Saturday, February 15, 2014

10 things you should know about current media changes - actually a lot more

This is the Chinese vision of the Internet. A boy stands with his mum conversing with his grand parents. Except they're not there in person. They've been piped down the web standing in the hyperrealism of 3D.

Like me, you might be fascinated by this. Wow I thought.  I was in China on academic duties, but this was nothing short of a technological, cultural revolution.

If you're on twitter today, you'll likely come across several wows. They can be boxed as rules. We like "10 rules to do this".. and "10 things to do that".

We make films and pontificate to the audience. "Ok guys, when you do this, next you should do that".

Online, a major shift in design aesthetic from last year, which has taken root in the psychology of progressive designers is Flat design.

This site here is an example of this. Superbly put together and well worth watching because of the magic realism. A man gets rained upon for 7 days. Not natural rain but the mad idea of an artificial rain cloud and rain. Utterly bonkers but brilliant.

But in all these things we do, we often miss a vital and crucial point.


Why do the Chinese want to create the illusion of people down the net?  Why do we access lists as if our lives depended upon them? and why do we think being taught how to make television will make us good television makers?

The fundamental question is a philosophical one, and before you turn off I'm on your side.  At best philosophy can be presented as pointy heads getting arsey! Complicated words and logic float across our corneas and ear drums.

At best, however philosophy, or to be more apt philosophising is about simplifying and asking the basic question "why", and how you get to the root of the problem.

The problem is we're framed by a pop culture and knowledge. We do things now believing they've never been done before. One of the UK's best footballers, Sir Tom Finney passed away yesterday.

He's been comparable to Pele, but how many of us know anything about him and his style, and how he did what he did. It doesn't appear to matter cuz it was years ago.  Instead we marvel over Ronaldo, quite rightly. But knowledge of Sir Tom would give us a context to understand how brilliant Ronaldo is and whether any of his tricks has an antecedent.

In the media, take the television interview. It came late to television, but what was its purpose? The same can be said of anything you might do in TV production. 

The likely response is that because it's always been done like that. No! as a construct, even the way we get to the truth involves the architect of someone's thought.

They might have thought telling the truth wasn't necessary in the 17th century before journalism looked to truth telling as its metier. But what's to say anything we're doing now, won't be looked back on in 200 years and be thought of as antiquated.

What? Emails? Why send emails when you can send people to talk, like the Chinese are trying.

There is a comfort we all wring from habits and rules of our times and in the communities and societies we inhabit. They are not fixed but they help us function.

I once sat down with a group of villagers in Ghana, who fed me bush rat. I was told it was rat, and then I had a choice. Not eating would have been a grave insult and would have denied me the access I needed to look into this community. 

In this community, the rules were different. 

As regards TV, one of the most fascinating philosophical themes is structuralism and post - structuralism. They're pretty much old terms, but their powerful legacies demonstrates this comfort zone we inhabit, even when there is a logical argument to do things differently.

TV is drawn by convention. It is rule -governed like governments. Things 'need' to be done in a certain way, even when frankly, as post structuralists have shown, the audience and creators now want different things.

In my talk in Perugia, I aim to provide a convincing argument about a future of media making which we deny, when it lurks on our broadside. Hopefully in critiquing this, it should help you reflect more critically on various media forms.