From Vines to Twitter: capturing the ‘now’.

Vines create a massive trend throughout the world in just 6 seconds. Only 6 seconds. There are many reasons for this duration. Some can explain that because human attention span has been reduced to no more than 8 seconds so vines can settle down within that amount while others argue that such a short duration is easy to make and people are not hesitant to watch.

Twitter becomes one of the most dominant social networks with a words limit of 140 characters. Just 140. Back to 2006 when it was founded, Twitter was designed to be used via wireless carriers’ text-messaging services with 160-character limit. Therefore, Twitter’s creators took out 20 characters for the user name and there we have the magic number.

Fair enough.

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But both of them developed significantly out of expectation and the above arguments. The reason lies in the nature of their usage: capturing the ‘now’. In order to be instant, you don’t need much. You don’t need to many visuals as well as too many words. Therefore, the success of Twitter comes from its origin: text messages. With just 140 characters, you are able to capture your ‘now’ and let people know. Moreover, others are not hesitant to be able to know your ‘now’ by reading a 140-character tweets, just the same as the text message from you replying their text. And with a whole social site with networks of hundreds or thousands followers, you are able to capture the ‘now’ of the whole world.

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Multi-media devices attention test

In this digital era, it is obvious that a large proportion of people are experiencing multi-screening, which can be referred to ‘the use of multiple digital devices at once’ (Marais 2013). This results in the fact that human’s attention span on one thing is being reduced and by the time of 2015, the average human’s attention span is just 8 seconds, which is less than that of a goldfish (9 seconds) (Watson 2015).

Young people, or millennials, are among the most likely to multi-screen. According to a Nielsen study in 2015, 92% of millennials surveyed responded that they used a smartphone or tablet while watching TV (Birkner 2015). I myself can relate to this phenomenon as I tend to use my smartphone while watching TV or sometimes the smartphone distracts me intentionally with text messages or Facebook notifications. As a result, people’s attention span as well as the way they consume media have changed dramatically. Therefore, in order to write this blog, I decided to design and implement an multi-media devices attention test with the participation of a person around my age to reinforce and confirm this phenomenon.

The participant in this test is my housemate who is 25 years old and I will call him Justin in this blog (this is his English name). I decided to show Justin the last minutes of NBA Finals 2016 game 7 between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. The reason I choose this footage is because I consider this is one of the best moments ever in the history of the NBA and it will be able to capture Justin’s attention. Justin also did not know about the game as well as its result because he is not really a basketball fan.

However, I made a little adjustment to the clip as I cut off the last seconds which the Cleveland Cavaliers were about the celebrate their championship and replaced by the last seconds from game 2, in which the Cavaliers lost.The two games were held in the same place which was Oracle Arena in Oakland and everything from the crowd to the players were mostly the same. You can see the transition at 9:36.

While he was watching, I kept texting him to ask about the process and tagging his Facebook in posts that are of his interests such as sneakers or food. I maintained our interaction on Facebook by commenting and replying to him to distract him from watching the game and pushing the activity to its peak at the moment the clip was cut and transitioned. After he finished, I asked him which team won and undoubtedly, he responded the Warriors. I also asked him whether he was sure about his response and whether he noticed any thing abnormal but the decision was kept. Afterward, Justin was told to move the clip back and take a look at the uniform of the Cavaliers and compare it with the last seconds. Not until that time did he realized that they were wearing slightly different costumes as those in game 2 were in deep blue and black in game 7.

This small test clearly showed that our attention is spreaded significantly while multi-screening and of course we tend to pay attention to something more appealing. It is interesting that we are witnessing and experiencing the establishment of the ‘attention economy‘ where there are too many contents around us and therefore, our attention becomes valuable (Ingram 2015).

References:

Marais, S 2013, The Rise of the Multi-Screen Phenomenon: What Multitasking Means for Digital Marketers, Media Vision, viewed September 16th 2016, <http://www.mediavisioninteractive.com/blog/facts-and-figures/the-multi-screen-phenomenon&gt;

Watson, L 2015, Humans have shorter attention span than goldfish, thanks to smartphones, The Telegraph, viewed September 16th 2016, <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/03/12/humans-have-shorter-attention-span-than-goldfish-thanks-to-smart/&gt;

Birkner, C 2015, Millennials’ Attention Divided Across Devices More Than Other Age Groups, Study Finds, American Marketing Association, viewed September 16th 2016, <https://www.ama.org/publications/eNewsletters/Marketing-News-Weekly/Pages/millennials-attention-devices.aspx&gt;

Ingram, M 2015, The attention economy and the implosion of traditional media, Fortune, viewed September 16th 2016, <http://fortune.com/2015/08/12/attention-economy/&gt;

 

Final project proposal

For the final assignment of BCM240, I have to conduct a digital storytelling project. To be honest, I personally do not really understand the term ‘digital storytelling’ thoroughly. I only consider it in a really simple way: tell stories in digital ways, or through digital forms. Therefore, I want to broaden my knowledge in this field so I did a bit of research. According to EduCause 2007, “digital story telling is the practice of combining narrative with digital content, including images, sound, and video”, which is pretty similar to my understanding. However, the article also mentions a need for “a strong emotional component”, which I consider one of the elements to make the content more interactive with audience.

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Another thing I want to discover is the importance of digital storytelling. As stated by Educause 2007, oral form of transmitting information has set the foundation for people’s communication and digital storytelling “builds on this model by incorporating rich, dynamic media“. It is essential to exploit all the benefits that the digital era brings about to make the content conveyed more informative, lively and therefore, persuasive. We are living in the media convergence era when digital infrastructures spread contents across various media platforms to reach a massive amount of audience (Jenkins 2006). Therefore, digital storytelling enables interaction between people with different backgrounds as it breaks many barriers such as geographical or cultural.

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Among a huge range of topics, I am interested in the field of culture since I am living and experiencing a totally different culture rather than mine. As an international student, I consider adapting to a new environment with many differences is both a challenge and a chance. Since I arrived at Australia, I started to realize the importance and significance of stereotyping as a whole region can be recognized through just one stereotype (Palladino 2013). Moreover, stereotype, either negative or positive, can be a big problem for our society’s development (Robles 2013). Therefore, I am developing a project focusing on spreading both my Asian origin as well as Western (Australian) culture. In this way, I am able not only to tell my own stories but also to help others like me to overcome and adapt more easily to their new environment.

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I decided to choose the Vines genre to work on my project as they are easy to make because I do not have to use any complicated devices rather than my own smartphone to record (Taylor 2013). Moreover, with a relatively short duration (counted in seconds), people are not hesitant to watch or even replay several times so they will be more engaged with the content (Sydell 2013). The short duration also boosts my creativity of how to pack a certain amount of information effectively. With such amateur style of making, I can connect more easily to my viewers as they can see something not to strange but rather familiar to them because ‘capturing the now’ is what everybody does on a daily basis.

As suggested by Levit 2013, two of the easiest way to spread culture is to reach out local media and a culture social media group. Therefore, I will focus on my own social media relationships as well as university community to conduct this project. In particular, I will choose Facebook as the main platform to upload my contents. Although Youtube is the most dominant platform for video sharing, Facebook is really potential with a huge number of users (Sahakians 2015). I can also exploit my existing relationship network on Facebook to disseminate my content more effectively. Facebook is also very interactive which helps me to create a ‘storycircle’ (Couldry 2013) as my content will be put in a circulation circle when people share it. I also use Twitter to spread my project because I can connect directly to my classmates as we both use a same hashtag (#BCM240) for our tweets.

References:

Couldry, Nick, MacDonald, Richard, Stephansen, Hilde, Clark, Wilma, Dickens, Luke and Fotopoulou, Aristea (2015) Constructing a digital storycircle: digital infrastructure and mutual recognition. International Journal of Cultural Studies.

Educause 2007, 7 things you should know about… Digital Storytelling, Educause Learning Initiative, viewed September 8th 2016, <https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7021.pdf&gt;.

Jenkins, H 2006, Welcome to convergence culture, The official blog of Henry Jenkins, viewed September 9th 2016, <http://henryjenkins.org/2006/06/welcome_to_convergence_culture.html&gt;.

Levit, A 2013, 5 easy ways to spread the world about your culture, American Express, viewed April 19th2016, <https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/articles/5-easy-ways-to-spread-the-word-about-your-culture/&gt;.

Paladino, V 2013, Hilarious stereotype maps cleverly reveal cultural differences,Wired, viewed April 21st 2016, <http://www.wired.com/2013/07/mapping-stereotypes/&gt;.

Robles, J 2013, Stereotypes: a big problem in our modern society, viewed April 20th 2016, <https://medium.com/collection-of-essays/stereotypes-a-big-problem-in-our-modern-society-4137a916b2c6#.99doymt0w&gt;.

Sahakians, S 2015, 10 quick wins for getting started fast with Facebook video,Buffer, viewed April 20th 2016, <https://blog.bufferapp.com/facebook-video&gt;.

Sydell, L 2013, How vine settled on 6 seconds, NPR, viewed April 21st 2016, <http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2013/08/20/213846816/how-vine-settled-on-6-seconds&gt;.

Taylor, C 2013, What makes vine so hot ?, Mashable Australia, viewed April 20th 2016, <http://mashable.com/2013/01/29/vine/#VCKRfIEwigqV&gt;.

 

Attention economy: the new drugs market ?

The Internet has eliminated barriers and made people’s online interaction more comfortable. This transition enables online platforms to develop state-of-the-art recommendation systems to match niche products with niche markets, which is called the ‘long tail‘ effect, proposed by Chris Anderson. Therefore, consumers are bombarded with tons of contents and that abundance leads to scarcity of attention which makes our attention become valuable, according to Kevin Kelly in our weekly reading and our lecturer Ted.

Subsequently, users receive recommendations of everything they consume and their attention will never be stopped from getting caught. The idea of ‘You do not know what you are missing‘ of users is exploited significantly and they get addicted of relevant contents suggested.

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This explains why people are addicted to their smart devices. No they are not ! They are addicted to the contents which are connected by them via devices. Eventually, those contents are becoming the new type of drugs, the digital drugs.

Media convergence turns passive users into active produsers. That explains why most of the contents on Youtube or Facebook are user-generated. This reality matches the above discussion: the attention economy is the new drugs market, and we users, are new drugs addicts, and also drugs dealers.

Familiar strangers

One of the most memorable cinema experience of mine is when I and my brother went to see the second movie of the Transformers series named ‘Revenge of the Fallen’. We are both big fans of this series and watching them on the release day is kind of our ritual. Back to that summer day of 2009, we were so exciting to know the next part of the story that my brother had to try so hard to get a pair of tickets on the debut day. However, my class clashed a bit with the cinema schedule and I did not inform my brother about the problem. Therefore, we had to leave for the cinema, which was 20 minutes driving from our house, a little bit late. My brother is a really disciplined person so of course he was a bit annoyed by the freaky little brother, me. Combining with the fact that we did not want to miss any second of the movie, he was driving a little bit quickly than normal (not speeding anyway). When you do something in a different way than your habit, something will get out of control. As a result, he unintentionally crossed the red light and a police officer stopped us. We had no choice but to spend an extra 20 minute working with the officer about the incident and when we arrived at the cinema, the movie was about to start. I can undoubtedly say that my brother would have killed me if we had came late but fortunately, we came just in time. One interesting thing is that on our way to our seats, the guiding aisle lights turned on following the rhythm of the film’s theme music, which excited my brother and made him forget the idea of killing me, which enabled me to stay here right now writing this blog. The film was not as good as our expectation, and the fact is that I remembered nothing except for explosions end explosions. I have not watched it another time anyway.

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Transformers director Michael Bay

My cinema memory can be looked at the view of Hagerstrand’s three constraints (Corbett 2001) as follows: First of all, about the capability, we had to struggle significantly to get to the cinema on time from the case that my brother had to drive faster than he usually did to crossing the red light to compensate the amount of time late due to my clashing class. Secondly, the ‘coupling’ constraint can be related in terms of my miscommunication with my brother about the clashing class. If I informed him in advance, he could manage to deal with the problem such as ordering a pair of tickets at another time that fit us. Finally, to explain the ‘authority’ constraint, I might think of the foul that my brother committed. When the red light is on, ordinary drivers have no authority to cross the line to keep moving. Another relation can be if we did not have the tickets, we were not allowed to enter the cinema.

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The above explanation leads me to discuss about the viability of cinema. Looking at the difficulties that I and my brother suffered, the cinema is so uncomfortable. In order to go to a movie, audiences have to arrange their time, think of their dressings, travel over distance, order tickets to fit their schedule and so on (food and drinks in cinema are also expensive). However, what compensates for all those drawbacks is the experience cinema brings about. Besides bigger screens, louder sounds or better resolution, we also enjoy sharing our attention with others. That experience is called the ‘joint attention‘, which promotes our relationship to socio-emotional development (CoPA 2007). For example, true Marvel fans when watching the movie Deadpool will realize several Easter eggs  (Cooper 2016) that only true fans like them can understand. When all those fans get excited about understanding the hidden gem in a scene, they all say ‘Ohhhhh’ simultaneously and that is when they feel connected to strangers. This experience is the value that keeps cinema alive.

Reference:

Cobertt, John 2001, Torsten Hӓgerstrand, Time Geography, Center for Spatially Integrated Social Science, viewed September 24th 2016, <http://escholarship.org/uc/item/2t75b8sj#page-1&gt;.

Cooper, T 2016, 12 Deadpool Movie Easter Eggs You Might Have Missed, Dorkly, viewed August 26th 2016, <http://www.dorkly.com/post/78352/deadpool-movie-easter-eggs-you-might-have-missed&gt;.

CoPA 2007, Joint attention and social referencing, Community of Practice in Autism, viewed August 26th 2016, <http://www.infantva.org/documents/CoPA-Nov-JointAttentionSocialRefer.pdf&gt;.

Liquid labour: human at heart.

Industrial economy is the result of the purpose to replace human with machines to commit work. There are jobs that machines totally take over human’s role and there are ones that human workers only perform simple tasks at the assembly line. To conclude, it is the era when human is machines’ sidekick.

At present, industrial lab0ur has been replaced by liquid labour who can work across borders when time and space are homogenized in a decentralized and distributed system: the knowledge economy (as mentioned by our lecturer Ted). It is when the main product of successful businesses such as Google, according to Mark Deuze, is connectivity which is created by human as people connect to others. What machines require to operate are only fuel and power, but now employers need people’s ‘willing to work’ (stated by Melissa Gregg).  The situation is reverses: human takes over control.

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It is an inevitable transition as human is the center of this world’s operation, as it is meant to be. Nevertheless, it is just a step, into what will be called, the ‘human economy‘, when human is truly at heart.