‘Click Remove Album’: Apple, U2, and Culture Demanding On Itself

U2_EchoesCommercial

 

“U2’s The Edge smashes his guitar while encased in an iPhone frame in Apple’s new commercial promoting the band’s album, ‘Songs of Innocence.’ Frame grab by author”

 

This article examines Apple’s decision to push U2’s album “Songs of Innocence” to all of its users through the iCloud. I consider this strategy of music distribution as an inversion of the notion of “on demand culture,” instead suggesting it functions more as “culture demanding on itself” through an intrusion into the everyday practice and devices of music listeners. This brief article calls for a better understanding of how individuals and corporations negotiate questions of taste culture and distribution amidst “ubiquitous access” to content and to devices. Continue reading “‘Click Remove Album’: Apple, U2, and Culture Demanding On Itself” »

Technology in the Classroom: A Personal Reflection

Technology has been praised, criticized, and feared in the classroom.  The tumultuous discussion of “pros and cons” is all the more evident in today’s new media landscape.  To this day, many instructors resist the incorporation of technology for a number of reasons.  To some, the idea of new media in the classroom is frightening because it requires us to acquire new technical knowledge.  Do I even have time or want to take the time to learn how to use WordPress, Prezi or Twitter?  The same concern relates to students: will new media technology widen the socio-economic technological, digital divide?  Will students pay attention in class, when they could easily be on Facebook or shopping for shoes?  How would technology benefit my students’ learning?  Continue reading “Technology in the Classroom: A Personal Reflection” »

Grindr: A Different Type of “Social Networking”

Digital media and digital platforms have altered our interpersonal and social connections: instant messaging, Facebook, and texting have made face-to-face interactions a rare feat, and it was only a matter of time until relationships and sex also became digitized. Apps and websites such as OkCupid and eHarmony have capitalized on transforming virtual relationships into long-lasting, real-life relationships. However, Grindr, a gay and bisexual dating/hookup app, has taken a different approach. Grindr is notorious in the gay and bisexual community specifically because it looks to create fleeting virtual/real relationships. It openly promotes casual sex and hookups, endorsing physical attraction rather than emotional connection. Continue reading “Grindr: A Different Type of “Social Networking”” »

An Unprecedented Journey: A Format Critique of ‘The Hobbit’

When preparing for Jurassic Park, Steven Spielberg made a reluctant decision to abandon the highly advanced stop-motion technology that had been developed for full-body movement shots of the dinosaurs, opting instead for a still-imperfect and experimental computer-generated effects technology. The reason for Spielberg’s decision, circulated in movie geek lore ever since, was that the stop-motion animation developed for the film had never solved the technique’s historical quandary of adding motion blur to the image. Onscreen, the dinosaurs would move differently from the live human characters, disrupting the continuity of the film’s narrative world. For the greatest verisimilitude, Spielberg backed a technology that could conform to the limitations of the celluloid medium of the time.

When watching The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, I was struck by the resonances between Spielberg’s decision and the one made by Peter Jackson and his creative team to shoot at 48 frames per second (fps), rejecting the 24 fps standard that has held almost universally true since the earliest days of commercial sound cinema. Overall, I enjoyed the film, though I admit that the experience was not as transporting as the Lord of the Rings trilogy was for me a decade ago. The movie raised many issues in my mind, from the creative revisions that Peter Jackson and his screenwriting partners, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, made to Tolkein’s narrative, to the obvious concern of narrative stuffing (a 300-page novel turning into a projected trilogy of eight-to-nine hours in length). The challenge of expanding a slim narrative into three substantial narratives, the diametric opposite challenge that the team faced in paring down Tolkein’s hefty Rings saga 10 years ago, would provide an opportunity for another sizeable essay. The fact that I haven’t read The Hobbit in more than ten years aside, I was instead attracted to the premiere of the 48 fps format, or HFR (High Frame Rate), as it has been termed, and the host of new aesthetic possibilities and problems that it introduces. Jackson’s choice in this regard bucks a fundamental property of film production and exhibition, and I find that the issues inherent in viewing this movie provide some insights to the many possible futures for the cinematic experience. Continue reading “An Unprecedented Journey: A Format Critique of ‘The Hobbit’” »