This would be something i would aim to incorporate when using Flash in the future.

15
Mar
09

Ubiquitous computing?

Another advance in computer technology is ubiquitous computing, immersing people almost constantly in a computerised environment. Although it is always good to be making progress, it seems to me that the main use for this technology seems to be advertising, and i feel that we as consumers are already faced with enough advertising, that it is not necessary to commericalise this technology breakthrough just to attempt to sell more products.

Mark Weiser suggests that technology should make our lives easier and less stressful. I believe that currently this does make sense, it is easier for some to buy products online, and communiciate with those far away. I myself often use the internet to check things like train times, which makes life much easier when planning a trip somewhere. However, i can’t really see how the development of ubiquitous computing will make my life any easier, unless it genuinely has some useful applications other than pushing products that are ‘recommended for me’ constantly in my face. The internet is already increasingly becoming a tool for advertising, and constantly reminding us that we, as comsumers, should be consuming all of the time.

15
Mar
09

Virtual Worlds

Before the lecture on virtual worlds, i had barely realised the complexitites of ‘SecondLife’, having only heard of it spoken of in passing. At first i imagined it as a developed sort of online version of ‘The Sims’, but soon found that is represented much much more than a simple game.

At first, i was most shocked that people put real money into this game, to buy virtual goods and customise their ‘avatar’. This money, i think, would surely be better spent in the real world? Entering these ‘virtual worlds’ seems fine enough to me as a casual level, but when people are putting serious money into the game, conducting businesses and putting money in banks (many of which banks mysteriously disappear overnight as reported in this article http://randolfe.typepad.com/randolfe/2007/01/secondlife_revo.html) i think that this is too far. Caroline McCaw also points out in the article http://journal.fibreculture.org/issue11/issue11_mccaw.html that gamers on Secondlife invest not only money, but time, as a vast amount of time and effort is needed to form and maintain friendships, business etc in Secondlife. Again, i find it qiute shocking that gamers would rather invest this time in a virtual world than in the real one. I think that possibly some people spend so much time on Secondlife because it presents an idealised version of life, where one can make themselves appear how they like, and effectively ‘start again’ in terms of business venture and friendships. If someone does not feel they can achieve this as well in real life, they may instead invest their time in the virtual world.

Another aspect i found interesting was Steven Poole’s comments on video games, including Secondlife, as ‘working for the man’. In Secondlife, participants can get a job, and earn money, but why would people want to replicate working life in a pastime that is supposed to be just a ‘game’ and a sort of escapism from working in real life? I found the comment of Poole’s that most games involve earning, whether it be points or virtual money, which is exactly the same as earning in real life, just on a virtual platform, very interesting. What may seem to a gamer as a release from the stresses of a dead end job is actually conforming to the idea of ‘working for someone’ i.e the computer, by carrying out tasks to earn points.

Ultimately, i think that although people may see virtual worlds such as Secondlife as a means of communicating and socialising with others, it may alienate them from communication in the real life, if carried out at the depth that seems to be required to thrive as a businiessperson etc. Before immersing themselves in a virtual world, they should be open to the opportunities of real life, remembering that the ‘reality’ of Secondlife is grounded in a piece of comupter software.




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