How Netflix is turning viewers into puppets

How Netflix is turning viewers into puppets

Image: Salon.com

“The interesting and potentially troubling question is how a reliance on Big Data might funnel craftsmanship in particular directions. What happens when directors approach the editing room armed with the knowledge that a certain subset of subscribers are opposed to jump cuts or get off on gruesome torture scenes or just want to see blow jobs. Is that all we’ll be offered? We’ve seen what happens when news publications specialize in just delivering online content that maximizes page views. It isn’t always the most edifying spectacle. Do we really want creative decisions about how a show looks and feels to be made according to an algorithm counting how many times we’ve bailed out of other shows?” (Andrew Leaonard, Salon.com)

Aspect Jumping

Aspect Jumping FLOW

Image: J.D. Connor

“The sort of deeply meant aspect jumping we see in TDK is almost absent on television, where shifts from 4:3 to 16:9 and back happen far more often. At some level that isn’t surprising. Hollywood cinema has managed to fret publicly over medium specificity as part of its assertion of cultural primacy even in an era where an ascendant television has made stronger and stronger claims to quality, even superiority. There is a reason that Keanu Reeves can get excited enough about the digital turn that he wants to talk to everyone about it, as he does in the documentary Side by Side (Kenneally, Tribeca, 2012).

But if aspect jumping in film is an occasion for obsession, it has been all but neglected in television studies, and that, too, seems almost natural. Ask yourself: what was the last 4:3 tv show you watched? You probably know that The Master is in limited 70mm release and that it is likely one of the very last films in that format. You probably cannot say what the last 4:3 television series on ABC was. (It was Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.)

Some blame for this ignorance falls to us as scholars. But surely the larger share belongs to television industry itself, which has a vested interest in downplaying epochal events in its own technological history because its industrial organization makes a hash of any such historical breakpoints.” (J.D. Connor, FLOW)

Who Do Online Advertisers Think You Are?

Image: Edward del Rosario

Image: Edward del Rosario

“Should we worry about ads aimed specifically at us everywhere we go on the Web and, increasingly, on our mobile devices too? Yes, and not just because the ads can be invasive and annoying. Real-time bidding also makes the online marketplace less of an even playing field, allowing companies to send loyalty points or discounts — or price increases — to individuals based on their perceived spending power. The travel site Orbitz, after learning that Mac users spend 30 percent more on hotel rooms than P.C. users, has started to send Mac users ads for hotels that are 11 percent more expensive than the ones that P.C. users are seeing, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article. […]

As our experiences become customized, there is more at stake than just discount coupons and deals. There’s also the future of our common culture. As personalization shapes not only the ads we see and the news we read but also the potential dates we encounter and the Google search results we receive, the possibility of not only shared values but also a shared reality becomes more and more elusive.” (Jeffrey Rosen, NYTimes.com)

When Screens Touch Back

“As students of media, however, we are (rightly) trained to be suspicious of technofetishistic and deterministic narratives. Instead of grounding our analysis in what tactile touch screens promise to do later, we should rather try to understand them for what they are being asked to do, to understand the desires embodied in the various attempts to give touchscreens a dynamic tactility. The following questions then come into view: what economic imperatives are steering and configuring this project of making tactile? What sensations does the screen allow into the tactile field, and which ones does it shield the user from? What sensations are desirable, and which are to be marginalized? What sorts of new intersubjective contacts are opened up? When the screen can touch us, whose touch is it acting as a surrogate for? (Or, “who penetrates whom” through tactile prosthesis?)” (David Parisi, FLOW)

Also check out the Popular Science clip on “Haptics” that Parisi references.

Image: Immersion Corporation: TouchSense® 5000

Image: Immersion Corporation: TouchSense® 5000

DreamWorks Releases Software Used in ‘Guardians’

DreamWorks Releases Software Used in 'Guardians' - Wall Street Journal

Dreamworks Animation/Reuters

“DreamWorks executives didn’t say how much they spent developing the software. They released it in hopes it would be adopted as an industry standard and integrated into commonly used software platforms. This would increase its utility for DreamWorks even if it gave competitors access to an element of the company’s tool kit, according to studio executives.” (Erica Orden, Wall Street Journal)