Archive for the 'Reflections on the Media' Category

Remembering Ray Bradbury

With the recent passing of science fiction author Ray Bradbury last week, we decided to post a photo celebrating the author. Bradbury, best known for his book “Fahrenheit 451” (which promoted the ideals of freedom of speech and thought), was truly one of the great American literary contributors of the 20th century.
In remembrance of Ray Bradbury, here is a photo of the author on a past visit to Marquette.

Ray Bradbury speaking at Marquette University

Photo: Marquette University IMC

Innovation and Entrepreneurship: A 21st Century Skill Set for Success

By Jennifer Janviere

With the recent academic year now behind us, the focus for new graduates shifts towards the future. For many young people with newly minted degrees, this will be the time to go out into the world equipped with ambition and enthusiasm as they search for that first full time job and begin climbing the career ladder.

With recent discussions in the media centering around the challenge faced by many young people to find meaningful employment, the topic of building an arsenal of versatile life and career skills is an especially relevant one. How can the educational system best equip young people to meet these challenges?

Recently, I ran across an interesting article in Forbes online written by contributor Erica Swallow that explored the shift from the skills traditionally taught by America’s educational system towards a focus on innovation and entrepreneurship. The title of the article, “Why America’s Educational System is Obsolete” is clearly meant to be provocative, but the article raises some interesting points. Continue reading ‘Innovation and Entrepreneurship: A 21st Century Skill Set for Success’

The Pirate’s Code

By John Kamerer

Piracy seems to be the hot topic of this generation, due to the rise of digital media making everything worth pirating infinitely more accessible (whether legitimately or not).

For example, eReaders like the Nook and Kindle will let a customer buy eBooks simply enough, but at the same time, a quick Google search can find most any book in an eReader-compatible format with no copy protection. Consumers can rely on iTunes for musical needs, but if you can hear a song, chances are you can get it for free one way or the other. Streaming video services such as Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Instant Video give viewers several attractive options other than cable TV or buying individual DVDs, but a few hours with BitTorrent can do the same thing.

In the video game industry, it’s still common to buy a game in a physical store. Lately, however, games are becoming increasingly available through digital distribution (and even before that) it is easy to play old classics through emulators on your computer.

Now, with controversial bills like the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), Protect IP Act (PIPA), Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), and now the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) attempting to censor the Internet in the name of stopping piracy, it’s important to know all sides of the issue.

So, why do people pirate media? There are actually many reasons aside from the black-and-white “they want this piece of media without paying just to spite the artist/author/producers.” One perfectly legal reason is for the purpose of owning a digital backup of media that you already own. People may pirate because by buying something digitally, you don’t truly “own” it, but rather, you own a license to use it. With physical media, it doesn’t matter if you read a book or turn it into paper-mache, but if Amazon, Apple, or even Nintendo feel they have a good enough reason to, they could suspend your account and “brick” your device of choice. Then what happens to the media that you purchased? Sorry, you no longer have the rights to it, and don’t expect a refund. The people pirating just want some assurance that their media library won’t disappear because someone tried to hack their account.

Perhaps the most common (and the most morally gray) reason is a simple matter of “try before you buy.” A pirate might download the pilot episode of a series—one of a singer’s many albums, or the first installment of a book or game series—and then go back for the rest legitimately because they liked it so much. If you go to The Pirate Bay on any given day, there’s a good chance that an obscure singer/band has purposely put one of their albums up for grabs specifically to invoke this phenomenon.

Despite all the rationalizations, piracy is still ultimately a bad thing. So how do we fight it? Video Game journalist Jeff Gestmann once made the insightful quote, “You have to be easier and more convenient than free. You have to compete with free.” As mentioned earlier, many pirates do what they do because purchasing legitimately only creates hassles with licensing. Many music artists have adopted a business model where the consumer pays for copy-protection free music, eliminating both that particular hassle and the problem of overpriced digital media.

With video games, designers can get creative with how they handle pirates. For example, in the PC version of “Batman: Arkham Asylum,”  if a pirated copy is played, Batman will spontaneously lose the ability to turn his cape into a hang-glider about an hour in, making completing the game impossible. The pirate gets just enough playtime to decide whether or not to buy it legitimately, and this tactic effectively cuts them off if they try to continue past the “trying it out before deciding” period.

Here’s a general code of ethics for digital pirates:

Never pirate movies, and only rarely, TV shows. Many shows can be legitimately obtained with Netflix and Amazon Prime memberships.

Look for unprotected eBooks as digital backups of books you already own legitimately. People need to read more, and libraries are starting to become rare.

Only pirate older games. If the game companies no longer make money from people buying the game, it’s their own fault for not putting them up for digital distribution. To compensate for the “minor” piracy of older games, only buy modern games new. Even if you can save a few dollars by buying used, it’s good to show support for the people who take time and effort to create these games. If you do manage to pirate a modern game, consider buying it legitimately later.

Spread your favorite finds by word of mouth rather than by sharing files. If I tell a friend about an album I love, they’re more likely to buy it than pirate it, and hopefully continue spreading the word as well.

If the legitimate media is filled with obstructions in the name of counter-piracy, don’t even try it. We need to show the world that competing with the pirates is more lucrative than trying to stamp them out completely.

John Kamerer is a Resident Einstein in the Wakerly Technology Training Center at Marquette University.

Building a Corporate Conscience

By Meghan O’Leary

Panel discussion at the Corporate Communication Commons event, April 20, 2012

Panel discussion at the Corporate Communication Commons event, April 20, 2012. Photo: Wakerly Technology Training Center.

This past April, Marquette University and the Diederich College welcomed over 50 corporate communication professionals as we hosted the first ever Corporate Communication Commons event on campus. The conference, entitled Building a Corporate Conscience, examined one of the most pressing issues in today’s corporate world: the lack of public trust in corporations.

Speakers included Richard Edelman (Edelman PR), Jon Iwata (IBM), Kimberley Goode (Northwestern Mutual), Katerina Tsetsura (University of Oklahoma), Roger Bolton (Arthur Page Society), Scott D’Urso (Marquette University), Tom Beall and Bess Bezirgan (both with Ogilvy Public Relations).

The event kicked off on the evening of Thursday, April 19 with a student networking session led by Diederich College faculty member Jeremy Fyke. During the session,  students had the opportunity to discuss topics such as career/college challenges and community involvement with corporate communication professionals. Afterward, the conference participants visited the jPad student lounge for an opening reception. Dean Lori Bergen welcomed the participants to the conference, and Associate Professor Sarah Feldner introduced the purpose of gathering a group of peers to discuss the common issues faced in the field of corporate communication.

On Friday, the day began with a breakfast keynote by Richard Edelman, who reflected on the need for communications professionals to become the conscience of their organizations. The message was that if people in this role are willing to actually advise the executives, they have the power to truly change organizations from within and win back public trust.

This message set the tone for the rest of the day’s presentations, and was also echoed in the words of other speakers. Kimberley Goode used Northwestern Mutual as example of how a company can thrive if it has a commitment to values and trust. In contrast, Roger Bolton mentioned Aetna as example of both what to do and what not to when trying to create a successful and trusted organization.

Other topics that emerged throughout the day included the need for corporate transparency, the use of social media, and developing a new communication model for organizations. The use of social media was a salient topic as many of the participants were tweeting throughout the day, using the #mucommons hashtag. The event concluded with “Diederich Ideas, a 30-mintue program featuring a panel discussion with the participants about the future of corporate communication.

View photos from the event on our Flickr gallery

 Meghan O’Leary is a student in the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University.

Exploring Instagram

By the Diederich College of Communication

Instagram photo of Johnston Hall in spring by Gee Ekachai

Last Thursday, Diederich College faculty member Gee Ekachai  gave a GROW presentation about using the popular social media photography app, Instagram. Her talk included tips and best practices for users.

Since its posting last week, Ekachai’s presentation has proved to be popular, with more than 33,000 views on Slideshare as of April 14. Instagram has gotten a lot of press of late, due in part to the program’s recent addition to the Android marketplace and purchase by Facebook for $1 billion.

View Gee Ekachai’s Instagram presentation online at Slideshare.com.

Digital Storytelling: An International Exchange of Ideas

By Jennifer Janviere

Joe Lambert speaks at the Relato Digital Storytelling Conference in Valencia, Spain.

Joe Lambert speaks at the Relato Digital Storytelling Conference in Valencia, Spain.

Last month,  I had the opportunity to attend the international Relato Digital Storytelling Conference at the Universitat de Valencia in Spain. I was there to present a video poster that I’d created with my friends and colleagues Daria Kempka and Mandi Linder about using the tools for multimedia narrative to empower people who had experienced past traumatic life experiences. I was also fortunate to learn from the presentations of other academics and storytelling professionals at the conference (not to mention getting the chance to put my Spanish language skills into practice).

There were many great ideas that people shared during the event. Some of these were entirely new concepts, while others were affirmations about the importance of this creative medium. Continue reading ‘Digital Storytelling: An International Exchange of Ideas’

The Evolving Landscape of Media Production

By Maya Held

In the vast world of digital technology and media, where does television stand?

As someone with a background in film production (I actually SPLICED film!), broadcast engineering and production (before HD) and video production, it sometimes feels overwhelming to try and keep up in the ever-changing landscape of media production.

First, there was film, then broadcast television, then cable and fiber optics and video recording on VHS and Beta. Now, there is satellite and high definition, giving us television that looks more and more like film has traditionally. Panavision recently stopped production of film cameras, which, for purists like me who feel the richness of the picture film creates can never be matched by even the highest resolution high definition video image, brings sadness.

In terms of distribution, people watch television on mobile devices such as laptops, smartphones and tablets, and the DVR has made the VCR obsolete. I hear a lot of discussion about multimedia and making video accessible for people to watch on any device. But I also hear people discuss how this new mobile push affects the content and more importantly, the aesthetics of the product.

While many projects I and my students create end up on client websites or on YouTube or Vimeo, for people like me, I will always choose a movie theater first, and my nice, big high definition television screen second. Watching a film or television show with my 13-inch laptop screen practically pressed to my forehead never seems appealing to me. Television (and film) is meant to be watched on a larger screen for the audience to appreciate aesthetic factors like shot composition, lighting, use of color and to fully appreciate a good performance by an actor. When I hear people say television is a dying medium, I strongly disagree.

Maybe this resistance to change is a generational issue, and I am simply becoming my parents. My father wouldn’t use his cell phone outside of his vehicle until he was forced by the nature of his job as an attorney. He types with two fingers and it takes him ten minutes to write an e-mail. His younger colleagues, of course, often write their own correspondence instead of dictating and passing off the work on legal secretaries, and are glued to their smartphones, updating Facebook statuses from the courthouse. Maybe with age we become less open to new things, and will only change when the “sink or swim” ultimatum rears its head. Or  maybe I simply want things to look pretty and sound awesome. Either way, I learn new technology because I owe it to my students, and ultimately the quality of my creative work, and in the long run, tape-less technology trumps crinkled videotape and film splicing, even considering the occasional system crash that plagues our second floor editors.

However, when push comes to shove, give me a DVD to watch, not a YouTube link for a compressed, pixelated video. Quality does matter, and while the technological landscape is evolving for digital media,  I will choose to watch shows on my TV, as it was intended to be seen by the director and the crew, every time.

Then again, I am not above pulling up Elmo videos on YouTube on my phone to entertain my toddler…

Maya Held is an instructor in the Broadcast and Electronic Communication department at Marquette University.


The opinions expressed here are those of the individual authors and do not represent the views of Marquette University or the Diederich College of Communication.

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