I Couldn’t Concentrate To Think Of A Title, So I Just Started Writing

When Nicholas Carr begs the question “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” he’s referencing the drawn out debate over online involvement in our lives, debating over the precedence web-surfing takes over day-to-day interactions, attention spans, and the conceptual analysis of machines replacing machines – our newly altered forms punching keys like drones, that is. There’s a depth to the shallow remarks – “My mind isn’t going—so far as I can tell—but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think” – that exude humility and provocative reflection amongst us all. Indeed, that sole statement allowed the self-questioning of one’s ability to control the senses, or moreover inflicts that depiction; when a nonhuman entity remaps the way in which we think, we are only going backwards as interactive life forms.

Carr’s anecdote regarding reading a simple book hollers truth to a common conception about attention spans. The modern day web user will browse multiple applications – hence the rise in “apps” on mobile phones – and latest technology supplies undivided access rates with impressively improving pace, thanks to advancements in data. Reading a book lacks the same interactive elements that keep the current generation of media users focussed; the dearth in purchased hardbacks supports that theory, perhaps attributed to the Internet’s ability to supply demand instantly. Ebooks provide the same information, just without the process of physically buying a hard copy. The lack of intimacy that walks hand in hand with splitting our attention threatens to create an environment revoking meaningful relationships with each other, but also in our appliances. Carr’s struggle to maintain a compassion for words on paper does not lay in the content, but the medium in which that content is displayed.

The ability of ‘first, fast, now!’ certainly accentuates the ever-busying lifestyles of an overworked society, but as Carr relates “that boom comes at a price”. The passage of thought through this universal medium isn’t a singular-serving mechanism either; it’s shaping the process of thought, too, he implies. The art of “skim reading” has taken form as somewhat of a re-rise in scholarly study and there’s no clues as to why. An interchangeable cyber culture constantly updating itself provides too much information, in my opinion. It’s impossible to keep completely up-to-date and coherently attentive to the products of our interests, respectfully due to information’s unsolicited border expansions. Once we think we know what we’re informed, we find new evidence that can benefit previous interpretations, either to reinforce, deny or contrast a perspective. The universal hunger to immerse in knowledge travels from a good place, but distorts and meanders its mode and mediums to transact something mind-altering. Literally, the ability to change the way we think.

Carr recognizes the Net’s talent in consuming varying mediums, an absorption rendering software appliances and singular-serving mechanisms useless – no, worse, redundant and inactive. By that theory, I believe we’ll fall into a new trap: losing the concept of those mediums, and trusting/expecting the Internet to provide reminders or info on those mediums even when we don’t ask for it. After all, the Internet traces our habits now and spies on our preferences. However, materialism or accessories are less harmful. When something important, like time, becomes a solely digital enterprise, we’re setting ourselves up for failure. It takes one mild time-related corruption to destroy our schedules, and we’d have wished for the physical validation of a watch. As Carr states: “Then again, the Internet isn’t the alphabet…” and I can’t help but hear a profundity, lost.


Hong Kong and the Single-Serving Death

Mass Media and Society, graciously, has co-ordinated its information to epitomize the production values of our mass media forums, delivering proclamations about the industry and organizational frontiers in combination with the resulting meaning for audiences and political/sociological spectrums. Whilst my forays within those chapters have dissected media image content amongst other varying items of produce, it’s time to brake to a grinding halt and assess the exposition of media technology in its evolution; the processes, the ways and means, methodology behind the history and enterprise. If we’re to credit television’s revitalization for feature, broadcast and aesthetics purposes, we’re to appreciate the groundbreaking explorations that aided its revolution. The reliance of mass media on its mediums integrates relevance to the apparatus constructed, and the appreciation of the consumer cannot be shortsighted when reviewing this.

An initial point of reference for technological mediums exist within the capabilities of their output. We take for granted the advancement of sound’s projection (literally); music is a visual as much as it is sound, showing intertwining combinations within the field of technology and the production within its value, by emitting through radio, tv sets and sound specific technological devices i.e a CD player, or an iPod. Whilst advancements have seen the evolution of singular-serving communication platforms manifest as multi-platform interfaces, we’re prone to forget how recent generations have been affected in a relatively short period of time. “Media Technology” may not have perpetrated my Thursday, but it’s a throwback nonetheless; I recall my first iPod – plucked from a frenetic hubbub of tourists, who were infiltrating the niche corners in downtown Hong Kong like a virus – and bought the genuine Apple product for a cut-price 900 Hong Kong dollars (equates to $116.15). Brand new and freshly stolen (probably), I was ignited by its contents: black and grey software, 80gb, no imagery and purely music. And this was years past the turn of the century – the Millennium had supplied this updated MP3 system by voluminous storage of thousands of songs, approximately 10 years ago. I remember its aesthetics: silver, with the white Apple logo, and the dimensions and weight of a small brick (fast-forward those very 10 years and size apparently “does matter” and we’re brick-laying once again, but I digress – that’s for another post, perhaps). To think that, now, the iPod product contains extraordinary capabilities with endless apps, a messaging system and – yes – colour and imagery, all of a sudden we have a make-shift phone. In fact, through FaceTime or Viber etc, the iPod can call, proving that it can practice anything the iPhone deploys (or any phone, if Apple feels convenient in its example). 4G is the only alteration, but now we have an iPad that bridges that gap just in case our technological anxiety worsens.
We don’t need to consign ourselves to one-dimensional concentration when analyzing a base product like an iPod; think of it alternatively, by other media technological bridges. The camera was a singular-serving product designed to capture instant imagery with precision and exacted detail. Whilst its own evolution has occurred, its perhaps stuttered in comparison to the aforementioned music technology; cameras now exhibit the ability to acquire multiple snapshots in sole clicks, which phones are hot on the tails towards. In pixelation, built-in cameras for phones rival its competitors; and that’s what it is – competition. If the manufacturing quality and production is poised for implementation, why not dominate the market? “Media Technology” designates its chapter content to parading the advancement of all mediums, but we feel the market trends and political absolution radiate within each word. New media – i.e the Internet, digitization – specify alternative ways to the mass media revolution in providing a technological determinism: the pertinence to social change. As illustrated through the iPod, social change or reformation appears symbolically; the inability to do one thing per occasion, necessitating our time to multi-platform media and engaging through multi-task, and disengaging the single-serving product for good.


Mastro the Maestro? Sport, Crime and Narrow Minds

The coverage of sports scandals date further back than Mastro, Blecha and Seate’s characterization study illuminating a condensed time gap of three years, but the random sample testing articulated a growing numbing notion in the appropriation and publishing of sport and crime: that the ethnic minority of African American athletes at fault render unfavorable responses in media coverage, with a consequential promotion of their criminalized failures disproportionate comparatively to alternate demographics.

It’s largely difficult to judge the viewer’s response to delivered news coverage within this field of study. Despite the trio’s insightful attempts at splicing the core of a would-be rooted problem within sports media, gaping holes appear within the study’s emergence to prominent understanding; to consider this analytical, statistical and sample based response work as definitive would be foolish, when racial inference is decided despite the lack of distinction aggregating ethnic minority in group discussion. Whilst the brave “Black vs White” debate ranges to an unpolished spotlight to consider for social positioning, it’s a deconstruction of unfathomable archaic sparring – insensitive to current culture’s shift to a merged normality – and showing more segregational naivety than sociological improvement; to discount the accountability of alternative demographics besides black and white athletes is not an alleviation to potential fault in crime, but a precursor for the study’s potential fault in association. In theory, random sample testing covering a lengthened time span should accurately depict social standing outlining each demographic’s participation, but instead serves only to elucidate a glaring flaw for Mastro et al: random samples cannot be taken over a continual time period – periods that may provide domino effects for trends or indicate a trend for the broadcasters themselves in popular culture – and should cover time periods flitting pre-21st century and post-millennium.

It’s not certain that, in exampling, Latino-based sporting professionals had dominated the news for a two year time span previously (or after), and my theory stands to serve the purpose of highlighting two facts within that example: 1) that it’s possible athletes (perhaps connected, both in multiple-serving crime and type of crime) dominated via a different racial descent in another time period, but 2) that sports broadcasting and news outlets hawked hungrily upon that specific demographic until it’s repetitive issue broke copycat success models, and homogeny lost its glitter amongst networks. Without specification of a standardized formula that debriefs recent sports crime stories since their rise to notoriety, it’s impossible to entrust the methods provided to conclusively distinguish sociological patterns and examinations; “since their rise to notoriety”, too, is brief in alluring truth, but the conceptual understanding that elongating collected results is imperative to rounding the knowledge of this field.

Race-related crime coverage in Mastro et al’s Test H1b attributes primary subject crime for ethnic comparison, but doesn’t maneuver observation to extend to connected crime coverage, whereby one person’s crime may induce the crime of another; as you may deduct, there’s serious consequential misconstruction for future testing that fails to propagate evidence as deciphered, singular incidence, and moreover causing resulting eschewed study totaling the productions of a new field. This field – recovering crime by sports professionals linked to another via the crime committed – may point to evidential theoretical analyses that Demographic A are more likely to commit crime in group scandal (we’ll call for now) than Demographic B. As this is unaccounted for in Mastro et al’s test work, these results may be inclusive and provide social imbalance for sport crime.

Whilst Mastro et al uncover an obviating morality issue that confidently actualizes the fact-based reality that black athletes have become the manufactured focus of criminality in sports, there’s room to consider that description negates variable response as previously discussed; there’s a lack of well-rounded mode and method, misconstruing discrepancies by favorably pointing to “unfavorable” results where it’s helpful to support the theory of sport and crime by racial background. Considering predominantly black sports, like Basketball, but refuting a broader knowledge of news coverage for alternative sports purely because a sport’s popularity became invalid in comparison, and for only The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and USA Today, is narrow-minded research propaganda targeting an exposure of new ground, perhaps for personal gain.


Machinations of a Megalomaniac

“When it is more important to be seen than to be talented, it is hardly surprising that the less gifted among us are willing to fart our way into the spotlight” Lakshmi Chaudhry, quoted in The Nation, remarks with contempt. I cannot help but receive such damning indictment without coagulating; in agreement, and that very blood spools as a member of the lost generation I’ve spawned within – ashamed, demanding subscription and unstoppable.

Whilst Say Everything – a heart-wrenching amalgamation of expert opinion/observation and pathological admittance published in 2007, and yet somehow pre-apocalyptic without exacerbation – studies the social shift which new wave media sweeps once-privatized masses into befuddled flux, it yearns for constructive criticism – not reconciliation – in addressing the irreversible tide of exposure. In meeting garish Kitty Ostapowicz it’s not an interview to find directions for the pathway to faithless notoriety, but a reception to assess self-absorbed psyche. When Nussbaum exemplifies the likes of Ostapowicz, she’s articulating a flag-bearer for the millennial era: virtual perpetuations to exhibit nothingness as an auction-able asset, an omnipresence to online lifestyles. And anybody can do it; that’s the scary part.

There’s a claim for self-publicity as a functioning moral mechanism to inspire those in deficit to reach out of the proverbial black hole and claw their way to the surface. Everybody deserves a chance at success. Clay Shirky mentions old stoic views vs brash unapologetic youth culture with a tinge of suppressed jealousy – and isn’t that half the problem? Morally, we are questionable. Retaining envy for gateway notoriety because it’s easily accessible feeds the dearth of talent more so, regardless of whether it’s agreed upon whether the gateway, itself, is commendable. Promoting the lifestyles of Ostapowicz and company – even by small blog publishings like my own, regrettably – is advertisement. The notion of ‘any publicity is good publicity’ harkens truth, as more eyes clinch the product. Analysts can claim that current generation heat-seekers lack intelligence, but social intelligence has been capitalized and ravaged as a successful means. The definition of privacy has changed; social media users are, by and large, safe and sound in their photo-and-personal-information-filled existences. To be private is to hide something.

And maybe that’s half the problem. It certainly is for me. I can understand the usefulness in networking – particularly as an Englishman not quite ready to consider America home, yet – but remitting a relationship status or resisting weekend photo uploads feels like I’m conspiring against the cultural homogeneity of ‘expression’. I’m strong-willed; I wouldn’t cave in to peer pressure, but even those boundaries may be tested if I felt like I could gain something genuinely useful (perhaps research-based information on an impending employer, etc) in subscribing to social media platforms. Once upon a time, leading a fanbase was the machinations of a megalomaniac. Now, it’s comparatively tame – in fact, as Danah Boyd claims, it’s “realistic”. When Twitter confirms that we have 500 “followers” we do not bat an eyelid at zany cult prophecy, which is oracle or zealot language.

“Periscope” appears set to become the latest fad. The fact that all I know is it’s social-based and completely inessential is cathartic enough.



“Political Influence on Media” entitles the following chapter, encompassing the effects that independent governing bodies may ascertain when in power. Three recurring themes perpetuated Chapter 3 of “Media/Society 5th Edition” by David Croteau and William Hoynes, discussing politically-inspired media predicaments: the impact of political forces within economic interests, the limits of free speech, and the role of a duty-bound diligent government to appropriate media interests. The political sphere engulfs and intertwines with media activity, and so articulating the role that government – in every nation, not just the US – maintains regarding media is imperative to comprehend, especially when considering the boundaries of involvement and potential manipulations/corruption/persuasions.
Government, as an organizationally-sound structure promoting legality and morality, clearly resides as an authoritative entity with the ability to exercise free activity (agency, as prospected) when at the helm. Totalitarian systems result in state-owned media outlets operating as a form of arms, with structural constraint in any potential agency; authoritarian systems may hire outlets to appraise, support or endorse political agenda, incorporating a “big brother” styled mentality of public control via censorship and surveillance implementations to monitor competition; democratic systems protect freedoms in speech and press, with privatization and public-owned media outlets rife. Whilst constrained lightly, independent behaviour is encouraged; despite this, commercial corporations empower exposed businesses in exchange for money or financial arrangements, polluting the ethical quality of democracy and proving that, alongside government manifesto, corporal bullying is at risk.
In addition, Chapter 3 considers political pressures exerted by outsider groups; religious communities, public interest organizations, media advocacy groups and media critics, in which legislation is challenged or manipulated to corner or suit individual agendas. Interestingly, government regulation is approved by most organizations – liberals, conservatives, industry executives and public interest advocates (p. 77) – ahead of quashed deregulation measures, and so the free market vs government regulation for public interest issue is heavily contested; the problem, therefore, is upon a universally-agreed sovereign government regulation format.
Perhaps this is the fundamental crux of politics within the media. It’s an unanswerable and insolvable question, typically because government retains its power through the assets connected to its existence in office; corporations that have helped place a party/candidate in power demand a return – a manifesto promise – often citing personal gain and alternate business interests that conflict proposed party agenda. Government exists on the funds of its supporters and, whilst this equilibrium system exists, there will never be change. If the road to office remains the same, so shall by-product deals made with agenda-seeking corporations. If you consider Presidential campaigns in the USA, for example, one must consider commonplace action behind the scenes; a candidate must secure swing states for his particular party, and can legitimize his position by incorporating minor parties into his/her manifesto i.e the Green Party, who perhaps can’t compete with Republican or Democratic election runs. If they’re adamant upon singular interests pertaining to their own would-be manifesto, deals are cut – through media outlets, via communication – to insert policies or clauses that can benefit their needs and wants.


The Inevitability of those Woods

I read “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” and was instantly lulled into the iambic nature of a pleasant read. The syllabically entwining stanza structure offers a soothing respite, something which neither placates the reader or excavates. Its overall simplicity bodes to the existence in which it’s created, self-replicating an intention to plod along with our lives once we’ve consumed the poem – like the man in the poem plods along with his journey after briefly stopping also. As a general overview, Frost’s work concerns the theory of continuation. So how does this affect our course for Mass Media, Society and Communications? The clue is in the middling value, in which we can expand more so.
First, the poem concerns a man on his horse returning home from a journey. he acknowledges that the place where he stops does not belong to him, but he marvels in the presence of the woods filled with snow on this particular evening; he confirms that a man in the local village owns these woods, so he is to pass through unattached. He’s tempted to stay and indulge or admire his surroundings furthermore, but becomes obligated to an unnamed variance that is to pull him away. Symbolically, this poem presents a host of conundrums and retaliates the idea of pure simplicity, which fronts its existence; as such, the poem undermines itself.
The woods hold no dark aura or negative connotation, despite the fact that it’s the “darkest evening of the year”. The problem, therefore, is the peripheral connotations of darkness allaying the poem and our fears; that there’s a depth to the simplicity that bears greater meaning, foregoing instant conclusions, and vastly open to interpretation. In a nutshell, the poem provokes the following conflict: is one to succumb to the attraction of the woods, or must one find responsibility and sensibility in moving away and passing onwards? In its self, we’re able to gather such a broad moral and initiate a personal response; I find that I’m seduced into this semi-nostalgic/reflective state, which is reminiscent of the tone and pacing of the poem as a whole.
As the central topic of focus, ‘the woods’ are representative of a seduction trait that we’re accustomed to behold in our day to day lives. We’re seduced by sugar, caffeine, gossip, women/men, money, to name but a few. Frost’s main asset, as a poet, is incorporating layers of relatable context to varying stages of life. In my opinion, the contrast of woodland and village represents the borders of society (perhaps a bridge from our previous assignment/assessment of the “Echo Chamber” effect?) and removing ourselves from societal norms; to appreciate beauties that crowds (the village) approve of, to discount the herds of societal sheep and think for ourselves. Observing and articulating, whether that’s introspective or reflective or outward, may produce an alternative sense of something that we’re happy about – like the man and the woods, who disregards the town beneath him to become inspired by those woods before him, and thus becomes compelled by it.
In engaging with this mystique, the man is basically representing the fulfillment of attraction – an attraction to something unexplored, unknown and unconquered.

I can relate to this wholeheartedly, because I went one step further and leapt into the unknown: my journey to the USA. Like this man who’d stopped by the woods out of intrigue, I stopped by a conversation concerning scholarship opportunities to the US. Despite its recent upturn in popularity, in my particular domain back in the UK it was relatively unheard of; I didn’t know anybody who’d ventured abroad to play soccer and study, so I didn’t know how viable it was or whether the opportunity was worth pursuing. The aura and mystery behind breaking out of societal normality and conforming to usual career routes, admittedly, appealed to me; I wanted to do something independently. The last duo of lines in this poem – the repetition of “and miles to go before I sleep” – sounds off like an unforgettable reverberation of something imprinted, that won’t ever fully go away. I think that this particular notion is a good take-away for myself, with the idea of America never really venturing away from my mind too far prior to my inevitable arrival; in short, after learning of the potentiality of moving abroad, it was apparent that I’d follow through with committing.


Gods Do Not Answer Letters

For John Updike, Ted Williams represented an unbridled potential that was never fully realized or appreciated; a compromised existence that held a lonely place in the hearts of his long-suffering Red Sox supporters, but of whom that place was never soundly defined. As a writer with no background emanating from baseball – indeed, “Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu” was his sole venture – Updike found his own relation to a childhood idol meddled with complications. As the New York Times writes, Updike’s self-identification tactic may have provoked the culminating report from a baseball legend’s retirement match, unassuming upon entry that documenting the ensuing melancholy would be achieved.
The article begins with a wide-ranging depiction of Fenway Park, which almost forebodes the oncoming onslaught of revelries and excuses for a much-loved icon. When Updike includes “Man’s Euclidean determinations” and “…Wordsworthian perspective on the verge of a cliff” he’s bringing a sense of lyric and personable mutuality that would seem a far-cry for a man disassociated to baseball as a game; the game, itself, a highly impersonal and selfish affair. When you consider baseball as a sport (and I’m no expect) each individual ultimately retains accountability for overall averages that propel scores (thank-you Moneyball and Brad Pitt), which discourages the idea of “team” sport and accessible connections between supporters and players.
Arguably, this is Updike’s returning theme to accentuate an already rocky road laid out by the past of Williams. He’s sojourning for a man credited with divorce, social misbehavior and fan strife, almost bashfully. He doesn’t disassemble or pull apart the seams of a troubled human being, but revels in the maverick status of a nearly-but-not-quite Greatest Ever that glittered Fenway Park amidst an era of roster-filling inexperienced youth and spluttering has-beens; a man that bucked the trend of point average norms, that inexplicably flipped the coinage of selfishness to a genuine ‘me, myself and I’ playing style. As Updike describes, “It is an essentially lonely game. No other player visible to my generation has concentrated within himself so much of the sport’s poignance” and outlines at length the Williams’ determination to smash the ball out of the ground, old school style. There’s almost an admiration of a man Updike feels he’s close to being – or somebody he wishes he was.
Sitting from his lofty observational perch, Updike recants Williams’ outlandish beginnings of naive oral – “All I want out of life is that when I walk down the street folks will say ‘There goes the greatest hitter who ever lived.’” – and an ongoing pursuit of perfectionism; titling grandeur and nationwide acclaim would remain out of his reach in looming closure, with secondary statistics to the likes of Babe Ruth haunting his immaturity and stubborn resolve (he rejected cap-tipping and fan acknowledgment for a whole career) which detracted from any potential media campaign to award his services to baseball. Williams was just not promotional material, nor a role model, but such cult allure did not lose his club’s backing. “You made me love you, I didn’t wanna do it, I didn’t wanna do it” cuts a particularly spiky mustard, but rings true in the Red Sox fanbase.
For a man of multitude achievements and envious hitting records, Updike highlights the prominent failings that plagued a careering career readily. The essay is riddled with disheartening sympathy, like it was paining to record the wrongs. Updike applies his best sales pitch to concern the audience with loosely compiled half-facts that could reconsider a lowly opinion on Williams’ strange twenty years; he mentions leaving for the War in 1942, losing three prime years, plus the plethora of perpetual injury and illness. Upon one late inclusion, Updike claims that ‘Thumper’ may have equalled Babe Ruth’s platinum standing if those unfortunate events were rescinded and expected playing abilities assumed.
We live and die by our decisions. I’ve already made regrets I’ll never be able to rescind. From a sporting perspective, I declined a professional offer to stay in England because of the lack of assurances and security; twelve month contracts only fuel the bonfire of scrapheap careers, and no club was willing to gamble on an injury record to top Ted Williams’ own for any longer. In a way, I respect the way in which Williams blazed his own path. The problem is, I’ve fallen on the side of the fence Updike situates; speculating, finding similarities but not trading places, figuratively or literally, with our idols or peers. Instead, I’m planning to be the one writing about ‘the ones’, after writing about the one who wrote about the one here.