Reading Response 8

pen•um•bra
noun \pə-ˈnəm-brə\
plural pen•um•brae or pen•um•bras

1 : a space of partial illumination
2: something that covers, surrounds, or obscures

Have our scholarly expectations outpaced reality? In a world where collaboration with complete strangers is possible thanks to advances in technology, greater insights and unique viewpoints are available like never before. Our growing understanding of digital contribution may be shedding light on our accountability within this new realm. In Michael Chui’s interview with Clay Shirky, each new innovation throughout history, such as the printing press, newspaper, and telephone, has allowed greater access to communication, and ultimately collaboration (2014). When a shift occurs within society as a result of technology, the way we think and work together morphs as well. Although Shirky’s ideological view of online collaboration sounds promising, if a flawed project is uploaded by the creator and the digital community jumps in to “turn it into something workable ( Chui 2014),” do all those who contributed receive credit for their work? If the creator walks away with an improved design and does not give credit to the vast array of online assistance that was received, has he committed plagiarism?

In the scholarly world, individual achievement and recognition is key to success and acknowledgement of contribution is the driving force of participation. As Hollis Phelps reminds us in his article “Žižek, Plagiarism and the Lowering of Expectations” even seemingly unintentional lack of acknowledgement can threaten the credibility of a scholar. Žižek and others like him accused of plagiarism remind us that scholarly expertise comes at a price, and that borrowing from other authors (and research assistants) and not giving credit to their contribution can consist of intellectual fraud. If you quote too often, an author can be thought of as relying on other sources too heavily (Phelps 2014). In a world where “scholarship places a value on uniqueness and novelty,” Phelps points out the expectations on scholars may be unrealistic; suggesting it would be best to “lower our expectations with regard to what we do (2014).” There is no shame in quoting your sources and recognizing the contributions of others. The line between internalizing ideas and forming your own thoughts and opinions and plagiarism can become blurred if you sources are not properly cited.
With technology allowing a much more interconnected and collaborative world, these issues may cause us to rethink 21st century publication practices. You no longer must have “someone who can do everything. . . you can start having a division of labor” (Chui 2014), a wide array of skill sets can advance an idea or project like never before. With more contribution occurring at a rapid pace, we may be shedding light on the dimly lit world of academic acknowledgement, allowing it to finally catch up with our more open sharing world.

Phelps, H. (2014, July 17). “Žižek, Plagiarism and the Lowering of Expectations.” Inside Higher Education. https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2014/07/17/%C5%BEi%C5%BEek-plagiarism-and-lowering-expectations-essay.
Chui, M. (2014, March). “The disruptive power of collaboration: An interview with Clay Shirky.” McKinsey & Company. http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/high_tech_telecoms_internet/The_disruptive_power_of_collaboration_An_interview_with_Clay_Shirky?cid=other-eml-alt-mip-mck-oth-1403.

Literature Review

In the span of one lifetime, our world has undergone a vast transformation in technology. With access to the internet and desktop computers in the early 1990’s, we started a journey of digital discovery. And as our technology has advanced, we have had progressively faster access to information and stimulation, fundamentally altering how we think and process the world around us. Today, multiple devices, from smartphones to laptops and tablets, are available to viewers twenty-four hours a day. The ease of availability to these platforms is causing television viewing habits change rapidly and this new digital age has had tremendous impacted how society consumes media. In terms of television technology, is the digital big bang bringing cable to the brink of extinction?

In the Wired Magazine article “Netflix Everywhere: Sorry Cable, You’re History”, Daniel Roth discusses how Netflix is tackling cable to become the leader in television content delivery with Netflix available on all mobile devices, video game systems, DVD players and televisions. By allowing any device that has an internet connection to stream movies and television shows, the company has had a monumental impact on the world of digital television. We are on our way towards a world where “consumers, not programmers, determine not only what they watch but when, where, and how” (Roth 2009). As Amanda Lotz points out in her book Beyond prime time: Television programming in the post-network era, program scheduling originally played a major role in television viewing, with the audience creating viewing habits based on availability (Lotz 2009). But new digital technology and online video have freed audiences from rigid time constraints; a viewer no longer has to wait until a set time to watch a program. With the ease of accessibility, previous television delivery services such as cable may be a thing of the past.

A recent Nielsen report estimates that more than five million homes in the United States use “non-traditional TV devices and services” rather than cable or satellite (Nielsen 2013). This trend threatens traditional cable companies who rely on the supply and demand of their services to generate revenue. According to Nicole Lyn Pesce’s article “TV-osaurus Rex: Online Viewing Options Could Make Cable and Dish TV Extinct”, the success of streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu have led to more than 33.4 million subscribers (2014) all queueing up content on demand. Many of the individuals Pesce interviewed would have preferred customizable cable line ups rather than the hundreds of channels they never watched. It is argued that viewers may not get their “money’s worth by cherry-picking” (Pesce 2014), which as Dan Bobkoff point out in his article “The history — and future — of cable’s bundling”, could lead to fewer channels overall as the least selected would be shut down due to lack of viewership. The niche channels would never reach their small audiences and survive without being bundled with more popular channels (Bobkoff 2013).

Cost Per Subscriber

For the average person, preparing for a world without cable requires much thought and planning. Even with more consumers dropping cable according to a SNL Kagan survey (2013), with all the added pieces cord cutting entails, the additional up front cost of transitioning could be daunting to those who are economically disadvantaged. The more rural and poverty stricken segments of our country may not be able to afford a Netflix subscription and the high speed internet it requires. Even the shift to encouraging more interaction online leaves out the economically disadvantaged or isolated individuals. If news segments are leading viewers to get “more information on our website”, those without access to the internet are left lacking information. In her article Trend Watch: We’re Using Our Cell Phones While Watching TV, Marguerite Reardon states that “20 percent [of cell phone users] said they were checking websites mentioned during the program they were watching”. With the number of smartphone users increasing, it is inevitable broadcasters and advertisers alike will begin pushing viewers online for more engagement. Demographically, the higher earning households are much more likely to interact digitally than “people living in households with lower incomes” (Reardon 2012), with low income families in rural areas dead last.

With more content skewing towards affluent digital users, the values and norms of society may not be reaching some of the population. In Michael Newman and Elana Levine’s book “Legitimating television: media convergence and cultural status”, the way the world views technology may be shifting, but it is still used to reinforce cultural and collective beliefs. Amanda Lotz analyzes in her book “Cable guys: television and masculinities in the 21st century’” how changing cultural norms are reflected in society and how accessibility to programs influences the values we internalize. Focusing on the evolution of general roles in media, Lotz examines the “uncertain and complicated relationship between popular cultural texts and the ideas of societies that consume them” (Lotz 2014).

Cable Guys

The digitization of television has revolutionized how we think about and view media. The audience is now interactive and eagerly viewing content everywhere on almost any device. If eyes are straying from the television screen, a multi-platform approach is needed for our new multi-everything society. In a world where channel surfing is no longer tolerated when any program is available on demand, cable may become a thing of the past.

 

Bobkoff, D. (2013). NPR. The history — and future — of cable’s bundling. <http://www.npr.org/2013/08/07/209820647/the-history-and-future-of-cables-bundling&gt;.

Lotz, A. (2014). Cable guys television and masculinities in the 21st century. New York: New York University Press.

Lotz, A. (2009). Beyond prime time: Television programming in the post-network era. New York: Routledge.

Newman, M., & Levine, E. (2012). Legitimating television: Media convergence and cultural status. Oxon: Routledge.

Nielsen. “Zero-TV Doesn’t Mean Zero Video”. March 11th, 2013. <http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2013/zero-tv-doesnt-mean-zero-video.html&gt;.

Pesce, N. L. (2014). Daily News. “TV-osaurus Rex: Online Viewing Options Could Make Cable and Dish TV Extinct”. <http://nydn.us/QeFHhQ&gt;.

Reardon, M. (2012) “Trend Watch: We’re Using Our Cell Phones While Watching TV”. CNET.  <http://www.cnet.com/news/trend-watch-were-using-our-cell-phones-while-watching-tv/&gt;.

Roth, D. (2014) Wired Magazine. “Netflix Everywhere: Sorry Cable, You’re History”. <http://archive.wired.com/techbiz/it/magazine/17-10/ff_netflix&gt;.

SNL Kagan, (2013). SNL Kagan reports US multichannel video subscriber universe eked out a gain in 2012

Reading Response 7

The Christmas advertisements on television have already begun and so has my aim to avoid the stores at all cost this year, nothing says holiday spirit less than the masses of people with no sense of personal space and lack of situational awareness. But log on to any social media site in the past week and there are already pictures of holiday decorations and posts about Christmas trees. In an always socially connected world are we losing our sense of psychological personal space? As Kate Murphy describes in her article We Want Privacy, but Can’t Stop Sharing this digital crowding we are experiencing is “excessive social contact and loss of personal space online”. We are constantly stressed by the social pressure to overshare and conform to the point that we are keeping up with the Jones on a Tweet by Tweet basis.

Facebook Post

When we broadcast our private lives for the world to see, there is nothing left to share on a more personal level. Coined the “social penetration theory”, humans build relationships on the “gradual and mutual self –disclosure of increasingly private and sensitive personal information” (Murphy 2014). With the use of social media, personal information is no longer considered valuable and we slowly stop feeling violated when personal data is collected by companies while we are online. This cultural mental shift leaves us wondering if privacy is a fundamental human right or something that is acquired or earned. Murphy argues that the more wealthy, upstanding and healthy among us are seen as worthy of privacy, while children, the elderly and the disadvantaged are seen as not deserving (2014).

Hotel Facebook

Even something as innocuous as upgrading technology the medical industry would be thought of as benefit for all, but digital automation threatens those same disadvantaged groups. As Evan Selinger reminds us in his article Why It’s Too Easy To Dismiss Technology Critics even the apparent benefits of technology should not blind us to the hazards that may arise. Automating aspects of a medical practice may sound like the improvements we have been waiting for, but those changes bring another layer of unforeseen problems. From the monetary perspective, doctors are using more generalized descriptions with the new software (Selinger 2014) with the patient receiving less personalized care. Rather than having a dialogue with a patient, the physicians may look at the broader symptoms and order more testing to reach a diagnosis. Those with lower incomes may be disinclined to see treatment if they are left with mounting medical debt and less effective treatments.

We are slowing shifting how we perceive our self-worth, especially if we cease thinking of our information as something of value (Murphy 204). We are able to share our private information for the world to see yet personalized medical care is becoming a thing of the past. By taking the rapid changes in technology with a grain of salt, we can see the trade-offs that come with these new advances.

Murphy, K. (2014, October 4). We Want Privacy, but Can’t Stop Sharing. Retrieved November 6, 2014, from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/05/sunday-review/we-want-privacy-but-cant-stop-sharing.html

Selinger, E. (2014, September 19). Why It’s Too Easy To Dismiss Technology Critics: Or, The Fallacies Leading A Reviewer To Call Nicholas Carr Paranoid. Retrieved November 6, 2014, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/privacynotice/2014/09/19/why-its-too-easy-to-dismiss-technology-critics-or-the-fallacies-leading-a-reviewer-to-call-nicholas-carr-paranoid/

Reading Response 6

One of the trending news stories of the week is spilling the beans to consumers about one of the dirty little secrets of digital shopping, “price discrimination”. Specifically, offering up different results based on the device used, or using a user’s online history to offer up “customized” results. According to an October 29th Consumer Affairs article, while seemingly innocent, the customized results for each user included a “price disparity, [that] the researchers say, was often hundreds of dollars” (Huffman 2014). With more and more people sharing online, we no longer think of losing privacy as a negative. According to Kieron O’Hara’s article “Are We Getting Privacy the Wrong Way Round?” privacy used to be essential, but “society has moved on” to the point that the only way to avoid your private information being collected is to stop being online altogether (2013). The lines between public and private information are being blurred and companies are reaping the financial rewards.

Before the concept of privacy slips totally away, we must realize what is at stake. Personal accountability dissolves and companies and government agencies decide what we want and personal choice takes a back seat to stereotypes and profiling. Individuals have the right to make poor choices that can negatively impact themselves, but what happens when that personal responsibility is gone? We are sacrificing our informational privacy for a perceived benefit we may not be receiving. An individual may think they do not care if companies know their shopping habits or the device being used, but if that information is used to extract a higher price than the person sitting next to them, then they may begin to think twice.

Good and Evil Cats

When companies wear the guise of morality to ease those consumer concerns, we are falling into a false sense of security. While society may define evil actions a certain way, what is considered evil to a company may be entirely different. As Ian Bogost reminds us in his article What Is Evil To Google?, we come to realize that the definition of evil in the digital world is anything that theoretically disrupts progress (2013). By claiming that Google will “do no evil” we are let to believe that the company must only be pursuing what is good. If mining personal information without a consumer realizing or knowing what happens to that information, must that be acceptable? We are left wondering if the definition of good and evil is changing in the twenty first century, and what are the ethical ‘right and wrongs” in the digital world.

The proverb may encourage us to “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”, but digitally we are doing the very opposite, with companies seeking to see and hear everything we do.

Three Monkeys

Bogost, I. (2013, October 15). What Is ‘Evil’ to Google? Retrieved October 31, 2014, from http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/10/what-is-evil-to-google/280573/

Huffman, M. (2014, October 29). Study finds different online consumers get different prices. Retrieved October 31, 2014.

O’hara, K. (2013). Are We Getting Privacy the Wrong Way Round? IEEE Internet Computing, 89-92.

Annotated Bibliography

Bobkoff, D. (2013). NPR. The history — and future — of cable’s bundling. <http://www.npr.org/2013/08/07/209820647/the-history-and-future-of-cables-bundling&gt;.

Delving into the origins of cable bundling, Bobkoff gives a broad overview of how bundling works. This article highlights the hidden fees and negotiations consumers are unaware of that dictate the channels they receive and at what price. In addition it theorizes on a la carte cable and the pros and cons that would be associated with such a concept.

 

Lotz, A. (2014). Cable guys television and masculinities in the 21st century. New York: New York University Press.

Amanda Lotz examines the depictions of male characters perplexed by societal expectations of men and anxious about changing American masculinity that has become standard across the television landscape. The book analyzes how these shows combine feminist approaches to fatherhood and marriage with more traditional constructions of masculine identity that emphasize men’s role as providers.

 

Lotz, A. (2009). Beyond prime time: Television programming in the post-network era. New York: Routledge.

Television has long been defined by its daily schedule and the viewing habits that have evolved over time. Digital technology and online video have freed audiences from rigid time constraint, no longer having to wait for a program to be on to watch, but scheduling still plays a major role in the production of television.

 

Mayer-Schonberger, V., & Cukier, K. (2013). Big data: A revolution that will transform how we live, work, and think. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing.

The authors analyze data overabundance in our evolving digital age and take the reader through the history of datafication, and the shift from causation to correlation. Advertisers are using “data exhaust” to learn more about their consumers and how to better market their products and services. The book points out that the very data being collected is now bought as sold as a commodity.

 

Newman, M., & Levine, E. (2012). Legitimating television: Media convergence and cultural status. Oxon: Routledge.

The authors examine how television is gaining a new level of cultural respectability in the 21st century due to the advent of new technology. Televisions are no longer thought of as another household appliance, but are still reinforcing cultural hierarchies that have long perpetuated inequalities of gender and class.

 

Nielsen. “Zero-TV Doesn’t Mean Zero Video”. March 11th, 2013. <http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2013/zero-tv-doesnt-mean-zero-video.html&gt;.

A recent Nielsen survey reports that more people are watching television without the use of cable or satellite, with five percent of households using not traditional TV devices and services. Coined “Zero TV”. They do not fit into the traditional definition of a TV household but still consume video content and have at least one television set.

 

Medoff, N., & Kaye, B. (2011). Electronic media then, now, and later (2nd ed.). Burlington, MA: Focal Press.

An in-depth look at the connections of the traditional world of broadcasting and the modern digital media, specifically that focuses on how past innovations lay the groundwork for changing trends in technology. This evolution is providing the opportunity and demand for change in both broadcasting and digital media.

 

Pesce, N. L. (2014). Daily News. “TV-osaurus Rex: Online Viewing Options Could Make Cable and Dish TV Extinct”. <http://nydn.us/QeFHhQ&gt;.

Nicole Pesce reports that more customers are leaving cable and satellite for cheaper streaming services, and offers direct interviews with several people who have made the transition. The interviewees offer advice and discuss the costs association with the switch and how it has impacted their budgets. The article offers an overview of all the current streaming services available, the costs, and the pros and cons of each one. Some content is service specific so consumers will have to do their research to get what they really want.

 

Roth, D. (2014) Wired Magazine. “Netflix Everywhere: Sorry Cable, You’re History”. <http://archive.wired.com/techbiz/it/magazine/17-10/ff_netflix&gt;.

While this is an older article that discusses Netflix’s up and coming impact on the world of digital television, it gives the history of Netflix and the future goals, some of which are already in play today. The CEO discusses the ins and outs of content acquisition and how the company made the shift from DVDs to streaming; with the goal to have Netflix available on every digital device in the future.

 

SNL Kagan, (2013). SNL Kagan reports US multichannel video subscriber universe eked out a gain in 2012.

SNL Kagan is a company that provides comprehensive research on media and communications, and their recent survey reported a drop in cable subscribers, a loss that is surprising to industry analysts. The company noticed there is not a rebound to the loss of subscribers and this is a good lead to where those subscribers have gone.

Reading Response #5

With Nooks and Kindles designed to resemble actual paper books as closely as possible, down to even emulating the flipping of pages; we wonder, what is the point of digital innovation? It seems as though to be accessible to society, each advent of new technology must be a similar as possible to an already familiar concept. This slow change in acceptance and understanding is readily apparent in the academic world. In Edward Ayers article Does digital scholarship have a future?, we look at how academic institutions are not keeping pace with the growth of the digital world and what is at risk when technology outpaces scholarship.

Overall, the basis of academics remains unchanged despite the rapid evolution of technology; the way we process information and interact with each other is vastly different than 50 years ago, but the academic process has barely changed. According to Ayers, two thirds of faculty at academic institutions believes that new digital methods are unimportant in their research. During the early days of widespread internet use, the potential impact of the digital world on scholarship limitless. Colleges and universities were quick to create new tools and innovations in the emerging world of digital scholarship. Ayers describes the concept of digital scholarship as “discipline-based scholarship produced with digital tools and presented in digital form” (2013). Respite these rapid innovations, overall, scholars were slow to break with traditional routine and embrace new methodologies. Few scholars were willing to devote themselves to this pursuit, and as a result innovation within the medium has faltered.

Digital Scholarship

Scholarship is built around contribution to “scholarly conversations and debates”. No matter the discipline, the specialized work lends form to the larger picture of scholarship. The process of research, evaluation and review before an academic conversation is available for public consumption is changing. The intrinsic challenge to digital scholarship is contributing to a specialization in a meaningful way without straying too far from the main focus or purpose. While we are only just entering the digital age, our minds are slow to adapt to new ways of thinking. Rather than embracing new innovations, we have kept “digital” as analog as possible, with e-readers and Nooks adapting “themselves to print culture more than the other way around” (2013). Digital scholarship can evolve if it can innovate and allow the conversation to grow, with ambition and interpretation as the driving force of new ideas in this field. The environment in which this new scholarship will take shape will continue to change, but that will foster new ideas and contributions rather than halt the flow. In a world where technology is upgrading and updating by leaps and bounds, accepting the changes that are to come can lead to richer academic and personal experiences.

Ayers, E. (2013). Does digital scholarship have a future? <http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/does-digital-scholarship-have-future >.

Book Review: Big Data

In the wake of Edward Snowden and the NSA scandal, surveillance and privacy are at the forefront of a dialogue on how the world should handle data overabundance. In Viktor Mayer-Schonberger and Kenneth Cukier’s book Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think, we find that the remnants of our digital lives are available to the highest bidder. Coined our “data exhaust” by the duo, actions and movements are recorded and analyzed with the consumer, until now, none the wiser (pg. 113). Company websites are designed to follow your every click, even how long you may linger on a particular page, in order to increase effectiveness. Big Data succeeds in educating the layman to the inner workings of the digital world without weighing down the reader with industry terminology.

Mayer-Schonberger and Cukier are no strangers to the often unseen world of big data, the former a professor of internet governance and regulation, and active on advisory boards to Microsoft and the World Economic Forum. Cukier, the data editor of the Economist, has written for the New York Times and the Financial Times. Both are more than equipped to guide the everyday person in understanding the evolution of data analysis, from testing hypotheses with small sample groups, to harnessing endless and often unrelated streams of data (pg. 14). The authors take the reader on a journey across time, from early record keeping and nautical log books that reshaped how we view move around the world, to modern datafication and algorithms used to predict everything from crime to potential film revenue. We move from struggling to understand causality to embracing correlation.

04book "Contagious: Why Things Catch On" by Jonah Berger.

As the leader in big data innovation, Google is often referenced throughout the book, but not without justification. As the “best at collecting data with extensibility in mind” (pg. 109), the company is at the cutting edge of a data use and reuse. Information that is considered worthless can gain new life when paired with new datasets; even predicting exploding manhole covers and fire hazards become possible when unrelated data points to correlation. Sometimes knowing why isn’t necessary, knowing what is all that is required (pg. 191). But as Tim Harford points out in his review Big data: are we making a big mistake? , if you do not understand what is behind the correlation there is no way determine what causes a correlation to break down (Harford 2014).The role of data sets and probability is not just for large corporations; Police in Richmond, Virginia used correlation to determine there is a rise in crime following a gun show (pg. 159). By incorporating “predictive policing”, cities are able to effectively allocate limited resources to the areas that may need it the most. Mayer-Schonberger and Cukier are quick to relate prediction based policing to the movie Minority Report, reminding the reader of a cinematic worst case scenario.

Overall, Big Data excels in opening our eyes to the vast world behind the technology we use daily, reminding us of the risks and rewards that come with the new frontier of digital data.

 

Harford, T. (2014). Big data: Are we making a big mistake? Financial Times. <http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/21a6e7d8-b479-11e3-a09a-00144feabdc0.html >.

Mayer-Schonberger, V., & Cukier, K. (2013). Big data: A revolution that will transform how we live, work, and think. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing.

Prospectus

Addressing the future of TV in the digital age, how has new technology shaped how we consume media? Today’s culture of immediacy is driving in the change in how we think and process information. With multiple platforms are available to viewers twenty-four hours a day, television viewing habits are rapidly evolving. No longer to content to watch predetermined programming, viewers can not only decide what they watch, but when and where. Is the digital big bang bringing cable to the brink of extinction?

Outline of Proposal

1. Changing Viewing Habits

a) Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc.

b) Cable Cutting

2. Digital media reflecting values as a society

a) Negative representations that can occur within media

b) Does it mirror who we really are?

3. Binge Watching

a) How has it changed society’s habits – multiplatform interaction?

b) How has it changed how broadcasters and advertisers conceptualize their products- multiplatform culture?

4. Rapid digitization of television – Are there inherent income disparities that exist in accessibility to technology?

a) Detrimental to the economically disadvantaged

b) Beneficial to the economically disadvantaged

 

Annotated References

Lotz, A. (2014). Cable guys television and masculinities in the 21st century. New York: New York University Press.

This book looks at depictions of male characters perplexed by societal expectations of men and anxious about changing American masculinity that has become standard across the television landscape. It analyzes how these shows combine feminist approaches to fatherhood and marriage with more traditional constructions of masculine identity that emphasize men’s role as providers.

 

Lotz, A. (2009). Beyond prime time: Television programming in the post-network era. New York: Routledge.

This book highlights that television has long been defined by its daily schedule and the viewing habits that creates. Digital technology and online video have freed audiences from rigid time constraint, no longer having to wait for a program to be on to watch, but scheduling still plays a major role in the production of television.

 

Newman, M., & Levine, E. (2012). Legitimating television: Media convergence and cultural status. Oxon: Routledge.

This book looks at how television is gaining a new level of cultural respectability in the 21st century due to the advent of new technology. Televisions are no longer thought of as another household appliance, but are still reinforcing cultural hierarchies that have long perpetuated inequalities of gender and class.

 

Medoff, N., & Kaye, B. (2011). Electronic media then, now, and later (2nd ed.). Burlington, MA: Focal Press.

It looks at the connections of the traditional world of broadcasting and the modern digital media, with an approach that focuses on how past innovations lay the groundwork for changing trends in technology. This evolution is providing the opportunity and demand for change in both broadcasting and digital media.

 

SNL Kagan, (2013). SNL Kagan reports US multichannel video subscriber universe eked out a gain in 2012.

This is a survey by a company that provides comprehensive research on media and communications, and it reported a drop in cable subscribers, a loss that is surprising to industry analysts. They are noticing there is not a rebound to the loss of subscribers and this is a good lead to where those subscribers have gone.

Reading Response 4

Earlier this week, as I turned on my television and began flipping channels and hoping for something “good” to watch, I realized how antiquated this seems in our digital world. I could cue up Netflix or Hulu with the exact show I wanted, so why was I wasting my time hoping a programming executive would schedule the exact show I was in the mood to watch at this exact time? With the immediate availability of programs streamed to almost any device, I am left to wonder if cable it becoming extinct. Fifty years from now, will we be explaining to our grandchildren what “channel surfing” means?

In the Wired Magazine article “Netflix Everywhere: Sorry Cable, You’re History”, Daniel Roth discusses how Netflix is tackling cable to become the leader in television content delivery. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is aiming to have Netflix available on all mobile devices, video game systems, DVD players and televisions; allowing any device that has an internet connection to stream movies and television shows (2009). We are on our way towards a world where “consumers, not programmers, determine not only what they watch but when, where, and how” (Roth 2009).

According to a Nielsen report, more than five million homes in the United States use “non-traditional TV devices and services” rather than cable or satellite (Nielsen 2013). This trend threatens traditional cable companies who rely on the supply and demand of their services to generate revenue. In a world where content is king, Netflix’s key to success is not being just another device that a consumer will purchase, but available on everything we already have. According to Nicole Lyn Pesce’s article “TV-osaurus Rex: Online Viewing Options Could Make Cable and Dish TV Extinct”, this success has led to more than 33.4 million subscribers (2014). With more digital services expanding the programs they have available for streaming, there was a noticeable drop in cable and satellite subscribers in 2013. Many of the individuals Pesce interviewed would have preferred customizable cable line ups rather than the hundreds of channels they never watched. Although, viewers may not get their “money’s worth by cherry-picking” (Pesce 2014), which could lead to fewer channels overall as the least selected would be shut down due to lack of viewership. The niche channels would never reach their small audiences and survive without being bundled with more popular channels (Bobkoff 2013).

Cable TV

When it comes to bundling, broadcast groups can use their more popular channels as leverage when dealing with cable companies. Some channels come at a premium price, while others are pennies or even tossed in for free, depending on the deal brokered. According to Dan Bobkoff’s article “The History- And Future- of Cable’s Bundling”, on the average cable bill “between a third and half . . . goes directly to pay for channels like CBS or ESPN” (2013). You may wonder why you get CMT Pure Country, but when the same company owns NBC or CBS, it can be negotiated in whether you want it or not.

For the average person, preparing for a world sans cable requires much thought and planning. The basics include high speed internet with a wireless router and a device to access the streaming services, such as a DVD player or game console if the technology is not accessible strictly via the TV itself. And since Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus all offer different content, many will join all or a combination for the best variety. For additional options, purchasing Roku or Apple TV would be beneficial. With all the added pieces cord cutting entails, will the average person be willing to sacrifice the convenience cable has to offer?

Bobkoff, D. (2013).  NPR. “The History — And Future — Of Cable’s Bundling”. <http://www.npr.org/2013/08/07/209820647/the-history-and-future-of-cables-bundling >

Nielsen. “Zero-TV Doesn’t Mean Zero Video”. March 11th, 2013. <http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2013/zero-tv-doesnt-mean-zero-video.htm l>

Pesce, N. L. (2014). Daily News. “TV-osaurus Rex: Online Viewing Options Could Make Cable and Dish TV Extinct”.< http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/tv-movies/customers-cutting-cable-tv-cord-article-1.1758953 >

Roth, D. (2014) Wired Magazine. “Netflix Everywhere: Sorry Cable, You’re History”.<http://archive.wired.com/techbiz/it/magazine/17-10/ff_netflix?currentPage=all >

Exploratory Essay

I am attempting to puzzle out thoughts on Communication/Media in the digital age. The different aspects that come to mind when reflecting on that concept are Digital Culture, income disparities that exist in accessibility to technology, and negative representations that can occur within media.  I wonder if digital media reflects our values as a society and does it show us who we really are? Is this new multiplatform interaction creating a multi-everything culture? The new phenomenon of “binge watching” has taken shape in the last decade, how has that changed our habits and how broadcasters and advertisers conceptualize their products?  I am also drawn to the idea of digitization of television, and if it is detrimental or beneficial to the economically disadvantaged? Working in the television industry for several years in vastly different markets, I realize television means different things to different people.

In the wake of the digital big bang, how has the role of television changed and what do those changes mean for our society? If, as Lauren Zalaznick states, television is a means of disseminating our values and needs as a society (2010), how does that impact portions of society that can no longer access popular television? The more rural and poverty stricken segments of our country cannot afford a Netflix subscription and the high speed internet it requires.  Increasingly, news segments are leading viewers to get “more information on our website”, with those without access to the internet are left lacking information. Already twenty percent of cell phone users report recently using their “mobile device to visit a website mentioned on television” (Smith 2012). With the number of smartphone users increasing, it is inevitable broadcasters and advertisers alike will begin pushing viewers online for more engagement. Demographically, the higher earning households are much more likely to interact digitally than “people living in households with lower incomes” (Reardon 2012), with low income families in rural areas dead last. With more content skewing towards affluent digital users, how will those less well-off instinctively absorb society’s values, when that society’s technology is leaving them behind? As Zalaznick points out, the popular shows as rated by Nielsen over several decades reflect our changing moral and emotional mindset (2010). We all know shows are created for the sole purpose of viewership, no one will fund a show that does not draw in an audience. Does television reflect society or does inspire change in society?

An additional thought within the changing landscape of television is the role of cable providers and new the “cord cutting” revolution. Will the increasing number of homes that have TVs without cable or satellite continue to grow as our technology evolves? In our instant access culture, one wonders how the vast majority the population is content to turn on the television and hope there is something “good” on. Especially when we have the technology available to stream any program at any time a person desires.  Soon channel surfing may be a thing of the past.

 

Zalaznick, L. (2010). “The Conscience Of Television”  TED.com.<http://www.ted.com/talks/lauren_zalaznick&gt;

Smith, A. (2012). “The Rise of the ‘Connected Viewer’”. Pew Research Internet Project. <http://www.pewinternet.org/2012/07/17/the-rise-of-the-connected-viewer/>

Reardon, M. (2012). “Trend Watch: We’re Using Our Cell Phones While Watching TV”. CNET. <http://www.cnet.com/news/trend-watch-were-using-our-cell-phones-while-watching-tv/>