Space, Time and the Cinema

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“Time has a critical importance when it comes to fitting people and things together for functioning in socio-economic systems”

These famous words, written by Torsten Hägerstrand in 1970, played a pivotal role in shaping the concept of Time and Space Geography. A concept  which has effectively broadened our understanding of the nature of human social behavior and is still very much relevant to today.

“Hägerstrand used the space-time path to demonstrate how human spatial activity is often governed by limitations, and not by independent decisions by spatially or temporally autonomous individuals”…”He identified three categories of limitations, or ‘constraints’; These refer to the limitations on human movement due to physical or biological factors” (John Corbet).

For example, it is imposable to be in two places at one time and you cannot travel instantaneously from one location to another, which means “a certain trade off must be made between space and time”. The three Constraints are:

1. Capability – can I get there?

2. Coupling – Can I get there at the right time?

3. Authority – Am I allowed to be there?

Last week I attended a movie with a group of friends and It was intriguing to notice just how much these three constraints affected my spacial movements. To begin with, at this time, my phone was temporarily out of action due to an unforeseen bathroom occurrence. Needless to say it fell into the bowl and was rendered useless. As a result of this mishap, my communications were restricted to words spoken to those within my direct vicinity and messages sent through Facebook. It was in the morning just before I left for work that my boyfriend FB messaged me about seeing Guardians Of The Galaxy that night. He told me the time it was on and asked if he should by tickets for us and our friends. This is where the first constraint (Capability) comes in. I was about to go to work, which meant I wouldn’t be free until 8:00pm. The movie started at 8:20pm. My attendance to the movie and thereby my spatial movement pattern would be determined on whether closing the store took longer or shorter than usual. Unfortunately there was no way for me to be closing the store and attending the movie at the same time.

The third constraint (Authority) only made it harder for me to get there in time. The remaining parking spots were handicapped ones and as this is space I am not legally allowed to park in, I had to drive further away and park on a side street.

The Coupling constraint affected me heavily as there was no way for my friends to contact me. This meant there was a limited amount of time my friends would wait before thinking I was not coming and entering the cinema with the ticket purchased for me. If I did not make it in time to meet them I would not be going at all. It all depended on how quickly I could get to the cinema at the other end of town. If our paths of time and spacial movements did not cross the event of me watching the movie could not occur. Authority would also be a factor here again because if I missed them I would not have a ticket and would not be allowed to enter the room they were in.

As it can be seen from this example “human spatial activity is often governed by limitations, and not by independent decisions”. However my eagerness to see Guardians Of The Galaxy made my motivation to overcome these limitations much stronger.  In my mind nothing was going to stop me and let me just say it was worth all the effort, great film.

The concept of Space and Time Geography did not just stop there, once inside (having made it in time), our movement patterns were affected further. It was a late session on a Tuesday night, so the cinema was practically empty. Authority lost its limitability here as we could sit wherever we wanted. There was not enough people for someone to say “you’re sitting in my seat”. With this new found freedom we decided to sit back and center, spacing the seats out between the six of us, so we could all lie down and put our feet up on the chairs in front. We didn’t have to worry about hogging seats, sitting too close to strangers, fidgeting or making too much noise. We were free to move about as we pleased. At one point we simultaneously climbed the chairs moving several rows ahead to pull a prank on a friend while they were in the bathroom. This type of behavior would not be possible had we selected a busier time.More people = more social constraints.

The emptiness of the cinema made me question the longevity of cinemas in general. Earlier in this post I said it was impossible to be in two places at once, but with the creation of the Internet, that law sort of changes. When you’re online you can be everywhere at once not Physically off course but you get what I’m saying. The point is with the internet, a couch and a projector you can be at the cinema from the comfort of your own home. So why go to the cinema at all?

Personally I still prefer the experience of going out to the movies, it’s still a social activity for me, and makes movies way more exciting. Although I only like to go on weekdays during off peak hours, so I can misbehave as much as I please. As for the continuity of the cinema industry I am unsure, but what I do know is that my movie going experience is shaped dramatically by time.

Reference:

Corbett, J 2001, Torsten Hägerstrand: Time Geography, Center for Spatially Integrated Social Sciences, viewed 29 September 2014, <http://www.csiss.org/classics/content/29&gt;.

The Technology We Needed Yesterday: Experience Shaping Expectation

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I return again this week after having another conversation with my Uncle Kenny. This time we move beyond the introduction of Television and take a look into the near technological future that is the National Broadband Network (NBN) or as I like to call it the Fiber-Optic-Internet-Utopia. As I am sure it will be made obvious by the end of this post, I am a firm supporter of the NBN and believe that Australia should have started laying out fiber-optic cables direct to the home years ago. While there are many debates circulating over the necessity of such an expensive endeavor, I feel it cannot be denied that our current copper wire network is already outdated and stands no chance of adequately supporting our future internet usage. I worry Australia will fall behind the rest of the world, in terms of speed and connectivity, which will ultimately isolate us from the interconnected age of opportunity.

“Building a broadband network will, as the government has pointed out, have the same kind of transformational impact as the railways in the 19th and 20th centuries”. Rod Tucker

“This gives Australia the chance to leap ahead and give the people and the businesses of our country a head-start in the digital economy. Think about what that can do for job creation and productivity.” Paul Budde

It was interesting to discuss this with my uncle because although he feels the same way about the inadequate nature of the current copper network and understands the level of improvement a fiber-optic network would bring, he, unlike myself, is entirely indifferent to it. While I wait anxiously for progress (despite the fact roll-out hasn’t even started in my area), he is completely un-phased. To be honest, before doing some research of my own this week, I was unaware of what the NBN actually was but I was still passionate about it. All I knew is that I desperately wanted a faster internet connection, so I could finally play my Xbox without lag and stream movies without screaming at my laptop. Anything that promised an end to this first world torment was good enough for me. My Uncle on the other hand knew everything there was to know about NBN and fiber optic cables; including how they worked (which he explained to me against my will). The simplest way he put it was “NBN is like a super highway while copper wire is like a dirt road”…“the dirt is fine when only a few people use it, but once you get everyone driving at once, it’s just too small and eventually it starts to decay”. He told me that the copper wires are already in a bad state and will continue to need constant maintenance which is going be costly in the long run. “This is why”, he states, “the NBN is a far better option to Liberals ridiculous Node system”.

 I asked him what he thought the future held with the introduction of high speed internet and he replied “Major business and economic change” as well as “change in our everyday lives”. Asking him what he meant by this, he gave me some examples such as: connecting in real time with people around the world, sending and receiving large amounts of data instantly, having an all in one home entertainment/internet system that used voice command, controlling your appliances when your away from home and even doctors operating on patients through specialized equipment from miles away.

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From these examples I was under the impression Kenny felt a new internet age was a good thing, he had positive images of the future similar to my own. I soon discovered I was wrong. After questioning him about how he expected his internet usage at home to change, he informed me that he didn’t have the internet at all. I was surprised by this, never letting it cross my mind that someone in this day and age lived without the internet. When I asked him why he said it was because “With everything you gain you there is something to loose”. He went on to tell me a story about how his job on the railway was impacted upon by improving technologies. “You used to walk into work and say high to everyone, but now there is nobody there”… “Systems are controlled via satellite from a central operating box”… “There is no social interaction”. He said he felt as though people now days were losing the art of conversation “instead of talking to one another young people are putting in ear phones and looking at their screens”.

Perhaps it is just a generational thing but I am inclined to disagree with some of his statements. It is my opinion that younger generation isn’t losing the art of conversation but rather changing the way in which they communicate. It’s true I always check my phone but this is because I am in constant contact with my friends, and although we are not physically talking face to face, there isn’t a day that goes by where we don’t communicate. The point of this blog however, is not to sit here and debate the dangers of internet v’s the benefits, but rather to make comment on the way exposure shapes perception. Am I predetermined to embrace a technological future because of the internet dependent age I have grown up in? Is my uncle so against an online culture because he can remember a time before the World Wide Web? Are our beliefs on the matter of NBN shaped by our own personalities or are we merely subjects of our times? It’s the age old question of nature v’s nurture.

Reference:

Boyd, D 2014, It’s Complicated the Social Lives of Networked Teens, Yale University Press, New Haven, London.

National Broadband Network (NBN) 2007-2013, 2013, Whirlpool, viewed 24 August 2014, <http://whirlpool.net.au/wiki/nbn#nbn_evidence&gt;.

NBN MYTHS, 2010, What do the Experts Say?, NBN Myths: Debunking the FUD on the NBN, weblog post, 26 September, viewed 24 August 2014, <http://nbnmyths.wordpress.com/what-do-the-experts-say/&gt;.

NBN MYTHS, 2010, Top Ten NBN Myths Debunked, NBN Myths: Debunking the FUD on the NBN, weblog post, 26 September, viewed 24 August 2014, <http://nbnmyths.wordpress.com/&gt;.

Learn About the NBN, 2014, NBNco, viewed 24 August 2014, <http://www.nbnco.com.au/about-the-nbn.html#.U_mq4WPY9ek&gt;.

Wyres, M 2011, Alan Jones and the NBN Fail!, MichaleWyres.com, weblog post, 25 May, viewed 24 August 2014, <http://michaelwyres.com/2011/05/alan-jones-and-the-nbn-fail/&gt;.

 

 

Six Seasons and a Movie

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(CAUTION LANGUAGE WARNING IN VIDEO)

The reason why I have shown you the hilarious video above is because I believe it makes a thought provoking statement of truth… “Ratings don’t matter in the internet age”… “It’s 2014, we tweet about our shows and binge watch them at our own convenience”.

For shows like that of Community this statement couldn’t be more true as I feel traditional forms of ratings measurement no longer have the capacity to reflect modern viewing habits. Just because no one is watching a show on television does not mean it is not being watched. As a result of this miss-reflection thousands of loyal fans almost lost what is in my opinion one of the best shows on television, without ever making it to the highly anticipated #SixSeasonsAndAMovie.

http://seriesmonitor.com/cancelled/community/index.html

Community Viewership By Season

Community Viewership By Season

Big Bang Theory Viewership By Season

Big Bang Theory Viewership By Season

These two graphs highlight just how poorly Community has rated especially when compared with Big Bang Theory, CBS’s number one watched comedy sitcom, who just so happened to be one of Community’s time slot competitors. From a networks perspective it is easy to see why NBC made the choice to cancel Community after its fifth season. Audience numbers were on a steady decline throughout the course of the series. Compare that to say Game Of Thrones’ Ratings and you would be crazy to keep the show running.

Game Of Thrones Over All Ratings

Game Of Thrones Over All Ratings

The problem is however that measuring a show like Community through its television viewership does not accurately depict its fan base, in fact it does not even begin to scratch the surface. The reason for this is because the very type of fan base Community attracts (Tech Savoy, Pop Culture Loving, Sarcastic humored, Nerds) are the type of people who prefer to watch shows online rather than on television. I, myself am one of those nerds. I have never even watched a single episode of Community on TV before, but I certainly have watched all of them to date, numerous times. This style of TV watching seems to be the trending thing now days which brings forth the question, Do ratings matter in the age of the Internet? Personally I like to wait until a season is finished so that I can watch all the episodes at once in a glorious lazy weekend marathon. Yes, I am a binge watching pirate and no, I am not ashamed to admit it.

When Community was cancelled its massive following suddenly made itself known through social media. Fans tweeted out #savecommunity and #sixseasonsandamovie, encouraging others to tweet advertisers to let them know they saw their ads during Community and to sign petitions. Fan made videos began to pop up on the web begging NBC to keep the show running and bunch of fans even flash mobbed NBC’s Headquarters. Six Seasons and a Movie, originally a quote from Community itself, became the war cry of Communities mass underground following who would not rest until that benchmark was met (Jaworski 2014).

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Further evidence of Community’s fan base was seen when Community won the right to be on the cover of TV Guide after a  competition was held to vote for your favorite show.

After all the cry out and support for the show, Yahoo saw an amazing opportunity and have agreed to keep the show running at least until season six and a movie. The show will be entirely online which works out perfectly for the average Community fan.

“It’s season six of ‘Community’ — you’ll be watching it the way you always watched it, only now, it’s legal!” creator Dan Harmon quipped of the show’s loyal fan base, which always seemed to find ways to watch the perennial bubble show even when it was bounced on and off NBC’s lineup” (Prudom 2014).

To me as an internet watcher, all of this goes to show that there needs to be a better way of measuring a shows success in the modern era. I propose less concern over a shows television ratings and more attention paid to its level of overall media penetration.  Otherwise more great shows like Community could end before their time.

The Big Bang Theory Graphs 2014, Series Monitor, viewed 17 August 2014, <http://seriesmonitor.com/thebigbangtheory/graphs.html&gt;.

Community Graphs 2014, Series Monitor, viewed 17 August 2014, <http://seriesmonitor.com/cancelled/community/graphs.html&gt;.

Game Of Thrones Graphs 2014, Series Monitor, viewed 17 August 2014, <http://seriesmonitor.com/gameofthrones/graphs.html&gt;.

Jaworski, M 2014, Six Seasons and a Movie: A History of How Community Beat the Odds, The Daily Dot, weblog post, 9 May, viewed 17 August 2014, <http://www.dailydot.com/geek/community-saved-fans/&gt;.

Prudom, L 2014, ‘Comic-Con: ‘Community’ Cast on the Move to Yahoo, Six Seasons and a Movie’, Variety, 24 July, viewed 17 August 2014, <http://variety.com/2014/digital/news/community-yahoo-season-six-movie-comic-con-1201268681/&gt;.

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Everyone Remembers Their First Time… Watching TV That Is

This weeks task was to interview someone about their first experience with the great almighty television. I chose to interview my uncle mainly because he was the oldest person within my immediate vicinity and also because I thought he might have some interesting stories to share. My uncles name is Kenny and as he likes to so elegantly put it he has been 42 (the number of life the universe and everything) for over 25 years; in other words he is 69 years young.

Going straight for the hard hitting questions I asked him if he remembered his very first encounter with television and sure enough he did. He explained that he would of been about 12 at the time. This makes perfect sense as it would place the year around 1957 two years after televisions full scale introduction into Australia, when it was still relatively new and awe inspiring. He was in the car on the way to his aunties house when his mother joyfully informed him the purpose of this particular visit was to take a look at her new Television. He described to me the anticipation he felt sitting in the back of that car as they drove closer and closer towards the house. He had seen TV in store windows before but had never had a full scale, personal experience with one.

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I asked him to tell me what it was like seeing it for the first time and he simply said he could not describe it. He did however remember being enthralled by it, sitting in front of the gigantic box with the grainy pictures and bad reception, taking everything in for hours. He could not even recall what it was that he was watching but he said he will never forget that day. He even said the adds were exciting because they were something entirely knew to him. This surprised me as my uncle isn’t particularly found of adds these days, so much so that he mutes the television every time they come on.

Speaking of days that he will never forget I ask him if he remembers the Kennedy assassination he replies with “Off course, everyone  remembers that day”. He then proceeds to tell me his story… “I was running late to work when I heard the announcement on the radio”… “I stopped the car straight away and pulled over to the side of the road, other cars did the same so I knew they were also listening”. After siting there and listening to the broadcast for several minutes he eventually continued on to work. He told me that he must of been about 30 minutes late, but nobody noticed. “It was if the world stopped functioning for a moment, like time had stopped”.

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I pondered on what a  moment like that must have felt like. When a simple broadcast of information has such power and spread that it can stop an entire world in an instant. The closest thing to that experience I can recall  is 9/11. As a child I remember waking up to watch my morning cartoons and thinking, whats going on? Where is my Dragon Ball Z? Then i just sat there watching the replay over and over. I felt extremely saddened but I didn’t exactly understand why. I continued to watch alone in the living room as I waited for my mother to wake up and explain what was happening.

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My uncle also had a 9/11 story which differed greatly from mine. He was arriving home from night-shift at 11pm and turned on the TV to what he thought was a repeat of Die Hard or some other, in his words, “stupid action movie”. He was confused as to why they kept playing the same scene. Thinking this is one poorly directed movie it suddenly dawned on him that this was not a movie at all.

Wanting to end this interview on a more positive note I change the subject by asking him what shows he liked to watch. He said that he liked all of them, particularly Pick-A-Box hosted by husband and wife duo Bob and Dolly Dyer. Pick a Box was one of first game shows to be broadcast on Australian television airing from March 2, 1957 to June 28, 1971.

Bob and Dolly

Bob and Dolly

Top 20 shows of 1966- Australia

Top 20 shows of 1966- Australia

He also said he liked the classic movies best, he asked me if I remember any of them or any show in black in white for that matter. I laugh and tell him I was borne in the 90’s. He then tells me that in a way I am lucky because watching a film back then was like watching one now with the volume and saturation down while someone holds a sheer curtain in front of the screen. He then goes on to say that I am unlucky because shows today just aren’t as good. His favorite thing about modern TV is that it allows him to watch classic movies in high definition, again this makes me laugh.

 

My Media Space Knows My Name

This is the first blog of many to come for this semester studying Media, Audience and Place. Our Opening task was upload an image of our own personal media space and talk a little about ourselves. I’d like to start of by saying that my media space just so happens to be the very thing I describe when I am asked to introduce myself. This is because my media space is my life. I am still undecided as to whether I shape my life around my media or my media around my life, but lets just say the two go hand in hand.

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This is a photo of my luxurious and comfy Media Space; which is where I spend the majority of my time (hence it being my life). The Sun to my proverbial media galaxy would have to be the XBox One, it is the central hub for all things Technology and Communication. It’s where I play my games, watch my movies, surf the net and communicate with friends. Most of the time I’ll be doing all of these things at once; playing Assassins Creed on split screen with Instagram or Facebook open on the other side all the while having a group conversation through the headset and downloading the latest ep of whatever show I’m interested in at the time. It really has become a major part of my life and is personalised specifically to me. It knows my name and greets me when I walk in the door, It suggests the things it knows I like and it even listens when I talk.

What I mean when I say my media is who I am is that my interest outside of digital media still revolve around it. My hobbies include drawing Characters from the shows I watch and reading the Graphic Novels of films and TV shows. Even my sense of humor, taste in fashion and the aesthetic of my room is shaped by my love for media. Because of this my media space has become a driving force in the creation of my personality.

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Just a few from my Collection

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A Drawing I did of the Character Rei from the Anime Evangelion.

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I love Anime so much that my room is filled with posters and figurines just like these two. Particularly from One Piece, Japans #1 rated Anime. This is Sanji and Nami two of the main characters.