Thursday, March 22, 2012

Some New York Times articles that demonstrate a need for "Media Fluency" knowledge

Over the last two days, as I've been pondering what kind of exam essay questions to pose to you next week, I saw a couple of articles in the New York Times "Technology" section that I thought offered good examples of the kinds of issues that you should be able to analyze more effectively now that you've been through two-thirds of a "media fluency for the digital age" course.

The first article describes how the latest generation of stand-up comedians is beginning to use the Web in order to directly reach customers, rather than relying on other media outlets:
Stand-up comedians of a certain era knew they had arrived when Johnny Carson invited them to a desk-side seat on “The Tonight Show.” A generation later, the gold standard was getting a solo comedy special on HBO. But in the Internet era, the yardstick for success has been redefined.
A handful of top-tier performers have begun producing stand-up specials on their own, posting them online and selling them directly through their personal Web sites, eliminating the editorial control of broadcasters and the perceived taint of corporate endorsements.
While this straight-to-the-Internet strategy is far from ubiquitous in stand-up, it is already having a profound impact on the comedy landscape, enabling online content providers and individual artists to take more turf from television networks and empowering comedians to be as candid (and as explicit) as they want in their material.

The second article describes some of the pitfalls of linking your organization -- in this case, the government of the city of New York -- too tightly to social media:
On Twitter, he is @MikeBloomberg, a popular online avatar with more than 230,000 followers. His official Foursquare account leaves tips about Shake Shack and Kennedy International Airport. And his Facebook page energetically promotes the programs and values of New York City Hall.
But the actual Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg? When it comes to social media, he has a few concerns.
In a speech on Wednesday in Singapore, where he received a prize for urban sustainability, Mr. Bloomberg spoke about the difficulties of leading a city into the future amid a political culture that is often focused on the short term.
The mayor noted that technology, despite its benefits, can add new pitfalls to an already grueling process. “Social media is going to make it even more difficult to make long-term investments” in cities, Mr. Bloomberg said.
“We are basically having a referendum on every single thing that we do every day,” he said. “And it’s very hard for people to stand up to that and say, ‘No, no, this is what we’re going to do,’ when there’s constant criticism, and an election process that you have to look forward to and face periodically.”
You might be inspired to read through both articles in full.  What tools and ideas from your reader might help you to analyze either of these two cases?


  1. I would say that "intellectual property" would apply to the first article. When you go to Louis C.K.'s site, there's a disclaimer saying "no restrictions, no crap." If you really want to, you could easily torrent the thing, steal his intellectual property and screw Louie over; however, like the article said, the relationship between a comic and his listener is akin to a friendship. In the case of Louis C.K., I know that I personally feel some kind of bond with him after listening to all his stand-up and watching his show. He's a lovable, relatable sad sack, and it's great. If I bought the special I wouldn't share it online, simply because that's not what I do, regardless of how much I respect Louie. I'm sure that if I wanted to torrent the special I could, but I wouldn't want to. Music, though...that's another story

  2. After writing about the second one here, which is the first on the test, I have been thinking about it a lot. I truly believe that Bloomberg is attempting to adapt to our society by joining social media, but his attitude towards it is still not positive. Though it is a hard transition, we all must learn to adapt because the change (convergence culture) is inevitable. I am not sure how well I got this idea across in my essay, but I think that the fact that society is so focused on the short term is because we are so engrossed in the internet. The internet is, for the most part, short term satisfaction. You go online to read an article right away. With newspapers it takes much longer to find what you are looking for. Regardless, I think that Bloomberg is changing his ways, hopefully his attitudes towards social media will change next.


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